Thursday, April 17, 2014

World Week for Animals in Laboratories - April 20 - 26, 2014
How are you participating? Get in touch with one of these campaigns:
The BUAV went undercover at MSD Animal Health (UK) for 8 months in 2013. 
During our 8 month investigation, 92 beagle puppies, 10 adult 
nursing female beagles, at least 15 kittens and an unknown number of 
rabbits, calves and chickens were killed at the facility.  But 
these cats and dogs never experienced the love of a human family or the 
joys of playing outside. They never saw the sky, breathed fresh air or 
felt the grass beneath their feet. Born to die for the research 
industry, their lives were cruelly cut short at just a few weeks old.
In Canada: 
Petition to the Senate of UBC submitted today  - over 21,600 signatures asking
asking for a ban on the 2 most invasive and painful tests done on animal -- 
74,641 animals in 2012.

In the U.S.: -- Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine
Currently asking University of Washington to stop inserting tubes into the
throats of pigs for paramedic training, when simulated and human-based
methods are available and used elsewhere.

Friday, March 21, 2014

SPCA's Indoor Cat Policy

Cats are roamers; they have an inherent right to roam outdoors. That is well understood by cat-lovers, but the Vancouver Sun reported that the British Columbia SPCA decided not to let people adopt cats unless they agree to keep the cats as indoor prisoners  ( This report was inaccurate however, and the SPCA's Provincial Office has clarified that it was only one outlet, the Richmond Animal Protection Society, that decided to bar adopters wanting specifically outdoor cats (for barns or as mousers). The SPCA assures us that " keeping cats inside is NOT a requirement for adoption at the BC SPCA."

This is good, because in an era when ever more people are choosing (or having) to living in high-density small-apartment boxes in high-rise towers, an indoor only rule would be bad news for cats.

The dominant sense for us humans is sight, but cats live in a 70% smell-world. Scents are vital to their brains and pleasure states -- scents that waft on the breeze, hide in soil and bark, and are left as markings by other animals. The scent of carpets and upholstery just doesn't work for them. Nor do they want to miss rolling on the grass, climbing trees, stretching out in the shade of a bush, clocking the movements of other cats or walking up to neighbours for an ear-scratch.

Indoor cats suffer constipation, poor digestion, poor muscle tone, arthritis, snagging claws, obesity and boredom.

Cat-jailers talk as if all a cat in the garden thinks about is having wild sex and hunting mice. Mine do neither; get them neutered and feed them well, and neither will yours. A cat being left outside to shiver in the cold is of course just as sad as one being imprisoned on a hot well-scented day. The key is moderation, consideration and common sense.

The SPCA suggests hiding food around the house so your cat can "stalk" it as entertainment. My suggestion is that cat-jailers buy a fluffy stuffed animal and some pretend-food, and entertain themselves by "feeding" it to their "pet." If a stuffed toy is what they want their living cat to be, maybe they should just buy one, and let someone else adopt the cats.

The SPCA contacted Animal Literature to clarify their position further:  "The only circumstance in which we would turn down an adoption regarding an outdoor cat is if the potential guardian is not planning to provide food or veterinary care for the cat - sometimes people want barn or field cats but our policy is that the individual must provide food, veterinary care and any other needs of the animal, even if they are outdoors....  Whether a cat is indoors or has some outdoor time, it is our responsibility as humane communities to ensure they they do not suffer."  For sure we can all agree with that.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Why does government and industry not want you to see what is happening to animals in Canada?

Any industry that has to be hidden from the eyes of the public, that fears open observation, that must be cloaked in secrecy because otherwise onlookers would be "grossed out," is an industry in trouble and/or disgrace. A guilty, self-hating one. Such are factory farming and the Canadian seal hunt.

Mercy For Animals has pressured the factory farming industry to use CCTV in abattoirs, and one turkey slaughter company, Hybrid, has agreed after a release of a video showing extreme cruelty to turkeys in its facility, to be first to use mandatory video monitoring. Now it needs to become mandatory, along with proper training and veterinary supervision, in all factory farms.

Meanwhile a Conservative MP has introduced a Bill (C-555) intending to limit how close observers and members of the public can get to Canada's bloody seal harvest. The Ministers of the Environment and Fisheries and Oceans support the Bill, marking themselves clearly as in fact the Minister against the environment and the Minister against species that live in the oceans.

These actions against the freedoms of Canadians to move and observe openly in their own country, will not change the minds of European countries or of local fur-free retailers, who see fur as a repulsive blood product the marketing of which has become anachronistic. The Canadian government is backing the wrong horse here, but there are fears that it wants to expand a grey seal hunt (on top of the harp seals) instead of admitting that this industry should have long since have been terminated.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Roadkills: I was so embarrassed they almost died ...

There's a story on Care2 blog about a woman rescuing a turtle stuck on its back and being tormented by a ring of kids and adults: She wasn't afraid to speak up to a crowd, and was known thereafter as the "Turtle Lady." Care2 asks people to send stories about times people scorned them for rescuing an animal, or the animal or circumstances involved were scary.

One tricky situation many people have experienced is the "roadkill" scenario -- or the "is it dead?" "was it injured?" torment you feel as you whiz in your car down a highway having seen a sad vulnerable body on the side of the road.

Do you turn back and look, looping back at the next road or off-ramp (and maybe making yourself late for your destination)? Do you stop while other cars honk because you're parking illegally? If the animal is alive how will you pick it up? What will you carry it in? Will it bite you?

With ever more cyclists on the road, they should be enlisted as a "road-hit rescue" brigade. They after all have a good view of what's under their noses. What do they do? Ride on by, or help? Help how? What they need is a cellphone to contact help, and animal-rescue teams at the other end of the call. A 911 for animals? Yes: answered by an emergency or wildlife department. (Get on to it cyclists - organize!)

Maybe all cyclists and drivers should keep a big bag and a pair of gloves in pannier or trunk if, like most of us, they see injured beasts with any frequency. They can take the animal to a vet if it's small enough and in a town, or call Emergency if it's on a highway.

Compared to the vast sufferings on factory farms and such, this is a triviality, yet it isn't trivial to the individual hurt animal concerned. With a little planning a lot of practical aid can be given one on one, even as other drivers are speeding by looking at you like you're insane as you poke nervously at a heap of fur beside the road. I'm sure some of those are reading this now, but considerations like that didn't stop the "Turtle Lady." There are many obstacles to helping animals but embarrassment shouldn't be one of them.

From the SPCA:
 To report an animal in distress (including wildlife), please call the toll free Animal Cruelty Reporting Hotline at 1 (855) 6BC SPCA (1-855-622-7722). The call centre is open seven days per week;
Mon to Fri: 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sat & Sun: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If this is an animal emergency outside of these hours, please contact your local police department or RCMP.

So there is a sort of place to call, though not at night and not specific to your area. So it's back to calling the police. In BC's Capital Regional District, the Oak Bay police took a full HOUR to come to the aid of a doe who had been hit by a car in February 2014, and when they inexpertly shot her even then she didn't die right away. "We're not trained for this," said their spokesman later to the media. We need trained wildlife officials on hand at all times, but the provincial government has long since cut back on Wildlife Officers and such field staff. Animals come last; it is up to the caring public to stop and help.

Kids' Lit Tale of an Eco-heroine

Every Turtle Counts, by Sara Hoagland Hunter. Peter E. Randall Publisher, 2014

Of course it does, and the Kemp's ridley sea turtles, born in Mexico, are endangered. Mimi, an autistic seven year old, finds one almost dead, stranded on the American east coast. She does not give up on the turtle and her persevering and nurturing save it. The idea is that natural things needs to be nurtured, every individual animal counts, and every human can help.

This book is for children age five to ten, an age when kids hear so much about the threats and disasters facing the natural world that there is danger they might develop feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They need stories about rescues, triumph and success too, and here is an inspiring one.

According to the NOAA "Kemp's ridleys display one of the most unique synchronized nesting habits in the natural world. Large groups of Kemp's ridleys gather off a particular nesting beach near Rancho Nuevo, Mexico, in the state of Tamaulipas. Then, wave upon wave of females come ashore and nest in what is known as an "arribada," which means "arrival" in Spanish."

Their habitat is the muddy shallows of the Gulf of Mexico but some get taken by currents around the tip of Florida. There was a collapse in nesting rates after the best years of the 1940s, due to egg collecting by locals and also entanglement in fishing gear. Since the 1980s endangered status and regulations in the U.S. and Mexico have helped these turtles regain their numbers.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cruel and Unusual Fishing

On top of all the other threats to their survival (industrial pollution, starvation, shipping noise and collision), will British Columbia's remaining resident killer whales survive this? Marine conservationists warn that the federal government's decision to expand industrial fish farming along the coast will cause "manure, waste, viruses, and drugs from salmon farms (to) flow directly into the wild salmon migration routes of BC" (SumOfUs, 22/02/14). The orcas depend on these wild salmon runs, and clean water, for sustenance.

This concern is worrying enough, but even it does not address that other salient aspect of industrial aquaculture: its cruelty. It is no different than any other factory farming. It depends on cramming sentient and sensitive animals, with nerves and skeletons just like ours, into vats where they are unable to swim freely, and fattened beyond nature's schedule with meat, grains, growth hormones and a spicing of anti-viral and anti-bacterial chemicals, all of which are later flushed into the environment of other marine creatures (or land creatures, if they are set up on land). 

That's no way to treat a fish. And they say "salmon are sacred". Indeed they are, like all living things, but the Canadian government thinks that commerce is sacred, and Norwegian corporations more important than the opinions of British Columbian residents.

Concerned readers can find a petition at


Friday, January 31, 2014

Blessing the Animals: a handbook of kindness from all spiritual traditions

Sometimes you'd think they haven't got a prayer, that the assaults on farm animals, lab animals, captive and hunted animals of all sorts are so ubiquitous they will never be overcome ... but that's why it's a relief sometimes to read the heartening stuff, the good vibes and well-wishing that people have also sent out for the animal kingdom. Lynn L. Caruso has gathered many poems and prayers together in a tidy handbook,  Blessing the Animals: Prayers and Ceremonies to Celebrate God's Creatures, Wild and Tame (Skylight Paths, 2006).

She has divided these into sections on companion animals, wildlife and nature, and occasions such as birth and death, and quotes not only the famous and the religious but also the obscure, anonymous and secular, and draws from many spiritual traditions -- Buddhist, Navajo, Jewish, Medieval mystical, Franciscan, contemporary, and more. Caruso has contributed some of her own poems, inspired by living near the stunningly beautiful landscapes and shoreline of the Pacific Northwest. Samples are given of ceremonies to help with grief over the loss of companion animals, but there is comfort to be found at any time in the sentiments expressed in this volume, and in reflecting that what the Dalai Lama calls "the religion of kindness" binds and transcends all spiritual traditions.

"Not to hurt our humble bethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission -- to be of service to them ..."  -- St. Francis

"May all sentient beings be happy ... may all sentient beings be free from suffering."  -- Buddhist prayer

"Help us to refrain from petty acts of cruelty, or thoughtless deeds of harm to any living animal. May we care for them at all times, especially during hard weather, and protect them from injury ..."  --  Author Unknown