Saturday, December 31, 2011

Then on the other paw . . .

The last post spelled out the new year's resolutions our two cats, Harry and Billy, might make. Now it's every pet's turn to specify the resolutions their people could make.

The list that follows is adapted from one that appeared yesterday at

If they could just talk to us, our pets themselves would be the best indicators of how we could make life better for them. If pets could dictate new year's resolutions for their people to follow, what might they be?

Here's a collection of possible resolutions. We can all resolve to . . .

* protect your pet – from unfriendly animals, over-enthusiastic little kids, harmful plants, other dangers of all kinds. Consider microchipping in addition to a collar and ID tag. Keep accurate medical records and "vet your pet" as needed.

* train her/him. A puppy who jumps on people can be cute; a full grown dog who does that can be a menace. Housetraining isn't an option, it's a necessity. Barking whenever and wherever isn't acceptable. Begging is never so. Start training early and be consistent.

* respect your pet's individuality. With more than one pet, don't announce or play favorites. Cultivate (safe) idiosyncrasies and enjoy differing personalities. Don't expect or build robo-dogs or cats.

* assure daily quality time for each pet. This means your undivided attention to them, not idly petting while doing something else, not giving treats in lieu of caring, not using your cell phone while walking your dog. Give them time and attention, your two most precious gifts.

* feed pets well, on pet food only, on time. Exceptions should be rare and still be safe – so, never chocolate, never raisins. This is harder for you to do than it is for your pets. If they don't learn to know "people food," they won't miss it.

* groom your pet. You like to look your best; let your pet(s) enjoy that feeling too. Bathe, brush, comb and clip nails and claws – are we forgetting anything else?

* remember that friends don't exploit friends. So hold yourself back from dressing your cat or dog in costume, or making them pose in unnatural positions -- or teacups or purses.

* reinforce pets' sense of trust. Don't play tricks or scare or spring new rules on your dog or cat. At all times, you are your pets' protector – never the person they need to watch out for or guard against.

Want to add a resolve or two to this list for a nice round total of 10? Please comment here. Meanwhile, wishes for a healthy and happy new year to all!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Cats' resolutions -- in my dreams

The next post will deal with new year's resolutions our pets might want us to make -- pertaining to them. Today, let's deal with resolutions we wish our pets would make -- pertaining to us.

For me, it's easy. I know exactly what Harry and Billy would resolve . . . if I had my way.

* Each boy would be more demonstrative. Yes, yes, I know they're cats. But. It would be great to have two cats on the bed with us, all night, instead of only one who visits late and leaves early. That would be warm and cozy and dreamy.

* Each boy would meet me, Joe or us at the door when we come home, make welcoming sounds and act glad to see us. (Or am I trying to turn them into dogs? Well, being greeted would be nice.)

* Brushing and combing would become fun activities. They would come running at my approach with tools in hand. And of course, they'd also love to have their claws cut. Uh-huh.

* Next spring, they'd give the halter and leash a good try so we could start taking walks outside. Gradually, they'd come to like actually being in the environment they see so much of through windows.

* They would climb right into their carriers when it's time to go to the vet's. If they were boarding, they would fit right in, never hiding under their bedding or showing any stress. They would work hard to avoid our feeling such guilt at leaving them there.

* They would play more. They'd forget that old saw about cats sleeping much of the day away. They'd get into all kinds of games and toys.

But, in case the Summers boys vote against all this, they're safe. We'll love them no matter . . . while still hoping for occasional tiny moves in some of these directions.

Monday, December 26, 2011

‘Spectacular migrations’ must go on

Try to imagine yourself as a tiny bird, weighing only about as much as a penny. Then think about flying from Canada to Mexico for the winter, and flying back in the spring – a total of 4,000-5,000 miles.

This “spectacular migration” by the calliope hummingbird actually happens, all weather conditions and other hazards to the contrary.

Detailed in a report by the Wildlife Conservation Society, many such long-distance trips are in peril. The report includes 24 terrestrial and 17 aerial migrations, with most of the large-scale migrations taking place in the Western US.

Hoping to marshal public support and preservation of the corridors wildlife use for their trips, the Society decided to publicize these crucial – and fascinating – migrations, instead of merely declaring, “We need to protect ecological connectivity.”

Keep hummingbirds and Alaskan caribou and arctic terns and bats going. People can understand that.

Take the bats for instance. For their trip to Mexico each year, three species of bats depend on “nectar corridors” to sustain them en route. But land development could rob them of the nectar, pollen and fruit they need.

According to the NYTimes story on this, “Wildlife migrate to seek water or food at different times of the year, or to breed. The ability to freely move across the landscape could become even more important as the climate changes and wildlife need to adapt . . .

“The problem is that corridors are often very long, and many obstacles crop up because migrations have not been recognized or protected.” Natural obstacles, such as river flooding, can also occur.

There are ripple effects when migration corridors aren’t protected. Other animals, including humans, are affected. For instance, because songbird migration is down, so is their consumption of insects, which can then do more damage to crops and forests.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

‘Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. . .’

Yes, it’s definitely a bird. Question is, is it a turkey vulture? It soared around in big circles when I walked today, though happily, not right over me – but what was it?

It’s much bigger than a crow, with different, hulking configuration. It's larger than a raven, which we’ve rarely seen. So, maybe a turkey vulture?

The Birds of New Jersey Field Guide* says they’re here. A conclave of . . . whatever they are seemed to be in session in a tree near the park a week ago. Whatever those large, dark forms were, they were menacing. Not at all like commuter-birds flying over.

With distinctive red heads and legs, these birds can have six-foot wingspans, says the guide. Smaller than the bald eagle, they have two-toned wings (black leading edge; gray trailing edge and tip). Their naked heads are an adaptation to “reduce the risk of feather fouling (picking up diseases) from carcasses.”

Though it may go without saying since they live on carrion, turkey vultures have a “developed sense of smell.”

And oh yes, about migration, the guide says, “Complete, to southern states, Central and South Americas.”

So when are these guys leaving?

* by Stan Tekiela, Adventure Publications, Inc. Cambridge, MN , 2nd printing 2000

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fresh air and rosy cheeks

Taxi! Taxi! It was a blustery day in NYC and near time for the taxi shift. All the yellow cabs streaming by ignored our raised arms . . . so we took a pedicab, powered by a large man on a solid-looking bicycle. He pedaled us (sitting in an open air carriage) to our destination in less time than a taxi might have taken.

His fare was much higher, though.

The whole time we sat behind him, I thought about horse-drawn carriages, and its wrongness. How did that compare with hiring a man to pull us through town?

The man would inhale the same traffic fumes the horses do. Though he wasn’t traveling the city streets in his bare feet – especially undesirable in rain or snow – like the horses, he’d be more vulnerable if an accident occurred. True, he wasn’t bridled and hooked to the bike, and he didn’t have to eat raw carrots.

And, the man did it of his own volition; he chose to pedal a cab instead of working in some other field. He was also handsomely paid.

After our ride, he told us he’s done this for a couple years, with much lighter business in January and February. He’s a university student, so he may make his pedicab hours convenient for his academics.

He was very pleasant and flashed a great smile – especially when I asked if he’s thought about wearing a mask to ward off the toxic fumes. Guess that wouldn’t exactly attract riders.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

in our own backyard

Numbers of posts here have railed against horse-drawn carriages in New York and Philadelphia. Then, just as a dent seems to be made in the mentality permitting this archaic, cruel, involuntary and unnecessary practice (see post for Dec. 12), a local venue offers . . . horse-drawn carriage rides.

Something about winter holidays, with thoughts of snow and sleighs, must suggest: Hey! let’s do horse-drawn carriages. That should attract more (paying) visitors!

Last month, Hamilton Township’s Grounds for Sculpture began radio commercials for its holiday events. (Sculpture used to be enough there, but over the years, the place has become a playground.) The ads included horse drawn carriages -- prompting me to email a couple staffers to express my disappointment.

Bonnie R. Brown, the park’s director of operations, replied, sounding pretty much like all the carriage drivers who write indignant blog reactions. Check out the factual value and logic here: ”The operators are from area farms – they have the highest regard for their animals’ health and safety,” she began.

She went on to say these “operators” have vetted GFS pathways for safety and they won’t provide rides if pathways or weather are not appropriate. And, “We have every faith and assurance from the owners that their animals are healthy and treated with respect and care.” (Would any other assurance be likely?)

Her response to my 2nd note dealt with Clydesdales’ “need to use those muscles or risk health issues from lack of challenge to their physique.” She sees “much danger in not providing proper muscular activity to a breed” and “a Clydesdale should never be expected to run, but they still need to work their muscular frames or risk severe health issues from inactivity.”

Naturally, the best way to work those frames is pulling carriages full of people who could probably use the exercise much more than the horses!

(; 609-586-0616)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fur-bearing animals need YOU!

(The following message comes from Julie O'Connor, who leads Caring Activists Against Fur. It speaks for itself.)

Dear Caring Activists Against Fur,

This weekend - the weekend before Christmas - is the LARGEST shopping weekend of the year. Fur Free Friday is super-important, but research shows that people wait for deals just before Christmas. So, this weekend is IT! We will be at TWO major shopping locations in the city. We need reinforcements. Remember our electrifying Fur Free Friday? Well, let's keep it going - get motivated to speak up for fur bearing animals this weekend & SAVE LIVES. Very few people can watch the videos or see our posters and find that buying fur is an acceptable choice.

Help change people's minds during this critical time!

Sat.,12-17--Bergdorf Goodman 754 Fifth Avenue (57th and 58th Streets) NYC 1 - 3 Note: We'll reach shoppers from Bergdorf, FAO Schwartz and the Apple Store at this major location. We're bringing out the HUGE video screen and we'll have a sound permit. All we need is YOU! Can't make it to NY? No problem - there is also a fur demo in Red Bank, NJ:

Sun., 12-18-- Macys 151 W. 34th St. NYC 1-3 --The LARGEST department store in the world, need I say more? (At the end of this demo, some activists will be attending the horse carriage protest.) Details below.

I know that life is busy, but please come to at least one event this weekend because you are the last line of defense these animals have. In a world filled with greed and insensitivity, ruled by those who stack the deck against these innocent creatures, you are literally the animals' only voice. Your presence breaks through the haze of indifference and selfishness and MAKES CHANGE. You can give that gift for animals - don't let them down.

Additional Event Sunday (Horse Carriage Protest):

For the animals,
Julie (Caring Activists Against Fur)

P.S. Change is happening - animal rights activists are launching an anti-fur campaign in China this year (ActAsia - No Fur China Campaign)! It's wonderful news! We will prevail!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Beginning of the end?

Horse-drawn carriages. No, we’re not talking 18th century, but 21st. Despite all that’s known about treatment of the horses and dangers to the horses (as well as their cabs and passengers), some people – with more money than brains – still find it charming to ride around cities and towns drawn by horses.

But the times may be a changin’ – at least in Manhattan. A NYTimes story on Dec.7 indicated this “tranquil New York pleasure” is now facing a “growing storm of opposition.” It’s about time.

“Animal rights advocates are gaining support for legislation that would ban the hansom cabs.” That’s the news in brief. It’s not yet a done deal, and no doubt more hurdles will be thrown up along the way, but there’s serious talk about it.

Of course that serious talk springs as much from greed as from altruism. The Times reports that real estate values are rising and “developers covet the stables on the Far West Side where the horses have long been kept.”

Well, we’re not fussy about why horse-drawn carriages may end in NYC – just so it ends.

According to the Times story, “The city’s licensed carriage horse industry – 68 carriages, 216 horses and 182 drivers – brings in roughly $15 million annually. Drivers charge $50 for a 20-minute ride through Central Park, and $20 for each additional 10 minutes. On a good day, they can make 15 trips.”

It’s worth pulling up the print story* to see the photo of the horse pulling a carriage, squeezed in among cars and other vehicles, having to inhale noxious fumes and endure traffic noise all around, while walking on uneven and/or wet and/or frozen road surfaces.

May this “storm of opposition” become a perfect storm – for horse welfare.

*“Push to ban New York carriage horses gains steam,” by Emily B. Hager, Dec.7, 2011


(note: the photo shows a horse and driver in Philadelphia -- also a problem scene -- in February, 2010)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Creatures small and great

Lucky little coquis. These tiny tree frogs, recently encountered (only by ear) again in Puerto Rico, are small enough to avoid the attention of humans – or mostly so, anyway.

Animals who can live on unnoticed by people are the lucky ones. They’re not hunted, eaten, used in laboratories. They can live life as they should – free and doing what comes naturally.

For coquis, the natural inclination for males is to sing from dusk to dawn, reportedly making “ko-kee” sounds. (I’ve never heard that in their sharp chirpy sounds, but nevertheless love hearing them, especially in coqui choruses.)

One of many internet sites for info on coquis,, indicates that their genera, “Eleutherodactylus,” is Greek for “free toes.” In other words, they don’t have the membrane between digits/toes common in some other amphibians.

However, the disks or pads on the tips of their toes help them adhere to such surfaces as moistened leaves. For more on coqui reproduction – for instance, how a tiny fully functional froglet emerges from a terrestrial egg – visit the site above.

Vieques, or “little girl island,” is off Puerto Rico, but, happily, it has its fair share of coquis too. That’s where I heard them last week.

While appreciating the coqui sounds after sunset, I found a wonderful distraction during the day: wild horses. The island is known for them, I don’t know since when or for how long. But it was thrilling one morning to find nine of them in front of the villa where we stayed, peacefully grazing and ignoring the two gringos exclaiming over them.

Friday, December 2, 2011

NJ's black bear hunt starts Monday

Earlier this week, the court ruled against the lawsuit to stop the NJ bear hunt and in favor of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. The bear hunt, scheduled to run next Monday, Dec. 5 through Saturday, Dec. 10, will go on.

Last year's hunt resulted in the deaths of nearly 600 black bears of all ages, including cubs, yearlings and nursing mothers. (That doesn't sound like Category 1 bears, does it?)

Last year's hunt was marked by horror stories and heinous quotable quotes from hunters about their rugs-to-be and their right to murder innocent animals. DFW fostered it all.

What can we do now? Animal Protection League of NJ plans demonstrations next week and vows not to give up on this issue. The organization will appeal the court's decision; however, that could take much of the next year.

Those who want to continue the fight for the bears can write letters to the editor, phone the governor and take part in APLNJ's activities planned for next week.

Check the websites where specifics will be available as they become final: and/or

(Sorry, still can't convert to active links here, but they appear to the right of this post. Please click there.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Doomed dogs flown to new lives

From North Carolina to Philadelphia: that's just one life-saving route for dogs who were scheduled to die – but were saved. They flew to life and freedom because a Virginia college prof and his network of helpers in the air and on the ground all pitched in.

“Pilots N Paws” is the name of Michael Young’s avocation – plucking adoptable dogs from high-kill shelters and flying them to pet-rescue agencies. In the last year, he has completed more than 20 rescue flights, according to a December issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The dogs fly away from the death chamber in a four-seat Columbia 400 plane owned by Young and a few friends. He can remove seats if he’s transporting a number of dogs, and he counts on help of student volunteers from his aviation club at George Mason University, in Virginia, where he teaches engineering.

Young made his first flight in 2010, after his family dog, suffering from cancer, had to be put to sleep. A friend asked him to help with a mass airlift of dogs abandoned during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and that was the beginning.

Volunteers on the ground start the process by visiting high-kill shelters to line up canine candidates for rescue flights. The receiving groups get photos and information on the dogs coming to them, and can make plans for their future.

Young has diverted two dogs bound for rescue to his own home. “Molly” and “Biff” missed their flights but gained new lives.


(Alert to readers: For more information and opinions about pets, try

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

'The Bull Moose'

(The poem that follows, from The Writer’s Almanac, appeared in What Happened When He Went to the Store for Bread. © Thousands Press, 2000.)

The Bull Moose

by Alden Nowlan

Down from the purple mist of trees on the mountain,
lurching through forests of white spruce and cedar,
stumbling through tamarack swamps,
came the bull moose
to be stopped at last by a pole-fenced pasture.

Too tired to turn or, perhaps, aware
there was no place left to go, he stood with the cattle.
They, scenting the musk of death, seeing his great head
like the ritual mask of a blood god, moved to the other end
of the field, and waited.

The neighbors heard of it, and by afternoon
cars lined the road. The children teased him
with alder switches and he gazed at them
like an old, tolerant collie. The women asked
if he could have escaped from a Fair.

The oldest man in the parish remembered seeing
a gelded moose yoked with an ox for plowing.
The young men snickered and tried to pour beer
down his throat, while their girl friends took their pictures.

And the bull moose let them stroke his tick-ravaged flanks,
let them pry open his jaws with bottles, let a giggling girl
plant a little purple cap
of thistles on his head.

When the wardens came, everyone agreed it was a shame
to shoot anything so shaggy and cuddlesome.
He looked like the kind of pet
women put to bed with their sons.

So they held their fire. But just as the sun dropped in the river
the bull moose gathered his strength
like a scaffold king, straightened and lifted his horns
so that even the wardens backed away as they raised their rifles.
When he roared, people ran to their cars. All the young men
leaned on their automobile horns as he toppled.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cricket combat: big (?!) blood sport in China

Crickets: not as in Jiminy Cricket, the famous Disney character. And not as in summer’s singing insects. Try crickets as in fighters -- engaged in a blood sport that goes back more than 1,000 years in China.

Described in a November 6 NYTimes story on the subject --"Chirps and Cheers: China's Crickets Clash" -- crickets have long been a staple of Chinese poetry, painting and storytelling. One emperor even included crickets in his subjects’ tax burden – that’s how valued they were.

Nowadays in China, field crickets are carefully selected, fed and trained to become insect warriors. They’re sold in cricket markets and indulged with “elaborately carved cricket houses [...] and hand-painted ceramic bowls fit for a tiny king.”

Some cricket matches are filmed and projected onto large screens, and illegal back-room fights attract gamblers.

An interest in cricket fighting has been revived among young men who want to return to old Chinese pastimes. Older men, who grew up without toys or TV (imagine!), make up the other main group of cricket fanciers.

The Times story includes details on identifying potential champions and building a warrior. One corn farmer who profits from cricket sales, says “The loudest chirpers are usually the fiercest.”

Two up-sides to cricket fighting: First, injuries are rare in the insect combat. Losers are tossed away and may live happily till the first frost. Second, fighting is illegal, so according to one cricket-fight fan, men “project their emotions onto crickets,” possibly lessening their own aggression.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dogs and cats luckier than turkeys and pigs

Let’s not think about turkeys right now. Nothing to be thankful for there – just a hope that the poor, deformed, purpose-bred creatures died fast without any foreshadowing of doom.

Same with pigs. Talk about purpose-bred. The New Yorker cartoon showed a pig sitting on an examining table as his doctor said, “The problem with you is that your ribs are delicious,” or something like that. Close enough. Does anyone in the world raise pigs for the pleasure of having pigs, or to give pigs a nice life?


Good things happened in the last week for dogs and cats, though. At least a dozen were adopted at the Easel-sponsored event last Saturday at the Trenton Farmers Market. Everything seemed to work right, starting with the weather, and moving on to the numbers of volunteers involved and people who came out.

Eight cats are in new homes right now, as are at least four dogs. (A couple additional adoptions were iffy and may have taken place this week at the Ewing shelter.)

Thanks to everyone who spread the word, who helped with the event, who adopted and/or donated to Easel. This major effort to lessen the number of animals in the shelter got a big, emphatic push last Saturday.

And for those who still want to adopt a pet, Easel resumes its “regular” adoption days Saturday, December 3. Details at* There’s still time before the winter holidays to change the world for a homeless animal.

* sorry, but technical difficulties precluded a link here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adoptions, deep-sea murders, migration menace

A dozen or more animals ‘home for the holidays’

Last Saturday’s special adoption day for animals from the Ewing shelter was a big success, according to Mark Phillips, executive director of Easel Animal Rescue League, the all-volunteer organization that ran the event.

Eight cats and 4 dogs – with 1 or 2 follow-up possibilities this week – meant a needed drop in the shelter’s animal population. The Trenton Farmers Market proved to be an excellent place for the event.

Easel’s “regular” adoption days resume December 3. Check for times and places.

Say no thanks to ‘pearly’ jewelry

We’re “Loving the chambered nautilus to death,” according to a newspaper story late last month. Picture the nautilus, “a living fossil” with a spiral shell (sorry--no image available) that has inspired poems and – alas – attracted exploiters. People out to make money, in other words.

Even though it means killing a creature whose ancestors go back a half-billion years, the nautilus’s pearly shell is still a cheaper alternative to “real pearl.” In an example of deceptive marketing, the iridescent material is often sold as “Osmena pearl.”

Now chambered nautilus shells are made into earrings, pendants, display items and curios – an ignominious end for a deep-sea creature related to the octopus, which sometimes attains a breadth of 10 inches.

It’s the same old, same old: the nautilus shell caught on, humans killed chambered nautiluses by the millions . . . and now other humans are considering adding the creature to the endangered species list to “curb the shell trade.”

( nautilus.html?emc=eta1)

Birds & glass-sided buildings

For migrating birds, glass-sided city buildings can be killers, especially when the glass facades are near parkland or vegetation. Birds see reflected trees and bushes, fly toward them and . . . . It’s estimated that 90,000 birds are killed each year by flying into buildings in New York City.

But, increasingly aware of the problem, some architects are employing design to lessen reflection. And some building managers have agreed to alter the exteriors of lower floors to cut down the incidence of bird-building crashes.

New York City Audubon volunteers scan for dead or injured birds during migration seasons and document where they’re found. Those numbers can be significantly lowered with building reps’ cooperation. One example is turning lights off after midnight during spring and fall so the bright lights don’t confuse birds in flight.

( for-birds.html?emc=eta1)


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Demo at 'crime scene,' a.k.a. DFW

If ever a state agency deserved to be protested against, it's the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Last Monday afternoon, that's what happened in a highly effective demonstration at DFW's headquarters in Trenton.

Numbers of animal welfare organizations took their protest directly to the source: the people who will bring us another horrific black bear hunt next month and who have been responsible for numbers of black bear deaths this year. . . the people who stack the deck against bears in myriad ways and sell hunting licenses for trophy kills.

Here's a link to the story that appeared in an online publication worth knowing and spreading the word about:


Sunday, November 13, 2011

SOS going out for Ewing shelter animals

Just "do the math" on why adopting out many of the cats and dogs in the Ewing Animal Shelter is so crucial. It's a simple case of not enough space for every animal now being sheltered because the new facility will be smaller than the present one.

Yes, it's a shame that's the case, but it's true. So before talk of euthanasia gets started, let's just work on adoptions for at least the number of cats and dogs above the cut-off number.

They're all homeless. They're all adoptable. So what's the hold up?

To motivate people who may be thinking of adopting a shelter pet, Easel Animal Rescue League is sponsoring a major adoption day this coming Saturday at the Trenton Farmers Market, 10 am-3 pm.

Dogs will be on leash and cats will be available for people to meet in a county animal rescue trailer. Every animal will have been vetted and given shots, besides being spayed or neutered.

Some newspapers will carry Easel's ad that offers $25 off the adoption fee. Bring the ad or mention the flyer that's been posted all around to get that discount. . . and a wonderful new pet.

"Save our strays" for the holidays!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Protest DFW crimes at DFW headquarters

Starting with last December’s bear hunt, AnimalBeat has included numerous posts about NJ’s black bears, including the innocent bears killed in the name of public safety or “we didn’t have tranquillizer darts.” The agency behind all those killings, as well as the hunt, is the Division of Fish and Wildlife, in the Department of Environmental Protection.

Next Monday is the date for the first protest at the DFW office in Trenton. After this year’s killings – and before the hunt that’s no doubt planned for this year – it is an appropriate time to let DFW know what we think of its “crimes against nature and crimes against good government,” as the Bear Education and Resource Group in APLNJ describes them.

The bill of indictment against DFW includes the following, taken from the APLNJ flyer about next Monday’s event.

• Since April of this year, DFW authorized the killing of more than 20 bears, cubs, and yearlings to underscore a claimed need for a hunt
• DFW continues to promote a trophy hunt despite mounting evidence that hunts achieve nothing and cause increased "nuisance" behavior in orphaned cubs and yearlings left without their mother's guidance
• DFW inflates population estimates to justify their goal to expand the bear hunt
• DFW relocates bears to repopulate the species into other hunting zones
• DFW refuses to enforce the black bear feeding ban law
• DFW killed an innocent bear cub in Stokes State Forest after the bear was exonerated on all charges

The demonstration next Monday will take place at NJ Fish and Wildlife HQ, 501 East State St., Trenton, between 1-2:30 pm. The program includes a number of speakers, from leaders of the “Bear Group,” APLNJ and the League of Humane Voters, to HSUS and NJ Sierra Club reps, to an investigator and a wildlife specialist.

Yes, Monday is a “work day,” but if hunters take off from work for trophy hunts, bear supporters can take off to speak up against bear hunts and bear killing. That would be a good day’s work!



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Afternoon with walruses

And now for something completely different -- and lighter in spirit, for a change. The following poem comes from "The Writer’s Almanac" [] for Sunday, October 30, 2011.

(All that’s lacking is a good image of a bull walrus. And on the subject of needed images, a chambered nautilus pix would also be welcome!)

In Praise of the Great Bull Walrus

by Alden Nowlan

I wouldn't like to be one
of the walrus people
for the rest of my life
but I wish I could spend
one sunny afternoon
lying on the rocks with them.
I suspect it would be similar
to drinking beer in a tavern
that caters to longshoremen
and won't admit women.
We'd exchange no
cosmic secrets. I'd merely say,
"How yuh doin' you big old walrus?"
and the nearest of
the walrus people
would answer,
"Me? I'm doin' great.
How yuh doin' yourself,
you big old human being, you?"
How good it is to share
the earth with such creatures
and how unthinkable it would have been
to have missed all this
by not being born:
a happy thought, that,
for not being born is
the only tragedy
that we can imagine
but need never fear.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

“I care about animals and I vote”

This is an unpaid political blog post on behalf of The League of Humane Voters, a New Jersey organization whose sole purpose is to unite voters who care about animals. There’s no need to summarize or rephrase its flyer; here it is:

Dear LOHV-NJ member,

The LEAGUE OF HUMANE VOTERS OF NEW JERSEY'S sole purpose is to unite voters who care about animals.

We are delighted to release our first electoral endorsements. Please visit: for endorsements, questionnaire respondents, and additional information. In the "Additional Information" section, we also include legislators who are members of animal-use, trade-backed legislative caucuses responsible for animal suffering.

Read, and vote! Let compassion be your guide.

Our potential as a humane voting bloc is enormous:
• Over 1.8 million New Jersey households have companion animals.
• 1,713,000 NJ wildlife watchers generate $537,388,000 in revenues for our state.

The good news is: many thousands of you have already joined LOHV-NJ!

The animals we all care about can neither speak nor vote. We can. Here's to an electoral season where humane sensibilities and compassion count!

Important Dates & Deadlines:
November 7, 2011 - Deadline for In-Person Mail-In Ballot Applications for General Election
November 8, 2011 - General Election Day
Happy Voting,

Angi Metler
State Chair
ametler@lohvnj.orgLeague of Humane Voters of New Jersey
PO Box 17, Manalapan, New Jersey 07726


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Interaction with a savvy squirrel

Four days after the Oct. 29 snowstorm, there were few signs of that aberrational weather in the park when I walked earlier today. The grass may have been greener, and a few clumps of weeds looked flattened in the middle as if they’d had an heavy, icy burden for a while.

The snow probably had nothing to do with the numbers of blue jays I saw. However, I encountered one squirrel who may have been reacting to the recent weather and decided to prepare for winter. She was under some trees around a small parking lot when I threw one of the (unsalted) peanuts-in-shells I sometimes carry.

I got off a good throw, the nut landed within a few feet of the squirrel and . . . she walked right over to it and picked it up. This doesn’t usually happen with me and squirrels. More often, they scamper up the nearest tree when I toss a peanut their way, and I’m left to wonder if they ever checked it out and accepted it.

Today’s squirrel was different. She seemed ready for that peanut. Not only that, she knew just what she’d do with it. She started across the parking area to grassy land leading toward a berm and then some bushes. Partway to where she wound up (planning to bury the peanut, I thought), she stopped, sat up and looked right at me.

I decided she was saying, “Thanks, amigo.” And I threw another peanut her way – in case what she actually said was, “More!”

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Neither snow nor rain nor . . ."

Yesterday's Ewing community fest -- on Oct. 29, mind you -- was a cold, sloshy, snowy-rainy, muddy mess. And even so, Easel volunteers (that is, all Easel members) were out there, working for adoptions from Ewing's animal shelter. The tally isn't in yet for cats and dogs adopted, but if that effort didn't succeed, what would?

Cats were in a Mercer County van with windows so they had a view of all the crazy humans nearby, mucking around in the weather. And visitors could enter the van to meet them and ask questions of the Easel members on hand.

Dogs were under a roof in the walkway to a parking garage, all wearing orange vests reading "Adopt Me" and all very winsomely wanting to be loved . . . and adopted. The Easel volunteers on the other ends of their leashes were in good spirits late morning when we visited and took pix.

It happened again at the fest as had occurred Friday at the shelter: some of the most unlikely people spoke so softly about wanting to adopt a "lap dog" (that man will return this week for a Jack Russell, he said); wanting to adopt an older cat because they're harder to find homes for; wanting a pal for the cat at home and for himself (and that man went home -- in the awful weather -- to get his cat carrier and come back for the pet-pal he had chosen).

Just when the news of the world could easily turn a thinking person into a misanthrope, along come people like these -- and the woman who fosters Easel cats but didn't bring them out yesterday because the weather was so bad. She was there, though!

If yesterday was any indication of how hard Easel people are working for adoptions of animals at the shelter, there may be no residents left by December, when the move to smaller quarters is tentatively scheduled.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In 2 different ways, animals ready to go home

Save the date -- and save a cat or dog too. This Saturday, October 29, is Ewing Township's "Community Fest 2011" on the campus of the College of New Jersey. One highlight of the event will be the opportunity to adopt a pet from the Ewing Animal Shelter.

The shelter will move from its present site to a new-but-smaller facility some time in December. Not all the animals being taken care of now can be housed at the new shelter, and they must be adopted before the move, or . . .

To facilitate adoptions, members of Easel Animal Rescue League will bring adoptable animals to the Community Fest, where those who are ready to share their homes and hearts with a cat or dog can meet them. All animals are spayed or neutered and have their shots. (

The event runs from 10 am-5 pm.

* * * * * * * * * * *

This just in: Jack the cat has been found! People who may have read about the cat lost at JFK Airport last August probably gave up on him by now. His owner was moving from East to West Coast when Jack vamoosed, escaping from his carrying case. Despite American Airlines’ pledge to find him, reward signs, a Facebook page and a Twitter account, no Jack.

But today’s NYTimes reports that Jack was found close to where he was lost and will eventually be reunited with his owner – after spending some time at a vet’s. Jack’s condition was not detailed, nor was his owner’s reaction to the news. Coming up: happy times in San Jose.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why shoot to kill, not save?

“Pet – an animal kept for amusement or companionship.” Such as a lion, for instance? How about a Bengal tiger? Or a grizzly bear, mountain lion or baboon?

If these animals seem like strange choices for pets, tell it to the people in Ohio (and other states) who collect them. Invariably, in being removed from their natural habitats and living in someone’s back 40 or basement (yes, it happens) or garage, they’re mistreated, exploited, abused. They’re “exotic” animals – that is, “from another part of the world; foreign.”

Such creatures are not pets, but exotic wild animals who don’t belong in Ohio – or in much or all of the US either.

Years ago, an offbeat garden and gift shop on Olden Ave., Ewing included among the interesting things there an iguana. This unfortunate tropical creature, who had been named, lived in a glass aquarium near a window. The owners claimed he (I think) was kept warm enough and was well fed.

In reality, he was another exotic animal who should not have been there, isolated and solitary, not free, not living at all naturally.

Back to last week’s Ohio horror, wherein nearly 50 exotic animals were shot to death by law enforcement officials. The questions keep coming.

First, why don’t police types carry tranquilizer darts or have them readily at hand, especially when large wild animals are the reason for their being called? (Not long ago in NJ, a bear cub was shot to death and then too the claim was law enforcement reps didn’t have tranquilizer darts. Why not?!)

And next, what other options were considered besides the panicky-sounding result: shoot to kill? In an area where the “owner” of these animals was known to be trouble, why weren’t tranquilizer darts standard equipment?


Friday, October 21, 2011

2nd death, in Ohio

How to react to the “exotic animals” horror story in Ohio? There are so many possible things to say, so many wrongs involved.

First and worst of course: the needless deaths of the nearly 50 wild animals who were killed. Then the fact that they had been “freed” and put in the position to be killed. Then the fact that they had been collected and kept there in Zanesville – a place they never belonged or deserved to be.

So many cruel ironies involved . . . First, this man reportedly “loved” the animals, yet he freed them – to die. He had to know that would happen, but then again, he must have been irrational for a long time.

Imagine being a majestic big cat suddenly out in the open . . . of Ohio, for god’s sake.

Second of many ironies: for these captive animals, freedom (not in their native habitats, but merely from cages) meant fright, disorientation and then death.

It was a tragic end to the diminished lives they had been forced to lead. For them, death in Ohio was really a second death.

Animal-advocacy organizations such as PAWS, the Humane Society of the US and PETA reacted to the events in Ohio, where it quickly became clear that stringent laws (and enforcement) are needed to prevent such things from happening again. The Humane Society, for instance, put up a long report of exotic animal abuses and offenses in Ohio.

Links to all three organizations are on this blog’s home page. Please take a look.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A day for feral cats

Today is national feral cat day, and it would be great to be able to say, “Happy feral cat day!” – except that for many or most ferals, life is uncomfortable, unhealthy and short. Too many people hear “feral cat” and think trouble; too many animal control officers and shelter staff hear “feral” and think euthanasia.

In reality, of course, feral cats are a human creation, and the least humans can do is protect and take care of them.

The word “feral” means (1) existing in a wild or untamed state; (2) having returned to an untamed state from domestication. Feral cats, therefore, were either felines born in the wild to existing ferals or strays, or domestic cats who were abandoned or lost. In both cases, they are now wild animals, living outdoors and fending for themselves.

The best known way to care for ferals is through Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) because without spaying or neutering and basic shots to help them survive in the wild, feral cats are the often-unhealthy-but-fertile parts of an ever-growing problem.

Right now, according to stray and feral cat advocates Alley Cat Allies – the group that started National Feral Cat Day 10 years ago -- “feral cats taken to animal shelters are almost always killed. Being killed in an animal shelter remains the leading documented cause of death for cats. TNR ends the breeding cycle and stabilizes the population, halting further deaths,” according to ACA president Becky Robinson.

Today is dedicated to raising awareness of feral cats and the ways they can be protected. Living outdoors and typically not socialized to humans, many or most adult ferals can’t be adopted – but TNR would allow them to return to their colonies and live out their lives without reproducing.

They deserve at least that much.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Rabies and its test: both fatal

"Rabies": a loaded, inflammatory word and generally for good reason. It's defined as "an acute infectious viral disease of warm-blooded mammals that attacks the central nervous system. It is believed to move from a saliva-infected bite wound through sensory nerves to the brain."

That's bad enough, but it gets worse. There's no treatment or post-exposure vaccination available for (non-human) animals; therefore, rabies is fatal to them.

Humans can survive rabies if treated before the onset of symptoms with post-exposure vaccinations and immunoglobulins.

"Rabies" becomes a big scare word when a human may have contracted it -- which can happen through a bite by a rabid animal. People have usually heard terrible tales about the series of shots they must go through if exposed to rabies.

It's worse of course for rabid animals, who will die. It's equally bad for animals suspected of having rabies who are tested for the disease: they too will die -- a fact that most people don't seem to know.

Rabies can be detected only in an animal's brain. Therefore, to test that animal for rabies, s/he must be killed. Once euthanized, the animal is decapitated, with the head going to a lab for the testing that will prove or disprove rabies was present.

The decapitation step is not necessary only for animals under 2 pounds in weight -- a bat, for instance, or a squirrel.

People who may talk casually about getting this or that animal tested for rabies should know what that entails: it means the animal must die, whether or not s/he then tests positive for rabies.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bon voyage, monarchs!

Who knows what a single monarch butterfly weighs. Who understands how such a creature can migrate thousands of miles – for instance, from Canada and the islands of Maine south and west to a mountainous area near Mexico City?

They “ride winds a thousand feet above the ground, covering 25 miles or more every day,” according to a Washington Post story in today's local paper. That’s almost more unimaginable – though evidently true.

To do it, the story reported, they “need water. They need flowers. They need nectar.” But this year, the monarchs’ route will include “a thousand miles of hell” – a.k.a. Texas – as they head for their Mexican retreat.

Texas is scorched and “nearly waterless, flowerless, nectarless,” right now. No matter how hardy and vigorous the monarchs are, there’s trouble in store for them in Texas. (No, they won’t change their route, which they’ve taken for thousands of years.)

As a result, there are serious questions about how many monarchs will make it to their over-wintering site, where traditionally they arrive “fat and happy, having gorged on nectar for thousands of miles.” That built-up fat helps them get through the winter and back north in the spring.

Usually, the monarchs “converge on a few acres of forest in mountains about 60 miles west of Mexico City. There they’ll roost over the winter, thick as quilts on fir trees.”

This year’s trip south could be another story if these amazing butterflies arrive thin and bedraggled -- and vulnerable.

Friday, October 7, 2011

'Let the punishment match the crime'

Bad enough some people are crazy, cruel and murderous toward one another. Worse when they practice on defenseless animals.

News that a 10-11 foot long whale had been shot somewhere off the East Coast, then died a long, lingering death from starvation, hit hard this week. It surprised even Bob Schoelkopf, founding director of the Brigantine-based Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

He reportedly told the Star-Ledger that this is the first time in his 33-year career that someone has shot a whale.

The short-finned pilot whale beached himself at Allenhurst, a small Monmouth county town north of Asbury Park, on Sept. 24. He weighed more like 700 pounds than the usual 1,000 pounds. Soon after help was summoned, the whale died.

A necropsy performed at the U of P disclosed a gunshot wound near the whale’s blow hole. The bullet, which may have come from a .30-caliber rifle, was recovered from his jaw. Lodged there, it had caused an infection that left the animal unable to eat – for about a month, the time the animal took to lose the weight.

“It was wandering around and slowly starving to death because of the infection,” Schoelkopf said, according to “Who would do that to an innocent animal?”

At least one federal agency will be trying to find out. . . . (please click below to continue)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You say 'animal research,' I say. . .

“Mistreatment of lab animals alleged at a Princeton lab” -- headline in last Friday’s Times of Trenton. But by definition, don’t the words “lab animals” alone mean mistreatment?

Those animals aren’t in labs, at Princeton or anywhere, for fun and games. They’re likely to be in cages, robbed of their freedom and natural lives, and used in experiments – all against their will. If all that is not mistreatment . . . !

The story reported on what an anonymous whistleblower claims has happened in a lab at Princeton University – where, by the way, they call what they’re doing “animal research” as if that would make it less horrible than the vivisection it is.

In his letter to a rep of the USDA division that handles violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Princeton, the executive director of SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now) details a number of violations the whistleblower alleges occurred at the university.

Because they are spelled out in detail on the SAEN website – – they won’t be listed here. Besides the alleged mistreatment of lab animals, the SAEN leader also alerted the USDA official to a possible, or likely, leak that allows lab staff to know ahead when “unannounced inspections” will take place.

Citing the “carelessness and negligence” at Princeton that leads to the taking of animals’ lives, he invites an investigation, mentioning the need for punishment and fines. (Not known: if or how the USDA official responds to the executive director’s letter.)

Meanwhile, “animal research” continues at Princeton.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

In next twp. evacuation: people -- & pets!

“We’re changing out policies,” said Lawrence Mayor Greg Puliti yesterday, referring to how Lawrence handles pets during emergencies such as Hurricane Irene late last summer.

A township bulletin about storm preparations included this sentence, inflammatory for some residents with pets: “Pets are prohibited at all shelter locations.” This position prompted questions to town management (see blog post for Sept.1); sharing of a Packet group story about the town of Manville, which practiced enlightened, humane care for pets during Irene; and a letter to the editor of the Lawrence Ledger.

Yesterday, Mayor Puliti indicated Lawrence will be getting with the program. He made these points:

1. Lawrence will add a few alternate evacuation locations that can accommodate pets. These will be identified up front (presumably, in any bulletin preceding the next hurricane of disaster of any kind).

2. In checking with the county, he learned it has a mobile trailer that Lawrence can request as needed to accommodate any pet overflow.

3. The township will buy some temporary cages for use with animals housed at Camp Bow-Wow, a Bakers Basin Road boarding facility for pets.

4. It and other places like Pets Plus, near the Brunswick Circle, could become evacuation sites for pets.

5. Lawrence’s animal control officer (ACO) is part of the emergency management team.

Of course, questions remain. How will these changes be communicated to Lawrence residents? Can Lawrence be assured use of the mobile trailer(s)? – or could another Mercer County town get there first? How will pets alone at home be identified and evacuated? (Asked this, the mayor said the municipal clerk may devise some kind of registry, maybe drawing on cat and dog license information.)

It’s a great relief to know Lawrence is moving in the right direction on caring for pets during disasters.

Friday, September 30, 2011

SOS = Save Our (vanishing animal) Species

African elephants, Asian elephants, great apes, rhinoceroses and tigers, marine turtles. Conservation funds for all these vanishing animal species will benefit from sale of the new USPS stamp, “Save Vanishing Species.”

The graphically vivid first class stamp features the head of a tiger cub. He looks at us with great presence and dignity – and maybe sadness too. Tigers are fast disappearing from the earth. They depend on humans – responsible for much of their vanishing – to save them.

Text on the reverse of a 20-stamp sheet says the postal service will transfer the net proceeds from sale of these stamps to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds. There’s also a blurb about each of the vanishing animal species. The words “poaching,” “habitat loss,” “and “exploitation” appear throughout.

It’s hard to feel too optimistic.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's “fish or cut bait!”

“Purchase our exclusive bracelet and support PAW for a cause.” The jeweler’s ad in a recent Sunday NYTimes edition showed a paw charm on a silk cord.

The text read: “In the United States millions of animals die in shelters every year. With the net proceeds from the sales of these charming bracelets you can help build and support model humane no-kill shelters that provide spay and neuter services.”

A sterling silver paw charm with diamond on pink, black or red silk cord sells for $100. The same bracelet without the diamond goes for $65.

So a person with spare cash can decide whether to buy the bracelet or donate that amount to a shelter or a TNR organization. These groups often get reduced rates because of the number of cats to be sterilized and “vetted.”

The choice: a PC bracelet that doesn’t neuter a single cat or dog . . . or “fixing” a number of animals to prevent their creating still more animals needing homes.

Those who choose to help animals directly might consider “Sponsor our Strays” (SOS), a program of Project TNR, in the Animal Protection League of NJ. So feral cat trappers can get more cats neutered, the organization invites donors to subsidize the cost of “vetting” ferals.

During October, a benefactor has promised to double all donations to SOS up to $500. Any size donation will help; for instance, $15 will become $30, and for that amount one cat can be sterilized, immunized and ear-tipped (to signal a feral cat who has been vetted).

Instead of the $65 charm bracelet without a diamond, donate that amount. Once doubled, it will take care of four cats, with change!



Monday, September 26, 2011

Not too small to escape the human gaze

Fireflies: already at risk and probably dropping off in number because of loss of habitat, pesticides and other man-made obstacles to their continuing to do what they always did.

Now comes another way humans have regarded fireflies as theirs to use for whatever serves people. A website for Boston’s Museum of Science includes news of a “Firefly Watch” program, and its monthly page sometimes includes Q&As about fireflies.

One person reported learning about a firefly harvesting program, involving the capture of great numbers of fireflies, and asked if this really happens.

The response, from a Museum of Science rep, regretfully confirmed it. “Tens of thousands of fireflies have been collected and sold for their luciferase, one of the chemicals responsible for their light production,” he wrote. “This chemical is used to detect contamination in food.

“At one time, the only way to collect luciferase was to harvest it from the abdomen of fireflies. For the past 20 years however, a less expensive, synthetic form of luciferase has been available, making the need for sacrificing real fireflies obsolete.

“Even so, at least one company continues to sell firefly abdomens for their luciferase in addition to selling the synthetic form.”


This situation seems parallel to that of lab animals and vivisection. Although many more effective ways of testing without using lab animals have been devised, some "scientists" insist on continuing to test on animals. So many humans regard so many animals as existing only to serve them and utterly disposable.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Animal adoptions & pet expo on Saturday

Thirty or 35 cats and kittens needing a real, forever home and not the Trenton Animal Shelter (where, besides other problems, their days are limited). The adoption price is right, pre-approval is possible and cardboard carriers are even provided if you don't bring your own crate.

This coming Saturday at Trenton's Waterfront Park -- usually the scene of baseball games, not animal adoptions -- the 2nd Annual Pet Expo will take place inside, while animal rescue groups and shelter reps will be outside, with animals ready to be adopted.

One such group is Trenton TNR, headed up by Sandra Obi, also director of the TNR Program of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey. She will bring the cats mentioned above in a huge blue and white van that should be easy to spot in the parking area.

(For details, click the link below.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Just leave them alone!

A mountain lion on a treadmill, for scientific reasons having to do with our being better able to "manage wildlife" (a contradiction in terms?). It had taken scientists months to "train" the animal to walk steadily on the thing. Eventually, they hope to be able to position specific animals (wearing a collar -- another scientific contribution) and know exactly what they're doing and likely to do.


Whatever the scientists were up to, it wasn't natural for the cat and it wasn't even for the cat, who was merely a vehicle for experiment. To all of which I say phooey! and pfui!

But prescient poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) says it so much better:

The Horrid Voice of Science

"There's machinery in the butterfly;
There's a mainspring to the bee;
There's hydraulics to a daisy,
And contraptions to a tree.

"If we could see the birdie
That makes the chirping sound
With x-ray, scientific eyes,
We could see the wheels go round."

And I hope all men
Who think like this
Will soon lie


Thursday, September 15, 2011

For hummingbirds, the tails have it

It began with a blur, a moving blur over flowers in a pot on a neighbor’s deck railing. When the blur moved to a flowering bush closer to my window view, I realized it was a hummingbird. Amazing: in September, with fewer flowers out there and the weather likely to change at any time.

Next time I looked out, the bird was gone – but I was curious. The Birds of New Jersey Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela, lists only the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), indicating it migrates to southern states, Mexico and Central America. But how could it possibly cover such distance while also seeking nectar and insects? Without food, what powers it?

And how could such a tiny thing make it to the next town over, let alone a southern state, or beyond? (“Stan’s Notes” say this bird “weighs only two to three grams” and “it takes about five average-sized hummingbirds to equal the weight of a single chickadee.”)

Coincidentally, a NYTimes story about hummingbird romance disclosed that the humming of their wings is what gives the birds their names. However, it’s the male hummingbirds’ high frequency tail feather vibrations produced during dives in front of females that may be what female birds use to choose mates.

Each of 14 species makes fairly unique and distinctive sounds, scientists reported, also mentioning that a single tail feather may vibrate (“the sound of one feather vibrating”?), or two, or all of them.

( . . . photo by Chris Clark)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Of moose, lobsters, flamingos -- & a pet festival

* Tsk! behaving like a human
A newspaper photo last week showed a moose cow “entangled in an apple tree” in Sweden. She was thought to have gorged herself on fermented apples, then somehow become snagged in the fork of the tree.

Moose – who reportedly love apples and can smell fermenting fruit from a great distance -- have been known to become intoxicated on fermenting fruit and berries. Birds do too.

People in the neighborhood tried sawing off a branch, but that didn’t work. It took a crane to “bend the tree and free the tipsy moose.”

* A pet service announcement
Coalition for Animals and Seer Farms Present 2nd Annual Pet Festival

Saturday, September 17, 2011
Unionville Vineyards
9 Rocktown Road, Ringoes, NJ
11 AM - 4 PM
For more details:

* Lobsters: too much of a good thing?
Although for some people, there can’t be too many lobsters, believe it or not, too many can be bad. It’s happening right now in Maine, where intense fishing for cod, hake, haddock, halibut and swordfish in the area – together with baited lobster traps, a.k.a., a steady food supply -- has caused diversity to disappear. The result: lobsters are “hyperdense,” which could mean big trouble if anything damages the species -- as has happened before.

* Flamingos: no more Mr. Nice Guys
Round green eyes with deep coral-to-white feathers and spindly legs = flamingos (with no “e” in that last syllable). “The real birds are not peaceful, gentle or dainty,” the NYTimes reported last month, in an amusing and surprising story.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Save the date to save a cat!

Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 24 between 10 am – 4 pm -- “Adoption Day” for cats and kittens, an event sponsored by Trenton TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) at Waterfront Park, 1 Thunder Road, Trenton. Look for the big blue North Shore Animal League bus in the parking lot.

Adoption Day will be part of the Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd Annual “Pet Expo” at the same location.

Trenton’s shelter and foster homes are “full to the brim” with cats and kittens who need loving forever homes. Every adoptable cat is fully vetted, and every cat adopted is a cat saved. (Cats returned to the shelter may not be safe from death.)

Fee (cash only): $50 kittens and $40 adult cats. If you adopt 2, the second cat or kitten is half price.

If you can’t adopt, please consider dropping off food and/or litter to help out. (And if you can adopt, please consider dropping off food and/or litter to help out!)

For more information or to be pre-approved to adopt before the event, contact Sandra at

Please tell your friends who need cats in their lives: come to Adoption Day on September 24 (rain or shine) and save a cat.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

News briefs about (natch) animals

*Planet of no apes -- it could happen

Apes, our first cousins in the primate family, are much more similar to us in anatomy, genetics and behavior than they are to other animals. And yet we’re allowing them to move ever closer to extinction. Several million years ago, as many as 40 kinds of apes really did rule the planet. Through habitat destruction and hunting, humans have since imperiled the five surviving types – gibbons and orangutans in Asia; chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas in Africa. Vital in protecting them, the Great Apes Conservation Fund now needs federal re-authorization.


* Keeping rhino horns where they belong

What next? First there was shark fin soup, a favorite in some Asian cultures, but one that condemns sharks to a cruel, helpless death. And now, rhinoceros horns are coveted and killed for. Ground up, they’re made into medicine believed in China and other Asian countries to have aphrodisiac qualities and cure cancer. Because they’re sought after, thieves have stolen up to 30 horns so far this year from European sites. Expanding their reach, they pay poachers in African countries to saw off horns from live rhinos, leaving them to bleed to death.


* Re-design with ‘bycatch’ in mind

In commercial fishing, “bycatch” refers to “fish, whales, turtles, sea birds and even corals killed or injured by fishermen in search of other species.” The best known example: dolphin caught in tuna nets. Now, though, new efforts to prevent bycatch include changes in hook design, making fishing lines more visible to whales and modifying the mesh size of nets.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Afternoon in heaven

Late Saturday morning, a half-dozen dogs from the Ewing Animal Shelter arrived at Princeton Shopping Center. To get there, they were walked out of the shelter building, along a sidewalk lined with grass, to the cars in which Easel volunteers would drive them to the Princeton Shopping Center.

The drive gave the dogs big gulps of fresh air, sunshine and new sights, as well as the excitement of being free -- out of their cages, socializing with other animals and people. Once at the Cutter's Mill pet store, where adoption day was scheduled, each dog wore an orange vest that said "Adopt me!" They all got treats, a bowl of water and time to loll in the grass or on a blanket with a person who petted and talked with him or her.

In the grassy court area inside the ring of stores, Cutter's Mill staff had set up fenced rings with children's swimming pools inside and wooden chairs here and there. Balls and other toys were scattered around. It looked like a pool party, and the best thing about it was that it was for the dogs.

People there to shop slowed their pace to interact with the dogs, who by then were in utter heaven: freedom, positive attention, exercise, fresh air, food and water -- and little did they know: also the chance they'd be seen, liked, adopted.

But whether any adoptions resulted from the dogs' afternoon out hardly mattered. They got away from the animal shelter for a few hours and experienced the good life many dogs have -- and all dogs deserve.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mayor's take on no pets in shelters

As reported in the last post, Lawrence Township's message about emergency shelters said, “Pets are prohibited at all shelter locations and pet owners need to make prior arrangements for care.”

Believing that there must be better emergency management than this, I phoned the township manager asap Monday, August 29, and was referred to Mayor Greg Puliti.

In a phone talk that evening, he made the points below, ending with his intention to “raise the issue of animals” at the next Office of Emergency Management meeting (which sounded like an informal in-house affair a week or two after the event).

• Shelter rules are dictated by the event and what’s available at the time “where we can get people out of harm’s way.” As the or one shelter for Hurricane Irene, Rider University did not allow animals.

• “Our priority purpose,” Puliti said, “is to protect people.”

• He suggested there would be negative reactions by residents if the township spent $20,000 “for animals.”

• Hearing about Atlantic County’s decision 2 years ago to designate the AC race course as a regional pet-evacuation center, Puliti said he may raise this issue with the county executive.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

OK, Fido & Fluffy, you're on your own

To my surprise and disappointment, an online notice from Lawrence Township before Hurricane Irene included a paragraph about shelters if they become necessary. The last sentence read, “Pets are prohibited at all shelter locations and pet owners need to make prior arrangements for care.”

In other words, people can be sheltered, but they should make other arrangements for their pets. Really! Like, leave them at home, wish them good luck and head for safety without them?

Wasn’t there one huge lesson learned from Katrina: that some people would not evacuate their homes if they couldn’t take their pets with them? How could officials – township and/or shelter managers – essentially tell people to leave their pets behind? Or, at some cost and inconvenience if possible at all, to board them somewhere during the storm?

Besides pet stores and veterinarians left and right and even pet TV as part of our lives these days, Lawrence Township has pet licenses and pet censuses and pet clinics for shots – yet residents are expected to turn their backs on their pets when a hurricane moves in?

This “policy” is unacceptable. There has to be better emergency management than this.

(The next post will report on what Lawrence’s mayor had to say on this subject during a phone conversation Monday evening, 8-29-11.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricanes, animals & questions

Before hurricane Irene blew through, I thought Harry and Billy seemed a little anxious, seeming to stay closer to us than usual. But I don’t know how indoor cats typically react to big storms – if there’s any “typical” about it.

Outside, though, for a few hours before the heavy rain started, I saw no birds or squirrels, causing me to wonder whether they were somehow, somewhere hunkered down for safety, and to hope that was so.

As for wild animals, all I could do was wonder whether they can tell when a biggie’s coming – and if, so, what they can do about it. For instance, where do deer go in a hurricane?

Evidently, some wild animals didn’t survive the storm: a radio host the morning after mentioned seeing “animal carcasses” on his drive to work. Happier news came in Sunday’s Trenton Times with a reference to Atlantic County residents “with dogs, cats and luggage” heading for shelter at Trenton’s Sun National Bank Center.

Today's paper had “Views from the state,” including a photo of a deer wading through floodwaters and another pix of National Guard members moving cats and dogs to a shelter.

Three other survivors: a creepy-crawly that quickly moved out and away from under the umbrella stand when it was repositioned, and two sizeable centipedes or millipedes – thousand-leggers! – who had taken shelter in the furled up deck umbrella. They too went on their way.

Friday, August 26, 2011

When threatened, more valuable

It’s funny. Till now, the seven-day holding period for animals taken to shelters didn’t seem like such a great thing. Often after that, if not adopted out or found by their owners, they might be euthanized. All the seven days did was assure them that time to be found or adopted.

But threaten to take away even that seven day period – and suddenly it’s worth fighting for.

During the last couple weeks, that’s what happened in New Jersey, as animal activists took steps to convince Governor Christie to conditionally veto S2939, a bill that would allow shelters to euthanize animals without a seven-day hold period because of their age, health or behavior.

Happily, the governor did conditionally veto the bill, calling for removal of the specific part having to do with changing the “impoundment laws” that are currently observed. So the seven-day hold remains as it was.

And suddenly it looks great! Thanks, Guv!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wounds that time can't heal

It was dusk last May 13 when Mark Johnson, Princeton’s animal control officer, walked into a borough park carrying a rifle and shot two beavers. As news of the killings spread, outrage was expressed in letters to the editor and comments on newspaper coverage.

Shooting beavers is illegal in New Jersey. A spokesperson for the state’s DEP said no permit had been issued to trap the beavers, nor had there been beaver activity in the department’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The ACO had told a resident he encountered en route that DFW ordered the killing, according to a Princeton Packet story soon afterward.

That was all more than three months ago, yet the official reaction to date has been negligible. DEP issued one summons to the ACO on July 14, although a report about the beaver shooting incident has still not arrived. The court date is not yet known, and its location has changed twice, from local to county to Ewing Township.

Johnson reports to David A. Henry, health officer with the Princeton Regional Health Dept. On August 19, Henry said he’s still waiting for the DEP report, which “may indicate what some of the conversations were between Johnson and DFW.”

Once the court case is complete, he also expects a report from the Dept. of Health and Senior Services, where animal-related laws and the Animal Welfare office reside.

Local police investigated the shootings, but their findings are “personnel matters” that can’t be discussed, Henry said in May. At the same time, he declined to say whose rifle was used to kill the beavers or whether Johnson had his permission to shoot them.

And so the wait continues.

Monday, August 22, 2011

3 days left to assure 7 days in shelter

The bill S2923, already a done deal in the state senate and assembly, awaits Governor Christie’s signature. He must conditionally veto it before this Thursday when otherwise it will become law.

Why? because while much of the bill is well intentioned and good for shelter animals – requiring that those who leave shelters must be spayed or neutered, for instance – one part of it is very bad for them.

It would give shelters three reasons to waive the current 7-day holding period for animals that animal control officers bring there: age, health or behavior – and euthanize them right away. That’s an awful prospect.

Age means different things to different animals; short of terminal illness, health is often misleading and treatable; behavior is a very subjective area that benefits from observation time after an animal new to a shelter has relaxed a bit.

The seven-day holding period also gives animals the chance to be found by their owners or adopted.

If the bill were amended to cut the part about eliminating the seven-day hold, it would be acceptable. Therefore, the immediate need is to ask the governor to conditionally veto S2923.

There are two ways to do that: phone 609-292-6000 and leave a message, or use webmail: and write a comment.

For “topic,” choose “Health and Senior Services” (the department where the Office of Animal Welfare is located). A “sub topic” must also be chosen, and since there’s no option having to do with animals, choose any of them before typing the message in the comment box.

Please don’t delay: ask the governor for a conditional veto!