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.

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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

Gotcha – Tackling The “Journalism” Of The New York City Carriage Trade

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Liam Neeson

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

I have to confess that I’d have no reason to read the soporific New York Daily News if it weren’t for their coverage of the NYC carriage horse industry.   For the past few months, the NYDN has been going into overdrive with a series of drama-loving, over-the-top articles promoting the carriage industry (when they aren’t also highlighting what Alex Rodriguez is doing in a Miami bathroom with a woman,  or the various people who have gone missing while swimming in the East River). The NYDNs’ spokesperson, Ken Frydman, is also advising the carriage industry, so I understand that they will of course take the side of the carriage drivers. What I don’t understand is how the paper can call its coverage of the issue “journalism.” I’m not sure what you can call it honestly, because you can’t exactly tease any logic out of any of the articles I’ve referenced below, which set the bar nice and low as any standard for “journalism.”

The following articles are all strongly reminiscent of The Onion-style parodies wrapped in lukewarm sarcasm. Except that they’re not parodies.   In May, the NYDN published an article claiming that, if the carriage industry in New York is abolished, the nation’s largest mushroom grower in Pennsylvania could go belly-up. This scare tactic fails the smell test however,  since there’s certainly no shortage of manure in Pennsylvania of all places. What’s next from the NYDN? Will carrots become extinct if there are no urban horses available to eat them?   Shortly afterwards, another article appeared, highly suggestive that, without the carriage trade in New York, the $7 billion dollar movie business will subsequently fail to thrive.   Rounding out the trifecta of crazy, the paper followed up with an article on the 70’s mentalist The Amazing Kreskin’s prediction that New York City Mayor De Basio’s Bill will fail (I guess the Long Island Medium wasn’t available). Somewhat shockingly, the annual predictions of Cuban Santeria priests contained no mention of the carriage horses or of Bill De Blasio’s tenure in New York. I can only assume that the paper somehow overlooked the venerable opinions of those followers of santeria….nor did they approach Miss Cleo for her opinion either…

Just a few days ago, a really well-written article on the carriage horses and the new Liam Neeson narrated pro-carriage film crossed my path. The video is here if your eyes need it. Refreshingly, the article, written by Jason Hribal, makes no attempt to anthropomorphize the horses, nor does it rely on Uri Geller-style magic tricks, flawed arguments, or unproven premises.  Also worthy of mention in the Neeson-narrated video are the warnings of imminent slaughter for deregulated carriage horses,  which is highly ironic and hypocritical considering that many proponents of the urban carriage trade in NYC are uncloseted pro-slaughter advocates.

NYC Horse Carriages vs. Carriage Horses (originally published on Counterpunch.org)

by JASON HRIBAL

Bill Maher

Bill Maher has recently been critical of the urban carriage trade.

Thirty two million dollars is a conservative estimate. This would be the annual revenue produced by the approximate 220 registered carriage horses based in Manhattan.  Rides start at $50 for a ¾ mile tour of Central Park. Reserved rides for 45 minutes begin at $165. During peak season with add-ons, expect to pay much more. Horses work nine hours a day on the line. There are 68 licensed carriages.  When you do the math, you see exactly why the carriage owners desperately want to keep their horses working for them.

The organization, Save NYC Horse Carriages, recently released a short film narrated by the actor Liam Neeson. In full support of the carriage owners and operators, what emerges from the film are essentially four themes. Each of these themes is significant and deserving of some consideration.

Neeson starts out at the very beginning of the film telling us that horses helped build the modern world. As a carriage driver later states, it was horses who built New York City. This is true. In the 19th century alone, there were tens of millions of horses working in every city, on every farm, and in every mine. They were global, everywhere you looked, and in sheer numbers that are hard to even fathom. Their work created our society and produced a level of wealth that probably can’t even be measured.

The film then goes on to describe this historical bond between humans and horses as one of companionship. This is not true.  For my dissertation, I researched a four hundred year period, roughly from 1600 to the present, examining the relationships between humans and working animals. For horses and those individuals who used them for their labor, it was very rare to find any sort of friendship or companionship. It was wonderful when I did come across such things but this was the exception to rule. Whether for farmers, loggers, wagon drivers, canal boaters, coal miners, or cotton millers, their primary relationship to horses was exploitative. The attitudes ranged from indifference to hostility to sadism. This was all about work and getting it done. These above individuals were the ones who oversaw that the horses did just that. This was the rule.

The Teamsters Union has just recently come out in vocal support of the NYC carriage drivers. This is most edifying because what you probably don’t not know is that “teamsters” originally referred the teams of horses who transported the goods across the United States. It was these teams who did the work and made the profit. The drivers were middle management and their job was to get the horses to work harder, longer, and faster. In fact, the drivers’ wages were dependent upon this arrangement. It is with a strong sense of irony that the drivers would eventually choose to take the name teamsters for themselves. Sure, two horse heads were featured on the union logo but the actual horses got nothing out of the deal.  They continued to work until they could no longer be productive. Their final job was to be made into glue. Significantly, the current Teamsters’ website contains a few historical photos of horses pulling wagons and such, but their history, their labor, and the wealth that they created are completely absent from mention.

This primary relationship has not changed. The NYC carriage horses do the work by pulling the tourists through Central Park and Times Square. The drivers manage this work. Their job, indeed their wages, come from making the horses work harder, longer, and faster. More rides equal more money, both for themselves and the carriage owners. This is not about companionship.

Keep on werking that middle finger!

Keep on werking that middle finger!

In 2007, the New York City comptroller office audited the city’s policies concerning carriage horses. It found that the city had abandoned most of its oversight duties towards the horses thus allowing the owners and drivers to maintain “substandard conditions.” The department of health, which was supposed to review and inspect the health of every horse, had not done so for a period of no less than 21 months.  The audit went on to state that the horses themselves were not being provided with enough water during working hours. At the Central Park South site, for instance, there were no designate water spigots, a general lack of shade, and no proper drainage. The horses were being forced to stand in their own waste. In addition, the audit found that the owners provided “lax veterinary care” and that they were actually falsifying certificates of health. In just over a one-year period, 57 of 135 certifications were incorrect. While the horses had the same license numbers, they differed “in age, color, breed, name, and in one instance, gender.” In other words, the owners were dumping worn-out horses furtively and switching them with fresh ones. This is exploitation. It is about keeping expenses at a minimum and production levels at a maximum in order to extract the largest profit possible.

Back to the film, it speaks of continuing a tradition. Neeson has said that horses are always “at their happiest and healthiest when working.” I have heard this a lot and from many quarters. For those of you who thought that the Protestant Ethic only applied to humans, you would be most mistaken. All working animals have to deal with this ideology. Horses, sheep, cows, and pigs have long since been domesticated. They could never survive on their own. Their very existence is predicated on them working for humans. But we have to ask, is this true?

The definition of domestication itself has undergone significant changes over the centuries. Originally it meant to make a member of a household. This would slowly over time become more defined as being attached to a home and duties. Our more modern meaning, to tame or bring under control, did not come about until 1641. Interestingly, it was first applied to the Irish people, as they were brought under British imperialist control, and only much later to sheep in 1805. None of these definitions, in fact, made any distinction between humans and other animals. All were included: men, women, children, horses, cows, and sheep. The division, wherein the word only applies to non-humans, occurred very recently.

But whatever definition we choose, none of them means the removal of agency. It has been the story of my life’s work to prove this: from discovering resistance to highlighting autonomy. It’s always been there. You just have to look for it. In the Appalachians of Kentucky, wild horses can be found. In Harlan County, they have been there for decades. More towards Pikeville, newer communities are beginning to be formed. All of these horses were domesticated and lived on farms, generation after generation. But at some point, they were let go or just left behind. After the most recent economic collapse, hundreds have been abandoned. The horses, though, figure it out. They, just like their far western counterparts once did, learn to survive. They form their own communities and develop their own culture. In the Danube delta of Romania, some 4000 horses live autonomously. When the communist regime collapsed, many farmers and villagers turned their horses loose. These working horses left their plows, wagons, and carriages behind and learned how to make it on their own. Without humans, they have thrived. Indeed, for every type of domesticated animal, there exists their counterpoint: maroon communities.

middle finger salute

Another carriage driver flashes the “digitus impudicus”

Neeson concludes the film by stating that there is honor at stake. I am not sure what he means. The carriage owners and drivers, for instance, like to point out the horses get five weeks of vacation per year, wherein they are sent out of the city to pasture. This certainly sounds decent enough but there are two major problems. First, these vacations were mandated by the city in 2010, after the scandal caused by the release of the comptroller’s audit. This decision did not come from the owners or drivers. Second, I doubt the horses are even getting such a vacation. Most of NYC carriage horses are former Amish draft horses. The Amish work them through their productive years, profiting greatly off their labor. Only then do the Amish sell, or possibly lease, them to the carriage industry. During these vacation periods, many of the horses end up being sent back to the Amish—who, I would bet, are either working them even more or subleasing them out. It has been observed that when the horses return from these supposed vacations they often look thinner and more worn out than they were before they left. When the horse’s carriage-pulling days have ended, most, if not it all, will eventually find their way to a kill buyer, who will sell them for slaughter. With an annual turnover rate at a steady 30%, this is quite a few horses per year. I don’t see any honor in this. There is only avarice.

Anthropomorphizing is a political act. We are always told not to do it and from all sorts of directions. In responding to the possible ban, Harry Werner, a former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, warned that the critics of the carriage industry are guilt of anthropomorphizing. “They see a circumstance where they wouldn’t want to work in it, and think a horse wouldn’t work in it.” I can understand this fear, for it is from such actions that class relations can develop. Carriage owners have 32 million reasons to be afraid of such a development. So to New York City Mayor de Blasio, I say stand up to the industry and its supporters like Save NYC Horse Carriages. Tell them that carriages are just instruments of labor. Instead, you’ll take the side of those who actually do the work and pull those carriages. Horses have done enough for New York City. They built it. They suffered for it. They died for it. That’s enough. Each of the registered 220 carriage horses deserves a retirement to a carefully selected sanctuary. Who will pay for it? Let the carriage owners. The horses made that money anyway. This is the definition of honor.

Jason Hribal is a historian and author of Fear of the Animal Planet: the Hidden History of Animal Resistance (CounterPunch / AK Press). He can be reached at: jasonchribal@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

From the Animal Advocate’s Toolbox – Making an Access to Information Request

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Canada governmentWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

For the last few days I’ve been watching the 2014 Equine Summit held at Equine Advocates, on YouTube. Aside from the knowledge and quality of the speakers, one thing stood out for me – the sheer volume of information many of them have obtained by FOIA requests (in the US). While the information isn’t provided immediately, it’s incredibly informative, particularly when it comes to the activities of the BLM. Here in Canada, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition has used the process to expose the misfeasance of government inspectors at slaughterhouses, as well as reveal to the public the dire conditions under which horses,  including pregnant mares,  are shipped for slaughter. Recently, an ATI (Access to Information) request was completed in concert with an American advocate in the US, in order to “triangulate” the transit time for a shipment of horses made by Jeron Gold, which was videotaped in November 2013 heading to Richelieu slaughterhouse at about 4pm (because we know the arrival time at slaughterhouses is often fudged to come in under the regulation 36 hours).

Some backstory on the Access to Information Act – Canada was just the eighth country in the world to guarantee citizens the right to request government records in accordance with top hat tip to lonidisclosure law, when we passed the ATIA on Canada Day, 1983. What we have is a version of free information, which is not exactly the same thing as open government. The main principles of this Act are: government information should be available to the public; exemptions to this right should be limited and specific; and decisions on disclosure of information should be reviewed independently of government. Through the ATI Act, the Canadian press has discovered that the executive office of any party in power (although particularly the Harper government) tends to be somewhat adversarial to the process,  and considers any groups involved in environmental or animal rights to be part of the “green scare.” Greenpeace, PeTA, and probably other groups in Canada (and maybe even this blog writer) are considered to be “terrorist” groups, and this was confirmed by requesting government documents. Good to know!

So this blog is all about providing some guidelines and links so that interested parties can do their own ATI requests with confidence. Obviously, if you request information, you should have a good idea in advance what you are seeking to find out. You should have a specific timeline in mind, and be specific about what you need.  Ask for information that could solve a problem or answer a question. You should have a plan in advance that will allow you to do something useful with the information, such as use it to build a case for your MP to do something, write to MPs, correct an invalid assumption, write a cover letter and send it to the newspapers, or blog it, etc. You can also request personal information about yourself too, and if it is incorrect, you have the right to have it corrected. But don’t waste your money or the government’s time (the system is under incredible strain already) just for curiosity’s sake. Make it count.

ATI requests can only be completed by Canadian citizens, permanent residents or any other person (or entity) present in Canada. An individual who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident cannot make a request from outside Canada unless it is made by a representative who is a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a person present in Canada on behalf of the individual. Start by submitting a written request, which must contain the following:

  • The full name,  signature of the requester, Canadian mailing address, and if possible, a telephone number and/or e-mail address where the requester can be contacted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays
  • A $5.00 application fee. Payment can be made by cash, cheque or money order. Cheques and money orders must be made payable to the Receiver General for Canada. The fee entitles the requester to five hours of search and preparation time. If your request will take more time, you will be notified of same and will be required to pay for this time in order for the ATI to proceed. Be sure to take this into consideration if you intend to ask for records for a long period of time (or have a strict budget).

There is an additional fee schedule for supplying documents:

  • for photocopying a page with dimensions of not more than 21.5 cm by 35.5 cm, $0.20 per page,
  • for microfiche duplication, non-silver, $0.40 per fiche,
  • for 16 mm microfilm duplication, non-silver, $12 per 30.5 m roll,
  • for 35 mm microfilm duplication, non-silver, $14 per 30.5 m roll,
  • for microform to paper duplication, $0.25 per page
  • for magnetic tape-to-tape duplication, $25 per 731.5 m reel
  • where the record requested is a non-computerized record, the head of the government institution may require payment in the amount of $2.50 per person per quarter hour for every hour in excess of five hours that is spent by any person on search and preparation. This may be the case with certain manually completed forms from slaughterhouses which are handwritten on paper.

The legislated timeframe for responding to Access to Information or Privacy requests is 30 calendar days. The Access to Information Act permits an institution to extend the time limit to respond to a request beyond the 30 calendar days if:

  • the request is for a large number of records or requires a search through a large number of records, and the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution;
  • external consultations are necessary and cannot reasonably be expected to be completed within the original time limit

In all likelihood,your request WILL take longer than 30 days to process. If you are looking only for a few documents over a short period of time, you should receive your package in a few weeks. If you want records for an entire year or an extremely high volume of records, your request may take YEARS. Unless you can afford to have a fair chunk of money tied up for years waiting for boxes of information to be delivered to you, make sure you really need to have this quantity of information!

By processing your request under the ATIA, the government tells us that they will:

  1. Process the request without regard to our identity (but they may sometimes ask if you are related to an individual you are requesting information for).
  2. Offer reasonable assistance throughout the request process.
  3. Provide information on the Access to Information Act  including information on the processing of your request and your right to complain to the appropriate Commissioner of Canada. (you have 60 days from receipt of your documents to make a complaint)
  4. Inform us as appropriate and without undue delay when our request needs to be clarified.
  5. Make every reasonable effort to locate and retrieve the requested records or personal information under the control of the government institution.
  6. Apply limited and specific exemption
  7. Provide accurate and complete responses.
  8. Provide timely access to the requested information.
  9. Provide records or personal information in the format and official language requested, as appropriate.

Of course, there are various checks and balances that must be examined before the various branches of government will send you anything. It’s entirely possible that there may be no records for what you are seeking, or the information will simply not be disclosed. Refer to the Lexis Nexis info-graphic for the process involved in complying with an ATI request:

LexisNexisATIRequestFlowchart

Centennial Flame on Parliament HillOnce you’ve decided exactly what you want and have determined the time period, you will need to determine which federal government institution is most likely to have the information you are seeking. Most readers of this blog will probably be interested in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Each government institution also has an Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator. These individuals are responsible for ensuring that any Access to Information and Privacy requests received by the government institution are responded to in accordance with the Acts and also for the application of the legislation within the institution. The list of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinators, along with their contact information, is available online. You can also view completed ATI requests here.

If you are requesting information relative to a specific Canadian slaughterhouse, you will need to provide the correct code in order to process your request. For convenience sake, they are included below:

076 – Viande Richelieu Inc./Richelieu Meat Inc. (Quebec)

505 – Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation Inc. (Quebec)

506 – Bouvry Export Calgary Ltd. (Alberta)

587 – KML Meat Processors Ltd. (British Columbia)

657 – Canadian Premium Meats Inc. (Alberta)

Please bear in mind that EIDS are not “owned” or retained by the CFIA or any other government agency. No branch of government retains photocopies either. The EID was cleverly designed to be a document that is owned by the Canadian Library of Parliament Ottawarespective slaughterhouse, and has a retention period of one year. Since slaughterhouses are privately owned entities, it’s not possible to request copies of EID forms via the Access to Information Act. Also bear in mind that if you are requesting documentation from Quebec (Richelieu or LPN slaughterhouses) you will receive your paperwork in French. Subsection 12(2) of the Access to Information Act provides for scenarios where records have been requested in one particular official language. If you want to receive the records in English, you must specify this request in advance, and it WILL come at additional cost and time, since translation services must be involved. You are better off to attempt to translate the documents yourself, even though many may be handwritten. So befriend or bribe a French-speaking person, if you are completely unable to translate any French at all.

Lastly, if you want to track your ATI submission, we suggest that you pay for a registered letter from Canada Post. Good luck with your searches, and may you find something that will be deeply embarrassing to Gerry Ritz or your MP.

Not Your Neighbourhood Pet Store – the “Odd and Unusual” Exotic Animal Auction

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Zebra at OLEX

Photo credit – http://www.weanimals.org/ – We Animals – Jo-Anne McArthur

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

On Saturday May 3rd I attended my first exotic animal auction – The “Odd and Unusual” event run by Tiger Paw Exotics and its owner Tim Height from Arthur, Ontario. Height is the Canadian and less flash version of the US’s Joe Exotic – he sells animals to private collectors and provides creatures for film and TV productions.  The auction is not widely publicized and is certainly not found on the Tiger Paw website itself.  Obviously,  they don’t want to attract the wrong sort of people – people like me and a group of others attending the auction at the same time who will document the conditions of the animals and try to do something about it.

I’m somewhat late as usual, and when I arrive, the auction is just beginning with saddles and other animal-related products being offered at the Orangeville fairgrounds. The auction used to be held at OLEX – Ontario Livestock Exchange in St. Jacobs, Ontario, but Tiger Paw and Height were allegedly asked not to return after complaints from residents.

baby pygmy goatThe signs indoors prohibit alcohol and photography. Of course photography is not permitted because the state of the pens and the condition of many of the animals is sad or even disgusting in some cases. They know that OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – has jurisdiction over farm animal (but not exotic) animal auctions) and animal activists are present in droves and they want what happens in Orangeville to stay in Orangeville and not end up on YouTube.

I know there are other people here like me (activists) because I see sympathetic-looking women looking intently at the animals, or taking notes on pads of paper. Like my friends and I, they don’t fit in either – their hair is not dishevelled, there’s no Virginia Slims 120 dangling from their lips, nor are they missing half their teeth. Sometimes we make eye contact and they look knowingly at me and me back at them.

It also seems odd that you’d have to put a sign up to advise event-goers that they should refrain from drinking alcohol, until you realize that the crowd is a mix of trucker and cowboy hats, NASCAR jackets, and the requisite mullets, whose owners appear to be on their way to a cosplay event. The parking lot featured an assortment of barely roadworthy trailers, some almost completely rusted through in parts, or with missing floor boards. A couple were deathtraps you wouldn’t touch without a tetanus shot. There are a small number of Mennonites here too. A few parents brought their children to fawn over the animals, oblivious to the care issues that stand out.

Fortunately, there are no exotic carnivores here today, probably not a good idea considering the amount of prey animals in attendance. The smaller animals such as macaws, snakes, finches, geese, rabbits, and a peacock are housed in a room separate from the farm animals and other exotic ungulates such as Przewalski’s horses and zebras. With a few exceptions, most animals are not nearly as odd or unusual as their owners or event attendees – we see a baby bison, some highland cattle, goats and sheep, lots of mini horses, standard and mammoth donkeys and a few camels – mostly the type of animal you might see at a petting zoo.

Few if any of these animals belonged to Height himself and were offered on consignment – after being here only a few minutes it becomes apparent that there are vastly different standards of care seen auction trailerhere – from clean animals in good flesh to thin animals with horrid hooves and manure-caked long coats. I didn’t know what to expect, and was quite unprepared for the inconsiderate, and, in some instances, abusive handling and housing of animals I saw in the holding areas.

Even the clean animals were still observed to be handled roughly – pulled by twine “halters” while they occasionally trembled in fear and steadfastly refused to go forward.  In most pens there was no food or just remnants of hay, and I saw no water at all for any animal. The stalls for the zebras and Przewalski’s horses were filthy – it’s hard to believe they would have arrived in the morning that same day.

Both groups of equines seemed wary or completely over the idea of people coming to look at them. A mammoth donkey is presented for auction with a twoonie-sized raw sore on her tail. The camels are outfitted with halters several sizes too small, restricting their ability to chew and leaving embedded marks on their heads and noses. Several animals, particularly the mammoth donkeys, have long, chipped hooves or “elf boots.” And the hyacinthe macaw, protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade, has plucked out all his body feathers, a behaviour often taken to be caused by anything ranging from confinement neurosis to skin infections, hormone imbalances, and wasting disease. Plucking is virtually unknown in the wild bird population, and no other pet practices the self-destruction parrots do. Some have compared plucking to trichotillomania, the obsessive compulsive human disorder of hair pulling. Birds observed in the wild spend 50 percent of their waking time finding food, 25 percent interacting with their flock, and 25 percent preening. We put them in cages where they have no flock or social structure and put a bowl of food in front of them and wonder why some are neurotic. In any event, the macaw is really not suitable for sale or even display, and a disagreement erupts when a concerned bystander asks that the bird’s cage be covered with cardboard to prevent an excess of gawkers.  Tim Height himself is there and reluctantly complies. When it is suggested that the bird might be underweight, a helpful woman offers that there is “enough meat on him to eat.”

bald Hyacinth macawThere are few opportunities to take pictures surreptitiously. A “security” detail follows various people who have taken pictures or complained about the condition of some of the animals. Of all the farm animals, I notice a trio of alpacas and mini horses are the only really clean looking animals. You’d think that people would at least run a curry comb through their animals knowing they were going to present them for sale? Another group of donkeys and ponies are filthy – caked in manure and urine. You can only wonder what their living conditions are like. Some baby animals are here, too young to be separated from their dams, and will be unable to nurse if sold without them. Several babies are in pens with male animals while their dams are nowhere to be seen. You don’t need any experience bottle feeding a zebra or any other animal here, just enough cash to buy the animal. I suspect a lot of these people learn to care for animals by trial and error, and there are no questions asked of the prospective purchasers.

The event organizers obviously see no problem with the deplorable practice of accepting unweaned baby animals for sale. We see a pygmy goat baby who would still be nursing. He is not ambulatory, camped out and appearing to strain. He occasionally falls down. His eyes exude a purulent yellow-ish discharge, and he continually sneezes. The adult male goats in his pen are not very tolerant of the little fellow. The OMAFRA rep who is onsite declares it illegal for the owner to have transported him in this condition – non-ambulatory animals cannot be transported according to Health of Animals regulations and other regulations, although I’m sure there will be no penalties for the owner. So a rescue attempt is made and a veterinarian is called to assess him. Dr. Mallu Postens arrives and declares he may have a blockage and is unfit for sale. She administers sub-cutaneous fluids and he appears to revive somewhat – and why not? If he is still nursing no wonder he became dehydrated without anything to drink. I wish I could tell readers that he was rescued but I don’t precisely know what happened to him………

In 2010, an Ontario man was mauled to death by his pet tiger—the same animal that had attacked a ten-year-old boy several years before. A few years ago, a woman near 100 Mile House, British Columbia, was killed by her fiancé’s Siberian tiger. Even though these animals were not present today,  this auction still contributes to the Canadian illicit animal trade. So do some roadside zoos in Ontario, who also sell exotic animals to private collectors.  Overheard at the event was someone claiming to have bought a tiger from the Northwood Zoo in Seagrave, Ontario.

Animals who do survive long enough to be sold here are often subject to inadequate care afterwards, because caretakers are often unprepared or unable to provide for the needs of animals who are so far removed from their natural

These are the most basic of animal requirements,  and it's clear that the owner of the baby pygmy goat is in violation.

These are the most basic of animal requirements, and it’s clear that the owner of the baby pygmy goat is in violation.

habitats. Many exotic animals will likely die or be abandoned by their caretakers.  Zebras in particular are especially ornery and difficult to tame and will often fight viciously with other zebras.

The province of Ontario doesn’t require licensing to keep dangerous exotic pets. Ontario does not have province-wide regulations; instead, there is a confusing hodgepodge of municipal rules that allow monkeys in some jurisdictions while forbidding tigers in others. You could live next door to a person keeping lions in his backyard and not even know it. Toronto has banned the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores but we can still sell exotics north of the city. And you still need a license for a dog and maybe even a cat.

There appear to be no health guarantees offered for any of the animals either. What guarantees are there about vaccinations or zoonotic diseases? Salmonellosis, B-virus, and tuberculosis are three of the most dangerous pathogens that can be transmitted to humans from reptiles, monkeys, and cattle. If some of these animals have obviously not seen a farrier in months, can they be confidently ruled-out as vectors for disease? If all this is not yet completely off-putting, consider that next to the display of exotic animals (and just outside the washrooms) is the presence of a food concession stand . And not a bottle of hand sanitizer in sight!

Word has it that there is another exotic event to be held here in November . Assuming that the town doesn’t rise up against these types of events, I’ll have to remember to black out some of my teeth so as not to stand out too much at my next visit.