A Chicken Liberation Manifesto

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

UPC photo

“Yo, birdbrain!” “Hey, what are ya, a chicken?” Rather than taking offense to these common put-downs, I’m going to take them as compliments. Birds–let’s focus on chickens here–are smart. Social. Brave. They think and feel. In a lot of ways, they’re a lot like us. But it’s easy to forget that–if, indeed, we ever thought about it at all. Let’s think about it now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 is International Respect for Chickens Day, and the entire month of May is dedicated to growing greater respect for this much-abused, intensively factory farmed bird. Launched in 2005 by United Poultry Concerns (UPC), the day is designed “…to celebrate chickens and protest against the bleakness of their lives in farming operations.” Continue reading

“Now where did I put my animal cruelty laws….” Selling live animals as keychains

Margaret Maigret

An earlier post about fur farming in China reminded me of the heinous animal offenses that people will overlook to possess something as silly as a rabbit’s foot keychain. I remember reading the post and thinking, Wow—could there possibly be a more constant reminder of animal cruelty than a rabbit’s foot keychain?”

Well, you can now buy live animals to attach to your keys so as to help you not be so forgetful in the mornings. That’s right, for the U.S. equivalent of $1.50 (plus a visit to the streets of Beijing), you can purchase a small fish or turtle to carry with you throughout your day, hang from the steering wheel as you drive your car, keep in your purse while you are at work, and throw on the counter after a long day at the office. How else to respond to criticisms that killing animals for useless trinkets is too harsh? Manufacturers in China have now outsourced their cruelty to consumers.  Continue reading

Horse-Drawn Carriages Are Wrong

Margaret Maigret

Maybe it is the ridiculous outfits that they have no idea they’re wearing.  Maybe it is the fact that I live near one of their “stables” by the West Side Highway– that location is unnatural enough for me, let alone an animal. Or maybe it’s because whenever you see them, they’re walking, walking, always walking.

For one or all of these reasons, horse-drawn carriages in New York City have always struck me as inherently and blatantly wrong. I am not a “horse person.” I did not grow up with horses, I never begged my parents for one, and I know next to nothing about them.  But I do know that I get a distinct feeling when a horse-drawn carriage passes by: guilt.

Maybe that guilt is because I accept them as a part of the city, without ever investigating the answers to very natural and obvious questions. Why are there so many horses in New York City? How often do they get out to pasture? Aren’t they ever afraid of the cars? Aren’t drivers ever afraid of them? Would they have any interest whatsoever in walking that many miles a day if there wasn’t someone making them? Why are they dressed up like circus animals? As always seems to be the case, I feel like I am on the outside, looking in at the animals when they clop by.

That guilty feeling is kind of ironic, considering it is the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene who happens to be in charge of monitoring and licensing New York City’s horse-drawn carriages and stables. Yea. The only thing that makes less sense than that is that the Department of Consumer Affairs is the co-supervisor of this operation. In 2007, an audit done by New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., found that:  Continue reading

Wolf Delisting Op-ed

David Cassuto

Between Kathleen and me, we’ve taken up a lot of blawgwidth on the wolf issue and yet there’s so much more to be said.  Here’s my bid to bring it into the mainstream media.

Circuses: Quit clowning with animals’ lives!

Kathleen Stachowski
Other Nations

Running away to join the circus! What a call to liberation–beckoning kids for generations. An escape to freedom from nagging parents, onerous chores, meaningless homework. Restless adults still hear that siren song—now merely an escape fantasy—and imagine leaving the past behind and starting over as someone new.

While the human version is all about free will and freedom, for other species—whether captured from the wild or bred into captivity—the circus means bondage. Captured animals are abducted away from everything good and natural—family, home, accustomed diet, comfortable routine. Chained or caged (some once roamed 30 and more miles a day!), they’re transported a world away, forced to start life anew in slavery. Captive-bred animals, never having experienced the life nature intended, know only the exploitation: abuse, crushing boredom, perpetual confinement. One wonders if they aren’t the “luckier” of the two. Continue reading

U.S. Senate passes wolf delisting rider

Wolf advocates accuse Sen. Tester (D-MT) of politically intervening in a scientific decision

MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks photo

From this morning’s local paper:

“Our provision does not undermine the Endangered Species Act,” said Montana Sen. Jon Tester, who led the effort to delist the wolf in Congress. “It recognizes the ESA as a success.”…

“Wolves in Washington, Oregon and Utah will also be put under state control by the rider. Those states have relatively tiny wolf populations, numbering in the low dozens.”…

“With the bill’s passage, however, legal experts warned the Obama administration’s support for lifting wolf protections opens the door to future meddling by lawmakers catering to anti-wildlife interests. Continue reading

Animal abuse–what’s going on?

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

Pet-Abuse.Com & The AARDAS Project

It keeps running through my head–the great Marvin Gaye asking, “What’s going on?” This was a 1971 antiwar and social justice song, but the question applies to the war on animals, as well. “Don’t punish me…with brutality…what’s going on?” If you know the song, chances are good it’s in your head now, too (you could do worse). If you don’t know it, there’s always You Tube. Continue reading

Mass Animal Deaths: Nature, Nurture, Conspiracy, or Apocalyspe?

Rosana Escobar Brown

The Red-winged Blackbird deaths on New Year’s Eve 2011 sparked an international debate over trends in mass animal deaths around the globe.  That night, 5,000 birds plummeted to their demise over the Beebe, Arkansas, with low-flying and fireworks cited as the cause.  One report assumed the birds just began “colliding with things” due to poor eyesight.  But this event alone did not coax the controversy; just two days earlier over 100,000 fish were found floating in the Arkansas River a mere miles from Beebe, and three days after the barrage of blackbirds, 500 more birds of mixed breeds fell from the sky in Louisiana.  Reasons provided ranged from disease to power line exposure.

Photo by Liz Condo/The Advocate, via Associated Press

As if these occurrences weren’t enough to incite conspiracy, extraterrestrial, and apocalypse theorists, skeptics began compiling evidence of recent occurrences around the globe.  The more jarring stories include 40,000 Velvet Crabs washing ashore in England, 2 million floating Spot Fish in Maryland’s Chesapeke Bay, a “carpet” of Snapper sans eyes in New Zealand, and 100 tons of mixed fish in Brazil.  These incidents come with varying explanations from researchers, none of which include government conspiracy or “end of days” prophecies.  However, the paranoid public seems alarmed at the phenomenon and is claiming the animals are omens of biblical proportion.  Aptly termed the “Aflockalypse” by online cynics, articles range from claiming Nostradamus predicted this as a sign of the end of days and others point to bible verses and claim this occurred once before in the fall of the Egyptian Empire.  One Google Maps user created a global mapped record of recent mass animal deaths in an attempt to find a pattern, and I must admit that the incidents appear in astonishing numbers. Continue reading

Endangered Species Act in peril

Here in the Northern Rockies, it’s all wolf, all the time. But larger implications loom for all imperiled species. “Wolves at a Crossroads: 2011 – The Endangered Species Act in Peril” is a comprehensive document on wolves and the concurrent threat to the integrity of the ESA.

Congressional interference stands to weaken the Endangered Species Act, endangering critical protection that has served our nation well for more than 37 years. Next to bald eagles, the recovery of wolves in the American West has the potential to be one of the most celebrated success stories of the ESA and another great stride in preserving our natural heritage. Or, conversely, by allowing legislation to mandate the removal of ESA protections for wolves, our nation stands to set a dangerous new precedent for all endangered species and environmental stewardship.

If wolves can be removed from federal protection by willful misrepresentation of scientific fact, what species will be next?

This report was prepared for and delivered to members of Congress by representatives of Living With Wolves, founded by filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher.

And Another NYSBA-Related Thing

David Cassuto

From the email (h/t Cari Rinker):

The Committee on Animals and the Law is always looking for law students who are interested in making a difference for animals and people. Students can help coordinate our student activities, and actively participate, like our members and volunteers, in our important work. We need assistance with a variety of projects, such as researching humane education issues, outreach, reviewing legislation, and updating our website and other resources. To get a better understanding of what we do, please read our “Making A Difference” Report. You can also find additional information on our website. If interested in becoming a Student Contributor, please contact Deputy Goodwill Ambassador, Amy Eisenberg, at AmyE@johnsoncohenlaw.com.

NY State Bar Assn. Animal Law Writing Competition

David Cassuto

Look alive, law students!


Get the full 411 here.

Idaho wolf “disaster emergency” bill introduced

"Hand over the berries, sis."

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

Purple prose…melodrama…not what you expect to find in legislation these days UNLESS it comes from the Northern Rockies and deals with “imported Canadian wolves.” To wit: Idaho’s House Bill 343, introduced to the House for its first reading on 4/4.

The  uncontrolled proliferation of imported wolves on private land has produced a clear and present danger to humans, their pets and livestock, and has altered and hindered historical uses of private and public land, dramatically inhibiting previously safe activities such as walking, picnicking, biking, berry picking, hunting and fishing. The continued uncontrolled presence of gray wolves represents an unfunded mandate, a federal commandeering of  both state and private citizen resources and a government taking that makes private property unusable for the quiet enjoyment of property owners. An emergency existing therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to regulate the presence of Canadian gray wolves in Idaho in order to safeguard the public, wildlife, economy and private property against additional devastation to Idaho’s social culture, economy and natural resources, and to preserve the ability to benefit from private and public property within the state and experience the quiet enjoyment of such property. Continue reading

Miscellaneous for Monday morning

Britain to ban animals from circuses: “Animal Welfare Minister Jim Paice recently told MPs that a new policy was ‘close to completion.'”

Greece follows suit: “The government has suggested an amendment in the law on animal rights that will increase the criminal liability for torturing animals, a media report said. Violators will be jailed.”

This prompts one to ask, Does America care less about animals than other countries?

It’s no secret that some countries take animal welfare/rights more seriously than the United States does, just as some states take animal welfare/rights more seriously than do others.  Imagine receiving a deferred sentence for killing 170 animals through intentional neglect. Or a Christian horse rescue operation suggesting that slaughter (rather than an end to over-breeding) is an appropriate “solution.”   “We may be the only horse rescue operation in the United States that feels that humane harvesting of horses should be part of the solution as long as it is done in a humane manner.”