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2011 Best and Worst of Animal Welfare

January 1, 2012

2011 marked my entry into the arena of animal welfare, animal rescue, and law school. There were a lot of stories that pissed me off and made me wonder if things could ever change; but then, something wonderful would happen that made me optimistic again. It is overwhelming; I try to figure out how I can help them all in one big brush of policy, but it doesn’t work that way, in animal welfare law or in any area of law. Patience is a virtue.

A good friend of mine, Karen Aquino, who directed the operations at Joplin Humane Society following the F5 tornado, told me a story that I mentally refer to almost everyday. A man walking on the beach littered with starfish comes across a little girl picking up the starfish one by one and delicately throwing them back to sea. The man says, “There are so many, you’ll never save them all. You can’t make a difference.” The little girl looks at the starfish she is currently holding and says, “But I can make a difference to at least this one”, and threw the starfish back to sea. We’ll never save them all, but if each one of us picked up a starfish, you’d be surprised at the miracles that can occur.

LET THE PEOPLE SPEAK – NOT!

This female was dumped in MO and rescued by one of my friends. This is not a PR photo from the Humane Society. Breeders dump their females when they can't breed them anymore.

In November of 2010, voters in Missouri voted and passed the statewide ballot initiative Proposition B, also known as the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, that would serve to improve the welfare of over a million puppies “produced” in the state every year. In December of that year, Senator Bill Stouffer filed to repeal the law claiming that voters were “misled” about the law and other legislators jumped on board. Every major newspaper in Missouri denounced the attempt to repeal the law.

Attempting to undo the vote of the majority is telling Missouri voters that they have no rights, even when these rights were expressed in a direct democratic vote. Communist leaders and all dictatorships have been similarly contemptuous of their electorate’s rights and minds. ~ The Kansas City Star

On January 25, 2011, public hearings were scheduled in Jefferson City for three bills: HB99, HB94, and HB131. HB99 would exempt all breeders that had their license prior to Prop B passing (including the Dirty Dozen I and Dirty Dozen II); HB131 would gut Prop B; and HB94 would repeal Prop B in its entirety. SB 131 (now called the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act – puppy mills said the prior title was prejudicial) was approved by the Senate on April 13, 2011. Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 131 on April 27, 2011.

To put it mildly, this is one of the most disgusting and atrocious travesties of justice I have ever witnessed. This initiative made it onto the ballot through the hard work of supporters throughout the state, not just in urban areas as opponents to Prop B like to assert. It simply does not matter – it was voted on by the people of the state of Missouri – it was law! Who wins here? Big Ag – because they are the ones who were “misled” about how this law would effect their ability to continue being cruel to livestock, ignoring the fact that this bill did not mention livestock (some legislators opposing Prop B actually admit to not reading the bill!). Prop B did not go as far as some opponents claimed – believe me, there were no provisions to provide doggie Hiltons – the farthest the breeders were asked to go was to provide enough space in a kennel for the animal to turn around. Boo hoo, the breeders just thought this was too much. Why, they’d have to reduce their 100 breeding bitches (with absolutely no break in breeding cycles) to 60 because of space! Missouri legislators couldn’t let that happen, could they?

I wonder when citizens of the Show Me State will once again have the opportunity to have their voices heard in this matter? You would think passing an initiative by majority would be loud and clear, but apparently it isn’t to many of MO’s legislators.

Please visit Missourians for the Protections of Dogs for complete articles:  http://missourifordogs.com

LAST BULLFIGHT IN BARCELONA TAKES PLACE

bull fighting ends in SpainAnd talk about patience being a virtue! In a “sport” dating back at least four thousand years, bulls have been systematically and brutally tortured to the delights of millions. Proponents often argue that bullfighting is an art, and can only be appreciated by certain, unique cultures. How one culture can stick spears into a basically defenseless animal over and over and be ok with it, I can never imagine. I hope to never understand their mentality.

Read the article in the Huffington Post:
Spain: Catalonia Bullfights Enter Final Weekend Before Ban
For more information about the cruelties of bullfighting, please see the Humane Society International’s Page on Bullfighting: http://www.hsi.org/issues/bullfighting

I know this was supposed to be my Good News piece, but I wanted to add that Mexico has not yet banned bullfighting. Even sadder, some young teens even aspire to become matadors. I’d rather have a hundred more Justin Biebers running around than one more arrogant pompous chicken shit of a man matador on my continent.
Read the article in the Guardian: Wanna be matadors

Green is the New Red named one of 2011’s Best Books by Kirkus Reviews

December 30, 2011

You may not think that this book, written by Will Potter, has any relevance to you as long as you don’t “occupy” anything or travel to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the attempt to dissuade Japanese whalers from illegally killing whales for “scientific” purposes. But it does. This book reads like a fictional thriller, full of cover ups and secret meetings and threats. But it isn’t fiction.

Even as a young kid, I understood why the founders of this country demanded freedom of speech – it gives us the ability to discuss and reveal what others may want to hide so that we can always speak out against what we believe is unfair. It gives us all the ability to form our own opinions and to make choices in a market economy that fluctuates based on our decisions and purchases. If you don’t want to listen, then that is fine too. The information might not make a difference to you, or matter enough to you; but at least you are able to hear it.

The title of this book might sound like another left-wing cry, but when you learn that the government now labels under-cover filming in meat-packing companies as terrorism, you can begin to understand how this “scare” effects us all. Without the footage, would McDonald’s and Target have pulled their contracts due to public outrage to under-cover footage taken at the poultry houses? I don’t think so. Would the public know that cattle with Mad Cow disease were being slaughtered right next to healthy cows? Probably not. It is not economically beneficial for these companies to reveal their own illegal practices; activists and advocates should not be labeled terrorists and subject to 30-year prison terms for having the guts to reveal what goes on behind closed doors.

Read more about:

Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege

‘If I was a chicken I’d want to live in Switzerland’

December 30, 2011

When I started reading this article for the first time, I thought, this guy is too extreme, even for an animal advocate like myself. But his views do represent one end of the spectrum, and that measuring stick was beneficial for me to have. What will I protect? What will I fight for? Is it ok to put a hook in a fish’s mouth and drag it around for 15 minutes but not ok to do the same to a puppy? A pig? How long is too long for a fish to suffer? A companion animal? A human?

Read the article here: Antoine Goetschel, the lawyer who defends animals

Making Progress!

December 26, 2011

Slowly but surely this blog is shaping up. The other day I saw a FB post from my local shelter about a foster dog that got away from the foster family. They only live a block away so my daughter and I jumped in the car to go look for her. She is a brand new mom nursing nine 4-day-old puppies! I volunteered to take two of them! My daughter and I have been up around the clock feeding them and caring for them. My two dogs and cat are a little disgruntled; they don’t like sharing. But the pups are gaining weight and developing personalities. We named them Dasher and Blitzen, but call them Dash and Blitz. Mom hasn’t come back.
A common saying in the animal rescue biz is adopt, don’t shop; if you can’t adopt, then foster; and if you can’t foster, please donate. If you can’t do any of these, please be an advocate. It’s free, and it’s easy. Our voices together are loud and convincing and we can make a difference!