Monthly Archives: January 2013

Start The Car! The IKEA Monkey Chronicle Gets Ugly

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Monkey group in a naturalistic environment

Monkey group in a naturalistic environment

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

The discovery of Darwin, a juvenile macaque found wandering the Toronto IKEA store parking lot in a shearling coat, has divided various groups on the internet.  As most Torontonians already know, the “IKEA Monkey” was taken from the store by Toronto Animal Services and ultimately placed at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario.  Story Book takes in such lost souls—monkeys who have been commandeered for lab research or just dumped by roadside zoos. Bravo to Story Book Farm!

You’d be wrong in thinking that Darwin’s case was straightforward,  even though it’s illegal to own a non-human primate in Toronto.  It’s also generally frowned upon to  leave an exotic animal in a car in winter while shopping.  In response,  defenders of exotic animal ownership,  property rights,  and various other asshats and wingnuts have laid siege to Story Book Farm in an attempt to discredit them.   Darwin has lawyered-up, or rather his former owner Yasmin Nakhuda has launched a lawsuit as well.

Such tactics include, but are not limited to sending a petition to Brock Township councillors accusing

Darwin's jacket

Darwin’s jacket

Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary of animal cruelty.  The petition, with some 116 typed “signatures,” was hand-delivered to council members’ homes early January,  calls for municipal officials to launch a “full investigation” on the sanctuary’s operation.  It’s not known whether they actually have any evidence,  not that that would be a deterrent for some of these people.  And is anyone else bothered by the fact that the petitions were delivered to the councillor’s private HOMES?  Brock Township Mayor Terry Clayton stipulated that the “petition will have no bearing on the licensing process” for Story Book Farm.  Brad Dewar, spokesperson for the OSPCA, said that the petition had not been delivered to the association’s  office. The OSPCA can’t begin an investigation without first interviewing a witness to the alleged misconduct, he said.  “Petitions are great for identifying concerns, but from an investigation standpoint, we need eyewitnesses to come forward to engage in an investigation,” he said.  Herein lies the problem for the signers of the petition – have any of them been to the sanctuary or seen any cruelty?  Furthermore,  could a lawyer (Nakhuda) be disciplined if any statements in the petition linked to or co-signed by her were found to be blatantly false even if she did not make them herself?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Who wore it better?  Darwin or Delboy?

Who wore it better? Darwin or Delboy?

I can’t imagine what “cruelty” these detractors think is happening at Story Book.  But that’s really a rhetorical question,  since facts make strange bedfellows for them.  What would be the alternative for Darwin or any other monkey that is seized or surrendered in Ontario?  My personal belief is that NO MATTER WHERE Darwin was sent,  the exotics breeders and owners would DESCEND with malice aforethought on that sanctuary just as they have with Story Book.  When Darwin was collected from his mis-adventure in the IKEA parking lot, Toronto Animal Services temporarily housed him in a standard pet carry-all sized cage with barking dogs and other animals in the vicinity.  Without such sanctuary placements, the alternative is to warehouse “pet” monkeys,  which the majority of zoos will not accept,  or euthanize them outright.  And is it cruel for a monkey to have to wear diapers its entire life so that it can be accommodated in a household with people?

A posting on the Facebook page – “Darling Darwin Monkey” indicated that the petition had been

Who could not feel sorry for this tiny forlorn creature in a confusing parking lot?

Who could not feel sorry for this tiny forlorn creature in a confusing parking lot?

delivered to the Township, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), and the Charities Directorate of the Canadian Revenue Agency, requesting “an investigation in several allegations of cruelty, hoarding, manipulation, lack of experience and abuse of their charitable status by the Sanctuary.”  In other words,  they’ve thrown some monkey shit up against the wall in hoping something will stick.  Do lawyers even know what evidence is  in this day and age?  But Yasmin Nakhuda is a real estate lawyer,  not exactly at the top of the legal food-chain. The Facebook page is frequented by supporters of Darwin’s former owner Nakhuda as well as animal advocates who know that Darwin is a wild animal who will exhibit behavioural changes once he reaches  sexual maturity.

Aside from these unsubstantiated claims by the supporters of exotic pet ownership, it’s apparent that none of them see any shame in supporting the exotic trade of animals such as Darwin, who was uprooted from his mother after only a few weeks,  to be bottle-fed by Yasmin while wearing diapers.  The juveniles of many monkey species live with their mothers for up to two

Darwin's temporary living accommodations after seizure by Toronto Animal Services - where he would have stayed had he not been transferred to Story Book

Darwin’s temporary living accommodations after seizure by Toronto Animal Services – where he would have stayed had he not been transferred to Story Book – does this look like suitable long-term care?

years. The precarious state of primates in the illegal pet trade bring up the issues of animal ethics, ecosystem health and many conservation issues.  When people illegally source monkeys from the animal trade they do not recognize or care that this is all it takes to support the illegal pet trade.  The “trade” threatens a great number of endangered and vulnerable species.  A monkey is not a child.  I very much sympathize with Nakhuda’s emotional position, but Darwin is a wild animal who needs the company of his own and other primate species – to claim that any monkey is better suited to living its life in diapers with humans, forced to adapt to human culture, is baseless anthropomorphization.

Apart from calling attention to the various dirty-tricks campaigns currently underway, I’m most interested throwing some shade on the belief that monkeys make good pets or that they are suddenly domesticated after one or two generations.  I’ll drop a flat “no” on both of those claims.

Darwin at Story Book

Darwin at Story Book

Monkeys carry Cercopithecine herpesvirus, which is transmissible to humans and stays with you for life.  This form of herpesvirus simiae can cause fatal encephalitis in people if they’ve been bitten by a monkey carrier.  You also don’t want to get bitten by a monkey under any circumstances,  because they have sharp teeth and they often attack the face or ears,  where there are lots of blood vessels located very close to the brain.  A paper co-authored by people from the CDC (Ostrowski et al, Emerging Infectious Diseases 1998) states clearly “The extremely high prevalence of B-virus along with their behavioral characteristics make the macaque species unsuitable as pets.”  PetWatch (a program of EcoHealth Alliance) ranks macaques as “Worst Choice Pet.”

The idea that humans immediately “tame” an animal born into captivity is misleading.  Wolves originally kept by humans as companions were turned into “dogs” by selectively breeding the tame animals.  Humans bred the animals that reacted well to humans, and did not breed animals that were aggressive or ran away.  What was not realized at the time was that we were assisted in turning wolves into dogs because behaviour in animals is a heritable trait, like intelligence.

Geneticist George Price, of Price’s Theorem fame, defined domestication as a process by which a

Darwin secured inside the IKEA store

Darwin secured inside the IKEA store

population of animals becomes adapted to man and the environment as a result of genetic mutation, neurochemical changes, and environmentally induced developmental changes. In long-term selection experiments designed to study the consequences of selection for the “tame” domesticated type of behaviour, Belyaev et al. (1981) studied foxes reared for their fur. The red fox (Vulpes fulva) has been raised on seminatural fur farms for over 100 years and was selected for fur traits and not behavioural traits.  The objective of this experiment was to breed animals similar in behaviour to the domestic dog. By selecting and breeding the tamest individuals, 20 years later the experiment succeeded in turning wild foxes into tame “dogs.”

While Price and Belyaev were refining the principles of conditioning on animals, ethology – the study of the way genes are modified during evolution to deal with particular environments,  was a developing science.  Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen cataloged the behaviour of many animals in their natural environments. Together they developed the ethogram. An ethogram is a complete listing of all the behaviours that an animal performs in its natural environment. It includes both innate and learned behaviours – hard-wired programs versus experience and learning.  People intent on returning Darwin to a home-based environment don’t seem to know or wish to acknowledge that even animals with large, complex brains are still governed by innate behaviour patterns.  As these studies have shown,  instantaneous pets are not created via short-term human influence,  regardless of whether dog or monkey is the subject matter.

Pip and Zeke from Jungle Friends

Pip and Zeke from Jungle Friends

Kari Bagnall, the CEO of Jungle Friends, gave testimony on the Ohio exotics Senate Bill 310.  She couldn’t come to Columbus, so it was submitted as written testimony.  Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, located on 12 acres in Gainesville, Florida. Jungle Friends is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association and The Association of Sanctuaries.   The Ohio law will ban new ownership of specific wild animals, including big cats, bears, hyenas, gray wolves, some primates, alligators and crocodiles – all animals that exotics people feel  they automatically have the right to own without restriction.  The Bill will also require owners of restricted species to obtain liability insurance or surety bonds for $200,000 to $1 million, and mandate criminal-background checks of current exotic-animal owners seeking permits.   Please read Kari Bagnall’s very compelling testimony describing the circumstances by which monkeys came to her sanctuary;  I reproduce it here with permission from Ms. Bagnall herself:

Monkey Orchid - a good substitute for an actual monkey,  diapers not required  and guaranteed not to bite....

Monkey Orchid – a good substitute for an actual monkey, diapers not required and guaranteed not to bite….

What eludes me is the “logic” involved in attacking the sanctuary, which did nothing wrong and certainly did not steal him nor let the latch on the car loose so he could escape.  For some reason, humans feel entltled to raise babies in unnatural circumstances. Darwin’s sad 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 apes.

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Redneck Tales from Wyoming

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silly horseWritten by:  Pageant Queen Honey Candy Mae (Government name:  Heather Clemenceau)

I have to admit that on rare occasions I do indulge in the occasional reality show, if only to remind myself that I am poorer, and more refined  than anyone currently seen on reality TV. But what’s with the preponderance of “southern reality” shows on TV?  The earliest incarnation, I think, would be the regular feature on The Carol Burnett Show with Mama’s loveable but dumb southern family.  We’re just getting rid of Jersey Shore, which of course isn’t southern, but it’s being replaced by Buckwild, which seems to build off of the popularity of Duck Dynasty, Toddlers and Tiaras,  Swamp People,  and Hillbilly Handfishin’.  (I almost typed “handfisting” which is probably a more accurate title because it’s what they actually do on this show).  Anyway, It really looks like redneck TV rules the airwaves.

As far as I can determine, the origins of the term redneck actually go back to the 1930’s in a number of disputes in West Virginia. A large group of unionized miners marched south to Logan horse laughCounty, to pressure the mine owners there to allow their miners to become unionized. To identify themselves, the miners all wore red bandannas around their necks. The publicity associated with the battles and the subsequent court cases created the term red-necks, and at that time they were viewed as the good guys in the conflict. Originally, the term came from the later 1800’s in southern Georgia and Alabama to refer to sharecroppers who worked in the fields thus getting a sunburned neck. They were called ‘rednecks’ as a term meant for hard working people.

If you’re a horse person you may have experienced the feeling that we’ve also been watching  another Wyoming-based reality show that nobody can turn off despite shitty ratings.   Wyoming Rep “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis’ IS a redneckian soap opera, which sometimes bears more than a passing resemblance to southern reality TV.  Recall Sue Wallis’ radio interview on the Sasha Show, the one where she hung up after 10 minutes.  Who watched this same behaviour from Honey Boo Boo Chile on Dr. Drew?  When he started asking her questions that she didn’t like, Honey Boo Boo did what everybody should do when Dr. Drew starts asking you questions: pretend to be asleep!  But eventually, Honey Boo Boo woke up and said that she hates being on TV and hates it when fans come up to her. Sue pulled a very similar tactic on the Sasha Show when she bailed after being asked stuff she didn’t want to answer, and without so much as a goo’bye  to her United Horsemen fangirls and boys.

I  actually have a strong aversion to discrimination and racism, so nowhere am I going to mock racial issues.  While I am mocking perceived cultural differences, I do not, implicitly or explicitly advocate that “rednecks” are inferior to anyone else.  But prominent rural people like Sue Wallis and many of her supporters do act like ignorant rednecks and add fuel to the stereotype.  So nobody write to me that I’m a racist – but I am going to have some fun at the expense of horse eaters using the Redneck Dialectizer, which hilariously converts everyday English to Redneck,  Swedish Chef,  and Elmer Fudd dialects,  and the Honey Boo Boo Name Generator.  I’ve translated specific message points and soundbites made by Sue Wallis,  Dave Duquette,  and our favourite Canadian slaughterphile Bill DesBarres into “Rednedian” speak,  and they make no more sense than they did in their original English.  Unfortunately,  there is no application that can translate “Dumbass” to “Common Sense.”  So grab yerself a glass o’ moonshine and half a laugh at their expense.

Who remembers this one?

horse laugh2“If yo’ had lived in mah shoes on over these last few years yo”d knows thet it don’t matter whut ah say o’ doesn’t say “they” will make sumpin up.It is all a Saul Alinsky style campaign t’make it a varmintal attack on a sin’le indivijool instead of a broader problem effeckin’ ev’ry houn’dog ownin’ fambly an’ business in th’ U.S. ah igno’e it. It is irrelevant. Once yo’ unnerstan’ thet simple corncepp, it is purdy easy t’figger out whut is gwine on, as enny fool kin plainly see.”

“We wanted a state thet was suppo’tive of our effo’ts, an’ th’ folks in Missouri is 100 percent on board wif whut we is tryin’ t’do an’ how we is tryin’ t’do it.”

Train-wreckiness at its finest – a ridiculous comment coming out of Missouri,  being made more ridiculous courtesy of the Dialectizer….

“We haf not spoken t’him direckly, but it is mah unnerstan’in’ thet th’ YMCA direcko’ received death threats t’his fambly, an’ to sponso’s of his o’ganizashun, We haf heard direckly fum other community members thet they have received thrett upin’ letters jest fo’ publicly expressin’ their suppo’t fo’ th’ projeck.”

So many eloquent quotes guaranteed to live on in infamy…..

“Th’ Mo’an amendment does NOT deal wif th’ real issues of starvin’ horse laugh3houn’dogs, o’ th’ demise of th’ houn’dog as a valued domestic animal as indicated by th’ mo’e than 70% drop in numbers of houn’dogs available fo’ pleasure, spo’t, an’ wawk, no’ does it deal wif all of th’ problems thet haf happened t’th’ houn’dog wo’ld as a direck result of HSUS ackshun on account o’ 2007.”

“Ah jest came acrost this hyar on a diffrunt group. Seein’ th’ graph is purdy startlin’. Really makes it hit home how seriously close we is to completely losin’ houn’dogs in our lives.”

Who can forget the Jascha Lottin incident and Wallis’ appeal to her followers to support this horse killer?

“Varmints hoominely kill an old houn’dog, butcher it t’use th’ fine meat, an’ decide t’have some fun wif it, an’ take pitchers.” “Hey yo’ Oregonians…howsabout retchin’ out t’these folks? No doubt they is bein’ hammered by idiots. Let’s give them some suppo’t.”

“Friends, between drought, wildfires, no opshuns, an’ an animal rights driven obstruckive federal ajuncy, we face a mighty grim winter…”

Shooting fish in a barrel…..

horse laugh4“All drugs haf wifdrawal periods, an’ thar is scientifically established time periods which enny meat animals muss be held af’er medicashuns befo’e they kin be processed.  Shet mah mouth! In terms of bute, specifically, ev’ry race houn’dog in th’ country has t’have their blood tested fo’ prohibited drugs. Common smarts on th’ track is thet bute will clear th’ system in two o’ three days an’ thet yo’ kin be purdy much guareenteed thet thar will be absolutely no vestige of th’ drug in seven days.”

Sugar Britches Wonderful (Government Name:  Sue Wallis)

“In 2011, th’ Houn’dog We’fare Alliance of Kinada (HWAC) intrydooced th’ fust indestry audit fo’ houn’dog processin’ plants. Th’ meat indestry is subjeck t’audits by th’ govment fo’ grub safety, hoomine transpo’t an’ han’lin’, an’ audits by buyers t’assure produck quality fo’ their cestomers. We wawk closely wif th’ Kinadian Grub Inspeckshun Ajuncy (CFIA) an’ corntinuously lobby fo’ adharnce t’regulashuns. We provide outretch via th’ web site, articles an’ media releases an’ participate in houn’dog indestry cornferences an’ events t’promote houn’dog we’fare prackices at all levels of houn’dog produckshun.”

Yep – “Slaughter is a wonderful option…….”

“In reality, houn’dog slaughter is an opshun thet c’d potentially put an ind t’much abuse an’ negleck of houn’dogs, an’ solve th’ problem of whut t’do wif th’ unwanted houn’dog.”

Boo Bear Daring (Government Name:  Bill DesBarres)

“No rodeo event in Oregon corndones, o’ cornducks, houn’dog trippin’. redneckOregon has comprehensive laws in place t’proteck animals. This hyar bill was mighty unnecessary. It was nothin’ mo’e than a fust step by HSUS t’ban all ropin’ of all animals in our state.Houn’dogs is livestock, an’ eff’n this hyar bill had become law, it’d haf set th’ precedent fo’ makin’ it illegal t’rope a cow. Af’er all, they’re both livestock — whut’s th’ difference between houn’dogs’ legs an’ cows’ legs?”

Darlin’  Doodle (Government Name:  Dave Duquette)

It all starts to look and sound the same doesn’t it?    And “Darlin’ Doodle?” That’s gonna stick.  You can count on it.

Mount Up Everyone – IEBA and Sue Wallis Form Yet Another Dark-Sided Alliance

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dangerous dimwit

Written by Heather Clemenceau

Despite experiencing a profound personal loss late last year,  “Slaughterhouse Sue” Wallis tells us on her Facebook page that she’s now caught up on all her paperwork and laundry,  and it also seems that she’s gotten back up on that proverbial horse, to build new alliances in her never-ending quest to market horseflesh.  Apparently,  one of the first orders of business was to introduce  an Ag-Gag bill in her home state of Wyoming.  The bills are an attempt to stem the flow of undercover videos and photos by animal activists and they represent a wholesale assault on many fundamental values. Not only would these bills perpetuate animal abuse on industrial farms, they would also threaten workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, law enforcement investigations and the freedom of journalists, employees and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply.  Exposés of illegal or inhumane treatment of animals at factory farms have led to the closure of farming facilities, nationwide recalls and, in some cases, criminal convictions.

You have to wonder whether Wallis believes there should be any food restrictions to protect the safety of consumers.  She believes that

A shining example of beauty in motion and all things "country,"  and on the right is Sue Wallis

A shining example of beauty in motion and all things pastoral, and on the right is Sue Wallis

consumers have the right to eat whatever they want, whether that be any food produced by a cottage industry or roadside stand, without licensing or inspection.  Yet conversely,  she doesn’t appear to support the public’s right to know how that food from a factory farm is produced.  Hillandale Farms isn’t inviting folks into their poultry sheds. Smithfield does not welcome people into their sow barns.  And Cal-Maine Foods. isn’t holding daily tours of their egg-laying farms. And neither did Slaughterhouse Sue invite the unwashed public into her sooper-seekrit industry meeting in December 2012,   a meeting that would be more difficult to gain admittance to than your local prison.

So if you think that beef burger you bought from Tesco tastes a bit strange, just shut up and eat it like a champion. If you’re a Muslim and have just recently found out you’re eating pork in your burgers,  so what?  It’s all about keeping the consumer uninformed about what is in the foodstuffs they purchase, or how the animals are treated.  One constant with Wallis is that you can always count on her rabidly trying to find a way around food safety laws – chemical contamination of domestic horsemeat is no big deal.

Kay Johnson SmithIn attendance at that meeting was Kay Johnson Smith, (apparently known in social circles as A-Kay-47) President of the Animal Agriculture Alliance,  another of Wallis’ connections to slaughterhouse managers,  policymakers,  veterinarians,  and restaurant owners,  who all hope to glimpse how Big Agribusiness hopes to take on its biggest fear – animal activists.  As a propagandist for Big Ag, it is Smith’s responsibility to present your average CAFO to the consumer as a bucolic, small pastured family farm,  all while the reality is that less than 1% of animals raised for food come from family farms.  At the December IEBA meeting, Smith was presenting a plan that would allow farms to thoroughly screen job applicants and implement a security plan. The plan includes stepping up security at factory farms and slaughterhouses so activists have more difficulty with undercover investigations — clearly, it’s easier to get away with cruelty when the public doesn’t know about it.  As President of the AAA,  Johnson Smith’s involvement with Wallis and horse slaughter is an indication that Smith’s services will be utilized in normalizing and marketing “cheval” in the US and beyond.  And Johnson Smith is more than ready to do that,  describing the lack of slaughter in the US as an  “Undeniable National Horror,”  Aside from the overblown rhetoric,  I wonder if she knows the difference between vegetarians and vegans?  I’m reasonably sure most horse people are neither.

”It is time for the federal government to intervene and stop these
animals, considered by many to be American icons, from being used by
vegan groups as political pawns in their quest to impose their vegetarian
agenda on our nation,” added Johnson-Smith. ”Additionally, it is time
for all governments-federal, state and local-to recognize these groups
for what they are, extremists attempting to use animal welfare as a tool
to advance their radical vegan agenda.”

The Animal Agriculture Alliance "Axis of Evil,"  with HSUS right dead centre

The Animal Agriculture Alliance “Axis of Evil,” with HSUS right dead centre

The stated mission of the AAA is to keep animal agriculture in the US and defend farming practices against animal welfare groups.  The AAA attacks groups whose sole mandate is advocating for and rescue of farm animals.  They send letters of congratulation to companies who refuse to implement humane solutions for farm animals.  They also support the Fur Commission.  Thanks to groups like the Animal Agriculture Alliance and factory farming’s massive economies of scale, a lot of food today is disgusting or cruel or disgusting and cruel.

Since reasonably well informed individuals know that CAFO farms are miserable for animals, the environment,

From stable to table....

From stable to table….

farmers, public health, biodiversity, rural communities, and  global poverty,  Johnson Smith has probably indulged in propaganda that would make Leni Reifenstahl blush. The AAA hopes to create a climate whereby donating to the HSUS (or other animal welfare groups) will be nothing short of the kiss of death for businesses who rely on public support. They do this by taking issue with organizations who give donations to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) – Casella Wines (makers of Yellow Tail) and the Bank of America are two predominant examples.  After asking their members and others in agriculture to harass both organizations via social media, phone calls, and mail, they managed to  brow-beat Yellow Tail to get them to withdraw future support, and Johnson Smith was happy to let them off the hook with a warning, “we are happy to put this unfortunate incident behind us.”  Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan however, stood up to Johnson Smith by telling her that the HSUS does not get preferential treatment and providing the card was simply responding to consumer demand. Despite a great rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, the AAA had to admit defeat and officially mourn the end of their relationship with BOA, if indeed they actually had one.

The Animal Agricultural Alliance is so easily offended.  Aside from indulging a pathological fear of vegetarians and vegans, Meatless Mondays, an initiative of the nonprofit, Monday Campaign, Inc., and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, was perceived by the AAA and other groups as an extremist animal rights campaign to end meat consumption. Absolutely NOTHING in that newsletter article about Meatless Mondays was false information. In fact, I’d wager to guess that article is the most truth the USDA has let out in a long time. Unfortunately, the USDA capitulated very quickly when confronted by meat industry lobbyists.  In future,  the agency should look towards substantiated science as well as health benefits rather than giving in to public opinion and industry greed.

horse deli

“The Alliance is a radical, pro factory-farming organization that is either completely out-of-step with Americans’ values on how animals ought to be treated, or perhaps simply chooses to ignore those values at the request of its corporate funders.” HSUS Food Policy Director Matt Prescott

If you look at the infographic AAA has created (above), you can see that although they’ve missed groups such as Animals’ Angels, they’ve targeted Jonathan Safran Foer,  who isn’t even a strict vegetarian (and not a domestic terrorist either).  The AAA claims that claim his book contains some of the most negative stereotypes of modern agriculture. Like ever. So to that end they offer an anti-terrorism course so there will be a way to combat laws against horse slaughter and people like the Jonathan Safran Foer’s of the world.   The power brokers know that their business model depends on consumers not being able to see (or hear about) horses or other animals.   Additionally,  the AAA has engaged the Lead attorney for Ringling/Feld Entertainment,  who provides seminars for them on how to defeat animal welfare cases.  Ringling in bed with Big Ag, what a shock.

According to HSUS Food Policy Director Matt Prescott, the American Agricultural Alliance has never had a grip on reality. “The Alliance is a radical, pro factory-farming organization that is either completely out-of-step with Americans’ values on how animals ought to be treated, or perhaps simply chooses to ignore those values at the request of its corporate funders,” Prescott said in an email. The fact is simple: without organizations like HSUS, the meat industry and factory farming in general would continue to strive to maximize output at animals’ expense.

Draft Horses Being Sent to Japan for slaughter - unable to fully raise their heads in their confined crates.

Draft Horses Being Sent to Japan for slaughter – unable to fully raise their heads in their confined crates.

The days of “it’s none of your business” farming are long gone.  Bills similar to Wallis’ Ag-Gag have been proposed and many defeated – in other states between 2011 and 2012. Ag-Gag bills to penalize those who secretly record video of livestock are a sobering setback for the animals, of course, as well as for food safety. Remember the salmonella outbreak two years ago—the one in which half a billion Iowa eggs were recalled?  Mercy for Animals conducted an undercover video investigation of the farm in 2009, and forwarded its findings to Maine animal welfare officials.  In Wallis’ own state of Wyoming,  the HSUS videoed astonishing abuse of pigs at Wyoming Premium Meats.  Under an Ag-Gag bill, these undercover endeavours would be illegal, and in some cases a felony.  It’s a shame that people feel their livelihoods are at stake, or feel threatened by the growing awareness of the horrors of the industry.  Neither Wallis nor Johnson Smith care about the welfare of horses or any other animal – it’s in their best interest for people to continue to dump unwanted horses in the middle of empty fields, at rescues, or have them seized Dorothy Robertson-style, because those horses are how they are going to make their money selling horsemeat to Japan, Belgium, and France.

Please read HSUS response to Wallis’ Ag-Gag bill.

NonHorseyFL

Trot On! New Years Resolutions for Horse Advocates

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horse and fireworksWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

I’m assuming that you,  dear reader,  have already made your New Year’s Resolutions.  Did you know that the average person breaks them after about one month? Yeah, all new year’s resolutions have the specter of failure hanging over them.  Maybe I’m too late and you’ve already broken them?  Hopefully not,  but if you’re like me,  the only thing broken is perhaps your wallet……..However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth making resolutions in the first place because apparently people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than the people who don’t.

Of course,  resolutions to ride more outside, take up a new discipline, make horse-keeping safer, or to advocate for horses  are resolutions that may be easier to keep throughout the year than the traditional ones to lose weight.

Steven Covey once said “Begin with the end in mind.”  Of course,  we’re not only discussing the year 2013 but we’re also looking  at the strong possibility of an end to the EU importation of horsemeat in about six months.  Ending slaughter requires that everyone involved in the equine industry work together to create awareness about and rejection of horse slaughter.  It’s also about enjoying our love of horses,  keeping them and us happy and safe, and proactively create awareness and finding solutions.  So here’s a few suggestions to implement,  in case you’ve already ditched your previous resolutions,  or you’re really tardy like me and haven’t gotten around to thinking about it yet!

  1. Scout locations for a Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC)  donation box (assuming you’re Canadian of course).  These could be tack shops,  feed stores,  anyplace where you might be a customer who is able to demonstrate the value of LIVE horses to the community.

  2. Get 25 signatures on Bill C-322 Petition – gives provides a good opportunity to have informal discussion with barn mates.  The corresponding Bills in the US are in the process of being re-introduced,  so please go to PopVox and click the re-introduce button for both S-1176 and HR-2966.

  3. Create a disaster recovery plan for your barn.  Whether your facility houses two 199425089719477636_vRb7SrGN_chorses or 20, you should have an evacuation plan for every conceivable emergency, from barn fires to high wind events such as tornadoes. Practice an evacuation drill.  Everyone needs disaster preparedness, which will take care of your barn residents, and business preparedness, which includes resumption/contingency planning if you operate a for-profit business. From where will you source hay if your supply is suddenly wiped out?  Even if your farm is a hobby, it is important to plan for getting the doors open again. Write these plans down and then practice them. In general, one plan can be applied to many scenarios, helping to focus your reactions to the danger. Being proactive will minimize the amount of time and expense to bring your operation back “online” while preserving your sanity,  sourcing new supplies,  and making your animals safer. It’s also helpful to incorporate the disaster preparedness procedures into your daily routine so it becomes habit.

  4. Dispose of sharps and old wormer tubes properly – if you don’t use an actual sharps disposal container,  use a coffee can with a lid and make sure everyone in the barn knows where it is.   There’s nothing scarier or more offputting than reaching into the garbage and getting stuck on a needle.

  5. Create an emergency first-aid kit for your horse – Remember that a first-aid kit is only useful in an emergency if it is right where you need it. You might want to put together more than one kit-one for the barn, one for the trailer and a small kit to take with you on the trails. A well-stocked equine first-aid kit is a major investment. In reality, most horse owners will already have at least some of the required content.  The end result will be a first-aid kit that, one day, may be worth its weight in gold. The peace of mind it provides may prove just as valuable.

  6. Write down your veterinarian’s phone number on all first aid kits too.  And keep veterinarian and emergency numbers attached to your saddle with your horse’s name on it.  Get the info plasticized on a card and attach it with a tie wrap. Extremely valuable if trail riding and in a fanny pack in case you and your horse get separated.  If your horse is found injured – the horse’s name and the veterinarian’s contact info could save their life.

  7. Make sure you have a way to properly identify your horse,  whether by DNA,  freezebrand,  or microchip.  Take a set of current photos showing identifying features.

  8. Make your own hay thermometer and check the temperature of your hay regularly.  Do not use glass thermometers as they can break and shatter inside a square or round bale.

  9. Buy a multi-tool for trail riders – this should contain a hoof pick and wire cutters  – keep it in a fanny pack or saddle bag along with a whistle and phone.

  10. Order a magnetic anti-slaughter statement for your car for $18 plus shipping (Canadian orders only)  – Contact Charlotte Uhrich at charlotteauhrich@gmail.com.  Now go drive everywhere with it!

  11. Speak to your equine veterinarian about horse slaughter if you have not already – veterinarians should put animal welfare at the top of their list of priorities, not relegate it to an also-ran concern.

  12. Order anti-slaughter postcards from the Postcard Posse (US)

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  13. Get a Twitter account and let the various levels of government know how you feel about horse slaughter.  Americans can tweet Congress,  Canadians can tweet their MPs  and Senators and comment on their blogs.  You can also send private (direct) message on Twitter as well.  Yes, it is very effective in reaching people quickly and directly because the recipient receives an email (or a tweet-text on their phone) for every direct message. Try to tweet during high volume times.

  14. Protect your tack investment – inhibit mold and mildew in your tack room.

  15. We’re about to see Pinterest use among nonprofit organizations explode. Follow animal welfare  groups or individuals on Pinterest, such as Jane Velez Mitchell.  Share photos  and create an album of rescued horses, but don’t post graphic pics.  Pinterest can also be used for calling out a business that abuses animals. Anyone who went to SeaWorld’s Pinterest page a few months ago saw animal advocates’ calls to release orca Tilikum and the other prisoners to a marine sanctuary, which was not quite what SeaWorld was expecting to see when they went to their Pinterest page!

  16. Scan local ads offering free or cheap horses – communicate politely by sending a message advising the seller to be cautious and aware of kill buyers who may manipulate them.

  17. If you suspect or know of illegal activity by killbuyers or the BLM – you can be part of the solution by providing confidential information.  In Canada,  Whistleblowers are invited to confidentially contact the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition regarding violations occurring during horse slaughter or transport to slaughter via email at info@defendhorsescanada.org or via web form.  In the US please contact the Equine Welfare Alliance.

  18. Keep in touch with legislators on Facebook –  give them feedback – positive or negative.

  19. Consider joining a special task force and work on projects with some of your Facebook friends.  Horses need the benefit of more collaboration than ever before if we are to find alternatives to slaughter and placements for horses.

  20. Wear your heart on your sleeve.  Order your CHDC drinkwear or clothing at Cafepress and truly become a walking billboard.  Bumper Stickers and License plate holders are also available.  Download CHDC flyers and use them to engage barnmates in conversation,  or ask to leave them in tack and feed supply stores.

Happy Trails!

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

A Reply to Nathan Winograd…

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bignewyorkerbookofdogs2Written by:  Amanda Katz (Guestblogger Extraordinaire)

After a lengthy discussion that centered around my support for HSUS and the ASPCA,  I asked Nathan Winograd via Facebook whether he supported Caboodle Ranch a failed hoarding/rescue of 700 cats.   He responded that he had made no statement about the ranch, then asked me a number of questions that seemed to be sparked by my cover pic of the HSUS baby seal campaign.  Here is my response to him, which came after a long series of back and forth between Winograd, myself and several other people.

Mr. Winograd – You have asked posters on your Facebook page not to put words in your mouth, yet your latest reply to me certainly puts words into mine.  You seem to have made all kinds of assumptions and accusations about what I think and believe, when all I did was ask if I could post openly on your page!   I am going to go ahead and share my thoughts openly, even though you removed my civil comments and banned me.

First regarding Caboodle Ranch.  I am glad to see you say you would condemn a place that is causing prolonged suffering and death to animals, even if that place calls itself No Kill.  That is exactly what Caboodle Ranch did.

You seem to be questioning the evidence against Caboodle Ranch solely because some of it came from PETA and ASPCA, which you claim lie about the facts.  However, it is hard to see where the evidence that PETA and ASPCA got about Caboodle was a lie.  Photos and video don’t lie, which is exactly why Big Ag. interests in several states are trying to pass Ag-Gag laws banning undercover investigations — and why the Caboodle defenders sound exactly like factory farmers talking about Mercy for Animals when they claim the photos and videos were doctored, staged, etc.

In the Caboodle Ranch case, PETA sent an undercover investigator at the request of several former volunteers to document the cruelty and neglect that caused the death of hundreds of cats.  PETA’s investigation provided local authorities with the evidence required to shut down the ranch.  At that point, local authorities asked the ASPCA to remove all 700 cats.  The ASPCA housed the cats for months while the legal proceedings were sorted out, provided extensive rehabilitation and medical treatment, and eventually adopted all but the very sickest of cats into new homes.

Even if you don’t believe PETA or the ASPCA about Caboodle Ranch, there is plenty of other evidence available. Before PETA and ASPCA were ever involved, the owner sued a former volunteer turned whistleblower for defamation and lost — it is this court case that provides much of the evidence against Caboodle Ranch, such as the financial records showing that Caboodle took in much more in donations than it paid in care for the cats, and that its owner used donations for the cats to pay for trips and clothing.

That evidence, combined with evidence from PETA and the ASPCA was certainly convincing to the courts, as the judge cited it in his order awarding custody of the cats to the local sheriff.  If all you do is read this court order, you will get a good idea of conditions for the animals at Caboodle Ranch.

Yes, I support the HSUS — and Other Organizations

You have also asked several questions of me.  I will do my best to answer them, though you may not like the answers.

I do support the HSUS, as well as ASPCA and PETA.  I also support Best Friends, and believe it or not, I support some of what you do as well.  You may not think that is possible, as you have made a concerted effort to draw a line in the sand between yourself and every other national animal welfare organization.  But I do not take such a black-and-white view of these issues.

First, regarding HSUS, you have presented a number of allegations on your Facebook page.  I can’t answer all of those, but I can answer some, and I believe you are misconstruing their actual work and position on the issues. For example, bignewyorkerbookofdogs5regarding dogs rescued from fighting operations, your description of the HSUS position does not include the fact that they changed their position on this issue back in April 2009 — almost four years ago.  At the time of the Vick case and the Wilkes County case, when asked, they did advise the court to euthanize the dogs.  That is not the same thing as “lobbying” — the court asked, and they provided an answer.  Moreover, at the time euthanasia was the standard recommendation for all dogs removed from fighting operations — most humane organizations made the same recommendation.

Fortunately the HSUS was mature enough to reconsider this position and change its recommendations to advocate for individual evaluations.  Again, that happened almost four years ago now, yet you continue to write about HSUS as if euthanasia is their current position when it is not.  Moreover, the HSUS remained true to its word with the rescue of 200 dogs from a fighting operation in Ohio in 2010.  All but the sickest of dogs were rescued and placed into new homes.

One of those homes belongs to an HSUS employee I know personally who slept with him in the living room every night for weeks so she could be there when he woke up with nightmares.  This is hardly the hard-hearted pro-killing organization that you make HSUS out to be.  For more, see “HSUS Steps Up and Seeks Help for 200 Dogs Seized from Fighting Operation” by Ledy van Kavage first published on change.org.

Why do you not present this crucial part of the story when discussing the HSUS’s recommendations on fighting dogs?

bignewyorkerbookofdogs1Gas chamber and Michael Vick

Regarding the allegations that HSUS has lobbied against laws banning the gas chamber, I have a very difficult time believing the HSUS did that. On the contrary, the HSUS has given grants to shelters to transition them off of the gas chamber.  The HSUS also actively supports the proposed Congressional resolution by Jim Moran (D-Va.) to condemn use of the gas chamber and encourage states to ban it.

You told someone farther up this thread that the Moran resolution makes an exception for shelters, but again, I think that is a misconstrual of the facts.  It is a proposed resolution, not a law, so it is not binding on anyone.  The national Congress is not going to pass a law regarding shelter practices because animal shelters are regulated by state and local governments, and are not a federal matter.

However, if Congress passed a resolution condemning the gas chamber, that would be an important tool in pushing states like North Carolina to ban the practice.  This would be a win for the animals that we are all trying to help.  That’s why resolutions like this should be supported regardless of feelings about HSUS.

Moreover, the HSUS position on the gas chamber is clear: “The HSUS considers use of the gas chamber in a shelter setting to be unacceptable under any circumstances.”  The reasons are that “Gas chambers cannot provide humane euthanasia for shelter populations,” and “Gas chambers pose grave dangers to staff.”

As for Vick, I can see why the HSUS worked with him, but it is not something I actively supported.  As was pointed out to you, Vick can reach inner-city kids in African American neighborhoods in a way that you, I, or Wayne Pacelle cannot. He spoke to tens of thousands of them, and if he got even one kid to reconsider going into dogfighting, that is a good thing.  Unfortunately, the Vick partnership sparked a strong backlash in the animal welfare community.  For that reason, I do not think it has been a success.

However, regardless of whether the Vick program was successful, it was not done as a quid pro quo to get $50,000 out of the Philadelphia Eagles.  That money did not go to line anyone’s pockets but to the End Dogfighting program in Philadelphia.  The Eagles also gave $50,000 grants to two other humane organizations at the same time — the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society to build a spay-neuter clinic, and Berks County Humane Society to fund a mobile veterinary clinic.

Why do you not mention those grants in your discussion of the Eagles money?  Is it possible the Eagles were simply trying to improve animal welfare in their community?  All three of their grants went to animal welfare programs in Philadelphia, and with a $50,000 grant, each program could help a lot more animals.

herding catsOther National Groups

Regarding the ASPCA, I do not know as much about them as I do HSUS, but they stepped up to save 700 cats from Caboodle Ranch, as well as 350 dogs from a failed rescue in Ohio in 2011. In both cases they were asked to help by local authorities because local shelters simply do not have the capacity to handle so many animals. And in both cases almost every animal was saved, and these were very sick animals removed from horrible hoarding situations.

This demonstrates one reason why we need the national groups.  What other groups have the capacity to conduct large-scale rescues from hoarding situations, fighting rings, puppy mills, natural disasters, and other cases when hundreds of animals are in need?  I don’t see that any of your No Kill shelters, as wonderful as they are, have the capacity to do that.

Furthermore, in many cases in which animals were removed from so-called rescues that were really situations of great cruelty, the rescue group had a 501c3.  In fact, all the national animal welfare groups have been asked to handle major removals from 501c3 rescue organizations that were actually horrible hoarding situations.  Besides the ASPCA’s involvement in Caboodle Ranch in Florida and One More Chance Rescue in Ohio, the HSUS rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed 700 cats from Haven Acres in Florida, while Best Friends rescued 800 cats from For the Love of Cats and Kittens in Nevada, 150 of which still live at the Best Friends sanctuary in Utah.

All of these so-called rescue groups had a 501c3, yet they all involved extreme animal suffering.  Perhaps this is why the national groups have not testified in favor of CAPA laws that would require local shelters to turn over animals to any rescue group that asks.  While most rescues are wonderful organizations, clearly some of them are not — to send an animal to one of these places would condemn it to prolonged suffering and death.

A 501c3 alone is simply not enough to ensure that a place calling itself a rescue is not a death camp.  Again I think you have misconstrued the position of the national organizations on this issue.  While you say they have lobbied against the CAPA bills, that is not the case in the instances I have read about, such as Best Friends which remained neutral on the CAPA proposal in New York.

Personally, I think shelters should work more with rescue groups and would support a version of CAPA that provided some kind of standards for rescue groups to meet before shelters were legally required to send animals to them.  I am not sure what those standards would be, but would support, for example, formation of an accrediting body for shelters and rescues similar to the organizations that accredit top zoos (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), and quality exotic animal sanctuaries (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries).  Shelters and rescues would have an incentive to achieve accreditation because accredited organizations are more likely to draw donations and be awarded grants.

We All Want to End Shelter Euthanasiadogsandblogsnewyorker

As I said earlier, while I don’t agree with some of your positions, I do support other things you do.  The No Kill Equation is a list of best practices that every shelter should be striving to accomplish, and many shelters are already incorporating some, most or all of its elements into their operations.  Others are not.

There is no doubt that some shelters are in dire need of reform, and I am glad your group is there to demand that they do it.  But there is a difference between criticism meant to reform bad practices and a scorched earth campaign meant to destroy the very infrastructure we need to help animals.  I think that your rhetoric often crosses the line into destruction rather than criticism.

Moreover, I cannot agree that there is no such thing as pet overpopulation, or that adoption alone can end shelter euthanasia.  Increased adoption is certainly an essential part of what must be done, including concerted efforts at better marketing and placement of animals.  Other tactics to  help save large groups of animals should be supported, such as a creating a Parvo ward for puppies and a bottle baby ward for kittens, provided they are properly staffed to avoid suffering.

But we also must reduce the number of animals flowing into shelters, particularly from puppy mills and unaltered street cats.  Low-cost spay-neuter for low-income areas is vital, as is legislation regulating high-volume dog breeders.  Why endorse one tactic to end shelter euthanasia (increasing demand) but not another (decreasing supply)?  Surely there is room for a variety of tactics to achieve this important goal.

You say that no one can provide numbers showing there are fewer homes than animals needing to be placed.  That is because such national numbers do not exist.  We have an idea how many animals are in shelters, but we have no idea how many are being advertised on Craig’s List and other online forums, how many stray cats are on the streets, how many people get cats from accidental litters that a friend had, etc.

The actual number of homeless animals is much, much higher than what is in shelters.  For every person who gets a cat at a shelter, many more get cats from friends or the streets.  That is direct competition for shelter animals and must be considered in these calculations of supply and demand. Furthermore, the animals who are in shelters do not always match what people are looking for.  Most people don’t want pit bulls, yet half of dogs in shelters are pits or pit mixes.  People want kittens, not adult cats, yet shelters are overflowing with adult cats.  People don’t want black animals.

I’m not saying that’s right.  I think it’s terrible.  But regardless of what I think, someone who comes to a shelter looking for a kitten or a Pomeranian is not going to walk away with an adult black cat or a pit bull.  So it’s not a matter solely of numbers.  It is also a matter of preferences.  Shelter director Karel Minor makes this point eloquently.

Herblock Fire June 17, 1949We Need to Work Together

To say that people who disagree with your interpretation of these complex issues are “pro-killing” is simply not accurate.  On this page I have seen you tell people who spend their entire life outside of work rescuing animals that they are pro-killing.  I believe that is a misrepresentation of their hard work and counter-productive. With so many animals suffering, we need ALL tactics, ALL groups working together.

You have noted that the number of no kill communities is rising.  They achieve no kill by working with others in their communities to constructively solve problems, not through vicious attacks and infighting.

I look forward to the day when all animal advocates can work together to help animals in need, when there is room for all tactics and programs to end shelter euthanasia, and when we can end this vicious infighting that is a much larger threat to the animal welfare movement than any external enemy ever could be.