Thursday, March 29, 2012

Some "sport"

The quote of the day in last Sunday’s New York Times was, "It's hard to justify how many horses we go through. In humans you never see someone snap their leg off running in the Olympics. But you see it in horse racing." (Dr. Rick K. Arthur, equine medical director for the California Racing Board).

That quote should be an indication of the story content under this headline: “Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys” and this subhead: “Drugs, Lax Oversight and Growing Casino Purses Exact a Nationwide Toll.”

Here are excerpts from the story, which began on page 1 and spilled to two full pages inside, including color photos of injured race horses before or after being euthanized.

The main point to be made about this situation is that the jockeys choose to ride horses for a living; the horses have no say in any of it. So, besides horse-drawn carriages and war horses, this is one more example of horses having to serve humans – or more specifically in this case, humans’ greed.

* . . . On the ground next to him, his frightened horse, leg broken and chest heaving, was minutes away from being euthanized on the track.

* On average, 24 horses die each week at racetracks across America.

* (In 2008, after Kentucky Derby horse Eight Belles broke two ankles . . . and was euthanized, the racing industry promised to make horseracing safer.) But . . . “industry practices continue to put animal and rider at risk.”

* All too often at racetracks, “trainers who illegally pump sore horses full of painkillers to mask injury – and then race them – are neither fined nor suspended and owners of those drugged horses usually keep their winnings.”

* As many as 90 percent of horses that break down had pre-existing injuries, California researchers have found.

To describe horse racing as a “sport” is a cruel joke. It is a crime.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Real snake has lock on scariness

It may have seemed that Nagani, Voldemort’s huge venomous snake in the Harry Potter series, was the scariest snake imaginable. And in fact that’s true – because a real live snake – from 60 million years ago – is much scarier to contemplate.

That 48-foot long reptile, whose diameter was the size of a manhole, weighed more than a ton. It lived after the dinosaurs and on a different continent, when rain forests were just beginning. Its scientific name, “Titanoboa,” sums up its size and methodology.

For more about this UN-cuddlesome creature, check out the full story at

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An advocate's sanctuary 'for the animals'

With an image like that on the front page, who wouldn't read the rest? The Animal Protection League Activator is a solid newsletter every time, but this photo and the accompanying story make it irresistible.

It's hard to decide whether the pig or the woman looks happier, but isn't it great that they both do? He is Brutus, while she is Debbie Kowalski, and they're each a part of For the Animals Sanctuary, in Blairstown.

Brutus wouldn't look like that without Kowalski; nor would the other animals there who were all rescued from the food farming trade. Kowalski, a nurse, began as an animal advocate after seeing what happened to animals in the vivisection industry. From the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty site she moved into veganism and on to co-found Caring Activists Against Fur with Julie O'Connor, who still leads that organization.

The sanctuary was Kolawski's next stop -- and she's still there, most recently saving a mother and her calf from the milk industry.

The sanctuary's website is Warning: you’ll want to visit the place once you see pictures of the animals there.

For those not familiar with the APLNJ newsletter (bottom of home page,, its remaining space includes a rundown on “Legislative Assault on Wildlife”; a vegan recipe; extensive information about New Jersey’s black bears and steps toward protecting them; and excerpts from “2010 slaughterhouse figures for the US,” including the following:

Pigs: 133.9 Million
Turkeys: 276.2 Million
Chickens (Meat): 9 BILLION 210.4 Million
Cattle/Calves: 39.2 Million
TOTAL for land animals alone: 10 BILLION 152.8 Million

(Note: photo courtesy APLNJ)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2nd lab animal dies in ‘pattern of negligence’

(Tsk! Those pesky, forgetful lab employees. They did it again. Another lab monkey gone. . . . Oh, well, plenty more where s/he came from!)

For the second time in five months, a monkey in the dubious “care” of Bristol-Myers Squibb has died. This one, because s/he was restrained and left unattended, according to the story in the Trenton Times yesterday.

The earlier death in a BMS lab occurred when a monkey was left in a cage that was put through the wash cycle. Scalded to death. Hard to believe, right?

The pharma giant was cited by the US Dept. of Agriculture in an inspection report, and a company spokesperson confirmed the Dec. 17 death. She indicated employees “failed to follow established company policies and procedures designed to protect animals in our care.”

BMS’s “care” means the company uses primates to test pharmaceuticals – “a practice that has been repeatedly denounced by animal rights activists,” according to the TimTimes.

Once more, this lab animal death was reported to the media by Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now), which has filed a complaint with the USDA, demanding additional citations and punitive action.

The USDA enforces the 1966 Animal Welfare Act, which the Times reports “is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition and transport, and by dealers, according to the department’s website.”

“When you start to see multiple primate deaths this becomes what can only be described as a pattern of negligence,” Budkie said.

(NOTE: go to and scroll down for a list of 14 “pets” and information about a New York art show featuring animals in images, literature and music.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

This show must NOT go on

Exotic and wild animals in circuses – that’s bad enough. But those same animals forced to travel the country in squalid and cruel conditions – that’s too much. Please call, fax or email your Congressional representative tomorrow -- Tuesday, March 20 -- and help save wild animals from the traveling circus life, an awful life for all involved.

The Performing Animal Welfare Society (or PAWS, is working with Animal Defenders International (ADI) to mount a mass broad-based support campaign, declaring, “The show must not go on!” We can help toward that goal by urging legislators in the House of Representatives to act positively on H.R. 3359, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA).

This life-saving bill is in the Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives – reports PAWS, describing it as “the committee where most animal protection laws are assigned, and all too often, die.” Unless we act tomorrow, that bill may never make it out of committee.

According to the PAWS website, “Traveling circuses cause suffering to exotic and wild animals," as follows:

* Limited space. The animals' living spaces are always small and the animals’ ability to move around is severely restricted.

* Extended hours inside vehicles. Not only are circus animals forced to travel great distances, but they must also be loaded well before the circus is packed to travel to the next location. The animals must then wait in their vehicles while the circus is set up, before they can be unloaded. Set up time can take as long as 24 hours, even on short journeys.

* Lack of free exercise and restriction of natural behaviors. Circuses may pitch their show in any spot they can find – on roadsides, in fields, on a concrete parking lot. The animals’ needs are not taken into consideration.

* Stress from abnormal conditions. Solitary animals are housed alongside other animals; prey species are kept in sight of predators; family group animals are isolated. Any of these circumstances can cause psychological suffering, and sometimes even insanity.

* The tricks these animals are forced to perform require extreme physical coercion and violence, including the restriction of food and/or water, use of bull hooks, stun guns and other electric shock devices, as well as metal bars, whips, and intimidation.

These conditions cause the animals to be prone to health, behavioral and psychological problems. The extreme levels of stress that circus animals endure can make an already dangerous animal even more dangerous, a scary thought when you consider their close proximity to the public. These situations have resulted in human injuries and even deaths.

Please call, fax or email your Congressional rep tomorrow. Support H.R. 3359!

***** visit for a mix of info and opinions about pets.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Afternoon of the mobbin' robins

What brings them out, all together? Is it the time of year or month? the weather (this was a sunny, warm, premature spring day)? Could it have been pre- or post-rain (by a few days in each case)?

Or, as I think I asked last year around this time, did one of the robins call a convention in Village Park? It looked that way: they were there in droves (or whatever robin mobs are called), all over the ground on one side of the fenced baseball field. That was empty at the time, so they weren't at risk -- except maybe from a couple bike riders.

There were too many of them to even think of feeding (and I refuse to carry worms around as I do nuts for the squirrels). Nor did they seem to wish for anything, except to be right where they were, doing just what they were doing: enjoying the beautiful afternoon.

After that, they could fly home and tell the wife and family* all about it.

* We badly need a naturalist here. would there be robin families yet? do they eat worms? (I "know" only that they're ground feeders.) What else is on their menu? What's a robin mob called? And what were they really doing there?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The cruelest show on earth

They're baaaaack: the “Baby Beaters,” a.k.a. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Baby beaters? Yes, for sure. You wouldn't want to be a baby elephant within range of this crowd.

It’s horrible enough that adult elephants and other wild animals are forced to exist in a circus setting, far removed from anything like natural habitat . . . to travel around the country in train cars for most of the year, through extremes of climate . . . march in demeaning parades when the circus comes to town . . . and perform “tricks” alien to them in real life for just two reasons: human enjoyment and circus profit.

But babies too?

Nothing positive can be said about RBandB&B where animals are concerned, despite or especially because of the phony website claims about taking care of performing Asian elephants and conserving the species at a Florida site.

Then there’s the testimony from former circus employees about animal cruelty; the law suits against RBandB&B; the tear-inducing pictures of baby elephants being tortured into learning “tricks” and following commands ( Already cruelly torn from their mothers (in the wild, they stay together), the elephant babies are turned into involuntary performers.

Captive, sad, lonely and debased for their lifetimes, all so people can watch them do dangerous, uncomfortable tricks. It is so wrong. The circus must be “the cruelest show on earth.”

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rick Berman (cont.)

Thanks to a representative of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), here’s more information about Rick Berman, the behind-the-scenes bad guy connected with “front groups” that cause trouble for numerous organizations.

Rick Berman has set up a network of groups that attack public interest charities such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Humane Society of the United States, environmental nonprofits, and others. The groups often have positive-sounding names like the ‘Center for Consumer Freedom’ or the ‘Center for Union Facts,’ but they use misleading attacks to try to discredit various organizations.

. . . You can find more information about Berman on our website:

(FAQ on Rick Berman)

(Info on the Center for Consumer Freedom)

Other webpages such as SourceWatch also offer more information on Rick Berman, if you’re interested. The Center for Consumer Freedom also sends out press releases criticizing PETA and many other groups.

At this point, enough said on the subject of Rick Berman. The moral is that when we encounter surprising claims about or criticism of organizations we’re inclined to trust, we should check out the sources instead of simply accepting and spreading those claims or criticisms.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New members of the wedding

Let's assume the best: Even the woman who carries her tiny dog around in a stylish tote bag could be doing that because she likes having her best friend with her. That may be a small example of how people want to involve their pets in their most important activities. . . like weddings.

When it comes to nuptials, dogs and cats -- and chickens -- are in some wedding parties. They may dress for the occasion, and they may even stay dressed for the occasion.

It's all in a NYTimes story that ran earlier this year about the growing percentage of couples who involve their pets in their weddings.

You can read more about this trend at, which includes a link to the Times coverage. And that nj,com site is strictly about pets, by the way, so you can drop in often for stimulating reading and some good ideas (we hope!).


SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, March 31, from 12-4 pm: the grand opening of the NEW Ewing Animal Shelter. Around 12, the township mayor will cut the ribbon on the new facility, and after that come building tours and "tabling" by other animal groups, Ewing's health dept., vendors and trainers. There may be pet adoptions that day too -- after all, that's what the shelter exists to facilitate.

Check local media, this blog and for more details as the date comes closer. And please help spread the word.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Smoke and/or fire?

The last post had to do with PETA and (what seem to be) the growing number of accusations of animal cruelty against that organization. Here’s another side to the PETA rep’s response that was reproduced last time. The source of the following comment is a highly reputable writer on issues having to do with animals.

The State of Virginia’s Veterinary Office, however, is not a front group. Office of the [Virginia] State Veterinarian 2010 report: PETA collected 1553 cats Killed 1507. Placed only 28. Office of the [Virginia] State Veterinarian 2010 report: PETA collected 792 dogs Killed 693 and placed only 16.

When asked, “How can PETA run the risk of exposure or misunderstanding, or a combination, by turning in such numbers?” the reply was, “Evidently they count on public acceptance of this maltreatment of dogs and cats.”

Bottom line for now: It’s hard to judge credibility when numbers are being tossed around and when we know there are “front groups” whose purpose is to discredit organizations. I hope to add more from another animal welfare organization soon.