|ANIMAL MEDIA ALERTS
COK WINS BATTLE AGAINST ANIMAL CARE CERTIFIED LABEL ON FACTORY FARMED EGGS, PLUS FRONT PAGE STORY ON LIVE HENS BEING THROWN OUT LIKE TRASH 10/2/05
The grass roots Washington DC based animal advocacy group "Compassion Over Killing" has won its battle against United Egg Producers and the Animal Care Certified labels stamped on more than 80% of egg cartons sold in the USA. The Better Business Bureau deemed the labels misleading and referred the matter to the Federal Trade Commission in 2004. The FTC has ruled that the label be removed from all United Egg Producers cartons by March 31, 2006. You can read more about the ruling at http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/051003/nym135.html?.v=23 and please visit www.EggScam.com to see shocking photos of living conditions of hens whose eggs are being sold under that label.
Coinciding with that news, a front page story in the Sunday, October 2, St Louis Post-Dispatch shed some light on the suffering of egg-laying hens. It is headed, "Charges cast doubt on egg firm's plan." The title refers to an egg farms attempts to expand, while charges are pending against some of its workers. The article tells us that a neighbor of the Moark egg factory "saw workers dumping a mix of live and dead chickens into a tractor trailer, and he videotaped them."
We learn that Moark "is the nation's third largest egg producer and is owned by Land O'Lakes and an investment group begun by the man who created the company in southwest Missouri in 1965. The company sells eggs under the names of Eggland's Best and Land O'Lakes All-Natural Farm Fresh Eggs.
The division manager "didn't deny that live chickens were thrown away with dead ones." The article explains, "In the industry, hens that no longer produce eggs are called 'spent hens.' Moark guidelines call for spent hens to be euthanized in a 55-gallon drum with carbon monoxide." But the manager explains that the workers "just weren't being patient."
Note: The company's too-loosely followed guidelines might call for gassing with Carbon Monoxide, but chickens are excluded from the federal Humane Slaughter Act. They may be offered protection under state anti cruelty statutes but it is difficult to prosecute "standard industry practice." Those practices generally involve killing egg-laying hens by the cheapest means available, with no regard for their suffering. A 2003 Los Angeles Times op-ed by Peter Singer and myself discussed the killing of 30,000 hens by feeding them into a woodchipper. You'll find it on line at http://www.dawnwatch.com/oped-december1-2003.htm
The Post Dispatch article tells us that in this case misdemeanor charges of animal abuse were filed and are pending against the three workers caught throwing away live animals. That is a welcome development, since charges were not filed against the farmers in the woodchipper case or after workers at a KFC supplier in West Virginia were videotaped throwing live chickens against a wall and jumping up and down on top of them. But we do not yet know the outcome of the Moark case.
You can read the whole Post Dispatch article on line at http://tinyurl.com/8cojf
It presents a great opportunity for letters to the editor on the treatment of animals raised for food. The Post Dispatch takes letters at
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
The United Poultry Concerns website is an excellent resource for any issues regarding the treatment of birds raised for food. \
SUNDAY TIMES (UK) EDITORIAL AGAINST ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND AGAINST COSMETIC TESTING -- 10/2/05
On Sunday, October 2, the prestigious and conservative UK newspaper, The Times, came down hard against animal rights activists, and hard against the use of animals for cosmetic product tests. The editorial is on line at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2091-1807168,00.html and I will paste it below.
The militants in our movement embarrass much of the mainstream. And the mainstream has concerns, which this piece show to be valid, of having the animal protection image tarnished as we are all lumped together. Every social movement has militants who embarrass the mainstream - and every movement has moved forward, some would say despite the militants, some would say because of them. We generally see a good cop bad cop scenario, where the public is driven towards a movement's more palatable representatives.
In the Sunday Times piece below, all animal rights activists are painted with the same brush and called "a stain on our society." Then the Times details some despicable experiments on "defenceless animals" and suggests that "we should ask serious questions about making animals suffer purely for cosmetic reasons." Would the Times have made that point if it were not running a piece on the militant activists the editors disdain?
In my chapter in "Terrorists or Freedom Fighters" and also in the brand new "In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave" edited by Peter Singer (see www.DawnWatch.com/recommended_reading.htm ) , I suggest that being liked by the media is useful (arguably crucial) but that the press can be kind to animals without being kind to animal rights activists. The piece below demonstrates that point. However, it is best that we are not all thought to be terrorists. Therefore it is important for those who would never engage in militant activity to respond to pieces such as this one, speaking on behalf of the animals in a voice different from that which the Times expects. The Times of London takes letters at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Always include your full name, address and telephone number when sending a letter to the editor.
Those who wish to question the article's tacit assumption that all medical research (not for cosmetic testing) using animals is essential might like to check out http://www.curedisease.com/ and click on "An Introduction to the Issue."
Here is the Sunday Times editorial:
Being dumb with the dumb (Pg 16)
Animal rights activists are a stain on our society. Whatever the public sympathy for their cause, they dissipate it with their violent and repugnant methods. Who could support those who dug up Gladys Hammond's body because her relatives ran a farm breeding guinea pigs for medical research? After years of hate mail, malicious telephone calls, hoax bombs and arson attacks, the theft of her remains was a terrible crime. The farm has stopped breeding the animals but her body has yet to be returned. Or what of Leapfrog Day Nurseries? It was threatened with violence for operating a childcare scheme for Huntingdon Life Sciences, the activists' bete noire.
The tactics of the Animal Liberation Front, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty and others should concern us all. From targeting the companies themselves, they gradually spread the net. In the case of Huntingdon, they successfully went after its bankers. The home of a GlaxoSmithKline executive was firebombed, with his wife and daughter at home, because of his firm's links to Huntingdon. The effect is to damage Britain commercially and to hinder research that is essential to medical breakthroughs. It also drives scientists away from this country. Activists last week planted incendiary devices at Oxford University in protest over the proposed South Parks Laboratory. The government, which has repeatedly emphasised its commitment to science and to defeating animal rights terrorism, has done little to protect the victims of these actions.
Yet scientists and these companies can be their own worst enemies. An activists' target is a Scottish laboratory testing the safety of breast implants by sewing them into rabbits' bodies. Is this necessary? It smacks of the smoking beagles of the past, or of concentrated shampoo being dripped into the eyes of defenceless animals. Testing drugs on animals that can be used to save lives or stop debilitating diseases is justified. But we should ask serious questions about making animals suffer purely for cosmetic reasons.
(END OF SUNDAY TIMES PIECE)
USA TODAY FRONT PAGE ON KATRINA ANIMALS -- PLUS UPDATE ON RESCUE EFFORTS 10/6/05
The Thursday, October 6, edition of USA Today has a front page story headed, "Trapped New Orleans pets still being rescued." It is on line at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-10-05-rescue-pets-cover_x.htm . I will quote from it and also provide some updates and contact information for those who wish to help. As the article makes clear, animals are still being saved, and help is still desperately needed.
The USA Today piece opens:
"For weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, the only noise here in the empty neighborhoods of sodden houses was the barking of dogs. Then the barking stopped. Dogs are still here, but many are too hoarse and weak to make a sound. Many others have died. But hundreds of volunteer pet rescuers insist it's not too late.
"The animals we are finding now are emaciated and sick and lonely, but we are still finding them alive,' says Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.
"Across the New Orleans area, the largest pet rescue operation in U.S. history has been a backdrop to the human suffering and the questions of how and when communities can be rebuilt. But from the start, pets have been part of the story — from the tens of thousands of animals left behind by their owners because shelters and hotels wouldn't accept them, to the scattered residents who risked their lives and refused to evacuate so they could stay with their pets.
"Five weeks after the flooding began, animal rescue teams continue to fan across New Orleans and surrounding parishes every day at dawn in a race against diminishing odds. They gather up hundreds of desperate pets every day — more than 8,000 so far. And they leave behind fresh water and dry food for the dogs and cats roaming the streets that rescuers do not have enough staff to find or collect.
We read "that some pets are being flown to shelters in two dozen other states....After Oct. 15, most of the pets that have not been claimed can be put up for adoption under applicable state laws, Pacelle says. However, he says that deadline could be extended because so many pets are still arriving at shelters. Animals that are not claimed will be kept at the shelters across the country until they can be adopted, he says."
That quote suggests that none of the animals will be killed, which is heartening. In fact, out of the many thousands rescued, apparently less than 100 have been deemed by HSUS too ill to recover and have been euthanized. However, not all of the shelters to which animals are being shipped are no-kill shelters. If the Katrina animals are not to be killed, at kill shelters they may displace others, who will lose their chance of finding homes -- and of life. I just spoke to Michael Mountain, of Best Friends, a wonderful Utah sanctuary (no-kill) not mentioned in this article but which has a temporary sanctuary in the Katrina disaster area. That group has just acquired two large air-conditioned trucks to transport animals across the country to no-kill rescue groups. If you have a group that is able to foster animals, and help adopt out those who are not reunited with their families, please let Best Friends know by visiting http://www.bestfriends.org/HF/FO.cfm and filling out the form. Or you can email their disaster relief team at email@example.com
(Note: As I send out this alert on Thursday afternoon the Best Friends website seems to have gone down temporarily -- perhaps overwhelmed -- but will surely be up again shortly.)
The Petfinder website also has a form where you can register to foster animals: http://disaster.petfinder.com/emergency/foster/index.cgi
The USA Today article refers to Jane Garrison's terrific work:
"The concern now is for animals still trapped in houses.... Jane Garrison...has divided the city into 35 sectors and dispatches search teams after dawn each day."
Jane is still desperate for people to help her, and will not turn away anybody who shows up. There is some upheaval now in the area, as animals have been moved out of the Lamar-Dixon facility, and Jane and her crew are elsewhere. However Priscilla Gargalis is in touch with Jane regularly and is happy to provide information and help coordinate efforts. Please get in touch with Priscilla at firstname.lastname@example.org
And Brenda Shoss of Kinship Circle is an excellent resource who is also working with many of the other rescue groups in the region. Brenda is at email@example.com or
Here is good news from the USA Today piece:
"The images of residents on their roofs, stranded after staying behind with their pets, and packs of gaunt, frightened dogs roaming through debris after Katrina have led to changes in evacuation policies. As Hurricane Rita approached last month, Texas suspended rules that barred pets from shelters there. The state's homeland security chief, Steve McCraw, urged evacuees to take their pets with them. The Humane Society is urging Congress to pass a bill that would require state and local emergency management agencies that receive federal funding to allow pets to be included in evacuation plans."
You can find out more about that bill, and even send a letter to your representatives in support of it, at the HSUS website at https://community.hsus.org/campaign/pets_act_house/explanation
If you have not yet signed the petition in support of the bill, please go to http://go.care2.com/e/gfO/bR/oco4 and sign. There are currently almost 70,000 signatures, with 100,000 being the goal.
This story on the front page of the most widely distributed newspaper in the US provides the perfect opportunity for letters to the editor in support of the PETS Act, or on other aspects of our treatment of other species. Those who cannot give hands-on assistance should not underestimate the importance of making sure this issue is part of public discussion. USA Today takes letters at http://asp.usatoday.com/marketing/feedback/feedback-online.aspx?type=18
LEAD STORY IN CLEVELAND'S PLAIN DEALER ON CHRISTIAN VEGETARIAN ASSOCIATION 10/8/05
On Saturday, October 8, Cleveland's largest paper, The Plain Dealer, ran a large story on the front of the Arts & Life Section (Pg E-1) headed, "The Unforbidden Fruit." It publicized the work of the Christian Vegetarian Association.
The story opens by noting that people throughout the Bible ate animals, but then tells us:
"For the Cleveland-based international Christian Vegetarian Association, one place to start is in the beginning, in the first chapter of Genesis. There God is said to speak of an ideal world where grains and fruits are plentiful, and humans are to care for -- rather than eat -- animals.
Fast forward to today, in an era of factory farming that can cause great suffering for animals slaughtered and housed en masse. Some can make a strong case that Jesus would leave meat out of his diet, Christian vegetarians say."
Dr. Stephen Kaufman from the Christian Vegetarian Association is quoted: "Christian love should apply to animals as well as humans. Whatever dominion means, it's not tyranny. It's not cruelty....All things being equal, if we can avoid contributing to factory farming, if we can avoid contributing to the cruelties . . . the Bible would support such a position."
About the Christian Vegetarian Association, the articles tells us:
"Unlike more radical groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Christian association tends to be more low-key and less confrontational, preferring education and persuasion over confrontation, the group's leaders said."
You can learn more about the organization at http://www.christianveg.com
And you can read the full Plain Dealer article on line at:
I thank activist David Sickles for making sure we saw it.
Interestingly, it appeared the same day that an article criticizing PETA's use of religious symbols appeared in the same paper. That article is headed "PETA vegetarian ads spark controversy. PETA pro-vegetarian campaign raises the ire of religious groups."
It tells us that "Religious groups have complained for years about these tactics, but PETA officials say they have no intention of changing their strategy."
Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan campaigns is quoted:
"Nothing honors religious imagery more than to use it to make the world a more compassionate place. Of course, it would be wonderful to be able to get a message across without upsetting anybody. But unfortunately, that's not the society we live in."
You'll find that article on line at:
The articles present a great opportunity for letters, particularly from those who feel that a vegetarian lifestyle is compatible with their Christian values. The Plain Dealer takes letters at Letters@plaind.com
NEW SCIENTIST PIECE ON ANIMAL RIGHTS BY GARY FRANCIONE --10/8/05
The current, October 8, issue of New Scientist, includes a commentary piece on animal rights by Professor Gary Francione. (Pg 24.) The first few paragraphs are available on line at http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg18825205.100 (the website is worth checking out) and I will paste the full piece below.
If your views align with Francione's, please send an appreciative letter to the editor. The magazine takes letters at:
Here's the article:
One right for all; We treat animals how we used to treat human slaves. What possible justification is there for that, asks Gary Francione
Do animals have moral rights? What kind of legal status should we afford them? This debate has become hugely confused. Some animal rights campaigners maintain that we should allow animals the same rights enjoyed by humans. That is, of course, absurd. There are many human rights that simply have no application to non-humans.
I would like to propose something a little different: that a sensible and coherent theory of animal rights should focus on just one right for animals. That is the right not to be treated as the property of humans.
Let me explain why this makes sense. At present, animals are commodities that we own in the same way that we own automobiles or furniture. Like these inanimate forms of property, animals have only the value that we choose to give them. Any moral or other interest an animal has represents an economic cost that we can choose to ignore.
We have laws that supposedly regulate our treatment of our animal property, and prohibit the infliction of "unnecessary" suffering. These laws require that we balance the interests of humans and animals in order to ensure that animals are treated "humanely". It is, however, a fallacy to suppose that we can balance human interests, which are protected by claims of right in general and of a right to own property in particular, against the interests of animals which, as property, exist only as a means to the ends of humans. The animal in question is always a "pet" or a "laboratory animal" or a "game animal" or a "food animal" or a "circus animal" or some other form of animal property that exists solely for our use. We prohibit animal suffering only when it has no economic benefit. The balance is unbalanced from the outset.
There are parallels here with the institution of human slavery. While we tolerate varying degrees of human exploitation, we no longer regard it as legitimate to treat anyone, irrespective of their particular characteristics, as the property of others. In a world deeply divided on many moral issues, one of the few norms steadfastly endorsed by the international community is the prohibition of human slavery. Some forms of slavery are worse than others, yet we prohibit all of them – however "humane" – because they more or less allow the fundamental interests of slaves to be ignored if it provides a benefit to slave owners. We recognise all humans as having a basic right not to be treated as the property of others.
Is there a morally sound reason not to extend this single right – the right not to be treated as property – to animals? Or to ask the question another way, why do we deem it acceptable to eat animals, hunt them, confine and display them in circuses and zoos, use them in experiments or rodeos, or otherwise treat them in ways in which we would never think it appropriate to treat any human irrespective of how "humane" we were being?
The response that animals lack some special characteristic that is possessed solely by humans not only flies in the face of the theory of evolution, but is completely irrelevant to whether it is morally permissible to treat non-humans as commodities – just as differences among humans would not serve to justify treating some as slaves. Also of no use is the response that it is acceptable for humans to exploit non-humans because it is "traditional" or "natural" to do so. This merely states a conclusion and does not constitute an argument.
The bottom line is that we cannot justify human domination of non-humans except by appeal to religious superstition focused on the supposed spiritual superiority of humans. Our "conflicts" with animals are mostly of our own doing. We bring billions of sentient animals into the world in order to kill them for reasons that are often trivial. We then seek to understand the nature of our moral obligations to these animals. But by bringing these animals into existence for reasons that we would never consider appropriate for humans, we have already decided that animals are outside the scope of our moral community altogether.
Accepting that animals have this one right does not entail letting cows, chickens, pigs and dogs run free in the streets. We have brought these animals into existence and they depend on us for their survival. We should care for those currently in existence, but we should stop causing more to come into being to serve as our resources. We would thereby eliminate any supposed conflicts we have with animals. We may still have conflicts with wild animals, and we would have to address hard questions about how to apply equal consideration to humans and animals in those circumstances.
Recognising animal rights really means accepting that we have a duty not to treat sentient non-humans as resources. The interesting question is not whether the cow should be able to sue the farmer for cruel treatment, but why the cow is there in the first place.
(END OF NEW SCIENTIST PIECE)
PETA'S PIE THROWING, IN MANY PAPERS, SHOULD SHINE LIGHT ON SHOCKING FUR FOOTAGE 10/11/05
PETA has recently released two shocking videos of undercover footage from the fur industry in China. Much of that fur is exported around the world and used as fur trim on jackets. Though they are hard to watch, I urge anybody who doubts claims about the cruelty of the fur trade to check them out. "We must not refuse to see with our eyes what they must endure with their bodies." (I wish I knew who said that originally.)
You'll find a link to the latest video detailing the transport and slaughter of dogs and cats for fur, on the front of PETA's website, www.peta.org.
And "Fur Farm Horror" -- footage taken on a fur farm, showing animals being bashed and stunned, but skinned while still conscious and struggling, is at http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/Prefs.asp?video=fur_farm
The videos have not been given nearly as much attention, by the scandal and celebrity driven media, as PETA's tofu pie thrown at Anna Wintour during Paris fashion week. I found that story appearing in 29 newspapers in the US, UK and Australia from October 9-11. I will list the papers below. If your paper is one of them, please send a letter to the editor covering the part of the fur story the paper omitted.
Here is the Associated Press piece, on which most of the brief articles were based:
"Anti-fur demonstrators hit Vogue editor with a pie in Paris
"Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue magazine, was hit with a tofu pie by anti-fur demonstrators as she attended Paris fashion week.
Dan Mathews, vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the vegetarian tofu tart was retaliation for Vogue's decision to run fur ads while refusing to use PETA's anti-fur messages. The animal rights group offered to pay the same fee, Mathews said.
Wintour, editor of the U.S. edition of Vogue, was hit with the tart as she waited to see the Chloe fashion show Saturday. It was the second time in a year that PETA has hit her with a pie."
And here are some papers where the article appeared in print (as opposed to only on the website) -- there may have been more:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Pg. 2E;,
Chicago Tribune, NEWS ; ZONE C; Pg. 19
Contra Costa Times Pg. F4,
Detroit Free Press
The Miami Herald Pg. A4, 104
The New York Sun -- STYLE; Pg. 18,
Newsday (New York), Pg. A12,
The Ottawa Sun, Pg. 26,
Philadelphia Inquirer Pg. C02
Philadelphia Daily News Pg. 30
The Record (Bergen County, NJ) Pg. A02
St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Star-Telegram B; BRIEF; Pg. 3,
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
The Times (London), -- Features; 20
The Washington Post -- Style; C3 ,
The Washington Times Pg. B05
Wilkes Barre Times Leader Pg. 2
Austin American-Statesman (Texas), Pg. A2
The Australian -- Pg. 13, "Editor faces tofu fur fury"
The Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), Pg. 16, "Anti-fur activists pelt top fashion editor"
Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), Pg. 16,
Gold Coast Bulletin (Australia), Pg. 11
Townsville Bulletin/Townsville Sun (Australia), NEWS; Pg. 10
Calgary Sun (Alberta), Pg.11
Daily News (New York), Pg. 26
The Seattle Times, Pg. A2
If your paper is among those listed, and you would like to write a letter but have any trouble finding the full article, or the correct email address for your letter to the editor, it will be my pleasure to help with both. And I am always happy to edit letters. Most of us can use at least a little tweak from an outside eye, and those new to writing letters to the editor are welcome to more extensive help. (Though I will not provide a sample letter. They are counterproductive when dealing with the media.)
You'll find loads of information on fur at www.FurIsDead.com
And you'll find some tips on letter writing at www.DawnWatch.com/email_etiquette.htm
For those whose papers did not cover the story, as winter approaches, the appearance of fur in store windows, or in advertisements in your paper, can serve as a good jump-off point for a letter on the issue.
And the national paper, USA Today, has the story on its website at http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2005-10-10-vogue-wintour_x.htm?POE=LIFISVA
You can respond with a letter to USA Today at http://asp.usatoday.com/marketing/feedback/feedback-online.aspx?type=18
Please write, so that the public discussion of fur covers more than pie-throwing.
PAMELA ANDERSON AND HEATHER MILLS MCCARTNEY OPEN DOORS FOR LETTERS ABOUT THE FUR TRADE -- 10/12/05
In yesterday's DawnWatch alert, I asked people to check out the PETA fur videos and website, and to respond to articles about the tofu pie thrown at Anna Wintour, with information about the fur trade. Today, Wednesday, October 12, Pamela Anderson's latest anti-fur venture is in the news. Again, in the hope that the conversation about fur might focus on something other than Pamela's bare shoulders, I urge people to check out the www.FurIsDead.com website and send letters to the editor including just a little of the information they find there. I will paste the Associated Press piece on Pamela Anderson below, and list some of the papers in which it has appeared today. If your paper is one of them, please send a letter to the editor, using the story as a jump off point for a short but informative letter about fur.
It would be my pleasure to help anybody find the correct address for a letter to the editor at their paper, or to edit a letter they have drafted. If you are new to this, please ask for help.
Below the Associated Press piece on Pamela Anderson, I will paste an op-ed by Paul McCartney's wife, activist Heather Mills McCartney, which appears in today's Myrtle Beach Sun-News (South Carolina). It is packed with information about fur.
Here is the Associated Press piece:
"Racy Pamela Anderson anti-fur ad returning to China on phone card
"A year after raising the censors' hackles with bus stop ads, Pamela Anderson's nearly naked image is returning to China on phone cards telling people not to buy fur. The Canadian-born actress appears topless with her back to the camera and an arm partly hiding her right breast behind the slogan, 'Give fur the cold shoulder,' in English. Behind her, an image of falling snow appears above Chinese characters reading 'Cold shoulders are nothing compared to the pain they feel' and 'Please don't wear fur.'
"Government-owned China Telecom and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have printed 70,000 of the phone cards, a toned-down version of Anderson's bus and train stop ads that were altered three times to reduce the amount of skin on show before being approved for public display, the animal rights group said recently.
"'The people of China deserve to know about the immense suffering of animals killed for their fur,' said Anderson in a statement released by PETA. 'Once people know that animals are electrocuted, drowned, bludgeoned to death and sometimes skinned alive, they realize fur is disgusting and that there's nothing luxurious or fashionable about it,' the 38-year-old 'Stacked' actress said."
The story appeared in the following papers on Wednesday October 12:
Chicago Tribune NEWS; ZONE C; Pg. 21
Detroit Free Press
The Miami Herald Pg. A4
Monterey County Herald -- Z_LIFE
The Myrtle Beach Sun-News Pg A2
Philadelphia Daily News -- Pg. 34
Saint Paul Pioneer Press -- Pg. 13A
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
The Toronto Star Pg. E02
Some papers ran it omitting the last line detailing what happens to the animals. But letters to the editor let papers know that readers are interested in an issue.
If your paper has not covered the fur issue at all, the advertisements for fur can serve as a jump off point for a letter.
Below is the piece by activist Heather Mills McCartney from The Myrtle Beach Sun-News, October 12, Pg A9.
Animals skinned alive for fashion
HEATHER MILLS MCCARTNEY
It's shocking to think we live in a world where people - including wealthy and famous celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez - still kill for fashion. Yet every year, millions of animals are drowned, clubbed to death, crushed in steel-jaw traps and genitally electrocuted, sometimes just for a little piece of fluff on a coat collar.
We can't stop all the suffering that exists, but I believe we can stop this. That's why I recently teamed up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals during New York's Fashion Week - to tell consumers what fur designers and retailers won't:
Those cheap price tags on today's fur coats and fur-trimmed garments come at the expense of animals who are literally skinned alive.
Much of the fur now sold in the U.S. and Canada originates in China, where there is not a single law to protect animals. Undercover investigators who toured Chinese fur farms found raccoon dogs and silver foxes suffering from severe stress, repeatedly slamming their heads and bodies against the crude wire cages enclosing them. Others huddled helplessly in the back of their cages, paralyzed with fear.
These animals have good reason to be afraid. After a brief and joyless existence in a barren cage, with no place to hide from the elements, driven mad by confinement, they will be beaten with metal rods or slammed headfirst against the ground, in a crude and cheap attempt to kill them. But these methods often only break the animals' necks or backs, leaving them panting, blinking and completely conscious as the fur is ripped from their bodies.
It's hard to watch, but I ask anyone who wears fur or finds themselves tempted by just a "little trim" on a coat, or a sweater with a fur collar, to see the investigators' footage for themselves at www.FurIsDead.com . I don't believe you can watch this video and still think fur is desirable.
Something else the fur industry won't tell you: Some of the animals killed for their pelts in China are domestic dogs and cats.
They are bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death and strangled with wire nooses, so their fur can be turned into trim, toys and trinkets. These animals are no different from our beloved companions.
When PETA-Germany recently visited the animal market in Guangzhou, in Southern China, they found animals in cages who still had their collars on, a sign that they, too, had once been companions, stolen to be made into fur coats. About 2 million dogs and cats are killed for their fur every single year.
The sale of dog and cat fur has been formally banned in a handful of countries, including the U.S., but without expensive DNA testing, it's impossible to tell for sure what - or who - you are wearing.
The only way to know beyond a doubt that you are not supporting this gruesome industry is to refuse to wear fur. If you've already taken that compassionate step, thank you. Now please take another: Don't buy clothes from designers who work with fur and don't patronize businesses that sell it. Boycott the films, CDs, perfumes and other products of celebrities who wear it. If we all do this together, as a team effort, we can end the use of fur in fashion once and for all.
(END OF MYRTLE BEACH SUN NEWS PIECE)
The Myrtle Beach Sun News deserves some appreciative letters to the editor. The paper takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and advises that "priority will be given to letters that are 150 or fewer words."
CBS EVENING NEWS, NPR MORNING EDITION, BOSTON GLOBE AND TIMES PICAYUNE ON KATRINA ANIMALS Oct 13-14
(Current volunteer needs and information summary at the bottom of this alert.)
CBS Evening News anchor, Bob Schieffer announced last night, regarding the Thursday, October 13, broadcast:
"On Thursday's broadcast: 6 weeks after Katrina some of her most defenseless victims are still being rescued. We'll take you along as a group of dedicated people work to save the animals."
Watch if you can, and please thank CBS for covering the issue. Positive feedback for animal friendly stories includes similar coverage.
CBS Evening News takes feedback at: email@example.com
(I thank David Sickles for making sure we knew about the coverage.)
On Friday, October 14, National Public Radio's 'Morning Edition' is scheduled to air a story on the animal disaster relief efforts. The reporter spent time in Gonzales and interviewed Dave Pauli. You can listen on your local NPR station or later in the day on line at http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=3 . If you do get a chance to hear the story, please make sure you thank Morning Edition for airing it. The show takes comments at http://www.npr.org/contact/
The New Orleans paper, the Times-Picayune, has run a sorrowful lead story in the Thursday, October 13 edition, headed, "Pet rescuers arranging fewer happy reunions; Animals being found are hungry, scared."
It tells us that animals are still being found alive, "But though animal rescues continued this week in largely empty neighborhoods, and though the resilience of domesticated animals -- from house cats to lap dogs to exotic birds -- was sometimes astonishing, time was no longer on their side." And we read that according to Amanda St. John, the founder of Muttshack, a volunteer rescue organization, "A lot of homeowners are coming home to dead and dying animals."
It gives the following heartbreaking descriptions:
"A chow in the Lafitte public housing development seemed to have melted into the rug where he starved to death. A mummified pit bull hanged from his leash on an eastern New Orleans fence where he may have strangled as flood waters receded. A cat skeleton peeked from beneath a pile of rubble. The rescuers recall a small dog, alive but too weak to move, that had presumably been put out with the trash in front of a home. Another dog, found in a bathroom, barely had the strength to raise its head to greet rescuers."
And it quotes Chicago volunteer Karen O'Toole: "I thought when they opened the city, people would rush back to get their pets but some people have just abandoned them. We were told to no longer be going into people's residences as of last Wednesday, but we're working in neighborhoods where the houses are condemned."
It also provides heartening news about the rescue efforts: "Despite the near-death condition of some of the animals, the veterinarians have euthanized none. St. John says that, curiously, the most damaged animals are often the first to be adopted once they've reached evacuation sites. 'Old people take old dogs, people with heart conditions take dogs with heart conditions, people with a limp take dogs with a limp,' she said."
I understand that the number of animals euthanized in the whole effort is not actually zero, but is tiny, and that animals were killed only when more than one vet felt that nothing could be done to save them.
You can read the whole story on the Times-Picayune website at
And you can send a letter to the editor at http://www.nola.com/contactus/
Under "Submit to" you should choose "Letters to the Times-Picayune."
The Boston Globe today, October 13, has a piece by Gina Spadafori, a Boston Globe Correspondent who is "the author of several pet-care books and a consultant to the Veterinary Information Network." She makes the point that "If pets aren't included in disaster plans, people will die. That's because in disaster after disaster, it has been proven that the strength of the human-animal bond is such that if animals have to be left behind, there are plenty of people who will stay and fight for their pets' survival along with their own."
You'll find that piece on line at http://tinyurl.com/78n6z and you can send a supportive letter to the Globe at firstname.lastname@example.org
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor.
Finally, as the items above make clear, some animals are still being found alive and the situation is urgent. Volunteers are needed to get animals out of homes, to leave food for animals on the streets, and to care for animals arriving at the Best Friends shelter in Tylertown. Jane Garrison is still down there, and desperately needs your help. She is now working closely with David Meyer from 1800SaveAPet.com. If you can get down there to help them please just go. Their latest alert tells us,
"Morning meetings will now be held at 7:30 am in front of the Southern Animal Foundation at 1823 Magazine, in downtown New Orleans."
Volunteers are responsible for finding their own lodging and should prepare to camp.
If you plan to go I will be delighted to forward you the whole page. It includes the following contact information but I urge you not to use it unless you are in the area and for some reason cannot find them through the Southern Animal Foundation. Jane has begged people not to tie up her phone and she is overwhelmed with email.
Jane Garrison 843-343-8887 JaneGarrison@comcast.net
David Meyer 310-897-6546
Pia Salk has also been working with them. You can contact her at 323-899-4160
There are other rescue efforts in the Katrina Disaster area in need of volunteers. Brenda Shoss of Kinship Circle is an excellent source of information. She is at email@example.com , (desk) 314-863-9445; (cell) 314-795-2646.
NPR'S "MORNING EDITION" ON KATRINA ANIMAL RESCUE -- 10/14/05
National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" Friday, October 14, story on the Katrina animal situation is on line now at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4957783
You can read a little of the text, and listen to the whole 7:45 minute story.
Most shocking is the tale of Kathy Graff, looking for her dog, who her husband had promised not to leave behind. He was not allowed to take, or remain with, their dog. Kathy says that when "rescuers" arrived, "They forced him to get into a boat. They said, 'you can't take her. We'll either slit her throat, shoot her, or you can leave her on the porch.'"
Please thank Morning Edition for the coverage at http://www.npr.org/contact/
If you have not yet signed the petition to support Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, designed to protect companion animals in federal evacuation plans, please go to http://go.care2.com/e/gfO/bR/oco4 and sign. There are currently about 85,000 signatures, with 100,000 being the goal.
You can find out more about that bill, and even send a letter to your representatives in support of it, at the HSUS website at https://community.hsus.org/campaign/pets_act_house/explanation
WASHINGTON POST OP-ED: "LET THE ZOO'S ELEPHANTS GO." 10/16/05
An op-ed, by ex zoo curator Les Schobert, in the Sunday, October 16, Washington Post is headed, "Let the Zoo's Elephants Go." (Pg B08.)
"The Smithsonian Institution is a national treasure, but when it comes to elephants, its National Zoo is a national embarrassment.
"In 2000 the zoo euthanized Nancy, an African elephant that was suffering from foot problems so painful that standing had become difficult for her. Five years later the zoo has announced that Toni, an Asian elephant, is suffering from arthritis so severe that she, too, may be euthanized [Metro, Sept. 6]."
Schobert writes that zoos' tiny enclosures and unnatural surfaces destroy elephant legs and feet. He writes, "Toni has access to a yard of less than an acre. Zoo industry standards allow the keeping of elephants in as little as 2,200 square feet, or about 5 percent of an acre."
He shares the heartening news that "Some zoos have begun to reevaluate their ability to house elephants. After the death of two elephants in 2004, the San Francisco Zoo sent its surviving elephants to a sanctuary in California. This year the Detroit Zoo closed its elephant exhibit on ethical grounds, and its two surviving elephants now thrive at the California sanctuary as well."
And he recommends "The Elephant Sanctuary" in Tennessee for Toni:
"A preserve of at least 2 square miles -- 1,280 acres, or almost eight times the size of the National Zoo -- would be necessary to meet an elephant's physical and social needs. Since this is not feasible, the zoo should send its pachyderms to a sanctuary. One such facility, the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, offers 2,700 acres of natural habitat over which elephants can roam and heal from the damage caused by zoo life."
You'll find Schobert's whole Washington Post piece on line at
It presents a great opportunity for supportive letters to the editor on the use of captive wild animals for human entertainment. The Washington Post takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and advises, "Letters must be exclusive to The Washington Post, and must include the writer's home address and home and business telephone numbers."
You can find out more about Toni's plight at http://www.savezooelephants.com/national_zoo.html (Thanks to Amy Mayers for that link)
and you can learn more about the wonderful elephant sanctuary in Tennessee at its site: http://www.elephants.com/
INDEPENDENT (UK) REVIEW OF "IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS" 10/16/05
The Independent (London), on Sunday October 16, has a review of the new book edited by Peter Singer, "In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave." ("In Defense of Animals" was first published in 1985, with a largely different set of contributors.) The Independent piece reads less like a book review than like the reviewer's own strong stand for animal rights. I will paste it below.
The book is now available in both the UK and the US. The official US launch is on Friday evening, October 21, in New York City. Peter Singer will be speaking. I sent an announcement to my New York list and am happy to forward the information to others who do not live in New York but might wish to attend the launch.
There are links to more information about "In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave" and an Amazon link for its purchase on the DawnWatch Recommended Books page.
Here is the Independent Review:
Independent on Sunday (London)
October 16, 2005, Sunday
First Edition; FEATURES; Pg. 24
BOOKS: SUNDAY LUNCH WON'T BE THE SAME;
IN DEFENCE OF ANIMALS -- ED PETER SINGER BLACKWELL £9.99 POUNDS
A pig, a dog and a three-year-old child have roughly the same level of intelligence. Each of these creatures has been scientifically proven to experience pleasure and pain. None of these creatures can possibly have a responsibility to society (although I believe pigs and dogs have rescued far more people than three-year-old children have). Which of them has 'rights'?
The child has rights, because it is human. Conventionally, the other two creatures do not have any rights. Dogs are protected in the laws of some countries: in the UK you can't barbecue Labradors, for example, or boil them to death. But you can do what you want with pigs. You can 'as agribusiness does' lock a pregnant sow into a stall barely bigger than her own body, chained by the throat or around her middle, prevent her from exercising, turning around, cleaning herself, foraging or exploring. Pigs like to dig in soil. But in the hell of modern farming there is usually no soil. There is simply concrete, or awkward metal bars.
Paul McCartney once said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian. This book continues Peter Singer's important, urgent project of turning these walls, one by one, to glass. The essays alert us to the holocaust that continues in farms and laboratories; a holocaust that most people ignore "not because they are bad people, but, perhaps, because the horror of what we do to animals is too big to contemplate."
It's easy to believe that only a few particularly sadistic farmers commit the atrocities, and that your pork chop was never part of a sentient being that came into the world wanting to play, roll in the mud and feel the sun on its back, but whose miserable life actually contained torture and pain and ended with screams (if you think that the profit-driven executioners within agribusiness actually care about properly stunning animals then you really do need to read this book). It's easy to believe, because the alternative 'believing the truth " can drive you mad. Or it can drive you to take brave, peaceful and considered action, as all the contributors to this book did.
People who suggest that animals enjoy pleasure and do not enjoy pain (as I just did) are often accused of sentimentality: indulging in false or superficial emotion. This is not sentimentality; it is scientific fact. Sentimentality is reading your child cute 'farmyard' stories and buying him or her adorable 'cuddly' versions of the animals that are painfully killed to make the burgers or sausages you had for supper. Sentimentality is what is driving a culture in which sweets in the shape of animals contain the ground up bits of those animals, and in which it is possible to go to McDonald's and eat a 'Happy' meal after watching a film like Madagascar, or Babe, or Chicken Run. Sentimentality says that what goes on in the countryside is traditional and wholesome and we should look the other way because we don't understand the mysterious ways of country folk. Sentimentality prevents ordinary, decent people from properly educating themselves about what goes into the Sunday lunch th
at they don't want to give up " because Sunday lunch is a lovely, traditional thing that Grandma really enjoys and it's those terrible animals rights people who try to spoil it with stories of animals being skinned alive and drowning in their own faeces.
Slaves were called 'animals'. Hitler called Jews animals. In fact, once you've decided something is an 'animal', you can do what you want with it " until enough people say it's wrong. The wonderful essays in this book remind us that any form of humanism must respect all sentient beings, and that a culture that can create workers who can bear listening to the screams of the 'animals' they kill (and who have been so dehumanised by the experience that they are willing, in some cases, even to sexually abuse the dead or dying animals) and that can also create people who are prepared to look the other way and enjoy the spoils of the whole endeavour "is a culture that is not only cruel and deluded, but well primed for the next human holocaust.
(END OF INDEPENDENT PIECE)
The review presents an opportunity for supportive letters to the editor dealing with any aspect of animal protection. The Independent takes letters at email@example.com and advises, "If you wish to submit a letter for publication in the newspaper, it must include the sender's name, postal address, and daytime telephone number."
VANCOUVER SUN: "DOLPHIN DUO ARRIVES IN VANCOUVER" -- 10/17/05
According to an article in the Monday, October 17, Vancouver Sun, headed, "Dolphin duo arrives in Vancouver" (Pg B1) the Vancouver Aquarium has wanted to acquire more dolphins, but has been "limited by the terms of an agreement with the Vancouver park board that restricts the aquarium from buying or acquiring any dolphin captured from the wild in the last nine years."
However the aquarium found a loophole:
"Under the terms of the agreement with the park board, the aquarium is able to buy rehabilitated dolphins with injuries that prevent them from surviving in the wild, no matter when they were captured."
The Enoshima Aquarium in Japan offered the Vancouver Aquarium two dolphins it deemed unfit for rehabilitation. We read that the Vancouver Aquarium paid "more than $200,000 to buy and transport the dolphins."
What the article does not spell out, but which seems apparent, is that the Japanese aquarium is free to replace the dolphins sold to the Vancouver Aquarium with wild caught dolphins.
You'll find the full article on line at http://tinyurl.com/c9m7c
And you'll find horrifying accounts of Japanese dolphin slaughter, and the link to capture, as trainers choose the best looking of those rounded up, at http://www.earthisland.org/saveTaijiDolphins/
WALL STREET JOURNAL ON CAGE-FREE EGGS -- 10/18/05
Recently the Federal Trade Commission ruled that United Egg Producers must remove the misleading "Animal Care Certified" label from its egg cartons (see http://www.cok.net/feat/accwin.php ). Wholefoods and Wild Oats have pledged to sell only cage-free eggs.
Today, Tuesday, October 18, we see a Wall Street Journal story headed, "The Yolk of Oppression: Eggs Are Latest Front In Humane-Food Wars." (Pg D1.)
Wall Street Journal subscribers can access the whole article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB112959666209171428.html
It tells us:
"In a move that signals the increasing importance of animal-welfare issues to the food industry, a large food-service company is expected to announce today that it will buy eggs only from hens that have not been confined in cages. The action by Bon Appétit Management Co., which operates 200 cafeterias in colleges and corporate campuses, comes on the heels of similar bird-liberating pledges by retailers and colleges around the country."
Later we learn that Bon Appétit "buys about eight million shell eggs a year, as well as an unknown quantity of liquid eggs, which are not currently included in the cage-free pledge but may be in the future..."
The article notes large increases in sales in the cage-free egg market.
And we read about different types of eggs:
"There are three basic methods of raising laying hens: caged, cage-free and free-range. The vast majority world-wide -- about 98% -- are caged. Cage-free birds do not spend any time in cages; instead, they roam the floor of a hen house. Free-range birds are those that are allowed to spend at least some portion of their lives in the outdoors, though not necessarily on grass, while hens that are set out on grass are known as pastured....The only eggs with a nutritional difference are those that come from "pastured" hens, says Michael Hamm, a professor of sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University. Their unique diet yields eggs higher in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Only a tiny percentage of eggs come from birds raised this way, and are usually sold at farmer's markets."
Unfortunately the article quotes the dean of agriculture and natural resources at Michigan State University, who was asked by United Egg Producers, to oversee a panel of scientists and recommend new animal-welfare guidelines. He said "Cages are a humane way to raise hens, as long as some changes are made." A look at the website www.EggScam.com which shows the living conditions of animals whose eggs were labeled by United Egg Producers as "Animal Care Certified," makes one suspicious of claims coming from that industry about the comfort of caged hens.
And what the article fails to mention is that poultry is exempt from the Federal Humane Slaughter Act, and "spent hens" (egg-laying hens who are no longer profitable) are exempt from many state laws that offer even a little protection to other birds. Spent hens are killed by the cheapest means possible, which include being buried alive in mass graves, or even, at least once, being fed alive into a woodchipper
(see www.DawnWatch.com/oped-december1-2003.htm ). That means that with laws as they are, unfortunately even the consumption of cage-free eggs supports cruelty that most people would be unlikely to condone.
The Wall Street Journal article presents a great opportunity for letters in this influential paper regarding the treatment of animals used for food. The Journal takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org . Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
You can read more about the on the Bon Appétit decision on the HSUS web site at http://tinyurl.com/c7h7m.
FOIE GRAS PROTECTED AS PART OF FRANCE'S "CULTURAL HERITAGE" -- 10/19/05
The following article, on the French vote to protect foie gras, appeared in the Wednesday, October 19, Independent (London). I am sending it to subscribers in the UK and in France. I am sure my French subscribers are already familiar with the news but might take this opportunity to express dissent in the UK paper. The Independent takes letters at email@example.com and requests the sender's name, postal address and daytime telephone number.
The Independent (London)
October 19, 2005, Wednesday
FOREIGN NEWS; Pg. 23
FOIE GRAS IS 'PART OF OUR CULTURE', DECLARE THE DEFIANT FRENCH
BY ELAINE GANLEY
Foie gras is a travesty for some, a delicacy for others. But for French politicians it is part of France's cultural heritage, to be protected like a great work of art.
Lower house deputies have approved a draft law that declares foie gras 'part of the cultural and gastronomic patrimony, protected in France'.
The measure is part of a sweeping bill on overall agricultural policy. The bill passed 376-150 in a first reading and now goes to the Senate. However, there was no opposition to the amendment to raise foie gras to the realm of cultural heritage. It was passed unanimously on Monday before the entire draft law was voted.
Animal rights groups, and even some governments, oppose the force-feeding of ducks and geese needed to make the gourmet product that is a specialty of south-west France. The politicians did not shy away from telling it like it is, defining foie gras in the amendment as the liver of a duck or a goose specially fattened by force-feeding. 'Foie gras is an emblematic element of our gastronomy and our culture,' read an accompanying explanation of the amendment.
The move comes amid growing criticism of the method used to obtain foie gras " stuffing the duck or goose for a 10-day period to fatten the liver and create the unctuous pyte. The Brigitte Bardot Foundation, which fights cruelty to animals, called it 'veritable torture for geese and ducks', and asked consumers to stop eating foie gras " a mainstay of the French Christmas season. The deputies noted that France produces 83 per cent of the world's foie gras " and eats more than 90 per cent of it.
The movement against foie gras is particularly strong in the United States. Some restaurants refuse to serve it; others make it available but keep it off the menu.
The state of California will ban the force-feeding of ducks and geese to obtain foie gras by 2012. Sales of the product will be banned there in 2012 if the foie gras is obtained by force-feeding.
Laying out the amendment, French deputies gave a nod to detractors, but concluded that their concerns were untenable. Research shows 'in an incontestable way' that claims of cruelty are untrue, they said.
The storing of fat in the liver of force-fed fowl 'is not possible with stress or suffering of the animal,' it said, calling the fattened liver a 'reversible phenomenon' and not a 'hepatic lesion'. In any event, 'no natural alternatives exist'.
The deputies concluded that the product 'perfectly fulfils' criteria defining the national patrimony 'and the link to terroir [land] that characterises the originality of the French food model'.
PETS HURRICANE EVACUATION MEDIA PLUS UPDATE FROM JANE GARRISON AND DAVID MEYER IN NEW ORLEANS 10/20/05
(An update from Jane Garrison and David Meyer in New Orleans follows this media alert.)
Though it seems the US still has some way to go before it manages a flawless evacuation of people and their animals, there is no doubt that lessons have been learned from the Katrina disaster. As Florida prepares for Hurricane Wilma, the media have let us know that there are some pet friendly shelters available. On CNN's "Situation Room," October 19, Wolf Blitzer gave the number 1-800-HELP-FLA for reporting gouging and then said, "Also, they have information on pet-friendly shelters and places like that to go."
Lori Golden from the Pet Press tells me that on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, on October 19, there was sound-bite from Florida Governor Jeb Bush saying, "We have pet shelters now because we heard from a lot of our citizens that they would not be leaving without their pets."
In a Thursday, October 20, St Petersburg Times article headed, "Gov. Bush tells panel Florida is storm-ready," (pg 11a) we read,
"Shelters were being opened, including some that accept pets."
The October 20 Sun Sentinel includes an article headed, "Schools consider pets in hurricane shelters: talk to begin when storm season ends." (Pg 3B) It opens:
"Don't expect to bring your pet to a shelter during Hurricane Wilma, but school district officials say they will study the idea after the hurricane season ends." (As noted above, hopefully the opening phrase is inaccurate as there are shelters accepting pets.)
"Superintendent Art Johnson said his staff will talk further with county officials, who have made two formal requests to designate one school as a pet shelter.
The article tells us that "Palm Beach County School Board members say they still are uncomfortable with the proposal, citing health and sanitation concerns" but "board member Sandra Richmond was open to the idea, saying she's heard from many of her constituents."
She is quoted:
"This would be very important to them and their pets. They would rather stay in really precarious conditions in a bad storm if they could not bring their pets with them."
You'll find the whole article on line at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-pschoolboard20oct20,0,1097236.story?coll=sfla-news-palm
As Hurricane Wilma approaches and is in every US paper, this is the perfect time to be writing letters to the editor on the importance of pet-friendly evacuations, both for the sake of the animals and for the people who love them and will put themselves at risk to protect them. Legislators look to the letters sections of their local papers as barometers of public opinion.
The papers cited above take letters at:
St Petersburg Times: http://www.sptimes.com/letters/
and Sun Sentinel: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-letterseditor.customform
Don't hesitate to ask me for help if you have any trouble finding the correct email address for a letter to your editor. And I am always happy to provide guidance if you are new to writing letters to the editor, and to help edit letters.
In your letter you might mention the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, or PETS Act, which calls for governments to include pets in evacuation procedures. You'll find information about it at https://community.hsus.org/campaign/pets_act_house/explanation
And if you have not already signed the petition in support of it, please add your name at http://go.care2.com/e/gfO/bR/oco4
On Wednesday October 19, the Philadelphia Inquirer included an article headed "Pets given shelter from the storm." (Pg B01.) It discussed an airlift of 80 dogs from the Katrina disaster area who arrived at Reading Regional Airport this week.
We read, "Across the region - and the nation - hundreds of kennels have agreed to take some of the thousands of dogs, cats and other animals stranded by Katrina."
It is a feel-good article, but it makes this important point:
"Not everyone is convinced that bringing in Katrina pets is a good idea. Most shelters are full of strays and have trouble finding homes for them. Moving in Katrina 'celebrity' pets, which evidently have more cachet than an alley cat or pound dog, might put a dent in local adoptions.
Some area shelters are shifting animals to private kennels to make room for Katrina pets. Worse, some fear local strays will be euthanized in deference to the Katrina pets."
However, we read "Lisa Ricigliano of the Camden County Animal Shelter said the opposite was happening. The Katrina pets are drawing attention to the plight of strays overall." She said "Just by people walking in, we're placing some of the animals here."
You'll find the full Philadelphia Inquirer piece on line at http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/12938662.htm
It presents a great opportunity for letters to the editor in support of the PETS Act (mentioned above) or in support of adopting animals in need, regardless of the specific drama of their history.
The Philadelphia Inquirer takes letters at Inquirer.Letters@phillynews.com
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
Finally, a plea from Jane Garrison and David Meyer in New Orleans. They need your help now as much as ever.
"10/19/2005 A FINAL DESPERATE PLEA...
"We know it is hard to imagine that more than 7 weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit that animals trapped inside could still be alive--- but it is true....We still have a list of 1267 homes in downtown New Orleans where animals have been reported by their guardians to be trapped. We still have this many because we do not have enough volunteers to open the doors and rescue the pets that are slowly starving to death. THIS IS WHY WE NEED YOU! Please get in your car or get on a plane and come help us get through the rest of these houses.
"TIME IS RUNNING OUT! We are certain (based on the pets we see everyday) that there are animals still alive in these homes.
"Things you should know before you come:
"This will be the most rewarding life changing experience you have ever had. To save an animal from starving to death is a very rewarding experience…one you will never forget.
The city is safe…we have been rescuing since the hurricane and have not had any problems with any of our rescuers' safety.
People have requested that someone breaks in and rescues their desperate animal.
You will need to bring a small tent or stay in your car. That is a small sacrifice to make for these animals who are desperately waiting for your help.
Hurricane Wilma is not heading anywhere near New Orleans so please do not wait until after it passes…it may be too late.
You do not need any special passes to get into the city.
Although the city is open to residents, most have not returned or even plan on returning.
You can get updates and information on rescue efforts here: www.animalrescueneworleans.com
"I have spent 6 weeks rescuing animals in New Orleans. I have climbed through windows, on roofs, and under houses to get to these animals who are trapped. This has been the most rewarding and heartbreaking experience of my life. With every animal I rescue I think about the dozens of others who lay trapped behind closed doors dying a slow, lonely death from starvation and dehydration. I am begging every compassionate person to come to New Orleans and help us get through the rest of these homes and get these forgotten victims to safety."
The following is from David Meyer of www.1-800-Save-A-Pet.com
"This is the single worst tragedy for companion animals in the history of the United States. Despite all you have seen on TV and the various organizations that have pitched in, it has been volunteers like you and me who have come forth, made the trip to New Orleans and saved thousands of pets, one by one. Now the last ones need our help and there is no one left to save them but us. If you stay home, in a month you won't remember what you did in the next few days. If you come and save one of these dogs and cats, you will remember it for your lifetime. I know, I have been here for a month and held them in my arms."
(End of notes from Jane and David.)
The site listed, www.animalrescueneworleans.com , has contact information, general information, and a blog.
Brenda Shoss, from Kinship Circle, has lots of information on other groups needing volunteers -- Ally Cat Allies is one example.
You can contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org , (desk) 314-863-9445 or (cell) 314-795-2646
I have received heartwarming notes from people who have spent time volunteering in the Katrina disaster area and I send my heartfelt thanks, on behalf of the animals and the animal protection community, to all who have been. Many thanks, also, to those who have written letters to make sure the issue has been covered by the media and taken seriously by our legislators. Those letters help ensure that we never again have a crisis in which the needs of animals and the people who love them, and would die for them, are entirely disregarded.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR ON POSSIBILITY OF A NATIONAL PET POLICY -- 10/21/05
The Friday, October 21, Christian Science Monitor (an internationally distributed and well respected paper) has a piece headed, "Make way for a national pet policy."
"For years, I've been wondering when pets would enter the realm of policy discussion and political debates. The news media generally treats this subject as a business story because Americans now spend massive amounts of money on pet-related products and services.
"Our furry friends are everywhere. Two dogs and a cat are lounging around my home right now. But while their emotional and economic impact on individual households is significant and ongoing, pets have not risen to the level of "hot button issue" on the national scene. No reporter has ever stood up during a presidential debate and said, "Senator, should leash laws be mandatory in every city?" Historically, candidates haven't considered pet owners as a voting bloc worthy of tailored slogans and other special attention.
"Hurricane Katrina may have changed everything."
With references to Dorothy's Toto and to individual animals who "loathe" each other, the tone of the article is perhaps unfortunately light for a topic of such weight, with 'no pet' policies having devastated and even killed so many people. On the other hand, the tone is animal friendly, as Shaffer discusses his adopted animals, and he includes the question, "When the next major crisis displaces a large number of citizens, should public shelters make accommodations for nonhuman family members?"
Shaffer responds to himself, "That question needs to be handled by people with more expertise than I've got," giving us a nice opportunity for letters to the editor with some answers.
You'll find the full article on line at http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1021/p09s02-cojs.html
The Christian Science Monitor takes letters at http://csmonitor.com/cgi-bin/encryptmail.pl?ID=CFF0C5E4
CHICAGO TRIBUNE FUN PIECE OF MCCARTNEY MAKE-UP SESSION 10/21/05
This fun little piece by Susan Berger (who did last month's terrific Katrina animal stories in the Tribune) in the Friday, October 21, Chicago Tribune, presents a nice opportunity for letters to the editor about cosmetic testing or cruelty-free living. The Chicago Tribune takes letters at
October 21, 2005 Friday
NEWS ; ZONE C; Pg. 26
Makeup artist has artificial brush with fame
By Susan Berger
Fay Wypiszynski, owner of Feya Cosmetics in Glencoe, knows Paul McCartney is an animal-rights activist.
So she went to the United Center to do his concert makeup Wednesday armed with artificial brushes (no squirrel hair!) and makeup that hadn't been tested on animals.
She even left her leather handbag behind.
Wypiszynski, 43, hired through "fortuitous connections," told McCartney that the powder she was using was even kosher.
"That pretty much covers everything then," McCartney quipped, she said.
Afterward Wypiszynski said: "He looks great, he's adorable. I would have told him that but I didn't want to appear too dumbstruck."
She did giggle and blush, however when she pointed to her left cheek, which she said McCartney kissed.
CBC'S "THE CURRENT" FOIE GRAS DEBATE -- 10/21/05
On Friday, October 21, CBC's show "The Current" hosted a debate about foie gras. It included a chef who prepares it, and chef Michael Altenberg of Bistro Campagne in Chicago, who took it off the menu after a customer gave him the DVD by Gourmet Cruelty (see www.GourmetCruelty.com ) and Paul Shapiro from the Humane Society of the United States. You can listen on line at:
It is worth hearing -- both Altenberg and Shapiro are strong and compelling guests. Listen if you can, and please thank the show for its superb coverage. The show takes comments at email@example.com
Here is the summary of the show from the website at http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2005/200510/20051021.html
The Current: Part 3
When Oscar Wilde once said, "I hate people who are not serious about their meals" he certainly was not talking about the French. For hundreds of years France has been turning out some of the world's gastronomic delights, Champagne, truffles, brains and Brie to name a few. But its most controversial delicacy is Foie Gras. Loosely translated, foie gras means fatty liver, and for connoisseurs it's nirvana for the mouth. But animal rights activists say the production of foie gras is the ugliest kind of cruelty in the world. Even Pope Benedict the 16th and Ex- Beatle Paul McCartney have taken up the cause to ban it.
Foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks and geese so their livers enlarge and soften. Twelve countries around the world have already banned the production and or sale of foie gras. France however, sees it as an affront to their culture, so much so that this week, the French senate passed a law stating that fois gras is a part of the national heritage.
In Canada, Quebec is one of the largest producers of foie gras -- exporting to customers as far away as Japan. Aux Champs D'Elise is a farm half an hour outside of Montreal and is run by Élisé François and his daughter Isabelle.
Foie Gras Debate
Quebec may soon be the only place in North America left where it is legal to produce foie gras. And it's easy enough to find on the menus of finer restaurants across the country. In a moment, we'll introduce you to a chef who passionately defends the practise of making and enjoying foie gras, and one who's recently stopped selling it.
But before we do that, we're going to quickly speak with someone whose organization helped get it banned in California. In 2004 that state passed legislation banning all production and sales of the delicacy by 2012. The law was pushed through by the Humane Society of the United States. Paul Shapiro is the manager of the factory farm division at the Humane Society of the United States.
We also talked to two afficionados of French cuisine. Marc Thuet is the owner and chef of an acclaimed Toronto restaurant called Thuet. You'll regularly find foie gras on his menu. Michael Altenberg, the owner and chef of the highly rated Chicago restaurant Bistro Campagne. He took foie gras off his menu three months ago.
LOS ANGELES TIMES LEAD ARTICLE ON VILLARAIGOSA'S UNFULFILLED CAMPAIGN PROMISES -- 10/23/05
The following superb article, which appears on the cover of the Metro section of today's Los Angeles Times, acknowledges that mayor Villaraigosa has failed to keep his campaign promise that Guerdon Stuckey would be removed from his post as head of the city's Department of Animal Services.
It ends with:
"A deputy district attorney who has served on the Animal Services Commission for the last year, Knaan said the activists are a strident minority, but she said many Angelenos are deeply concerned about how the city handles its animal issues and she agreed that too many dogs are euthanized.
'We have a long, long way to go in improving how we do business as a Department of Animal Services in this city,' she said."
Please send appreciative letters to the Los Angeles Times. The paper has immense power to make a difference, particularly on local issues, and animal advocates must do all we can to support its attention to animal matters. You might discuss, in your letter, the shameful euthanization rate in Los Angeles, and also the importance of spay-neuter and the joys of adoption.
The Los Angeles Times takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
Here is the article:
Los Angeles Times
October 22, 2005 Saturday,
Part B; Pg. 1
Mayor, Animal Activists Meet but Resolve Nothing;
Group says Villaraigosa has gone back on his pledge to fire agency head Guerdon Stuckey.
Steve Hymon, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa met Friday with animal activists who have been holding noisy protests at the homes of city employees and demanding the ouster of the head of the city's Department of Animal Services.
As a mayoral candidate, Villaraigosa promised animal activists that he would fire Guerdon Stuckey, the department's general manager, but four months after taking office he has not taken that step.
After the meeting, the three members of the Animal Defense League said that Villaraigosa did not give them what they wanted: a promise that he would remove Stuckey.
"The mayor did not provide the unequivocal assurances that we had asked for," said Jerry Vlasak, a defense league member.
The activists said they had canceled a protest planned for today at the mayor's Mount Washington home as a good faith gesture.
Activists have been campaigning for several years to stop the practice of euthanizing dogs at city shelters. City officials say the number of euthanized animals has dropped dramatically. In fiscal 2004-05, the city euthanized 24,932 dogs, down from 39,086 in 2001-02, according to Animal Services statistics.
Animal activists dispute those numbers and say the agency is purposefully misleading the public.
Vlasak said the group's protests at the homes of city workers would continue, possibly including protests in Villaraigosa's neighborhood. The group previously held several protests on the street in San Pedro where former Mayor James K. Hahn lives, as well as at the Santa Monica home of the former head of the Animal Services agency, Jerry Greenwalt, who resigned last year.
This week, the group also sent priority mail packages to the homes of at least seven council members. Some members interpreted the mailings as a move by the group to signal their knowledge of where they live.
The package included a letter and a computer disk, labeled "Recent Undercover Footage Inside LA Animal Services," with a video the group says was taken this year of dogs being killed at shelters.
The Los Angeles Police Department has been collecting the packages, according to the staff of three council members.
The letter to one City Council member, obtained by The Times, began: "Animal Defense League Los Angeles is hoping that you will take 4 minutes out of your day to watch the undercover footage from the six city animal Death Camps we are enclosing with this letter. We want you to see with your own eyes what goes on behind those cinderblock walls of your six city animal 'shelters.' "
"By watching this footage," the letter continued, "you will learn why the public is so outraged at the holocaust -- the mass killing transpiring needlessly and senselessly in our six city animal Death Camps."
Pamelyn Ferdin, another member of the defense league and Vlasak's wife, said the group did not send the letters to intimidate council members, but because e-mails and mail to City Hall is frequently disposed of before elected officials see it.
The City Hall meeting Friday was the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between the activists, the Animal Services Department and, now, the city's elected officials.
Another group, the Animal Liberation Front, has claimed responsibility for threatening and harassing Animal Services employees, including a bomb scare that forced the evacuation of a street in Larchmont Village in July where an agency employee lived and smoke grenades that were detonated in the hallway of Stuckey's Bunker Hill apartment tower last month.
That group is regarded as a domestic terror organization by the U.S. Department of Justice because, among other actions, its members have taken responsibility for acts of vandalism.
Ferdin and Vlasak have said the Animal Defense League has no affiliation with that group, although the league does pass along communiques from the Animal Liberation Front.
Vlasak said Villaraigosa focused on the activities of the latter group during the 45-minute meeting. "The thing that he kept harping on is that he was going to mobilize the full forces of the Los Angeles Police Department to combat any illegal activities going on," Vlasak said. "We made it plain that we have nothing to do with those people."
Vlasak also said Villaraigosa said he would not fire Stuckey now "because he could not be portrayed as capitulating to illegal action."
The mayor could not be reached for comment.
The league has turned its focus to the new mayor because he promised to remove Stuckey, the former director of community services for Rockville, Md. Stuckey, who was recruited by Hahn, was hired after the council approved him by a 14-0 vote. At the time, Villaraigosa voted to hire Stuckey.
But at a January campaign event held by Citizens for a Humane Los Angeles, Villaraigosa said: "This was Jim Hahn's appointment; he wouldn't be mine, and I guarantee you that when I'm the mayor of Los Angeles ... Stuckey will not be the head of Animal Services."
Earlier Friday, Villaraigosa press secretary Janelle Erickson said the meeting with the league was in the works for some time and was scheduled before the activists canceled their protest at his home.
"If he made commitments when running, he has to listen to them," said Councilman Dennis Zine. "I think having a dialogue with them is good -- it's when you don't speak to people that it gets worse."
Deborah Knaan, a city Animal Services commissioner, said she thought it was helpful for Villaraigosa to meet with the activists.
A deputy district attorney who has served on the Animal Services Commission for the last year, Knaan said the activists are a strident minority, but she said many Angelenos are deeply concerned about how the city handles its animal issues and she agreed that too many dogs are euthanized.
"We have a long, long way to go in improving how we do business as a Department of Animal Services in this city," she said.
Times staff writer Richard Fausset contributed to this report.
NEW YORK NEWSDAY "ANIMAL HOUSE" COLUMN: "LOCAL ORPHANS NEED HOMES, TOO" --10/24/05
Denise Flaim's weekly column, "Animal House," appearing Mondays in New York Newsday, this week deals with local shelter animals being displaced by Katrina animals. While some articles, and even some quotes in this article, play down the problem, Flaim tackles it, telling us for example:
"When NSAL got media attention for its Katrina airlifts, North Hempstead shelter director Sue Hassett says, 'hundreds' of people mistakenly wandered into her facility. When they learned its dogs were not from Katrina, 'most people just turned around and walked away. They didn't even want to look at them,' Hassett says."
Her column gives us a nice opportunity for letters to the editor reminding people about New York's companion animal overpopulation crisis, the importance of spay-neuter and the joys of adoption. New York Newsday takes letters at http://cf.newsday.com/newsdayemail/email.cfm
Local orphans need saving, too
Oct 24, 2005
Acknowledging the demand for "Katrina animals," Betsy Saul, co-founder of the online adoption database Petfinder.com, has a suggestion:
Go to a shelter, adopt a local cat or dog, "and name them Katrina."
Like the effects of the hurricanes that left them homeless, the fates of tens of thousands of Gulf Coast animals are still unfolding. Rescue groups large and small have converged on Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, relocating ragged cats and dogs - many of them emaciated, flea-ridden and afflicted with everything from heartworm and giardia - back to their own communities to find them new, loving homes.
But could such unconditional acts of generosity have unintended consequences?
Charlie McGinley, director of the Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, says that during the height of the Katrina and Rita publicity, he found his shelter population - and its euthanasia rates - creeping up. He doesn't know if that had anything to do with the arrival of Katrina animals locally or if it's a statistical fluke. He just hopes potential adopters remember that charity begins at home.
If McGinley's municipal-shelter animals are feeling a little left out of the Katrina limelight, that's understandable, says Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the Humane Society of the United States.
"Anytime animals get in the news, groups get a surge of interest in those specific animals," she says. "As disheartening as it is to think someone wants the more interesting story, 'I got this dog because his family moved to California' isn't as sexy as 'This dog was rescued from Katrina.'"
Katrina's mathematics of suffering - attention to one animal from afar by definition means less attention to the one from home - is something all rescue groups ponder.
Katrina rescues are "definitely having an impact, but what are we supposed to do? Just like 9/11, you can't turn your back on that type of tragedy," says Amy Chaitoff, manager of business development at Little Shelter in Huntington, which rescued 45 dogs and 23 cats from the Gulf Coast. "Those animals were dying, starving in houses and sitting in toxic sludge."
Certainly, the stories are heartbreaking, says Frances Hayward of Manhattan, the Hamptons and Grand Bahama, who accompanied the Amigo Express, a rescue bus chartered by the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons and named for her own rescue dog. Among the 15 canine passengers on the return trip from Tylertown, Miss., was the aptly named Katrina, a chow mix found guarding her dead pups.
"Everyone will stand in line to adopt them, but the other animals cannot be forgotten," Hayward says. "You can't make a good equation out of it."
On Long Island, perhaps the biggest influx has come to North Shore Animal League, which has rescued 563 animals from the hurricane-ravaged region. Most of the immediately adoptable ones have found homes. The rest, which are either convalescing or whose ownership status is unconfirmed, are housed in a separate facility created for them.
(In an effort to allow for more reunions with owners, the HSUS and other groups such as the ASPCA recently asked shelters and rescuers to extend the hold period on Katrina animals to Dec. 15, or, minimally, 30 days after the animal's information is posted on http://disaster.petfinder .com/emergency.)
Alesia Soltanpanah, developmental director at NSAL, says the fact that many of the Katrina animals are older or hard-to-place breeds such as pitbulls and Rottweilers hasn't deterred many adopters.
"And from what we've seen, it's benefited animals that are not from Katrina," she says, indicating that adoptions are up at the Port Washington-based organization, which she says considers itself a national group and so might not reflect local adoption trends.
A few blocks away, the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter capitalizes on the traffic it gets from would-be adopters who confuse it with NSAL. When NSAL got media attention for its Katrina airlifts, North Hempstead shelter director Sue Hassett says, "hundreds" of people mistakenly wandered into her facility. When they learned its dogs were not from Katrina, "most people just turned around and walked away. They didn't even want to look at them," Hassett says.
Only four stayed and adopted local dogs.
The impetus to adopt a Katrina animal is certainly understandable.
"People need to feel connected to this disaster; the news is too overwhelming not to do something," Saul says. "The problem is we're not balancing this with local adoptions and donations. We need to focus on the very important issue of animals in our own neighborhoods so we can do that healthy thing of helping" in a disaster such as Katrina.
To that end, Saul suggests, consider becoming a foster home for a Katrina animal. (Little Shelter, in particular, is in need of them.) Make a donation to local rescue groups or shelters, all of which are experiencing so-called donor fatigue. Best of all, adopt a local animal to help make room for the flow of animals displaced by Katrina.
"The big answer is that all the animals have tales to tell," concludes Shain of the HSUS. "Katrina was a catastrophic disaster, but for the individual dog whose family decided they didn't have time for him anymore, that's catastrophic, too."
WRITE TO Denise Flaim, c/o Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4250, or e-mail email@example.com
RAT SPOOF CAMPAIGN IN OTTAWA CITIZEN AND EDMONTON JOURNAL -- 10/24/05
The Monday October 24 Ottawa Citizen (pg A3) and Edmonton Journal (pg A2) have both run pieces on a new ad campaign, which seems to be a spoof, aimed at improving the image of rats.
I will paste, below, the Ottawa Citizen piece headed, "Ad campaign calls on people to 'learn how to love' rats." The Edmonton Journal piece headed, "'Weird' campaign decries rats' bad rap" is a shorter version of the same piece. It ends with Boyles's quote, "If you can change the perception of rats, then you can sell anything to anyone." And it therefore does not include the unfortunate quote from
Guy Laflamme, a professor of marketing at the University of Ottawa, on which Ottawa Citizen readers might wish to comment:
"It's unfortunate that they're not doing this for a more valuable social cause. I don't think we need to rebrand rats."
The website, http://www.greatpointedarcher.com/ is fun -- an interactive site with rats scurrying around and various games, including one in which you dress the rat. The suggestion that we change the name given to rats, to 'Great Pointed Archer,' is what makes it clearly a spoof. But I found some of the posters affecting, such as the one described in the article below, which is on line at http://www.greatpointedarcher.com/unfair.jpg
http://www.greatpointedarcher.com/warm.jpg showing a rat at the window as a puppy is cuddled is also touching.
Given the way our society treats rodents (in the US they are excluded from cruelty laws that give minimal protection to laboratory animals though they are the vast majority of animals used) I hope the article will inspires letters asking why their treatment is considered such a joke.
The Ottawa Citizen takes letters at https://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/letters.html
The Edmonton Journal takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor.
Here is the Ottawa Citizen piece: (The Journal piece, as noted above, is a shorter version.)
Monday, October 24
Ad campaign calls on people to 'learn how to love' rats: Whether it's a hoax, or a true bid to rebrand the much-maligned rodent, no one knows who is behind the 'weird' and costly project, writes Joanne Laucius.
By Joanne Laucius, The Ottawa Citizen
An anonymous person with very deep pockets has launched a sophisticated marketing campaign to improve the image of the common sewer rat. No kidding.
Even an animal rights group admits the campaign -- which has included a full-page ad in the trade publication Advertising Age, a website and advertising videos -- is "so weird."
The aim, apparently, is to get people to feel more empathetic about the plight of the much-maligned rat. More likely, it's a ploy by an ad firm to demonstrate to potential clients that if it can rebrand the rat, it can rebrand anything.
The print ad features a drawing of a man on a park bench feeding pigeons and a squirrel from a bag of popcorn while a sad-eyed rat rummages in a garbage bin in the foreground. The overline reads: "Life can be unfair."
The campaign logo shows a Wind in the Willows-esque rat floating on a pastel cloud with a rainbow in the background and a tag line that urges readers to "learn how to love."
The website, greatpointedarcher.com, suggests renaming the rat with the more noble name of "great pointed archer" to overhaul the rodent's public image.
Whoever is behind the campaign has covered all the bases, including consulting some of the major players in the world of rats.
A spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, famous for its over-the-top marketing in support of animal rights causes, said the anonymous marketer contacted PETA and asked for its opinion on a trio of possible TV ads. The ads included one that showed a human caught in a glue trap while rats ignore his suffering.
Stephanie Boyles, a biologist who works for PETA, concedes the ad looks like something PETA might do. "If I were to come up with an ad, this is the kind of thing I would do," she said.
But PETA is "clueless" about the origin of the ads, and Ms. Boyles can only suggest the source is a philanthropist who has decided to make rats his cause. Or it might be someone taking on an impossible task to show that it can be done.
"If you can change the perception of rats, then you can sell anything to anyone," Ms. Boyles said.
California-based Debbie Ducommun, an expert on domestic rats, was contacted by the group behind the campaign, which asked her if she was interested in becoming a spokeswoman. She was offered an undisclosed sum of money to do the job.
"I'm kind of wondering who is the money behind this," said Ms. Ducommun, a former veterinary assistant who managed rats for a university psychology department before she became known as "the Rat Lady" on a website about caring for rats. "My first thought is that it's some rich person who, like me, likes rats."
The campaign has sparked a lot of chattering among advertising industry observers. Many believe it's a hoax designed to draw attention to the creativity of some ad firm. And they're itching to know who's behind it.
"Some marketers find it necessary to create a vast, multilayered, quirky, nonsensical campaign element simply to create intrigue and interest, " said Steve Hall, the editor and publisher of the marketing blog Adrants.
Peggy Cunningham, a professor of marketing at Queen's University, said the effort smells like a rebranding firm trawling for clients.
She compares the rat campaign to an attention-grabbing effort engineered last fall by Toronto advertising maverick Vaughn Whelan. Mr. Whelan created unsolicited TV ads for Molson Canadian in the hopes the brewing giant would consider him for their lucrative contract. A quirky 60-second TV ad featured a bicycle courier's efforts to persuade Revenue Canada to deduct food from his income tax as an expense. "Respect. It's a Canadian thing," said the tag line.
Guy Laflamme, a professor of marketing at the University of Ottawa, bets the mystery adman is monitoring the attention he's getting to convince clients that an investment will result in greater visibility.
Advertising is a powerful mode of communication, but it has to be used ethically, Mr. Laflamme said.
"It's unfortunate that they're not doing this for a more valuable social cause," he said. "I don't think we need to rebrand rats."
8 YEAR OLD GIRL SHOOTS FIRST MD BEAR OF THE SEASON -- BALTIMORE SUN AND WASHINGTON POST 10/25/05
On Tuesday, October 25, the Baltimore Sun front page and the front page of the Washington Post Metro Section shared the news that an eight-year old girl made the first kill in Maryland's second bear hunt since 1953.
The Washington Post piece, headed, "Girl, 8, Credited With Year's 1st Bear Kill; 2 Rounds Did It, Md. Hunter Says" reads surprisingly like a pro-hunting fluff piece . It opens:
"There's a new hunting legend in the mountains of Western Maryland.
"Born to the woods, she's 41/2 feet tall and 8 years old, with a shock of light brown hair and a steady trigger finger that put two bullets into a black bear's chest cavity Monday, according to her and her father and granduncle, who were hunting with her. State officials backed the claim by Sierra Stiles and credited her with the first kill of Maryland's second bear season since hunting the animals resumed after a half-century ban.
"Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials, waiting to take measurements and tissue samples from the bears at a wildlife management center here, shook their heads in amazement at the news that the first hunter to bag a bear was a third-grade girl from Kitzmiller, on Maryland's border with West Virginia.
"Sierra recounted here how she shot the 211-pound bear from 50 yards away with her .243-caliber rifle. 'I was scared,' she said, then paused for dramatic emphasis. 'Because bears will eat anything!'"
The piece does mention a news release from The Humane Society of the United States, which noted that the first bear killed last year was a young bear and says, "Governor Ehrlich is personally responsible for exposing young children and young bears to this cruelty."
But then it goes on to describe Sierra's feat and excitement, and then to tell us that the third hunter to come in with a dead bear was a 23 year old woman, who said of the eight year old hunter: "That's good to see any kids out there, especially girls."
Then the article ends with a quote from Paul Peditto, director of DNR's wildlife and heritage service: "The ladies are taking over. And it's a good thing."
If you disagree, please send a letter to the editor explaining why. The Washington Post takes letters at email@example.com
You can read the whole Post article on line at
The Baltimore Sun Tuesday, October 25, front page piece is headed "Youngest marksman gets her bear first, as hunt begins in Md."
It gives similar information.
And it tells us:
"Sierra's bear, which she plans to turn into a rug, was one of 13 to be registered with game officers yesterday at the Mount Nebo Wildlife Management Area just north of Oakland, with two others weighed-in at a state office in Frostburg. It was the first day of a season expected to last three or four days, or until at least 40 are killed, twice as many as last year, state officials said. The plan is to kill no more than 55 bears this year.
And of Sierra's experience with bears: "Sierra said she had a teddy bear at home, but had never seen a live bear before, except in a zoo."
You will find the whole piece on line at http://tinyurl.com/b8dr6
The front page story opens the door for letters to the editor. The Baltimore Sun takes letters on line at http://www.baltimoresun.com/about/bal-feedback,0,6119824.htmlstory or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org . The paper advises, "Be sure to include contact information, including your full name and both day and evening phone numbers."
CHICAGO FOIE GRAS: ORDINANCE PASSES CITY COUNCIL AND SCULLY PIECE IN SUN TIMES 10/25/05
I will paste, below, a powerful, October 24, piece in the Chicago Sun Times, by Matthew Scully, about foie gras. Following it is an announcement, from Farm Sanctuary, that today, October 25, the proposed Chicago ordinance to ban the sale of foie gras passed through the Chicago City Council Committee on Health. The alert includes information on what you can do to help the ordinance pass the full city council.
Since legislatures look to the letters sections of newspapers as barometers of public opinion, one thing you can do to assist the passage of the ordinance is to send a letter to the editor in support of Scully's piece and the ordinance. The Chicago Sun Times takes letters at http://www.suntimes.com/geninfo/feedback.html
Here is the Sun Times piece (also available on line at http://www.suntimes.com/output/otherviews/cst-edt-ref24.html) -- the Farm Sanctuary alert follows it:
Force feeding of birds a sin
October 24, 2005
BY MATTHEW SCULLY
Gluttony, like any other vice, turns to anger when asked to explain itself. And so a few epicures and touchy French chefs are all worked up about Ald. Joe Moore's proposal to ban foie gras from Chicago restaurants. Foie gras is French for "fatty liver," but more precisely translated as the grossly enlarged liver of a tortured duck or goose.
The details behind the delicacy became a matter of controversy when Chicago chef Charlie Trotter decided a few years ago to see for himself whether the reports of cruelty were true. They were, he concluded -- the scene "was grisly, to put it mildly." Trotter removed foie gras from his menu. A hundred other Chicago restaurants followed, and when the issue came to Moore's attention he decided that foie gras -- already banned in nations from Israel to Austria, and scheduled for extinction in California -- was something the city could do without.
"Our laws," explained Moore (49th), "are a reflection of our culture. Our culture does not condone the torture of innocent and defenseless creatures. We as a society believe all God's creatures should be treated humanely."
If Moore is correct in the facts, then he is surely right on the moral points as well. Everyone has a duty to refrain from cruelty to animals, and that duty takes priority over anyone's attachment to a table treat.
To establish the facts, a hearing was conducted last month by the Council's committee on heath, where it fell to veterinarian Holly Cheever to lay it all out. The birds are force-fed with pipes, explained Cheever. "There is food spilling from the nostrils of these poor animals, who choke to death. As the [enlarged] liver fails, they develop a brain condition. You will see birds having seizures or in comas still being grabbed and force-fed."
Still, our appetizer is not quite ready: By the time they're done with the birds, "the liver is so expanded that, when the handlers put too much pressure on their abdomens, the livers may simply rupture and they die in massive pain and discomfort from internal hemorrhage."
By way of comparison, suppose it were discovered that by subjecting a lamb, calf or other farm animal to daily whippings, food producers could make their flesh that much more tender and flavorful. It would cost us extra, to cover the labor, time and special attention that went into lashing each animal. But those who could afford it would have themselves a meal to remember.
Most of us would say "no thanks," and our abhorrence for such practices would be more than a matter of taste. Exactly the same applies to foie gras. Like veal, it is by definition the product of a sick, abused animal, and if you want foie gras there is no respectable way to get it.
Nor is it any answer to point out, as some local chefs have done, that the animals are going to die anyway, so who cares how they're treated? Since very long ago civilized human beings have understood that it does matter how farm animals are treated and for what purposes suffering is inflicted upon them. Far from providing self-indulgent excuses to fill their lives with misery, the fact of their impending death is only more reason to grant the creatures who serve us a scrap or two of human kindness.
If Moore is looking for serious moral backup, he could do worse than Pope Benedict XVI. Animals, the pope has said, must be respected as our "companions in creation." While it is licit to use them for food, "we cannot just do whatever we want with them. ... Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible."
This is the spirit behind Moore's proposal, and good reason to pass it. Cruelty to animals is a cowardly and disgraceful sin, always. And when you weigh it on the moral scale beside a frivolous little meal starter, the offense only looks more serious.
Matthew Scully, a former special assistant for President Bush, is the author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.
(END OF CHICAGO SUN TIMES PIECE)
Chicago is One Step Closer to Banning Foie Gras!
Today, October 25, 2005, saw the passage of the proposed Chicago ordinance to ban the sale of foie gras through the Chicago City Council Committee on Health. This is a key step in prohibiting the sale of foie gras in the city of Chicago!
Compelling testimony highlighted the cruelty of foie gras production, including a passionate statement by actress Loretta Swit. Representatives of the foie gras industry were unable to convince members of the committee that force feeding birds is humane and the committee unanimously voted in favor of Alderman Moore's proposal. The Committee on Health has carefully examined the process of foie gras production over the past couple of months.
Dr. Holly Cheever, a veterinarian and expert on the foie gras industry, and Gene Bauston, President of Farm Sanctuary, provided information and testified in support of Alderman Moore's proposal at hearings in September and October.
Next step: The entire Chicago City Council will be voting soon on this proposed ordinance!
More exciting news! Similar foie gras state legislation is also currently pending in Illinois and Massachusetts.
What You Can Do
To learn more about this cruel production method and see what you can do to help, please visit: www.NoFoieGras.org .
Chicago Residents: The Chicago City Council consists of 50 Aldermen, one representing each city ward. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS NOW (see http://tinyurl.com/4cuyr for contact information) asking them to please support Alderman Moore's Proposal to Ban the Sale of Cruel Foie Gras in Chicago.
For more information, please contact email@example.com or call 607-583-2225 ext 251.
Farm Sanctuary is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ending farm animal abuse through direct rescue and protection campaigns. For more information about Farm Sanctuary programs, please visit www.farmsanctuary.org or call 607-583-2225. To become a Farm Sanctuary member or to make a donation today using our secure online form, please click here. For updates on previous action alerts, please click here.
Please forward and distribute widely! Thank you
Farm Sanctuary, P.O. Box 150 Watkins Glen, NY 14891.
ABC's PRIMETIME EXPOSE OF THE DOLPHIN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY -- 10/27/05
ABC has a history of strong coverage of the dolphin industry, including an August 2001 expose on 20/20 showing shocking footage of dolphin capture and transport for a swim with dolphins program in Mexico. On Thursday, October 27, the tradition continued. ABC's "Primetime" aired a segment that should have been an eye-opener to millions of Americans who might be tempted to visit dolphin theme parks when on vacation.
First on the segment we see swim-with-dolphin theme parks. Then, as we see horrifying scenes of panicked dolphins being rounded up into small areas, and bloodied dolphins being strung up by their tails and thrown onto boats, reporter Chris Cuomo's voiceover tells us:
"'Primetime' discovered an ugly secret about these new parks. It may be shocking to learn that these most beloved creatures are captured from the wild, often in the most horrific ways. Look at this exclusive video from January 2004 of remote Taigi, Japan. This is the brutal enterprise of wild dolphin roundups. In a traditional dolphin hunt, fishermen use nets and loud noise to drive dolphins into a small cove.
Ric O'Barry, who once made a living catching and training the dolphins used on 'Flipper' and now fights against the marine mammal entertainment industry says:
"Even looking at the video doesn't do it justice, because you don't hear the screaming. You don't smell the death."
We see dolphin trainers in the water amongst the dolphins being rounded up to killed, and hear from Cuomo:
"These are dolphin trainers separating out the best of the catch for transfer to parks around the world. The rest ruthlessly slaughtered by fishermen for their meat."
(Close-up shot of a dead dolphin being dragged off.)
O'Barry, about other trainers: "They're there waiting in the wings, making deals, and buying some of the dolphins from these guys and rewarding them."
Cuomo: "Dolphins are ripped from their families, called pods. Take a mature dolphin mother and the rest of the pod loses its teacher. Take a dolphin that's too young and it may not ever learn how to survive on its own. This video shows a captured dolphin being secreted under cover of night to a Mexican dolphin park."
O'Barry: "These marine parks want you to believe that God put them there or they came out of the sky. They don't want to be seen capturing dolphins or having anything to do with captures."
Cuomo: "Many countries around the world, including the US and Mexico, restrict or ban taking dolphins from the wild. For a decade, US parks have relied on dolphins bred in captivity. But the growing demand for dolphins in other countries has spawned a lucrative trade of finding remote places to capture dolphins. Brokers charge up to $100,000 per animal."
Later in the segment Cuomo interviews a dolphin broker who says that by buying dolphins he is saving their lives since the fisherman would otherwise kill them for their meat and the souvenirs made out of their teeth.
O'Barry says, "That's ridiculous. How's he saving them? He might be saving that one, but he's contributing to the slaughter of 20,000 more by keeping them in business. He's not an environmentalist. He's a dolphin hunter. He's a dolphin dealer."
One concern about the segment was the suggestion that within the US, parks are not allowed to acquire wild caught dolphins, so the horror on the dolphin capture footage might not be relevant to the American experience. However this month, in Vancouver, we saw that the dolphin industry can find loopholes. Vancouver does not allow the importation of wild caught dolphins. But the Vancouver aquarium was able to import two dolphins who were deemed too injured to be rehabilitated for life in the wild. (See http://tinyurl.com/c9m7c for that story.) The Vancouver aquarium spent about $200,000 on the transport and purchase, from an aquarium in Japan. The Japanese aquarium has no laws against dolphin capture, so the transferred dolphins can be immediately replaced with healthy wild caught dolphins. Therefore anybody paying the price of admission at the Vancouver Aquarium, or at any other aquariums or theme parks that have made similar deals, are subsidizing the Taigi dolphin slaughter. The Primetime story did a great job of showing us how.
Most of the Western public knows nothing of the history of the captive dolphins they visit on vacation in other lands. Primetime helped get out the word. Please make sure to thank the show for the segment. Primetime takes comments at http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=131877&page=1
CANADA'S NATIONAL POST EDITORIAL ON ANIMAL CRUELTY -- 11/29/05
I wanted to make sure Canadian folks saw the editorial (the paper's official editorial opinion) that appeared in the National Post on Saturday, October 29. I will paste it below. It presents a great opportunity for letters to editor. You might like to discuss hunting. PETA has a good fact sheet on the issue at http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=53
The National Post takes letters at: http://tinyurl.com/7xk4j
National Post (f/k/a The Financial Post) (Canada)
October 29, 2005 Saturday
EDITORIALS; Pg. A22
Getting tough on puppy-hate
On Tuesday, an Ontario judge spoke out about the need for tougher sentencing for people who commit acts of cruelty to animals. Ottawa should heed his advice.
Judge Simon Armstrong had just pronounced sentence on Ralph and Rose Misener, a couple the Ontario SPCA says has a "41-year record of seizures, convictions and penalties" involving more than 700 animals. The Miseners were most recently charged after inspectors visiting their puppy mill found 43 dogs and puppies in such terrible conditions that the inspectors were literally made sick. Judge Armstrong sentenced Mr. Misener to six months in jail and Mrs. Misener to 12 months' house arrest. On both Miseners, he imposed the maximum prohibition possible under the existing, scandalously lax law -- a two-year ban on owning animals. Given their record, he would like to have done more.
"If I had the jurisdiction, I would have no hesitancy to instate a longer prohibition," Judge Armstrong said. "[I] would have no hesitation to ban [animal ownership] for life in this case."
He is right: People who have repeatedly visited cruelty upon animals should be subject to more severe penalties, including, if necessary, a lifetime prohibition on animal ownership. For too long, people who would let animals starve, freeze or languish caged in their own waste are permitted a second or third or fourth chance after a slap on the wrist. It is time society's outrage at these acts be reflected in harsher sentences and prohibitions.
Having said that, we are concerned that Parliament's proposed remedy, Bill C-50 "an Act to amend the Criminal Code in respect of cruelty to animals," goes too far in the other direction. For one thing, the bill expands the statutory definition of the word "animal" to include fish. While this is not an inherently bad thing -- the intentionally sadistic treatment of fish should no more be tolerated than the torture of kittens -- fishermen are rightly worried that the law could be used to prosecute them for merely quickly and routinely killing their catch.
Similarly, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) makes a good point when it worries that the bill's reference to an offence involving "killing an animal brutally or viciously" is too vague and could be used to prosecute lawful hunters. The bill needs to be tightened up with clarifying amendments -- of what is considered brutal (e.g., the repeated cruel treatment of animals by puppy-mill owners) and what is not (e.g., legal game hunting). That way, farmers, anglers, and hunters will not be caught in the same net as the likes of Ralph and Rose Misener.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE ARTICLE ON PITBULLS AND BREED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION 10/30/05
The Sunday, October 30, San Francisco Chronicle has a balanced piece on pitbulls, showing what can happen when they are in the care of irresponsible people, and also the devastating effect an outright ban can have on families who provide loving and responsible homes.
It can be found on line at http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/10/30/CMGTAF0PGA1.DTL and is well worth reading for anybody interested in the issue.
The article refers to legislation drafted by Jackie Spier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) overturning California's prohibition against breed specific legislation and allowing cities to introduce it. The article says, "Speier responded to criticism that the bill would lead to a de facto ban by narrowing its focus to spaying, neutering and backyard breeding. The bill, SB 861, was approved by the legislature on Aug. 31 and was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Oct. 7"
The bill says, explicitly, that no breed of dog may be declared "dangerous" and have restrictions placed on it other than those that pertain to breeding and spay-neuter. So those who have been told that California's new law will lead to the horrendous Denver situation, where loving dogs are pulled out of loving and responsible homes, have been misinformed. Currently, the vast majority of dogs killed in California shelters are pitbull and pit-mixes, so any impact the law has on their breeding will save lives. Unfortunately, the pitbull breeders and their allies are attempting to overturn it. I urge any animal advocates tempted to side with them to please read the bill carefully, at http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/bill/sen/sb_0851-0900/sb_861_bill_20050705_amended_asm.html and reconsider.
If SB 861 is overturned, then after the next pitbull attack, in the climate of anti-pitbul fervor, there is nothing to stop another legislator from introducing a new bill that allows breed specific legislation and does not forbid a total ban on a breed. That would be devastating for those of us who have adopted pitbulls as part of our families.
The article presents a great opportunity for letters to the editor on the importance of spay-neuter, for all dogs, and a chance for those of us who have pitbulls we love to put a good word in for the breed. The San Francisco Chronicle takes letters at The Chronicle takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
POST HURRICANE PET FRIENDLY ARTICLES IN FLORIDA'S SUN SENTINEL 10/31-11/1/05
Florida's Sun-Sentinel has had a couple of articles this week pointing to the strength of our bonds with our companion animals. "After the Storm, Their Address is Mom's Mercury Sable" (Monday, 10/31 pg 17a) tells of a mother and pregnant daughter who spent five nights living in a car after Hurricane Wilma made their apartment uninhabitable. They had a puppy named Cinnimin and a cat named Zorro with them.
"Keeping the two from going to a hurricane shelter are Zorro and Cinnimin. Broward only has one pet-friendly shelter. Operated by the American Red Cross and the Humane Society of Broward at Millennium Middle School in Tamarac, it closed Thursday, according to Red Cross spokeswoman Kathryn Cousins."
"'People were starting to leave,' Cousins said. 'We saw no further need for the pet-friendly shelter.'
"Mother and daughter said they don't have family or friends nearby who can house them and their pets in the meantime. They said they don't have money for a new apartment. Meanwhile, they refuse to be separated from their furry friends.
"'We can't just leave our pets,' Veronique Benhayoun said. 'They are like my babies.'"
They managed to scrape together a little money to spend a few nights at a pet-friendly "Motel 6" but the article ends by telling us:
"With $5 left to last them this week, they cannot fathom what lies ahead.
"'By Tuesday night I know I'm going to be sleeping in that car again,' Veronique Benhayoun said. "I can't begin to think about that.'"
You can read the whole article on line at
The Tuesday, November 1, Sun-Sentinel has an article headed "Tears of Sorrow Turn to Sobs of Joy when Man, Pet Dog are Reunited." (Pg.1b)
It opens: "Salvatore Simone survived the Spanish Influenza Pandemic, the Great Depression, World War II, the death of most of his relatives -- even Hurricane Wilma. But the loss of his white, silky-haired Maltese after the storm was almost too much for his tender, 93-year-old heart to take."
The dog, who he has had for fifteen years, ran off after Wilma knocked down a fence. But "tears stopped flowing Monday when Simone and his dog, Bela, were reunited in their Hollywood home." Simone's nephew is quoted:
""Now that he's got the dog back, we're going back to planning his 100 birthday. I really believe the pet has extended his life."
Other people are still frantically searching for their animals. One is quoted:
"It's like losing one of your children. You cry yourself to sleep at night wondering were she's at."
You can read the whole article on line at
The articles present nice opportunities for letters on the bond we have with our companion animals, perhaps the joys of adoption, and in support of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, or PETS Act which would mandate states and municipalities to provide evacuation plans for pets and service animals in order to qualify for FEMA funding. You can find out more about that bill, and even send a letter to your representatives in support of it, at the HSUS website at https://community.hsus.org/campaign/pets_act_house/explanation
If you have not yet signed the petition in support of the bill, please go to http://go.care2.com/e/gfO/bR/oco4
The Sun Sentinel takes letters to the editor at: