The Carriage Horse Cortisol Stress Study – What If It All Means Something?

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ELISA testWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

A study of NYC Carriage horses by Western University is being promoted as the definitive study of carriage horse stress. Dr. Joseph Bertone, DVM, MS, DACVIM, WesternU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Professor of Equine Medicine, apparently approached the carriage trade to sample salivary and fecal cortisol levels in a selection of horses:

“The WesternU CVM group measured saliva cortisol from the animals at multiple time points in the workday. They also measured medial canthus temperature using a FLIR thermal imaging camera (IRT), and collected feces samples for fecal cortisol.”

Four time points were used during testing:

Time point 1: feces, saliva and IRT tests were collected an hour before horses went to work.

Time point 2: saliva and IRT were collected after the horses were harnessed and as the horses walked were hitched to  their carriages.

Time point 3: saliva and IRT were collected as the horses returned from working.

Time point 4: saliva and IRT were collected an hour after they worked, as they rested in their stalls.

As you might expect due to the contentious issues surrounding the horses, it has drawn both supporters and carriage horse NYCdetractors. I realize that what was posted on the WesternU website is a press release and not an abstract, but I was surprised that Dr. Bertone immediately set about politicizing the study by mentioning NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio.

Normally, scientists don’t concern themselves with political incumbents, because politics does not and should not drive scientific outcomes. He went on to state that “I’m also concerned over claims that could dismantle, or likely end, the lives of these grand horses,” and “the loss of an iconic New York City institution, the loss of the important human-animal bond the drivers have with these spectacular animals, [would] have a profound negative economic impact on the people whose lives this would touch.”  As a veterinarian, he probably can’t be equally concerned with both those issues. And why would the lives of the horses come to an end?  Would the owners send them to auction where they might then be shipped to slaughter?  If so, only the owners could be blamed for that.  Dr. Bertone then proceeded to draw animal-rights advocates into the conversation, apparently not understanding that animal-rights advocates also own animals including horses. So his politicized preamble is surprising as are the statements that followed. He needs to let his study stand on its own and either succeed or fail on its own merits.

What’s potentially wrong with this study?

It’s probably not possible for anyone to obtain a copy of the manuscript or even the abstract until publication. Authors submit their manuscripts to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association with the understanding that the manuscripts and their contents will be kept confidential until they are published. So until the study is published, no one can really know how well it was conducted. Framing the press release with comments about Bill deBlasio is probably not very suggestive of an impartial study,  which ideally should conform with frameworks for research ethics that demand that the researcher be able to show that their research is independent and impartial by:

  • Avoiding assumptions
  • Writing in a style that is formal and depersonalized, avoiding the use of personal expressions
  • Starting with a premise and impartially proceeding to the conclusion, which may or may not support your premise
  • Disclosing a professional or financial of interest by a study’s authors. Although such conflicts do not necessarily disqualify a reviewer, they should be considered when an editor or peer reviewer makes a decision about a manuscript’s disposition.
  • Including numerical results that make mention of standard deviations or 95% confidence limits and the degree of statistical significance.

Other characteristics of the study stand out:

  • Why were only 13 horses out of approximately 220 selected?
  • Why were all the horses chosen from the Clinton stable?
  • Were the horses tested on pasture these same 13 horses or different ones? If different, why? How long were they there before they were tested?
  • Why was the study period so short (August 3 – 5, 2014) By comparison, here is a salivary cortisol study that was truly longitudinal in nature. This study took place over six months, not three days, in an effort to analyze the subtle variations that take place over time.
  • Salivary cortisol follows a diurnal rhythm with the highest concentrations in the morning and a decrease throughout the day. How did Dr. Bertone control for these factors?
  • Why were none of the horses tested at the hackline or after arriving at the hackline after their trip from the stables?
  • Bertone tells us that “behavior associated with equine gastric ulcers was observed.” What behaviours did they observe for? But why not test for gastric ulcers while they had the feces samples? Fecal tests for pathological conditions of the GI tract is a simple ELISA test, which can detect most (but not all) gastric ulcers. Why not just take this extra step and know with reasonable certainty whether ulcers were a factor?
Fury

Apparently, this older NYC carriage horse named “Fury” escaped from his handlers and went on the lam on Friday. I wish someone had been available to sample his salivary cortisol levels so we could know whether he was stressed…

I’ve seen several comments about this study from pro-carriage people operating with the view that once it’s peer-reviewed it will be unassailable as to its accuracy.  There’s actually a lot of confusion about the “peer review” process and what a “peer-reviewed journal” is. There are plenty of impartial, scientific journals out there, whose peer review process is to guard scientific integrity. However, there are also as many journals founded and funded by an industry or a professional group, whose peer-review is intended to protect the interests of that industry or group.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is a professional group. Sometimes its journal publishes articles with scientific intent. Other times it publishes articles that are intended to protect financial interests of its members — and in those cases, its “peer review” is done by hand-picked “peers” who will reject anything that doesn’t support a purely political position the AVMA or other self-interested groups are protecting.  Furthermore,  many journals have been systematically pulling studies that were peer-reviewed once corruption or falsification was determined.  So peer review works great in theory and in practice most of the time,  but it’s hardly infallible.  It won’t make any study immune to critique.

With the exception of Przewalski’s horses (who have a different number of chromosomes) domestic horses and wild horses are genetically exactly the same animal. That means that the horse living in your back yard or at a stable somewhere is genetically the same as the horse who evolved in the wild and those still living in the wild. It makes no difference that most horses we have were all born in captivity.  Our horse’s genetics are still the same as those horses who roamed across North America thousands of years ago.

Some people believe that a few hundred years of selective breeding can change all that, but we know that it takes a few thousand years to even begin to change the genetics of any species. Which means the horses in our back yard have been programmed for hundreds of thousands of years to live in wide open spaces where they can see predators coming, eat grass and other forage for 18 hours a day, move 10 miles a day on unshod feet and spend the day with multiple other horses for safety and security.  That’s why the suggestion by Dr. Bertone that pastured horses *may* be under greater supposed stress than the carriage horses are in the city is ridiculous – horses were born to live on grasslands – they did not evolve to work in cities. Unless you stressed a horse by putting it in a pasture the day before with a bunch of unfamiliar horses, most horse owners would find that premise laughable.

It’s important that studies and their designers work through an impartial evaluative lens. Studies funded by a group that can benefit from the outcomes are suspect. They can never truly be impartial.

 

 

Eat Your Words: Toronto Horsemeat Restaurant La Palette Public Health Disclosures

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"La Palette", protest, toronto, "Queen Street West" , "french restaurant", horse, horsemeat

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The summer of 2012 was one where activists demonstrated almost every week against horsemeat restaurant La Palette on Queen St. West.  During that time we started paying attention to La Palette’s food safety evaluations under the “DineSafe” program operated by Toronto Public Health.  The program features an Interactive map of every restaurant,  grocery,  cafe and take-out joint that’s been closed by Toronto Public Health since 2001. If we hadn’t been watching, we would have missed a wonderful exercise in schadenfraude – partway through our demonstrations we read on the DineSafe website that Palette received a “conditional pass,” results of which are in the public domain. Restaurants are required to prominently display this information on the front of their entrances (known to Torontonians as “Scores on Doors”),  and when arriving one evening to protest, we were amused to see that a potted plant

La Palette Toronto Public Health Report - courtesy of a protester

2012: La Palette Toronto Public Health Report – courtesy of a protester (notice plant partially obscuring the sign on window)

appeared out of nowhere and partially obscured the signage. La Palette appears to be a restaurant that’s now regularly considered to be “medium/high risk” by the Health Department since in 2014, two years after that conditional pass, they are still being audited 3 times a year. That in itself is probably not atypical for a resto serving multiple meat dishes, some of which are served raw,  but the findings are interesting none the less.

Jim Chan, head of Toronto Public Health’s food-safety program, explains that Toronto Public Health uses a risk-assessment system to figure out how frequently to inspect any given establishment, whether it’s a hot dog cart or a hotel kitchen. Here’s how it works:

HIGH-RISK PREMISES (Inspected three times a year or more): “The more complicated the food preparation, the higher the food-safety risk. “Think of a restaurant with multiple items on the menu, with raw food and ready-to-eat food,” says Chan. “Think of a hospital kitchen, or a long-term-care-home kitchen. If these operators are not careful, it increases the risk of food poisoning.”

MEDIUM-RISK PREMISES (Inspected twice a year or more): “Lots of people think McDonald’s would be high-risk, but it’s medium-risk,” says Chan. “Everything is generic: You have frozen patties, and there’s one way to cook them and one way to serve them.” Other medium-risk establishments: most pizza places, bakeries, sub shops and cafés.

LOW-RISK PREMISES (Inspected once a year or more): “When you look at a 7-Eleven, where all they have is a few hot dogs on a rotisserie, or they sell chips, pre-packaged sandwiches, stuff like that, they’ll be low-risk.” Ditto for Starbucks and most convenience stores.”

"La Palette", horsemeat, protest, "Toronto restaurant" , "french restaurant" , horse

Shamez Amlani,  co-owner of La Palette,  engages a protester

A typical tactic of La Palette during protests was to go out into the street and start serving raw horsemeat to passersby.  In some respects this isn’t entirely a bad thing – when they give away food it means they aren’t selling it.  But whenever I think about eating raw meat, I feel an eating disorder coming on.  I get a little panicky when I think that people, perhaps unknowingly, are eating food I’ve been taught to avoid – even moreso because it’s horsemeat. Personally I don’t get it. It is clear that there are absolutely no critical control points to minimize the risk of infection with the consumption of raw horsemeat.

Here’s last year’s summary of audit findings served up online along with an inspection from 2015 (some of which are highlighted as “significant”).  All findings seem confined to washing, sanitizing, preventing contamination of foods/surfaces – all actions you’d want a restaurant to have figured out after years in operation and several previous cautions by Toronto Public Health.

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  •  OPERATE FOOD PREMISE – FAIL TO EQUIP FACILITY WITH WASTE RECEPTACLE O. REG 562/90 SEC. 68(3)(D)
  • Operator fail to properly wash equipment  (mutiple observations)
  • Operator fail to properly wash surfaces in rooms (multiple observations)
  • Operator fail to sanitize garbage containers as required
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE CAP WILL PREVENT CONTAMINATION OR ADULTERATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(C)(II)
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE SINGLE-SERVICE CONTAINERS KEPT IN MANNER PREVENTING CONTAMINATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(D)
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE COVER WILL PREVENT CONTAMINATION OR ADULTERATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(C)(II)
  • FAIL TO PROVIDE THERMOMETER IN STORAGE COMPARTMENT O. REG 562/90 SEC. 21

None of the above issues mean that La Palette will get anything less than a green “Pass” evaluation,  and unless a diner takes the time to look up the last audit on the DineSafe website they will not be aware of the  individual infractions.   Since the inception of the program however, only 4 restaurants in Toronto have actually lost their license.

I doubt that any pretentious,  self-indulgent, horse-eating foodies will be tangentially concerned with food hygiene anyway – chefs are some of the least reliable people to ask about safely cooking food to eliminate bacterial (or parasitic) contamination.  And trendy executive chefs like former heroin addict Anthony Bourdain have long popularized the idea that eating”good” food needs to involve some element of risk.  And raw horsemeat = trichinosis roulette.

Aftermath Of The Short Hills Deer Hunt – Optimizing The Use Of FOIA Documentation

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The final Ministry of Labour costs for the six-day 2014 deer hunt by members of the Haudenosaunee Aboriginal Community is $61,959. Of the Ministry costs, $19,286 was for salaries, $32,750 for accommodation and meals and $9,923 in miscellaneous costs.  Not included are the wages for Ontario Provincial Police or Niagara Regional Police, who were present at the hunt every day with a headcount of 6-12 officers at any given time.  When their salaries and overtime are factored in, the cost for the hunt could easily approach $200,000. This still does not include the costs downloaded to the Privacy Commissioner’s Office, which in 2013 sorted through “approximately 2,300 pages of records, including briefing notes, house notes, correspondence, e-mails, plans, handwritten notes and agreements” in order to respond to a Freedom of Information request by the Welland Tribune alone.

John Salo from the Ministry of Natural Resources reported that a total of 67 ministry staff were involved throughout the hunt, with about 45 staff on site daily in November and December.  Salo claimed additional ministry staff were required to ensure public and harvester safety at Short Hills Provincial Park due to an increased number of protesters.”  This last statement is a blatant attempt to blame the cost on conscientious objectors to the hunt, however it was the police and not the MNR who primarily interacted with protesters (unless you count the lurid sexist gestures made by someJody Bersma MNR staff to the female protesters).  The open records request did not reveal a single communication that expressed concern over the number of protesters (and therefore a need to increase staff). It’s bogus because the number of protesters had no bearing on the MNR staff who were responsible for marking trees with hunt and buffer zones, patrolling the park to keep public out and keep the hunters in after they left the hunt boundary and had to be corralled back (5), or the “valet services” provided to hunters when dead deer were shuttled in the park via ATV. Despite having all these people in the park, the Ministry still could not control the number of hunters in Short Hills (although clearly they had no intention of doing so), nor could they help locate a wounded deer which survived a night with an arrow in its stomach.

All these MNR staff members would have been present at the park even if there were no protesters at all.  In any case, it is the protesters who need protection against the MNR, if the incident involving MNR Superintendent Richard Post is any indication.

After an unfathomably long investigation of more than two months by the OPP, Post, who pushed a demonstrator with an MNR vehicle out into the road after a protest in December 2014, has been exonerated. This, despite the fact that the Criminal Code of Canada makes it an offence to drive or operate a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public.

driftwoodThe arms-up, stick-swinging superintendent has a history of causing dissension during the course of his employment  In 2011, he came under scrutiny when a video of him flinging driftwood logs from a teepee-style structure while surrounded by bewildered beach-goers appeared online.  Tensions came to a head in April 2012 when Post was charged with one count of assault after a confrontation with a 73 year old cottager at Rondeau Provincial Park. Those charges were also dismissed in October 2013. Even though more than 320 cottagers petitioned the Ministry of Natural Resources to transfer him, the MNR and Ontario Parks somehow continued to support his methods whilst simultaneously having issues with the stakeholder complaint process.

There was certainly no love lost between Post and the Rondeau Cottagers Association, who wrote in their newsletter after his transfer to Pinery Park that:

“Post’s time here will be remembered by the public for being charged by the OPP with assaulting Garnet Smith two Deer snowyears ago this week, and for demolishing the Big Dock.  Those of us on the RCA Executive view his legacy as the complete loss of a formerly-respectful stakeholder relationship, a shameful breakdown in communication resulting in deepening entrenchment, and ultimately an abject four-year failure of leadership & park management.  When U.S. President Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1980, he asked voters if they were better-off now than they were four years ago.  To paraphrase the late President:  “Is Rondeau better-off now than it was four years ago?”  I vote no.”

How Was Short Hills Park chosen for a hunt when other locations appeared to be more suitable?  Open records requests by the Short Hills Alliance did not provide an answer to this question.  In fact, in all the FOIA information presented to the Alliance, Short Hills was not short-listed or even mentioned once as a possibility.  In reviewing the other available options presented to the Haudenosaunee, it becomes apparent that Short Hills was not any more suitable or desirable than practically any other proffered site.  FOIA requests did reveal that the Haudenosaunee requested additional outsourced deer since the number of available deer on the reservation had diminished, leaving them 10-12 deer short each year for Long House Ceremonial functions.  Reading between the lines, the implication here is perhaps that the traditional grounds may have been over hunted.

Deer WinterThe native hunters requested isolated hunting lands that were not currently open to regular hunters, and they were willing to travel anywhere in the watershed.  Clearly there would have been several more suitable options for hunting if areas that were already used for this activity would have been acceptable.  The natives were working on 27 land claims, and said that pre-existing treaties allowed them to hunt in all of South Western Ontario. 

Other areas discussed for hunting included: Wainfleet Bog,  Navy Island,  Dundas Valley, Willoughby Marsh,  Humberstone Marsh,  South Cayuga/Townsend,  (2) Balls Falls, Binbrook,  Canborough,  Chippawa Creek,  E.C. Brown,  Hedley Forest, Jordan Harbour,  Long Beach,  Mud Lake (4) and Port Davidson, Ruigrok Tract,  St. Johns, Stevensville,  Virgil Dams and Reservoirs, and Wainfleet Wetlands (6)

These  sites may have been ruled out for the following reasons (itemized on spreadsheets by MNR staff and obtained by FOIA requests):

Wainfleet Bog – Public hunting was already in the park, there was public opposition for closing area for exclusive hunt, difficulty walking through would make for a difficult hunt, site is home of Eastern Massassauga Rattlesnake and other species at risk, Six Nations had already had discussions but did not pursue, there was difficulty in distinguishing between Crown owned and NPCA owned lands, the area was surrounded by private land,  and there was difficulty in ensuring safety due to large area

Navy Island – A Niagara Parks Agreement would have been required, problem with firearms on Parkway, hunting was deemed too difficult, normally a public outcry when hunt takes place, access by boat, tourist area – highly visible

Dundas Valley – No real increased hunting opportunity as Six Nations is already hunting there, public not happy with hunting in the area, highly populated

Willoughby Marsh – Public hunting already allowed, small recreational area, public opposition to closing area for exclusive hunt, difficult to hunt and low deer concentrations

Humberstone Marsh – Public hunting already allowed, proximity to city of Port Colborne, low deer concentrations

South Cayuga/Townsend – Land is leased so landowner permission required

Balls Falls – No hunting season

Binbrook – Hunting from designated blinds only, hunting blind fee applies, already being used by other hunters

Canborough – No hunting season

Chippewa Creek – Hunting restrictions in some blocks

E.C. Brown – No hunting season

Hedley Forest – Conservation Area boundaries

Humberstone Marsh – Conservation Area boundaries

Jordan Harbour – No hunting season

Long Beach – Some area restrictions

Mud Lake – Hunting from designated blinds only

Port Davidson – No hunting season

Ruigrok Tract – Conservation area boundaries

St. Johns – No hunting season

Stevensville – No hunting season

Virgil Dams and Reservoirs – No hunting season

Wainfleet Bog – Designated areas only

Wainfleet Wetlands – Boundary  restrictions, no ATVs allowed in conservation areas

Notice the number of sites that currently allow hunting but have low populations of deer.  This suggests that the areas are being hunted to excess.  Notice also that the Short Hills Alliance is not the only group in opposition to deer hunting in their backyards.

The Short Hills deer hunt demonstrates the importance of open records for government transparency. The park was selected despite the fact that it also featured expanses of private land around the perimeter, there were objections to hunting, it was of small size, and there continue to be low hunting success rates (as evidenced by up to 70 hunters coming into the park per day,  but killing only 21 deer during the entire hunt),  and unclear hunting boundaries. With the available other options,  the MNR and Ontario Parks would have to be wooden-headed in enforcing subsequent hunts in an area where there is such intense opposition from both the public and the Regional Council members.

According to the law of diminishing returns, we can reasonably presume that if hunting by the Haudenosaunee Deer FallConfederacy on the reserve continued at a steady state or increased while the deer population failed to keep pace or declined, it would become too difficult to kill any deer.  This may explain why the native hunters were unable to continue sourcing deer on the reservation. As a result of population decline, hunters would require increased effort/time as the population reached lower and lower numbers, preventing them from achieving high kill rates.  The only reason populations of deer are not exterminated in this scenario is because of the effort relationship on the part of hunters in general – they tend to give up when it gets too hard,  thus allowing the population of deer to eventually rebound.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, beauty and stability of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it does otherwise. We don’t want to throw any deer under the proverbial bus, but after two hunts outside the reservation, the deer population may rebound and both the MNR and native hunters will reconsider the convenience of hunting in a multi-use park that is the subject of heavy protesting and at a potential cost of up to $200,000 to the taxpayers each hunting season.

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is the one that comes with a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

The Horse Sushi Sagas – Reblogged From “The Gadabout”

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This is a reblog from “The Gadabout,”  a blog by a pilot who writes of his flying experiences.  In these two blog posts written several years ago,  he gives his personal accounting of live horse shipments from Calgary, Alberta to Japan,  which have been previously documented by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition.  You will also notice in the original blog photos that the horses are shipped multiple animals to one container,  which is contrary to IATA regulations,  an issue the CHDC also brought to the attention of Transport Canada and the CFIA in 2012

It’s not possible to confirm or deny the claims made here about incidents with horse shipments at this time,  and some of the transport companies mentioned here may no longer be involved and other participants may have changed.  Atlas Air and Korean Air are the companies that have now been observed doing the shipments – Fedex is no longer involved.  Please do not leave negative comments on his blog,  but instead view it as a very revealing first person accounting of the logistics and tragedy of live horse shipments from Calgary to Japan, preceding a protest of the practice at YYC (Calgary Airport).  If you live in the Calgary area, please plan to attend this peaceful protest on April 16, 2015.

Head ’em Up! Move ’em Out! 

“Me and the boys are settled down around the campfire here in Fukuoka, Japan after a big day out on the range a-bustin’ broncs. (Please recall, gentle reader, a previous email where I informed you that “Fukuoka” is pronounced “Foo Ko Ka”. Let’s not have any frivolous mispronunciations here.)

Loading Horses in Calgary (5)

Loading the Horses in Calgary – From “The Gadabout”

OK, they weren’t doggies and they weren’t broncs. They were Percherons and Belgian Draft Horses. We moved 57 head of them critters from Anchorage to Fukuoka yesterday. That’s an 8 hour flight and let me tell you, pards, being stuck in a closed aluminum tube for 8 hours with 57 one-ton horses is an olifactory event. But I get ahead of myself.

There is evidently a big demand for horsemeat and horsey byproducts here in Mysterious Japan. Mitsui & Co, Ltd, Foodstuffs Division, is making enough money to pay FedEx handsomely to fly these behemoths from a ranch in Calgary, Canada to Fukuoka with a refueling stop in Anchorage. The ranch raises them for their first three years until they are full sized. We’re talking Budweiser Clydesdale size horses, here: they average 2000 lbs a piece on the hoof. Once they’ve achieved full horsey adult status, they go to Japan where they are evidently further fattened up before slaughter.

There were two horse charters flown yesterday for a total of 114 horses which is the maximum limit of the horse quarantine facility in Fukuoka. Fifty seven horses – my weight and balance sheet yesterday said they and their containers weighed 131,600 lbs – produce a lot of byproducts that have to taken into consideration when crammed into a wide body jet for many hours. First, there are the clever “Instone” Horse Containers. These cans keep the horses and the horse emanations from running around all over the back of the jet and the cargo hold. Makes the clean up process much more efficient, pards. Note the can does not have cute little yellow “dixie cup” oxygen masks that drop from the ceilings. If our aircraft “loses cabin pressure” – well, Pilgrim – them horses is screwed.

Please ignore the Atlas 747. FedEx has the charter now. Evidently other charters operators have let the horses get too hot and killed the whole plane load.

The charter comes with a certified “Horse Handler” – ours was from Ireland – and a FedEx loadmaster. The horse handler has a big ol’ syringe full of horsey tranquilizer and happy juice should one of those monsters grow too unruly.

There are several pages of instructions contained in the MD-11 flight manual that pertain to carrying livestock. We needed to take advantage of every one of them yesterday. Normally, we run the air system in the MD-11 on “Econ”, i.e, low air flow since there are at most only 5 people on the jet and running the air conditioners on full uses excess fuel. So I had to be sure to turn Econ off during preflight. Some jets have been modified with extra air lines and valves to be “High Flow” jets. Those airplanes had to be specifically tasked against this charter. Next, some of our jets only have a “Nine-G” cargo net and a flimsy plastic “vapor barrier” separating the courier and cockpit area from the cargo hold. Those won’t do. A horse charter has to have a rigid bulkhead system between the horses and the people. Operating out of Econ and in High Flow require increased fuel burn planning. So I and the dispatcher had to make sure we had enough gas to offset that.

Finally, all jets maintain cabin pressure by opening and closing an “outflow valve”. Conditioned Air from the A/C packs flow into the cabin. The outflow valves open and close automatically to maintain an exact cabin altitude. The problem is that 57 horses produce a lot more humidity than the aircraft designer planned for. That moisture can get in the outflow valves and at stratospheric cold temperatures they will freeze the valve in place. Being unable to control the cabin altitude half way across the Pacific with none or little divert options would be a bad thing. So every 30 minutes we had to go manual on the pressure controller and “exercise” the valve to keep it from freezing. Gotta tell you, pards, that gives the ol’ Eustachian tubes in the ears a work out, guarontee [sic] it.

What the book doesn’t tell you and you really need to know is that it is a really good idea to wrap your bags in plastic. If you don’t, your bag and it’s [sic] contents will smell of horse until you get to a time an place that will allow you to clean them. So, we spent and extra 10 minutes bagging all the stuff we wouldn’t need during the flight. Further, once we leveled off at cruise, the first thing we all did was to take off our uniforms and get into some old clothes. Then we bagged the uniforms too – hermetical seals, baby.

The cockpit wasn’t too bad, although you could tell that you had horses in the jet with you. But once you went back to the courier compartment for “physiological breaks” and to cook your meal, the odor of horse almost knocked you down. I’m sure my grandfather is laughing at me now: “That’s the smell of money, boy.” But, Popper could step out of the barn into the fresh air and we couldn’t.

Finally, we were supposed to hawk the temperature controls back in the cargo bay and keep the temperature right around 60 degrees. The packs were working just as hard as they could – I had them turned full cold – to keep them at 60 degrees.

What I didn’t expect – and I should have – was what happened during the approach and landing. Descent requires you to pull the power back – which significantly impacts the air coming into the packs. I tried to keep the power up a little, but there is only so much you can do and still descend, so the temps in the jet just shot up quickly. Elementary physics says that hotter air can’t hold as much humidity and by the time we landed we had moisture dripping off of the ceiling everywhere inside that jet. Yucky horsey moisture.

I wanted to go back and get some pictures of the horses but there wasn’t time before takeoff……and going past the rigid barrier during flight into the real miasma was counter indicated and I chose not to.

So the only pictures I got were of the unloading process at Fukuoka.

I was surprised at how calm the horses were during this process. It seemed like about every hour or so during the flight, one of the horses would start stamping back there in his can and it literally shook the whole airplane. During approach and landing it felt like they were doing a break dance back there. We tried to brake the minimum necessary and roll out the full length of the runway to keep from tossing them around. One or two really exuberant stomping episodes felt like a serious of small explosions to me.

As you look at these pictures, please note that these horse containers have seen some wear and tear and are not nearly the nice homey stalls that the thoroughbreds get when they travel. Certainly, none of these guys were Mr Ed.

Just a short layover here in FUK – yup, that’s Fukuoka’s identifier, I don’t make ’em up, I just have to live with ’em – but it’s a very nice hotel.

We had a really nice meal at a restaurant around the corner that served American style food: “Cafe George” was the name. All six of the two horse charter crews plus one load master all went together. All of us were ex Air Force and we told lies and swapped war stories for a couple of hours and a good time was had by all. Much better than eatin’ Cookie’s grub out the chuck wagon, I gotta tell you, Pilgrim.”

The Horse Charter Follies

“Howdy All,

About 6 months ago I wrote about flying a horse charter to Fukuoka, Japan. Evidently, there is a big market for horsemeat in Japan. Japanese restaurants evidently think Belgian Draft horses make really good sushi (Basashi) so there are ranches all over the landscape around Calgary and Edmonton that grow thousands of these huge horses. They weigh about 2000 lbs apiece by the time they are two years old and then we haul ‘em to Japan. We ship them three horses to a roll-on-roll-off ‘can’.

Unloading The Horses -

Unloading The Horses – From “The Gadabout”

Since we can not load enough horses and fuel to be profitable and fly non-stop, we fly them in two legs, the first to Anchorage to refuel and then on to Fukuoka where they are quarantined and then fattened for slaughter.

Gentle Reader, yesterday turned into yet another mechanical saga – the worst in fact of this two week stretch of work I’m on. First, 57 horses jammed into the aluminum tube of a widebody jet require some significant life support. You have to keep the air moving in and out for cooling and respiration. That many huge horses can generate a lot of body heat and a lot carbon dioxide. So, when we start loading them, we switch the airplane’s A/C packs to ‘high flow’ and crank the temperature as low as we can get it.

The next piece of information in this comedy of errors I’m relating is that Calgary is served by FedEx Airbus 300’s normally. The mechanic assigned to our flight was – on paper – qualified to work on MD-11’s but the most he’d ever done was top-off the ‘serviceables’ – fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, oxygen and so forth. He might have changed a light bulb too…….

The airplane had just flown in from Hawaii and when it landed, the crew could not get one of the electrical buses to connect to the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). The APU is small jet engine turbine that sits in the tail and provided electricity and air to power, cool and start the airplane. If it can’t power the electrical buses, we are ‘hard broke’ – it’s got to be fixed or we can’t fly.

So a discussion occurs between the loadmaster and the mechanic: ‘How long will this take to fix? Can I start loading the horses?’ Without really thinking this through a decision is made to load them up. I am reminded of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail where the bad guy drinks from the wrong cup and turns into dust. As the Knight Templar said: “He chose poorly.”

After the horses are loaded, the mechanic discovers that fixing the electrical problem is much more involved than he previously thought. It will require changing an electrical relay down in the electrical compartment between the landing gear. Further, we have to take all the electrical power off the airplane so it will be safe for him to switch out the relay. Since it is a ‘black box’ it shouldn’t be more than 30 minutes to change out.

Gentle Reader, it was a cool rainy day in Calgary – the temperature outside was just below 60 degrees and good strong breeze was blowing. If it had been normal Memorial Day weekend weather those horses would have been in big trouble because it took 5 hours to fix the jet.

First, our intrepid mechanic had to read the manual and follow it step by step. Evidently the compartment involved is very tight and it is tough to get the heavy black box in and out. Secondly, routing the cables involved is very tricky and requires some previous knowledge and this guy has none. He’s on the phone to the Maintenance experts in Memphis and they are talking him through this process.

I must start another aside here to further this tale. Several years ago, FedEx subcontracted one of these charters to Gemini Airlines. Gemini had some old, beat up 747 freighters that had bad air-conditioning systems in them. They were not up to the charter task and in fact they killed all the horses through lack of oxygen and carbon dioxide inhalation. My loadmaster on yesterday’s flight was also the unlucky loadmaster stuck with this tragedy. He’s really sensitive to horse mortality as he does not want his name associated with yet another incident.

So, about an hour into this process, it is getting steamy in the back of our jet. It’s dark, hot and you can’t see but two or three horse cans back. The loadmaster says to me the chilling words: “Geoff, this looks exactly how the Gemini disaster looked. We gotta do something.” So, we go down to the electrical compartment, get the mechanic out of there, put some power back on the jet so we can open up the aft doors on the main deck to let the breeze blow some air through the jet.

At this point a new problem arises. The only way to open the aft doors is to squeeze between the horse cans and the side of the jet all the back by the tail. When they get there, they discover that the wiring to the doors has been disconnected – since we never use those doors – as a security precaution. So, now they have to reassemble the wiring harness. This takes about 30 minutes and they are 100 feet aft of where I am up in the front of the jet and out of communication.

About 20 minutes into this process, I realize that if heat and CO2 inhalation can kill a horse, it can kill a person too. (I’m quick that way.) They did not take any kind of breathing equipment back with them. My imagination begins to work. So, I go back as far as I think I can safely go into the miasma. You can’t see 10 feet back…..and I begin shouting to see if they can hear me.

Gentle Reader, shouting near 57, large, hot, miserable horses is a bad idea. They begin kicking and stomping and generally making a fuss and shaking the whole airplane. If the loadmaster and the mechanic are answering me, I can’t hear it for all the uproar. I do feel somewhat better about the two guys since I’m thinking that if the horses still have energy to kick, then they are getting oxygen. But I’m still wondering if I’m going to have to call the fire department and have them go back there with breathing apparatus to resuscitate and rescue them. Finally, the horses settle down enough that I can hear them shout that they’ve just about got it open.

About the time they get the doors open, some more ground guys show up with an air-conditioning cart and they stick the big hose up in the doors and begin pumping cool air into the airplane. Now the mechanic can shut down the power again and go back to work fixing the jet.

In the meantime, the loadmaster starts working another issue. We have a ‘no later’ than time for the horses to arrive in Fukuoka. After that the airport is closed. If we go to Anchorage but can’t get to Fukuoka, there is no place to stable the horses. The horse handlers specifically state: “If we can’t get the horses to Fukuoka, we’d rather keep them here.’ They do have a temporary stable system in Calgary to get them off the jet. The Global Ops people say they understand this issue.

Finally, we are repaired and ready to go. The loadmaster makes one last call and confirms we are good to go all the way including the refueling stop and crew change in Anchorage and we blast off.

I have some aerodynamic information to share now, gentle reader. If you’ve ever listened closely to the Space Shuttle mission controller talking, he says as the shuttle passes through about 25000’ above sea level “Now entering the region of Max Q.” You can get the fastest subsonic speeds through the atmosphere in the region of Max Q but you burn a lot more gas. In order to expedite the trip up to Anchorage, I call Global Ops and get a new flight plan and fuel burn for staying that low and to make up some more time.

About halfway to Anchorage we discover that the air-conditioning can’t maintain the desired temperatures in the back at 25000 feet and we need to go higher where the air is colder. So we abandon the speed run and climb to 36000 feet.

The nasty weather around Calgary cleared up about 100 miles east of Juneau and we got some fantastic views. We were behind and above a United 777 that was going to Narita and it made a pretty picture.

Fifty miles further west, we saw this:

Juneau is in the little inlet in the upper right corner of this picture. Then north of Juneau we saw:

There is a cruise ship is right in the center of the picture.

About 200 miles north of Juneau is Mt St Elias and the Malaspina Glacier that I’ve written about before.

Just after that, the 777 veered left to continue to the Orient and we kept going to Anchorage.

Letting down into Anchorage we flew right over Prince William Sound where the sun was shining just right on the waves in the water to make a rainbow reflection:

Just after that we passed over Whittier and the harbor that is home to other day cruises and fishing tours.

If you look close, there is a cruise ship moored at the docks. The only way to drive to Whittier from anywhere is through a one lane tunnel that serves both trains and cars. I wrote about it back in September. In this picture you can see where the road disappears into the tunnel. I tried to show the tunnel from both sides here but the clouds obscure some of the view. You can see Whittier in the left side of the picture, the big mountain the tunnel goes under and on the right side of the picture, under the cloud is the road as it exits the mountain and goes next to the Portage glacier and river.

Clouds closed in right after this and we got busy landing. We got permission from the tower to roll the full length of the runway and minimized braking to keep from throwing the horses around and then taxied in.

That’s when we discovered that the next crew couldn’t get to Fukuoka in time before it closed and the horses had to spend last night in the jet parked on the ramp at Anchorage. The horse owner was more than a little miffed.

And that, Gentle Reader, ends this saga. Today is a flight to Fort Worth, Tx. As more fascinating sagas occur, I will share them.

Until then, I remain,”

Dad / Geoff

http://opinhbombay.blogspot.ca/2008_08_01_archive.html

 

 

Children’s Summer Camp Season – Please Choose Programs That Do Not Discard Horses And Ponies!

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From this.....

From this…..

Written by:  Equine Advocates,  reprinted with permission

Summer will be here before you know it and now is the time many parents are in the process of trying to decide where to send their children to camp. Not all camps that feature horseback riding are the same. Some take very good care of their horses and retire them rather than sending them to auction where they can be sold for slaughter. However, many camps, especially many of the seasonal ones that do not keep their horses all year round, lease their horses from killer buyers and dealers who take them back at the end of the summer and sell them at auction. Those camps should be avoided. In addition, many camps are guilty of inhumane conditions such as keeping horses tethered in the hot sun all day and making them work all day long without a break.

Equine Advocates has been involved with the Camp Horse Issue since 1996 and have been featured in articles and in a FOX undercover

Or this.....

Or this…..

investigation, which included our rescue of a former pony mare named, Journey, who we saved at the New Holland slaughter auction in PA. She had been used as a camp horse at a summer camp before being scrapped for slaughter. We recommend strongly that anyone wanting to send their kids to a riding camp should do their research. Ask questions like, “What happens to your horses at the end of the season?” “Do you retire your horses when they can no longer perform?” “Where do you find the horses for your program?”

To this?

To this?

In the FOX investigation, one very upscale riding camp in Connecticut was found dealing with dealers who took the horses back at summer’s end and sold them at auction. However, there are good camps out there. Please take the time to find them. Also note that the same applies to riding academies, riding schools, college equine studies programs, dude ranches, national children’s organizations and other programs that feature riding. Just do the research and find a reputable camp or riding program that teaches your kids all the right lessons, including the humane treatment and care of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.

Equine Advocates is a national nonprofit equine protection organization founded in 1996, promoting equine rescue, retirement, and the humane treatment of horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules. Located in Chatham, New York.

There’s An App For That! Navigational Tools For The Equestrian Trail Rider

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mule photo by SÜREYYA GÜVENE SAKALLIOĞLUWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

This is my second review of smartphone apps for animal/horse people. This isn’t an exhaustive list – there are other mapping apps and emergency locator apps available, some with mixed reviews, and many of these are beyond the scope of this blog post. There are some other hack tracking apps available that are not free/have poor ratings, so I didn’t download or test these. I also wouldn’t test/use any apps that used any sort of automatically generated emergency alarm in the event of a fall, since these have a tendency to go off when unintended, and are likely to panic a horse and CAUSE an accident. If you use an alarm, it should probably be user activated, which is why I’ve always carried a whistle.  I tend to think that developers who use alarms in their apps probably don’t know that much about horses. And riding with a buddy is always smarter than relying on GPS that may not be able to signal your location if you have an accident.

There are also apps such as CoraVault which can store your EMR (Electronic Medical Record) in the event that paramedics need to identify you and reach emergency point of contacts, review medications, and other pertinent medical information. Of course, an app such as this is only useful if: 1) EMRs know that you have it AND look for it in an emergency, and 2) Your phone did not get busted in your riding accident. Sometimes a low-tech medic-alert bracelet is better.

Using any of these apps requires one to carry an expensive and sensitive gadget into the semi-wilderness, hoping it functions, and also Tevis 2012 - Cougar Rockhoping that you return without a cracked screen or the device irretrievably broken. So it helps to have your phone already secured in a case that is rainproof, dustproof, and shockproof. If you’re going to be out in extreme cold or unable to charge your phone, your phone is reduced to a useless brick unless you have a supplemental battery pack.

Common sense must be employed when travelling in the wilderness too, so while the magic GPS arrow or pre-plotted course is handy, you don’t exactly want to try to navigate a crevasse or steep cliff with your horse just because your device is urging your forward via the most direct (but not necessarily the best) route. There’s no shortage of stories about pedestrians trying to walk across 6 lane highways or drivers finding themselves on non-navigable roads in the middle of a blizzard because their GPS sent them down that path. Unless you’re a wilderness instructor or in the military, you should not let your GPS get you into a terrain for which you don’t have the proper skills.

Here’s some of the smartphone apps I thought had the greatest potential for usefulness. It’s nice to see that the equestrian market has been catered for too.

family locatorFamily Locator – Life 360

While this app was originally created to keep track of family members or “circles,” it’s useful to see when the riders in your family get to and from their destination while out with their horses. Also great for family members to keep track of horses being trailered to events, especially if weather is a concern. You can receive real-time alerts when circle members arrive or leave their destinations. It also has the added benefit of being able to track lost phones (with a premium membership). If your phone can pick up a cell tower while you’re trail riding, circle members can see where you are on the trail. It’s accurate, free and really easy to use.

Map My Tracks Ride Run WalkMap My Tracks – Ride Run Walk – Tinderhouse Ltd.

Map My Tracks offers you a Google Map and plenty of performance measurements such as speed, pace,  duration, elevation gain/loss, elapsed time, and top speed. You can share your activities on Facebook and Twitter including auto tweets when starting and stopping your ride. This application is tailored for runners and had no routes for riders. Upgrading to Map My Tracks PLUS provides more stats available for runners such as performance reports, detailed heart rate analysis, and training plans for $29 per year – all features that aren’t particularly useful for riders. Map My Tracks is easy to use with a simple interface but is not without some annoying adverts in the free version.

My TrailsMy Trails – FrogSparks

This app is free but offers in-app purchases for optional topo (topographical) or special-purpose apps (but most people would find it useful without special purchases). It also has an offline mode. Learning curve is much steeper with this app than some of the others, but it’s more feature rich (including over 40 stats), so it’s useful to plan your trip before you leave (and purchase the maps you need before you get to your destination) rather than try to figure out all the features in the field. While some other applications focus mainly on US and Canadian topo maps, My Trails also offers many European maps from Yahoo, Bing, Google and other global providers. Key indicators are available such as altitude, speed, and rate of ascent,  so it’s useful for measuring training for your horse.

My Tracks GoogleMy Tracks – Google

This is one of the lesser-known Google android apps, but it’s free, extremely easy to master, and very accurate. You can pause your recordings as well. Make sure that you don’t start the timer before your phone establishes a GPS signal, otherwise, the timing for your ride won’t be accurate. It’s good for conditioning a horse too, since it also tracks speed, distance, and elevation. You can view your live data while recording and make annotations on a Google map . Save your ride and access it afterwards at any time, or use the satellite playback, which “flies” you along your ride on a Google earth satellite image. You can share tracks with your friends and make them public via Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. Of course, with simplicity and an uncluttered map area and user interface come some downsides – if you need more detailed topographical maps then this isn’t the app for you, at least not with the current version.

Trimble Outdoors NavigatorMy Topo Maps (for Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle Fire, and iPhone) and Navigator (Android phone) – Trimble Outdoors

Trimble is really the “Cadillac” of navigational/planning tools. The mapping options are superior to other applications. You have the option of using enhanced overlay maps for public lands, property lines for private lands, forest roads, and weather. Over 68,000 US and Canadian map offerings include aerial, terrain, street and hybrid maps. Many maps are provided and updated by the US Forest Service, and are therefore helpful in locating forest roads and campsites.

Most of the features are far beyond the scope of this review, since I didn’t pay for the memberships that are pretty much required in order to use most of the services. So while I couldn’t evaluate all of the services provided, such as printed maps etc, I can say that if you’re competing in the Tevis 100, planning to ride through a ghost town, or are going to appear as a contestant on the Mantracker TV show, these are the apps for you. The time required to become competent with the various fee-based features provided means that it’s not cost-effective for anyone but the most serious back country aficionado.

The Trimble apps are best suited to planning your trip on your computer or iPad and then downloading/syncing with your phone, or loading them on to your memory card (an enhanced paid service) so that the possible lack of a cell phone tower won’t be an issue. Optionally, you can also download someone else’s pre-planned trip to your phone.

Trimble offers the most precise compass of any of the applications I looked at – you can choose between true north and magnet north. Trip Cloud allows you to access your trips on any of your devices. You can also record videos that are automatically geo-tagged for your location and send them to YouTube. Stat-tracking is also available for distance, speed, elevation, and more.

Other useful features include Smart Paste: Copy GPS coordinates from websites and instantly map their locations into MyTopo Maps. Trimble also offers the ability to order waterproof custom printed maps on paper – supposedly printed and shipped within 24 hours (although I didn’t test it!)

The downsides to these apps (there are a few) is that the learning curve is steep and there are lots of additional fees. You really need to go through the tutorials or YouTube videos in order to feel competent in using the app. Virtually everything comes at a cost – you must pay yearly or monthly to use most features. I was also annoyed by constant reminders to rate the app, which was not something I felt comfortable in doing after only a short period of use.

Viewranger GPSViewranger GPS – Augmentra

Viewranger GPS was voted “#1 Outdoor App” and “One of the Best Apps of 2013″ (Google Play). It’s a free app with available in-app purchases for premium maps – I found it to be the most feature-rich free app with the most usability – most people will get by with the range of free offerings and won’t need to purchase anything additional. Viewranger has a massive library of expert and community generated specialty routes (created and uploaded by other users) which are free, while adding a premium map to your download may cost from $1.99 to $129.99. Most user experiences are walking trips, and although users can upload their maps for horseback riding, skiing, flying, canoeing/kayaking, hiking, and wheelchair accessible routes, most routes are for walkers. Plenty of stats are offered and your tracks can be stored on a free web account or shared on Facebook and Twitter, with the option to add Flickr photos. You can also share your location with PIN protected BuddyBeacon. This app has a good balance between the features offered (free maps, stats, compass) and won’t require as much time to learn as some of the higher-end applications.

Endurance 2

If you’re good at getting lost in general, I’d suggest reading GPS for Dummies. Not that I think anyone reading this blog is any sort of dummy, but reading a primer on GPS technology is a good start to knowing how to read digital maps and learn about waypoints, tracks, and just generally getting more out of your GPS device. Because some of us don’t want to bumble through hours of hard terrain with a paper map in order to find that pristine waterfall!

Mountain horse pack

 

 

Smartphone Apps Enable Consumers To Shop Cruelty-Free (And Bite-Back At Companies That Test On Animals)

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ad4Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Despite available alternatives, millions of animals are subjected to cruel and unnecessary experiments for cosmetics. In Canada, although the law requires that animals be used for medical testing, animals are not required for cosmetics testing. The Food and Drugs Act, the Cosmetic Regulations Act, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations are all federal laws that relate to cosmetics testing. However, none of the Acts stipulate that animal testing is a requirement.

The information that has historically been gained from animal tests is increasingly being replaced with quicker, cheaper and more reliable non-animal methods. Many of the animal tests used to test cosmetics ingredients have now been replaced or are in development. The TTC approach (Threshold of Toxicological Concern) can be safely used to show that testing is not necessary for many ingredients, due to the low exposure of consumers to individual cosmetic ingredients.

Even though animal testing is not required, and despite the fact that alternatives to testing exist, many companies continue with the practice,  usually for product liability reasons. Even products that are simply labeled as “not tested on animals” or “cruelty-free” may have been tested by other companies, at the ingredient level or at certain stages of development making it confusing and frustrating for individuals who are trying to make compassionate choices.

The Leaping Bunny logo is synonymous with truly cruelty-free products. 15 years after this certification process began, there are additional tools to help consumers locate cruelty-free products – supporting companies who have pledged not to test on animals and penalizing companies that still do.cruelty free logo There are two primary apps available for smartphones, on both GooglePlay and iTunes. PeTA also has an app that’s only offered for iPhones.

 

If you’re looking for a free app, you can try the Cruelty-Free app from Symbiotic Software LLC.  This app is published by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program, and the shopping guide lists over 200 U.S. and Canadian companies that do not test ingredients, formulations, or finished products on animals. The Leaping Bunny Program certifies that no new animal testing is used, so you can be confident about your cruelty-free choices.

Cruelty-Free App – Pros

  • Free
  • Simple to use
  • Regularly updated
  • Large database of products
  • US and Canadian based
  • Doesn’t require access to other programs or settings on phone
  • Established reputation – published by Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics

Cruelty-Free App – Cons

  • Requires lots of scrolling through a lengthy list
  • No way to interact with companies that are not cruelty-free
  • May be confusing to locate parent companies
  • I found an established vegetarian, cruelty-free company (Lush Cosmetics) that was not in the database
  • Activists cannot play a direct role in updating the product database
  • If you declined to purchase a product because it wasn’t cruelty-free,  the company would never know why

Cruelty Cutter LogoCruelty-Cutter is also available from the Beagle Freedom Project. This app offers a feature that other apps don’t – the ability to scan a product’s bar code and receive a near-immediate confirmation on the cruelty-free status of the items. Cruelty-Cutter advertises that they have every company in the “Leaping Bunny” and PeTA lists and thousands more. This is really an activist’s app. You have the option of tweeting the results of your scan with a positive endorsement of the (cruelty-free) product or “biting-back” at the company whose product does not meet the requirements, with a direct message to their Twitter account. This is a way to show companies that people are not interested in supporting those that continue to test on animals when it is not needed.

Cruelty-Cutter App – Pros

  • Allows you to interact with companies via Twitter
  • Easy to use – scan bar codes instead of scrolling through alphabetical lists
  • Vigilant consumers make the product better
  • Instant gratification – when you tweet the results of your scan,  you feel like you have made an impact

Cruelty-Cutter App – Cons

  • Not free – nominal purchase fee
  • Requires a Twitter account to use the full features of the app
  • Although the developer touts it at the most up-to-date cruelty-free app on the market, it still didn’t have quite a few products I scanned in its database. Strangely, Lush cosmetics, known to be vegetarian and cruelty-free, was missing.
  • Sending emails to the Beagle Freedom Project to investigate the status of products not in their database requires a few extra seconds to fill in the name of the product. If you’re impatient, you might not be willing to take this extra step.
  • Excessive scanning of products may mean that you are mistaken for an inventory control clerk!

Here’s three of several items I scanned at home,  along with the corresponding Tweets generated by the Cruelty-Cutter app:

 

 

 

Tackling The Ivories

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ebony and ivory elephants

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

When I was a kid, I’m pretty sure that I learned that “E” was for “elephant,” not for “extinction.” But since the time I was in grade school, Africa has lost over 90% of their elephants. Despite an international ivory trade ban being in place, the obscene demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn just keeps growing, largely due to increasing affluence in China. In the Far East a single elephant’s tusks that weigh 10kg will fetch more than $30,000, while rhino horn is selling at $65,000 a kilogram, more than twice the price of gold. As most everyone knows, a tipping point has been reached – more African elephants are being killed each year than are being born. An elephant has one baby only every few years. Factor in natural death and do the math – their end is in sight.

Ivory is often concealed as stag antler, cow bone, bovine bone, angel skin coral, faux ivory,  or other natural organic material.  Elephant ivory has been the most important source, but ivory from many species including the hippopotamus, walrus, pig, mammoth, sperm whale, and narwhal has been used.

Ivory is often concealed as stag antler, cow bone, bovine bone, angel skin coral, faux ivory, or other natural organic material. Elephant ivory has been the most important source, but ivory from many species including the hippopotamus, walrus, pig, mammoth, sperm whale, and narwhal has been used.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement which came into force in Canada on July 3rd, 1975 and aims to prevent the over-exploitation of wildlife threatened by excessive international trade and illegal poaching. Selling African ivory has been prohibited since 1989.  Under the regulations, some people will need to sacrifice certain rights of ivory ownership. Anyone who currently owns an ivory item, and wants to keep it or gift it, is not impacted at all by these regulations. However, owners of ivory without proper documentation (showing it is either antique or acquired legally before the 1989 ban) will not be able to sell it. However, any ivory considered ancient, such as 10,000 to 40,000 year old mammoth ivory, is completely unrestricted in its sale or possession.

Elephant-sized loopholes, insufficient law enforcement and capitulation by the member states of CITES to pro-ivory trade governments has occasionally allowed sales of enormous amounts of stockpiled ivory. But not all shipments of ivory arrive via someone’s luggage or a

Elephants will be extinct in 10 years at the rate China's carving factories are churning out chopsticks and useless doodads.  There are 37 massive carving factories in China. The owners could close those factories now, retool to carve in resin, and the poachers would not be paid at the factory door.

Elephants will be extinct in 10 years at the rate China’s carving factories are churning out prestige pieces, chopsticks and useless doodads. There are 37 massive carving factories in China. The owners could close those factories now, retool to carve in resin, and the poachers would not be paid at the factory door.

shipping container. In 2007, eBay, under pressure from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, banned all international sales of elephant-ivory.  But this has done little to prevent elephant ivory products from being trafficked on the world’s online marketplace.   eBay and Etsy are largely responsible for much of the illegal ivory transactions in North America. While both sites have have been humiliated into creating official policies, they certainly do not enforce them to the spirit of the agreement, since they are profiting handsomely via fees and commissions from their sellers. This is also true of Craig’s List, Google Shopping, and other online sellers who have no policies at all against facilitating the ivory trade.

Most of the doodads sold as antique ivory today are made to look old but come from elephants that were killed recently in Africa. Illegal products are also getting mixed up with the pre-ban and pre-historic stuff, such as legal mammoth ivory, reclaimed from mass graveyards. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with using ivory from long-dead mammoths, but the average person cannot distinguish between mammoth ivory and elephant ivory – a highly trained individual is still necessary to obtain a positive identification of the species source, sometimes by using techniques such as isotope analysis.

The replica Bechstein Louis XV grand piano. The original was made for Queen Victoria. It is undeniably impressive with its intricate woodcarving and gold leaf, but should a contemporary grand piano have real ivory-topped keys?  Reviving traditional craftsmanship is a worthy pursuit. But to use ivory for the keys is a very serious misreading of the tea leaves by this piano company.

The replica Bechstein Louis XV grand piano. The original was made for Queen Victoria. It is undeniably impressive with its intricate woodcarving and gold leaf, but should a contemporary grand piano have real ivory-topped keys? Reviving traditional craftsmanship is a worthy pursuit. But to use ivory for the keys is a very serious misreading of the tea leaves by this piano company.

Confounding this are the products made (or allegedly made) from hippo tusk, ox bone, warthog ivory, buffalo horn, giraffe and camel bone, in addition to mother-of-pearl, synthetic polymers, and the catch-all phrase, “faux ivory.” Any of these aforementioned terms are used online as “code” for genuine ivory.  Visit eBay and search for “faux ivory” or any of these other terms and you’ll see how prevalent it is. If sellers do identify their wares as ivory, they claim that their ivory trinkets are pre-ban, antique, or vintage. But they cannot all be pre-ban relics. An investigation by the Natural Resources Defense Council has found that up to 90 percent of the ivory products sold in stores in Los Angeles is illegal.

Older or antique musical instruments are sometimes made with ivory components.  Despite the scourge of poaching, piano maker Bechstein created a world-wide scandal when they used post-ban ivory on a new golden salon grand commissioned for its 160th anniversary and based on a replica of the original gilded piano Carl Bechstein created for Queen Victoria in the late 19th century. It is finished with 24-carat gold leaf, carved from century-old Italian wood and finished with ivory keys. If you can get past the ivory keys, the piano is exquisite and will probably find itself in the parlour of a wealthy buyer in China or some tobacco company executive. But if anyone seriously believes a new piano made with ivory keys rather than other materials is worth more than an elephant then they are deluded. Then again, people still pay to go on those gruesome big game safaris, eat endangered whale meat at high-class restaurants, and wear fur, so I’m not really sure what I’m so surprised about. Singer Billy Joel took to his blog to provide the perfect response to musicians who argue that they need ivory keys for their pianos. Joel writes:

For piano keys, the ivory was sliced thin, into laminates that were secured to wooden keys. These keys are all that's left of our antique piano,  destroyed in "The Great Fire" of 1999.  You can see how warped they are from the heat of the fire.

Two keys from our 1936 Steinway piano, inexorably linked with the distasteful business of killing elephants for the purpose of obtaining ivory. For piano keys, the ivory was sliced thin, into laminates that were secured to wooden keys. These keys are all that’s left of our piano, destroyed in a house fire not that long after we brought it up from the US. You can see how warped they are from the heat of the fire.

“I am a piano player. And I realize that ivory piano keys are preferred by some pianists. But a preference for ivory keys does not justify the slaughter of 96 elephants every day. There are other materials which can be substituted for piano keys. But magnificent creatures like these can never be replaced. Music must never be used as an excuse to destroy an endangered species. Music should be a celebration of life – not an instrument of death.”

Despite the masses of buttons, buckles, and billiard balls freely available in the online marketplace, musicians are being targeted when travelling with their instruments for competitions and performances. The CITES regulations have created anxiety in the music world, and will cause many working musicians with vintage instruments to reconsider travelling abroad. Both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony were only able to travel internationally after they secured CITES permits, which require a wait time of 30-75 days and cost $75 per certificate.

We brought our 1936 Steinway piano with elephant ivory keys up from the US via railway car, coincidentally right after CITES regulations came into force. At the time we had no idea that there were existing regulations with which we would have to comply in order to import it into Canada. We had never heard of a CITES Import Certificate. You can be sure that we didn’t have any paperwork proving how old it was. If we had called Steinway do you think that they would have had the documentation to prove when and where that ivory was obtained? Had the piano been seized, the keys would have been ripped off it and we probably would have been lumped in together with people who are intentionally trafficking in new ivory.

Today, there are many different materials available to pianomakers. Piano key veneers are made of resin,  jade, slate, or clamshell.  You can almost hear the elephants trumpeting their approval.

Today, there are many different materials available to pianomakers. Piano key veneers are made of resin, jade, slate, or clamshell. You can almost hear the elephants trumpeting their approval.

Even if you’re in possession of a CITES certificate, things can still go horribly wrong in the misguided war on musical instruments. Campbell Webster, 17 and Eryk Bean, 17, both from New Hampshire, had their bagpipes seized while travelling between Canada and the US, just two days before they were due to fly to Scotland for the World Pipe Band Championships. Webster’s £6,000 pipes, which were previously used by his father in his role as an official piper to the Queen, were confiscated by officials because they are made out of ivory. All this was due to the boys’ failure to cross at the designated port. In another example of overreaching authority, The Fish and Wild Life Service confiscated a 73 year-old piano and would not release it to the owner until the ivory had been stripped from it. In 2014, a Canadian string player studying in New York cancelled his audition in Winnipeg, fearing his bow with an ivory bridge would be confiscated on return to the States. To serious violinists, the bow is almost as important as the violin itself.

The ivory trade is a pretty despicable industry – the domain of the world’s most vicious and heavily armed militants. It’s hard to believe that the killing, trafficking, and terrorism are being committed solely out of the desire for animal teeth. Whatever can be done to stop the trade, then I’m all for it. But confiscating or damaging these musical instruments is a ridiculous action in the face of so many ivory pieces being sold internationally.

Do governments really believe that ivory is being trafficked as antique bagpipes, piano keys, and violin bridges or bows? It’s pretty obvious when you have a musician transporting an older musical instrument that just happens to be laden with ivory… as opposed to someone with a couple massive tusks in their checked bag. Confiscating bagpipes from teenagers and hassling other musicians with vintage instruments is not the way to go about it – no one is playing that instrument *because* it has ivory – they have the instrument due to its quality. These are good and well-intended regulations, but they’ve got to be refined so they accomplish their intended goals without needlessly complicating the lives of musicians.  We need higher penalties for violators, online retailers, traffickers and especially for big game hunters who can currently legally kill elephants and bring home the ivory.

Oscar-Winning Director Kathryn Bigelow Wants You to Know Your Ivory Souvenirs Finance Terrorists

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important Action – Petition To The Government Of Canada Requesting Mandatory Risk Assessment For Animal Abuse

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Two Children Teasing a Cat Annibale Carracci (Italian, Bologna 1560–1609 Rome)  Why do some people pull the wings off butterflies, toss firecrackers at cats, shoot the neighbors’ dogs with BB guns (or torture cats with crayfish)? The Dark Triad consists of three personality characteristics—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.  You can see it in the painting. Look at the little girl’s smile as she watches the boy torture the car with a crayfish.

Two Children Teasing a Cat
Annibale Carracci
(Italian, Bologna 1560–1609 Rome)
Why do some people pull the wings off butterflies, toss firecrackers at cats, shoot the neighbours’ dogs with BB guns (or torture cats with crayfish)? The Dark Triad consists of three personality characteristics—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. You can see it in the painting. Look at the little girl’s smile as she watches the boy torture the cat with a crayfish.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Animal abuse is typically due to the inadequate protection of animals, along with social and cultural factors. Many psychologists and anthro-zoologists argue that animal cruelty is a good predictor of later violence against humans. Therefore, we must address the important psychological and social/cultural issues and make cruelty to animals target of intervention so that we can learn more about the etiology of human cruelty.

While animals deserve their own Bill of Rights, many crimes against humans may well have been prevented had any animal cruelty incidents that preceded them been taken seriously. Animals, people, and communities will be safer if animal abuse is detected early and intervention happens immediately with the use of appropriate risk assessment tools and treatment programs created specifically to target animal abuse.

The wanton abuse of a dog named Captain is the foundation for this petition, created by animal activist Charlene Myers and (now retired) parole officer Carole DeGrood. Brian Whitlock of Vancouver, British Columbia was convicted on June 12, 2013 of animal cruelty for beating Captain in the head and body with a baseball bat. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, mandatory psychological counselling and 3 years of probation, but had also been convicted of assault and has subsequently been charged with killing his mother. The petition is intended to be applicable to anyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code in Canada.  Please help Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada collect signatures for presentation to the House of Commons.

The Petition is available in both English and French versions:

English Petition (PDF)

Version Française – Pétition (PDF)

Please note about the petition:

Signing the petition:

  1. Only residents of Canada (anyone who has lived in Canada for 6 months or more) may sign this petition.
  2. The petition form should be printed one-sided only to prevent “bleed” of ink from one side of the paper to the other.
  3. Please do not write anything (such as comments) in addition to what is requested on the petition form.
  4. Please PRINT the FULL NAME OF THE TOWN OR CITY in which you reside (NO ABBREVIATIONS ARE PERMITTED); Provinces MAY be abbreviated.

Submitting the petition:

  1. Before mailing the petition to the address below, please ensure the following:
  2. All required information (name, address, signature) is provided on the petition form.
  3. Your return address is on the envelope in case it needs to be returned to you for any reason such as insufficient postage.
  4. Please mail ORIGINAL signed petitions (PHOTOCOPIES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE) to:

ACLA Canada (short for Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada)

7895 Gladstone Drive

Prince George, BC V2N 3K5

stray-dog-and-a-cat

Petition to the Government of Canada Requesting Mandatory Risk Assessment and Treatment for Anyone Convicted of Animal Cruelty Under the Criminal Code

Why is this petition important?

Animals are easy targets for abuse as they are vulnerable and without legal rights. Although the crime of animal cruelty may be viewed by some people as unimportant or trivial when compared with other crimes, studies show that people who harm animals may also be involved in other criminality, including crimes of violence toward humans, either simultaneously or in the future. Furthermore, according to the National Link Coalition animal abusers often kill and abuse pets to orchestrate fear, violence and retribution in homes marked by domestic violence. They add that animal cruelty rarely occurs in isolation—it’s usually “the tip of the iceberg” and frequently the first opportunity for social services or law enforcement agencies to intervene.

In a speech delivered at the Congressional Iphoto-2nformational Briefing on Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence in 1998, Special Agent Brantley of the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted the link between animal abuse and violence toward humans (typically referred to simply as “the link”) and revealed the importance of taking animal cruelty into account when assessing a perpetrator’s behaviour when he stated the following:

“Some in our society make too much out of qualitatively distinguishing between violence against humans and violence against animals. Ladies and gentlemen, violence against animals is violence and when it is present, it is considered by the people I work with to be synonymous with a history of violence.”

As animal cruelty is not only a crime of violence unto itself but one that is linked with violence against humans, the focus should be placed more on the behaviour demonstrated by someone who inflicts violence than on the species or legal status of the target victim. As psychologist Dr. Lynn Loar states, “the behaviour that harms the animal is the same behaviour that harms the human.”

As a result of recognizing the link between animal cruelty and violence toward humans, animal protection organizations, social services, and law enforcement agencies in the United States have been working together to address the link since the 1990s.

Canada seems to be moving forward in this regard but there is more to be done. People convicted of animal cruelty typically still receive minimal sentences and there does not appear to be adequate recognition by the courts and other criminal justice workers of the potential risk animal abusers may pose to public safety. If someone convicted of animal cruelty does happen to be sentenced to significant time in custody, available risk assessment tools and treatment options are not designed specifically to allow the assessor to expose and gather information about animal abuse and the perpetrator’s motives for it. These deficiencies need to be addressed.

The Colorado LINK Project found that “an animal cruelty offender’s potential risk to public safety may vary from little to none to extreme” and recchained-dogommends that “animal abuse by adults and children be examined carefully through comprehensive and developmentally sensitive evaluation to help determine the context and seriousness of the abuse, causative factors and the perpetrator’s level of blameworthiness.” As animal cruelty is a crime of violence that is linked to violence against humans, then animals, people, and communities will be safer if everyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code of Canada is required to undergo mandatory risk assessment and treatment developed specifically to target animal abuse.

This petition calls upon the House of Commons to require that adequate risk assessment tools and intervention programs are developed and that everyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code of Canada be required to undergo mandatory risk assessment and treatment developed specifically to target animal abuse.

For further information, please “like” the

National Animal Abuse Prevention Day” (NAAPD) Facebook page.

 

Toronto’s Viral IKEA Monkey Story Continues – “Monkey Mom” Acquires More Primates

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mom and babyWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

“Monkey Mom,” (sometimes known as Yasmin Nakhuda) is apparently still on a quest for substitute children.  She just made a ruthlessly strategic move to deprive her own former pet Darwin of any possible companionship at his potential new home at the former Northwood Zoo, which is currently for sale. While Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary (his home)  campaigns for funds to allow them to relocate to Northwood (and take over responsibility for Northwood’s macaques), Ms. Nakhuda went and purchased the two suitable companions for Darwin from Northwoods, and took them home to add to her own personal “safari park” in Kawartha Lakes.  Surprise!

Quite apart from the fact that Northwoods shouldn’t be selling exotic animals to private collectors, I’m honestly baffled why Nakhuda, who has two (human) children, persists in becoming a wanna-be Jane Goodall by acquiring the two juvenile Japanese macaques.

Here’s the smug, self-congratulatory Facebook announcement:

primates dont make good pets

Supporters of Story Book Farm will recall that in 2013, Nakhuda sent a petition to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and Brock Township, signed by a group of 116 petitioners, seemingly as part of a plan to  revoke the charitable status of the sanctuary.  Naturally, this empty rhetoric fell on deaf ears,  since just about the only way to have your charitable status revoked is if the charity itself doesn’t comply with CRA’s regulations,  they fail to file their returns,  or they ask to be de-registered.   In addition to that, most of the claims made in this petition were inflammatory and dangerously speculative. Accusations were flung – accusations that can now be applied directly to Nakhuda herself.

Nakhuda’s 2013 letter tried to suggest that:

“Story Book’s primary agenda is not the rescue of unwanted or neglected animals but to build a private zoo or collection of primates and other exotic animals.”

Of course, she ignores the fact that her own monkey was acquired by Story Book after she lost him in parking lot (a pretty fearful situation for a baby monkey) and he had to be rescued. I’m guessing that Nakhuda, who does not claim to be operating a charitable sanctuary, doesn’t see the irony in purchasing these two primates for her own collection.

“Story Book did not have appropriately-educated volunteers, was unqualified to take care of primates.”

Ducks on Nakhuda's "sanctuary"

Ducks at Nakhuda’s “pet heaven”

This, despite the fact that Story Book has a varied combination of volunteers and a Board of Directors with animal, veterinary, and direct primate experience. To the best of our knowledge, Ms.Nakhuda has no apparent animal training or specialist knowledge of primates other than how to accessorize them with stylish clothing and diapers. We know from the Nakhuda v. Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary verdict and Nakhuda’s own description of Darwin’s behaviour that she went to great lengths to keep him contained and herself from being injured by him. We also question whether the misguided monkey mom has an established enrichment program for these macaques – experienced keepers spend many hours figuring out ways to stimulate primates, both mentally and physically. Instead, she stated that she thought of him as her “child,” – “Japanese macaques, they have 93 per cent human DNA. So, he would act like a little child, and therefore when I call him my son I’m not mental.” First of all, primates don’t have human DNA – the point of divergence from our MRCA (most recent common ancestor) occurred approximately 29 million years ago.  While they share approximately 93% of our nucleotide homology,  they do not precisely share our human DNA. So, that pretty much demolishes Nakhuda’s argument that Darwin can ever be a “son.”  Secondly, most people possessing common sense know that humans are not a direct substitute for a primate’s own co-horts. Instead of being taken to shopping malls, Darwin needed

Deceased alpaca on Nakhuda's "sanctuary"

Nakhuda’s “Pet heaven” was not so heavenly for this deceased alpaca

to be safe and living with other macaques, not left alone in cars – there was nothing in his biology that could prepare him for this kind of experience.

Nakhuda’s actions in acquiring these two primates appears to be an attempt to throw a literal monkey wrench into the plan to finally integrate Darwin with suitable conspecifics who are close to him in age, apparently with the assumption that this will force the return of Darwin to her after all this time.  However,  Darwin continues to be a healthy and vibrant monkey who enjoys the company of the baboons and macaques who live nearby him, along with his human caretakers.

~Monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks into the mirror, he sees a monkey~

Malcolm de Chazal

The point of divergence from the most recent common ancestor of Homo Sapiens (us) and Japanese Macaques occurred approximately 29 mya (million years ago) Courtesy of Timetree.org

The point of divergence from the most recent common ancestor of Homo Sapiens (us) and Japanese Macaques occurred approximately 29 mya (million years ago) Courtesy of Timetree.org

macaque giving the finger