Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, November 30, 2009

Worst Opinion Piece from Thanksgiving

I was reading this nasty, mean-spirited "opinion piece" in the Detroit News and thinking, "Wow, what asshole is this guy?" Then I found out it's a representative from the Center for Consumer Freedom, a "a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies and consumers to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices."

Enough said.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marmoset Smuggler Escapes in India

Unfortunate.

From the Times of India...
Sher Singh, one of the kingpins of the countrywide wildlife trafficking racket involved in stealing eight common marmosets from Alipore Zoo on August 9, walked off a train in the wee hours of Friday. A three-member team of Orissa police that was bringing him back to Kolkata was fast asleep when Sher Singh made good his escape.

The Orissa police team did not bother to inform their counterparts in Kolkata immediately and merely lodged a complaint with Government Railway Police at Kharagpur station.

Sure doesn't sound like these guys take wildlife trafficking very seriously. Now this guy gets to commit more crimes against animals.

Utah's Shelters Providing Strays to Labs for Research

Thanks to PETA's undercover investigation of University of Utah labs for bringing this issue to media attention.

From the AP...
Scores of abandoned dogs, cats and livestock from Utah animal shelters become subjects of laboratory research at the University of Utah each year.

That's because of a little-known state law that requires government-run pounds to turn animals over to researchers if asked.

The practice gained wider publicity after the animal rights group PETA said earlier this month that 1 of its agents spent eight months working undercover at University of Utah research facilities.

University officials say they only collect animals from shelters willing to participate and pound animals are steered toward nonlethal experiments.

They say cats and dogs at the lab get excellent veterinary care and survivors are placed into a volunteer-run adoption program.

Support Island Dog Inc.

I really like this group and donate to them. Puerto Rico's animal welfare is pathetic. It's not that different from the rest of Latin America, but Puerto Rico is part of the United States. There's no excuse for them not to be on par with at least the worst US state.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Light posting this weekend. Have a kitten.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pork Industry Tries to Deal with Public Image

Every time I get depressed about animal issues (every other day it seems like), I see an article like this. Now, it may see like it would add to more depression, but it actually makes me feel a little better.

It's an article about the pork industry having to address the increasingly positive media image of pigs as intelligent creatures that could be someone's pet. The fact that this discussion warrants an article in the Des Moines Register means that there is some movement on this front and and it causes the pork industry concern.

On Wednesday, I almost lost my temper with some people in our customer service unit who wondered why anyone would want a turkey to have a good life before death...."it's just a turkey." And, of course, this view of farm animals is the norm. But small cracks like those hinted at in this article give me tiny room for an almost imperceptible pause.

Smithsonian Magazine Spotlights Wildlife Trafficking

HUGE article in the Smithsonian Magazine about wildlife trafficking out of Ecuador.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Whenever people say, ‘We mustn’t be sentimental,’ you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add, ‘We must be realistic,’ they mean they are going to make money out of it."

-- Brigid Brophy (1929 – 1995), English-Irish novelist and playwright.

PETA Undercover Agent Also Worked in Oregon

The PETA activist who worked undercover at the University of Utah, and collected video footage of alleged mistreatment of lab animals, was also involved in an operation at the Oregon National Primate Research Center.

I say "good for her!" She has a lot more guts than I do.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Animals as Raw Material

I came across this article in USA Today entitled "Waste not, want not: Companies find uses for leftover animal parts."
From plastics made from feather protein to diesel fuel made from fat to organic fertilizer made from poultry litter, the USA's top meat producers are developing new uses and markets for the animal parts that humans won't eat, says Tom Cook, president of the National Renderers Association in Alexandria, Va.

For years, those parts have ended up in cosmetics, soap, pet food and animal feed. Now, meat companies are putting more resources into sustainability programs, says Paul Rutledge of the American Meat Institute's sustainability committee.

At Clemson University, such products are being tested at the South Carolina school's Animal Co-Products Research & Education Center, says center Director Annel Greene.

Greene says there are a number of uses for the leftover materials that have yet to be discovered. "It's fascinating to see everything that can be done," Greene says.

I suppose most people will think this is great. What an efficient use of every bit of raw material possible. And all to help save the planet.

But that's the problem...these are not raw materials. These are living beings. To me, they are not some input that gets "rendered" and used to the utmost degree. And I don't care about the term "sustainability." I don't care if dead animal fat is being used for biodiesel (a terrible, wasteful fuel anyway....but that's another story) or plastic, etc. It's all about profiting from death.

Let's change the subject a little bit. What about all the dead humans taking up space in cemeteries? That's useless material...isn't there some use we could put them to as well? Once you're dead, you're dead. Can't that carcass become a raw material too? It's pretty gruesome when you apply the thought to dead humans, but not so much to dead animals....they're both dead though right?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

PETA Leads Anti-Animal Research Protest at University of Utah

This protest comes after an undercover PETA investigator collected evidence of alleged animal abuse in the University laboratories.

Cockfighting Rings Busted in South Carolina

They've charged three dozen people in one of the largest cockfighting busts in years.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Minnesota Activist Indicted for Animal Terrorism

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune...I don't see any mention in this article (or in this one from the Chicago Tribune) about threats to human life in this incident. Straight vandalism and economic loss. Is this a valid prosecution? Is it terrorism?
Scott DeMuth, who is being held in jail in Davenport, is scheduled to make his first appearance in U.S. District Court Friday.

According to the indictment, unsealed today, DeMuth committed "animal enterprise terrorism and cause[d] economic damage to the animal enterprise in an amount exceeding $10,000" between Nov. 9 and Nov. 20, 2004.

The Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for vandalizing two labs and three offices at the University of Iowa on Nov. 14, 2004.

DeMuth and Carrie Feldman, another activist from Minneapolis have been jailed since Tuesday for refusing to answer questions before the federal grand jury in Davenport.

They were found in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge John Jarvey after they were offered limited immunity for their testimony before the grand jury to compel them to talk.

Activists Hit Max Mara Managers in Italy

From Bite Back:
Redecorated with paint and oil the opulent houses of Luigi and Ignazio Maramotti in Albinea (Reggio Emilia). Locked the main entrances. Redecorated with paint also the house of the sister Maria Ludovica located in Reggio Emilia. All these people represent the top management of Max Mara Fashion Group, they torture and kill animals for profits of their company.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

HSUS Video about Feral Cat Rescue

I've been way overworked and stressed lately. Haven't been into deep posts at all. So here is a nice story and video about a HSUS rescue of a California feral colony. It makes me want to get back into animal rescue, which is where my animal rights activism started.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quote of the Week

What is the good of having a nice house without a decent planet to put it on?

-Henry David Thoreau

Thai Police Arrest Ivory Traffickers

Police arrested two Thai nationals for trafficking in African ivory. Unfortunately, if they are found guilty, they would face a maximum of only four years in jail. The fines could be up to 40,000 baht (1,150 dollars).

The dollars part doesn't seem like much to me either, but it could be a fortune in Thailand. Anyone know?

Monday, November 16, 2009

An End to Japanese Whaling?

I seriously doubt it, despite the Greenpeace report in Wildlife Extra News.. It's too much a matter of international pride. (I know, I know, I'm always a pessimist....but I'm so good at it!)
A major review of Japanese government spending could spell the end to whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, according to Greenpeace, after the review committee proposed massive cuts in subsidies to a body which funds the so-called scientific research programme.

The Spending Review Committee recommended that the Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Fund (OFCF), which gives loans to the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) to run the discredited science programme, have all of its funding revoked, except monies needed for loans in 2010.

PETA and IFAW Plan 24 City Tour of Canada

Both groups will be protesting the seal hunt using the Olympic torch ceremony as the backdrop.
PETA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) are holding a joint news conference this week, and I would like to offer you an exclusive advance scoop on it.

Crowds gathering across Canada to watch the Olympic torch pass through their towns will also be greeted by a 12-meter-tall baby "seal." The inflatable mascot will bear a banner demanding an end to the commercial seal slaughter and will be accompanied by animal advocates who will enlist people to call on their representatives in Parliament to support legislation that would end the slaughter. Plans will be unveiled at a news conference in Halifax in advance of the Olympic torch's arrival.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Animal Researchers' Emotional Blackmail

Here's a succinct letter to the editor that summarizes the emotional blackmail propogated by animal researchers.

From the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, WA...
The million dollar ad campaign by the Foundation for Biomedical Research (“Critical research,” Nov. 10) is public relations at its worst.

It is designed to prey on our fears. It is all about convincing us that a cure for everything is just around the corner as long as we keep funding their animal research gravy train. They want us to keep on funneling billions and billions of taxpayer dollars to the drug companies, the research universities and the suppliers of the animals and the animal testing equipment. How stupid do they think we are?

Unfortunately, we may not be stupid, but most of us are willfully ignorant.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

PETA Busts University of Utah Research Lab

An undercover PETA investigator shot hours of footage of alleged mistreatment of animals. A University representative denied any mistreatment: "None of the things she alleges are substantive," said Tom Parks, the U.'s vice president for research. "It's a remarkably banal list of ordinary events in an animal-care facility."

Per the Salt Lake Tribune,
these are some of the allegations....
*Failed to ensure that experiments minimized discomfort, distress and pain to the animals. In one case, up to 17 kittens from three litters died or were euthanized -- with no experiment data generated -- after injections to induce hydrocephalus.

» Discouraged the filing of health status reports to staff veterinarians -- "even when animals were clearly in distress.''

» Failed to provide adequate housing and management for animals that, in some instances, led to unnecessary stress, pain, injury or death.

» Failed to provide minimal enrichment for animals -- companionship for monkeys, balls for pigs, paper towels for mice -- to reduce emotional stress.

Certainly a case to follow.

Man Busted for Bear Gall Bladders in Washington State

This happened in my own State of Washington. We allow hunters to shoot bears, but not to sell their parts. Note the Asia connection again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Wolves are very resourceful. All they need to survive is for people not to shoot them."

— Bob Ferris

Europeans Continue to Search for Alternatives to Animal Research....Why Not Americans?

I just don't understand it. Is there a different culture regarding animals in Europe? They have drug companies that are just as powerful as those here. Is public outcry greater? Are animal rights organizations more effective? Are politicians more willing to act? What gives?

From Cordis News...
At a conference in Brussels, Belgium on 6 November, European Commission Vice-President G√ľnter Verheugen, and Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik restated the EU's commitment to the reduction of animal testing.

Industry representatives were also present at the conference, which was held as part of the European Partnership on Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA). The EPAA was created in 2005 and is an unprecedented collaboration between science and industry to reduce animal suffering in scientific tests.

The aims of the EPAA are based on the '3Rs' of replacement, reduction and refinement. To enable this new approach to be developed, the European Commission and companies that are members of the EPAA are working hard to initiate novel methods of research and technology transfer that will reduce the need for animal testing.

San Antonio Zoo Accused of Elephant Mistreatment

In Defense of Animals has taken up the cause of Lucky the elephant, the only elephant at the San Antonio Zoo, alleging poor conditions and emotional distress.

What amazes me is Lucky's age...49 years old. She has been at the San Antonio Zoo for 47 years.

Is this right?

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Book Looks at Humanity's Role in the Next Extinction

Another book I want to read! I'm a glutton for depressing punishment!
Nevertheless the subject of eradicated species has become publishing hot property after a bidding battle in the US saw Henry Holt, a publisher, beat its rivals to buy The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert last week. According to the New York Times, a "mid-six-figure advance" has now been agreed between writer and publisher.

"The idea of mass extinctions as the next step after talking about the perils of global warming is the most crucial subject," said Gillian Blake of Holt, after completing the deal with Kolbert, a writer for the New Yorker on environmental issues. Her last book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, outlined evidence collated from sites across the planet showing how global warming is changing the world. The book was well reviewed on both sides of the Atlantic, with the Observer praising it as "a superbly crafted, diligently compressed vision of a world spiralling towards destruction".

Now, Kolbert is to focus on humanity's impact on the animal world, and in particular will look at the species that are today being rendered extinct by men and women. Scientists say the number of species being lost is approaching levels reached during five pivotal extinction events that have swept the planet over the past 600 million years. Among these catastrophes was the event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Kolbert's task will to be show whether or not humanity – with its spiralling population, widespread habitat destruction, over-fishing and global warming – is rivalling these.

Nepal is "Poachers Paradise"

Ugly stuff happening in Nepal.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Is Shelter Appreciation Week a Sham?

Nathan Winograd has an interesting piece in the Examiner about the recent HSUS Animal Shelter Appreciation Week. It's not that he's unappreciative of people that work with animals, but rather the state of many of the shelters that are being appreciated.
HSUS’ latest public relations gimmick is part of a larger attempt by the very animal control officers responsible for this neglect and abuse to reform their image from one of “dog catcher” to “humane law enforcement.” They are trying to change the image of their agencies from “pounds” to “shelters,” from “animal control” to “animal care and control,” even while they refuse to reform their regressive and abusive practices which—were they to end—would naturally lead to the respect and gratitude they claim to be seeking.
The article documents a number of recent abuses nationwide, as well as the difficulties reformers have faced in trying to stop abuse at shelters.

Nathan Winograd is an advocate for no-kill shelters (and is the author of several books on the subject). You can read about his background here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blue Whales Reappearing Again

And here's some good news for today.
BLUE whales, the world’s largest animals, are reappearing in parts of the oceans where hunting once wiped them out, signalling that they may finally be returning from the brink of extinction.

Marine scientists have recorded the animals roaming migratory routes and feeding grounds in the Pacific from which they had vanished for much of the past six decades.

Research also suggests that the Antarctic population of blue whales may now be growing at 6% a year. In the Atlantic, sightings are also increasing.

“The overall numbers are still tiny compared with the original populations before whaling started, but the trend is at last in the right direction,” said John Calambokidis, a marine scientist whose research on whale movements and populations has just been published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

Another Wildlife Trafficking Ring Busted

In India this time. They seized tiger skins, tiger bones and otter skins.

Where could those tiger bones be going but to Asian countries to make tiger bone wine?

NASA Funds Radiation Experiments on Monkeys

Another animal experiment I would not support as a US taxpayer. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are calling attention to it.
The research project, led by Jack Bergman of McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate in Belmont, Mass., was one of 12 awarded radiobiology research grants through NASA's Human Research Program, the space agency announced October 27. In Bergman's study, according to Discovery News, 18 to 28 squirrel monkeys would be subjected to radiation and periodically tested to gauge how exposure affects performance in a variety of learned tasks. Stellar and galactic radiation would bombard astronauts on missions to Mars, but the health effects of such a trip are not well known.

Trips to Mars? I am so sorry, but the likelihood and necessity of trips to Mars are immeasurably low right now. Of what benefit is this to humanity in the here and now? This is so frigging frivolous. If we are going to subject animals to great suffering (radiation for heaven's sake), don't let it be for something like this. We are nowhere near that.

To be honest, I like science fiction and find the universe fascinating, but I do not support NASA funding. I believe that money to explore space can go to help an impoverished nation. Or better yet, to protect and cherish the planet WE CURRENTLY LIVE ON.

There's nothing to currently do on Mars, but plant a flag and play with some rocks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Trip to an Animal Lab

Well, kind of. It wasn't a full-fledged tour, but disturbing nonetheless.

I can't really talk about what I do except that I work in government. In a brief tour of a particular biotech research company, I was taken to the animal lab. They did not experiment on primates (I asked!), but did experiment on mice and guinea pigs. Interesting that many of the grants this place gets specifically say they can't experiment on any domesticated animals (cats and dogs I guess.).

Anyway, I couldn't enter the actual rooms where the animals were kept because I would have had to wear a bio-hazard suit. But I did get to walk around the floor. It was a rather grim place. There was a poster in the lunch room with four cute animals (a dog, cat, rabbit and something else.) It reminded me of an adoption poster at the animal shelter. But when I got closer, I read, "Animal research opens minds." It was a jarring moment. This adorable poster that draws you in to the sweet faces of these animals basically proclaims that it is a good thing to use their bodies for medical research, which almost always leads to pain and death. It was an incongruous message.

Then, heading out, I noticed three little knitted mice. My tour guide was a little uncomfortable and said, "Yeah, that's a little morbid. One of the employees' moms knitted those."

One knitted mouse had a little sign that said, "I want my mommy."

The other had a sign that said, "RIP."

Now I'm way more morbid than most people in my tastes and sense of humor, but even I found this to be very disturbing. It certainly doesn't fill me with confidence in these people's skills in compassion and humane care.

Weird, weird, weird. Just thinking about it makes me crave a shower.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quote of the Week

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.

~Elwyn Brooks White, Essays of E.B. White, 1977

Paul Watson on the South Park Spoof

He takes the right attitude:
I could not care less how I was personally ridiculed, lampooned, and insulted. Hell, being ridiculed, lampooned and insulted on South Park is a declaration to the world that Sea Shepherd and Whale Wars are effective and have cracked through to the other side of the media culture curtain. Yes sir, we are now on the same carnival sitting duck gallery as my old buddy Sean Penn, and Nicole Kidman’s ex-husband Tom Cruise and the Scientologists.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's Up with the UK and Soaring Wildlife Crime?

I don't get it. The Brits are known for their animal rights activism, but there's been a rise in wildlife crime against all animals. Apparently they are seen as nuisances. Badgers are being caught for dog-baiting. Bats are being targeted. A bird species is near extinction.

WTF.

2010 Declared the Year of the Tiger...So What?

The Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop declared 2010 to be the Year of the Tiger. The intention is to focus on saving the tiger species which is being decimated. I say so what? It's just lip service. When China won't support a ban on tiger farms, nor will it work to curb the ridiculous demand for tiger products in its own country, what's the point? China is the single biggest threat to the tiger and it won't participate seriously in its protection. So what if the tiger gets its own year? It's just fuzzy wuzzies and PR.

Monday, November 2, 2009

New podcast

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