Canadian Horses Being Served Up In Exclusive, Members-Only “Supper Clubs” in Japan

Standard

roast-horse

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Hat Tip:  Lisa

In Japan, “premium consumption,” a philosophy in which consumers do not mind spending large amounts of money on trendy products or services, is on the increase.  The Japanese are embracing “members-only” clubs and resorts to the tune of ¥355 billion ($4,176,200,000 CDN), up 13 percent from 2015.  Horsemeat is increasing in popularity in Japan due in part to a boom in sushi restaurants and exclusive dining clubs, and is sold as sakura nikku (cherry blossom meat) or raw as basashi.

3db52bea97fbff03b135df5fdd9c5da3The English language paper The Japan News, provides a first look at these exclusive and often very secretive restaurants serving what must be our Canadian draft horses, who are live exported almost every week on 16-18 hour flights during which time they are neither fed nor watered, generally by Atlas Air. Prior to shipment to Japan, our “gentle giants” are fattened up to gross proportions, and at risk for laminitis. Each horse is worth approximately $20,000 CDN.

In Tokyo, The Roast Horse is a members-only restaurant that has a set course menu of ¥7,500 ($88.00 CDN). The Roast Horse solicited its clientele via crowdfunding to collect money for a custom-made stone oven. The restaurant was able to generate about ¥6 million ($70,000 CDN). Membership at the restaurant is considered a privilege for the investors.

down-in-crate-1-300x233

Photo from an Acess-To-Information Request by the CHDC. We know that horses are dying while enroute to Japan, where horsemeat is preferred “fresh,”  hence the live export.  These flights are illegal as Canada is in breach of two sections of our own Health of Animals Regulations and IATA Live Animals Regulations.

“As the door opened, all 30 or so seats in the restaurant were occupied. Owner Mineyoshi Hirayama was serving customers a series of horse-based dishes, such as raw and roasted horse meat, while describing the details of the horseflesh he bought and the cooking methods. “What’s great about this restaurant is that it is exclusively members who can book a table. What’s more, we can taste horse meat that can’t be eaten at any other places,” said information technology journalist Masakazu Honda, who is a member. “All the people I have brought here have been delighted. This is a special restaurant.”

Please read more here.

If you’re not familiar with the entire sordid live horse export business to Japan,  please read the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition’s comprehensive investigative report here.

 

Call To Action:

Please sign and share the active petition to Atlas Air to end the horrid practice of live export to Japan.

protesters-1-500x375

Horse Welfare 2016 – The Year In Review

Standard

2016-rocking-horse-christmas-cardWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Because most efforts at altruism are applied to human suffering, when it comes to horses and other animals, we still face the problem of convincing people that the suffering of horses is worth considering at all. Our legal and legislative efforts can be effective ways to achieve goals for the horses, but most campaigns are lower visibility when compared to shelter pets,  and they may only yield results if completely successful. After observing how horse advocacy functions for a few years now (but I am still a relative newbie compared to the seasoned experts who have been advocating for horses for decades)  I want to make the following observations on the year 2016:

To be effective, we must continually find the root causes of systemic problems, such as corrupt or indifferent government officials, hoarding issues, and our often reactionary approach to kill buyer sales programs, which are now entrenched methods of adopting horses.  This is no small feat considering how decentralized horse advocates are – each person is often doing their own thing and advocating for horses in their own way.  As a result, preventative approaches are sometimes overlooked within the movement.   Despite exhaustive work by many people, SAFE Act-type legislation, which could provide the best results for horses in the US, hasn’t passed.

We may best be able to capitalize on shifts in the way people think about all animals and their status in society.  Results in Canada have been achieved when contracts for horsemeat are lost due to the exposing of cruelty and food quality/feedlot issues.  Meat-swapping is also an issue that usually gets a lot of publicity.  The supply of horsemeat already exceeds demand otherwise we would see fewer substitution issues – many people are realizing that they are eating horse unintentionally and this causes them to reconsider buying meat in general.

Unfortunately, 2016 heralded in new administration that is not friendly to animals.  P-E Trump is known to receive advice from conspiracy theorists and the radical far right – it’s true that we have become a “post-fact” world. Knowing this, how can we best advocate for horses in 2017 and beyond? There mere suggestion that there may be jobs to be found in the horse slaughter industry could be incentive enough to resuscitate it in the US, even though it is a poor investment.

“Donald Trump…represents perhaps the greatest threat ever to animal protection policy making at the federal level. His campaign surrogates and the names being floated as possible Trump cabinet picks for the very agencies that oversee such policies include the most ardent anti-animal voices in the country. Advocates for puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and trophy hunting of rare species such as leopards and elephants would be at the steering wheel of a Trump administration.” ~ Michael Markarian, the Human Society Legislative Fund

Here’s my summation of 2016, with articles arranged in Storify:

The Chemical Horse:

  • Horsenetwork reported that Pfizer Canada has announced it will increase the amount of pregnant mare urine (PMU) it collects from its facilities in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2016 and 2017. Demand for conjugated equine estrogens declined in recent years following a 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study that PMU drugs were linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. (In 2012, the North American Menopause Society released a position statement that continues to support hormone therapy).
  • Horse tendons are now being made into an anti-aging therapy to rival botox. The popularity of horse oil from slaughtered animals has increased exponentially and is sold extensively on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.
  • A video released in October showed the appalling treatment of horses at antitoxin and antivenom manufacturing facilities in India.  The facilities draw blood from the horses, many of them multiple times a month with heavy gauge needles, to manufacture antitoxin and antivenom drugs.  The horses depicted in the video (link included below) had festering sores and low body weights.

Live Horse Shipments:

  • Throughout 2016, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition continued to release footage of live horse exports to Japan and petitioned Atlas Air executives to stop the practice, which does not adhere to IATA regulations.

Anti-Soring Efforts:

  • In August, U.S. Department of Agriculture/APHIS proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act that could stop the soring abuse for good.
  • Anti-soring advocates got the Big Lick kicked out of the North Carolina State Fair

Food Adulteration:

  • In June, a butcher shop in Montreal was caught adding horsemeat to hamburger patties advertised as being entirely made of beef. An investigation by Radio-Canada found burger patties advertised as being 100 per cent beef from La Maison du Rôti, which supplied meat to many hotels and commercial establishments in Montreal.  This is consistent with a study from 2015 that found that nearly 5% of all ground meat products tested in California had horse meat in the product.
  • In Britain, two Britons and a citizen of Denmark appeared in court over allegations that they passed horsemeat off as beef. It took THREE YEARS after the horsemeat adulteration scandal in to get them this far.
  • Britain’s food-policing unit, which was created in 2014 following the horse meat scandal has still not resulted in any new prosecutions despite costing the taxpayer £4m. The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU)  has not brought any criminal charges against anyone.

Wild Horses:

  • Aaron Stelkia of the Osoyoos Indian Band, who has apparently provided no care to feral British Columbia horses, decided to claim them and began rounding them up early in the year.  On the heels of this event, the RCMP in Penticton B.C., at the request of the CFIA, began investigating horse rescuer Theresa Nolet after she treated a free-roaming horse with phenylbutazone, making him unfit for human consumption.  If the CFIA, the RCMP, or the SPCA actually had any concern for horses, they would require the Indian Bands to keep their horses contained and properly fed and medicated.  It’s clear the intent was to harass Ms. Nolet, since the CFIA has no problem importing American horses whose drug history is completely unprovable.
  • DNA genotyping of Alberta wild horses showed a connection to the Altai horse from Russia. These genetic markers permitted the placement of the horses on the endangered list by the Equus Survival Trust in North Carolina. 
  • Forty-five years ago the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (WFRH&B Act) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 18, 1971. The WFRH&B Act created the sensation that wild horses were to be protected on public land, but as it did not create actual defined parameters it has been left open to interpretation and/or lack of enforcement by the US judicial system.

Decimation of the Donkeys:

  • Now that the West African black rhino is extinct and the elephant is well on its way, donkey skins are the new rhino horn, and just like the rhino, the Chinese demand is unsustainable. To that end, a $3,000,000 slaughterhouse has just opened in Kenya – dedicated and purpose-built to kill up to 100 donkeys a day. China is presently responsible for slaughtering four million donkeys a year for traditional medicinal products made from their skin. Already, countries in Africa are seeing their donkey populations drop at an alarming rate – the appetite for donkey skins has risen to such a degree that a worldwide crisis is unfolding for donkey populations around the world.  In the United States the population of donkeys is estimated to be between 250,000 and 400,000. The US’ wild burro population ranges between 4,000 to 10,000 total on all BLM public lands.  The entire US population of donkeys could theoretically be wiped out in a matter of weeks at the current rate of slaughter.

Cruelty Cases, Horse Seizures, Abandonments, and Hoarding:

  • The infamous Stanley Brothers have been shipping horses to slaughter for quite some time and also have a long history of animal welfare offenses, among other questionable activities.  Boots Stanley, the son of one of the Stanley Brothers, who became millionaires selling horses to be killed, was arrested along with his pal Steven Sadler, for aggravated animal cruelty after slitting a defenseless dog’s throat on the family’s kill lot in Bastrop, Louisiana. Someone who enjoys inflicting pain on an animal may well be a danger to their community soon.
  • “Big Lick” supporter Sandra Darlene Wood will be serving jail time for the crime of Animal Cruelty – starving Tennessee Walking Horses that were seized from her farm on April 6, 2015.
  • Logan Allen, a “horse trainer” who won 1st place in the 2013 Iowa Horse Fair found himself under fire after he posted pics to his Facebook wall of a horse with the caption “bad boy…”  The horse lay on the ground, his legs were bound, his tongue hung out of his mouth and he had been sprayed with a hose,  hence the treatment of the horse was referred to as “waterboarding.”  The dismissal of Allen’s case sends the clear message to those in Iowa that abusing animals is acceptable in the state.
  • The story of Lily, the little pony mare who appeared to have been shot up with a paintball gun and then abandoned at New Holland in Pennsylvania, was a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking narrative.  The mare, who was rescued and subsequently endured an eye operation for painful uveitis inflammation and days of dental work, was elderly and in poor condition overall.  In May, Philip Price Jr. of Rhode Island, (previously convicted of animal abuse) was convicted on all counts related to transporting her to New Holland.  He was ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution for Lily’s recovery care costs.  Lily was then adopted by former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart and his wife.  Although her quality of life appears to have been quite low for some time, she knew kindness and care before she died a short time later in Stewart’s sanctuary.
  • In June, officials with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture charged trainer Maria Borell and her father, Charles Borell, each with 43 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals in connection with the apparent abandonment of horses at a 121-acre farm in Central Kentucky.
  • 40 deceased and decaying horses were found on a property near Melbourne Australia. Bruce Akers, was charged with 92 counts of animal cruelty and criminal damage.
  • Another 40 horses (and 15 dogs)  owned by a previously convicted mother/daughter team of animal hoarders were seized from a Virginia property.
  • In July, horse rescuers saved from slaughter several horses formerly owned by the Arnold Reproduction Center, which specialized in cutting horse breeding. A herd of horses bearing the brand of center ended up scheduled for shipment to slaughter, according to social media posts, which the business acknowledged in a statement last week, calling the slaughter designation unintended. Photos posted by the Kaufman Kill Pen Facebook page showed show at least a dozen horses bearing the brand and/or distinctive shoulder numbers, with some described as recipient mares.
  • Several horses that had been seized from the Peaceable Farm rescue in 2015 have again been taken by authorities from New Beginnings Horse Rescue, where they had little or no food and water.  Over 80 horses were originally removed from Peaceable Farm and 11 of those horses went to New Beginnings (the other horses were distributed to other rescues).  It’s been a horrible 2 years for some of the rescues in Virginia.
  • Approximately 550-650 “wild” horses of varying ages, some mares with foals, went up for auction in December when approximately 30 were found starving or eviscerated on the bare dirt pastures of the ranch belonging to the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros in South Dakota. With no plan in place to prevent breeding and insufficient range land for the number of horses, the pastures had been eaten down to dirt. Photos on social media show severely thin horses, some of them dead, with their ribs and hip-bones protruding. Some have grotesque wounds and injuries or wildly overgrown, untrimmed hooves. A few had been eviscerated, presumably by wild animals. Guidestar shows that despite the charity taking in $600 – $700K in donations per year, there were always feed emergencies – this appears to be another hoarding operation with charitable status.  Resources are finite everywhere – uncontrolled breeding with no place to go eventually means there will be a population crash.

Legislative and Public Relations Issues:

  • Of the most immediate concern to animal advocates may be the virtual certainty that a Trump administration will work to reopen horse slaughter in the U.S., to “dispose” of the 45,000 wild horses who have been removed as “surplus” from the  BLM.  Furthermore, in 2009 VP-Elect Pence voted against protecting wild horses and burros on America’s public lands. He opposed the “Restore Our American Mustangs Act,” which was introduced to amend the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.  Simply because you see a picture of someone on a horse,  it does not make them an advocate.
  • It has been announced that the European Commission is set to adopt stricter regulations on the import of horsemeat from non-EU countries following its latest audit, which found that Canadian horsemeat may not meet EU food safety standards.  Horses destined for slaughter in non-EU countries but for export to the EU, must undergo a minimum six-month residency requirement. It’s unclear how either the slaughterhouses or the CFIA will control for this requirement.
  • The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition met with MPs in Ottawa in October on the dangers of horse meat consumption. The CHDC was registered to lobby with Aaron Freeman of Pivot Strategic Consulting.  The CHDC continues to consult with legal counsel in a continuing effort to explore legal strategies to stop illegally-conducted live shipments of horses to Japan for slaughter.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspended the slaughtering license of KML Meats in British Columbia temporarily,  due to the absence of an effective HACCP program.
  • The CFIA proposed changes to the Health of Animals Act and Regulations, thereby recognizing that the transport of animals in Canada is not aligned with those of other countries (World Organisation for Animal Health – OIE) nor do they align with the National Farm Animal Care Council Codes of Practice (NFACC) or international trading partners such as the US and the EU.  Furthermore, transport guidelines, such as they are, do not reflect current science regarding the handling of animals by land, sea, and air.
  • The March to DC on behalf of the SAFE Act took place September 22nd. Thank you to the dedicated people who were able to attend.  Many SAFE-type bills have now died and alternative approaches are needed to make the rest of the US population  aware of the atrocities of horse slaughter.
  • The tall metal fences, chained gates, and decaying metal buildings that were an embarrassment and constant reminder of horse slaughter in Kaufman Texas are now gone.  The old Dallas Crown slaughterhouse was torn down.
  • In Ontario, “horse rustling” has received new attention after two horses, who were temporarily loaned/boarded, disappeared from the same farm and are presumed sold for slaughter.  Sargon, owned by Kim Wilson, and Apollo, owned by Kayla Whatling were loaned to the same individual, who told police she sold Sargon to a kill buyer for slaughter without permission and with a faked EID.

EQUUS Film Festival:

  • The EQUUS Film Festival, dedicated to equestrian-themed film, fine art and authors was subject to controversy in 2016. Noted Equine/Human Chiropractor Dr. Jay Komarek,  declined to accept the Equus Film Festival Award for “Best Documentary” Film citing festival organizers for accepting money from two corporate sponsors,  “Protect The Harvest” and “Farm Paint,”  as his reason for doing so.   The sponsor’s principals are Mr. Forrest Lucas (Protect The Harvest and Lucas Cattle Company) and Mr. Duke Thorson (Farm Paint and Thorsport Farm). Slaughtering and soring horses  do not create a better world for them and were therefore incompatible sponsors for the event.  Clant Seay, a reporter for Billygoboy.com, also had the microphone aggressively grabbed out of his hand by former Sue Wallis buddy Dave Duquette at EQUUS. A positive outcome was that the film “Kill Pen” signed a worldwide/international distribution agreement to circulate the film across the US and Canada, into Europe, and beyond.

 Please read more about these and other headlines from 2016, arranged chronologically, in Storify

 

 

The American Humane Association Will Not Give “No Animals Were Harmed®” Warranty To Alberta Film After Bison Killing

Standard

Solutrean Prop_tonemappedWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

In recent years, the American Humane Association has come under fire over a number of films that received the “No Animals Were Harmed®” sign-off despite the deaths of numerous animals during film productions overseen or approved by the group.   An article by Ryan Rumboldt for the Calgary Herald on December 31, 2016, finally gives closure to the incident where bison in Alberta were killed for the use of movie props in the film “The Solutrean.” Set to release in the summer of 2017, the movie is an ice age period film which came under investigation from the American Humane Association after questions were raised about the killing of the animals used to depict a buffalo hunt.  While it was concluded by the AHA and the SPCA that the bison were not inhumanely destroyed,  the killing of an animal for the direct purpose of a movie scene is strictly forbidden by the AHA.  After their investigation, American Humane has decided not to give their No Animals Were Harmed®approval as is generally customary in the industry when animals are used.

“This is an egregious violation of our guidelines as under no circumstances does American Humane tolerate the killing of animals for the purpose of film production,” said spokesman Mark Stubis. “Our policies specifically prohibit any animal to be injured or killed for use in a movie.”

The Alberta movie animal supply industry has been subjected to criticism since  “an incident on the set of the 1999 film The Thirteenth Warrior where a horse had to be destroyed, and again after horses used on the TV series Heartland were sold to Bouvry Exports, North America’s largest slaughterhouse.”

Please read more here from the Calgary Herald.

Read more on my original blog post on the killing of the bison here.

 

In 2017 – Speak Up For Those Who Have No Voice

Standard

animals-with-santa-hats

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The holiday season has never been kind to animals. Indeed, 2016 has been characterized by many high-profile court proceedings and political issues for animals, many of them quite unfavourable. While we’ve experienced numerous profound losses in 2016, no doubt animal advocates will continue to mobilize in 2017 to raise the status of animals and strive to improve standards all over the world.

Throughout history, social justice movements have always been a major vehicle for ordinary people’s participation in politics and the facilitation of reform.  To that end, there are many platforms upon which we can create awareness of the plight of all animals.  Before I started this exercise, I was only aware of some of the main recognition events around the world for animals and through a variety of resources, I gathered together every grassroots and branded event I could find that would allow every animal lover and advocate, without regard for nationality or politics, to find a way to generate awareness and progress.

This list features education and awareness events,  shelter pet adoption days, opportunities for fundraising, school events and workshops, spay/neuter days and peaceful protest marches to raise awareness of either specific animal welfare issues or to encourage governments to heighten animal protection legislation.

Let’s move forward into 2017 and beyond and create a world where animals are recognized as sentient beings and full regard is accorded to their welfare and rights.

 

squirrel-steals-carved-pumpkin-max-ellis-1

January

  • National Bird Day  (January 5)
  • Save the Eagles Day (January 10)
  • Appreciate a Dragon Day  (January 16)
  • Winnie the Pooh Day (January 18)
  • Penguin Awareness Day (January 20)
  • Squirrel Appreciation Day  (January 21)
  • Bald Eagle Appreciation Days (January 21-22)
  • International Hoof Care Week (January 24-27)

swallows

February

  • Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month
  • International Hoof Care Month
  • National Wild Bird-Feeding Month
  • Responsible Animal Guardian Month
  • National Serpent Day (February 1)
  • World Wetlands Day (February 2)
  • Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 12-18)
  • National Nestbox Week (February 14-21)
  • National Hippo Day (February 15)
  • Great Backyard Bird Count  (February 17-20)
  • Homes for Birds Week (Second Week of February)
  • World Pangolin Day (February 18 – Third Saturday in February)
  • World Whale Day (February 18)
  • National Invasive Species Awareness Week (February 19-26)
  • National Justice for Animals Week (February 19-26)
  • National Love Your Pet Day (February 20)
  • National Dog Biscuit Day (February 23)
  • International Polar Bear Day (February 27)
  • Spay Day (February 28 – or last day in February)

31313-2000x1388

March

  • Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month
  • Dolphin Awareness Month
  • National Horse Protection Day  (March 1)
  • National Pig Day (March 1)
  • World Wildlife Day (March 3)
  • International Festival of Owls (March 3-5)
  • National Aardvark Week (Second Week of March)
  • Termite Awareness  Week (March 12-18)
  • Learn About Butterflies Day (March 14)
  • National Wildlife Week (March 14-18)
  • Save a Spider Day  (March 14)
  • Buzzard Day  (March 15)
  • National Panda Day  (March 16)
  • National Animal Poison Prevention Week (March 19-25 – Third Full Week of March)
  • World Frog Day (March 20)
  • World Sparrow Day (March 20)
  • International Day of the Seal  (March 22)
  • National Puppy Day (March 23)
  • Manatee Appreciation Day  (March 29 -Last Wednesday in March)

 

bat-appreciation-day

April

  • National Frog Month
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month
  • National Birding Day  (April 1 -First Saturday of April)
  • National Ferret Day  (April 2)
  • Bat Appreciation Week (April 2-8 – First Full Week of April)
  • World Rat Day  (April 4)
  • International Beaver Day  (April 7)
  • Draw a Picture of a Bird Day  (April 8)
  • Canadian Federation of Humane Societies National Animal Welfare Conference  (April 8-11)
  • Zoo Lovers Day  (April 8)
  • National Animal Control Appreciation Week (April 9-15)
  • National Farm Animals Day (April 10)
  • National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week (April 10-16)
  • National Pet Day (April 11) 
  • National Dolphin Day  (April 14)
  • Animal Cruelty / Human Violence Awareness Week (April 16-22 -Third Week in April)
  • World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week (April 16-24 – Week that surrounds April 24th each year)
  • Save the Elephant Day (April 16)
  • Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week (April 16-22)
  • National Pet ID Week (April 16-22)
  • International Bat Appreciation Day (April 17)
  • Earth Day (April 22)
  • National Lost Dogs Awareness Day (April 23)
  • World Day for Animals in Laboratories  (April 24)
  • World Penguin Day (April 25)
  • National Help a Horse Day  (April 26)
  • National Audubon Day (April 26)
  • National Kids and Pets Day (April 26)
  • National Hairball Awareness Day (April 28)
  • National Go Birding Day  (April 29 – Last Saturday of April)
  • Save the Frogs Day (April 29 – Last Saturday in April)
  • National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day (April 30)
  • National Pet Parents Day (Last Sunday in April)
  • National Animal Advocacy Day – April 30

farm-animal-day-2

May

  • International Respect for Chickens Month
  • Save the Rhino Day ( May 1)
  • Bird Day  (May 4)
  • International Respect for Chickens Day (May 4)
  • Be Kind to Animals Week (May 7-13 – First Full Week in May)
  • National Pet Week (May 7-13)
  • National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day  (May 8)
  • International Migratory Bird Day (May 10)
  • World Migratory Bird Day (May 12-13)
  • Frog Jumping Day  (May 13)
  • Dinosaur Day  (May 15)
  • International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day (May 15)
  • National Sea Monkey Day  (May 16)
  • National Endangered Species Day  (May 19 – Third Friday in May)
  • National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 21-27)
  • National Heritage Breeds Week (May 21-27)
  • International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22)
  • World Turtle Day (May 23)
  • International Turtle Day (May 23)
  • Slugs Return to Capistrano Day  (May 28)
  • Whooping Crane Day  (May 28)
  • Pink Flamingo Day (May 29)
  • International Hug Your Cat Day  (May 30)

 

farm-animal-day

June

  • Zoo and Aquarium Month
  • National Adopt-A-Cat Month
  • National Animal Rights Day (NARD) (June 4)
  • Pet Appreciation Week (June 4-10)
  • World Environment Day (June 5)
  • World Oceans Day (June 8)
  • International Day of Action for Elephants in Zoos (June 8)
  • National Black Cow Day  (June 10)
  • World Sea Turtle Day (June 14)
  • Animal Rights Awareness Week (June 18-24)
  • Fish Are Friends Not Food Week (June 18-24)
  • American Eagle Day (June 20)
  • National Take Your Dog To Work Day (June 24)
  • National Catfish Day (June 25)

little pockets

July

  • Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month
  • National Bison Month
  • Wild About Wildlife Month
  • American Zoo Day (July 1)
  • National Farriers Week (July 2-8)
  • National Farriers Week (July 9-15)
  • Don’t Step on a Bee Day  (July 10)
  • Cow Appreciation Day  (July 12)
  • Shark Awareness Day (July 15)
  • National I Love Horses Day (July 15)
  • National  Zookeeper Week (July 16-22)
  • World Snake Day  (July 16)
  • Coral Reef Awareness Week  (Third Week of July)
  • Monkey Day (July 21)
  • International Tiger Day (July 29)
  • National Mutt Day (July 31)

elephant-day

August

  • Animal Rights National Conference (August 3-6 Washington DC)
  • International Assistance Dog Week (August 6-12)
  • World Elephant Day   (August 12)
  • World Lizard Day (August 14)
  • International Homeless Animals Day (August 19)
  • World Humanitarian Day (August 19)
  • National Homeless Animals Day (August 19 – Third Saturday of August)
  • National Honey Bee Day (August 19 -Third Saturday of August)
  • World Orangutan Day (August 19)
  • National Dog Day (August 26)
  • International Whale Shark Day (August 30)

service-dog

September

  • Save the Koala Month
  • World Animal Remembrance Month
  • National Hummingbird Day  (September 2)
  • National Wildlife Day  (September 4)
  • International Day of Charity (September 5)
  • National Iguana Awareness Day  (September 8)
  • National Pet Memorial Day (Second Sunday in September)
  • National Hug Your Hound Day (Second Sunday in September)
  • Greenpeace Day (September 14)
  • Puppy Mill Awareness Day (September 16)
  • International Red Panda Day  (September 16 -Third Saturday of September)
  • National Farm Animals Awareness Week (September 16-23 -Third week of September)
  • National Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Week (September 17-23)
  • Elephant Appreciation Day  (September 22)
  • World Rhino Day  (September 22)
  • Responsible Dog Ownership Day (Third Saturday in September)
  • Fish Amnesty Day  (September 23 – Fourth Saturday in September)
  • International Rabbit Day  (September 23 – Fourth Saturday or Sunday in September)
  • National Bluebird of Happiness Day  (September 24)
  • National Dog Week (Sepember 24-30)
  • Deaf Dog Awareness Week (September 24-30)
  • Sea Otter Awareness Week  (September 24-30 -Last Week of September)
  • Shamu the Whale Day  (September 26)
  • Happy Goose Day  (September 29)
  • Save the Koala Day  (September 29 -Last Friday in September)

feral-cat-day

October

  • Bat Appreciation Month
  • National Animal Safety and Protection Month
  • World Animal Month
  • Adopt A Shelter Dog Month
  • Cut-Out Dissection Month
  • Raptor Month
  • Squirrel Awareness Month
  • Vegetarian Month
  • World Vegetarian Day (October 1)
  • International Raccoon Appreciation Day (October 1)
  • Butterfly and Hummingbird Day (October 3)
  • World Animal Day (October 4)
  • Veterinary Technicians Week (October 8-14)
  • National Wolf Awareness Week (October 8-16 – Second Full Week of October)
  • International Migratory Bird Day (October 14 – Second Saturday in October)
  • Wishbones For Pets Month (October 15-November 30)
  • National Feral Cat Day (October 16)
  • International Sloth Day  (October 20)
  • Reptile Awareness Day (October 21)
  • National Mole Day (October 23)
  • Swallows Depart From San Juan Capistrano Day (October 23)
  • National Mule Day (October 26)
  • National Cat Day (October 29)

SeniorGranny

November

  • Manatee Awareness Month
  • Adopt A Senior Pet Month
  • National Pet Cancer Awareness Month
  • Vegan Month
  • World Vegan Day (November 1)
  • National Cook For Your Pets Day (November 1)
  • Jellyfish Day (November 3)
  • National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week (November 5-11 -First Full Week of November)
  • National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day (November 7)
  • World Kindness Week (November 12-18)
  • Turkey-Free Thanksgiving (November 24 – Fourth Thursday in November)

mule-day

 

December

  • Operation Santa Paws (December 1-24)
  • Faux Fur Friday (December 1 – First Friday in December)
  • National Mutt Day (December 2)
  • International Cheetah Day (December 4)
  • World Wildlife Conservation Day (December 4)
  • National Day of the Horse (December 13)
  • International Monkey Day (December 14)
  • Christmas Bird Count Week (December 14-January 5)
  • Cat Herders Day (December 15)
  • Visit the Zoo Day (December 27)
  • Universal Hour of Peace (December 31)

 

Sources – Track Maven and Holidays and Observance

 

Equine Cushing’s And Insulin Resistance Group Launches First Video In Series To Prevent And Treat Laminitis

Standard
Equine Cushing’s And Insulin Resistance Group Launches First Video In Series To Prevent And Treat Laminitis

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

All images:  ECIR Group Inc.

If you’ve owned a cushinoid or laminitic horse or pony, you may already be familiar with the mission of the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) Group Inc. The ECIR Group is an all-volunteer organization, founded by Robin Siskel, and born out of a desperate need for solid, scientific information and solutions to help horses with Cushing’s Disease/Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction and other metabolic disorders (metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of disorders, such as reduced glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, visceral obesity and lipid disorders) and prevent laminitis.

Dr. Kellon

Dr. Kellon

Halfway measures get halfway results, is a phrase frequently used by Dr. Eleanor Kellon, co-owner of the ECIR outreach group.  An Honours Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Kellon received special training at the University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery. Kellon is an established author who has written on the subject of equine podiatry, keeping older horses, drugs and vaccines, radiography, and rehabilitation of laminitic equines.

The ECIR Group has just completed a short film that will be used to further spread the message of hope for people with cushionoid/PPID equines. The film is the first in a series that the ECIR Group hopes to produce to help people with proven, science-based protocols for caring for equines with metabolic disorders. This first film was made possible because of donations from friends of ECIR and supporters at California Trace, Forageplus, and Uckele Health and Nutrition. In order to fund the future films, ECIR needs to raise more funds.  Their benefactors have agreed to donate $5,000 if the group can raise an additional $5,000 before December 31, 2016.  So – very time sensitive in terms of raising funds!

The first movie is available here:

 

 

All research and information provided by the ECIR Group is a direct result of the work of volunteers whose goal is to prevent the suffering caused by laminitis. The most current estimates size_550x415_jack_with_copyare that 10% to 15% of horses will suffer from laminitis every year, with 80% to 90% of the cases caused by endocrine disease. That is, on average, one million horses in the US alone. It can be a death sentence if not diagnosed and managed correctly.

This group has improved the welfare of equines with metabolic disorders by focusing on prevention and treatment, helping caregivers to learn and recognize the importance of diagnosis, diet, trimming, and exercise. If you’re a “Foot Soldier” or “Hoof Hero” and you’d like to help them reach this goal, you can make a donation and watch the fund-raising progress in real time.  In 2008/2009 I personally benefited from the resources of the ECIR back when the only presence they had on the internet was a Yahoo group.

Sharing is Caring!  Thank you for helping improve the lives of horses….

 

 

Fact-Checking The Fact-Checkers On Breed Specific Legislation – How Snopes Left Out Crucial Information

Standard
Fact-Checking The Fact-Checkers On Breed Specific Legislation – How Snopes Left Out Crucial Information

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

You might not be aware that Snopes is one of the oldest websites around, and one of the original ways skeptics would meet online and discuss their skepticism way before social media existed. It ran on Usenet, which was rather like a hybrid of email and a web forum. Snopes is usually pretty reliable in its debunking so long as the writers are not called upon to make a determination about a website that is beyond their expertise or is highly nuanced. But they don’t always nail their arguments and they don’t get a pass just because they’re Snopes – they are not immune to being critiqued.

In October, Snopes author Brooke Binkowski disputed the effectiveness of Breed Specific Legislation in the US and Canada. Binkowski exhorted Snopes readers to accept that her “deep research” is the result of rational objective examination – something she vigorously defends on her professional Facebook page, yet it hardly begins with any sort of “null hypothesis” about BSL.  Her credibility in this particular piece of writing is called in question both by her use of source materials and her unfiltered admonishment of posters who disagree with her as “mentally ill” or “paranoid” on her Facebook page.  Ms. Binkowski relied heavily on the debunked pit bull propaganda mill, the National Canine Research Council and her conclusions are at odds with many other published studies.

Unpacking the Problems With the Snopes Article

1. The Use Of Questionable Sources Or Debunked Source Material

Ms. Binkowski didn’t expand her search or chose to ignore many other published studies in the US National Institute of Health database and elsewhere, and cited several source documents in her analysis that were later debunked.

Binkowski relied upon the work of the National Canine Research Council (NCRC), the same group referenced by the Ordre des médecins vétérinaire du Québec (OMVQ) when appealing Montreal’s BSL legislation earlier this year.

It was subsequently revealed by La Presse journalist Marie-Claude Malboeuf that five of the roughly 50 studies cited in the report by the OMVQ were financed by American pit bull lobbyists (the NCRC) and that the data they used was problematic. At the same time, the Order of Veterinarians listed four recent medical studies on the gravity of injuries suffered from dog attacks, but downplayed the role of pit bulls. La Presse reported that the OMVQ report also emphasized that shelters are concerned for “their structure and already precarious financial health” if the Montreal bylaw were to proceed. However, these concerns should never supercede those of public health.  Public policy is not always based solely on the frequency of an event.  For example, a recall of children’s car seats or faulty ignition switches in vehicles may be based in a small number of deaths over a years’ long period.

The 5-part La Presse investigation, now translated into English, also shows that the OMVQ report cited studies that gave the impression of being “scientific and objective” when in fact they had been funded by the not-at-all objective American pit bull lobby.  To get an expert opinion of the OVMQ report, Malboeuf gave it to McGill University professor emeritus Dr. Barry Pless, a professor of Paediatrics, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics, and the Director of the Injury Prevention Program at Montreal Children’s Hospital among other achievements.  Said Pless“doing studies that are primarily intended to prevent the adoption of laws, without declaring conflicts of interest, is the strategy employed by the gun lobby and the tobacco lobby.”

The Order’s President now says he recognizes those studies should have been excluded or properly nuanced.  The use of paid-for research by the OMVQ represents a lack of scientific rigeur and transparency on their part, and at worst, is a serious conflict of interest.

La Presse spells out the players of the American Pit Bull Lobby. They divide it into 5 levels and explain the often overlapping relationships:

Five Levels of the Pit Bull Lobby

  • Level 1: The financing source. Animal Farm Foundation (AFF), owned by Jane Berkey. The company’s motto is: “Securing equal treatment and opportunity for pit bull dogs.” AFF devotes itself entirely to fighting pit bull regulations. “After inheriting a fortune from her father, Jane Berkey, who also owns a literary agency, turned over at least $6 million to her group, $2.85 million in 2013, according to government records. She pays 9 employees (one of whom, the director, makes more than $100,000 a year) and finances numerous groups that share her philosophy,” La Presse reports.
  • Level 2: The researchers. “To produce studies, AFF bought a private research body in 2007. The acquisition was kept secret until the victims’ group Dogsbite discovered this during litigation. The National Canine Research Council (NCRC) was created by a veterinary technician, Karen Delise. Neither an academic researcher nor a veterinarian, she self proclaims as the ‘greatest national expert on deaths caused by dog bites,’” La Presse reports. NCRC co-authors and finances studies, like the ones cited by the OMVQ, which chiefly attempt to show pit bulls cannot be identified.
  • Level 3: Publication. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA). “The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) publishes NCRC studies in its journal. On its own website it proposes sample letters [for readers to write] contesting any law aimed at pit bulls. Moreover, its site has a link to AFF,” La Presse reports. The journalist even points out the AVMA’s notice on the embargoed 2000 fatal dog attack study, which falsely and fraudulently states: “In contrast to what has been reported in the news media, the data contained within this report CANNOT be used to infer any breed-specific risk for dog bite fatalities.”
  • Level 4: The political lobby. Best Friends Animal Society. Their senior legislative analyst, Ledy VanKavage, drafts state-level bills to eliminate local pit bull ordinances (state preemption laws) and is also a board member of AFF. VanKavage boasts on Best Friends’ corporate website that she commissioned an ex-economist from the tobacco industry, John Dunham, to create a fiscal calculator designed to advise governments on the cost of breed banning. Dunham’s sham BSL calculator, financed by the NCRC, over exaggerates these costs by nearly two orders of magnitude.
  • Level 5: The distributors. The animal care industry. “All the lobby studies are abundantly distributed by animal-based companies like shelters, breeders, trainers, etc. In Montreal, they are [distributed] by, amongst others, the SPCA, whose mission is to avoid euthanizing dogs and whose two most senior executives are themselves owners of pit bulls,” states La Presse. “On social media, pit bull owners deploy these studies relentlessly and accuse all their opponents of ignorance,” La Presse reports. More aggressive ones have even threatened the mayor of Québec City with death.

The methodology and conclusions behind the NCRC’s study “Preventable Factors Associated with Dog Bite-Related Fatalities” was also called into question by two members of the Department of Comparative Pathobiology at Purdue University, in a letter to the editor of the AVMA journals, published July 1, 2014:

“For instance, where the NCRC clearly knew what breeds were involved, they did not disclose same.  They also classified dogs as “resident” or “family” dogs without explaining what that meant.  They did not state how much time a dog had to be kept outside in order for it to be considered a “resident” dog. How was it possible for the researchers to determine, by any means, what the dog’s status was? The assumption is that when the NCRC knew what breeds were involved in fatalities they simply declined to disclose that information, and invented new characterizations (resident vs family dog) in an attempt to further confound the findings and minimize the number of fatalities caused by dogs that were actually determined to be “pit bulls.”

The NCRC reported that “Most DBRFs were characterized by coincident, preventable factors; breed was not one of these.”  Since their report provided no data to support the conclusion, the Purdue University professors questioned the findings of the NCRC report since it conflicted with other studies that showed a correlation between the passage of BSL and a reduction in dog bite injuries. The Purdue professors were also not fooled by the statement that “dog bite-fatalities are exceedingly rare” either.

At several points in the NCRC narrative it is reiterated that child safety education and practices were one of the key factors in preventing dog bites.  There is no doubt that this is an important consideration for parents, and there is really no downside to educational efforts. But a study in the Cochrane Report on the effect of the role of education in preventing dog bite injuries in children and adolescents concluded that, due to a lack of evidence, education should not be the only public health strategy to reduce dog bites and their dramatic consequences.  (The Cochrane Report articles combine the results of research papers, while pointing out weaknesses in experimental design or quality – very useful for contradicting the standard pseudoscience retort. The Cochrane Report gives weight to properly designed studies and less to weaker ones.)

The naming of the “National Canine Research Council” itself may also be an attempt to capitalize on the legitimacy of the National Research Council, an American non-profit NGO that shapes policies, informs public opinion, and advances the pursuit of science.  Capitalizing on the name association with other more established groups appears to be standard operating procedure for the NCRC,  who also  purchased (or had purchased on their behalf) the top-level domain “dogsbite.com” for $11,000 to try to capture some of the bandwidth of the legitimate group Dogsbite.org.   (Dogsbite.com redirects to the website of the NCRC and this “cybersquatting” resulted in a domain name dispute) Both DNASalePrice and NameBio confirm this spend.  Why would self-described professional “think tank” researchers have a need  to cybersquat on an established internet domain?  Can they not generate enough traffic to their website through the legitimacy of their own “research?”

 

2. Omission Of Studies That Support BSL And Implicate Pit Bull Phenotypes In Serious Dog Attacks

A review of the Pubmed database provides the following evidence-based studies that suggest that a majority of dog bite hospitalizations are attributed to pit bull phenotypes, often after analyses of decades worth of data.  Had Ms. Binkowski included these in her analysis, I believe she would have been compelled to revisit her conclusion in Snopes:

Effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in decreasing the incidence of dog-bite injury hospitalisations in people in the Canadian province of Manitoba

Ocular Trauma From Dog Bites: Characterization, Associations, and Treatment Patterns at a Regional Level I Trauma Center Over 11 Years

Morbidity of pediatric dog bites: A case series at a level one pediatric trauma center

Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998

Fatal dog attacks, 1989-1994

Dog bite-related fatalities: a 15 year review of Kentucky Medical Examiner cases

Fatal dog attacks in Canada, 1990 – 2007  (Includes references to bite incidents that immediately preceded the implementation of BSL in Ontario)

Mortality,  Mauling,  and Maiming by Vicious Dogs

Dog Bites in Urban Children

Dog Bites of the Head and Neck

Effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in decreasing the incidence of dog bite injury

Periorbital trauma from pit bull terrier attacks

Characteristics of 1616 Consecutive Dog Bite Injuries at a Single Institution

I can’t explain why articles and studies that favoured pit bulls featured so predominantly in Ms. Binkowski’s research, but somehow she did not locate or decided not to include information freely available using  in-depth knowledge tools for reporters, such as Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic Search, the Pubmed open-access library, Social Science Research Network, or the Cochrane Report.  Unless of course she intended to come up with an hypothesis and then set to work proving it right.  But without confirmation bias, many theories would fall apart.

 

3.  Failure To Distinguish Between Dog Bites Vs. Maulings

Ms. Binkowski is not the first reporter/journalist to fail to make a distinction between a dog bite and a mauling. While a bite by the oft-mentioned scapegoat the chihuahua may require stitches, a bite from a pit bull type dog will more than likely require that, plus plastic reconstructive surgery or oral/maxillofacial surgery in order to make the victim “whole” again. Most dogs respect protocols in behaviour when they fight, which includes a lot of posturing and growling, and usually very little biting – if there is biting most dogs practice bite inhibition – they bite once and then release, possibly not even puncturing the skin, retreating to protect themselves. There is almost never a fight to the death between most breeds of dogs.

Reducing dog bites overall is not something that BSL or the Dog Owners Liability Act in Ontario has ever set out to accomplish, indeed, it would be impossible.  No law that seeks to protect the public can ever eliminate all risks.  The aims of the DOLA were to reduce serious maulings and fatalities by banning or muzzling the breeds statistically most likely to be responsible. But any law that is enforced will be effective and mandatory muzzling, required in Ontario for pit bull phenotypes, would have prevented the following recent attacks if only it were consistently observed and applied:

A dog was shot dead by police after it grabbed a child by the throat and inflicted several bites during an attack (May 2016)

Two dogs were shot and killed after they attacked a man and woman in Ottawa’s east end. “The dogs were going in, they were biting, they were shaking the person. The person on the ground was very bloodied…[The dogs] were just relentless,” (August 2016)

Toronto Police shot and killed a pit bull “when it attacked a shih tzu and held the small dog down with a “locked-jaw grip,” police said. The policeman was hitting the dog so hard with his baton that it flung out of his hands but the pit bull would not let go. Police shot the dog twice in the leg and when it still didn’t release the shih tzu, they shot it in the head.” (September 2014)

 

4. Accusations That BSL Is Really A Form Of Covert Racism

pit-bull-lovers-quotes

Some of the most offensive and racially-derived posts come from pit bull aficionados themselves. Repeated references are often made to minorities as being comparable to dogs, as if the pit bull advocacy movement really believes their challenges are comparable to that of minority groups. At the same time, they often diminish or mock dog bite victims. Source 1 – https://heatherclemenceau.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/shana-expresses-her-disgust. and Source 2 – https://heatherclemenceau.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/jacqueline-tries-to-help.jpg

Binkowski mentions “racial parameters” in dogs when what she really means are morphological characteristics (because there are no races of dogs).  For a long time now, the pit bull advocacy movement has attempted to parlay BSL and discernment towards pit bull dogs as “canine racism” or overt racism.  With the Snopes article and a recent Washington Post article that echoed that theme, they’ve now carried that forward and attempted to show that BSL has been implemented to keep “undesireables” at bay. The cries of “racism” are further evidence that the pit bull advocacy movement are desperate to shift the blame for BSL on the cities or towns who express objections to bully breeds.  The goal is to further the cause of pit bulls as a social justice issue (while simultaneously ignoring victim issues).  Accusations of racism are intended to shame and squelch dissent and reasonable debate.

Looking into the data on breed bans turns up an interesting finding: each region that has enacted breed-specific legislation of some sort appears to have also experienced significant, if not dramatic demographic changes over a relatively short period of time.”  ~ Brooke Binkowski

The most recent available online Statscan report (2011) reveals that 6,264,800 people identified themselves as a member of a visible minority group in Canada. They represented 19.1% of the total

Fifth wave immigration since the 1970s has changed from the european demographic to that of visible minorities from the developing world. This was largely influenced in 1976 when the Immigration Act was revised and this continued to be official government policy. There was no sudden and singular immigration policy or event that triggered Ontario's 2005 Dog Owner's Liability Act as is suggested in the Snopes article.

Fifth wave immigration since the 1970s has changed from the European demographic to that of visible minorities from the developing world. This was largely influenced in 1976 when the Immigration Act was revised and this continued to be official government policy. There was no sudden and singular immigration policy or event that triggered Ontario’s 2005 Dog Owner’s Liability Act as is suggested in the Snopes article.

population. Of these visible minorities, 30.9% were born in Canada and 65.1% were born outside the country and came to live in Canada as immigrants. The vast majority of the foreign-born population lived in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta.  Since the 1960s, our immigration has steadily increased, but there is no single event that can accurately be described as a “significant, if not dramatic demographic change.”  Creating BSL as a means to racially oppress 20% of the Canadian population, only some of whom might actually own a pit bull type dog, is just laughable. Binkowski no doubt assumed that the overt racism seen across mainstream America during the current electoral process could also be (mis)applied to Canada with broad strokes.

The real reason for implementing BSL in Ontario was due to a number of serious bites immediately preceding 2005 (the year it became effective). Dog attacks were also the reason the First Nations community of Membertou in Cape Breton implemented a pit bull ban immediately after a pit bull attacked an elder and her grandchild, which coincided with “several other instances of close calls.”

From the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act:

In nonfatal aggressive incidents, the pit bull did rank highest in 2000 and 2001 (2.84 bite incidents per 100 licensed dogs of this breed type) in 1 Canadian municipality (Edmonton, Alberta). Other breeds that followed in this municipality included the rottweiler (1.60 bite incidents per 100 licensed), Akita (1.52), mastiff (1.47), Dalmatian (1.40), and Great Dane (1.21).”

In 2004, the last full year before the ban, there were 984 licensed pit bulls in Toronto and 168 reported bites. In 2013 there were 501 pit bulls registered in the city, and just 13 bites, according to a Toronto Star investigation.

The Ottawa Citizen has reported that:

“Most of the dogs Ottawa bylaw officers have sought to have destroyed as dangerous have been pit bulls, according to statistics released by the city. The city has initiated 10 prosecutions against owners who allegedly let their dogs bite another person or pet since the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act was passed in 2005. Seven of the dogs were pit bull types.”

 

5. Snopes Conclusion At-Odds With Competing Debunkers

politifact-imageFinally, Binkowski’s conclusion about BSL is at odds with that of rival fact-checking website Politifact, who found the statement that pit bulls were inordinantly dangerous to be “mostly true.”

“The past studies and research we’ve reviewed shows pit bulls are among the most aggressive dogs. Some breeds, however, have been shown to be more aggressive in each report.  However, the widely held perception is that they are dangerous, which was Boyer’s over-arching point. An Associated Press poll done in October found of the dog owners who would support breed bans, 85 percent would outlaw pit bulls.”

6.  Snopes Conclusion Not Researched In Accordance With The International Fact-Checking Network Declaration It Signed

Snopes,  as a signatory, clearly did not use the same standard of care for this article as they normally do  for every other fact check. There is a built-in bias if the writer of the article does indeed own a pit bull as has been suggested on social media sites – is this Binkowski posting about pit bulls on Live Journal in 2012?  If so,  it’s very illustrative of a pre-existing bias. Snopes needs to follow the code and recall this article.

 

Summation

It’s very tiring to read of shady attempts to distort the facts. Common sense would tell you that bans on breed restrictions have everything to do with the safety of the public at large and nothing to do with the race, class and ethnicity of the people who own those dogs since the law is applied to everyone.   It is also morally bereft to claim that it’s OK to patch up people after-the-fact when an attack has a chance to be prevented in the first place. Making a person “whole” again after an attack isn’t nearly as positive as preventing the attack altogether. BSL cannot prevent all dog attacks but it is designed to prevent the worst sort of maulings by dogs with the greatest propensity to commit them.

Binkowski cites the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, the American Bar Association, AVMA,  HSUS, the ASPCA, and the Toronto Humane Society, among other lesser known references and publications.  In addition to those aforementioned groups, Best Friends, the AKC, Bad Rap, Pit Bull Rescue Central, and various other Humane Societies are all lobbying partners of professional pit bull advocacy.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is a professional group; sometimes its journal publishes articles with scientific intent. Other times it publishes articles that are intended to protect financial interests of its members — and in those cases, its “peer review” is done by hand-picked “peers” who will reject anything that doesn’t support a purely political position the AVMA or other self-interested groups are protecting.  None of these groups or the NCRC/Animal Farm Foundation are qualified to comment on the effectiveness of BSL or the impact to society of dog bites, which are a public health issue and are the purview of epidemiologists and those holding Masters of Public Health degrees or similar educational achievements.

Perhaps non-science writers can be forgiven for not understanding what constitutes a scientific study or the “peer review” process and what a “peer-reviewed journal” is. There are plenty of impartial, scientific journals out there, whose peer review process is to guard scientific integrity. However, there are also as many journals founded and funded by an industry or a professional group, whose peer-review is intended to protect the interests of that industry or group.

 

Still, Snopes is pretty accurate and I’ll continue to rely on them for myths, email rumours, and urban legends.  Snopes’ accuracy is not a foregone conclusion with more complex issues such as the efficacy of BSL or vaccine conspiracies (they recently declared that Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein was not an anti-vaxxer, but I believe that the truth is less obvious).  Journalists should examine the full scope of the available evidence, whether they agree with it or not.  Avoiding biases in journalism is an important component of rationalism.  Merely repeating the propaganda does not challenge views or compel people to face facts.

 

 

Remembering The Animals That Served Alongside Our Soldiers

Standard

war horsesThe demise of most equines in the war was largely due to the modern invention of the machine gun that cut them down unmercifully. Many died from disease, starvation, or exposure; horses were often reduced to shivering bags of skin and bones, even resorting to chewing on their own blankets for food. Exploding mortars, barbed wire, mange, thirst, wounds, and parasite infestation, were all contributing factors to injury and death.

Exhaustion and disease such as Grass Sickness and bouts of colic claimed many victims. To add insult to injury, unwanted warhorses were auctioned off and sold to butchers at the war’s conclusion.Next to our connection with dogs and cats, perhaps the deepest bond humans have developed over time is with horses.  In my opinion, the horse has done more for us than any other domesticated animal – that is, horses lie at the very foundation of our human civilization.

I wanted to share an op-ed piece from the Calgary Herald, published November 19, 2015. Carol Tracey is an advocate/activist for animal welfare and the environment who often quotes Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did….

By Carol Tracey

Whether attending a Remembrance Day service or simply paying respects to those who gave their lives in conflicts, how many people actually study the sculpture of the men and horses at the core of the National War Memorial in Ottawa?

A comment on one of the war memorial sites states: “The sculptor did an amazing job of capturing the raw emotion of the men.” I believe that the horses were sculpted to impart the very real fear that they, too, must have felt. And how many people realize that, on Nov. 3, 2012, another monument was unveiled in Confederation Park in Ottawa honouring the contribution of animals in war?

Staggering numbers of animals have been involved in war efforts, including millions of horses. Other species, either as mascots or as working animals, included dogs, pigeons, mules, canaries, donkeys, cats and goats, and even glow worms. Dogs and horses are still utilized by the military in a variety of arenas, including offering solace to soldiers suffering with PTSD.

During the First World War, eight million horses were killed, another two and a half million injured while they toiled in horrendous conditions 26898830_mltransporting soldiers and equipment through the muck on the battlefields. The majority of these horses were acquired from their owners in the United States and Canada, and from the farms and factories in England. Some of these animals have received the Dickin Medal (some posthumously) for exceptional bravery — one of them being Warrior, who was the inspiration for the book, movie and play War Horse.

In 1943, the Dickin Medal of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals was instituted by the charity’s founder, Maria Dickin. It is recognized as the highest award with which an animal may be feted while serving in military conflict. It is equivalent to an animal receiving the Victoria Cross. Since its introduction, 65 of these prestigious medals have been awarded to 29 dogs, 32 Second World War messenger pigeons, three horses (not including Warrior) and one cat. The last recipient was a military working dog named Sasha, who died while on patrol in Afghanistan. She was awarded the medal, posthumously, in May 2014.

So many of these animals were a source of comfort and safety to the soldiers. Lieut.-Col. John McCrae’s dog companion was Bonneau, whom he befriended at Ypres in 1915, and Gander, a Newfoundland dog, was instrumental in saving the lives of Canadian infantrymen during the battle of Lye Mun in December 1941 by seizing a live grenade that had landed near the soldiers. Gander died when the grenade exploded. His name is etched on the Hong Kong Veterans’ Memorial Wall that was unveiled in August 2009.

In the camps, cats and dogs offered respite from the rigours of battle and many of the horse drivers were especially caring of their charges. Some drivers believed that these animals were capable of a sensitivity that many humans lack and were heartbroken when, after the war, their horses were not allowed to accompany them home.

Who is familiar with Sergeant Bill, Saskatchewan’s most famous goat, who is a First World War decorated hero? Bill chdc wreathsaved the lives of soldiers while he was on the front lines by head butting them out of the path of a shell. Wounded during the line of duty, Bill was promoted to sergeant, and when the war ended, he was reunited with his owner.

Probably the most famous mascot was Winnie, a black bear cub, who was a favourite with the soldiers. However, when her owner, Lieut. Harry Colebourn, was ordered to France, he arranged for Winnie to be housed at the London Zoo. A statue of this famous bear has been on display since 1981.

Monuments around the world that recognize the exploits of soldiers very rarely, if ever, acknowledge the immense contribution and sacrifices of the millions of animals who had no choice in serving their countries. These animals deserve a special place in Canada’s history, and the Animals in War Dedication, located in Confederation Park, is a fitting tribute and a solemn reminder of the debt we owe them.

Trail Of Tears For Missing Horses Sargon And Apollo

Standard
Trail Of Tears For Missing Horses Sargon And Apollo

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Bad things sometimes happen to good people.  In particular,  people loaning horses out for therapy programs would never imagine stealing a horse so it’s incomprehensible if it happens to them.  It may seem obvious to us that someone who sells or gives away your horse without your permission has essentially stolen him or her,  it’s generally considered a civil matter,  quite unlike what happens when someone cuts your fence and steals your horse directly off your property.  In contrast,  a civil matter is considered a dispute between two parties – if the police decide your case is civil,  they will generally decline to treat it as a crime.  Durham police have  assigned a detective to the case of at least one of the two missing Ontario horses, Sargon and Apollo.  Since the same parties are allegedly involved in the disappearance of more than one horse, perhaps the police have taken the view that an investigation needs to be undertaken to satisfy public interests?

WHO IS LIABLE WHEN LOANED HORSES ARE NOT RETURNED TO THEIR OWNERS ON DEMAND?

Leasing or free board arrangements permit a horse owner who loves their horse, but cannot keep him or hasn’t time to ride him – to lend him to a rider that can maintain him while the owner still has control. “Sent out for training” is a common excuse given when horses disappear from the farms where they have been placed.  The chain of custody for many missing horses often cannot be more opaque, with horses changing hands several times without parties to these transactions necessarily being unaware of the status of the missing horse.  This is why it’s a good practice to check all horses out online when you are considering buying or adopting.

The RCMP website informs us that the police will only investigate alleged fraud under certain circumstances:

“Major fraud within the Commercial Crime Program mandate can be defined as fraud cases of provincial, national or international significance (having due regard for contractual obligations with the provinces) in which one or more of the following elements are present (Corporate Fraud,  credit fraud, investment fraud, securities fraud, mass marketing fraud):

  • one or more of the RCMP strategic priorities (i.e. Organized Crime)
  • substantial value or financial losses
  • substantial impact on victims
  • high degree of criminal sophistication
  • requirement for special investigative expertise
  • municipal, provincial, or federal governments as victim
  • satisfying public or national interest”

There’s an old saying that bears repeating – “you will never meet a con-man you don’t like.” While a lease agreement won’t prevent a horse from disappearing if someone has the intent, a written agreement may be a deterrent against someone who impulsively decides to help themselves after identifying a target.  If someone won’t agree to a contract in writing,  walk away.

TIME MARCHES ON QUICKLY WHEN HORSES GO MISSING…

help-my-horse-is-gone

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition publishes this document to help horse owners locate their horses or get word to the slaughterhouses that a horse has been stolen. Applicable to both Canadians and Americans. Click to view.

You wonder what is happening to the horse…  Is he or she OK;  is someone hurting them?  What is the horse thinking about where he or she now is?  It doesn’t matter if you are pro or anti-slaughter – both sides know that when a horse is taken from you all you can do is think of ways to bring your horse home.

The heartbreak of owners Kim Wilson and Kayla Whatling  is reminiscent of that experienced by American Vicky Johnson, who has invested years into her own personal search for her missing and much loved mares Suzy and Echo, who were apparently sold to a slaughter horse buyer after being promised a caring home. Almost everything told to Vicky about the whereabouts of her horses was a lie, but both had received phenylbutazone and other drugs and medications, prohibited from entering the food chain. No one was ever punished for this crime against Vicky and her horses either.

Unlike with the “traditional” farm animals, there is truly no verification system in place to ensure that horses who do go to slaughter are sent there by those with rightful legal ownership.  Horses sold to slaughterhouses or kill buyers without the owner’s knowledge or permission are sold with Equine Information Documents (EIDs) that were fabricated during the last leg of the horses’ journey to the plant, often by someone who has owned the horse for a few days or weeks if that. Such individuals have no basis to make any claim that the horse has not received any prohibited substances.  Saying you don’t remember whether you shipped a horse or that “many horses look the same” is not an excuse.  In fact, since many horses do look similar this is further testament to the fact that the EIDs do not sufficiently identify them or differentiate between them with any degree of certainty.

Here are scans of the Toronto Sun articles on the missing horses Sargon and Apollo – these articles from the newspaper contain additional information written by The Sun’s crime reporter Chris Doucette, which was not provided in the online versions. With these articles, Mr. Doucette joins the ranks of investigative journalists Mary Ormsby and Dale Brazao of the Toronto Star in addressing the profound shortcomings of the horsemeat trade in Canada.

In the past the Toronto Sun has featured various articles about “bad boy culinists” who promoted  the eating of horsemeat in their restaurants, so this series of articles is definitely a welcome divergence.  [I hope a few foodies and restaurateurs serving horsemeat in Toronto see these articles as well…]

 

[Click on each article to embiggen to read]

 

all-the-missing-horses

sold-for-hamburger

incredibly-wrong

she-wants-to-make-it-right

canada-hot-to-trot

Food Scientist Claims “Liquid Poured On Pigs” A Biosecurity Risk #PIGTRIAL

Standard

toronto-pig-save-transport-11Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“…. the actions of these activists simply aren’t safe – not only not for themselves, the truck drivers and their pigs. But also for the consumers,”  writes Keith Warriner,  Professor of Food Science at the University of Guelph.The seemingly humane gesture of feeding water to pigs can actually jeopardize the system and impact the food you serve to your family.The trial taking place in Toronto has touched upon various angles of this incident. But the key issue is the interference with food safety. For anyone who eats pork, this is a product of a food processing system. And it’s absolutely essential that it’s produced in a closed system that hasn’t been tampered with.”

Dr Warriner recently chose to write a guest column that appeared in the Toronto and Winnipeg Sun papers.  Instead of providing an evidence-based opinion on any one of the prevalent food-related pathways to disease and sickness in Canada,  he chose to write about the “unknown liquid” that Anita Krajnc and other Toronto Pig Save activists had given to pigs on the day Dr. Krajnc was charged. It doesn’t appear that anyone believes that there were contaminants in the water the activists have given to the pigs before or since Anita’s arrest – apparently neither Fearman’s Pork nor Van Boekel Hog Farms believes this,  otherwise,  the animals would not have been slaughtered for food.  Neither does the CFIA apparently believe the pigs were contaminated,  since they issued no recall that I could find.  If there was the slightest belief that the water was poisoned,  the bottles would have been confiscated and the water tested.  To the best of my knowledge,  there was no economic loss resultant to the watering of the pigs and NO CRIME HAD BEEN COMMITTED.

The CFIA classifies recalls based on the level of health risk associated with the food product being recalled. High risk triggers include illness outbreaks,  food test results, inspection img_0560findings,  and consumer complaints.  In 2014 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued 714 recalls, following 467 recalls  in 2013 and 595 in 2012, Undeclared allergens (unlisted ingredients or product mislabeling) and microbial contaminations make up the majority of recalls,  according to Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at the University of Guelph’s Food Institute.

The Red Meat Condemnation report from Agriculture Canada provides a testament to the true brutality of both the transport and slaughter operations.  In 2015, 20,244,822 pigs were slaughtered,  and 7.02 pigs per thousand slaughtered were found dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse.  That amounts to 14,221 pigs.  Almost as many pigs were condemned on ante-mortem inspection for abscesses, peritonitis, arthritis, pneumonia, septicemia, emaciation, hepatitis, bruising, hernia, fracture, and many other conditions, suggesting that perhaps more were in very poor condition upon arrival at the slaugherhouse.  According to CFIA prosecution notices for that same year,  no one was convicted of anything as a result.

kindness-to-pigs-on-a-cattle-trainI hope our food scientists will continue to bring attention to serious risks in the food supply,  rather than trying to pick off the “low-hanging fruit” that are the protests at slaughterhouses.  I would like to propose that Dr. Warriner write an article condemning the abuse of transport and the risks of veterinary drug contamination with horse slaughter in Canada.  Certainly horse slaughter is not a closed system – non-farmers are dealing in drugged meat with false and incomplete EIDs, concealing incompetence and deceit, often at the highest levels.  In fact,  I plan to send him an email asking him to do exactly that.

Those activists who wish to expose inhumane farming practices and give water to animals enroute to slaughter are not terrorists. Dr. Warriner,  I cannot respect your attempts to try and criminalize activism.  Please respect the right of thoughtful citizens to express what they see as a moral outrage. Videos of activists providing water to pigs have mobilized a movement towards improving the quality of life of pigs, chickens, and cows.  In the absence of the animal welfare movement, there is an obvious race to the bottom.

 

gerry-ritz-listeriosis-copy

When the news first broke that an outbreak of Listeriosis had resulted in the deaths of several Canadians, you might expect the minister responsible for food safety, to immediately step in, or at least take the matter seriously. Instead,  former Ag. Minister Gerry Ritz actually thought the whole matter rather funny, so much so that he immediately joked about the demise of the victims. Forget that it was under his watch – his funny bone was tickled and he wanted to share the feeling.

A look back at recent outbreaks and recalls in Canada,  courtesy of @Barfblog’s contributors, including Drs. Powell, Chapman, Hubbell and assorted food safety lecturers at Barfblog.com  – the unofficial internet gatekeepers on food-related illness and terrible reality cooking shows…

From toxic mothballs to blister beetles in food, there are no cautionary mentions of illness caused by the “tampering” of food by animal activists.

 

At The 11th Hour, Paranoid Hunting And Fishing Groups Lobby Hard Against Bill C-246

Standard

31642869_l

Every year in Canada more than 100,000 complaints of animal cruelty are investigated  Today,  Nathaniel  Erskine-Smith’s private member’s bill, C-246, goes to a vote to see if it will move forward to a Commons Committee.  “There’s been a ton of confusion about the bill. Am I giving animals rights? The right not to be tortured and abused, if we want to call those rights,” Erskine-Smith said in the House last week. Additionally, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies CEO Barbara Cartwright says she’s baffled by some of the opposition, saying it’s based on hyperbole and irrational fear, given that the bill is clearly aimed at criminal, deviant behaviour.“This is about ending animal abuse, not ending animal use.What does ensuring that all animals are protected from sexual abuse have to do with fishing? What does animal fighting have to do with farming practices? What does it have to do with hunting? They aren’t linked.”

In this ideological battle, the pre-Darwinian thinkers who oppose reasonable updates to an ancient law, have not responded to reason, and have taken out full page ads in The Hill Times (paid subscription required to view) Canada’s political newsweekly for October 3, 2016.

the-truth-about-bill-c-246

 

csia-on-bill-c-246