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 – we both descended from a common ancestor some six million years ago.  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 co-horts 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

macaque giving the finger

 

Dead Wrong – The Deer “Harvest” In Short Hills Provincial Park

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The doe has been shot and is now being removed by MNR staff.

This doe had to be euthanized by MNR staff after she was found wounded on private property

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photos: Short Hills Wildlife Alliance and Heather Clemenceau

In 2014, concerned citizens in the Niagara Region once again called for for an end to deer hunts in the 1,700 acre Short Hills Provincial Park. Citing concerns for public safety including hunters trespassing on private property,  Regional Councillors sent letters to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) requesting that it not allow future hunts. Through a long-standing but questionable treaty agreement, Haudenosaunee aboriginal hunters have been allowed into the closed park to kill deer with bows and arrows. A first hunt in the park took place over four days in January 2013 and a second was held for eight days in November 2013, finishing out 2014 with a hunt in November/December. In order to depict the disregard with which the deer have been killed and left in various stages of dismemberment in the park, please be aware that this blog post does include some graphic or disturbing images.

The reasons for opposing the hunt are as varied as the demonstrators, many of whom have stood vigilant at the entrance to the park before dawn and after sunset in a cold so numbing that it was physically painful. The protesters consist of those opposed to hunting in a park that is traditionally used for walking, cycling, hiking, birdwatching and horseback riding, those who question the treaty rights, and others who are simply opposed to hunting the semi-tame deer (akin to hunting at Marineland) or have questioned the MNR’s ability to determine whether the park is suffering from deer overpopulation issues as is claimed. Although I’m personally opposed to sport hunting, and bow hunting in particular, I can’t really object to First Nations hunting, fishing, or gathering rights that take place on lands that are not adjacent to homes or schools, or Crown lands that are

Regional Counil Member Andy Petrowski

Regional Council Member Andy Petrowski

generally not used by non-hunters. That description doesn’t characterize Short Hills Park.

Unlike so many animal welfare or animal rights issues, there is widespread political support to ending the hunt. Jim Bradley (MPP St. Catharines), Kim Craitor (MPP Niagara Falls – now retired) and Tim Hudak (MPP Niagara West) and all Town Councils of Pelham, Thorold, St. Catharines and Reg. Council of Niagara are in opposition. The issue is still considered largely untouchable by many politicians, including the Ontario Premier, because it’s also an issue of Native rights. Regional Council, which last fall demanded the province put a stop to the eight days of native deer hunting in the Park, agreed to ask the Ministry of Natural Resources to look into alleged safety violations during that hunt and to take steps to ensure public safety. I’m not into disputing the contents of the treaty,” said St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley. “I simply feel this particular park is not the appropriate place for a deer hunt of this kind.”

I don’t live near Short Hills, but there are many similarities between it and the large forest near my home – one that I’ve ridden horses in for more than a decade. By contrast, hunting is not permitted in the majority of the 2,300 hectare York Regional Forest. The groomed and manicured trails are not open to hunters or members of the public on a snowmobile or ATV – the small tracts that are used for hunting are raw forest, not typically close to homes. The forest is used year-round for the following activities, which can be enjoyed by anyone:

  • Walking/hiking
  • Dog walking
  • Bird watching
  • Horseback riding
  • Cycling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Mountain biking
  • Geocaching and snowshoe strolls
  • Walks with naturalists to identify the local plants and animals
  • Holiday themed events for families
Large protest sign at the entrance to Shorthills

Let’s keep hunting out of multi-use parks that are enjoyed by everyone.

When trails are used for these activities, they should not simultaneously be used for hunting – the hunters need to stay in the designated areas. Since only a small percentage of the Ontario population hunts, why should non-hunters be forced to share the park with people who want to kill animals?  If any of these tracts of the York Regional Forest were suddenly opened up to hunting,  I would be there everyday in protest as well.  There are more than enough of these designated, less populous areas without encroaching onto trails designated for use by everyone.

Contentiousness is not new to deer hunting. Any deer herd is the result of a complex  interaction between food supply, population size, reproduction, mortality factors, exposure to prey animals, movements, weather, and past history. We are continually buffeted with reports that there are too many deer on Crown lands. Whenever the MNR tells us that hunts are needed to “control the population” we know they are only kidding themselves. The fact that the MNR claims there needs to be a hunt twice a year in Short Hills two years in a row shows that killing animals is not an effective way to manage populations, because animal populations tend to rebound after hunting due to the compensatory rebound effect and other factors. And if the deer do actually run out of food in the park they will simply walk away and forage elsewhere. There are no fences around the park to stop them. The fact that they love to eat the grapes from the nearby winery is a testament to the fact that they ignore boundaries entirely.

Regardless of motivation, I think it’s safe to assume that the demonstrators all feel that this cull is a deadly farce perpetrated by those with no

The Walk of Shame past the hunt demonstrators

The Walk of Shame past the hunt demonstrators

knowledge of population dynamics of wildlife. Those of us who object to killing deer for no good reason have raised the difficult question about the ethical justification of the hunt.

Bow hunting is, next to trapping, the least humane way of killing animals. An invention of the Stone Age, still alive in the 21st century, it is clearly a very cruel way to torture and kill animals without regard for their pain and suffering. Unlike bullets, arrows loop while in transit. Whereas a gun hunter takes dead aim at an animal, an archer must estimate the distance from the target and adjust the shot to compensate for the trajectory of the arrow. Animals commonly jump on hearing the release of the arrow—they reflexively move some distance before the arrow reaches them from wherever they were at the time of the shot. According to experts, animals can completely evade an arrow at a distance of 15 to less than 20 yards, which means they can also partially evade the arrow and become wounded.

The inaccuracy inherent in bow hunting is demonstrated by professional archers. Olympic class-archers hit the “bulls eye,” – the centre of the target – even under ideal conditions when the target is not moving and unobstructed – only part of the time.  Therefore, I maintain that bow hunters are quite aware that their hunting will virtually always cause slow death as they wait the recommended time – up to 12 hours, for the animal to die.  Blood trails on the site provide definitive proof that bow hunted animals do not drop where they stand.  Precisely because the target is moving and because of the numerous variables contributing to the pattern of the moving arrow, wounding is inevitable.

Dozens of scientific studies show that bow hunting yields more than a 50 percent wounding rate. Therefore, if only 21 deer were killed (recovered) in the 2014 hunt as the MNR has stated, we can perhaps conclude that as many as two dozen additional deer were injured and unrecovered, to die later somewhere on the grounds, perhaps after attracting coyotes.  On the last day of the hunt on 2013, there were gunshots heard in the park which was suspected to be MNR cleaning up the wounded.

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Interestingly, the Haudenosaunee claim to have a 90-95% accuracy rate, which seems implausible to me. The spokesperson for the hunters – Paul Williams, claims that they have a 5-10% error rate. Williams also adds that the average recreational bow hunt where the deer are wounded and not taken as kills by the hunter are about 30-40%, which is still not consistent with scientific studies. However, if indeed the hunters have a error rate of 10% or less, I would suggest that they get on an Olympic team, where they would do well pitted against some of the most highly skilled archers in the world, who claim to have an accuracy rating of about 90% (with a non-reactive target).

MNR Ministry of No Responsibility

MNR – The Ministry of No Responsibility

The single most farcical element in the Short Hills hunt is surely provided by the presence of the Ministry of Natural Resources. Think “Waterloo” and immediately the phrase, “catastrophic failure” comes to mind. The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is supposed to act as the steward of Ontario’s provincial parks, forests, fisheries, wildlife, mineral aggregates, and the crown lands and waters that make up close to 90% of our province. However, it’s been quite some time if at all since the MNR was truly interested in protecting wildlife beyond making sure there are sufficient numbers to exploit through the sale of hunting licenses. It seems obvious that even in winter the habitat can obviously sustain the numbers, since thus far no one has presented any imagery of sick or emaciated deer. In fact, pictures taken by homeowners backing onto the park and visitors show that the deer are healthy and in good flesh. By contrast, the Ministry expects everyone to believe that after 3 hunts, poaching, year-round hunting on adjacent private property and a terrible winter, the deer population persistently exceeds its carrying capacity by several hundred animals.

The hunt has devastated the budget for the Short Hills – the MNR spent $84,000 to organize a total of 12 days of hunting (not including the cost for 2014) – almost 4 times the annual budget of the entire park at just under $25,000.  Not included in this cost are the salaries of 6-12 Niagara Regional and OPP officers at the park each and every day of the hunt, along with other branches of government such as legal, historical, and aboriginal affairs, provided courtesy of the taxpayer.

The hunt also permits activities that are not allowed by visitors to the park at any other time. This includes the use of trucks by the hunters and ATVs used by the MNR/Ontario Parks staff. The vehicles leave deep ruts in a property where walkers are reminded by signage not to walk on the trails when they are muddy, to avoid damage. Damage to the park from the last hunt was left all year long as a mess and only repaired not for the regular patrons of Short Hills, but for the hunters. Now it’s ruined yet again and will no doubt be left for another year now that the budget has been exhausted.

Message posted on pro-hunt Facebook page.

Message posted on pro-hunt Facebook page.

The 1,700-acre forest is surrounded by private property and about 100 homes, and although the MNR has created a no-hunt buffer zone between the park and private property lines, the buffer zone – 150 metres from the edge of the park, has been breached by hunters in the past.  “…Even if you put up a note [sic] trespassing sign I’m not going to stay off your damn property,” writes Bruin Pol on a Facebook page supporting the Short Hills deer hunt.

The MNR also marked some trees with a confusing array of colours signifying that the hunt boundary (marked with blue paint) and buffer zone (marked with red paint) were one and the same

Confusing MNR signage - Hunt Zone and Buffer Zone are the same?

Confusing MNR signage – Hunt Zone and Buffer Zone are the same?

when the latter should logically be 150 metres from the hunt zone.

The Ministry also set a limit of 30 native hunters (which they refer to as a protocol). However, we know that this is a totally non-binding limit since the hunters chose to ignore it without consequence. Each day, protesters observed up to 70 hunters entering the property despite the presence of this “limit.” With 30 – 70 hunters present on each day and only 21 deer killed in total as of this last hunt in 2014, we must of course question the MNR’s statements about deer overpopulation in the park, along with any claims of the effectiveness or accuracy of the hunters. When deer were observed in truck beds leaving Short HIlls, it was also noted that they were in good apparent health and not emaciated, once again, disproving claims of overpopulation. If the deer population is too large and the park ecosystem can’t sustain the deer,  in winter of all seasons, why are the deer of healthy weight and suitable to hunt? Wouldn’t the majority of them be underweight? It is a fact that a government biologist confirmed on the last day of hunt that all the deer were healthy.

We can mock the MNR for their unsubstantiated statements about the hunt, but at the close of the December hunt, their frustration with the demonstrators escalated and became downright dangerous. Protesters complained of lewd gestures by one MNR employee along with the childish theft of a protest sign by another. This petty theft meant that the police had to retrieve the sign from the individual and return it personally to the protester, at additional cost. The most outrageous offense by an MNR employee occurred when he aggressively pushed a protester several feet out into the road with a truck – a vehicular assault that is still being investigated by the police.

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Criticism of the hunt and bow hunting specifically has led to some unjustified cries of favouritism or racism by the demonstrators.  The accusation of favouritism has been made because only natives were invited to participate in a hunt that some felt should have been open to others, and racism because hunting critics have inevitably drawn in Six Nations people as part of the criticism of the hunt. Prolonging of the public dispute has been largely fueled by the Social Justice Research Institute of nearby Brock University, representing the head-desk, side-eye, face-palm state of academic publishing, via a blog post that derisively referred to protesters as “settler or colonial racists,” as if none of the Brock students or faculty are “settlers” or “colonists” either. I would agree that it would be racist to suggest that natives should have no treaty rights at all, but it’s no more racist to protest this hunt than it is wrong to critique consumption of bear paw or shark fin soup, or the use of elephant tusk or rhino horn (albeit these are endangered animals). All ideas and traditions must be open to criticism regardless of origin and without charges of racism in order that we not shield intrinsically harmful ideas from criticism. And, unlike a person’s racial or cultural characteristics or gender, beliefs can be argued for, tested, criticized, and changed.

In their now infamous blog post accusing the protesters of racism, colonialism, and sexism, the SJRI never once addresses the interdisciplinary scholarly field of critical animal studies, which is

Jodlyn Harrison's inflammatory blog post, filled with false and exaggerated claims about the protesters.

Jodie Lynn Harrison’s inflammatory blog post, filled with false and exaggerated claims about the protesters. Click to embiggen or visit SJRI’s original blog post here

also taught at Brock University. Rooted in animal liberation, CAS is dedicated to establishing total liberation for humans, nonhuman animals, and the earth. Animal rights and animal welfare are the next big hurdles for humans to cross, so it’s rather shocking that the SJRI chose not to incorporate these issues into their blog post on the hunting demonstration. The blog author and initiator of the counter-protest, Jodie Lynn Harrison, ignores the fact that relations between humans and non-human animals are now at a point of crisis. Strangely, Ms. Harrison also made claims of sexual harassment (whether against the Brock students or the Haudenosaunee is unknown).

Nor can Ms. Harrison’s behaviour escape criticism, since she introduced herself to some demonstrators and police as a “Professor from Brock University,” who enabled some of the hunters to bypass the official entry point to the park (and the protesters) by trespassing on the adjacent Boy Scouts property in a vehicle owned by the hunters while the camp was attended by children. By most accounts, Ms. Harrison was rarely on-site at the park and yet has conducted her own personal smear campaign by making exaggerated or outright false claims about the protesters in an attempt to create support for treaty rights.  Ms. Harrison did no apparent review of the history of the hunt, had no participation in last 2 hunts, no attendance at Regional Council, no FOI of safety protocol and yet she proclaimed the hunt to be “safe.”

Protesting against hunting is not,  in my opinion, an example of contemporary settler colonialism and certainly not sexism or racism, as claimed by the SJRI. I also think it’s logically fallacious to assume that anyone who questions the 1701 Nanfan Treaty is automatically a racist, nor does it mean that one does not believe in treaty rights. Six Nations people have used the 1701 Nanfan Treaty in their defense to win court cases about hunting outside of reserves but the validity of the treaty itself has not been challenged in court. Many historians claim that the application of the Treaty in what is now southwestern Ontario is questionable since the Five (later Six) Nations Iroquois had already surrendered that land to the Mississauga and other Ojibwa Indians a year earlier in June 1700.

I don’t believe there is anyone alive who can atone for the intentional acts of destruction and violence against aboriginal peoples. Settler colonialism in Canada spanned several hundred years and included mass killings and other depopulations, extreme negligence in the form of unchecked and facilitated spread of disease, along with large scale expropriation of lands and forced assimilation. Protesters against the hunt are actually agnostic with regard to the ideasubjects of the demonstration – it makes no difference who the hunters are. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is entrenched in Canada’s constitution, guarantees us the freedom of peaceful assembly in section 2(c). I suggest that the SJRI and Ms. Harrison reflect on the accusations they have made and take to heart and mind the words of Peter Marler, a pioneer in the field of animal communication.  He once gave invaluable professional counsel to one of his colleagues- “Slow down, reflect more, and publish less.

Short Hills is Ontario’s smallest provincial park. It hasn’t seen hunting in 50 years. It has long been regarded as a park where both flora and fauna are to be conserved under the laws of the Ontario government – Not “conserved” for the use of hunters who may rip through the property in vehicles that are not a permissible at any other time in the forest. If it is acceptable for people to hunt every year in Short Hills, why doesn’t the Ontario government consistently allow hunting in any other park or conservation land? We’ve also seen from the MNR expenditures that hunting is not a “sport” that is economically viable, at least not without significant handouts.

Warning StickerWhen humans interfere with nature the results are rarely good and such is the case with culling populations. According to a recent study, more livestock are killed after wolves are culled than when populations are left alone. Treehugger reports that Washington State University researchers combed through 25 years worth of data and uncovered that for each wolf killed, the odds of a sheep dying goes up by 4% and the likelihood of cattle getting killed by wolves jumps by 5-6%. So what could possibly be the explanation for these unintended consequences? According to the research, wolf pack stability is paramount when it comes to controlling the impact of wolves on livestock and culling them disrupts the social order of the packs, leading to more breeding. And more breeding is the end result of the instability created by deer hunts, especially when food is in plentiful supply.

For most people, the decision to protest is not an objection to treaty rights or an act of discrimination against the Haudenosaunee. The Six Nations people are used by the MNR to get a temporary herd thin and they avoid the political fallout. But the deer do not care about the culture, religion, sex, interests, politics, or skin colour of the people who kill them. There are many conscientious objectors to deer hunting who are in lockstep with other single-issue campaigns by Natives, such as tree-cutting in aboriginal forests and fracking. We fight against the deer hunt because it is a cruel, needless killing spree where quick kills are the exception.

Horse Welfare 2014 – The Year In Review

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2014 seasons greetings graphic© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

So we’re concluding the “Year of the Horse,” which technically ends on 02/18/2015, until the next YOTH, in 2026. Will we see the “end times” for horse slaughter before then? While on the subject of the Chinese zodiac, I’m reminded of the phrase “may you live in interesting times,” which according to Wikipedia, is an English expression purporting to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. The nearest related Chinese expression is “宁为太平犬,莫做乱世人” which conveys the sense that it is “better to live as a dog in an era of peace than a man (woman) in times of war.”

Each year spent fighting horse slaughter is proof enough that we live in a time of war – a constant struggle to maintain the de facto ban on domestic horse slaughter in the U.S. With the signing of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, the U.S. will continue to forbid the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption. Horse slaughter was effectively blocked via an injunction in New Mexico,  and after exhausting all legal avenues, Valley Meat owner Rick De Los Santos gives up.  As a testament to the durability of the pro-slaughter mindset,  a new owner is still expressing interest in slaughter in that state.

There is continued support for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would ban both the slaughter and export of American horses for human consumption. Despite the support of 308 Representatives and 60 Senators behind the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to stop the inhumane practice of “soring” show horses, a small group of obstructionists in Congress prevented a vote on the PAST Act, so this must be revisited in 2015. There is increased outrage against the drugging of horses in the racing industry and TWH soring and attendance at “Big Lick” shows is declining.

The mismanagement of wild horses and burros in the west continues to be predominant, as is the BLM continuing to conduct inhumane round-ups and removals while failing to move decisively toward humane on-the-ground population management strategies built around fertility control. Criticism of Premarin® and Prempro® and similar drugs derived from conjugated equine estrogens continues to be made in 2014.possible impossible

Reverberations of the 2013 horsemeat adulteration scandal are still felt – we are occasionally hearing of instances whereby horsemeat has infiltrated the food supply.  The EU is in the process of revising rules on horse passports, and horsemeat was withdrawn various markets in the EU, resulting in the loss of a contract that was of tremendous importance to Claude Bouvry in Alberta.

An unpopular wild horse capture goes ahead in Alberta, and the protest received a celebrity endorsement by singer Jann Arden.  After months of uncertainty for the hardy protesters who were arrested near the capture site,  the charges were later dismissed.

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) and its supporters continue to ensure that bad press for the slaughter industry reaches the public. The Global News 16X9 investigation is made with the assistance of the CHDC and supporter/horse rescuer Mindy Lovell and others. The CHDC continues to publish the results of ATI (FOIA) requests, each one revealing grievous departures by the CFIA from established procedures..

Despite intense lobbying, press conferences and huge pushes for Bill C-571, Canadian anti-slaughter advocates were ultimately let down by the NDP party. As a result, the anti-slaughter Bills in Canada ultimately failed.

The poor economic results in the last 6 years helped ensure that all breed organizations experienced a decline in the number of foals, registrations and memberships. If fewer horses are being bred (and ultimately slaughtered), the prospect of turning around the problem of North American horse slaughter is on the horizon. This has not gone unnoticed by those with a vested interest in seeing horse populations increase and the convenience of slaughter continue.  The Ontario Racing Commission recently announced that the province’s standardbred racing industry is about to get a substantial $12 million infusion to its program to encourage breeding, after the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Programs resulted in the slaughter of thousands of horses, including foals and broodmares. The declining number of horses (rightsizing?) continues to be a hot topic in the U.S as well, where the American Horse Council wondered aloud at their 45th annual meeting what they could do to increase registration (and breeding) from the various equestrian disciplines. The Jockey Club too, are concerned about the drop in racehorse starts.  And lastly, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the AVMA suddenly have a problem with the aspect that fewer horses mean less income for veterinarians and other equine practitioners. If these professional groups were more forward-thinking, they might have given greater consideration to building relationships with their clients rather than promoting slaughter at the expense of humane euthanasia…….

Perhaps the most promising news this year though comes in confirmation that the European Commission, after a recent audit, decided to suspend horsemeat imports from Mexico due to food safety concerns. If Canada is not far behind (indeed our slaughter industry presents the same concerns as Mexico), then the loss of these markets could prove devastating to the horse slaughter industry in Canada, preventing plants from achieving economies of scale and therefore continuing to thrive.

Click here to review some of the highlights (and lowlights) on Storify, in chronological order.

thank you note

 

From Movie Set To Dinner Plates? Heartland Horses Dispersed In Kill Buyer Attended Auctions

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Kevin Rushworth High River Times QMI Agency photo

Photo – KEVIN RUSHWORTH HIGH RIVER TIMES/QMI AGENCY

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

John Scott has had a year of highs and lows – since starting into the movie business in 1969, he has balanced his own cattle, horse and buffalo ranch with work on Academy Award winning movies such as Unforgiven, Lord of the Rings, Legends of the Fall and Days of Heaven, along with other films and series such as Hell on Wheels, the 13th Warrior, Klondike Gold, and the family TV series Heartland. Earlier in 2014, he was awarded a 75th anniversary ATB Agriculture buckle (awarded to farmers and ranchers), and soon afterwards it was rather abruptly announced in the July/August 2014 issue of Horse-Canada magazine that he was no longer wrangler for the TV show Heartland.

The Heartland show is a series chronicling the highs and lows of ranch life and it is filmed in Alberta – feedlot capital of Canada.  The Facebook page is filled with perpetually optimistic fans pleading for better love lives for the characters, and it’s a place where “True Heartlanders” are never bored with reruns.  As far as I know, the closest this series has come to treading on the topic of slaughter is an episode where a dozen wild horses are found in a “feedlot,” which the scriptwriters tell us is a “place where they keep cows before they kill them.

In late 2012, Animals Angels photographed a stock trailer belonging to John Scott Productions at the Bouvry Slaughterhouse in Fort MacLeod Alberta. The feedlots nearby and the Bouvry slaughter plant map of albertawere part of an investigation by Animals Angels; you can read the full report here.  There is also additional footage of the various Alberta feedlots by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition as part of “The True Faces of Horse Slaughter” investigation.

When I wrote my original Heartland blog in March 2013, speculating on whether JSP horses were being sent to slaughter on that day when Scott’s trailer was observed at Bouvry, we didn’t know and still don’t know what species of animal had been taken to the slaughterhouse. Previously, the Heartland show, via their Facebook page, denied that any horses featured in the show had ever gone to slaughter.

But since the announcement that Scott was no longer wrangler for Heartland, it was noticed that horses advertised as being from the series were showing up at various auctions throughout Alberta, in fairly close proximity to the Bouvry slaughterhouse, and usually where kill buyers were present. As well as being a supplier for movies, Scott is also regarded in Alberta as a horse trader.

In addition to the two auctiotop hat tip to Lonin sites mentioned, he also brings horses to the Innisfail auction north of Calgary, where kill buyers are also in attendance. In May and August of this year, John Scott Productions had two partial herd dispersals at Hebson Arena and Irvine Tack and Trailer. The owner of Irvine Tack & Trailer is Scott Irvine – a well known and very active kill buyer in the province. Having auctions of any animal on a kill buyer’s property puts money in their hands and enables them to slaughter more horses in the long run – it’s the same argument some people use for refusing to purchase brokered horses directly from kill buyers.

These two sales, which disposed of dozens of horses and mules, represented a large number of Scott’s usual 150 head of horses. Quarter horses, appys, paints, grade horses, and mules were variously described as having been used as as driving horses (2up, 4up and 6up) reining horses, bucking horses, and used in parades and blacksmith competitions, the Calgary Stampede, various movies including Heartland, and in ranch work. One horse was advertised as being an RCMP horse. Most were in their early to mid-teens, with others being described as “smooth mouth” horses who could no longer take heavy work.

Hebson Arena Sale,  Okotoks,  Alberta

 

 

Irvine Tack and Trailer Sale,  Crossfield, Alberta

 

 

After what appears to have been a lot of hard use, most of these well-broke horses deserved a soft landing  – to new lives as lightly-ridden trail horses for beginner and heartland2intermediate riders. Many of these horses should have been able to bring at least $1,000 each, but obviously Scott would have included some horses who didn’t work out for him or could no longer do heavy ranch work, and therefore aren’t as desirable on the market. Typically the horses described as “best for occasional trail use” don’t do well at auctions because they are often not completely sound.  So it’s unknown how many of these horses went on to new homes and whether any may have been sent on that final trip to Bouvry,  not far from either of the sites.

In any case,  I think it’s wishful thinking to accept the statements of the TV show at face value – “No horse that has ever appeared on Heartland has ever been sent to a slaughterhouse.

Fort McLeod is the capital of horse slaughter in Canada. In their white paper “Horse Slaughter – Its Ethical Impact and Subsequent Response of the Veterinary Profession,” the U.S.-based group Veterinarians for Equine Welfare denounces horse slaughter as inhumane and…

“an unacceptable way to end a horse’s life under any circumstance.”

 

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Darwin’s Dream – Passionate About Primate Protection

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darwintextWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photography © Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary

DarwinsdreamStory Book Farm is one of only two primate sanctuaries in Canada that can care for nonhuman primates who are rejected by their owners or are cast-offs from the biomedical trade. A primate sanctuary is not a zoo. Sanctuaries are dedicated to giving nonhuman primates and other exotic animals a high quality of life via enrichment but without unnecessary human interference.

Founded in 2000, the Sanctuary is of course most famous for caring for Darwin the “IKEA monkey” for the last two years, after Toronto animal services seized him from his owner, Yasmin Nakhuda. Nakhuda later sued the sanctuary to get him back, but her lawsuit ultimately failed. For approximately two years, while awaiting the trial outcome, the Sanctuary and its volunteers and supporters were subjected to a campaign of regular harassment via social media.

Start the Car – The IKEA Monkey Trial Gets Ugly

The sanctuary hopes to raise $490,000 online through its Darwin’s Dream crowdfunding campaign to relocate the primates in its care to the site of the former Northwood Zoo in Seagrave, on the western side of Lake Scugog. Northwood, for sale for nearly $1,000,000, is set on 22 hectares with treed enclosures, buildings for volunteers to reside as well as the opportunity for a vet clinic. Included is an existing population of about 20 primates, including two younger macaques who could form a family troop with Darwin.

Please consider a donation for the purchase of the Northwood Zoo and the continuing care of the primates – support #Darwinsdream Indiegogo campaign

Darwin Funding Breakdown

In addition to Darwin, Pockets Warhol is another famous resident. The adorable capuchin monkey is something of an art sensation in the animal world, using children’s paints to create abstract splashes reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s work.

High-profile stories of exotic or unusual pets either escaping or being set free by their owners are nothing new. And a high percentage of exotic animals die within the first year, assuming that they Story Book Farm 4survive their way to the consumer at all. Despite often having good intentions, many owners just don’t know how to provide quality care. There is a thriving exotic animal trade in Canada —involving everything from constrictors to tigers – the Tiger Paw “Odd and Unusual” auction currently held in Orangeville, features exotic farm animals, primates, and even zebras. Anyone willing to pay the price for these animals is free to take them away, no questions asked. Some of these animals will either die or be rejected by their new owners. Monkeys are less than ideal pets – monkeys that are cute in their infantile stages grow into highly intelligent wild adults who are physically strong and can be aggressive – they often outlive their owners as a result of having life spans that are longer than most traditional domesticated pets. Monkeys kept as private pets are usually forced to wear diapers for their entire lives, while the monkeys at Story Book live as naturalistically as possible

Story Book Volunteers and Board of Directors – a strong history of governance, animal welfare, volunteerism, and social justice.

There are only a patchwork of bylaws to deal with exotics ownership, since a cohesive exotic animal policy does not exist in Canada. Animal welfare groups and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies call for stronger provincial laws to limit or ban the import and sale of exotic species, believing that a ban on those practices is the ideal legal scenario right across the country – the only exceptions being zoos and sanctuaries. Darwin’s case has served to highlight the fact that he is not just a meme,  an IKEA monkey, but a macaque capable of living to his fullest potential in a more natural environment.  We need to educate others and create awareness of illegal pets who need to live their lives as non-human primates. Bravo to Story Book Farm and their volunteers!

 

 

Journey’s End: Trinket’s Story

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Trinket 4

Long overgrown hooves and a mane irretrievably matted with burrs were a testament to Trinket’s neglect. Rescuers and other animal advocates will always have to contend with people who neglect their animals despite the availability of slaughter as a “fix” for for the problem of unwanted horses. The availability of horse slaughter DOES NOT improve horses’ standard of living and will not stop passive neglect such as this.

 

 

Trinket’s Story,  by Little Brook Farm

I have been rescuing horses for 43 years. There always have been – and always will be – ponies like Trinket neglected in back yards. The owners would never, ever consider sending these ponies to auction (slaughter).

Pro-slaughter proponents tell you that re-opening slaughter houses in the US will prevent the “Trinkets” from suffering. That’s not how this works – it’s quite the opposite. Horses going to slaughter are typically not the back yard neglect cases unless a dealer posed as a “good home” and then sent them off to slaughter unbeknownst to the owner.

The horses sold for slaughter are often Thoroughbreds who weren’t fast enough, got injured or couldn’t be bred back, Quarter horses, or Paints without color, for example. They were intentionally bred by owners with the financial resources to euthanize their horses if they no longer wanted them (slaughter is NOT euthanasia). Can you imagine poor, little, elderly Trinket, who could barely stand,  crammed for 24 hours in a cold truck with anxious horses driving to Canada and then waiting in a feed lot for the inevitable? It was kinder to quietly put her down with people she had come to know.

Trinket should never have been allowed to suffer. She had an owner who is horse savvy and has the financial resources to properly care for her. There was a girl desperate to provide her with a good home who repeatedly asked for her if the owner decided she didn’t want her. In addition to the discomfort the pony endured, there were neighbors watching her hobble around year after year, including children. What is the message here?

To read more of Trinket’s sad and lengthy tale of neglect,  please visit Little Brook Farm on Facebook.

May I go Now?
Do you think the time is right?
May I say good-bye to pain filled days
And endless lonely nights?

I’ve lived my life and done my best,
an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond
and set my spirit free?

I didn’t want to go at first.
I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now
to a warm and loving light.

I want to go. I really do.
It’s difficult to stay.
But I will try as best I can
to live just one more day.

To give you time to care for me
and share your love and fears.
I know you’re sad and afraid,
because I see your tears.

I’ll not be far, I promise that,
and hope you’ll always know
that my spirit will be close to you,
wherever you may go.

Thank you so for loving me.
You know I love you too,
that’s why it’s hard to say good-bye
and end this life with you.

So hold me now, just one more time
and let me hear you say,
because you care so much for me,
you’ll let me go today.

By Susan A. Jackson