Animal friendly NPR host of Weekend Edition, Scott Simon, outdid himself on Saturday, July 21. He presented a story on pet overpopulation, a story on pet custody battles, and a knock-out of an opinion piece, by him, on the unacceptability of using culture as an excuse for animal cruelty, whether the cruelty be that of animal fighting, or in food production for foie gras.
The report on pet overpopulation, headed "A Complex Problem" was by reporter Brian Mann. It included the following comments by HSUS president Wayne Pacelle:
"There are probably about four to six million euthanized in local Humane societies and Animal Care and Control facilities across the country.
...You turn the animal over to a shelter, animal care agency and think that animal is going to be adopted. That's not always the case. Healthy and adoptable animals are euthanized for a lack of space....Only about 17 percent of owned dogs come from shelters. And if we could get that number up to 25 percent or 30 percent, we could solve the pet overpopulation problem this country for the most part in terms of dogs.
You will find a link to audio for the whole story on line at
The piece, "Wisconsin May Set Rules for Pet Custody" is an interview by Scott Simon of Wisconsin divorce lawyer, Tom Glowacki, about "a bill now making its way to the Wisconsin state legislature that seeks to outline how divorcing couples and the courts should handle pet custody." Simon showed complete sensitivity to the subject. When Glowacki told of a shared custody situation, in which one spouse would feed an older dog animal rich, hard to digest food, just before returning him to the ex-spouse, Simon said that while one could treat this subject lightly, in fact "people care a great deal about and for their pets, and I would imagine the time of divorce even underscores their feeling." He would not let the tone become flippant. And we learned from Glowacki that "sometimes we'd get judges who'll just roll their eyes and say they're not going to deal with this issue. If the bill passes, then they'll have to deal with the issue... they will have to make accommodations for the
You'll find the whole interview on line at:
Which brings us to Scott Simon's commentary, "When Man Is the Roughest Beast." I highly recommend listening to it on line at
I am also going to paste it below, so that those who don't have great internet connections don't miss out. Unlike the Newsday piece I also sent out today, is not an obvious call for vegetarianism. Rather, it is a comment from a highly respected public figure, going out to millions of people, calling for a ban on foie gras. And Simon's commentary makes it clear that the matter of animal cruelty, not just against dogs and cats but also in food production, is a matter that deserves to be part of the discussion of important affairs on National Public Radio. Please thank him!
Positive feedback will encourage more coverage of these issues. Go to http://www.npr.org/contact/ , choose "NPR program" and select, "Weekend Edition Saturday" from the pull-down menu.
Here is a text version of Scott Simon's editorial:
"There are a couple of stories in the news this week that make us contemplate that phrase, it's part of a culture. Michael Vick, quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, had been indicted along with three associates for running a dogfighting enterprise out of one his homes in rural Virginia.
"Dogfighting is a criminal enterprise. I can't bring myself to call it a sport in which dogs that have been trained to savagery by being beaten, starved and tortured are made to fight other dogs to death. The losers are often killed as bad investments. In fact, Mr. Vick is accused of personally killing eight dogs by hanging, drowning and beating because they lack sufficient viciousness and weren't worth the cost of upkeep. Michael Vick, by the way, has a $130-million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
"When the investigation to Mr. Vick was first reported, there were those who derided the idea of outlaw in dogfighting, and said it's simply a part of a culture. That culture argument can make me squirm. I can think of all kinds of crimes including genital mutilation and slavery that were once part of a culture.
"This week, it was reported that Amazon.com is selling the foie gras that is made at a factory in Quebec called Elevages Perigord. All foie gras made by force-feeding ducks and geese with mash until their liver swell and often burst. That's harsh. Many would say it's cruel, but undercover video taken at Elevages Perigord by investigators reveal a routine that goes beyond even that.
"Ducks and geese in that facility have had their beaks and feet cut off, so they cannot squirm in the extreme confinement of cages that are about as big as shoeboxes. There are shots of workers at the factory punching the birds, leaving ducklings to die in trashcans and suffocating and crushing weak ones that are considered, like the dogs Michael Vick is accused of killing, to be bad assets.
"Of course, many people who enjoy foie gras explained that it's simply part of a food culture. They think that people who eat meat and poultry, but shrink from knowing how it's made, fool themselves with phrases like range-free to believe that you can humanely treat any animal who's destined for our food chain.
"But I think there's a difference between giving an animal a life with food, sunlight, grass and room to run before or one day they're stunned and slaughtered for food, and torturing an animal in some way every day of its life, before killing it to produce an ostensible delicacy.
"You don't have to believe that torturing and killing a dog is the same as torturing and murdering a human being. I believe that torturing a dog is wrong. It is hard to excuse cruelty by calling it a cultural trait."
Please send thanks at Go to http://www.npr.org/contact/ -- "Weekend Edition Saturday."
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)
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Date: Sun Jul 22 21:32:38 2007
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An animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets.
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