Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Animal Law Site For You Legal Eagle Geeks


This is a great site for you....law talking...guys or girls...

They have an extensive database. For instance, I didn't know Washington State has a bill pending to certify animal massage practitioners. And to think, I could be getting paid 75.00 an hour to massage the back of a golden retriever...

Members of Congress Who Support Animals Killing Each Other For Entertainment

Here is a list of the Members of Congress who opposed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Act, which was signed into law by our Glorious Leader back on May 3rd. Geez, I bet even Dick Cheney supported this one (does anyone think it would have been signed if he opposed it?).

Ron Paul is one of those that opposed it as well. Maybe someone should ask him on the campaign trail why he supports animals ripping each other apart for fun and profit.

Here is the bill summary:

Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007 - Amends the federal criminal code to impose a fine and/or prison term of up to three years for violations of the Animal Welfare Act relating to: (1) sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture; (2) buying, selling, transporting, delivering, or receiving for purposes of transportation, in interstate or foreign commerce, any dog or other animal for participation in an animal fighting venture; and (3) using the mails or other instrumentality of interstate commerce to promote or further an animal fighting venture.

Amends the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit knowingly selling, buying, transporting, or delivering, in interstate or foreign commerce, a knife, a gaffe, or any other sharp instrument for attachment to the leg of a bird for use in an animal fighting venture.

Joe Barton Texas District 6
Roy Blunt Missouri District 7
John Boehner Ohio District 8
Dan Boren Oklahoma District 2
Kevin Brady Texas District 8
Chris Cannon Utah District 3
Eric Cantor District 7
Tom Cole Oklahoma District 4
Michael Conaway Texas District 11
David Davis Tennessee District 1
Diaz-Balart, L. Florida District 21
Diaz-Balart, M. Florida District 25
John Doolittle California District 4
Virginia Foxx North Carolina District 5
Scott Garrett NJ District 5
Louis Gohmert Texas District 1
Sam Graves Missouri District 6
Robin Hayes North Carolina District 8
Jeb Hensarling Texas District 5
Ruben Hinojosa Texas District 15
Sam Johnson Texas District 3
Steve King Iowa District 5
Jack Kingston Georgia District1
Doug Lamborn Colorado District 5
John Lewis Kentucky District 5
Frank Lucas Oklahoma District 5
Connie Mack Florida District 14
Randy Neugebauer Texas District 19
Ron Paul Texas District 14
Ted Poe Texas District 2
Mike Rogers Alabama District 3
Bill Sali Idaho District 1
James F Sensenbrenner Wisconsin District 5
Adrian Smith Nebraska District 3
Cliff Stearns Florida District 6
John Sullivan Oklahoma District 1
Mac Thornberry Texas District 13
Lynn Westmoreland Georgia District 3rd
Don Young Alaska At Large

Rawlings Cuts Sponsorship With Guy That Had 17 Dead Dogs Buried On His Property

Looks like another Vick sponsorship down the drain.

According to the press release on their website (which has a rockin' soundtrack by the way):

Rawlings recognizes that Mr. Vick has not been convicted of the charges stemming from this indictment. However, we have determined that ending our relationship with Mr. Vick at this time is necessary.


Short and sweet.

First They Came For Our Bear Gall Bladders

What is it with the Chinese and their desire to eat all our wildlife? In this instance, it's turtles hunted legally. But, it looks like they are disappearing fast.

An average of 94,442 turtles per year are taken by dealers, mostly for export from the state, according to figures from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request showed more than 267,000 wild turtles were exported to Hong Kong from Dallas from 2002 to 2005, said Chris Jones, an environmental attorney who has lobbied for turtle protections.

Monday, July 30, 2007

And You Thought Dog Fighting Was Bad...

Welcome to the world of HOG DOG FIGHTING.

At first, I really thought this was a joke. But here is an article on the website of the Humane Society of the United States about this bizarre little-known blood sport.

I won't go into details because it is just nasty. "Hog" is just another name for highly sensitive and intelligent pigs. Even if they are feral, hogs are not fighting animals.

But here is a snippet so you can also bask in the glory of this noble sport that takes place in various rural areas of southern states. Apparently, there are also "kiddie" games too where children can chase the wounded hog. Classy.

Hog dogging, hawg dawgin', hog baiting, hog dog "rodeos": They're all terms for a bloodsport known as hog dog fighting. An owner leads his trained pit bull into an enclosed pen. She lunges and pulls so hard on the leash that she soon stands erect on her hind legs, her face fixed in a snarl. Her guttural growl erases any doubt that she is unsure of her purpose.

At the other end of the ring, the "handler" shoves a feral pig, or hog, through a chute into the pen. He will use a cattle prod if the hog, who has faced these dogs before, hesitates. And just in case the hog had any notion of trying to defend himself, the handler has already taken the precaution of removing his tusks with bolt cutters.

The pit bull’s owner removes her leash. Before you can count to three-one-thousand, the dog tackles the hog in a cloud of dust. Her jaws tear into the hog’s flesh, maybe ripping his snout, tail, or an ear. The hog expresses his pain and fear through loud squeals that echo off the pen's tin walls. The crowd is pleased; the dog pins the hog to the ground in a mere seven seconds. As with a wrestling pin, the mandatory three seconds elapse, and the operator declares the dog victorious. Adults and children cheer for the fast, powerful dog.

Vick Speaks Out in Radio Interview

Vick called into WVEE's Porsche Foxx radio show today.

I just want to thank all my fans and all my support and all the people that are praying for Mike Vick and are in my corner right now. It's a crisis situation for me, but I'm going to get through it and I feel, by the grace of God, that's the only way. I believe in the outcome at the end, and that's why I put my faith in the man upstairs. It pains me not be down there right now because I know so many people want to see me and I want to be there.

Here is a link to the station
, which has the audio of the call. The DJ is pretty sympathetic to his plight.

Another Brick in the Jail Cell

Vick Co-Defendent Tony Taylor has accepted a plea deal.

I kind of expected this. Anybody connected with this thing will gladly throw him overboard in order to get off with a lighter sentence. And since he is alleged to have financed this whole enterprise, it's not like he's a bit player who happens to be famous. This is all about him.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Animal Activists Continue To Go After Arthur Rosenbaum

Dr. Rosenbaum is the UCLA eye doctor who does experiments on monkeys to correct severe cross eyes. A couple weeks ago, someone put an incendiary device next to his car which failed to explode. Now they are offering a $110,000 reward in that case.

Yesterday, this website posted an ominous communique about a package mailed to his residence.

Scholarship on Animals in Russian Culture

I just think this is so interesting because it is so unusual...a conference on "The Other Animals: Situating the Non-Human in Russian Culture and History." The conference was held last May and was co-sponsored by Virginia Tech and Bates College.

Here is some of the research presented....

"Ann Kleimola (University of Nebraska) highlighted the importance of Vladimir Durov's animal-training career in shifting popular understandings of non-human intelligence and behavior. In "A Legacy of Kindness: V. L. Durov's Revolutionary Approach to Animal Training," Kleimola noted that although Durov lacks the household recognition of Pavlov, the popularity of his exceptional circus acts consistently undermined the traditional understanding of "stupid animals."

"Arja Rosenholm's (University of Tampere) paper, "On Men and Horses: Animal Imagery and Construction of Russian Masculinities," examined the gendered nature of animal imagery with a specific interest in the association of masculinity with horsemanship."

"Utilizing both nineteenth-century sources and contemporary field records, Mikhail Alekseevsky (State Republican Center of Russian Folklore) examined the methods employed by peasants in caring for animals in his paper, "Treating 'The Other Animals': Russian Ethnoveterinary Practices in the Context of Folk Medicine."

Amy Nelson's (Virginia Tech) "The Body of the Beast: Animal Protection and Anti-Cruelty Legislation in Imperial Russia" examined animal protection legislation in contemporary Russia and placed its origins in the legal debates surrounding the Great Reforms of the nineteenth century."

Thanks to H-Net H-Animal Discussion Network for summarizing the conference.

The Legacy of Dian Fossey

I've never seen Gorillas in the Mist nor have I ever read a biography of Dian Fossey. Everything I know about her is from bits and pieces of information I've gleaned from articles about mountain gorillas and from my membership in the organization Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Based on that information though, I am a great admirer of her work and the legacy she has left behind.

Things are tough for the mountain gorillas. Despite the protection of park rangers, six were just lost. Not only are they faced with poaching, but the Virunga National Forest, where they live, lies in parts of Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda. These places have been ravaged by civil war and military patrols. Many war refugees found their way into the forest and began burning trees for wood, decimating habitat. Here's an article that provides a great history of recent challenges.

Although I am a big fan of all primates, mountain gorillas are especially beautiful to me. I'm not sure if it's because I feel a kinship to them or if it's because their babies are just darn cute. There are only 700 left in the world with about half in Virunga.

There are naysayers who complain about why people like Dian Fossey worry about the mountain gorillas when so many people are dying and suffering in that region. Again, this is an example of how animal life is a reflection of human life. When these gorillas are safe and secure, it is because the region is safe and secure. When they are threatened, it is usually because humans are suffering too.

Their threatened existence is a tragedy for both species.

Hand Over Your Chimps!

Sierra Leone is cracking down on citizens who are keeping chimpanzees as pets.

On national radio, wildlife authorities also said the chimps should be turned over to rangers rather than sold and warned that failure to comply with the new measures would mean a stiff penalty of 1,000 dollars (730 euros).

"Chimpanzees must not be kept as pets or sold. Buyers locally or internationally are strictly warned not to engage in the trade," the statement said.

Conservationists say the primates are slowly becoming an endangered species in war-scarred Sierra Leone due to the depletion of forests and illegal hunting.

Dogs for Rent

I'm not sure how I feel about this thing. Flex Petz is a company that allows people to sign up as members, and then reserve a dog for a day. Part of me feels like this is a typical to-busy-for-commitment society we live in. On the other hand, there are genuine pet lovers who may not be able to keep a pet for one reason or another.

Of course there are always dogs at shelters who need walking and attention from volunteers.

Here is the company website
. It's an interesting concept, and it looks like the animals are well taken care of.

Animals, Bullfighting and Sports

Here is a good article about sports and animals in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I don't buy into that Hemingway-inspired mythology of bullfighting as metaphor for life one iota. It's not graceful. It's not artistic. And it's certainly not sport. What it is, is torture of large animals for the amusement of smaller ones. Namely, people.

Therefore, I take great amusement in watching and reading about idiots in white judo pajamas and dashing red bandanas getting gored by bulls in Pamplona. Serves 'em right. Go, bulls!


Rats Like Us

Here is an article in the NY Times about rats and their remarkably sophisticated personalities. And here is the money quote:

When it comes to sex, the analogies between rats and humans are “profound,” said James G. Pfaus of Concordia University in Montreal. “It’s not simply instinctual for them,” he said. “Rats know what good sex is and what bad sex is. And when they have reason to anticipate great sex, they give you every indication they’re looking forward to it.”

OK. Are we talking about going through the Kama Sutra here? What exactly is "good sex" to a rat? Hat tip to Pam on Myspace for the link.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

You Cut One Puppy's Head Off With A Chainsaw and They Brand You For Life

The South African court let this guy off with a suspended sentence after he cut the head off a husky puppy with a chainsaw. And now he says he's being "victimized" by his neighbors in his small town who call him the "Chainsaw Massacrer". Boo hoo. And frankly, I think those people need to work on their nicknames.

The worst part is, he gets to keep his other dogs. But he can't own another husky except the one he already has (and hasn't yet decapitated). You decide who the bigger moron is, the puppy killer or the magistrate.

Animals in Britain Need Your Help

Britain has had some horrible flooding, and like during Katrina, a lot of animals need rescuing as well.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
is accepting donations on-line if you want to help out (and you don't have to be in the UK to donate). The pound is at about 2 dollars if you live in the US and want to help.

Got Horse Meat?

Well if not, and you live in Europe, help is on the way.

A southern Saskatchewan meat processor is bringing its workforce back up to 100 per cent by processing horse meat for sale in Europe.

Ken Piller, president of the producer-owned Natural Valley Farms, said the company will begin processing horses in a week or two for a custom contract for the European Union (EU). The horses will be slaughtered at Natural Valley's plant near Neudorf and processed at its Wolseley facility.

Check out the people riding horses on the website. You ride 'em, then you get to eat 'em.

Dogfighting in Europe

We've been writing a lot about the Michael Vick story here, and I was wondering about whether this goes on in Europe. Here is an interesting history of dogfighting, which can be traced back to Roman times. Certainly dogs were used against other animals:

From Peoriahs.org:


The modern ‘sport’ of dog fighting has its origins in the Coliseum combats of ancient Rome. Emperor Lucullus was reputedly the first to initiate the practice of pitting dogs against other animals: a group of dogs would be thrown into the Coliseum, doomed to be trampled to death by wild elephants.

Following the fall of Rome, the practice of fighting dogs made its reappearance in medieval England. Beginning in at least the 12th Century, such practices as bull and bear baiting, in addition to mortal combats between dogs and lions or elephants, became increasingly popular. In Elizabethan London, on the south banks of the Thames, a popular attraction was the Bear Gardens – an attraction that even Queen Elizabeth graced. Indeed, royal approval of bear baiting included the appointment of an official ‘Master of the Bears and Dogs.’


There is certainly an underground in the US for this barbaric practice. Do any of you European readers (or Asian and African for that matter) have any information about this? Email us at critternews at excite.com. We'd really like to hear about it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Reebok Suspends Sale of Vick Jerseys.

Following Nike's announcement, Reebok has suspended sales of Vick products:

While we respect the legal process we find the allegations against Mr. Vick too disturbing to ignore; therefore, we have decided to immediately suspend selling Vick NFL products, both at retail and online through the Reebok Web site. In addition, Reebok has honored retail cancellations of Vick NFL jerseys.


Here is what Nike said last week:

Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent. We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen, therefore, we have not terminated our relationship. We have however made the decision to suspend the release of the Zoom Vick V and related marketing communications. Nike will continue to monitor the situation closely and have no further comment at this time.

No big surprise there. Even if he is innocent, he's still the guy that had 17 dead dogs that were dug up on his property. I'm sure when possible, they will have necropsies done. I wonder if any of them have bullets in their brains. Or broken necks. Or severe injuries from being slammed to the ground. Or maybe this part of the indictment isn't true:

In or about April 2007, PEACE, PHILIPS, and VICK executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in "testing" sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road, by various methods including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground.


Maybe it's not true. But still there are those 17 dead dogs on his property.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vick's Big Gun

I guess it's no surprise that when you have a lot of money, you can hire a pretty decent lawyer.

Attorney Billy Martin is an accomplished litigator, with a strong background in and out of government.

He is currently a partner in the DC based law firm Blank Rome LLC. In addition to serving as an Assistant US Attorney, he also served as a special counsel to the City of Cincinnati during a police brutality probe. He represented Monica Lewinsky's mother during the Clinton scandal, and represented the parents of Chandra Levy.

Back in 2003, the Washingtonian magazine had him at number 4 of the top 30 Washington DC lawyers:

William R. Martin (Blank Rome). Billy Martin has handled a string of cases for athletes, including the Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson, then–Washington Wizards Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland, and boxer Riddick Bowe. But he came into his own this year by successfully defending basketball player Jayson Williams on charges of aggravated manslaughter in the shooting of his driver. Not all of Martin’s work is about sports. He has represented parents of both Monica Lewinsky and murdered Washington intern Chandra Levy. This is one Billy Martin that not even George Steinbrenner would fire.

Michael Vick Releases Statement on Dogfighting Charges

From Vick Attorney Billy Martin:

Today Michael Vick entered a plea of not guilty and asserted his innocence to the charges in the indictment.

As we prepare for trial, we'd like to remind the public that these are only allegations, not facts. This case will be tried in the courts, not the media.

We are conducting our own investigation into these allegations and look forward to clearing Michael's name and vindicating him of these charges.

Mike has asked me to read this statement on his behalf:

'Today in court, I pleaded innocent to the allegations made against me. I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my name. I respectfully ask you all to hold your judgment until all the facts are shown. Above all, I'm sorry my mom has to go through this most trying time and the pain it has caused my family. I also want to apologize to my Falcon teammates for not being with them today at the beginning of training. There is nowhere I'd rather be today than in camp with my team.'"

Michael Vick's legal defense team consists of Billy Martin of Washington, D.C.; Daniel Meachum of Atlanta, GA; Lawrence Woodward Jr. and Tom Shuttleworth of Virginia Beach, VA; and James D. Williams of Durham, NC. Michael Vick

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nascar Racer Greg Biffle's Foundation For Animals

Greg Biffle is from my home state of Washington, and is a Nascar driver for Roush Racing. He's also, it turns out, a real animal lover.

Check out this site for his foundation.

The Greg Biffle Foundation for Animals was founded in 2005 by Greg Biffle and Nicole Lunders to create awareness and serve as an advocate to improve the well-being of animals by engaging the power and passion of the motorsports industry. The foundation donates to local Humane Societies, no-kill animal shelters, spay and neuter clinics and the Animal Adoption League.

Greg has had 11 wins, 30 top fives and 50 top ten finishes in his 5 years in the Nextel Cup series (the top echelon for you non-racing readers). In 2007 Biffle was ranked 16th.

So, if you watch auto racing (you can probably tell I do), you know who to root for.

Protests Planned For Vick Arraignment

Looks like PETA will be out in force for the Vick arraignment. What they can posssibly add to this spectacle, I don't know. With all due respect, I hope groups like this don't try to make this a story about themselves.

I don't think demonstrating is going to make people any more "aware" of dog fighting than the front page stories about Vick's alleged involvment in this. I'd rather the cameras focus in on him.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Emergency Planning for Pets

Please remember to include your pets in any disaster and emergency planning. Here is some helpful information from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to help you.

This has been a "public service announcement" from your Critter News team!

Japan Killing Pregnant Whales

It looks like Japan is killing for two now.

More than half of about 500 whales killed by Japan in Antarctic waters during the last southern summer were pregnant, the Humane Society International (HSI) charged Tuesday.

The global arm of the US-based animal welfare group said the figure was based on a review of Japan's own reports on the latest annual hunt, which Tokyo says is carried out for scientific research purposes.

Of the 505 minke whales killed, 262 were pregnant, while one of the three fin whales killed was also pregnant, HSI said.


Australians, take note of the outlook for the next hunt...

Based on their past hunting grounds, we expect 90 percent of the hunt [in Antarctic water] to be conducted within the Australian Whale Sanctuary, and a large proportion of the females to be pregnant," HSI said.

Did the Octopus get a reward?

Octopus caught in South Korean nets had some valuable pottery shards from the medievel period attached to their tentacles. As a result of tracing the shards, archaelogists discovered a treasure trove of the ancient pottery in a sunken 12th-century vessel.

Of course, it's unclear whether anyone thanked the octopus, or at least let them out of the nets.

US Dept. of Interior May Reverse Some Decisions on Wildlife

Looks like a little political pressure goes a long way.

After forcing out Julie MacDonald, the deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, they are now trying to reverse some of the damage she has done. They found that:

...she had violated federal rules by giving government documents to lobbyists for industry. The agency’s inspector general also found several instances in which Ms. MacDonald browbeat department biologists and habitat specialists and overruled their recommendations to protect a variety of rare and threatened species.


A Bush appointee who has no respect for science and a tool of industry lobbyists. Big Surprise.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bear Poaching a Continuing Problem

Bear bile continues to be a hot commodity in Asia.

Front-line poachers aren't likely to get more than $50 or $100 for a bear gallbladder, but the price increases as it makes its way to production and is processed into ointments, powders or liquids. Middlemen usually get about $235 per gallbladder in Canada. When processed and smuggled to Asia, however, the products from one gallbladder can sell for as much as $45,000.

In countries such as China, Korea and Vietnam, demand is so great that there are now bear farms, where the animals are kept in tiny cages with tubes stuck into their gallbladders to drain the bile. Yet, ironically, the farms have made Canadian bears more valuable because people believe bile from wild bears is more potent than bile from farmed bears, said Cliffe.

Vick Ordered To Stay Away From Training Camp

I suspect this is the beginning of the end of his football career. Even if he were found innocent, do they really want a guy who had dead dogs buried all over his property?

Vick is to be arraigned on Thursday, the same day that the Falcon's training camp begins.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Alleged Secret Dog Fighting Operation Not So Secret

Hmmm, makes me wonder what the local sheriff was doing.

From the article:

The house that Michael Vick is alleged to have used to train pit bulls for dog fights is on a long rural road that is described by locals as the essence of country living.

Or, perhaps we should say, used to be described that way.

Everything changed, they say, when Vick purchased the property at 1915 Moonlight Rd. in Smithfield, Va., in 2001. Soon there was so much noise from the dogs that, according to one woman who lives a mile down the block, "Everybody has been calling the sheriff. It's been reported for years. It wasn't that hidden. The house sits right there by the road. You go by there and you know something's going on."

Maybe the sheriff's dept., like Vick, had assumed these were just a bunch of animal lovers. Lets not forget the only reason this whole thing came to light was because of a drug raid.

European Zoos + Dead Animals = Profits!

Looking for a tiger skin? How about a stuffed cheetah? Well, now you don't have to rely on those sleazy poachers, because sleazy zoos are selling them as well.

Some zoos in Europe will sell the dead animals to taxidermists, so they can make money. These are animals that have either died naturally, or were killed do to lack of space. From the article:

Many animals are killed, well before the natural end of their lifespans, simply because the zoos no longer have room for them. Then the bodies are sold, or given, to Gerard who, together with Brandwood and other taxidermists to whom he subcontracts, charges customers thousands of pounds for the privilege of “bringing them back to life”.

In halting English Gerard explained to the “clients” how his relationship with the zoos worked: “When animals die the veterinarian call me – ‘Jean Pierre come because we have an accident or a death’ or ‘it is necessary to shoot this animal because we have too much’.


I suppose an argument could be made that the money the zoos make could be used to help the other animals, but frankly, I think this is just wrong. The Chinese have been active in setting up tiger breeding programs specifically to sell their body parts. Does Europe support this? And if not, how is this any different? The Chinese can always slap a "zoo" sign on their tiger farms and give tours.

The reason zoos get around this is due to Article 10 in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). This allows governments to issue exemptions allowing the sale of captive bred animal parts. Britain is very strict about issuing these certificates, but other governments (Belgium for one) are much less inhibited. I would hope this article will spur some sort of reforms to halt this practice.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Animal Rights Activists Benefit Elephants in Zoos

The main benefit activists provide is getting elephants out of zoos and into sanctuaries.

Animal-rights groups have intensely scrutinized zoos where elephants live in cramped circumstances or without companionship for more than a decade. Since 2000 some zoos, including Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco, have given up elephants entirely, conceding the enormous animals need too much space and money to maintain. Other zoos are following suit, either moving their elephants or not planning to replace aging animals after they die.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Vick Case Legal Analysis

Animalblawg has an excellent run-down of the legal implications of the case. They also have information about Virginia state law (and I understand there may be indictments by the State of Virginia in this case as well.

It makes for an interesting read. It's not just dog fighting. It's about a criminal conspiracy.

Pet-abuse.com is also an excellent resource on this. They follow court cases, and do a great job documenting cases like this (and all those cases that don't involve sports celebrites).

Vick Co-Defendent Involved in Bizarre Watch Theft

This story is just too bizarre, but makes for an entertaining Saturday morning read (it's long). It all began in those heady days of March 2005.

This incident involved a one Quanis Phillips, who was indicted along with Michael Vick in the dog fighting case. Mr. Phillips has an arrest for possession of stolen property, and a conviction for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

It began with a TSA employee who left his watch on the belt at the security check point. From the Post...

The sources said the videos show one of Vick's companions pick up Spencer's watch off the end of the belt at Lane 19 and carry it to where the other man is standing being screened with a wand. The sources said that on the tape Vick is standing a few feet away not looking at the two men when the man with the watch shows it to the other man. The two are seen talking, the sources said, and then looking around. The second man then puts the watch in his pocket, the sources said. He then walks over to retrieve his bag, which is next to where Vick is standing, but does not show him the watch. The two men then wait briefly for Vick and the child before leaving the security area without them. Vick follows soon after with the child. Before Vick leaves the screening area, the sources said, the video shows him putting on a watch that is not Spencer's.

The article doesn't say whether Mr. Phillips was the one who took the watch, or just the guy who said, "hey nice watch you took!" The other man, Todd Harris, is not involved in the dog fighting case that I know of.

The guy actually got his watch back, and no charges were filed. But like I said, it makes for an interesting read.

A Blood Sport

I've been thinking a lot about the Michael Vick and dogfighting story. I've talked to some people, friends and coworkers, about the story too. Maybe it's just my social circle, but all are either horrified or sickened by what they've read and the images they've seen. Some can't understand why anyone would enjoy seeing animals tear each other apart. But one person, a former animal control officer, pointed out an additional dimension to this story and what it says about us as a society. I'd like to share her perspective and add some of my own thoughts.

To start with we need to remember that dogfighting is a blood sport.

A quick visit over to Wikipedia tells me the following: “Bloodsport, or blood sport, is a term commonly used by social reformers to describe sport or entertainment which is believed to be cruel, involving needless animal or human suffering. The term can refer to chase sports such as coursing or beagling, combat sports such as cockfighting, or other activities. It also includes spectacles that involve pitting one animal against another in a fight. These usually involve blood being drawn, and sometimes result in the death of one or more animals.”

Blood sports with animals are numerous. In addition to dogfighting, there is cockfighting, bullfighting, and hunting. For all we know, someone in the world might still be holding bear baiting events too.

But let's focus on the phrase “needless animal or human suffering.” Take out the animal component for a moment. Human history may have contained as many blood sports with humans as with animals. Remember those movies with the gladiators in the arena and the crowd going wild to see the blood shed? How about those martyrs torn apart by wild animals? Then we had jousts, sword-fighting, public drawing and quartering, and the greatest blood sport of all, war. Today, we still have war, although for developed countries it is more sanitized and usually televised. And we still have professional boxing, hockey fights, football, rugby and, the grand daddy of them all, ultimate fighting, the last vestiges of human blood sports. Granted there are certainly underground fight clubs, but generally, humans are far more protected now than they have ever been.

Not so with animals. Their protection lags far behind. Therefore, they are the ones left to satisfy the human taste for blood.

Is everyone like this? No, but think about it. Do you get excited when a fight breaks out between two sports teams on a field? Have you ever watched and been entertained when two pro boxers beat each other up? Have you ever yelled for a defense to sack a quarterback and crush him? I know I have and I still do. Are these sporting events all that different from when the Roman crowds cheered champions in the arena?

But dogfighting is different, I will admit. This is a clandestine activity, primarily a status activity amongst younger men. But the blood lust is there, otherwise why would they keep watching?

Another question is why is the need to dominate so tied up in the pain and suffering of their opponent? Because that's what it is, these animals are simply the proxy for what the owners and spectators want to do themselves, but are too cowardly to do so.

I'm not saying we are all dogfighters at heart. But there is something innate in us as humans that contribute to the ever-growing cycle of violence in our society. Dogfighting, bullfighting, child abuse, etc. We need to look deep inside ourselves as a species and society to understand where this violence is coming from before we can really figure out how we as a people can overcome it.

Help Chile's Blue Whales

Here is a blue whale action alert from the World Wildlife Fund.

The Gulf of Corcovado and ChiloƩ coast in southern Chile is one of the most important feeding and calving grounds for the imperiled blue whale, the largest known animal to have existed on Earth. But this unique environment is under threat.

Rapid economic growth and increased salmon farming, fishing, tourism, and marine traffic in the Gulf of Corcovado could now pose a threat to blue whales and the larger ecosystem they inhabit. This makes the adoption of new conservation measures an urgent priority.

The establishment of a new marine protected area has been endorsed now by the local governments in the region, the Chilean senate, and is strongly supported by conservation organizations and the scientific community. But a presidential decree and approval by the Ministry of Defense are still needed in order for the area to be finally protected.


Please help by signing the petition.

Air Zoom Vick

I wonder how long these shoes will be around.

Maybe Nike should donate them to an animal shelter to use as dog toys...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The "I Didn't Know" Defense

Vick says he "didn't know" there was dog fighting on his property.

Take a look at this picture of his property
. Note the kennels on the left, and the larger enclosures on the right.

We know he's been there, because he said he "rarely" visited it (which we can safely say is probably more then once). These kennels and enclosures are right next to the house. So, if he's been there even "rarely", he would have to have seen it. What did he think his cousin was doing, running an animal shelter? Considering he was the proud owner of "Vick's K9 Kennels", don't you think he'd be at least curious about what his cousin was doing with all these dogs?

Here's a cache of his web site touting his commitment not to "raise dogs for fighting" and all the careful screening he did.

And, yet, right there on property he owns and presumably pays taxes on, his cousin has 50 or 60 dogs in kennels. And not a chihuahua among them.

Good luck with that defense. Even without the two people who seem to be cooperating with federal authorities, I think he's going to have a tough time selling that story.

Senator Byrd Speaks Out on the Vick Case

I think it's safe to say that when the politicians start talking about you on the floor of the Senate, you're probably finished in the NFL.

The affection that a dog provides is unlimited, unqualified and unconditional. Dogs protect us, assist those of us with afflictions and provide hours and hours and hours of enjoyable companionship.

Therefore I take great satisfaction in knowing that if the people allegedly involved in this outrageous business are found guilty, they will have to answer to our judicial system, and may God help their souls. Madam president, I am confident that the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold Gods creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

German Zoo Worker Selling Animals as Meat

Geez, this sounds unexpected from a country like Germany.

A German mayor has filed charges against zoo workers in his town for shooting animals and selling them as meat.

The mayor's spokesperson said deer were amongst animals which had been killed and sold without permission by workers at Erfurt Zoo.

The Incredible Disappearing Vick

Looks like his has all but disappeared from the Falcon's web site and his marketing deals are going south.

"He's going to disappear, like a magic act," said Bill Sutton, a professor of sports business at the University of Central Florida. "You won't find him anywhere" in advertising or marketing in the near future.

That would complete a hard, fast fall for a player whose unique style of play and penchant for the spectacular have made him one of the NFL's most marketable players since he entered the league in 2001:

• Just two years ago No. 2 among NFL players in jersey sales, Vick has tumbled to 33rd this year, according to Neil Schwartz, director of marketing for SportScanInfo, which tracks sporting goods sales.

"I just think it's going to be really hard for Michael to somehow repair his public image unless these charges are totally false," Schwartz said.

"The American people are incredibly forgiving, but the heinous nature of what went on here may be a whole different ballgame."

Vick Alleged to be Part of Dog Fighting Conspiracy

According to the indictment, this is not something he just sort of fell into.

Here it is. It's long, but it really lays what Vick and his co-defendents are alleged to have done. And from the sounds of it, some of the people allegedly involved have turned on him.

2. It was part of the conspiracy that the defendants and their co-conspirators would and did:

a. purchase and develop a parcel of property to serve as the main staging area for housing and training pit bulls involved in the animal fighting venture and for hosting dog fights;

b. establish a kennel name to represent the animal fighting venture in dog fighting competitions;

c. purchase pit bulls for use in dog fighting competitions;

d. train and breed pit bulls for participation in dog fighting competitions;

e. travel to other locations in interstate commerce to participate in dog fighting competitions;

f. sponsor and exhibit dogs in animal fighting competitions in interstate commerce involving dogs that have moved across state lines;

g. provide funding for the expenses associated with the ongoing animal fighting venture, including improvements on the property, dog food, medicine, and purse fees for dog fighting competitions and

h. develop the animal fighting venture's pool of pit bulls by testing the fighting prowess of dogs within the venture, providing veterinary treatment for injured dogs slated to stay with the kennel, and destroying or otherwise disposing of dogs not selected to stay with the ongoing animal fighting venture.

Another Money Quote From the Indictment

In or about April 2007, Peace, Phillips, and Vick executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in "testing" sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground.

More From the Vick Indictment

In or about March of 2003, Peace, after consulting with Vick abut the losing female pit bulls condition, executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal.

Vick Case: From the Indictment

In or about February 2002, Peace and Vick "rolled" or "tested" some of their fighting dogs against other dogs owned by CW#1 and others in Virginia Beach, Virginia. "Rolling " or "testing" a fighting dog means placing the dog in a short fighting match to determine how well the animal fights. One of the pit bulls sponsored by Peace and Vick in this "testing" session did not fight well.

In or about February 2002, Peace executed the pit bull that did not perform well in the "testing" session by shooting it with a .22 caliber pistol.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vick Indicted in Dog Fighting Case

Looks like Vick could be in big trouble. From the CNN article:

Vick, 27, and three associates were indicted by a federal grand jury in Richmond, Virginia, on a conspiracy count alleging they bought and sponsored dogs in an animal fighting venture and traveled across state lines to participate in illegal activity, including gambling.

According to the indictment, dogs that didn't show enough fighting spirit, or that lost matches, were put to death by a variety of methods, including shooting, drowning, hanging and electrocution. Prosecutors allege that on one occasion earlier this year, Vick participated in killing eight dogs.


He is, of course innocent until proven guilty. But, they've got something to go on...

The owners of the winning dogs collected purses that ran into the thousands of dollars, and spectators also placed side bets on the outcome, prosecutors said. After one of the "Bad Newz" dogs lost a fight in March 2003, Vick personally paid $23,000 to the owner of the winning dog, who is now a cooperating witness for the prosecution, the indictment said.

I posted an article below that has a lot of general info and photos on dog fighting (before I'd heard about the indictment). Although it doesn't address this case specifically, it's good to put a furry face on the issue. No matter how hard it is to look at.

Update - The Smoking Gun has the indictment
. No time for me to read it tonight but will be going through it tomorrow.

Dog Fighting

This is a pretty interesting site about dog fighting.

*Warning, there are some pretty nasty looking pictures of dogs. The articles are pretty tough reading as well.

Animal Research Done The Right Way

Here is an interesting article in the Globe and Mail about how treating naturally occurring cancer in animals may help to understand treatment for humans as well.

Researchers have traditionally used lab rats and mice with artificially induced tumours to develop and test new cancer treatments, says Dr. Coomber, whose research focuses on tumour biology. Pets, on the other hand, arrive at veterinary clinics as patients. Their tumours occur naturally, just like in humans. Some tumours in companion animals - dogs in particular - behave similarly to tumours in humans.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rat-atouille goes a little too far!

Looks like rats are back on the menu in Southern China.

The Disaster in Zimbabwe is a Disaster for Pets

Things are really falling apart in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe has ordered that prices be dropped below a sustainable level, and the result has been twofold. First, people are fleeing the country, and second, there is no more pet food.

Zimbabwe's rapid decline has led to the SPCA ordering all its branches to euthanase more than 600 pets abandoned by their owners as they flee the country.

No pet food is left after the price crackdown by the government.

Glynnis Vaughn, chief inspector of the Zimbabwe SPCA, told the Cape Argus that her organisation had been left with little choice but to begin putting down abandoned animals - mainly cats and dogs.


Here is a good general article about what has been going on there.

More Animal Cruelty in China

Boxing bears. Great.

The endangered Asiatic black bears are crudely muzzled by a rope which is pulled by their handler to make them stand unnaturally on their hind legs.

They are also dressed in capes and made to wear boxing gloves then encouraged to attack each other.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lion Eating Chimps?

I'm not sure I believe this story, but you never know.

Deep in the Congolese jungle is a band of apes that, according to local legend, kill lions, catch fish and even howl at the moon. Local hunters speak of massive creatures that seem to be some sort of hybrid between a chimp and a gorilla.

I suspect if true, they'd better keep hiding.

At least until they get to this stage...

More on Greyhound Killing

Here is yet another article, this time from Wales about the "sport" of Greyhound racing and how the animals are often disposed of like so much garbage.

FIVE ruthless killers in Wales are slaughtering hundreds of healthy racing dogs every year, according to an animal rights group.

Campaigners at Greyhound Rescue Wales say they know the identity of the executioners and have passed their names to the RSPCA, which has pledged to investigate the practise of putting down dogs who are no longer fast enough to compete.

In the big money world of dog racing, bookies annually rake in more than £2bn while the Government’s coffers benefit from more than £70m. But welfare activists say little goes back into caring for dogs, many of whom are retired aged four but have another 10 years of active life .


Here is the website for Greyhound Rescue Wales.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Farm Animal Advocates Take Note!

Here is a site with where you can sign up for alerts and weekly news digests. It's Farmed Animal Net. I like the self-description - Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate.

In case you wonder whether this is a front group for the beef or dairy industry (I did!), it is sponsored by the following groups:

Animal Place
Animal Welfare Institute
Animal Welfare Trust
Farm Sanctuary
The Glaser Progress Foundation
The Humane Society of the United States
PETA

Scandal at Kosher Slaughterhouse

The Heeb'n'Vegan blog has a lot of info about a PETA investigation at Rubashkin's Local Pride slaughterhouse.

The article contains some unpleasant descriptions.

Here is another one
. Kosher slaughterhouses are a strange mixture of religious tradition and mass production. The traditions they try to adhere to lose all meaning on the factory floor.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Animal Issues in Dubai

It's nice to read articles about animal issues in places like the United Arab Emerates. While laws and attitudes may be different, raising the issues is a first step.

Here is an article about K9 Friends, one of the groups mentioned in the article. Looks like the Dubai Government is doing a lot to work with them.

Puppy!

Happy Weekend. Will post more later.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Save the Planet! Eat Kangaroos!

So, according to one scientist, Australian farmers should raise kangaroos instead of sheep because they are much healthier for the environment. Sheep contribute to topsoil erosion, but kangaroos live more lightly on the land.

Unfortunately, we humans don't have the hankering for 'roo meat yet, despite the delicious recipes out there.

The website www.kangaroo-industry.asn.au lists a range of delicacies for a marsupial menu, including herb and caraway crusted kangaroo escalopes on olive polenta, wallaby bolognese and seared kangaroo with Guinness glaze.

What next? Koala bear burgers?

Send Us Your Comments!

Please don't be shy about commenting on a story or sending us an email. We want to hear from our readers! Please let us know what you think or what you would like to see. We are always looking for new topics and any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

The Critter News Team

Louisiana Outlaws Cockfighting

Somewhere, a man with no teeth and a jug of hooch is crying.

Fortunately they have one more year to get that bloodlust out of their system and make a few dollars to buy more mash for that hooch.

Wendy's to Give Preferential Treatment for Humane Suppliers

Good for them.

Wendy's International Inc., the world's third-largest hamburger chain, said Thursday it would give preferential treatment to pork and chicken suppliers who improve animal welfare standards.

These are the companies that can throw their weight around and make things like this happen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why Canadians Love America

OK, maybe not all Canadians love America. Just the ranchers. And maybe Rick Mercer.

Seems that Canadian ranchers can now avoid stringent regulations on slaughtering cows by sending them across the border to the US.

The animals can be slaughtered under laxer American rules, then shipped back into Canada and sold as steak, ribs and hamburgers -- as long as the animal's high-risk tissues, known as specified risk materials, or SRM, are left behind in the U.S., Canadian officials say.

"If they take it down there and have it slaughtered and want to bring it back cut and wrapped (as meat), no problem, just as long as it comes back without the SRM," says Freeman Libby, national director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's feed ban task force.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Belgium says No to Seal Imports

Back in January, Belgium became the first EU country to ban the import of all seal products.

According to EUROSTAT, Belgium imported in 2005 articles made of seal furskin for a value of 3.5 million euros from non-EU countries and for 1.3 million euros from EU Member States. It exported seal furskin products to other EU countries for a value of 3.4 million euros. The imported seal oil had a value of 4,867 euros.

Before this, EU countries had only taken some steps in this direction by either instituting temporary bans, partial bans, or simply "urging" bans.

A Pot-Bellied Pig Pic

Happy Tuesday from this cute little pig!

Poaching Increases in Zimbabwe

Poaching of all animals is up in Zimbabwe, with Hippos especially in danger.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates up to 80 per cent of wildlife on reclaimed farms has been slaughtered since 2001, with little sign of the desire for bush meat and cash abating.

Animal Rights and the Law

Legal rights for animals is becoming more and more important.

"More and more people are appreciating the value of animals, so they're willing to spend money on protecting them in the private cases," said attorney Bruce Wagman. His animal-law practice in the San Francisco offices of Schiff Hardin LLP has gone from nothing to so much work in the past six years he now does it full time and has hired two summer associates to assist him.

His clients include animal-rights organizations, such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

The demand for animal law classes has grown as well, said Wagman, who teaches at several law schools, including Stanford and Boalt Hall.

Internets Saves Cats From Being Eaten

Well this is strange. Good, but strange.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Pet Insurance vs Pet Wellness Plans

I can't think of anything to blog about right now, so I went over to itchmo.com to see what they're doing.

Here is a good piece about pet insurance.

We've been thinking about that for a while since our cat Charlotte has been racking up vet bills with her Pyothorax. Tomorrow we take her back to the clinic to see if she has the big C.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Animal Welfare in Turkey and Armenia

Again, I can't vouch for the group, but I was impressed by the heartfelt words and the picture provided of animal welfare in Turkey, Armenia and other neighboring countries. We hear so little from people outside of the Anglo-American world that it is easy to assume Muslims, Latin Americans, Africans and other groups have no time or interest in the matter. That is so untrue. Every time I read about something terrible happening in countries with less progressive or even non-existent animal protection laws, I'm moved to see that there is usually a group or an activist speaking out against the situation.

This is a growing movement. Human compassion and stewardship of the natural world should and can transcend all surface differences.

The article was originally was published in "Marmara" which is an Armenian newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey, with an international readership. Date of publication: June 24, 2003.

Animal Welfare Group in Albania

I know nothing about this group, but its contact information was listed on the Border Collie Rescue site. If you are interested in learning about animal rescue in Albania, it's a start.

Animal Protection Albania (APA) - No website - email: visi99@hotmail.com

Helping Animals in Africa and the Middle East

Here's a great group working on animal welfare in African and Middle Eastern countries. It's called the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad. They particularly work on the health of working animals, helping both the animals and the people who rely on them.

Gator Wrestling Dying Out

Looks like people are more interested in the "natural" experience.

I believe gator wrestlers are definitely a dying breed," said James Peacock, wildlife manager at Native Village in Hollywood. "We're fading out. Just like the cowboys and Indians of yesteryear, or the Japanese samurai."

Samurai? Oh please.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Short Miserable Lives of Greyhound Dogs Used in Racing

Here is an excellent article on the use and abuse of greyhounds in dog racing. The article is about the UK, but this is a worldwide problem.

From the article about the Greyhound Derby at Wimbledon:

The elite - dogs like Westmead Lord, hot favourite for the derby - are the lucky few. At the end of their careers, they'll be put out to stud.

As for the rest - the majority - a short, miserable life will be followed by a brutal and needless death.

Most will suffer a fate similar to those buried in a "mass grave" next to David Smith's bungalow off a secluded farm track in County Durham.

The method of execution for those unfortunate animals was a bolt gun, a weapon that fires a metal bar with enough force to shatter the toughest skull.


This is a lot cheaper than finding them new homes. It didn't take much for an animal to be discarded. Said one former trainer:

"The person I worked for was only interested in making money out of his dogs. Once a dog could no longer race, he wanted rid of it.

"I was very attached to one particular greyhound and walked him for a year. I was hanging on in the job waiting to adopt him when he retired. But it wasn't to be.

"The dog's shoulder was shattered in a race. Afterwards, the head kennel hand came back holding the dog's lead. I asked where the dog was. She just said 'get on with your work. This became a familiar pattern."


Greyhound Action (mentioned in the article) has a good website with information.

Chinese Activists Storm Restaurant

Positive news about Chinese activism.

Banner-wielding animal rights protesters swarmed into a restaurant serving cat meat in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and forced it to shut, Xinhua news agency has reported.

If you look at the end of this short article, you'll see a brief mention of animal rights activity in Afghanistan (!) and Somalia.

Dawn Watch

Here is a pretty nifty service called Dawn Animal World News Watch.

She sends out email alerts on animal related news. They are quite extensive and well worth reading.

Friday, July 6, 2007

And for the Policy Wonks and Wonkettes...

Here is the Society and Animal Journal of Human and Animal Studies. According to their website...

Society & Animals is at the forefront of the emerging multi-disciplinary field of Human-Animal Studies, which explores the ways in which nonhuman animals figure in human lives. The journal publishes studies concerning experiences of nonhuman animals from psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, and other social sciences and history, literary criticism, and other disciplines of the humanities.

Enjoy!

Statistics That Animal People Can Use!

Finally! I was very pleased to come across the National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy. It is a council composed of animal groups working on gathering statistics and conducting research on shelter management and operations.

This is very important work. It elevates the profession of shelter management and drags animal work into the discipline of social science research. I'm sure there are animal activists and professionals out there who will resist this. It's too "regimented" and why spend the time collecting dry numbers when you can be rescuing rabbits or cats or whatever?

Rescue work is important, but we can't just focus on the individual animal. We must look at the big picture and realize that we are MANAGING a problem with identifiable causes. There is nothing wrong in using a stuffy discipline if it can help us understand how to manage our rescues and adoptions more efficiently and effectively.

Only drawback is that the focus of this group is on dog and cat stats. But that's understandable as they are the predominant shelter residents at this time.

More on Michael Vick and Dog Fighting

Here is an article in Forbes which details some of the things they found on Michael Vick's property. From the article.

Fifty-four animals were recovered from the property during searches in April, along with a "rape stand," used to hold dogs in place for mating; an electric treadmill modified for dogs; and a bloodied piece of carpeting, the documents said.

Also:

Fights would end when one dog died or with the surrender of the losing dog, which was sometimes put to death by drowning, strangulation, hanging, gun shot, electrocution or some other method, according to the documents.


I'm just glad he had absolutely no idea what was happening on his own property, as I'm sure he would have been very upset. Did I mention he used to breed dogs that happen to be some of the very same type of dogs used in dogfighting? Talk about crazy coincidences. His website is down, but here is one with a site with a quote from his site.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Rats: Perfect Pet or Disease Ridden Little Monsters?

This is a good article about a woman who keeps rats as pets.

We used to volunteer at the Seattle Animal Shelter, so we used to see quite a few rats (along with hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits etc). The rats we saw were very interactive, clean, and cool little critters. I suppose hamsters are objectively a little cuter. But, rats are a lot more social. I suppose they are more dog-like whereas a hamster is more like a cat. I suppose that's why hamsters often eat each other if they are in the same cage (now how cute is that!).

Rats are generally seen as filthy carriers of disease. But, As the article says:

...the domesticated rats that are bred as pets are about as different from a wild rat as a golden retriever is from a wolf, said Sharon Jansa, a biologist, rodent expert and curator of mammals at the Bell Museum.


Unless, of course, you're this rat.

Aussie Defence Dept. Calls Off Kangaroo Kill

After protests about a plan to kill up to 4000 kangaroos, they've decided to look into other options.

“Defence will monitor the size of the kangaroo population over the next six to 12 months and will also explore all options as part of longer term strategy,” the department said in a statement.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

May As Well Get This Over With

And let us never post on this subject again.

Russian Vet Student Forced out For Refusing to Operate on Stray Cats

Russian vet students not only have to learn how to operate using stray animals, they have to go out and get their own.

Students at the institute swapped stories of how they had to go to animal shelters or answer advertisements offering cats and dogs to "a good owner" in order to bring animals to class.

How terrible.

Then again, that's how one of our future doctors and leaders learned...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Moratorium on Animal Euthanasia in Brownsville TX Causes Havoc

Brownsville mayor Pat M. Ahumada Jr. declared a 90 day moratorium on animal euthanasia.

The result: the shelter is completely full and can't take any more animals. Now there is a nasty fight between the mayor, who made animal rights a campaign issue, and Josue Ramirez, the city’s public health director. From the article:

Ahumada, once accused of taking a dog from the shelter that he later legally adopted, believes Ramirez doesn’t want the moratorium to succeed and is using scare tactics with the employees at the shelter.

“He told the vets (veterinarians) they could no longer dispose of carcasses and told the employees at the animal shelter they will get fired,” Ahumada said.

“This situation makes Brownsville look like a third-world country with stray dogs running around.”


The mayor has accused the health director of trying to torpedo the policy.

He also claimed that Ramirez, who he called a “disgruntled employee … used to killing 7,000 pets a year,” blocked animal rescue organizations from taking animals out of the Brownsville shelter.

“He told them (Laguna Madre Humane Society) they could not take dogs out of the animal shelter to make room for more,” Ahumada said. “Josh Ramirez wants us to fail.”


Frankly, this sounds like really poor planning by the mayor. You can't just declare the policy, and hope that private rescue groups pick up the overflow. Is the city going to pay the rescue groups for the overflow? What happens when they fill up? What is the overall long-term plan? What part does spay/neuter play in all of this?

A no-kill shelter is a great idea. A no-kill shelter with a complete lack of planning (even if we are only talking about a 60-day trial period) is just dumb. Humane stray animal treatment requires careful and comprehensive planning. Anything less is not only ineffective, but also provides ammunition for those that want to just pick up and euthanize.

Cracking Down on Animal Rights Activists in the Netherlands


As in the US, others are looking at animal rights activists differently in the age of terrorism.


A stone through a windscreen, a car splattered with paint, the wall of a building covered in slogans, animal rights activists seem more and more frequently to be using a tough, intimidating way of highlighting their demands, and this has thrown the spotlight on them, particularly so as far as the Dutch parliament and police and judicial authorities are concerned. The current minister of justice would even like to see legislative changes made so that hardline animal rights campaigning can be dealt with more effectively.

Monday, July 2, 2007

It's Baby Seal Clubbing Season

What the hell?

ANIMAL rights activists feel they have failed because they were unable to stop the annual seal harvest "We all tried very hard, and failed badly.

The clubbing of 80 000 nursing baby [seals], suckling on mothers milk (non-fish eating) begins on Sunday [yesterday]," seal rights activist, Francois Hugo of Seal Alert (South Africa), said on Friday.


Here is the group Seal Alert
, which is trying to end this barbaric practice.

Fighting a Nasty Cat Infection: Our Experience with Pyothorax

Our cat Charlotte was treated for pyothorax a few weeks ago. This is an infection in the chest cavity. They had to put a tube in her to drain out all the nasty fluids and try to knock out the infection with antibiotics. We had to have her stay at the vet hospital for 5 days.

We've been medicating her religiously 3 times a day, but it looks like the infection is again getting worse. It's been very frustrating. From what I understand, it can often take multiple types of antibiotics, and can take more than 6 months to knock this thing out.

Here is a really good article by someone who has been through all this (and succeeded in getting rid of it).

If your pet ever gets it, be prepared for a long struggle.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

How to Medicate a Dwarf Hamster

You guessed it....very carefully!

But seriously, we learned a great way to medicate from our veterinary assistant. I used to try and catch our dwarf hamsters by the scruff. Very hard because these little things are moving targets with sharp teeth. But now I do the following and it is so much better.

Gently press the hamster's head down a little to prevent it from swiveling back and biting you. Then with the other hand, get a good grip on the back scruff, not just the neck but try to grab a little of the back too. Once you have a good grip with one hand you can let go the head and medicate with the other hand.

Then hold the hammie next to yourself to calm him.

Recently, we've had the good fortune of just sticking the syringe in front of our hammie's mouth. She is so angry that she grasps it with her mouth to bite and we just squeeze the meds in. Even better!

Just remember to always be careful because these little critters are VERY DELICATE!

Saving Species

Seems like we are on a zoo theme this weekend.

This short article talks about a Czech zoo's attempts to save the white rhino from extinction via artificial insemination.

I have mixed feelings about the role of zoos in the rescue of species (GOOD zoos of course, not bad zoos. But what makes a good zoo? Good topic for another post.)

I used to believe that if worse came to worse, we could always bring an extinct species back to life through the genes that we have preserved at zoos and other research institutions. But as I have grown older, I have grown much more cynical.

Really, if we cared enough about these species, wouldn't we have prevented them from going extinct in the first place? These genes are not hedgefunds for situations where we are too lazy or apathetic to take real action. And the action is not just preserving the species on an individual basis. It's stopping the factors that contribute to their extinction.

Particularly in the northern hemispheres, we have to realize that preservation is more than just protecting the individual species. Habitat is disappearing in order to satisfy our desire for wood and oil. Animals are poached to satisfy our desire for furs and ivory. Overpopulation brings animals and humans into greater conflict and more violence. In light of such overwhelming obstacles, I'm a bit cynical that we have the "political will" to save these animals. It involves too much work and too much change. Also, we are running out of time.

And save them to what purpose? To live in captivity? Then they are no longer the same species. Then they are basically domesticated. And who will eventually control these genes that will bring back extinct animals? Corporations? Then we can have manufactured parks with lions, tigers and chimpanzees? Or will we have grazing pastures for gorillas to eventually harvest them for their meat?

I think its laudable for zoos to be doing what they can to save a species, but it is worth looking at the great scheme of things to understand what the true issues really are. It may be depressing, but reality often is.

Report a Bad Zoo

Few things get me angrier than reading about the abuse of the vulnerable, whether it be children, the elderly or animals. Nothing frustrates me more than that feeling of helplessness that accompanies it.

Like the posting about cruelty in the Romanian Zoo. This is not unusual. We know there are still animals in horrible zoos, circuses and fairs throughout the world. I am still tracking down this group called Circus Atlas that we came across in Terceira, an island in the Azores. Something about them didn't seem right. But what do I do with the information I gather?

Finally, here is a positive step to take with the Traveler's Animal Alert at the Born Free Foundation. Do something positive with your anger. Support this group or, if you are a traveler, even better. Report what you see. It gives you a mission.

We are going back to the Azores this summer and this time I'll be ready.

European Bison and the EU

This is an interesting article about a man in Poland who is trying to train European bisons to change their migration patterns. From the article:

To keep the animals from extinction, Mr. Niedzialkowski, coordinator of the European Bison Program, is trying to change the migration patterns of about 400 lowland bison (Bison bonasus bonasus) roaming the primeval forest in northeastern Poland. He wants to persuade Polish bison to breed with other wild herds of the same species in neighboring Lithuania and Slovakia.

Poland has had to tighten border controls with non-EU countries like the Ukraine and Belarus. This keeps the bison populations from mixing as well. So they have to spend millions of dollars to alter their behavior so they will mix with EU bison in order to keep a healthy gene pool.