Nonnative Snakes Populating South Florida

Josh Loring

Earlier this month it was reported that officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission encountered a 16-foot Burmese python in the Everglades (this issue has been previously raised in the Blawg here).  Officials felt compelled to kill the snake so to prevent the further re-producing of the species, as well as preventing it from travelling north to more populated areas.  Officials report that at the time the snake was caught and killed, it had recently consumed a 76 pound female deer.  Continue reading

The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act

Elizabeth Rattner

New legislation, titled “The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act,” has recently been proposed by Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia. The legislation aims at cracking down on the use of exotic animals such as elephants, lions, and tigers in traveling circuses. The bill proposes that these animals cannot be used in the circus if they have traveled in a mobile housing facility during the 15 days preceding the performance. The bill clearly targets traveling circuses (as most are) “that that keep their animals on the road for most of the year.”  Often, it is the circumstances of these travels where animals are tied up and caged for long periods of time causing both physical and psychological damage. The group PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society), in addition to Animal Defenders International (ADI), Bob Barker, and Jorga Fox have all teamed up to raise awareness of the conditions that circus animals endue, and to raise support for the new legislation, which aims to “signal fundamental changein the way in which animals are used in the name of entertainment in the United States.”

Continue reading

Animal Welfare Claims on Egg Cartons should be Regulated

Sheila Rodriguez

Most Americans care about the welfare of farmed animals. Egg companies

Image courtesy of Compassion Over Killing

know that, and many market their eggs with labels claiming the hens were treated well. What consumers don’t know is that many of the animal welfare claims on egg cartons are meaningless.

In my article, The Morally Informed Consumer: Examining Animal Welfare Claims on Egg Labels, I argue that egg consumers have a right to know how hens are raised. Most hens are packed eight or nine birds to a cage. The cages are so small that hens are unable to stretch a wing. The overcrowding causes them to fight, so their beaks are cut off to prevent them from injuring other birds. The fewer than 5% of eggs in theU.S. that are not produced under these conditions are from hens that were not even allowed outside. Continue reading

Britain Set to Consider Required Video Surveillance in Slaughterhouses

Gillian Lyons

As fellow blog writer Adonia Davis mentioned in her blog posted earlier today, in 2007 undercover videos shot by the HSUS at California slaughterhouses showed horrific footage of abuses being committed against downed cows.  Partially as a result of these videos, the State of California passed a law requiring that downed animals be humanely euthanized.  Unfortunately it looks like the Supreme Court may overturn said law due to conflicts with federal law.  For more information see Adonia’s post.

It is also unfortunate that the incidence of cruelty against those downed cows in the California slaughterhouse was not an insolated incident.  Numerous organizations throughout the United States, and the world have conducted undercover investigations and discovered similar abuses.  For instance, Animal Aid, an organization based in Britain conducted similar undercover investigations and released videos of various abuses being committed.

It seems, however, that these investigations may have paid off- at least in Britain.  According to news sources, the outcry as a result of Animal Aid’s video releases prompted several of Britain’s largest slaughterhouses to install video surveillance in an attempt to monitor the conduct of their employees.  Furthermore, the videos have lit a fire under the Department for Food and Rural Affairs, which is now considering the implementation of required video surveillance at all slaughterhouses in England, Scotland and Wales. Continue reading

Supreme Court to Rule on Treatment of Downed Animals

Adonia David 

 The horrors of slaughterhouses were brought home to many Americans in 2007 when undercover video shot by the Humane Society of the United States at a California slaughterhouse showed workers abusing cows who were unable to walk (“downers”) by dragging them with forklifts, using water hoses on them, and shocking them with electric prods.  Footage of the video can be seen here.   The slaughterhouse was the second largest supplier of meat to the National School Lunch program, and the Department of Agriculture recalled 143 million pounds of meat following the release of the video.  California responded to this abuse by strengthening a state law relating to downed animals so that any such downed animal in a slaughterhouse is to be humanely euthanized immediately, and their meat shall not be sold for human consumption.

 The meat industry has claimed that California’s law conflicts with a federal law, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which requires downed animals to be examined.  Under the federal regulations, if an animal shows signs of specified illnesses during the examination, its meat to be destroyed,  but otherwise it may be butchered for human consumption.  Asserting that the California law is preempted by federal law and that it violates the dormant commerce clause, the National Meat Association brought suit in National Meat Association v. Brown.  A district court judge granted an injunction which was overturned by the Ninth Circuit.  The Supreme Court granted certiaori and on November 9, 2011 heard arguments on the case.  The decision is expected in a few months, but unfortunately the Court seemed to be leaning towards the meat industry during the arguments. Continue reading

Pet Store in California Caught Buying from Puppy Mills

Heather Schlemm

             Many people decide to purchase animals from pet stores, regardless of the millions of animals killed in shelters annually. When a person purchases a pet from a store, they are not always guaranteed the animal was bred properly. Dogs bred in puppy mills are commonly sold in pet stores, & many customers are not aware of what this means for the health of their pet, never mind the cruel treatment of these facilities.  Would you purchase a dog you knew was malnourished & improperly cared for since its birth?                              

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a class action suit in California against Barkworks, a pet store chain with 6 stores, for buying from puppy mills ALDF is claiming repeated fraud & false advertising to hide from customers that the puppies they sold were from puppy mills. Puppy mills are large, commercial facilities that breed dogs that are normally unsanitary & mass-produce pets. Puppy mills fail to provide adequate food, water, medical care & socialization. Dogs from these facilities are prone to diseases & disorders.  Continue reading

Remembering Charlie…

Gillian Lyons

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We here at the Animal Blawg have written many a post on New York City’s horse drawn carriages- evidence here, here, and here.  However, the issue has never been more prevalent than it is currently, due to the unfortunate death of Charlie- one of the city’s carriage horses on October 14th.  According to preliminary necropsy results, at the time of his death Charlie was “suffering from a pronounced, chronic ulceration of the stomach and a fractured tooth.”  A representative of the ASPCA, the organization that performed the necropsy, stated that such maladies likely meant that Charlie was in severe pain prior to his death.

As a result of Charlie’s death, numerous organizations and individuals have called for an end to the carriage horse industry.  However, in response to this outcry Mayor Bloomberg declared his support for the industry, which he claims contributes huge amounts of money to the city. Bloomberg also stated that the horses should be considered lucky, because most wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for this “job.”

I respectfully disagree with Mayor Bloomberg’s statement, namely because there are other options for transportation of tourists around NYC’s Central Park- including a faux-vintage electric car (which would supposedly preserve carriage industry jobs, and increase the industry’s revenue).  Currently the electric car is supported by Introduction 86, a bill before the NYC Council, which calls for the phase-out of horse-drawn carriages and the introduction of the electric cars. However, it is unlikely that Introduction 86 will be passed without more support.  This is particularly true due to the fact that last April the Council passed another bill concerning carriage horses which mandates that horses are given a stall large enough to turn around in, as well as 5 weeks of vacation a year (note that for the other 47 weeks a year, the horses can be made to work 63 hours a week).

For those interested in showing their support for Introduction 86, information on Council Members to call may be found here.

***Please note that the horse in this picture is not a carriage horse and is instead a very happy horse.