Why Do Animal Abusers Hate The HSUS?

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humanewatchWritten by:  John Doppler Schiff and reprinted with permission

The HSUS is under attack by animal abusing industries. These industries claim the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States)  is inefficient, ineffective, and incompetent.

But if this was true, why would animal abusers spend tens of millions of dollars annually on dishonest smear campaigns to attack the HSUS?  If the HSUS was truly ineffective, wouldn’t animal abusers be perfectly happy to have such an incompetent opponent?

The truth is that the HSUS is the nation’s largest and most effective animal welfare organization, with a staggeringly long list of accomplishments — and animal abusers are terrified of what they’ve accomplished on behalf of the animals.

Here’s a small, incomplete sampling of what the HSUS does:

 

  • HSUS donated $3000 to the first non-lethal deer population management program in Virginia.
  • HSUS played a pivotal role in securing the defunding of horse slaughter for 2014.
  • HSUS exposed Kenneth Schroeder, a “random source” dealer selling dogs to laboratories for cruel experiements.  Schroeder’s license was subsequently revoked by the USDA.
  • Two endangered tortoises were rescued and rehomed by the HSUS.
  • Cheesecake Factory commenced the phase-out of gestation crates from its suppliers.
  • Humane Society of Charlotte and the HSUS teamed up to rescue 23 dogs from a North Carolina puppy mill.
  • Glee star Lea Michele and the HSUS ask NY legislature to regulate puppy mills more aggressively.  In January of 2014, Gov. Cuomo signs the bill into law.
  • An HSUS investigation exposed 116 Horse Protection Act citations assessed against the board of Tennessee’s Walking Horse Trainers Association.
  • HSUS filed a formal complaint with the USDA demanding enforcement action against more than 50 commercial dog breeders operating illegally.
  • Aubrey Organics joined the HSUS’ Be Cruelty Free campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics.
  • Safeway pledged to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
  • HSUS launched a successful PSA campaign urging citizens to report animal abuse.
  • HSUS provided the USDA with evidence of AWA violations by a research facility in Georgia, culminating in a $26,000 fine.
  • HSUS investigation exposed disease, neglect, and cruelty at unregulated flea markets.
  • Business Ethics Network bestowed two awards on the HSUS for its campaign to reform factory farm cruelty.
  • HSUS successfully presented testimony to prevent the return of a puppy to the pet store owner who abused him.
  • HSUS’ Duchess Sanctuary completed construction on a new hospital barn.
  • HSUS reports exposed inhumane and unsafe conditions in three Maryland roadside zoos exhibiting dangerous exotic animals.
  • Binghamton University joined the Meatless Monday campaign, with great success.
  • HSUS warned consumers about falsely labeled “faux fur” garments containing rabbit fur, sold at Kohl’s.
  • Infamous Chino slaughterhouse and Westland Meat Packing Co. slapped with $155,684,827.00 judgment — the largest animal cruelty penalty ever assessed — following HSUS investigation that revealed abuse of downer cattle at the facility.
  • 40 dogs and 75 cats, miniature ponies, rabbits, and chickens rescued from NC pet mill.
  • HSUS and Red Barn launch a leash and collar drive for pet owners in underserved communities.
  • HSUS and Front Range Equine Rescue filed suits to block horse slaughter plants from opening.
  • 31 dogs seized from dogfighting operations in Alabama thanks to a joint effort between law enforcement, HSUS, and local humane societies.
  • Cracker Barrel shareholders voted to support the HSUS proposal to eliminate gestation crates from the company’s supply chain.
  • Papa John’s pledged to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
  • Prop 204 passed in Arizona, eliminating veal and gestation crates.
  • Prop 2 passed in CA, ensuring that poultry will not suffer in cages smaller than a sheet of letter sized paper their entire lives.
  • 200 pit bulls rescued from the largest recorded dog fighting ring.
  • 43 horses rescued from neglect in Lindale, TX.
  • $600,000 grant from HSUS used to build a shelter in Jackson, LA.
  • Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 recriminalized crush videos.
  • 5,700 fighting dogs and roosters rescued from animal fighting rings in 2009.
  • Over forty emergency deployments for large-scale rescue of animals in 2009.
  • More than 10,000 animals rescued in emergency deployments in 2009.
  • 1800 tortoises saved from being buried alive in Florida construction.
  • 1.8 million cows in California will NOT have their tails cruelly amputated without anesthetic this year thanks to the HSUS.bullshit
  • 3,000+ puppies rescued from mass breeding facilities in 2009.
  • 461 more pet stores agree to not sell puppy mill dogs in 2009.
  • 50th reward paid for information leading to the arrest of animal fighting rings in 2009.
  • 14 laws to protect wildlife passed in 2009.
  • Cockfighting now illegal in all 50 states.
  • 150+ retailers and fashion designers have agreed to go fur-free.
  • Criminal abuse of cows at Conklin Dairy exposed and stopped.
  • Chino slaughterhouse putting dying “downer” cattle into schools’ food supply, exposed and stopped.
  • 8,057 animals treated for free in under-served areas in 2009.
  • 4,300 homeowners advised on the humane removal of wildlife in 2009.
  • 23,000+ low-cost spay and neuter surgeries in the Gulf Coast in 2009.
  • 120 cats rescued from a hoarder in Tennessee in 2010.
  • 40,000+ pets spayed and a quarter million dollars raised for spay/neuter programs during Spay Day 2009.
  • 90 dogs rescued from a New Jersey puppy mill in 2010.
  • 89 state laws protecting pets passed in 2009.
  • HSUS sends relief personnel to Haiti for disaster assistance in 2009.
  • 1300 animals have found refuge in HSUS’ Black Beauty Ranch.
  • Maine phasing out cruel intensive confinement systems.
  • Michigan phasing out cruel intensive confinement systems.
  • 49 starving horses rescued in West Virginia in 2010.
  • 8,320 animals treated by HSUS veterinarians in 2010.
  • Kraft switched one million eggs to cage-free.
  • Hellman’s adopted cage-free eggs.
  • Subway phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Ohio’s agriculture industry agreed to phase out veal crates and gestation crates by 2015.
  • HSUS transported 100+ dogs from overwhelmed Gulf Coast shelters to NJ and DC.
  • HSUS holds Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales accountable for mislabeling fur garments.
  • 2000 pet rats rescued from a hoarder in Southern California.
  • Truth in Fur Labeling Act signed into law.
  • HSUS information leads to seizure of 100 roosters from a cockfight ring in Dallas, TX.
  • Undercover video reveals horrific conditions at Smithfield Farms.
  • HSUS distributes 30+ grants to equine rescues as part of American Competitive Trail Horse Association’s fundraiser.
  • HSUS exposes Neiman Marcus sale of dog fur labeled as “raccoon”.
  • D.C. Superior Court rules that Neiman Marcus violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act by falsely labeling fur garments.
  • Pepsi fans overwhelmingly vote to award HSUS a $250,000 grant to provide veterinary assistance to animals in underserved communities.
  • After years of friction, the USDA agrees to appoint an ombudsman and improve oversight of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
  • 1,000th pet store joins HSUS’ Puppy Friendly Pet Store campaign, agreeing not to sell puppies.
  • HSUS exposes sale of dog fur labeled as “fake fur” at Barney’s, in NY.
  • Shark Conservation Act signed into law, prohibiting fishermen from cutting the fins off sharks and throwing them back into the water to die horribly.
  • Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman adopts cage-free egg policy.
  • Federal Court of Appeals upholds an HSUS request to stop the slaughter of sea lions at Bonneville Dam on the Oregon/Washington border.
  • HSUS exposes inhumane conditions at Willmar Poultry Company, the nation’s largest turkey hatchery.
  • HSUS and Multnomah County Animal Services provide 40 animal crates to the American Red Cross’ Emergency Warming Center in Portland, OR.
  • HSUS rescues 2500 rats as part of a hoarder intervention in San Jose, CA.  The rescue was featured on Season Three of A&E’s documentary, “Hoarders”.
  • On behalf of the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, HSUS coordinates a national symposium on modernizing the testing of chemicals in laboratories and reducing the role of animal testing.
  • HSUS town hall in Lincoln, NE opens meaningful discussion of agricultural issues with Nebraska farmers.
  • Wheaton, IL adopts non-lethal coyote deterrents instead of trapping and killing.
  • HSUS investigation of Bushway Packing leads to conviction on charges of animal cruelty.
  • 550 prairie dogs resettled, rescued from poisoning in Thunder Basin, WY.
  • 14 turkeys find sanctuary at HSUS’ Black Beauty Ranch in TX.
  • BermansVerminPhotographer Robbie Bellon photographs 25 adopted and rescued dogs of 25 celebrities to benefit the HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
  • St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, WI switches to cage-free eggs.
  • HSUS and the Kislak Family Fund present a $25,000 grant to the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for a program to benefit injured and ill shelter animals.
  • HSUS and Ellen Degeneres celebrate and raise awareness of shelters with the annual Shelter Appreciation Week, held the first week of each November.
  • HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center expands with the addition of a new animal hospital for wildlife rehabilitation.
  • Prop 109, an anti-animal, anti-voter initiative, is defeated in Arizona.
  • Fred Meyer Jewelers creates the Pawsitively Yours line of jewelry to benefit the HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
  • HSUS grants help Second Chance Animal Shelter of Brookfield, MA finish renovations after thieves steal building materials.
  • HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center releases a harrier back into the wild after 8 weeks of care and rehabilitation.
  • The Coats for Cubs program repurposes old fur coats to aid and comfort wildlife.
  • Wal-Mart’s private label eggs are now cage-free.
  • HSUS helps persuade Sara Lee to switch to cage-free eggs.
  • Orphaned raccoons raised and rehabilitated by HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center are released into the wild.
  • Medford, OR bakery, Harry & David, joins the growing cage-free movement.
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust establishes the Greenspring Wildlife Sanctuary, a permanent,  protected, 154-acre wildlife habitat in Ashland, OR.
  • Minnesota cat killer’s felony conviction on animal cruelty is upheld in State of Minnesota v. Ajalon Thomas Corcoran.
  • Virgin America airlines switch to cage-free eggs.
  • HSUS exposes the worst puppy mills in the “Missouri Dirty Dozen” report.
  • HSUS teams up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, donating forensic investigation equipment to crack down on poaching.
  • Valley Hospital of Ridgewood, NJ joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • Union Hospital of Cecil County, MD joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • St. Paul’s School of Concord, NH joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust establishes a 30-acre permanent wildlife habitat, the Ogden Wildlife Sanctuary, in Leon County, TX.
  • Pennsylvania joins the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a nationwide law enforcement network of 36 states to prevent criminal poachers from hunting in other states.
  • Pennsylvania signs HSUS-supported HB1859 into law, introducing felony penalties for poachers who are repeat offenders.
  • HSUS transports 10 pit bulls rescued from Ohio fighting rings to the Washington Animal Rescue League.
  • Barilla becomes the first pasta manufacturer to join the cage-free egg movement, switching 45% of its supply to cage-free in 2011.
  • HSUS investigates and exposes bear baiting in South Carolina, the only state to tolerate this cruelty.
  • Thanks to the efforts of HSUS, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Jane Goodall, Gov. Bill Richardson, and more, 186 chimpanzees were saved from further invasive medical testing in New Mexico.
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission votes unanimously to ban fox penning.
  • HSUS rescued more than 90 dogs from a Montana hoarder.
  • HSUS assisted in the rescue of 118 dogs from a breeder in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
  • On behalf of local residents, HSUS took legal action against the Olivera Egg Ranch for noxious pollution emanating from that factory farm.
  • HSUS and Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue took custody of 17 horses formerly destined for slaughter.
  • HSVMA launched a petition urging Congress to phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
  • Loyola Marymount University switched all eggs on campus to cage-free eggs
  • 36 Pet Food Express stores took the “Puppy Friendly Pet Store” pledge.
  • HSUS rescues 170 cats rescued from hoarders in Powell, WY; no reimbursement is requested for the capture, processing, treatment, and transport of the cats.

And that’s just a drop in the bucket.

Don’t fall for misinformation from the ignorant and the cruel.  

Get the facts from a reputable source.

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Vegan Pets: An Unscientific Dogma?

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Cat looks intently at goldfishWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

When meat-eaters ask vegetarians or vegans how we get our protein or nourish ourselves without meat, we can confidently refer them to the Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada on Vegetarian Diets“Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.”

But pet cats and dogs share a common ancestry and belong to the order Carnivora. The very definition of a carnivore is an animal that consumes a diet consisting wholly or almost exclusively of meat. Carnivora includes domestic cats and dogs, ferrets, lions, raccoons and even the giant panda, which is herbivorous. Carnivores are well-suited to a hunting lifestyle. Most members of Carnivora are superb hunters possessing sharp teeth and eyesight, a well-developed sense of smell, and sharp claws. Dogs differ from cats in that they are not strict (obligate) carnivores but are more omnivorous. One of the most complete studies of the daily nutrient requirements for dogs and cats currently available is the 424-page Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. When considering whether to feed a cat or dog a vegan diet, that reference is especially useful. It acknowledges that there is far greater latitude in ingredient selection for dog foods and quite feasible that they contain no animal products. However, the same is not true for cats, since strict vegan diets, when fed alone, are not nutritionally adequate even though it’s possible that cats will find them palatable. All commercial dog and cat foods should also adhere to the AFFCO nutrient profiles for cats and dogs.Prey drive

Vegans and vegetarians naturally want to refrain from contributing to animal cruelty by feeding pets meat-based diets. But the pet food industry exists as a by-product of the meat industry itself, and that industry shows no signs of discontinuation. Some people feel that the term “by-product” used as an ingredient in pet foods means that it is of low value or garbage that is not fit for human consumption. It is true that much of the content of pet foods comes from the “4-D Animals” – downers, the dead, the diseased, and dying animals. Pet foods also contain less palatable parts of animals that people do not want to eat. This includes some organ meats, intestines, lungs stomachs, legs, limbs, and sinewy parts etc. What makes “human grade meat” is in large part a culturally based aesthetic rather than anything practical. In other words, we choose not to eat many perfectly edible organ meats or other body parts simply because they gross us out.

Mystery meat close-up shotAs repugnant as we may find all these things, the reality is that cats, dogs, and ferrets can handle greater microbe burdens in their food, most of which is killed by the cooking process. In any case, carnivores or scavenging carnivores (like dogs) would all eat these same body parts in the wild, but probably in less hygienic conditions than those found in a cooked food.

So the question to feed vegan diets to cats, dogs, and ferrets really becomes an ethical concern. We want to have carnivores as pets, so should those carnivores be compelled to eat a diet without animal products even though making one that is nutritionally appropriate is difficult, and some of them may have to subsist on an inadequate diet? We domesticated them, invited them into our homes, and are now faced with the decision – are we trading one kind of animal welfare for another?

Observations About Dogs, Cats, and Other Carnivores In General

Domestic dogs (canis lupus familiaris) diverged from wolves (canus lupus)about 100,000 years ago. Their diets are predominantly meat, but they will eat non-meat foods such as vegetables and fruits. They do however, have some issues breaking down carbohydrates and cellulose in their guts.

Neither dogs, cats, nor ferrets produce amylase in their saliva, which starts the break-down process for carbohydrates and starches. Amylase is something that omnivores and herbivores produce, but not carnivorous animals. This places the burden entirely on the pancreas, forcing it to produce large amounts of amylase to cope with the cellulose and carbs in the plant material. The carnivore’s pancreas does not secrete cellulase to split the cellulose into glucose moleculFerret dentitiones, nor have dogs become efficient at digesting, assimilating and utilizing plant material as a source of high quality protein. Herbivores do those sorts of things.

Dogs, cats, and ferrets have the internal anatomy and physiology of a carnivore.   They have impressive, sharp teeth designed for grabbing, ripping, tearing or shearing meat – all adaptations for a prey-based diet. They do not have large flat molars for grinding up plant material. They have a short gut and smooth colon, which means that food passes through quickly. Plant matter though, needs time to sit and ferment, which translates to having a longer colon, as humans possess.

The carnivorous nature of the cats’ (felus catus) diet has lead to very specific metabolic differences that show up in their nutrient requirements. These differences make cats (and ferrets) “obligate” carnivores, meaning that they rely on nutrients in animal tissues to meet their specific and unique nutritional requirements and that some level of animal meat is required in their diet for survival. Specific nutritional idiosyncrasies of the cat includes increased protein requirements, as well as the inclusion of arginine, B12, vitamin A, methionine, lysine, taurine, carnitine, choline, and arachidonic acid. Taurine, arginine, arachidonic acid, along with vitamin A and other nutrients, are all found in animal meat and are either completely absent or found at much lower levels in plant material. The reality is that while dogs can utilize plant material and eat vegan diets, neither dogs,  cats,  nor ferrets bodies are designed to eat only plants as are herbivores.

Studies and Articles on Vegan Pet Foods

There aren’t a lot of studies on the long term health effects or appropriateness of vegan foods for pets. There are no long term studies that I could find (10+ years or the life of the pet). Therefore, feeding pets vegan diets amounts to in-home animal testing.  There are however,  shorter term studies and articles available,  authored by veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists:

  • Veterinarian Lorelei Wakefield’s peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association “Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers,” found that taurine levels were low in all the cats, but not critcally so. Dr. Wakefield is a vegan who owns a cat who eats meat-based prescription food.
  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says: “The nutritional needs of dogs and cats are very different. Dogs are omnivores and can do well on either meat-containPrey drive 2ing or vegetarian diets, while cats are strict carnivores with very precise nutritional needs.”
  • The US National Research Council released dietary guidelines for Cats and Dogs in 2003 “Cats are descended from carnivores, and their gastrointestinal system is well-suited to digesting and absorbing nutrients from animal-based proteins and fats. They should not be fed a vegetarian diet because it could result in harmful deficiencies of certain amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins.. Although dogs may prefer animal-based food, they can survive on a vegetarian diet as long as it contains sufficient protein and other nutrients..”
  • Vegan vet Armaiti May advises having a vet monitor your cat’s urine pH, rather than doing it yourself.
    Animal Voices (Toronto) covered this topic in 2006 with a round table discussion, involving two local activists whose cats fell seriously ill on a vegan diet
  • Gray, et. al., published in JAVMA (Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association)Nutritional Adequacy of Two Vegan Diets for Cats. The study showed two commercially available vegetarian cat foods (Vegecat KibbleMix and Evolution canned diet for adult cats) to be deficient in several key nutrients.
  • Veterinary nutritionist Dr. Julie Churchill says a vegan diet can eventually cause eye lesions and heart valve problems in cats.
  • One survey conducted by PETA found that 82 percent of dogs that had been vegan for five years or more were in good to excellent health and that the longer a dog remained on a vegetarian or vegan diet, the greater the likelihood that the dog would have overall good to excellent health. The study, however, also found that vegetarian dogs may be more prone to urinary tract infections as well as a form of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy, which can be caused by a deficiency of the amino acids L-carnitine or taurine.
  • Cats tend to form struvite crystals and stones if their urine pH is too low as a result of lower than required protein.  Urinary blockage risk is increased.  Male cats are especially at risk due to having a narrow urethra.

Dinner is servedFrom these studies I can see that vegan food for pets must be supplemented, which begs the question – how natural can it possibly be? The logic behind claiming that an obligate carnivore like a cat or ferret is healthiest if fed a vegan diet seems rather indefensible to me. And it’s certainly not without some degree or risk for dogs either. While a manufacturer’s statement that thousands of healthy and long-living animals are on their diets is interesting, additional information is needed to support the diets’ nutritional adequacy.

Highly Questionable Claims by Vegan Pet Food Manufacturers

Unfortunately, some pet owners seem to be endorsing what former chiropractor and Evolution Diet pet food CEO Eric Weisman regurgitates about vegan cats. He is often touted as an expert in nutrition even though he was not, as far as I could determine, a medical doctor or veterinarian of any sort. Some of his more outrageous claims about vegan foods and pets are found variously on the internet, where he is prone to making many unsubstantiated claims, including the following (in reference to the Evolution diet):

  • “Dogs Live to be 21”
  • “Cars live to be 22”
  • “Ferrets live to be 13 ½”
  • “Evolution Pet Food reverses late stage cancer in dogs and cats, even in those near death.”
  • “Vegan diets reverse organ failure”
  • “We are observing up to a 40% increase in life expectancy with Dogs and Cats in Human Family Homes.”
  • “Wild animals are ground up in pet food”
  • “…treats joint, vascular, autoimmune diseases, liver – kidney disorders, cancers, and other internal diseases in sick animals”
  • “Meat, poultry, and fish contain radioactive ingredients”
  • “Evolution pet food will clear any opacities from a cat’s corneas”
  • “Cats are kinder and more loving on a vegan diet” (I suspect that a cat with a conscience would probably not be a cat)

Weisman’s biography describes him as a “former human physician” and a physician in private practice. Instead, he appears to have been a Dr. of Chiropractic, which is not a medical doctor. Along with his education at Ryerson, University of Wheres the beefToronto, and McMaster, he cites 2 Diplomas including a “Doctorate in post-graduate Health Sciences” at what is now Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota. I have no idea how a diploma is also a doctorate. Northwestern Health Sciences U is a chiropractic and massage therapy school. According to news reports, he faced 58 charges, including practicing human and veterinary medicine without a license and animal cruelty and plead out to some of those charges.

Weisman has made this food for approximately 2 decades but hasn’t yet published any proof of his claims. By Weisman’s account, there is no “national test data” either.  I could not locate any veterinarian testimonials on any of his sites. Of course, any “studies” Mr. Weisman refers to don’t actually exist, or are simply anecdotal comments from purchasers of his pet food. Where he ran in to trouble with the chiropractic board is when he started reviewing his client’s pets blood chemistries, analysis upon which he’s not qualified to render any opinion. The chiropractic board was hearing complaints that Weisman was keeping his pets in the office, and sometimes did his chiropractic treatments covered in animal hair and without washing his hands. Further compounding his problems with the board, Weisman’s website began offering $50 packages to treat cancer, kidney failure, and dementia, not including the price of up to $275 worth of vitamins and supplements. For $100, pet owners could buy a “Heart Disease Emergency Treatment Plan” that included a 24-hour emergency pager number for Weisman. For one client, Weisman recommended a dog receive caffeine enemas for lymphoma.

Ferret instinctListening to the various podcasts he appears in, he does give a lot of veterinary advice even after being reprimanded for doing exactly that. His soundbites are filed with “woo” from start to finish. On his own site – www.weismannutrition.com, he still claims he is a Dr. of Health Sciences. He cites such terminology as “The World’s Most Advanced Nutrient-Metabolite Procedures for Cancers, Organ Failure, and Systemic Infectious Diseases.”  Seriously? What’s a “nutrient-metabolite procedure” and how does it cure or treat infectious diseases?  Weisman can’t seen to stop practicing medicine without a license.

In a very revealing and highly entertaining exchange, Eric Weisman runs up against a vegan interviewer with a PhD in Biochemistry, who also isn’t sure what a “nutrient-metabolite procedure” is either,  and isn’t afraid to ask him hard questions about his convictions or his claims about his pet food. Weisman doesn’t respond to the really difficult questions, and sends the interviewer, Ian McDonald,  a vegan himself,  a nastygram after claiming that he is merely a misunderstood visionary, which is an oft-repeated claim by people selling quackery.

In addition to all the above, in 2003 a recall of Go! Natural pet food was conducted due to a number of cases of acute liver failure associated with the food. The underlying cause was never found, but the company manufacturing the food continues to tout it as healthier based on claims about “good” and “bad” ingredients very similar to those made on the Evolution Diet site. Simply claiming something is healthy and natural provides no assurance that it is safe or healthy.

Vegan pet food promoters often sell their food with fear, vague or even fantastical claims. It is the most egregious kind of unfounded fear mongering with no evidence provided to support it.

Even without the unsupportable claims, it’s hard to justify feeding vegan foods to these animals as a mainstay diet. Since I eat mostly vegan, it’s an understatement for me to say that I don’t care for industrial meat production. However, I find inner fishit almost as offensive when any food is marketed by misrepresentation. Since Weisman has made a career out of embellishing the benefits of his food and violating the law, I can’t imagine why anyone would think that a properly balanced commercial meat-based food is a worse alternative than what is being promoted.

In one of the MP3s featuring Weisman, he suggests with-holding food from cats if they don’t want to go vegan. Refraining from feeding cats anything else to eat other than their products in order to force them to eat vegan is cruel, IMO. I can’t personally comprehend how we can stop animal cruelty by feeding a carnivore plant matter – we’re really only substituting one form of cruelty for another by imposing our own ethical principles on a species dependant upon us for their welfare.

Even if we can justify feeding dogs an entirely vegan diet, why would we necessarily want to since it cannot be said that vegetable matter is natural for them. And it isn’t clear yet whether a nutritionally adequate vegan food can be made for cats. It may be possible, but there are reasons to doubt it and there is no evidence that cats can be healthy for long periods of time on such a diet. It amounts to deciding which of your conflicting ethical principles take precedence. Do you do more harm supporting the meat industry or take a chance with an animal companion’s health? It seems to me the most ethically straightforward option for vegans is to choose herbivorous or omnivorous pets.

cat looking at goldfish

Half-Baked – BARF Diets For Dogs And Cats

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Wolf KillWritten by Heather Clemenceau

The provision of food to our pets is an expression of affection and a symbol of the duty of care we owe to them. One thing I’ve learned from interactions on forums and Facebook groups is that you cannot ever underestimate the relationship between pets and their people. Kids, sure. But pets? Just don’t go down that path. People often react fiercely (and illogically) when it comes to discussing food for their pets. At one time, the majority of dogs and cats were fed commercially prepared foods without question. However, some pet owners have moved away from feeding commercial pet food products exclusively and more are asking questions and looking for alternatives. The 2007 pet food recall due to melamine contamination brought the issue of pet food safety to the forefront. As in any market-driven economy, there are many more alternative diets and food products available, but the dietary appropriateness, adequacy, and safety may be in question with alternative diets, especially those consisting primarily of raw meat.

BARF stands for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet. It’s also occasionally referred to as RMBD (raw meat based diet). These diets usually include uncooked ingredients derived from domesticated or wild-caught food animal species and that are fed to dogs or cats. These ingredients can include skeletal muscles, internal organs, and bones from mammals, fish, or poultry as well as uncooked eggs. The vast majority of pet foods are by-products of the human food industry.

Dogs Are Not Wolves

Adherents of BARF tell us that raw meat is an appropriate diet to feed our dogs because dogs are essentially wolves. Raw meat and bones are the major part of a wolf’s diet, along with offal such as organs, eggs, decaying material, birds with feathers – whatever they eat is obviously going to be raw. They may eat vegetables or foods left behind by humans if they are particularly hungry, but for the most part, the vegetables they consume come from the guts of the prey animals they eat. Taxonomically and phylogenetically, dogs, like wolves, are carnivores and they all belong to the order Carnivora, aptly named since most members are primarily meat consumers. Functionally however, dogs are scavenging carnivores, not obligate carnivores, and they can usually adapt quite easily to an omnivorous diet regardless of their taxonomic classification. Therefore, we could say that the concept of “evolutionary nutrition” ignores the simple fact that taxonomy and phylogeny are not necessarily destiny, nor do they predict the precise details of a species’ nutritional needs. A good example of this exception is with the giant panda, who, while possessing the same digestive system of a carnivore, is almost completely herbivorous.

The domestic dog is the most phenotypically diverse mammal on earth. Domestic dogs branched off from their wolf ancestor approximately 100,000 years ago, and artificial selection has shaped modern breeds and has been an important dog and bonesource of the extreme phenotypic variation present in modern-day dogs. Since then numerous anatomic and behavioural changes that have occurred as a result of dogs living with humans and sharing our food. In contrast, the modern wolf has not been exposed to 100,000 years of eating alongside humans, and therefore its nutritional needs were not altered in the same manner as dogs. To expect these different species to have the same nutritional needs is simply not substantiated via biology.

Domestic dogs exhibit many features of neoteny, which has occurred as a result of humans selecting dogs for “cute” characteristics such as large eyes, soft hair, rounder heads, smaller teeth, and floppy rather than upright ears. So their refined anatomical structures are significantly different from wolves. Of course, even if BARF advocates could demonstrate that dogs were the modern day equivalent to wolves in terms of diet, the evolutionary nutrition argument would still fail because at its heart it is nothing but a form of the naturalistic fallacy. It’s a fallacy that just because wolves get their nutrition from carcasses that raw meat is the appropriate source of food for domesticated dogs – “natural” cannot necessarily be equated with “optimal.”

Unsubstantiated Claims….

BARF advocates claim that dogs have better health and less disease on these diets. Claims are even made that bones boost the immune system. Proponents of raw meat diets also claim that other benefits consist of improvement in coat and skin; elimination of breath and fecal odour; improvement in energy, behaviour, and a reduction in medical conditions including allergies, arthritis, pancreatitis, dental disease, and oddly enough, parasitism. Once again, anecdotes are not evidence, and these claimed health benefits have not undergone scientific evaluation. Dr. Mark Crislip, an infectious disease specialist with a very listenable podcast on iTunes, repeatedly reminds his listeners that the phrase “in my experience” is a dangerous expression!

dogbreedtree1Sometimes the commercial pet food industry is demonized in the same way that the Complementary Alternative Medicine industry (CAM) attacks Big Pharma. CAM veterinarians frequently attack traditional veterinary medicine with often irrational and unfounded criticisms. In addition to suggesting that conventional medicine is misguided and ineffective, CAM practitioners frequently assert that it is actively harmful, particularly vaccines and medicines. The same arguments and logical fallacies are often used to promote alternative feeding methods. For instance, homeopathic veterinarian Dr. Richard Pitcairn, who claims medicine is “unscientific,” and is obsessed with “toxins,” describes a mystical “life energy” that dogs cannot, in his opinion, get from processed food. Why is it that so many followers of homeopathy claim to be able to detect “life energy” that other people cannot? And I wonder if Pitcairn eats all his food raw as well? Dr. Pitcairn also claims that euthanized cats and dogs are routinely disposed of by veterinary hospitals to be recycled into pet food. This simply isn’t true. Veterinarian Dr. Dan Scott claims that commercial pet foods are responsible for the majority of pet diseases. So where is the proof? Where is the evidence of widespread disease that can be attributed to commercial pet food? Scott doesn’t seem to provide any but his followers are expected to take him at his word. There is no evidence that manufactured pet foods cause disease (obviously this precludes foods made in China, which have caused the death of thousands of pets). Dr. Tom Lonsdale (who was kicked out of the Australian Veterinary Association) claims that fake animal rights activists conspire with veterinarians and the commercial food industry to keep pet owners in the dark about “junk food” for pets.

Benefits Vs. Risks

There is some evidence that raw diets afforded higher levels of protein for certain species of exotic and domesticated animals, but that this is offset by other specific risks. Furthermore, nutrients that are lost during the cooking process for manufactured pet foods are supplemented to account for this.

The FDA has warned against feeding bones to dogs, as they can cause fractured teeth, intestinal perforations leading to peritonitis, and obstipation/impactions in the GI dog swalowling bonetract. Dogs can die without veterinary intervention if they cannot pass an obstruction without help. And if a dog fractures a tooth, it is likely to be a “chewing tooth” such as a large molar and not a small pre-molar. Softer bones are also great for lodging themselves in the narrow spaces between teeth and becoming food for anaerobic bacteria, thus generating periodontal disease. Cats can also choke on bones,  particularly chicken bones.

There is mounting evidence of other potential harm as a result of BARF feeding. Renal failure is a common cause of death in older dogs and cats – protein is poorly metabolized by dogs with kidney failure. Most veterinary hospitals are unable to detect kidney failure until it is quite advanced, and in any case it is irreversible. Proponents of raw diets seem to ignore this common cause of death in older pets. Commercial pet foods are available for animals with renal failure or allergies to certain proteins.

We cook meat for a reason and most of us know that we have to take precautions when handling it. While dogs and cats can usually handle a larger burden of microbes in their food than humans, BARF feeders have no way of knowing whether their pets are acquiring parasites or infectious disease. The digestive systems of dogs and cats are short, acidic, and handle bacteria well. This is why they are not susceptible to Salmonella, parasites, or E.coli from tainted meat as humans are. Humans have very long digestive tracks which allow food to linger for 24 hours or more, thus allowing more time for parasites to get into their bloodstreams. The majority of dogs and cats with E.coli or Salmonella organisms may not even exhibit symptoms.

Dogs and cats will periodically shed parasites and this is a risk to children and owners who have compromised immune systems. In one study, approximately half the dogs fed a single meal of contaminated raw food shed Salmonella in their feces for up to 7 days  Other bacteria that have been found in raw meat diets include E. coli and Clostridium. Dogs also shed Salmonella in their saliva, so if your dog eats raw foods with Salmonella bacteria and then licks your hands or face, the dog may be transferring bacteria to you.

raw foodIn a large study conducted on 200 hundred healthy therapy dogs from Ontario and Alberta, some of whom were fed raw meat during the year, it was observed that the incidence rate of Salmonella shedding in the raw meat-fed dogs was 0.61 cases/dog-year, compared with 0.08 cases/dog-year in dogs that were not fed raw meat. Raw meat consumption was also significantly associated with shedding E. coli. One of the conclusions of the study was that dogs fed raw meat may be a risk to humans whose immune systems are not fully functioning, and should be excluded from AAI (animal assisted intervention) programmes, particularly when the programmes involve interaction with humans at high risk of infection.

An article from Phys.org entitled “Raw Meat May Not Be Enough for Cats or Tigers” found that:

“… raw meat diets met many nutrient requirements for (captive wild) cats, but there were some gaps. None of the diets contained the recommended levels of linoleic acid, the horsemeat did not provide the levels of arachidonic acid recommended for kittens, gestating females and lactating females.”

These same researchers were:

“…a bit wary” of pet owners feeding homemade raw diets. … pet owners risk exposing (domestic) cats to increased pathogens and nutrient imbalances. Pet owners often feed trimmed cuts of meat. These cuts lack fat,educated dog which is crucial in feline diets. According to the researchers, if pet owners feed raw meat diets, they will likely have to supplement it with other nutrients, including appropriate sources of fat and essential fatty acids. A high-protein diet can also change the types of microbes in the gut. The researchers write that increased protein fermentation in the bowel may lead to more “odiferous” feces, depending on the digestibility of the protein.”

Another study found that dogs fed raw chicken may be a source of contamination.

There don’t appear to be any measurable demonstrated benefits from a BARF diet, only theoretical benefits that are often based on erroneous assumptions or anecdotal observations, while there are documented risks, potential nutritional inadequacy and possible injury from raw bones. On the other hand, cooking food comes with advantages. Basically, cooking is just a method of doing some of the digesting beforehand. Ruminants ferment their food in their stomachs, and we cook ours. Do people eat raw eggs and raw meat? Yes, we do, but just because we occasionally eat raw meat doesn’t mean that it’s a particularly good idea.

The most common forms of commercial BARF diets consist of are fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried meats intended to be nutritionally complete and balanced. These diets are often formulated to meet values listed in the AAFCO Dog or Cat Food Nutrient Profiles. However, some of these foods may be labelled as intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only, which means that they are not nutritionally complete and balanced. Traditional pet food manufacturers are regulated in that they must use ingredients that are “Generally Recognized As Safe” or GRAS. At the very minimum, canned food must contain minimum percentages of crude fat and crude protein. Commercial feeds often provide ingredients that BARF diets cannot possibly provide, such as foods for dogs or cats with renadoggie researchl failure and allergies. If you feed dry food it is very easily measured for consistent feeding and dogs and cats usually have solid poops that are easy to pick up. Dry food cleans teeth better than either soft or BARF food too. I wouldn’t give a dog rawhide either, because I have never been able to verify the country of origin for these products – for all I know they may originate in China as well.

The key factor is risk reduction and BARF is not exactly a low risk diet given the potential for contamination for both pets and humans. Given that dogs and cats do get foodborne illnesses there is all the more reason to cook their food beforehand. When I do give my dog and cat meat instead of commercial food, it is always pre-cooked.

Horse Killer Finds God, Makes Apology

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Don CorleoneWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Canadian horse advocates will almost certainly recall the bizarre case of horse-decapitator Darrell Mowat. In 2012, in a scene straight out of “The Godfather,” the Niagara Falls, Canada man went full-out Don Corleone when he killed and decapitated a draft horse and left its head in the pickup bed of an acquaintance. The remains of the two-year old Percheron, known as “Joe” were later found by Niagara Regional police on a hobby farm in rural Niagara Falls, where Mowat volunteered as a farm hand.

Mowat, now 30, was charged with killing cattle contrary to section 444 of the Criminal Code of Canada, willfully causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, and mischief under $5,000. Under the Criminal Code, “killing cattle” also refers to killing horses. His arrest and later publicity were followed by petitions to ensure that he served actual jail time, which he ultimately did – for six months. Originally police phrased the crime as a “prank gone wrong,” because nothing says practical joke quite like cutting off a horse’s head and putting it in someone’s truck in their driveway.

Probably most inmates become familiar with the jailhouse conversion. Even Paris Hilton, who served a 45 day jail sentence (she served only 3 days) for reckless driving, had a jailhouse conversion. Whatever you think of Mowat’s apology and new found religion, you must admit that the whole “Thou shalt not kill” part of the Ten Commandments seems pretty clear, even if you’re not actually religious…..

Apology – Happy Earth Day!

Darrell MowatAn apology to all animal lovers – Happy Mother Earth Day!

To whom it may concern,

My name is Darrell Mowat. Although most of my life, I had lived not quite understanding the greater purpose to everything here on earth, it has become more apparent to me as of late. A couple of years ago I made a hasty decision that would change the course of the rest of my life, first for the worse and then ultimately for the better. This decision caused me to serve 6 months in a local detention centre where I received a black eye and some bruises from a beating, Thank God (Proverbs 20:30)! And where I started the development of plans and writing a book, that I hope maintain the majority of the rest of my physical life here on earth.

Although I never contemplated never mind considered going to jail in the past, it was inevitable. I committed an act, killed a horse, and caused mischief which led to my jail sentence. Now although I will not justify what I had done, I will defend myself to death, in that I was not cruel in how it happened. As a young child I had a bb gun and although I played with it in the backyard and thought about lifting it to target a bird, I could never gather up the strength to do it. That’s just the way my mind thinks. On this farm where the incident took place it was the same  circumstances. I learned how to take care of animals, namely, horses, sheep and lambs. I spent sometime during lambing season, caring for these young lambs and successfully nursing those who were being rejected by their mothers, then turning them back out into their pens. I also learned the grimmer part of life’s realities on the farm which is death.

Horse like Joe

Not Joe, but a similar Percheron horse…

With regards to all that happened, I am happy, as I have had the chance to meet some wonderful people throughout the process (both in jail and out) and I’ve worked out some issues I had held with me since a young child. All of this has allowed me to begin to move on to greener pastures. Mind the pun.

One of the reasons I believe this entire experience took place was so that I could see for my own eyes the problems plaguing the “lower” echelons of our society. This is the way I have been able to take positive out of the situation. I had experienced much of this during that 6 month period. And although these men are no different than anyone else, they had had some trying experiences in their life and they made wrong choices, just like me, to try and rectify them.

It is my hope that those who were negatively affected by this situation forgive me and that in the end their lives are also better off.

Thank you all for your support and love for animals and those who care for them!

Kind regards,

Darrell Mowat

www.darrellmowat.com

In addition to his apology, Mowat has registered his own top-level domain. (Note that he didn’t apologize specifically to Joe, the horse). As part of his apparent jailhouse conversion, Mowat is shilling a book, which is available thorough the godfathervarious christian publishers and even Amazon. He also has a Facebook page and blog where he rather compulsively quotes biblical passages and even provides his definition of marriage, courtesy of Isaiah, Corinthians, among other passages in the bible, and makes repeated references to Yahweh, Allah, God, and Krishna. In reading most of his blog entries and the intro to his book, it seems apparent that he’s not being very forthcoming about what led to this so-called conversion – namely, his bizarre crime and subsequent arrest and conviction.

I must admit I don’t want him to find solace in religion – I want him to seek understanding and treatment via psychiatric care, of which he is clearly in need (in my opinion,  at least).  In various news reports his father is quoted as describing him as “troubled” in his youth.  I also believe that his access to animals should be restricted.  I’m angry that he chose to downplay and marginalize his crime, which he refers to as merely having made “wrong choices.” Animal abuse is a predictor of other crimes – it’s like a crystal ball into the future of the abusers.  The statistics supporting the animal abuse to other crimes connection are overwhelming. “For instance, in one twenty-year study, 70% of animal abusers committed other crimes, and 44% went on to harm people. In another recent study, 99% of animal abusers had convictions for other crimes, 100% of people who committed sexual homicide  had abused animals, and 61.5% of animal abusers had assaulted a human as well. A 1997 study showed that when comparing 153 animal abusers to neighbors of similar age and gender, animal abusers were five times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, three times more likely to commit drug-related crimes, even three times more likely to get traffic tickets.

Many people already know that animal abusers go on to abuse others in their household. There are many statistics out there as well but to summarize, 80-90% of victims of domestic abuse state that their abuser started by abusing pets. Then, an additional vicious cycle often begins because the abused kids, at least 1/3 of the time, according to various studies, abuse animals themselves.”

Miracle

 

To Market, To Market…..

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To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done. ~Nursery Rhyme

peaceable-kingdom-edward-hicks

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The St. Jacob’s Market resides on the same premises as the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX). The dichotomy between the ways of the Mennonite farmers (the market is in the middle of the largest Mennonite population in Ontario) and our modern lifestyle is evident everywhere in the market.

On the days that I’ve visited, there are always tourist buses in the parking lot. The market, and the Village of St. Jacob’s shops a short distance away are a popular tourist destination, especially for those wanting clothing, rustic crafts, summer sausage, apple fritters, and other prepared foods catering to food tourists. Tourists also enjoy photographing the locals in the long, plain dress of the Anabaptists.

Not only is the market a contrast between old and new, it’s a contrast in the modern versus biblical view that animals fall under the dominion of man for his exclusive use, and that they therefore don’t reason, they don’t feel, nor do they form social bonds. Anabaptists are traditionally pacifists and separatists, yet they often treat their animals as a cash crop, particularly in the example of puppy mills,  which are common within Mennonite and Amish communities. Their buggy horses are often angular and very worn looking, and in October, OLEX will see many buggy horses at auction that the Mennonites don’t want to feed over winter. Clearly, arbitrarily assigning animals rights (or in this case, lack of) by citing religious traditions is flawed.
When the Cows Come HomeWe think that the days when Rene Descartes saw animals as irrational beings lacking in consciousness are ancient history, but in the livestock area of the market, animals are still treated as having no physical, emotional , or social needs. The food and craft areas of the market are very busy and full of bright colours – vegetables, clothing, jams etc. but the livestock market building is deplorable and hopeless, filled with stressed farm animals and horses,  many of them stereotypically pacing in their pens. Here many of the animals are often very overcrowded and placed with others who were not formerly part of their social group. It’s profoundly at odds with herd animals’ nature to be closely penned or penned with other strange animals with whom they have no social hierarchy. Close to the end of the day, before they are to be picked up by kill buyers, the cows and bulls are herded into one pen, and there they appear even more stressed – bulls mount cows and other disagreements ensue.

Most people from the market area or the Village of St. Jacob’s don’t venture anywhere near the livestock building, and they likely wouldn’t cross the “biosecurity” warnings on the doors, especially if they have their cherished family dog with them. Unlike in the tourist areas, pictures are not welcome here, because no one wants the outside world to see the dire conditions that exist for the animals. This is why activists and those with smartphones aren’t welcome in the OLEX building.

While the people bringing horses and other animals to the auction are to blame along with some of the handlers who occasionally hit the animals, the consumer is also to blame in this abysmal system. Yet the consumers don’t come into this building, because they don’t want to be made aware of the atrocities committed here and they certainly don’t want to be made to think about where the majority of these animals are going after the market closes for the day.

What the Tourists See…

 

The Livestock Market at OLEX…Out-Of-Sight and Out-Of-Mind For Most Everyone

 

 

And a Happy Epiloque for Two OLEX Mares…

Sold to a kill buyer,  they landed at NYNE (Need You Now Equine).  There are no words to describe groups like NYNE,  who do not rescue horses in the orthodox sense,  but sell them off kill buyer lots for a profit.  Nevertheless,  these two mares,  bonded as you can see in the kill pen in a photograph taken in August,  are shown in the second photo at NYNE being offered for sale for $1,200 apiece.  Finally,  an update was posted on Facebook advising that they have evaded slaughter and were placed into a new home.

 

 

It’s Not Horseback Riding – It’s Exploitation!

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Royal Lippizaners

© Heather Clemenceau – taken in Toronto where the Lipizzaners were on tour.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Last night I read the “Death to Carnism” blog on Tumblr – “Horseback Riding: Is it Vegan?” The main premise of the blog is that horses are cruelly treated and oppressed by riding,  a viewpoint I struggled to comprehend. The author is also adamant that animals should not be possessed by anyone who benefits from such ownership in ANY way, or if their presence in our lives gives us any sort of personal pleasure or happiness.   So obviously, I think the themes presented in the blog are spurious, because, even though I don’t eat meat, I can hardly equate riding horses with eating a factory-farmed animal. Nor do I believe that pet ownership (a legal construct) implies that we are guilty of imprisonment, commodification, oppression, or cruelty to animals. For someone so intensely passionate about treating animals well, the author of the blog seems to have no issue treating human beings like crap. I realize that some extremist vegans don’t think there is anything special about those who are blind or confined to a wheelchair, but it probably isn’t feasible for those people to hire humans to perform the same tasks that many animals perform. Or worse, go without a therapy animal altogether just because someone believed that the disabled person ought not to have derived any convenience from the pet.

The author also believes that horse owners should be persuaded to simply turn their companion horses loose as a means of liberating them from the confines of

Hapsburg eagles on the Lipizzaner bits

Hapsburg eagles on the Lipizzaner bits

enslavement. This ownership = enslavement meme is consistent with Rutgers University Professor Gary Francione’s extremist abolitionist movement, which does not justify the keeping of any domesticated animals or pets no matter how well they are treated. “Vegangelicals” such as the blog author mistakenly believe that horses (and by extension, household pets, therapy dogs, guide dogs or even goats used to maintain pastures and provide manure for the garden) are subjugated in a comparable manner to the confinement of farm, laboratory, marine, or circus animals.

Of course, activities that are too risky for horses (such as  abusive rodeos, chuckwagon races, and some other activities where the degree of risk is unacceptably high) should be eliminated or the welfare impacts minimized. Any invasive training or riding techniques that involve punishment or extreme control or chronic injury should certainly be avoided. Horse owners are always ethically responsible for all the activities and actions they conduct on horses, and  we must always be prepared to justify them ourselves.  Most horse activities, while they are primarily carried out for the “happiness” of horse owners, are non-injurious to horses.  Healthy horses can easily carry 25% of their own body weight or slightly more for shorter duration activities without negative effect.

Another issue for the top hat tip to Nicblog author is whether we can ever be justified in asking horses to do something they might not enjoy, or something they might enjoy less than standing in a paddock socializing with other horses. Most horses would choose to stand in a paddock eating grass with other horses because they are bound to other members of their herd. However, while asking a horse to carry us in for a lesson or trail ride might impose upon the horse for an hour or slightly longer, but it is hardly an example of abuse. Most horses have a pleasant, tractable nature about them and don’t begrudge us riding them at all. Asking a domesticated, trained horse to participate in an activity that is within the scope of its training and physical/mental ability is not abusive to the animal.

And by what stretch of arrogance can anyone believe that we should ever turn horses loose?  There are infinite examples of horses starving to death after being abandoned by uncaring owners. Abandonment of an animal is usually considered a criminal behaviour, and yet,  some followers of the “Carnism” blog were praising this as admirable – it’s not. The author clearly does not comprehend that wild horses are being systematically exterminated in their natural environments. Agencies in both the US and Canada consistently bungle efforts to manage the population of wild horses on public lands (that’s a nice way of saying how to cull them, which is a nice way of saying how to kill them). If one wants an example of inhumane treatment of wild horses, they need look no further than helicopter roundups and corralling horses into traps, often followed by slaughter not long thereafter.  And only a deluded person believes that companion dogs and cats (or other animals) used to being cared for as “oppressed” pets are better off being suddenly turned out to become strays.  One only has to look at the condition of former pets brought into shelters to know that they don’t usually thrive. Caring owners don’t abandon animals.

tack room for the lippizaners 4

The tack shown here (for the Lipizzaner stallions) is leather, but all horse tack is available in biothane, a synthetic. It is generally a rule in most show classes that you must use leather saddles, bridles and harnesses however.

I chose not to eat animal products out of a love for animals, passion for conservation, and concern for our diminishing global resources. Avoiding meat and other animal products seemed to be a kinder, gentler, and more ecological choice. Yet via direct experience, I’ve found that many vegans are quick to point out what they think are unjustifiable uses of companion animals while being unwilling to acknowledge that even their own meals include death. Growing fields of soy beans means removing habitat from thousands of wild animals, killing them through deforestation and loss of their home. Songbirds and insects are killed by pesticides. Fertilizers are often made from petroleum, and fields of tofu seeds are literally being sprayed with oil. If we’re not using oil to fertilize crops then we are using organic material: manure, blood, bone, and fish.  We exist,  and therefore it’s impossible to entirely avoid harming animals.

There are reasons why many potential vegans refuse to self-identify as vegan. Sadly, the movement has become more about angry rhetoric and less about common sense. Veganism should be an ideal and not a cult. If vegans proceed to lambast thoughtful and pragmatic people with the view that they cannot ride horses or own animals then they must also accept that their philosophical position will never appeal to people who have the motivation to live life without unnecessarily and intentionally harming animals. Most companion animals live extremely comfortable lives compared with factory-farmed or even wild animals. We must of course always treat animals in a manner that invokes respect.   The “Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness” was one clear expression of this consensus. That animals can consciously suffer needs no discussion.

Tack room for the lipizzaners

The Lipizzaner is the breed of horse most closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, where they demonstrate the haute école or “high school” movements of classical dressage, including the highly controlled, stylized jumps and other movements known as the “airs above the ground – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipizzan

Even PeTA is not opposed to horseback riding:

“When there is a respectful, loving bond between horse and human, then horseback riding can be as much an act of companionship and exercise as walking one’s dog. However, just as we oppose the use of choke collars on dogs, we also oppose the use of whips, spurs, and other devices that cause discomfort and pain to horses.

With domesticated horses, PETA supports humane, interactive training. Horses are not equipment and can suffer from the heat, humidity, and overexertion. Horses don’t enjoy constant work any more than a human being enjoys being forced to do manual labor all day long. Just as a dog can be housetrained in a positive manner, gentle methods can be employed to teach a horse to tolerate a rider on his or her back. PETA does not support training methods based on punishment.

We do not support keeping horses in isolation and believe that they are happiest when kept in social groups.”

 

 

Called-Out Comment: Is William Ty Irby Trolling Me?

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Bucket Stance

Another example of the “bucket stance.” Sore horses being ridden by overweight riders = more pain.

Yesterday I received this response to my blog post on the Tennessee Walker Horses.  It is purported to be from William Ty Irby,  so for the sake of this blog post we’ll assume it is actually he, although I can’t prove it.  The IP addy of the person posting resolves to the appropriate place in Tennessee though.  Mr. Irby Sr. is the father of Marty Irby, who was discussed at length in that blog post as a reformed “Big Licker” who is now a evangelic “Flatter.”

So,  “Mr. Irby” has taken issue with what I’ve written,  and the suggestion is that I’ve fallen for HSUS propaganda and lies. He writes:

“Ms Clemenceau: Please do not “throw around” my name, especially when you have no clue about which you speak! It is apparent from your article that YOU ARE ANOTHER OF THE GULLIBLE IDIOTS FALLING FOR THE HSUS PROPAGANDA & LIES! My son does not speak to me & has purposefully withheld his cell # from me! Where were you 44 years ago when the HPA was passed? How many performance horse shows have you personally attended & observed today’s inspection process for you to become an expert? Send me your email address & maybe I can send you some FACTUAL information to help better educate you on the matter! This would include FACTS disclosing my son Marty’s personal vendetta against the TN Walking Horse Celebration & the Chairman of it’s Board. Please try to learn more about the subject so you won’t be broadcasting incorrect information!”

Clearly,  this comment,  which you can read in the blog comments section,  deserves to be called-out….

Mr. Irby,

For years, the fox has watched the hen house in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The “Lickers” turned the Tennessee Walker Horse into a freak show to the

Chip Weddington's Facebook message to Marty Irby

TWH Trainer Chip Weddington’s Facebook message to Marty Irby

general public and other horse owners. I can hardly bear to watch that awful flailing “gait” in the show ring, and the quality of riding in the “Big Lick” classes is the poorest I’ve ever seen of any breed show.  Have I attended any “performance shows?”  No,  the short answer is that we don’t have any such shows in my part of the world,  so the sum total of my experience comes from watching videos.  That’s more than enough for me – thank god the “Big Lick” is unheard of where I live.

TWHBEA has lost members in droves, and it is solely due to reputation. You have lost the public and turned cheating into high art. And now the TWHBEA has backed itself into a corner because many flat-shod TWH owners won’t join with you, and why would they? On Feb. 21, the Shelbyville Times-Gazette ran a story quoting Mike Inman, CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration (Sore-abration?) saying that the cost of most seats at the 2014 11-day show has been cut to less than half the usual price. Boxes with six seats that normally cost $575 will run $200 this year. And better boxes that normally cost $625 will be discounted to $500.

You’re fixated on blaming the HSUS when numerous other organizations that I highlighted in the original blog post all agree that penalties for soring need to increase. Not only is the PAST act backed by HSUS, but it is endorsed by veterinary groups. There is no indoctrination by HSUS or any other group. This is an effort to end a series of brutal practices that have been condoned and celebrated at the highest levels in the industry.

Clown shoes

If people wore stacks, they’d look like this…….

If soring, pads, chains, elongated hooves, long shanked bits, and all the other action devices used to create the “Big Lick” and cripple the breed were to go away, then good riddance to them. The physics and equine biomechanics that occur as a result of attaching these giant pads to the hoof confirms for me that the process is never benign. Unshod, flat shot, light shod are the only way to go. In my opinion, the only way to stop soring is to eliminate the “Big Lick” overall.  Why should your industry be given any more opportunities to clean itself up – the abuse has gone on for decades, culminating with the arrest of Larry Wheelon.

And why would I give you my email address? In order that I can become the recipient of cringeworthy messages like the masterpiece sent to your son by Chip Weddington?  If you had actually wanted to refute anything in my blog you could easily have done it in the blog comments. But you didn’t. If your son won’t give you his contact information, I can certainly understand why. Friends and family who condone abuse are not worth it.

Sincerely,

Heather Clemenceau

 

Not everything out of Tennessee is as good as this:

 

 

The Dirty, Low-Rent Ethics of the “Big Lickers”

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Stacks

Written by: Heather Clemenceau

Passing a bill in the United States Congress is not exactly a walk in the park. The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act was introduced in response to a 2010 Report of the Inspector General at the United States Department of Agriculture. In that report, the Inspector General concluded that the current program for inspecting Tennessee Walking Horses (TWH) for soring abuse is not adequate because the inspectors are hired from participants in the shows and therefore have a conflict of interest.

The PAST Act seeks to ban any artificial devices aimed at changing a horse’s natural gait, including caustic chemicals, stacked shoes, and weights and chains, and is apparently stalled, despite widespread support. We can lay the blame for this directly at the feet of the scurrilous crowd trying to halt this national effort to eradicate the abuse of TWH horses. This abuse has been illegal under federal law for more than 40 years. It’s also illegal under the state laws of Kentucky and Tennessee to intentionally injure the hooves and legs of horses to cause them to exaggerate their gait during “Big Lick” horse shows, all for the purpose of winning ribbons. In the meantime, horses are still being subjected to stacked shoes, caustic chemicals, and chains while we wait for Congress.

Part of the toe still remains attached to the shoe

Part of the toe still remains attached to the shoe

Wayne Pacelle, (CEO) of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently compared horse sorers to cockfighters:

“ These people, like the cockfighters, are scofflaws. They are actively working in the political domain – in this case, lobbying against pending federal legislation, H.R. 1518 and S. 1406, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act — to protect their criminal enterprise.”

Passing the Bill, which would eliminate the corrupt self-policing system while strengthening penalties for violators, is the only way to save the TWH breed.  Americans need to demand that Congress pass this Bill, with its overwhelming support, and not let a minority of self-interested animal abusers block a vote.

For all the efforts of horse advocates,  there is no shortage of  crazily-unethical supporters of continued abuse….

Applause for:

  • Ed Whitfield, ( R-KY) is the lead sponsor of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, which would strengthen federal protections for TWH in order to make them step higher in competitions. Whitfield’s legislation would require that inspections of Tennessee Walking Horses for signs of soring be performed by USDA certified inspectors. Whitfield recently released a redacted document Tuesday showing how a complaint filed against him with the House Ethics Committee appeared to involve major players in the TWH industry, despite denials from some of them. Whitfield denied that his wife had lobbied him on the issue, saying his interest in curtailing soring predated her involvement with the Humane Society of the United States, Connie Whitfield is a “policy adviser” with the group.
  • Congressmen Steve Cohen (D-TN), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Jim Moran (D-VA) who are co-sponsors of the Bill.
  • Marty Irby, a reformed “Big Licker” who is now a evangelic “Flatter.” Marty was also 2 time president of the TWHBEA (2010 – 2012) and is presently the International Walking Horse Association Legislative Counsel advocating for passing of the PAST Act. His decision to become an anti-soring advocate cost him his marriage and his contracting business, His father, William Irby, a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, no longer speaks to him. A former world champion TWH competitor, Irby said he finally grew disgusted with pretending that soring wasn’t an integral part of creating the “Big Lick.” Irby says the ongoing practice of soring is perpetuated by a system of “corrupt animal welfare inspections, corrupt judging, corrupt training methods, corrupt business practices … corrupt horse shows, and corrupt titles.”
  • Bill Harlin, a man The Tennessean describes as “synonymous with Tennessee Walking Horses,” and the owner of Harlinsdale Farm where some of the most famous grand champions in the breed originated. He acknowledges that
    lost-hoof

    Toe and hoof wall still attached. What did this horse’s hoof look like after this shoe was pulled off?

    self-regulation will never work.

  • Clay Harlin, son of Bill Harlin, who also acknowledges that the soring cult of the “Big Lick” are unwilling to stop the abuse of show horses. He, too, called on Congress to pass the bill.
  • Veterinarian John C. Haffner, who recently related that his increasing exposure to ever more blatant abuse of horses compelled him to sell his veterinary practice. After years of witnessing trainers’ efforts to make sure their horses were in enough pain to perform the “Big Lick” but not so much that they’d fail inspections, he found the corruption to be unendurable.
  • American Veterinary Medical Association Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director for the AVMA, scoffed at Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN-7) Bill, H.R. 4098 saying, “In fact (it) will do nothing to protect gaited horses and stop the egregious practice of soring. This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to maintain the status quo in an industry riddled with abuse and will ensure that the broken system of seeing horses sored at an alarming rate does not have to answer for its crimes.”
  • American Association of Equine Practitioners
  • National Sheriffs Association
  • Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
  • The American Horse Council, along with The American Quarter Horse Association, the American Paint Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, the Pinto Horse Association of America, the Arabian Horse Association, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the United Professional Horsemen’s Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club, Maryland Horse Council, and other groups.
  • The more than 300 co-sponsors of the PAST Act – a majority of the Congress (45 Senators and 264 House members at the time of writing)
  • The Veterinary Medical Associations from 50 states that have helped create vast support for this Bill

soring5And a steaming pile of horse shit goes to:

  • The Performance Show Horse Association that brought the complaint against Whitfield. The printed names of the following 13 individuals appear on the bottom of the document (these individuals have a cumulative total of 53 violations of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), and a number of those have occurred this year following the filing of the complaint) The  PSHA and its lobbyist Jeff Speaks developed the strategy of filing an ethics complaint as an effort to stop passage of H.R. 1518,  because ethics complaints take time to respond to:
  • Jim Cortner
  • Jamie Hankins
  • Mike Inman (CEO of The Celebration)
  • Doyle Meadows (Former CEO of The Celebration)
  • Duke Thorson
  • Terry Dotson (Former Chairman of the Performance Show Horse Association)
  • Gayle Holcomb
  • Bruce MacDonald
  • Mickey McCormick (President of the Walking Horse Trainers Association)
  • James Linton Griffith
  • Jeffrey Howard (Editor of the Walking Horse Report)
  • Lee Wall McGartland
  • and Buddy Stasney
  • Chip Weddington, a TWH trainer who threatened Marty Irby less than 24 hours after Irby testified on Capitol Hill about the horrifying abuse of championship Tennessee Walking Horses. Irby received threatening message which came from the Facebook account of Weddington, who wrote, “I don’t associate myself with bitch made mother fuckers who sing like little fucking birds to the fucking [Humane Society of the United States] and everybody else … I hope your gay ass gets what’s coming to you soon!!!” If Irby ever approached him, Weddington said he would “knock ur ass smooth out!!!” According to USDA animal welfare reports, in 2011 Weddington was suspended from Walking Horse shows for a year after inspectors cited him for violating the Horse Protection Act.
  • The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association who canned Marty Irby and selected soring proponent Stephen B. Smith to replace him. The group also sent a letter to Congress detailing its opposition to the PAST TWH_with_StacksAct. Signed by current president Rob Cornelius, the letter states that due to “budgetary costs and resulting economic damage, the PAST Act is simply not something our country needs at this time.”
  • Stephen Smith, the newly minted TWHBEA President, is an avid “Big Licker” enthusiast and a powerful Republican political donor. According to forms listing violators of the Horse Protection Act, Smith was cited numerous times for soring violations at a TWH show in the late 1980’s. Smith and his family are major donors to GOP lawmakers in Tennessee, including Rep. Blackburn, the chief opponent of the PAST Act. Since 1989, Smith, his wife Denise, and their son Stephen B. Smith, Jr., have donated more than $270,000 to Republican political campaigns, most of them in Tennessee.
  • The discreditable crowd  who are desperately trying to halt a national effort to eradicate horse abuse of TWH horses with their own Bill.   Not shockingly, 7 of the 10 are from Tennessee, the epi-center of this sadistic method of “training.” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) recently introduced an alternative bill, HR 4098, that would greatly reduce the measures being sought by Whitfield’s PAST Act. Blackburn’s Bill would not only allow the grotesque stacks but would also virtually eliminate inspection efforts called for in the PAST Act that are necessary to stop this torture.
  • The rest of the ethically challenged co-sponsors of Blackburn’s Bill are:
  • Diane Black (R-TN-6)
  • Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-4)
  • John “Jimmy” Duncan (R-TN-2)
  • Stephen Fincher (R-TN-8)
  • Charles “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-TN-3)
  • David “Phil” Roe (R-TN-1)
  • The three others who have endorsed Blackburn’s bill are Garland “Andy” Barr (R-KY-6)
  • Nick Rahall (D-WV-3)
  • and Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY-5)
  • Virgina TWHBEA Director Pam McKinney who was escorted from the Capitol Hill’s Walk on Washington by U.S. Capitol Police for improper conduct, which included the utterance of F-bombs and flipping the middle-finger salute.
  • The misguided attempt by random pro-slaughters, urban carriage people, and puppymillers, who had to get on the “ethics complaint bandwagon” against Whitfield with their own Change.org petition that has garnered only 244 signatures.
  • And finally, Speaker of the House, John Boehner, currently refuses  to bring the PAST Act to the floor for a vote.  His decision is inconsistent with leadership’s stated preference for adhering to regular order.  Furthermore, it is too late in the year to resort to a discharge petition according to House rules.
  • The "Wheelon Bucket Stance"

    The “Wheelon Bucket Stance”

 

Please contact your U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative today and urge them to co-sponsor the PAST Act, H.R. 1518/S.1406, and do all they can to get it enacted quickly.

Dog Bites Man – Again And Again

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dog-attackWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

I believe in an animal Bill of Rights, and I’m opposed to killing dogs based solely on their appearance, but none of that matters to the Pit bull Advocacy Movement. Dog bites have become one of the most emotionally charged issues that divide animal activists. For some time now, I’ve seen the Pitbull Advocacy Movement (PBAM) privileging the rights of dogs over the rights of human beings and their own pets. by accusing people who are skeptical about the aggression of fighting breeds of being “racists,” ”bigots,” and “breed bullies.”

I’ve had a special interest in this subject matter for a few years now. I’m a dog bite victim – the classic “dog bites man” story, In 2008 I was bitten by a molosser breed dog that I had known for two years. The owner was not irresponsible except in not informing me that the dog had bitten others before me. I was not playing rough with the dog, and the dog was leashed and visiting on my own property. So the hue and cry that only bad ownership or handling of a bully breed is the only possible explanation for a bite would seem to fall flat on its face.  My husband cried like a child – it was the first and only time I’d seen him cry.  This really scared me,  because I hadn’t yet looked in a mirror and had no idea what damage had been done.  The neighbour was crying.  I however,  refused to cry – I felt like someone had to keep it together.  My front teeth were loosened by the impact with the dog’s skull,  my top lip was ripped, and my nose was partially ripped off.  Bites to the face usually also result in a lot of blood loss,  due to the large number of blood vessels and capillaries located there. Later,  I developed two black eyes.  My neighbour cried whenever he saw me for weeks afterward.    Even the neighbour’s homeowner’s insurance company agreed that there’s little defensible when the bite is unprovoked, on the victim’s own property, involved a bite to the face that required plastic surgery, all by a dog had an acknowledged history of biting people. As a result, the insurance company ruled that the doctrine of scienter applied in my case, and they paid me out for pain and suffering.

The scienter doctrine was developed as, and remains, a form of strict liability. If the conditions for scienter are found, the liability is absolute and does not depend upon proof of negligence.

bred to protect children

No – they were originally bred as dogs to hold animals for slaughter, and later as fighting dogs. There are no “nanny dogs, ” and young children shouldn’t be left in the care of dogs to begin with.  What I find  especially hypocritical about PBAMers is that they will proclaim pit bull types to be “Nanny Dogs,”  but if your child is bitten by the “Nanny Dog,”  they will be the first person to call you a “bad owner.”

Unfortunately, dogs have become a real enemy for the insurance industry. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, costing more than $489 million, with an average amount of $29,752 per claim. The Canada Safety Counsel estimates that about 460,000 Canadians are bitten by dogs each year. In addition, several recent high profile dog bite incidents have brought the issue to the forefront of insurers’ minds, with some insurers going so far as to refuse to underwrite insurance for homeowners with certain dog breeds. The PBAM evangelists I’ve encountered are far less concerned with dog bite victims and are more prone to screech “discrimination” when told of this latter finding with respect to their own insurance coverage.

The mandate of the PBAM evangelists has been to persuade the public that pit-bull phenotypes (for the purposes of this blog post – American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog and any other pure bred or mixed breed dog that is a combination of these dogs) are just like any other dog and any problems with temperament can be laid squarely at the feet of the owner. In order to push pit bulls into private homes, these evangelists rely on the average person’s general unfamiliarity with the heritability of dog behaviour. It is a fact that every breed of dog results from the human manipulation of inherited physical and behavioural traits, and all modern breeds of dog are what we have designed them to be via artificial selection. This blog post is not about presenting pit bulls and pit bull types as evil dogs to be destroyed at will – we know that statistically the vast majority of pit bull type dogs co-exist with people and other dogs without incident. Yet for a breed(s) that represents approximately 6% of the dog population, they commit anywhere from 70 – 90% of all dog bites. And many PBAM advocates consider these statistical truths to be nothing more than poopytalk by dog-haters. So, many of them are engaged in an all-out war to conceal information or hoodwink prospective adopters about these breeds of dog.

narrow3

PBAM’s consistently implicate dog owners as solely responsible for their dog’s misbehaviour. While this is certainly often true, we know from understanding population and bite stats that this cannot be the sole reason for bites and fatal attacks. If pit bull types account for roughly 6% of the dog population while simultaneously committing 70-90% of dog bites (depending on various sources), then there must be another explanation beyond poor dog handling skills. It’s confusing when both professional dog handlers and casual owners recognize genetically predisposed dispositions such as chasing, catching pigs or cattle, killing escaping slaves, chasing foxes down holes, and guarding farm stock, but in the same breath they will tell you that every pit bull down at the shelter is harmless unless it has been raised wrong. To even suggest that a pit bull might come with a different genetic programming than a pointer or a setter is to be accused of “racism.” Which, I might add, is impossible since there are no “races” of dogs. Yet, people will acquire a hunting dog that was bred to kill rats and are then horrified when it displays its genetic legacy by killing a squirrel while off-leash. The dog merely exhibited a behaviour it was artificially selected to do, by man.

Just as we bred pointers to point, retrievers to retrieve, and sheepdogs to herd, we bred fighting dogs. Working bulldogs and terriers were used by butchers to hold and control animals for slaughter. The morphological characteristics of these breeds also meant that they were useful in bull and bear baiting. Dogs used for such activities have a physical conformation suited to the task – including large jaw muscles, necks and shoulders, and a body mass that makes defence against an attack much more difficult.

Naturally, we expect a breed to behave in certain ways because they were or are bred for specific purposes. In the case of selective breeding, the goal for any desired offspring are physical aptitude and inclination to engage in a behaviour. Sometimes conformation is an additional goal.

The inclination to chase prey is probably the aspect of the predation sequence that is most commonly exhibited across all dog species. The complete predation sequence consists of:

  • eye
  • stalk
  • chase
  • grab-bite
  • kill-bite
  • dissect
  • consume

Community dog problemSuch behaviours fall into the ethological category – modal action patterns (MAPS) and these are behaviours that are not learned but fully expressed in the presence of triggering stimulus such as a high-pitched squeal or a sudden movement. Such behaviours can be modified by learning, but they only require a trigger to be expressed. Breeders of hounds select for search behaviours, herding dog breeders want the stalk and chase, but usually not the grab-bite and certainly not the kill-bite and dissect. A dog’s motivation for hunting is separate from his motivation to eat. The fact that optimally raised dogs of any breed can attack suddenly and without prior warning is a testament to the “trigger.”

I strongly suspect that a great many breeders of pit bll type dogs are not breeding for appearance or quiet demeanor. There are many unscrupulous breeders who have bred the most aggressive of their dogs, so other behaviours have not been significantly randomized across the breed. Therefore, we have clustering of negative behaviours in pit bull type dogs. Dogs that are bred specifically for aggressive characteristics and for use in negative functions are abusive to the dog and a nuisance to the general public.

While dogs generally engage in “ritualized” forms of aggression when they come into conflict (growling and posturing but no real damage) when pit bulls fight they engage the grab-bite/kill-bite part of the predatory sequence with often fatal or near fatal results. There is seldom time to intervene to rescue the other dog (or human) before serious damage is done. It hardly helps that pit bulls are often the most abused dogs – they are often emaciated, chained, or forced to wear prong collars. Quite often they are intact. They are occasionally kept in multiples and are often active in breeding for the financial gain of their owners. Dogs maintained in this manner often do not exhibit the same level of sociability as dogs who regularly interact with humans on a daily basis. So there are often other risk factors involved.

The ASPCA describes the characteristics of a Fighting Dog:

  • Ignores signs of submission from other dogs
  • High level of endurance, agility, aggression towards other dogs
  • No warning prior to attack
  • Fight to the death
  • Gameness
  • High pain threshold

PBAM advocates SHOULD be cognizant of these variables, but if they are, they don’t let on. If love and training are all you need, and if aggression isn’t a heritable trait, why do we have such variation amongst breeds? Why is it that we can’t use just any large breed dog as a police dog,  or any dog as a guide dog?

Better examples of PBAM “logic” are rarely seen than in the Animal Farm Foundation’s “Best Practices” Manual for placing pit-bull type dogs. (The countervailing and more commonsense opinion on pit bulls in shelters, written by the ASPCA, can be found here. The ASPCA document acknowledges that the pit bull aka Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a relatively newer breed. As such, it has a much shorter history of being bred as pets).

Eschewing all common sense and reason, the AFF makes the following inflammatory statements:

“Avoid blanket restrictions, such as: No first time owners, breed experience required, fenced yard required, no renters, no adopters under 25”   Whatever could be wrong with adopting a pit bull out to someone without no prior dog experience and without a fenced backyard?

“Like dogs, children are individuals. Let parents decide what’s right for their children and what challenges they are comfortable taking on as a family.” These vapid idiots really do not understand that the whole point of public safety measures is to protect people from themselves.

Avoid blanket adoption policies, such as extra applications, mandatory dog training classes, background checks” Because you don’t care if gangbangers adopt pits so long as it gets them out the door…

If a dog is highly aroused or reactive in his kennel, hang a sheet or other barrier on his kennel door (high enough to block his view, but low enough for adopters to see in). Hang a cheerful sign on the cage that says “I’m friendly, just enjoying some privacy” And if a dog is highly aroused or reactive in his new home, it’s no longer your problem, because you’ve allowed the parents to decide that a highly aroused or reactive dog is somehow right for their children. Pit bulls do have the tools to inflict some serious damage. Plus it seems that most dog owners don’t sufficiently train their animals so everything goes along just fine until the house is full of people and the dog reaches an unnoticed stress threshold.

“Just recently, Nevada Humane decided to partner with NASCAR’s TJ Bell to promote “pit bull” dog adoptions” So the absolute worst person to get a pit bull can get another one.

Rather than focus on why a dog wound up at the shelter, their medical history, or what behaviors they need to work on, keep the information upbeat and focused on what the dogs enjoy doing with people. Disclose all known facts to the new owner, including information received from the previous owner” This second statement seems to be contradictory to the previous statement directly above.

There is not a single reportable appellate opinion in which an animal shelter was found liable for a bite by a dog that it did not own” So, transfer ownership of the dog fully to the new owner before it has a chance to bite anyone while under the care, custody, and control of the shelter.

Dolce and Gabbana

Dolce and Gabbana were two Chihuahuas up for adoption in New Mexico; despite over 900 Facebook shares, they were euthanized due to shelter overcrowding. They had never bitten anyone.

But there will soon be a verdict, if it has not already been rendered, against the Bount County Animal Shelter – accused of not advising a family of a dog’s bite history. The dog delivered life-threatening injuries to a young child. In addition to that case, recently, the Stamford Animal Shelter announced that shelter manager Laurie Hollywood had been fired for rehoming dogs with a bite history. Essentially, she did not do her due diligence in disclosing that history to the adopters. Perhaps she was focused on rebranding the image of pit bulls and the history of the dogs she placed was merely an untidy detail that she felt she could overlook. After a dog was surrendered upon having bitten a child, Hollywood adopted him out without disclosing the bite history. He then proceeded to bite the child in the adoptive family. Not once, but twice. In another incident with a different dog, the dog went on to bite the adopter’s wife. In all these cases, Hollywood did not take a bite report nor did she impound the dogs that attacked humans and other animals over several months.

Pit Bulls represented 32% of US shelter inventory in June 2014.

In another rebranding effort gone wrong, Second Chance Rescue minimized a pit bull’s aggressive traits before handing him over to a New Jersey man for adoption. The dog ended up attacking his two young children. The dog chomped down on his daughter’s leg and nearly tore his son’s nose off just ONE DAY after they brought him home. Seems like the Animal Farm Foundation’s “Best Practice” for allowing the parent to decide prudent exposure to dogs isn’t so great after all, especially when the dog’s history is concealed. As for having your nose almost ripped off, I know what it feels like, and I can hardly wish it on anyone, especially a child.

The rebranding of the breed continues to come at a cost to innocent people. As it gains momentum, it becomes obvious that there is an unhealthy obsession in trying to preserve truly aggressive dogs. Not only pit bulls, but other dogs – a German Shepherd with a demonstrated history of aggression, found himself in a North Carolina animal shelter and was scheduled to be euthanized. Although the dog bit a shelter employee twice, the shelter agreed to adopt him out to a local trainer. Sadly, less than two weeks later, in a public park, he seriously attacked the adopter and two other people before he was fatally shot by police.

pit bull bites

Glad a child lost his ear? I didn’t even want to conceal this person’s identity – their comments are THAT loathesome.

Cesar Millan wanted to save the mastiff cross-breed that killed Diane Whipple. Fortunately he was declined. He also wanted to work with the dog who attacked a small boy in Bakersfield, California. I can only assume that in Millan’s case that ego is the predominant driving force, since most people utilizing a scintilla of reason would probably concur that the most serious of dog attacks against people should result in humane euthanasia for the dog.

And why are aggressive dogs receiving so much attention from people who want to save them, when there are thousands of friendly – or at the very least safe and rehabilitatable dogs dying in shelters every day? I admire people’s dedication to animal issues, but these types of efforts seem so misplaced to me. Mickey is a pit bull mix who first killed a puppy, and then cracked a child’s jaw, eyesocket, and cheekbone, requiring the boy to have months of reconstructive surgery, Despite this, more people were concerned with saving the dog than helping the child. There were over 60,000 people pressuring the shelter for his release. Shelters may feel that they are saving lives, but if the dog kills another animal, there is no net gain in saved lives. If the shelter re-homes a dog that they strongly suspect is dangerous, then they are in effect saying that injury or death to other pets or people is preferable to humane euthanasia.

The epidemiology of dog bites is also widely critiqued by pit bull activists.

The most recent USA survey of dog bites conducted by CDC researchers concluded that in 2001, 2002 and 2003 there were 4.5 million American dog bite victims per year. 885,000 bites per year (all breeds) – almost one out of every 5 – are serious enough to require medical attention. Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day).  In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs. (Centers for Disease Control, quoting from American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report [online]. 2012. [cited 2013 Oct 24). In a study on Mortality, mauling, and maiming by vicious dogs, the authors state that: “…attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites.”

Most victims of dog bites are not intruders, but children or respectable adults. While most dog bites are not serious, pit bulls are disproportionately represented in serious mauling cases. A innocent child killed by pit bullsCDC report on dog-bite fatalities from 1978 to 1998 confirms that pit bulls are responsible for more deaths than any other breed (the CDC no longer collects breed-specific information). Merritt Clifton has also collated volumes of actuarial information on pit bull bites, and his findings reveal that attacks by pit bulls and their closest relatives still outnumber attacks by any other breed no matter how you spin the data. These are simple facts, and police, public, press, and politicians know it but PBAM elitists can’t or won’t accept statistics for pit bull damage. One of their primary defences is to claim that, unless a dog comes with pedigreed papers or is the known offspring of pedigreed dogs, it can’t possibly be assumed that all these stats reflect injuries by pit bull type dogs. They don’t want you to trust dog geneticists or dog behaviourists either. Definitely don’t trust newspapers.  Oh, and don’t even trust your own critical reasoning skills.

Backstreet Bully’s Revenge

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backstreetbully

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“You can’t kill that horse,” said Stacie Clark, who works for the Adena Springs Retirement Program, as she pleaded with management at Les Viandes de la Petite Nation slaughterhouse, for the return of retired Stronach Farms racehorse Backstreet Bully. It wasn’t just small amounts of prohibited drugs that had been given to the horse and thus meant that he was prohibited from slaughter: 21 doses of nitrofurazone, according to Toronto Star journalists Mary Ormsby and Dale Brazao in their article – “Ottawa refuses to say whether drug-tainted horse meat entered food chain.”

Stacie Clark runs billionaire entrepreneur Frank Stronach’s racehorse retirement program in Aurora, Ontario, the town in which I live. In Aurora, it’s impossible to ignore the presence of Frank Stronach and Magna – as a philanthropist, he has funded many public buildings in this town, he hosts an annual hoedown on the front lawn of the Magna headquarters each year, and there are reminders of his influence everywhere. And the individual with whom Ms Clark was pleading with was  Stephane Giguere, the then-Director of Les Viandes de la Petite Nation  (LPN) in St. Andre-Avellin, Quebec.  Bully was alive when she spoke to him too.  Of course, LPN was temporarily closed after an investigation published by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) in December 2011 entitled “Pasture to Plate: The True Cost of Canada’s Horsemeat Industry.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Giguere was the Director of the plant at that time as well.stephane

Horsepeople, particularly those of us residing in York Region Ontario or those who are “hard core” rescuers of racehorses know exactly who Stronach is. But it’s a fair bet that the collective brain trust who are employed in horse slaughter itself have no clue who the influential people are, and wouldn’t attach any significance to the name of the man who is the 19th wealthiest Canadian even if it were he who called them up personally. So while the management at LPN may have savored a smug satisfaction by denying Stacie Clark (and her exceedingly wealthy employer),  it was a temporary victory.

Stephane Giguere may have been the recipient of a little `quid pro quo`by Frank Stronach. At least,  that’s what I prefer to think. He’s been vanquished for a while now, allegedly fired from LPN a few months after Bully was slaughtered.  I`m sure many people at the plant including the owners and possibly even people at the CFIA had an “oh shit“ moment after they realized what happened,  and especially after the Star article eventually appeared.

For those of us who believe in karma,  or the principal that where the intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual,  you may get particular satisfaction from believing that deferred justice was apparently visited upon Stephane Giguere.  While I personally don’t believe in either karma or ghosts, the idea of “cosmic justice” gives me some peace of mind by imagining that the ghost of Backstreet Bully (perhaps aided and abetted by the Stronach empire) waited for the right moment to exact a little schadenfreudian revenge on Stephane.  And that’s what I choose to believe. While the killing goes on, small victories like this give me strength and hope.

fake papers

Backstreet Bully was not eligible for slaughter. In any case, he was not unwanted. But fake papers ensured that he was slaughtered, despite evidence to the contrary. Omission or falsification of information on EIDs of horses presented for slaughter is an offence. It is very evident when reviewing the EIDs that a pattern emerges and it is very clear to see that some EIDs have obviously been “pre-written” across the top with “Drug-free six months”, and the appropriate boxes checked to agree with this information.

“Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.”

[News conference, April 21 1961]
― John F. Kennedy