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I’d like to sore Trump and his Big Lick

February 5, 2017


“We’ve been working so hard on this one issue for years. Years. And finally a widely-supported public regulation was set to go in effect on Jan. 24, 2017, but was withdrawn at the last minute by an Executive Order signed by Trump. Is this fair? Is this right? This has nothing to do with science; it has to do with greed and the ability of a few human beings to be sadistic animal abusers. It has to do with millions of Americans over the years demonstrating their compassion for these suffering innocent animals. Millions of voices saying “Stop torturing these animals. Just stop.” This is the perfect example of an “industry” unable to regulate itself; it’s so sad and heartbreaking that we need legislation to stop something so grotesque as soring. Get used to this; we are going to have to fight harder than ever the next four years to accomplish our goals. PLEASE sign this petition, add a note, and share it. Forums such as Care Petitions make it so easy; we really need to take advantage of how simple they’ve made it for constituents and citizens to send a message to their elected representatives.”

*I prefer not to post actual footage of how soring is performed. If you are unfamiliar with the procedure, please visit the following for more information.




Whistle-blowing suppression provision dropped in Florida!

February 8, 2012

Just read this on the Mercy for Animals website. The pressure on these legislators is working.

Ag-Gag Bill Flops in Florida

Undercover investigation

January 20, 2012

By Nathan Runkle

Time and again, MFA’s undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses nationwide have revealed abuses that shock and horrify most Americans – which is why the corporate animal agriculture industry is fighting so hard to keep the suffering of farmed animals hidden behind closed doors. Thankfully, the latest attempts by factory farmers to conceal animal abuse have fizzled in Florida.

Following two public hearings and facing intense public outrage from caring consumers who contacted their state representatives, Florida legislators decided to remove the controversial “Ag-gag” provision from the larger “agriculture omnibus bill” that would have punished those who bravely expose animal abuseenvironmental violations, and other problems on factory farms.

While it’s a temporary relief that this dangerous provision was removed from the bill, it is more important than ever for animal advocates to remain vigilant to ensure that shady factory farm interests aren’t able to sneak this provision into another bill at the last minute. It’s also important to remember that similar whistleblower-suppression legislation is still pending in New York, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

What exactly are these pro-factory farm legislators trying to hide?

The World Organisation for Animal Health

February 5, 2012

The human population, all eight billion of us, is now connected through international trade and mores that are becoming increasingly common. One area in particular we are finding common ground is the treatment and welfare of both farm animals and companion animals.

Ever wonder if there was an international intergovernmental organization that addresses these concerns in an attempt to form a cohesive stand on animal welfare issues? Happily, there is. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) was established in 1924 to improve animal health worldwide. The impetus for its formation was to prevent the global spread of animal-borne diseases that were increasing as a result of increased trade in animals (including both terrestrial and aquatic) and animal products.

Now headquartered in Paris, it consists of 178 Member Nations (including the US) that meet annually; each Member Nation has one delegate to represent it. The US delegate is Dr. John Clifford, Vice President of the OIE Regional Commission for the Americas, USDA-APHIS, Veterinary Services Deputy Administrator.

The OIE Animal Welfare Working Group was officially created in 2002 and its recommendations were adopted one year later. This is the how they decided to define Animal Welfare in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code in 2004:

Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling and humane slaughter/killing. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment.

I’m ok with that definition. I’m also ok with posting this video that describes some of the agreements made in the Code and shows exactly how some of the Member Nations are not adhering to the document they just signed (yes, that includes the U.S.). Warning – the video is graphic and it will piss you off.


The OIE prides itself on its standing that all recommendations it issues are based on scientific evidence.  That is awesome.  Having both a BS and MS in Biology, I’m into science and scientific evidence. But, I think it’s sad that we can’t just look at something and know that it is wrong; that some people can only be convinced an atrocity is occurring when little probes are attached to an animal and the feedback reads “Pain is being experienced.”

The next OIE conference is scheduled for later this year in Malaysia where they plan to address implementing the standards in all Member Countries (really implementing them and not just saying they will implement them.)  I’ll keep you informed!

“Ag Gag” Me With a Spoon (or What Happens at the Farm Stays at the Farm)

January 24, 2012

Whistleblower. n. One who discloses information, made in good faith and in the public interest, showing objectionable misconduct which is not otherwise known or visible.

“We got it all on film.”

Is a whistleblower a criminal?  According to the Federal government, it is not.  The US Department of Labor’s Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program (yes, whistleblowers have their own program!) oversees twenty-one statutes to protect employees when exposing wrong doing in the workplace.  Even the IRS has a Whistleblower Award to encourage anonymous identification of noncompliant taxpayers (IRC 7623(b))?  Being a whistleblower is so trendy, in fact, that Time magazine declared 2002 to be the “Year of the Whistleblower” and made three of them “Persons of the Year.”

So why do Minnesota, New York, Iowa and Florida want to enact “whistleblower suppression” laws that would criminalize undercover investigations of their factory farms?  The agenda behind these laws would be to label whistleblowers as “agro-terrorists,” determined to harm livestock or  damage facilities.  As if applying for a job and recording the habitual atrocities occurring in these farms approaches anything a reasonable person would consider to be terrorism.  This country knows what terrorism is, and I don’t think any of us believe hiding a camera in your coveralls is considered terrorism.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot recall one instance where exposing the crimes being committed in these factory farms as anything but positive.  Positive for the animals and their welfare, for the environment, the health and safety of the workers, and for human food safety.  I believe that trying to criminalize these undercover investigations is more akin to terrorism than allowing them.

Who might benefit from criminalizing these undercover actions?  Those involved in profiting from industrial agriculture – Monsanto, the Farm Bureau, and associations that represent dairy farmers and cattlemen, as well as poultry, soybean and corn growers.  What do they have to fear? What are they hiding? What horrors are lying behind the shroud of secrecy? Dr. Temple Grandin suggests that these facilities install 24/7 cameras so their actions are completely transparent. If a facility is doing it right, they won’t care who shows up to watch.

Please read the following for more information.
Who Protects the Animals? (
Ag-Gag Rules (ecocentric blog)
Preventing Cruelty to Farm Animals – Room for Debate (
Big Ag’s Latest Attempt to Chill Free Speech (Food Safety News)

Hot Off the Press: 112th Congress Midterm Humane Scorecard

January 18, 2012
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112th Congress Midterm Humane Scorecard
This publication, published by the Humane Society Legislative Fund, is a summary of how all of our elected officials voted during 2011 on animal welfare issues. More than just a bland scorecard, the publication describes each piece of legislation and its status in either the Senate or the House.

Studies showing causal connection between animal abuse and domestic violence

January 4, 2012

Protecting Domestic Violence Victims by Protecting Their Pets (article link)
In the past 20 years, a growing body of research has firmly established a significant link between domestic violence, child abuse, and animal abuse. 48% of battered women delay leaving a dangerous situation out of fear for what the abuser will do to the animals that remain in the home. In addition to many states adding pets to restraining orders, Safe Haven programs are increasing, allowing family members to bring their pets with them to shelters (or to provide an alternative care solution while they are in a shelter). This excellent article was published in Juvenile and Family Justice Today, Spring 2010.
A Common Bond: Maltreated Children and Animals in the Home (article link)
This collaboration by the Humane Society, American Humane Society, the ABA, and ACTION for Child Protection, discusses methods for child protective services and animal welfare groups to interact in cases where domestic abuse also threatens family pets. Extremely comprehensive; includes a chapter on how to adapt law and policy to include consideration of the Common Bond.

The Greatest Show on Earth!

January 3, 2012

When I first started researching this post, I thought it would be more dramatic and persuasive if I reported statistics and hard numbers.  You know, the kind advocates usually have to provide to the opposition in order for them to take notice.  But I realized this is degrading, because just a single death or instance of unwarranted suffering is too much.  Enforcing or passing animal welfare laws should not ride on a certain quota of animals being mistreated and abused.

I was also going to provide pictures; startling pictures, taken by those who have seen the abuse first-hand.  But I decided not to do that either.  There are thousands of videos and images that show proof of what is happening. Just Google bullhook, elephants, circus training, Feld Entertainment, Leslie Griffith, Center for Elephant Conservation, etc. You’ll get lots of hits.

What I do think you should know?

  • Asian and African elephants used in circuses are most often captured in the wild
  • Animals, either traveling “on the road” or being housed off-season, receive little or no veterinarian care
  • There is simply no way to use positive reinforcement to get a big cat to jump through a ring of fire; there is simply no way to use positive reinforcement to get an African elephant to stand on its front legs – trainers use negative reinforcement, bullhooks, whips, tight collars, pain, electric prods, fear, isolation, and starvation to get animals to do their “tricks”
  • Except during performance, animals are confined in cages, chained, or shackled, most often in outside pens without temperature control
  • Inspectors cannot follow animals from state to state to ensure the circus remains compliant with the laws provided for the animal’s protections
  • Baby elephants, who in the wild nurse until 5 years of age, are routinely taken from their mothers at 18 months and kept isolated from them

Although many organizations and individuals have brought legal action against some of these circuses, it is very difficult to prevail or even plead a cause of action in the first place.  The Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act, which are the only federal laws in place to protect circus and other exotic animals, cannot be accessed by citizens (individuals or organizations like the ASPCA or Humane Society).  Only the government can bring suit against those not in compliance.

Therein lies the problem; the USDA is the government body responsible for enforcing the laws.  Sadly, they rarely do.  But there is some optimism on this front.  Just this year, Ringling settled with the USDA and agreed to pay $270,000 for violations incurred since 2007 ($10,000 per fine equals 27 violations – and this does not cover abuse, only visible neglect). This is the largest settlement any circus has been forced to pay.

Also optimistically, organizations continue to push the judicial system to the limit by bringing cases and establishing jurisprudence.  Lawyers and advocates are finding ways to bridge the loopholes.  Please read the following legal article about the trials and tribulations of protecting circus elephants (and other animals) under the ESA and AWA.
Emily A. Beverage, Abuse Under the Big Top: Seeking Legal Protection for Circus Elephants After Aspca v. Ringling Brothers, 13 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 155 (2010)

“Ultimately, [the plaintiff’s failure to prevail in ASPCA v Ringling 2009] is a call to action for animal rights lawyers and advocates. . . [it is] clear that alternative strategies for protecting performing elephants are desperately needed.” – Emily A. Beverage

For further information please visit:
ASPCA: Circus Cruelty
Humane Society: Circus Myths
PETA: Circuses

You can also support Animal-Free Circuses