Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Egypt Begins Slaughtering Pigs Allegedly to Avoid Swine Flu

The Egyptian government has begun slaughtering all of the pigs in the country. From the NY Times:
Egypt has begun forcibly slaughtering the country’s pig herds as a precaution against swine flu, a move that the United Nations described as “a real mistake” and one that is prompting anger among the country’s pig farmers.
There are a estimated 300,000 that will be killed.

Update - Here is a fascinating blog post about the social and economic aspects of those that raise pigs in Egypt. Pig farmers are primarily Coptic Christians, and use them to dispose of garbage. Mubarak would like to turn this activity over to western companies.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Speaks Out On Behalf of Humane Society

Rush Limbaugh has recorded an audio promo for the Humane Society. I don't agree with him on much, but I give him credit for standing up for animals.

Did Swine Flu Outbreak Start at an Industrial Hog Farm?

According to this AP article, some are blaming Smithfield Foods, which has 8 operations in La Gloria Mexico. The company denies it. You can read all about the horrible things Smithfield Foods has done in the US in this long Rolling Stone article. I can only imagine how things are run in Mexico.

Quote of the Week

"Atrocities are no less atrocities when they occur in laboratories and are called medical research."
- George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright and Critic

Monday, April 27, 2009

Actress Lilly Tomlin Calls on Seattle Woodland Park Zoo to Release Elephants to Sanctuary

Lilly Tomlin is in Seattle and spoke out about the conditions of elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo on behalf of the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN).
Addressing supporters and the media at the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center, Tomlin said elephants in zoos across the country are suffering in confinement. Echoing claims made by others who oppose elephant exhibitions, Tomlin said the pachyderms are afflicted by foot and joint problems when not allowed to roam.
Here is a link to the group that sponsored her visit here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Are We Really a Movement?

Last night, I watched "Milk," the film about assassinated gay rights activist Harvey Milk. It's an excellent film and I highly recommend it. I not only learned about Harvey Milk, but about the early stages of the gay rights movement (which is ongoing today when one looks at all the right-wing flutterings over gay marriage.)

It made me think though about the animal rights movement. Are we really a social movement like gay rights and civil rights? I think we have the potential to be, but I just don't feel that we are there yet.

One of the benefits that human rights movements have is that they are articulating for themselves. Humans get all wrapped up in stories of those who can communicate their sufferings. Animals can't do that. That's why people say that they have no problem eating them, harvesting them, experimenting on them, etc. The animals can't say, "This hurts me," "Stop it," or "I have a right to my life." We advocates have to impute those words to them, which is why so many of our opponents can argue that we are wrong. They argue that we are only making things up and assigning anthropomorphic tendencies to animals. This is because the animals cannot use human language to speak for themselves and contradict either side. (I believe they can speak, but in their own language that we can understand if we only listen.)

I also believe that we are a fragmented movement. Some fight for veganism, some against factory farms, some against experimentation, poaching, habitat encroachment, etc. There is a group for every cause. But how much can we accomplish when our resources are so divided? Who is our leader? Best Friends? PETA? The Humane Society? Or does everyone have their niche? Where does our power come from?

I also believe we lack a charismatic leader who can take to the airwaves and move an audience. We don't have a Martin Luther King Jr. or a Harvey Milk. We have Jane Goodall, who is a quiet unassuming person. We need a visible leader with passion and no fear, but also practical and driven to accomplish goals rather than just sounding off and garnering publicity.

I read Jonathon Alter once years ago who, writing in Newsweek, bemoaned the fact that there was no civil rights movement to galvanize the young people of the day. Just the sorry animal rights movement. It's not sorry, it just hasn't found its moral, UNITED, ORGANIZED voice.

Seal Products Banned in Europe

Hooray! Thanks to Animal Rights Person for the heads up on this.

As of last Friday...

* EU nations agree to ban on seal products
* Ban would lead to trade clash with Norway and Canada
* Final approvals seen as a formality

Saturday, April 25, 2009

FBI Lists Animal Rights Extremist as Most Wanted Terrorist

Daniel Andreas San Diego, wanted for alleged involvement in 2 bombings in San Francisco has been listed by the FBI as one of their Most Wanted Terrorists.
San Diego has ties to animal rights extremist groups. He is known to follow a vegan diet, eating no meat or food containing animal products. In the past, he has worked as a computer network specialist and with the operating system LINUX. San Diego wears eyeglasses, is skilled at sailing, and has traveled internationally. He is known to possess a handgun.
That's right, be on the lookout for a guy that works with LINUX. He may also know Unix and Perl programming...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Big Ag Upset Over California Antibiotics Ban

I actually read one headline asking whether this was the beginning of the end of commercial farming in California.

A bit of an overreaction I think. But to big ag, it's just another step on a slippery slope started by the passage of Proposition 2.

The article is so short, I'm just posting the whole thing.
Californian farmers and ranchers would be prohibited from routinely dosing healthy farm animals with antibiotics under a bill getting its first level of approval on 21 April in the state Senate, reports Central Valley Business Times.

SB416, authored by state Majority Leader, Dean Florez (Democrat, Shafter), chairman of the California Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture, which approved the bill three votes to one on 21 April, would have the prohibition in place by 2015. As early as 2012, public schools would be prohibited from serving fish, poultry or meat that had been routinely treated with antibiotics.

"We tell people to take antibiotics only as prescribed for the very reason that they not develop resistance to these drugs they may need when they are truly sick," said Mr Florez. "Then we feed those same antibiotics daily to the animals they will consume. It just doesn't make any sense to take this gamble with the long-term health of our communities."

Senate Bill 416 will next be heard by the Senate Education Committee.

Animal Health Care is Part of the Bottom Line

We've argued in previous posts that factory farming is simply not conducive to animal welfare. Better conditions for animals hurt the bottom line. Animal welfare is a cost of doing business, not a moral obligation.

Here's an example.
I'm not arguing about the methods as I'm not a veterinarian, but it's a good example of the clinical discussion of costs when it comes to managing farm animal health.
The pig industry, says Dr MacDougald, is marked by generally poor production and financial analysis. This means poor assessment of ROI {Return on Investment} for interventions and little focus on opportunity cost. However, research based on finishing pig group opportunity costs calculated on mortality, culls and feed conversion to target reveals startling results, with the best to worst sites varying by $11 per pig, with the widest variance per site at $34 per pig.

These pigs are simply raw materials.

Good News and Bad News for Orangutans

The good news is that a new population of about 2,000 individuals was discovered in Borneo.

The bad news is that the pet trade is decimating the population on Sumatra.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leona Helmsley's Fortune Goes to Medical Research

Yesterday I read about how Leona Helmsley’s estate was divided up. Over $100 million went to medical research while about $1 million went to animal welfare causes. (Actually, less than $1 million dollars went to animal welfare because a portion went to guide dog associations and that is human welfare as far as I’m concerned.)

Originally, animal groups actually thought they’d get a huge piece of the estate because Leona Helmsley had supposedly wanted it that way. But a group of trustees got together, determined she was mentally unfit at the time, and decided to “responsibly” donate to medical research instead. To human causes.

I think that just sucks. (I’ll probably get into trouble for saying this, but whatever.)

It’s more money for medical research. I wonder how much of this wonderful research will involve animal experimentation, the absolute anti-animal welfare cause. Beyond that, it’s more money for more humans to make more money. I believe that medical research produces procedures and drugs that most humans either 1) can’t afford or 2) pay for and end up with huge medical debts. If medical research were truly for altruistic purposes, then drug costs would be subsidized and university research would not constantly find its way into for-profit entities who patent their findings with the FDA.

The majority of children die in the world due to simple causes, like malnutrition, infection and diarrhea. How much malaria could be prevented by basic mosquito control? Better living conditions and basic health care workers would be enough to prevent so much death and suffering. But we don’t want to promote that. Instead, we promote drug development to take care of people once they’re ill…that’s the way to more profit both in this country and overseas.

I am so tired of hearing that medical research saves lives as though that should end all arguments. If you don’t support medical research, then you are against humans. That’s just an argumentative device to shut down debate.

Supreme Court to Review Legality of Animal Abuse Videos

You'd think it would be a no-brainer, but no.
The justices said they would review, at the request of the federal government, an appeals court decision that said Congress's broad attempt to discourage animal cruelty by outlawing its depiction violates the First Amendment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia voted 10 to 3 last summer to find unconstitutional the rarely used law passed by Congress in 1999. The appeals court said the goal of protecting against animal cruelty was a worthy one, but one already accomplished by laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia outlawing the practice.

The appeals court noted that the Supreme Court is resistant to removing First Amendment protections of depictions even of illegal actions. The last time the court did so was over child pornography.

"Preventing cruelty to animals, although an exceedingly worthy goal, simply does not implicate interests of the same magnitude as protecting children from physical and psychological harm," the appeals court said.

I am incredibly angry at the last statement. That's just BS.

Thanks to Animal Law Online for the catch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Ever occur to you why some of us can be this much concerned with animals suffering? Because government is not. Why not? Animals don't vote."
-Paul Harvey, American Radio Commentator

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Contrarian Nonsense About the Seal Slaughter

Ah, nothing like a column defending baby sea killers to get the blood going.
WHO could defend the slaughter of 300,000 harp, hooded and grey seals by hook-wielding hunters out to make a quick buck from the seals' pelts?

I could. The increasingly shrill condemnation of Canada's seal cull is based on a view of humans as bloodthirsty destroyers of nature. I would rather stand with the seal bashers than with these people bashers.
And so it goes. British journalist Brendan O'Neill talks about how the seals enjoy the great outdoors before being clubbed to death, and how nothing could be better for them then to be "made into something beautiful".

In short, it's a troll intended to piss people off. How shocking! How edgy! Somehow I doubt he gives this issue much thought other then not liking those that do care. It's the same attitude that makes US Republicans deny global warming just to make the Democrats angry. So, he pens this little poisonous article to see what kind of reaction he can get. Yawn.

21 Polo Horses Die in Florida

Authorities are looking in the deaths of 21 polo horses from Argentina. So far they have ruled out disease and are even looking into the possibility that they were deliberately killed. Yikes.

Seal Meat Served in Canada

Definitely a niche market,but demand has been increasing. And this is despite the bad press received by the annual seal hunts.
For time immemorial seal has been eaten -- raw -- as a traditional food by indigenous people such as the Inuit.

It also has been a traditional food for generations of hunters in Canada's east who serve it up roasted, or sometimes with a hearty Burgundy sauce.

Now, rustic seal has been carted out by back-to-basics foodies dressed up as a gourmet delight, particularly inspiring diners in mostly French-speaking Quebec province, where there is a devoted food-lovers' culture.

Many diners are huge fans of its taste, describing the mammal's meat as somewhere between duck and veal.

Do Lobsters Feel Pain?

Interesting short piece about whether lobsters feel pain and the possible implications. Personally, I think they do.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Critter News Content to be Featured on AnimalRightsZone.com

Starting tomorrow, Critter News content will be featured on AnimalRightsZone.com. Note - we'll still be here. But, some of our posts will show up on the new site as well.

Joining us will be Animal Person, Creature Talk, and Animal Ethics. I'm hoping there will be more, because I think it's a great idea to organize this kind of content in one area. So, I hope you'll time to check out the site and check out some of the other bloggers. The site officially launches on Tuesday April 21st.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Baby Gorilla Rescued from Snare in Rwanda

Back in February, a three-year-old gorilla was caught in a poacher's snare meant for antelope. Fortunately, wildlife staff from the Karisoke Research Center discovered it and it's okay now.

Here's the story from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Former Virunga Park Officials In Prison

And these particular guys deserve it.

Four senior Wildlife Officers have been arrested and imprisoned after the state Congolese Wildlife Agency (ICCN) pressed charges for complicity in the destruction of the protected forests of Virunga National Park in the east of DR Congo. The imprisonment of the Rangers comes after a lengthy trial in the North Kivu province courts initiated after the July 2007 massacre of 5 mountain gorillas that was met with outrage around the globe.

Not guilty of gorilla killings - guilty of illegal charcoaling
The Wildlife Officers were charged by the Congolese Wildlife Authority with the "destruction of flora and fauna" under Wildlife Law OL 069-41 of August 1969. The charges included the massacre of the gorillas and involvement in the illegal charcoal trade. The officers were not found guilty of the gorilla massacre due to a lack of evidence, but were fined $5,000 and sentenced to 6 months in prison for involvement in the illegal charcoal trade that allegedly earned them up to $15,000 per month. The officers have been suspended from ICCN pending closure of their file.

"The convictions are a crucial and difficult step in our efforts to rebuild Congo's National Parks," said Virunga National Park Director Emmanuel de Merode. "They also reflect a firm commitment on the part of Congolese institutions to tackle corruption and the illegal exploitation of natural resources in Congo, the root cause of 12 years of civil war."

Alley Cat Allies Wins Recognition for Financial Efficiency

We've been supporters of Alley Cat Allies for years, ever since we rescued a feral cat colony living in our apartment building's parking lot 14 years ago (5 of those clowns are aging nicely with us with us now...including Charlotte who's on the masthead).

They do excellent work on feral cat issues, but I'm glad to see that they are recognized for their financial efficiency too. They do a good job of using donations for actual programs instead of bloated overhead.

Here's a Charity Spotlight article on them from MainStreet.com.

Yay!

Oregon Ranchers Want to Kill Wolves That have Been Killing Sheep

Wolves have been killing livestock in Oregon, and now they want the authority to kill them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quote of the Week

"The quiet conscience is the invention of the devil. No one of us may permit any preventable pain to be inflicted even though the responsibility for that pain is not ours. No one may shut his eyes and think that the pain which is therefore not visible, is nonexistent."
- Albert Schweitzer, Alsatian Theologian, Musician, and Medical Missionary

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Musings

I'm reading a book about women in the American abolitionist movement. There are a lot of similarities between that movement and today's animal rights movement (such as it is...but that's another post).

One of the differences I see immediately is the role of the churches and the religious community. Quakers, for example, were the early abolitionists in the US. The drive to emancipate slaves was grounded on religious and moral grounds. Slavery was a "sin" and to work to end slavery was "God's work." There was tremendous moral energy, organization, networking, and credibility that came from the involvement of religious organizations and individuals.

Now, I'm an atheist, but I'm practical enough to realize that religious groups offer a certain weight and a lot of passion to issues they choose. Just look at the pro-life movement. Where is that religious outrage over the treatment of animals?

It's not there and it is one crucial element the animal rights movement is missing.

University of Louisiana Plays Defense on Primate Research

They are at least admitting there are problems with standard operating procedures at New Iberia Research Center. Officials claim to be taking steps to correct certain problems.

Maybe.

This web page also has a video with a tour of the facility, conducted by center staff.

Foie Gras Disappearing From San Diego Restaurants

Here in Seattle, NARN (Northwest Animal Rights Network) has been staging protests at a local restaurant that serves foie gras. They've caught a lot of grief over it. They get laughed at by patrons and they are criticized by local paper The Stranger. I can't say I've always felt it was the best use of time.

Having said that though, I see that these types of protests have had an effect in the San Diego area. In addition, back in 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill making foie gras illegal starting in 2012.

I guess small protests like NARN's seem futile when compared to the overwhelming issue of animal welfare, but you have to think that a number of small protests over time can have a large cumulative impact. No single effort is insignificant when combined with many others doing the exact same thing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Stupid, It Burns!

PETA has asked the group Pet Shop Boys to change their name to Rescue Shelter Boys. At first I thought that was from the Onion.
Peta Europe has written to Pet Shop Boys with a request they are unable to agree to," reads a post on the band's official website.

But the band admits the request "raises an issue worth thinking about".

Peta's letter requests the name change because of the cruelty it alleges takes place in the pet trade.
Anything to get their name in the news.

H/t to LA Unleashed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bo Obama in "Much Ado About Nothing"

There is a bit of a drama around the adoption of the Portuguese (yay!) Water Dog puppy Bo. Some are saying that President Obama broke his promise to get a rescue dog. Others are accusing him of getting a dog from a breeder. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Here's our position.

Bo is not really a rescue dog. He came from a breeder and did not have a successful first placement, but his is nowhere near the tough stories we hear about in shelters. (It helps to have a sibling in Ted Kennedy's household.)

But he wasn't really adopted from a breeder either. His first placement didn't work out and he was with an obedience trainer for a second chance at another home.

So what is he?

He's simply a gift from a friend. Ted Kennedy gave him to the Obamas as an act of friendship. It's his own dog's sibling and I think it was a symbol of political alliance as well. I don't think there was anything underhanded in it at all. The dog was a fit for the family and it's hard to say no to Ted Kennedy.

We would have loved it if the Obamas had adopted a dog from a shelter. But there were allergy issues which are an understandable concern. And we also have to realize that there would not be a sudden rush to the shelter if the Obamas had adopted their dog from one. There may have been a rush to adopt that particular dog perhaps, but then the fad would fade and the people who were never sincere in the first place would just dump the dog again.

I think we animal people should just chill and enjoy the new puppy.

Around the Blogosphere

I really enjoyed this post by The (Nearly) Perfect Vegetarian about her research into the safety of the beauty products she uses. So, despite all the animal testing that goes into cosmetics, many of them are still potentially harmful to a human being. So all that wasted animal life for nothing?

Amazing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

India's Cows Contributing to Global Warming?

It's been a while since we've posted about Mr. Barky's favorite subject....Cows With Gas! This time, in India!

By burping, belching and excreting copious amounts of methane — a greenhouse gas that traps 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide — India's livestock of roughly 485 million (including sheep and goats) contribute more to global warming than the vehicles they obstruct. With new research suggesting that emission of methane by Indian livestock is higher than previously estimated, scientists are furiously working at designing diets to help bovines and other ruminants eat better, stay more energetic and secrete lesser amounts of the offensive gas.

Animal Welfare Act Inadequate for Farm Animals

This is really interesting. How many people know this about the Animal Welfare Act? I certainly didn't. No wonder there is so much "farm" animal abuse out there.

The only cool thing is that Gene Bauer's views on the meat industry are so similar to those expressed on this blog a few weeks ago. (Yay!!!) Humane treatment runs counter to the entire industry when the point is to make money by processing these animals as fast as possible.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “farm animals are regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) only when used in biomedical research, testing, teaching and exhibition. Farm animals used for food and fiber or for food and fiber research are not regulated under the AWA.”

...Unlike domestic animals, there are minimal organizations or lobbyists to defend these animals, therefore leaving public opinion to be shaped only by the insincere comments of the cattle industry. As such, most people do not consider the potential abuse that may have taken place to bring their hamburger onto their dinner plate.

While a nationwide vegan or vegetarian lifestyle change is highly unlikely, the abuse can be maintained through increased government regulation. “Laws remain grossly inadequate as do practices at our nation’s slaughterhouses,” says Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur. “Most animals in the U.S. are killed in factory style slaughterhouses whose primary goal is to kill and process animals quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, this goal tends to run counter to humane goals.”

Baur believes that slaughterhouse cruelty can be reduced by simple operational changes, such as slowing down the slaughter lines. “The faster they go, the greater the problems with animals being handled roughly and being improperly killed. Some have been literally cut up while still alive because the facility didn’t provide adequate time for the animal to be rendered unconscious and killed.”

Class "B" Animals Sold for Medical Research

I learned something new from this article. I had never heard the use of the term "Class B."
In the shadow of a $5 million-dollar grant given to Oklahoma State’s renowned veterinary school and then rescinded due to allegations of abusive and cruel animal research practices, Oklahoma State University Philosophy Club and Friends of the Forms will host animal activist Chris DeRose. DeRose will speak at 7 p.m., on Monday at the OSU Student Union Little Theater on the second floor. DeRose will address the use of “Class B” animals in veterinary schools and research labs.

Class B dealers are animal brokers who acquire animals from places such as pounds, flea markets and newspaper ads for the purpose of selling them to research institutions or veterinary schools. Often the care of animals at such dealers is considered substandard.

It's sad. It's really just a matter of luck whether an animal gets to go home to a warm bed or to a cold cage in a laboratory. Truly unfair.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

US Government Continues Subsidizing Meat Industry

Hard to wean people off animals when the US government is propping up the industries, and especially when so much of it ends up on school lunch trays (laying the foundation for this nation's obesity problem in my opinion.)

I also have problems with subsidies to big agribusiness. It's just another bailout, but nothing new. We've been propping these guys up for decades. Too bad it continues under Vilsack and Obama.

The federal government continued its effort to boost agricultural commodity prices today by announcing it will purchase an additional $25 million worth of pork.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also said it will buy $60 million of turkey, $2 million of lamb and $29.7 million of walnuts.

Last week, the USDA bought approximately 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk to help the dairy industry.

The purchases are in addition to the ones the USDA makes annually for federal food programs.

The food will go to federal food nutrition assistance programs, such as school lunches.

Pork farmers have been losing an average of $20 on each hog marketed since October 2007, according to the U.S. Pork Producers. And economists have said dairy producers are losing an average of $3 per cow per day.

2009 Animal Rights Conference Scheduled for July 16-20

It's in Los Angeles this year.

BOCA to Stop Using Eggs by End of 2009

Totally missed this story from about a month ago.
On March 19, 2009 a company representative emailed Compassion Over Killing:

"…I am pleased to let you know the BOCA brand will be eliminating eggs in all of its products by the end of this year. We anticipate all BOCA products will be egg free in 2010."

By removing eggs from their ingredient list, BOCA is withdrawing financial support for factory farms that use battery-cages. They are striking a blow against the cruel egg industry. Whether or not you choose to eat eggs, this is a major victory for animals. This brings us one step closer to ending intense confinement of hens in factory farms.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

First Puppy To Be Unveiled Soon

The word is, that it's a Portuguese water dog.
The little guy is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog given to the Obama girls as a gift by that Portuguese water dog-lovin' senator himself, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The girls named it Bo -- and let it be noted that you learned that here first. Malia and Sasha chose the name, because their cousins have a cat named Bo and because first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley, a source said. (Get it? Bo . . . Diddley?)
For those who are wondering why a Portuguese water dog was picked, I think it's clearly a secret signal.

Why Do People Jump Into Enclosures With Bears?

Darwin foiled again.

Watch Video About Pig Farming in the UK

It's a 5-minute film about conditions for pigs in the UK. Produced by Compassion in World Farming.

As an aside, people who love to eat meat should also watch educational videos like these. They need to take responsibility and learn about the food they eat. If one wants to eat meat, fine, but understand how you are spending your money. Don't live in a cloud....wake up!

Conditions for farm animals will not change until meat-eaters start demanding changes themselves. Unfortunately, there are way more of them than there are vegetarians and vegans.

USDA Has Meat Animal Research Center

Here it is...the US Meat Animal Research Center. Good site to visit to see what they're up to. Obviously, all the pictures will probably be nice and clean.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Animals are Victims of Italy's Earthquake Too

Lots of animal death and trauma in the aftermath of the Italian earthquake.

Radlo Foods Pledging Conversion to Cage-Free Eggs

Good news following an investigation of farm animal abuses by Mercy for Animals.
Sometime soon, David Radlo of Radlo Foods says his sign in front of the former DeCoster Egg Farm will be coming down and all his business at the massive egg operation in Turner will come to an end. Radlo says he will no longer rely on hens or eggs that come from Maine Contract Farming, the company owned by egg farm magnate Jack DeCoster, one of the nation's biggest producers of brown eggs.

Says Radlo, "We've given up that facility and we're moving on down the road and we're sourcing from other states right now but there's an important thing that people need to know: we hear you loud and clear."

Radlo's announcement follows word from Pennsylvania-based egg supplier Eggland's Best that it would drop Radlo Foods as one of its franchisees. In a written statement the company said it was making the move after an investigation revealed that Radlo Foods violated the terms of an agreement by working with a farm that is not in compliance with its strict animal welfare standards. Instead, Eggland's Best says it will get classic brown eggs from other locations. Its white eggs, cage-free and organic eggs are not involved.

Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy for Animals, an Ohio-based animal rights organization, commends Eggland's Best "for finally stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for their involvement in this abusive facility."

Mercy for Animals sent an undercover investigator to work at the former DeCoster Egg Farm in Turner where he secretly videotaped hens being spun by the neck and kicked into manure pits or thrown into garbage cans and left to die for several days. The group's findings have now triggered an investigation by the state's Animal Welfare Program. The Hannaford Brothers supermarket chain has also announced that it will begin vigorously enforcing an agreement it has with egg suppliers not to do business with the farm.

Here's a link to the investigative video. Be warned, it's hard to watch.

World Week for Animals in Laboratories is April 16-26

I like this short opinion letter that gets right to the point.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quote of the Week

..we sacrifice other species to our own not because our own has any objective metaphysical privilege over others, but simply because it is ours. It may be very natural to have this loyalty to our own species, but let us hear no more from the naturalists about the "sentimentality" of anti-vivisectionists. If loyalty to our own species--preference for man simply because we are men--is not sentiment, then what is?

-CS Lewis

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Police Shooting of 15 lb Mountain Lion Cub Ruled Unjustified

Wow, bet that must have been a short hearing. A 15 lb cub and they were so freaked out they shot it.
Said Larry Nichols, a weapons and tactics specialist with the Burbank Police Department, who wrote the review: "The actions taken by the officers [were] not appropriate and outside of the department policy. No person was placed in immediate jeopardy."
Morons.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Military Used Pigs in Brain Injury Research

Lovely.
Military researchers have dressed live pigs in body armor and strapped them into Humvee simulators that were then blown up with explosives to study the link between roadside bomb blasts and brain injury.

For an 11-month period that ended in December, researchers subjected pigs and rats to about 200 blasts, according to Pentagon documents and interviews. The explosions have ranged in intensity, wounding some of the pigs and killing others. Roadside bombs are the top killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Did you know this?
U.S. car companies used live animals, including pigs, for crash tests until the early 1990s. They stopped after protests from animal rights groups, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month

Here's a web page on the ASPCA's site with some activities. They are also doing the talk shows.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Research Shows Crabs Feel Pain

I was afraid of this.

If you've ever wondered why I have a clinical view of the meat industry, it's because I worked for three years in the accounting department of a very large shrimp importer that also sold finfish, shellfish and value-added products (ie. frozen seafoods with sauces, etc.) While the vast majority of this company's products were shrimp, the majority of its revenue was earned from crab sales.

Factory farming does not only happen on land. It happens on the sea too. And it is just as wasteful. Overfishing, poor resource management, the view of life as a product for sale, and pure greed is crashing fisheries and destroying beautiful ecosystems. Now, it looks like we may be contributing to individual suffering as well.

Last Monkey Recaptured by Primate Center

I don't know how I feel about this. These are not subject monkeys, but they are part of the breeding colony. Breeding for what?
The last of nine monkeys that escaped from the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Hillsboro was found at 2 p.m. Sunday, officials said.

Nine Japanese macaque monkeys got loose Friday after their keeper left the cage unlocked and they figured out how to open the door. Workers baiting cages with apples recaptured eight animals Friday and Saturday.

The last monkey was found on the primate center campus. All the monkeys are healthy juvenile males and not involved in health research, officials said. They are part of the center's breeding colony.

Hillsboro police helped find the final monkey.

Center director Nancy Haigwood said the perimeter fence will be improved to make it more difficult for an animal to leave the property.

"We will be investigating the cause of this incident to try and prevent additional releases," she said.

I'm so glad that the Center will do a better job of incarcerating its prisoners (insert sarcasm heavily here). Isn't it ironic how these animals show their clear intelligence by learning how to open a door at the same time their fellow species members are being sacrificed to science?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Horse Slaughterhouses Face Hurdles in Montana

Looks like Montana's state government is heading towards the approval of horse slaughterhouses, but there are hurdles at the federal level. The only real markets for horsemeat are overseas and product must be inspected by the USDA before it can be shipped outside the US. However, the USDA is currently barred from such inspections.

Here's an article on the situation.

Canada Threatens WTO Action on Seal Ban

If Europe bans seal products, Canada may go to the WTO (World Trade Organization) and appeal.

Raccoon 1, Drunk Man 0

This is a what happens when you mix alcohol, sex and a raccoon. Don't worry, the raccoon is just fine...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

British Center Working On Animal Replacement in Research?

We'll see. I just signed up for the e-newsletter. The group is called NC3E (National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research).

The NC3Rs brings together stakeholders in the 3Rs in academia, industry, government and animal welfare organisations to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas, and the translation of research findings into practice that will benefit both animals and science.

The Centre funds high-quality 3Rs research, organises workshops and symposia to disseminate and advance the 3Rs, and develops 3Rs information resources and guidelines.

The NC3Rs is an independent organisation, reporting to the Science Minister and stakeholders through the publication of an annual report, and is funded by the following organisations - MRC, BBSRC, Home Office, Wellcome Trust, ABPI, GSK, AstraZeneca, Unilever, The Dow Chemical Company, SC Johnson, Syngenta.

Growing Number of Scientists Question Animal Research

They're not necessarily questioning the ethics, but the efficacy.

This is an excellent article that appeared in the Boston Globe last week.
The feud between animal rights activists and researchers is among the bitterest in science. But many researchers - although adamant that animal research remains critical to finding cures and expanding medical knowledge - have come to concede that using creatures as human stand-ins is unnecessary for many procedures. Indeed, it often isn't even the best science: New drugs that show great promise in mice, for example, often confer zero benefit to humans, or even prove harmful. Plus, animals are messy, require feeding and constant care, draw protests, and, yes, can be a bit smelly.

This is an important issue. Many animal supporters get caught up in fighting the food industry, but animal testing is as ugly and fundamental an issue. Even if you become 100 percent vegan, how much of the drugs you take, the makeup you wear and the cleaning products you use have been tested on an animal? We as a movement cannot compartamentalize. We need to be versatile and advocate on multiple fronts.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quote of the Week

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

-John Muir

Government Grants for Animal Research

If you really want to ruin your day, visit this web page with a list of government grants involving animal research. It has a list of grant applications, researchers and details on the actual studies.

Not pretty.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Are Farm Animals Usually Killed in a Humane Manner?

Andrew from Good Honest Dollar had an excellent question. He asked whether cows, chickens, sheep and some of the other animals that we eat are usually treated and killed in a humane manner. It's a thoughtful question I wish more people would ask.

The meat industry will say yes, of course, all animals are treated and killed humanely. Here is my opinion. (It's a deceptively simple question that could spawn a monster-long response. But I’ll try to keep my answer as short as possible.)

In my opinion, the crux of the question touches on what is “humane.” Different people have different interpretations of that word depending on a number of factors. For some people, it is inhumane to eat meat in any situation, no matter how well the animal is treated prior to and during slaughter. For other people, “humane” means it is okay to eat the animal as long as the following conditions are met:

1. The animal is well-treated during its life in terms of having space to roam, living free of fear and abuse, and being well-fed in clean conditions. In other words, the proverbial happy farm animal.

AND

2. The eventual kill is quick, clean, and painless.

In my opinion, and I am a vegetarian, the second definition of humane is the MINIMAL that we should expect. However, the factory farm system we have in any country does not lend itself to either of the two criteria. There is an abundance of information on the web about undercover investigations, livestock conditions, slaughter procedures, etc. There are many gruesome pictures too. And if you ever drive around an egg farm, hog farm, slaughterhouse, feeding lot, etc., you can probably get a lot of first-hand information too. The first step is to gather that information and then make the decision as to what your own personal definition and expectations are of the word"humane."

Here are my main issues (again, there is a ton of information out there. I highly recommend Farm Sanctuary's issue page...short and to the point.)

1. There are probably no happy animals in factory farming (ie. big corporate agribusiness.) It’s not cost-effective. Animals are raw materials to process for product. You cram as many as you can into the holding pens and keep your maintenance costs as low as possible in order to increase profit. High care standards eat into that profit. They are no good to you alive. You are not processing their wellbeing, but their carcasses for meat.

2. Factory farms are unlikely to be properly and regularly inspected by the USDA. Livestock don’t contribute to campaigns, but agribusiness does. So who’s to say that even the minimum standards of care are being implemented on a daily basis?

3. Factory animals are voiceless victims. Undercover investigative pieces have shown that some unhinged workers take out their frustrations on the farm animals. These are low-paying, menial, unpleasant, stressful jobs that are likely to bring out the worst in people. There have been several high-profile cases of severe abuse that only require a search on the web (examples include turkeys being used as punching bags while alive and paint being sprayed into hogs’ eyes for “fun.")

4. Factory farming is not conducive to quick, clean, and painless kills. This is mass production. Shove them in, shove them out. There are horror stories of animals not completely dead before they are being processed. One of my closest friends worked as an accountant for IBP (formerly Iowa Beef Producers, now Tyson’s) and, he won’t speak of it, but there were some bad things that happened there. In fact, I wish these animals' deaths were quick, clean and painless. It would make up for the miserable lives they are likely to have led prior to those deaths.

(As a side note, it’s important to remember that there were terrible abuses during and after the industrial revolution committed against human workers. They were simply factors of production at that time too. It’s the nature of the beast of mass production. It's not conducive to humane anything.)