Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sticky's torturer ID'd

It sounds as if Sticky, the little tabby cat who was wrapped in duct tape (link to story in last post), has lots of friends.

First, well-wishers boosted the amount of the reward offered for the conviction of the person who did that to her. Then, a telephone tip led enforcement officers for the Penna. SPCA, based in North Philadelphia, to a suspect who has been arrested. Finally, since no one could offer proof of being Sticky’s human parents – it’s hard to say “owners” – she will be adopted out to one of the hundred or so families offering her a home. Happy ending.

But then a nagging afterthought: the 19-year old who was arrested for this cruel act sounds incompetent and untrustworthy. The words he reportedly said to the arresting officer offer no comfort to other cats, other animals. How can he – or any human being – still act as if (other, non-human) animals are inconsequential and have no feelings, no needs, no rights? It’s scary to have such people in the world.



Monday, September 28, 2009

"The good news"

Out of fiendish animal cruelty, some good can (sometimes, finally) come. First case, an innocent young cat, who became the victim of one human’s act – and then the recipient of lifesaving help from many other people. The story of “Sticky” is told via this link:

Another piece of happy, humane news was reported late last week in The Press (of Atlantic City). Atlantic County has “announced plans to establish a regional pet-evacuation center at the Atlantic City Race Course, to be used during weather and other emergencies.” How welcome is that? And what a beautiful change it represents compared with the atrocious treatment of companion animals during and after Hurricane Katrina – which subject, BTW, is documented in a recently released film, “An American Opera: The Greatest Pet Rescue Ever!”

According to a film review in the Sept. 25 TimeOFF section of the Princeton Packet, producer/director/narrator Tom McPhee went to New Orleans to help. There, as part of an effort to reunite rescued animals with their families, he photographed the animals. He also shot video footage, which became part of this movie. It will be shown at Princeton’s Garden Theatre on Oct. 1 at 8 pm.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One 'right' approach?

In many ways, last Sunday’s Farm Sanctuary walk for farm animals was a model for public expression of opinion: participants were quiet and orderly, while firmly against factory farming; neither signage nor flyers was strident or inflammatory; peace prevailed as points were made.

It was all very civilized.

It was also worlds away from the anti-fur demos in New York City that I’ve become familiar with in the last few years: chants and bullhorns; gory (i.e., reality-based) signs and videos; critical exchanges with passers-by wearing fur; protesting from behind barricades (in front of stores that sell fur), with police protection.

There’s no argument that both causes – terribly abused farm animals and fur-bearing animals, both slaughtered for human use of their bodies or their fur – are equally worthy. And yet the two approaches to getting the message out are so different. Why? and which way is more effective at “winning hearts and minds,” at moving people away from eating flesh and wearing fur?

On reflection, Sunday’s walk was itself rather bucolic, peaceful. Was that a deliberate reminder of what we still idealize farms as being like -- before we let ourselves remember what factory farms are like? Then what’s to be said about how anti-fur demos proceed: angrily, from the start? Does the difference come down to being a matter of who’s heading up the event, rather than the issue itself – diff'rent strokes and all that?

It may simply require more experience with demonstrations to conclude which approach seems to work best – or even to decide which “style” participants are most comfortable with.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Walk for farm animals

An uplifting event took place yesterday afternoon in Princeton. At least 70 people walked along a four mile route, carrying signs and giving out flyers, to show their compasssion for farm animals. Literally billions of land animals are slaughtered each year in the US for food; untold additional billions of fish meet the same fate.

And how these creatures "meet their fate" is almost worse than the fact that they do. It's all about factory farming and how that heinous system causes animals to be treated.

The walk was an annual event sponsored by Farm Sanctuary, one of 66 such walks taking place this fall across the US and in Canada for the same cause. I walked and took pictures and talked with other participants -- a very diverse mix yet all quietly committed. Afterwards, I was glad to have the chance to write about the walk, twice, for publication.

Now, if some of the bystanders and drivers who saw the walk underway would only feel/act more open to the horrific information that Farm Sanctuary exists to provide. (http://farmsanctuary.org/issues/factoryfarming/) Not that they should become vegetarians or vegans on the spot; their merely cutting down on flesh consumption would be a good start. Positive reactions can start small -- then build. It all begins with willingness to listen, read, think. #

Saturday, September 19, 2009

'Harvesting' column inches

My last post, about the awful "Outdoors" column from the Times of Trenton earlier this month, prompted my checking yesterday's paper to see if it's a weekly thing. Apparently so. Even worse: the latest one was way long -- would you believe about 27 column inches? That in contrast to the length allowed the Times' "regular" columnists, which this morning was about 17 inches in the case of Sharon Schlegel. Her reward for writing well is to get less space, whereas his turgid, disingenuous drivel goes on and on.

It looks to me as if "Outdoors" is (believe it or not) a paid column -- that is, he or his interest group may pay the Times for the right to hog space and be published, without benefit of editing beforehand. All in the interest of "the harvest"!

The only good news here is that my letter to the editor of the Times was printed today. Essentially, it's the same as the post before this one, "Who is he kidding?", except that my deliberate "bloody vein" was for reasons unknown to me changed to "gruesome vein." Too sanguine? Or too un-euphemistic?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Who is he kidding?

“There is no question that autumn is in the air.” The words of a real nature lover? No, definitely not, in the sense of enjoying the beauty or taking care of it all. On Sept. 11, The Trenton Times’ “Outdoors” columnist continued: “Goose season got off to a good start and the next season that will garner the attention of hunters is the start of the fall archery deer season.”

And on and on in that bloody vein. This guy tells time by which animals can be killed. If it’s autumn, he can go after geese and deer. And he can refer to the “harvest” as if he’s discussing root veggies. If weather comes into it at all, it has to do with “more comfortable hunting conditions.”

“Harvest” stands in for “kill” five times in just two paragraphs. Then he moves on to permits -- without using the word “hunting” as a modifier – in relation to “managing” the deer population. New Jersey’s “deer management zones” are ranked based on the number of deer “taken” or “harvested” – never “killed” -- with the “top zone” posting the highest number of dead deer.

Finally, he bemoans the loss of deer hunters (what, not “harvesters” or “managers”?) to other states because New Jersey’s system is “too complex and costly.” Such impediments “only further hurt the sport.” (“Sport”?!)

He quotes one hunter’s complaint that “the division” (i.e., Fish and Wildlife) is more interested in profit than “protecting hunting in the state.” But who is protecting the fish and wildlife?

How about changing the column name to “Go get ‘em!” or “Ready, aim, fire!”?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Animal Qs in transit

A weekend trip to the North Carolina coast generated a variety of observations and Qs about animals. Answers to questions are invited and welcome!

* baby seagulls: even though this isn’t the baby bird season, the question remains -- who has seen them? where are they raised? why are “adult” seagulls always the ones we encounter on the beach?

* seashells and critters: is every seashell automatically a home/shelter for some kind of animal? (are seashells always functional as well as oftentimes beautiful?)

* what’s the recommendation about feeding feral cats? I encountered a long, lean black and white kitten(?) near a visitor info center in NC and had nothing with me to offer it. Later, I wondered if it’d be a good idea to keep healthy cat treats in the car for such an occasion. Though I couldn’t bring the cat home – and sensed I shouldn’t try reporting it to any animal welfare organization in the area, not knowing the operating philosophy – I wanted to do something.

* no joy ride: on the highway coming home, a pickup truck passed our car . . . with a handsome German Shepherd in the open back. Looking uncomfortable, the dog moved from side to side and when the driver accelerated, nearly lost his balance. The truck (with Pennsylvania tags) quickly got out of our reach/vision; I couldn’t even note the license plate (though I don’t know what I could have done with it—citizen’s arrest?). Do any states have rules against dogs or other animals in open trucks? “There ought to be a law.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fighting "Frog-O-Spheres"

Brookstone, the place people think of for pricey high-tech gadgets, recently got into – and at least in West Windsor, out of -- the business of selling frogs. Here’s the story, as reported in a local paper late last month.

The company was selling the “Frog-O-Sphere,” a popular item (doesn’t everyone shop for frogs at Brookstone?) that included “ two live aquatic African dwarf frogs, a snail and a bamboo plant all enclosed in a plastic see-through cube.”

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had complained to the township’s health office about these sales, arguing, “Displaying and selling wildlife for profit is never in the best interest of the animals.” PETA reported receiving hundreds of complaints from Brookstone customers, who either (1) found that the frogs they’d bought were dead or dying within days of purchase, or (2) were “horrified” that live frogs were in proximity to remote controlled chairs and other gadgets.

(Blogger’s note: So the first group of complainers didn’t much care about the frogs bought in these circumstances except that they were dead or dying? And was the second group trying to say the frogs’ habitat [beyond the “Frog-O-Sphere”] should be . . . habitat, and not merchandise? Oh, well, any protest is better than none.)

So, lacking the required pet shop license, this Brookstone store has stopped selling frogs/“Frog-O-Spheres.” But there are more than 300 more of them across the US, and sales are reported to be brisk at the (licensed) Brookstone in Bridgewater.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No horse sense

In these sour economic times, some bigger animals seem to have proportionally bigger problems. Horses are one (sad) example.

A few weeks ago, a newspaper story told about retired race horses who had been sold for slaughter. Their racing and breeding work was done and it was too expensive to continue boarding and caring for them. So, the creatures who had never had a say about whether they wanted to race in the first place, and who in many cases had nevertheless made skazillions for their owners . . . weren't even allowed to spend the rest of their lives in a green pasture somewhere.

The last horse slaughter facility in the US was closed a couple years ago, but horses are still trucked to Mexico or Canada for slaughter. So much for the one-time "stars" of the racing industry. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/sports/24tour.html?emc=eta1

But why are we surprised? Horse racing is an awful "sport." Innocent animals are ruined and killed in the process, and now we simply know more about what happens to many of them if they survive to retire.

On another front, in this area, a number of horses were out of a home and up for auction. Their current owners -- one-time horse lovers; kids who had to have a horse, then tired of it, etc., -- claimed they could no longer afford to keep them. So, as humans already do with dogs and cats, they "surrendered" the horses.

Disposable animals: how convenient.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Powerful poem

Not to waste time about it, here’s one of those occasional excerpts from the PETA guide that was threatened in the last post – an anonymous verse that pretty well sums things up:

Coat with fur,
Hat with feathers,
Lobster broiled alive,
Shoes and bags in sundry leathers
Of animals who’ve died.

Hunted, trapped, and torn apart
For me to satisfy
And, who am I? And what my rank?
That I may live
And they must die?


Two "news"

Two organizations that advocate for animals have come up with something new: a book and a name.

Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), published her new book earlier this summer. In many ways, it’s a winner. “The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights” is just that, a guide.

For some animal activists, the book will serve as a reminder and reference on a wide variety of issues. For others, it should be a great eye-opener and motivator – from “How Animals End Up as Dinner” to “Those Incredibly Amusing Animals” and “What’s Really Going on in Laboratories.”

Part 1 of the book is called “The Issues,” and very readably, Newkirk spells them out. Part 2, about a third of the volume, is “Resources” – from health charities that do not and do fund animal experiments through recommended books and videos to contacting the media and the government.

Overall, “The PETA Practical Guide” is a keeper (and excerpts from the book will occasionally appear here).

Second news: the New Jersey organization known for about a quarter century as the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance (NJARA) has changed its name to Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ -- http://www.aplnj.org).

In her statement giving the reasons for the change, Angi Metler, executive director, says, “The new name still reflects the type of work we do but will be a help, not a hindrance, in garnering support. Our goals, policies, and charter will remain the same and our numerous programs aimed at ending animal abuse and exploitation will continue, unchanged.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Walk the talk

On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 20, animal advocates can "take compassion to the streets" of Princeton by joining Farm Sanctuary's "2009 Walk for Farm Animals." These walks take place around the country each fall in an effort to (1) raise awareness about animal welfare issues associated with factory farming and (2) raise money for Farm Sanctuary's rescue, advocacy and education programs.

About four miles in length, the Princeton walk starts and ends at Grover Park, behind the Princeton Shopping Center, with a route that will take participants downtown. Those who register early ($15) may be in time to get a walk T-shirt; those who register the day of the walk ($20) may not. Registration starts at 2:30 pm; the walk itself, at 3 pm.

Walkers can set up on-line fundraising pages for contributions they solicit from supporters. Everything's spelled out in the second website below.

For information about Farm Sanctuary, visit http://FarmSanctuary.org/ and details about the annual walk, including on-line registration, are at http://walkforfarmanimals.org/. For more information or to register by mail, email NJ coordinator Aileen Jiang at princeton@walkforfarmanimals.org or phone (after 2:30 pm weekdays): 609-238-1680.