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Trying to understand your teen’s brain?  Check out this article by clicking here: The Amazing Teen Brain.

When family disputes cross-over into juvenile delinquency issues, life gets even more complicated.  Read a helpful article by clicking here: TCL Family Law and Juvenile Delinquency.

Animal Assisted Therapy ~ Say “Ahhh” or “Ruff”

Most people know about Seeing Eye dogs who are partnered with blind people who seek to enhance their independence, dignity, and self-confidence through the use of Seeing Eye dogs. But there is another way that animals can improve human health through service. It is called Animal Assisted Therapy.

The premise behind Animal Assisted Therapy is based upon the theory that the human-animal bond can improve the lives of people who are ill or disabled. The fact is that people heal through the comfort and motivation from a specially trained pet. Dogs are the most common animals to be trained to assist in a person’s therapy. But horses, dolphins, cats, bunny rabbits, and birds can help too.

Companion animals have been introduced into the therapeutic regimens of many health care institutions: nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric institutions and others. There are even therapeutic riding programs designed to improve the motor skills and coordination of the physically challenged. In correctional facilities for adults and juveniles, Animal Assisted Therapy pets help inmates learn empathy and compassion. Autistic children swim with dolphins. In short, wherever people have special needs, an Animal Assisted Therapy pet can probably help improve a person’s health and well-being.

For a first hand view of how Animal Assisted Therapy works, take a look at this video clip from NBC News Chicago called “Pooches Prompt Promising Results In Patients”
One scientific study after the other has proven that just stroking a pet lowers your blood pressure and calms you. Also, watch this great video and see how Animal Assisted Therapy has helped thousands of abused and neglected kids. So, consider what a specially trained animal can do in terms of healing. Animals are not concerned with age or physical ability. The loving, nonjudgmental presence of animals allows many to reach out and interact with animals.
Medical studies and field reports show that animals have a comforting, reassuring effect on people. The therapeutic benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy include:

  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Stronger desire to communicate
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Increased motivation to get well
  • Decreased need for painkillers in some post-operative patients
  • Increased willingness to interact with other

Animal Assisted Therapy offers important possibilities for providing holistic care that extends not only to patients, but also to family members and staff, and to the pets themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about Animal Assisted Therapy, here’s a list of a few outstanding organizations in Colorado:

  • Colorado Therapy Animals
  • Hoof and Paws

This article was contributed by Lauren Engel of Digital Peabody ~ professional web strategist in Denver, Colorado and full-time animal lover

Don’t Buy Puppies. Adopt them!

The following article about Puppy Mills is contributed by Holly Tarry, HSUS Colorado State Director

With their wagging tails, oversized paws and boundless energy, puppies can be hard to resist. You might see them in the window of a pet shop, or in a photo on a website, and fall head over heels. This rush of affection is what puppy mill operators count on. Who would believe that a cycle of cruelty could be responsible for something so innocent?

Yet despite images of rolling farmland or loving families as the source for their puppies, many pet shops do sell dogs from mass breeding facilities. In fact, puppy mills keep dogs in shockingly poor conditions.

Out of the public eye, puppy mill operators keep their animals in small cages, sometimes without adequate food, water or protection from the elements. Female dogs are bred continuously to produce the maximum profit. Ultimately, profit is what motivates these operations—not the well-being of the animals.

While millions of dogs await adoptions at shelters, puppy mills continue to ship thousands of puppies across the country to pet shops. Others are sold through classified ads or the Internet. Websites selling dogs from puppy mills may claim that their animals are “home-raised, “farm-raised” or brought up with children. These rosy assurances make customers feel good, but without knowing where animals come from, puppy buyers may be supporting cruel, irresponsible breeders.

Federal law only provides minimum-care standards for puppy-mill animals, and has not been well-enforced. Some states have laws that provide oversight of larger breeding operations.

Colorado is not immune to puppy mills. Colorow Kennels, located in Olathe, is a quintessential puppy mill. The owner, Nita Smith, has been convicted of animal cruelty and currently has another charge pending. Smith has a long history of animal-care violations evidenced by a 210-page file with the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, the state agency that regulates Colorow.

Within the last year, Humane Society of the United States investigators discovered that a high-end pet store in Los Angeles was reselling dogs from Midwest puppy mills, even though this “pet store to the stars” assured customers it did not sell dogs from mills.

We also conducted an investigation in Virginia, which like Colorado was not thought to be a major puppy-producing state. There we found approximately 1,000 breeders in the state selling dogs commercially, many of them puppy mills. Virginia lawmakers are now considering legislation to address the problem.

In addition to the inhumane treatment of the dogs they use for profit, puppy mills can put a huge financial burden on the state. Whenever the state needs to step in and seize animals, the effort puts a strain on the surrounding community, often requiring disaster-level support to provide supplies and care for such a large number of animals.

The most effective way to stop operations like this one is to adopt from your local shelter and never support a puppy mill.

Finally: Ringling Brothers Circus to Address the Atrocities They Bestow Upon Animals at Trial Scheduled to Begin in October

Ringling Brothers Responds to a Pending Lawsuit
By George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter of Las Vegas Now

An American institution — the Ringling Brother’s circus is facing an uncertain future now that a lawsuit is moving forward in Federal Court. It took animal welfare groups eight years to get Ringling into court. The trial begins in October.

On a day hot enough to blister meat, in an asphalt parking lot behind a Las Vegas casino, two out-of-place Asian elephants splash around in a shallow pool. It’s enough to thaw the heart of the most strident animal activist.

There’s no getting around it, people love elephants — on a level that seems almost primal. Ringling Brothers knows this better than anyone.

“You care about it when you stand next to a 10 foot tall animal. Your eyes light up, no matter how old you are. That’s the experience we’ve been bringing to the country for 138 years,” said Ringling Brothers spokesperson Andy Perez.

According to Perez, the elephants are essential to the circus, “Our polling shows 80-percent of attendees come because of the elephants. As much as the clowns and acrobats are part of it, so are the elephants.”

By one estimate, the Ringling Circus earns $100 million a year for its owner Kenneth Feld, an impresario with long-standing ties to Las Vegas. Without elephants, the circus would fold its tent, its supporters say.

Attendance and profits remain strong, but it gets a little tougher each year. Animal activists are waiting at almost every stop to protest the treatment of non-human performers — especially the elephants.

Andy Perez has worked for Ringling for ten years. He is the designated media liaison and responder to critics, “Animal activists have their view. It’s the polar opposite of Ringling Brothers.”

He lauds the circus for creating an elephant farm in Florida and a breeding program designed to help save the species. He says, with a straight face, that the stunts performed by circus elephants are perfectly natural.

“Elephants are playful. What you see in the circus is basically what elephants do in the wild. They stand on their head, on logs, on each other,” he said.

“They stand in a line of 14 elephants?” asked Knapp.

“Absolutely. Have you ever seen a herd move?” said Perez.

“Seriously?” asked Knapp.

“Yeah, they move around. Elephants are social creatures. They move in herds,” said Perez.

“In the wild, they would stand on hind legs, 14 in a row?” asked Knapp.

“They stand on each other for mating — for playing. It’s natural behavior to reach for higher things off tree branches,” said Perez.

If we take Ringling’s word for it that elephants in the wild perform, a larger question remains — are elephants cut out to be carnies?

A Ringling tour lasts two years and covers 80 cities. Elephants essentially live in railroad cars and in chains — a part of their existence the public and media don’t get to see.

It’s the circus life that is at the heart of a lawsuit filed eight years ago by animal welfare organizations, which allege that an endangered species, especially one as intelligent as elephants, shouldn’t spend most of its life in a boxcar.

Ringling says its pachyderms are pampered.

“It’s a great life for elephants. They get 24 hour, seven-day-a-week care, people with them all the time, tending to their needs, their health. They get exercised — they are in movement constantly. Look at the elephants. We invite the public to our open house, how healthy they look, their muscle tone. They’re happy. They’re in good condition,” said Perez. “They respond to the trainers. They have great rapport with the trainers and enjoy themselves.”

The animal groups say there’s a reason why elephants obey their trainers — fear. Elephant trainers in every circus, including Ringling, use the infamous ankus or bullhook. Ringling says it’s a harmless but necessary tool.

“The guide is an internationally accepted management tool. It’s necessary,” said Perez.

“Necessary if you are going to have them in a circus,” asked Knapp.

“If you are going to work with elephants period. If you are a 150 pound man, you need a way to communicate with that animal — just like a leash with a dog. Can it be misused? Absolutely. But at Ringling Brothers, we don’t tolerate it and have never been in violation,” said Perez.

Undercover videos recorded by animal welfare groups paint a different picture, although Ringling has been very successful in resolving complaints filed with the USDA.

Some of the most pointed criticism comes from Ringling’s own elephant experts and vets. Internal memos obtained by the critics are packed with first hand accounts of elephants that have been beaten and bloodied, scarred, abused, infected and denied water to prevent urination during performances. The allegations are from Ringling’s own veterinarians.

“Your animal person said it happened lots of times — bleeding in the ring. Others say it happens,” said Knapp.

“In my ten years with the circus, I haven’t seen that. I can speak from experience. I can’t speak to what this person, he or she, what this person has written,” said Perez.

One central issue in the federal court case is the intent of Ringling’s breeding program. The circus says it’s doing the world a favor by saving the species and that no elephant is forced to perform.

“Someone needs to protect and study. We’re leaders in that. We started our center to learn more about them. We do work around the world,” said Perez.

“Do you raise them for anything other than performing?” asked Knapp.

“Not every elephant is a performer, just like not every person is a performer. When a calf is born, a determination is made of what the calf is interested in. Some are shy, some are hams,” said Perez.

But critics say the elephants either perform or die. Former Ringling elephant handler Tom Rider, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, says every single elephant born at the Ringling farm is performing in the circus, except for the four baby elephants that died while training or performing.

“There is not one baby elephant born at that conservation center that has ever been put into the wild. All they’re doing is having babies. It’s like a puppy mill for elephants, breeding babies to put them in the circus,” he said.

“Ringling snatches them from their mother by dragging them with ropes and starts dominating them. At six-months-old, an elephant has no concept of why they’re being hurt. They don’t understand what they’re doing. But the show must go on,” said animal welfare activist Linda Faso.

“We’re caring for an endangered species. Put our money where our mouth is, keeping them from going extinct. The activists are not,” said Perez.

Burgers to Blame for Global Warming?

By Jeff Popick, Vegan World

“It all depends on what the burger is made from” A 408 page report by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that 18% of greenhouse gases are coming from animal agriculture — meat and dairy, that is. Therefore, what many people are eating is contributing more to global warming than the entire transportation sector of the United States. But here’s the interesting part. This report was published two years ago, back in 2006. Last year, in 2007, ABC produced a prime time television special about the top ways we can save Planet Earth. Amongst those “top tips” were suggestions about turning off lights when we’re not using them and trying to use less toilet paper. Great suggestions, mind you, but top tips?! The UN report had already been out for one full year. This year, in 2008, there’s been a regular parade of programs on all major networks and cable — even CNN has their program “Planet in Peril” — telling people how to help save the world. Where is their discussion about the primary culprit of global warming as shown by the 408 page report put out in 2006? Global warming has simply become a sensational story … while the planet burns.

The Earth, and all who reside here, are in grave peril like never before. We have a moral, ethical responsibility and imperative to face up to the truth. Yes, it may mean we need to change our daily habits. Please don’t shoot the messenger. If we don’t do it voluntarily, the Earth will do it for us. There has never been a time in man’s existence when it is so critical to move away from the Standard American Diet (SAD) and embrace an Earth-friendly and sustainable plant-based diet — a vegan diet. It is categorically the single best thing you can do for your health and the health of the planet.

By switching to a plant based diet, mankind will instantly eradicate nearly 20% of the global warming problem. If that isn’t amazing enough, this simple yet profound change would greatly curtail further deforestation, top soil erosion and even the ever-worsening tainting of the world’s waters. Not enough? High cholesterol and heart disease, hypertension, obesity, adult-onset diabetes, kidney disease and many cancers would virtually disappear. Yet the human race has an incredibly huge reluctance to embrace an incredibly huge part of the solution — a plant-based, vegan diet. Even the media seems to be a monumental fortress lying squarely across the path of human and planetary salvation. Why?

The great news is that we don’t have to give up our burgers; we just have to make them from plant-based ingredients. Veggie burgers, have the taste, smell and texture of the traditional burger but without the harmful ramifications.

Do you believe the suggested health benefits of a vegan diet? Do you believe the United Nations? VeganWorld.com has just posted their latest poll inquiring about this very thing. You can check it out on the homepage of http://www.veganworld.com/

 

Unanimous Decision of New Jersey Supreme Court Results in Precedent-Setting Victory for Farm Animals

“The Court therefore strikes as invalid the definition of ‘routine husbandry practices’”

By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 19, 2008

 

TRENTON, NJ—July 30, 2008— In a unanimous landmark decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court today struck down the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s (NJDA) regulations exempting all routine husbandry practices as “humane” and ordered the agency to readdress many of the state-mandated standards for the treatment of farm animals. A broad coalition of humane organizations, farmers, veterinarians, and environmental and consumer groups, led by Farm Sanctuary and represented by the public interest law firms Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, Washington, D.C., and Egert & Trakinski, Hackensack, N.J., brought the case to the state’s Supreme Court. In this monumental case, the Court ruled that factory farming practices cannot be considered humane simply because they are widely used, setting a legal precedent for further actions to end the most egregious abuses on factory farms throughout the U.S. The Court also rejected the practice of tail-docking cattle, and the manner in which the NJDA had provided for farm animals to be mutilated without anesthesia.

“This is a major victory for farm animals in New Jersey, and will pave the way for better protections of farm animals nationwide,” said Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. “Setting a legal precedent in a unanimous vote that clarifies that commonly used practices cannot be considered humane simply because they are widely used will build on our momentum in challenging the cruel status quo on factory farms.”

Many states have an exemption to their cruelty code for “routine” or “commonly accepted” practices which leaves animals confined in factory farms unprotected from abuse. However, in 1996, the New Jersey Legislature directed the NJDA to develop appropriate “standards for the humane raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing, and sale of domestic livestock.” Eight years later, on June 7, 2004, the agency finalized regulations that specifically authorized many cruel farming practices and essentially gave blanket protection to all common agriculture practices.

In 2004, a coalition filed suit alleging that the NJDA failed to establish standards of treatment of farm animals that are “humane” — as required by the New Jersey Legislature in 1996 — and instead sanctioned numerous inhumane practices, including all routine farming practices, used to raise animals for meat, eggs and milk. This coalition included Farm Sanctuary, The Humane Society of the United States, The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Welfare Advocacy, Save Our Resources Today, Center for Food Safety, and the Organic Consumers Association, among others.

In addition to striking down the agency’s sweeping exemption for “routine husbandry practices,” the Court further held that tail docking could not be considered humane, and the manner in which mutilations without anesthesia including castration, de-beaking and de-toeing could not be considered humane without some specific requirements to prevent pain and suffering. The Court made clear that the decision to permit these practices as long as they are done by a “knowledgeable person” and in a way to “minimize pain” could not “pass muster.”

 

According to Katherine Meyer, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, “Having the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously recognize that the mutilation practices commonly used in the industry – cutting off the beaks and toes of live animals without anesthesia – is painful to these animals is an important milestone in educating the public at large about these practices and the need for reform.”

“This decision will protect thousands of animals in New Jersey, and also calls into question some of the worst factory farm abuses practiced throughout the country,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president of animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States. “All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food.”

Unfortunately, the Court failed to take the opportunity to strike down regulations that allow the confinement of breeding pigs in gestation crates and calves in veal crates, as well as the transport of sick and downed cattle. Although the Court noted that these practices are controversial and that downed animals “suffer greatly,” it found the record on appeal insufficient to warrant striking the regulations at this time. The decision comes amid a massive momentum nationwide to phase out these cruel systems and recent highly publicized investigations of downed cattle that resulted in animal cruelty convictions. The plaintiffs will push the agency vigorously to phase out these cruel and inhumane practices when the regulations are revised.

In April 2008 the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released the results of a two and a half year study that supports a phase out of common factory farming practices such as the use of gestation crates, farrowing crates, tethering, forced feeding, tail docking, and body-altering procedures that cause pain. The European Union outlaws many of these practices, or is in the process of phasing them out. Florida and Oregon have outlawed gestation crates, and Arizona and Colorado have outlawed both gestation and veal crates. An anti-confinement initiative on California’s November 2008 ballot – Proposition 2 – if passed, would outlaw gestation crates for breeding pigs, veal crates for calves and battery cages for egg-laying hens in the nation’s largest agricultural state.

The Barnyard Strategist

Published: October 24, 2008

Not long ago, I stood outside a closed-down slaughterhouse in Chino, Calif., with Wayne Pacelle, the first vegan to become president of the Humane Society of the United States — he hasn’t put butter on his rolls or poured milk in his cereal since he was a 19-year-old Yale undergrad. He tugged on the locked front gates of the slaughterhouse and called out to a security guard who sat unresponsive behind mirrored sunglasses in a small hut. Then, walking along the perimeter of the plant, Pacelle discovered a low brick wall, and he and I climbed on top. From there we could see the open-air section of the plant and its acres of quiet concrete. The trucks that once arrived at all hours of the morning and night, loaded with cows, were long gone. The pens that held the cows as they awaited U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection were empty. The slaughter chute that once moved about 500 cattle a day into the “kill box” sat motionless.

 

Michael Kelley for The New York Times

It was an animal rights advocate’s dream: Pacelle and his organization had shuttered this $100 million plant, the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company, with the help of an undercover investigator wearing a hidden video camera with a lens the size of the tip of a pen. Over six weeks last year, the investigator — a vegan who brought soy-riblet sandwiches for lunch — filmed workers using chains to drag cows too sick or too injured to stand. The workers jabbed cows with electrical prods and rolled them with a forklift to get them onto their feet and into the slaughter chute. In addition to being excessively cruel, it was a risk to human health: cows too sick or injured to walk are more vulnerable to E. coli, mad cow and other diseases.

After the Humane Society released the video to the San Bernardino County district attorney, the story made national news. Within weeks, the local district attorney filed charges of animal cruelty against workers at Westland/Hallmark. And the U.S.D.A. ordered the largest beef recall in U.S. history.

Pacelle, who is 43, tall and telegenic, has thick black hair that always seems to stay in place. For many years he was the chief lobbyist for the Humane Society before becoming its C.E.O. and president, and he exudes as much passion for the tactics and politics of the animal-welfare movement as he does for the animals themselves. Sending an investigator to the Chino slaughterhouse was one of Pacelle’s first steps in a campaign to raise public awareness about animal cruelty in industrial farming — and to garner support for Proposition 2, a sweeping California ballot initiative designed to improve the lives of millions of farm animals.

Proposition 2, co-sponsored by the Humane Society and Farm Sanctuary, the biggest farm-animal-rights group in the United States, focuses on what are considered the worst animal-confinement systems in factory farms. The ballot initiative, which voters will decide on Nov. 4, requires that by 2015 farm animals be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs. In effect that translates into a ban on the two-foot-wide crates that tightly confine pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal — a space so small that they can’t turn around. And it would eliminate so-called battery cages where four or more hens share a space about the size of a file drawer.

Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and a leading figure in the animal rights movement, compares Proposition 2 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, calling Proposition 2 the “other historic ballot this November.” If it passes, it would affect more animals — almost 20 million — than any ballot measure has in U.S. history.

Because California is the largest agriculture state in the country, and often a trend-setter on social issues, the ballot is a bellwether for farm-animal-welfare reform nationwide. Many experts predict that if Proposition 2 becomes law it will create a ripple effect, putting pressure on other states to pass similar reforms and pushing major food corporations to go crate-free and cage-free.

Proposition 2 also marks a seminal moment for Pacelle, who, since he became the head of the Humane Society four years ago, has transformed America’s largest animal-welfare group — long known as a kindly protector of the nation’s dogs and cats — into an organization he likens to a National Rifle Association for the animal movement: a savvy, unapologetically aggressive political player. He has amped up his 10.3-million-member organization by merging with several smaller animal-welfare groups, cherry-picking some of their top leaders and boosting his budget from $75 million to $127 million, making the Humane Society the richest and most powerful animal-welfare group in the country, with its own in-house investigation, litigation and campaign teams.

And though his organization still does plenty for cats and dogs, Pacelle has made farm animals a top priority over the past four years. “Nine billion animals are killed for food every year, and most of them are confined in intensive conditions,” he told his staff members not long after he was appointed president of the organization in 2004. “It is the greatest abuse of animals that occurs on this planet.”

The question, as Pacelle sees it, is how to create change when Big Agriculture, with its big money, has made it nearly impossible to get meaningful farm-animal-welfare legislation passed. Here the ballot-initiative process is crucial, since it offers an end run around legislators by taking issues directly to voters. Another key element in Pacelle’s strategy has been to create ballot measures that offer only modest reforms on which both vegans and hamburger lovers (at least many of them) can agree. That tactic, however, has earned Pacelle his share of critics, including some who claim that while the ballot initiatives may seem moderate, they are just a first step in a vegan agenda to dictate what Americans eat. On the other side, extreme vegan groups say Pacelle has sold out, giving carnivores a reason to feel virtuous about eating “happy meat.” Pacelle counters that he can’t please everybody: “Part of my job is to challenge certain orthodoxies. For people who want a vegan revolution — that’s too passive for me.”

Instead, Pacelle says he can see the potential to influence millions of animal lovers by pushing them to expand their concerns, moving beyond the cuddly dogs and cats — and the baby seals and dolphins — that capture Americans’ attention to include the billions of less-visible and far-less- romanticized pigs, cows and chickens raised for food every year.

A recently released commercial for Proposition 2 tries to help voters make that leap. It shows footage of dirty chickens being shoved into cages, a frightened-looking calf pulling against a tether in its crate and a pig biting on metal bars. The ad juxtaposes these images with that of a dog sitting on the grass in the sunshine, soaking up the attention of a veterinarian who strokes his fur: “We wouldn’t force our pets to live in cramped cages for their whole lives,” Kate Hurley, the vet, tells the viewer. “And farm animals should not suffer this misery either. All animals, including those raised for food, deserve humane treatment.”

The ad’s argument is, as Pacelle sees it, a logical extension of the animal-welfare ethic. “Cruelty is cruelty,” he says, “and it’s been our assumption that if decent people see images of these farm animals suffering, they will have a similar reaction.” And in a generation or two, he argues, we will have made a mental shift. People will look back on these confinement systems and other standardized farm-animal abuses and wonder why we tolerated them for so long.

In the 1980s and ’90s, as the animal rights movement flourished in the United States, advocates became known for their eye-catching antics. They sprayed red paint on people wearing fur. They flung a dead raccoon on the Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s lunch plate at the Four Seasons. For years, PETA supporters have protested at KFC and other fast-food chains dressed as bloodied chickens or pigs, with phrases like “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” written across their chests. PETA’s tactics have had an impact on consumer awareness, as well as on food-corporation policies. But often PETA’s influence has come at the expense of alienating segments of the public who view the movement as abrasive and dogmatic.

“Any social movement evolves,” says Pacelle, who, as a college student in the ’80s, founded the Student Animal Rights Coalition and demonstrated against fur stores. “It was a different era then, and we all need to adapt.” One way that Pacelle adapted was by changing his terminology: he now prefers the term “animal protection” to “animal rights,” which he says is laden with “a lot of baggage.” The implication of the animal rights rhetoric is that animals have “an intrinsic right,” he says. “But it’s really about human behavior and the responsibility we have toward animals.”

That more-palatable mainstream message, coupled with the Humane Society’s political power, is what the animal rights movement in America has needed for a long time, argues Singer, the Princeton bioethicist. While countries in the European Union have banned pig and veal crates and battery cages, or are in the process of doing so, some observers have speculated that Americans simply care less about animals. “I don’t think that’s true,” Singer says. “In the United States, the movement’s demands were simply too far-reaching for politicians to meet. We can’t say we’re going to legislate against eating meat.”

Pacelle isn’t alone in shifting his tone and tactics. Gene Baur, a founder of Farm Sanctuary, started his organization by selling vegetarian hot dogs from his VW van at Grateful Dead concerts, a story he tells in his recent book, “Farm Sanctuary.” Today, 20 years later, with a $5 million organization that has 200,000 members, Baur still uses terms like “animal rights” and proudly promotes veganism. But over time, he says, “we’ve learned to present things in a way that resonates with the public. We’re still telling it like it is. But we’re less strident. We don’t say, ‘It’s wrong and you shouldn’t do it.’ ”

Even PETA doesn’t always aim to shock. PETA’s vice-president, Bruce Friedrich, says that the group’s members are actively canvassing in support of Proposition 2 but that they won’t be doing any media-grabbing protests. “When you’re working on passing legislation,” Friedrich says, “showing up with naked activists and bullhorns isn’t ever going to be the right way of moving forward.”

Industrial farming is increasingly on American’s minds. In the last decade, the best-selling book “Fast Food Nation,” by Eric Schlosser, was followed by “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” by Michael Pollan. These books tap into animal-welfare concerns as well as the increasing preoccupation with where our milk, beef and eggs come from. Are they organic? Hormone-free? Locally grown? Humanely treated? Cage-free?

Stressing the link between the inhumane treatment of animals and the health risks of factory farming is one way the Humane Society is creating a political constituency big enough to include virtually anyone who worries about food, animals, the environment and the changing face of rural America. The campaign highlights those themes in its advertisements, on its Web site, in the dozens of talks the campaign staff members give around California and in the 500,000 fliers that Proposition 2 volunteers have distributed over the past several weeks at Whole Foods, farmers’ markets, universities, dog parks, community festivals and churches. “You can no longer write off this movement as a bunch of lunatics,” says Jennifer Fearing, the campaign manager for Proposition 2 and the chief economist for the Humane Society. “We desperately want to redefine what it means to be an advocate for animals.”

Fearing’s own story certainly is not one you usually associate with animal activism. Growing up, she was very active in her church and as a teenager was the president of the Christian singer Amy Grant’s fan club. In college she interned for President George H. W. Bush’s economic- and domestic-policy adviser, Roger Porter, before earning a public-policy degree from the Kennedy School at Harvard. She voted for each Bush president and is now registered as an independent. Pacelle would kill her, she said jokingly, if she became a Democrat; the campaign’s nonpartisan message is central to the Humane Society’s new efforts.

And not only in California. For a previous Humane Society-sponsored ballot initiative in Arizona, to ban pig and veal crates, Pacelle enlisted the highly controversial Republican sheriff Joe Arpaio, who bills himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” to sell the idea. In a TV ad for the ballot initiative, Arpaio stood by his kitchen stove. “I enjoy a good pork chop,” he said. “But I believe animals raised for food deserve humane treatment.” The proposition passed with 62 percent of the vote.

Fearing isn’t appearing in any TV ads, and she doesn’t eat pork chops; she’s a vegan. But she says that, for her, one of the most significant of the long list of Proposition 2 endorsers — which includes the Center for Food Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, United Farm Workers, the California Veterinary Medical Association, Jane Goodall, Robert Redford, Wolfgang Puck, among hundreds of others — is Matthew Scully, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, who also wrote Sarah Palin’s convention speech. Scully is the author of the book “Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals and the Call to Mercy.” For Fearing, Scully helped her put inchoate thoughts about being an animal activist into words. Scully doesn’t argue for animal rights but for humans to show mercy. “One doesn’t have to pull them from their place and demand perfect equality to care for them,” he writes of animals in one of Fearing’s favorite passages in his book, “to refrain wherever possible from harming them, as only man the rational and moral creature can do.”

Framing the animal-welfare movement in terms of compassion and morality has helped cultivate support from a broad spectrum of religious leaders. The campaign has received endorsements from the president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and other religious leaders throughout the state. “Most denominations have statements on animals and ethics,” says Christine Gutleben, the director of the Humane Society’s program on animals and religion. “We have a shared agenda here. Religious people are looking for ways to integrate their spiritual life with their daily life. There’s this sense that animals were created and designed by God with wings to fly, feet to walk with, hooves to dig with, and by prohibiting them to engage in these natural behaviors we force them to live in contradiction with what they were born with.”

Every one of these constituencies — the foodies, the Republicans, the churchgoers — was a potential audience for the Humane Society campaign’s first official Proposition 2 video, released on YouTube in late September. The video didn’t have the shock value of the PETA video called “Meet Your Meat,” which shows the grisly inner workings of slaughterhouses and other factory-farming operations. By contrast, the Humane Society’s brightly colored animated video features a Babe-like pig singing Proposition 2-related lyrics to the Stevie Wonder song “Superstition” and dancing through barns, releasing pigs, chickens and calves from their cages. It’s the kind of short video you could forward, without worrying about its appropriateness, to your grandmother, to your P.T.A. president, to your congregation, to anyone under the redefined big tent of farm-animal welfare.

Though the Humane Society’s videos and TV ads feature many pigs and cows, in reality the battle in California is all about chickens. The veal and pig industries are almost nonexistent in the state. The Humane Society included the ban on pig and cow crates in Proposition 2 largely as a preventive measure: each state that prohibits those confinement systems is one more place where producers with crates can’t set up shop. And it sends yet another message to food corporations that their policies may be out of step with consumers’ values.

But Julie Buckner, the spokeswoman for Californians for Safe Food, a coalition of groups opposed to Proposition 2, sees the issue differently. All those pigs and cows in the TV ads, in the YouTube video and in other campaign materials, are there, she says, to manipulate our emotions. “We all care about humane treatment of animals,” she says. “But I care more about my kids’ health and safety,” she adds, referring to concerns some people have that cage-free eggs carry a greater risk of salmonella. Such health worries, though, haven’t been borne out by the experiences of cage-free operations in the United States and Europe. Instead, the argument that has had the most traction with many editorial boards and consumer groups, particularly in this economy, is that the initiative risks putting out of business California’s $330 million egg industry, in which more than 90 percent of eggs are from battery-cage operations. That explains, too, why the opposition’s campaign, which has drawn millions of dollars from the egg industry (in California and out of state), has endorsements from some taxpayer groups, labor unions and senior-citizen associations.

Ryan Armstrong, an egg producer in Valley Center, Calif., says Proposition 2 would be the end of his three-generation family business. Not only would it be too expensive to convert to new hen housing, he says; if he were to go cage-free, he also wouldn’t be able to compete against lower-priced battery-cage eggs trucked in from other states and from Mexico. “This is the cheapest, healthiest way to make eggs,” he says. “Do we want chickens to flap their wings? Or do we want to eat?”

There’s no consensus on what the cost to consumers will be if Proposition 2 passes, although both sides agree that there will be a price increase. Proponents of Proposition 2 estimate an increase of 12 cents per dozen; opponents have claimed that prices could double. In fact, no one really knows the additional cost because the price of eggs is, in part, dependent on whether other states follow California’s lead and on how much the demand for cage-free eggs, currently about 5 percent of the market, increases in the future.

Certainly cage-free eggs have a growing cachet not only among Whole Foods shoppers but also among other consumers, in part because of the Humane Society’s efforts, as well as PETA’s, to encourage supermarkets and major food corporations to go cage-free. And while Proposition 2 doesn’t mandate a particular kind of housing, the ballot’s wording — which says chickens must be able to spread their wings without touching the sides of a cage — essentially translates into cage-free housing.

That doesn’t mean that California chickens will live like the chickens in the final scene of a Proposition 2 commercial, in which a handful of them peck and strut in the grass of an idyllic farm. “Free-range” chickens have access to outdoors — though that may be only a slab of concrete — while cage-free hens live in henhouses and usually never go outside. And depending on the producer, the henhouse may be a comparatively roomy, modern system with plenty of space and sunlight. Or not. The worst-run operations are dirty, dark barns crammed with thousands of chickens that never see daylight.

“I’d rather have seen something in the language that provided for nesting and perching,” says Adele Douglass, the executive director of Humane Farm Animal Care, a voluntary certification program for cage-free farmers and other agriculture producers that requires minimum standards for ventilation, space, perches and nesting boxes, among other things. Pacelle says he would have liked to include all that — and more. But as with everything in his approach, Pacelle walks a fine line between pushing for increased welfare and fending off opponents who would claim the Humane Society is legislating luxury housing for chickens. Pacelle says he hopes that Proposition 2 will create pressure on the egg industry to reform its standards and push corporations to seek cage-free eggs from the most humane suppliers. “Cage-free is not cruelty-free,” Paul Shapiro, the Humane Society’s senior director of its factory-farming campaign, acknowledges. “But social movements are about incremental change. This is a step in the right direction.”

Or it’s the wrong direction, if you ask some vegan activists who are not endorsing Proposition 2. “We agree with an incremental approach, but if you give animals more space and a little sunshine and you take that to that logical progression, they are still raised for food,” says Alex Hershaft, president of the 27-year-old organization FARM, the Farm Animal Rights Movement. Instead, animal rights groups, he argues, should focus on getting people to incrementally reduce — and eventually eliminate — meat altogether.

Still, though Hershaft won’t endorse Proposition 2 on principle, he says he hopes it passes, because it will reduce animal suffering. Other critics take a harder line. Gary L. Francione, a professor at the Rutgers University School of Law and an animal rights scholar, has written that if Proposition 2 passes, “animals will continue to be tortured; the only difference will be that the torture will carry the stamp of approval from the Humane Society, Farm Sanctuary and other animal-welfare corporations that are promoting Proposition 2.” He urges animal rights activists to either abstain from voting or to vote no.

State ballot measures were never the Humane Society’s first choice of strategy for improving the lives of chickens and pigs. But few federal laws apply to farm animals, and the ones that do are mostly related to slaughter and transportation — not to the treatment of animals while they live on the farm. And when state legislatures were unwilling or unable to pass laws on farm-animal welfare, one option was to go around them.

Throughout the 1990s, Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary watched Pacelle win ballot propositions banning cockfighting and some forms of hunting and trapping. In 2000, he and Pacelle agreed they were ready to introduce ballot measures for farm animals. For the site of their first attempt, they chose Florida, which offered several advantages. The state had a pig industry but one that was not too formidable. Also, Florida is “not like Wyoming and North Dakota,” Pacelle explains, “where there is a more utilitarian attitude toward animals.” Instead, the state had several key urban areas where large groups of animal lovers could be expected to support the bill. In November 2002, the country’s first ban on gestation crates passed with 55 percent of the vote. A few years later, in Arizona, the two organizations introduced the first ballot initiative to prohibit pig and veal crates — with Sheriff Arpaio as a spokesman — and won by a wide margin. Just as important, the two groups established a record of success that they could show to their memberships, to other states and to corporations.

In fact, companies and other states did seem to be paying attention. Only three months after the Arizona vote, Smithfield Foods, the largest U.S. pork producer, announced that it was phasing out gestation crates, replacing them with group housing that would allow the sows more room to move. Smithfield insisted it was not bowing to activist or voter pressure but rather complying with requests from McDonald’s and supermarket chains. Yet the significance of the timing, coming on the heels of the Humane Society’s second win, was hard to dismiss. Less than one week after Smithfield’s announcement, Maple Leaf Foods, the largest pork producer in Canada, announced that it, too, was phasing out gestation crates.

Around the same time, the Humane Society was getting ready for its next ballot initiative — this one in Colorado. The organization had just filed paperwork with the state when Pacelle met Gov. Bill Ritter at a fund-raiser. Ritter said he wanted to avoid a divisive battle in his state. Then Bernard Rollin, a renowned animal-welfare expert and a professor of philosophy at Colorado State University, stepped in with others to help broker a deal between Pacelle and cattlemen and other agriculture interests. “Wayne was sensitive to being educated about the cattlemen’s perspective,” says Rollin, who also served on the nonpartisan Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which this year issued a major report recommending, among other things, a 10-year phase-out of crates and battery cages. “I respect his ability to work in the real world.”

On his end, Pacelle agreed to drop a provision — at least for now — to phase out battery cages. In exchange, in May Ritter signed into law a phase-out on crates for pigs and calves. The deal gave both the state government and agriculture interests a public-relations boost. For Pacelle, it helped solidify his reputation as someone willing not only to fight but, under the right circumstances, to negotiate too.

The undercover operation at the slaughterhouse in Chino was the most significant investigation in the Humane Society’s history. It prompted the largest U.S. beef recall ever, the prosecution of workers, the shutting down of the plant and the closing of a loophole in a law that bans cows that are too sick or injured to stand from entering the food supply. But the undercover investigation also set up one of the Humane Society’s major campaign themes: Whom do you trust? The organization that protects cats and dogs and dairy cows headed to slaughter? Or industrial farming, which brought you tainted meat slated for your kids’ hamburgers?

Chino was also a shot across the bow to the egg industry about how hard the Humane Society would fight over the coming months. Since last summer, the campaign has relentlessly and ruthlessly played offense, setting in motion more than a dozen legal actions against egg producers and the industry. One lawsuit took aim at the American Egg Board, a commodity program linked to the Department of Agriculture, for its plan to spend up to $3 million of public money for an advertising campaign that the Humane Society said was anti-Proposition 2. A judge agreed with the Humane Society and barred the American Egg Board from using the money to advertise during the campaign. Then, in early October, the Humane Society went after Ryan Armstrong, the egg farmer I interviewed. Like other targets of the Humane Society’s litigation team, Armstrong was a contributor to the opposition campaign. What’s more, he also offered tours of his farms to California reporters to show that cage operations were clean, efficient and humane.

But the Humane Society claims that they are not, in fact, so clean. In a press release this month, the Humane Society said one of Armstrong’s operations repeatedly discharged contaminated water into neighbors’ properties, and the organization was petitioning the San Diego County water board to take action against the business. (Armstrong insists he is now in compliance with county inspectors.) “It’s all fair game,” Jennifer Fearing said when I asked her if the Humane Society had purposefully gone after Armstrong because he held himself out as a spokesman for battery-cage egg farmers. “He put a bull’s-eye on himself. He tells everyone, ‘Hey, I run a great farm.’ Well, does he?”

The battles with Armstrong and other producers are part of the Humane Society’s continuing attempt to signal publicly how costly these ballot initiatives can be for agriculture industries — in terms of money and public relations. “Producers don’t want to spend this kind of money fighting us every time we come into a state,” Pacelle says. “Wouldn’t they rather negotiate and spend that money re-engineering their facilities and getting that much ahead of the game? Then they get to be heroes.”

When I spoke with Pacelle with three weeks to go before the election and the latest poll showing Proposition 2 passing by a wide margin, Pacelle sounded confident. But in a way, win or lose, he already had a victory in hand. Proposition 2 had helped push his overall message about farm-animal welfare well beyond California. In late September, the comedian Ellen DeGeneres — who held a fund-raiser that brought in $1 million for Proposition 2 — had Pacelle on her show to talk about the ballot initiative. Then, in mid-October, Oprah Winfrey devoted an entire show to Proposition 2, with Pacelle and members of the opposition as guests. Instead of baby seals and whales as the darling cause of two of TV’s most popular daytime shows, it was America’s pigs, calves and chickens.

In the midst of all these events was Pacelle, wearing a well-tailored suit, serving as the articulate ambassador for these animals. He hadn’t single-handedly created the cultural momentum around farm animals, but he was giving it a presentable form, pushing the movement out of the fringe and into the mainstream. And not insignificant, of course, was the fact that he was doing it with considerable muscle. “We aren’t a bunch of little old ladies in tennis shoes,” Pacelle says, paraphrasing his mentor Cleveland Amory, an animal rights activist. “We have cleats on.”

USDA Report Reveals Increased Use of Animals in Research

January 9, 2009

Reprinted by permission of The Humane Society of the United States.

 

In 2007, more than 70,000 dogs were used for biomedical research, testing, and teaching in the U.S. ©iStock.com

Better late than never. That’s what animal welfare advocates are saying following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to begin re-issuing comprehensive annual reports on enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.

Comprehensive reports provide a more detailed picture of the number of animals actually used in research.

The USDA switched to publishing stripped-down reports after passage of a law that took effect in May 2000 and eliminated certain reporting requirements.

Published on October 23, The Animal Care Annual Report of Activities—Fiscal Year 2007, is the first of the comprehensive reports to be released since 2001.

The action follows six years of efforts by The Humane Society of the U.S., aided by Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), to compel the agency to resume publishing the expanded reports.

By the Numbers

The report shows a significant increase in the numbers of some animals used in research in the U.S:

  • The number of primates used for research in 2007 (69,990) represents an 11 percent increase from 2006 and a 29 percent increase from 2001
  • The number of dogs used for research increased 8 percent from 2006 to 2007, to 72,037 individuals
  • The number of animals used in research that caused unrelieved pain and/or distress to the animals increased 5 percent from 2006 to 2007, to 77,766 animals

According to the annual report for fiscal year 2007, more than one million animals subject to regulation under the AWA were used in research in 2007. But, this figure excludes laboratory-bred mice, rats and birds, the most commonly used animals in research. Because they are not protected by the AWA, these species are not counted. The HSUS estimates that the total number of vertebrate animals used in research in the U.S. each year could be more than 25 million.

The number of primates used for research in the U.S. increased approximately 30% from 2001 to 2008. ©iStock.com

“The report provides disturbing evidence of an increase in the use of dogs, primates, and other animals for research since 2006 and in recent years, in general,” says Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for animal research issues for The HSUS. “In 2008, we hope to see a decline in their use and an increase in more innovative science that doesn’t use animals—because the public is demanding it.”

Prompting Action

The HSUS began requesting that the USDA start republishing the comprehensive reports back in 2002, but the USDA took no action. Then, in 2007, Reps. Israel and Kirk introduced the Animal Welfare Accountability Improvement Act (H.R. 2193).

The bill was designed to amend the Animal Welfare Act and included a provision that required the USDA to publish an expanded report each year. Language regarding this provision then became part of the House’s proposed version of the Farm Bill. While the language wasn’t included in the final version of the Farm Bill, passed in May 2008, the USDA made it clear to legislators that they intended to publish comprehensive annual reports voluntarily, thereby eliminating the need for inclusion of the legislative language.

TAKE ACTION

Overseeing Animals

The USDA is the government agency responsible for establishing and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which spells out the minimum standards of care and treatment required for certain animals used in research, bred for commercial sale, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.

The agency’s annual report is the primary means of holding the Animal Care division of the USDA accountable when it comes to enforcement of the AWA. In regards to animal research, the comprehensive reports include information about:

  • Frequency and type of inspections of research institutions and animal dealer facilities performed each year
  • Inspection and enforcement highlights (for example, the most common AWA violations)
  • Policy updates, including current revisions to the AWA, regulations and standards (for example, the increased penalties for violations of the AWA as per the Farm Bill of 2008)
  • Animal research statistics that include the number of animals of each species used in experiments and whether they were used in experiments that involved unrelieved pain and/or distress
  • Information about animal care activities other than enforcement that are carried out by the USDA (for example, disaster relief planning)

“The public has a major interest in the Animal Welfare Act and the animals that the law seeks to protect,” says The HSUS’s Conlee. “We are delighted that the USDA’s enforcement activities are becoming more transparent.”

Colorado Legislature Introduces Bill to Strengthen Puppy Mill Regulations

January 21, 2009

Reprinted by permission of The Humane Society of the United States.

On Wednesday, State Representative Beth McCann (D-Denver) introduced legislation to strengthen protections for dogs at commercial mass breeding operations known as puppy mills. The bill is supported by The Humane Society of the United States and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities that mass produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care.

“I am pleased to be introducing a bill that seeks to ensure that dogs that are kept for breeding in Colorado are treated in a safe and humane manner,” said Rep. McCann. “Colorado is not a state that will tolerate abuse of animals. This bill should also send a message to those outside of Colorado that we do not welcome those who mistreat their animals. I am confident that members of the legislature will agree that we need to protect our dogs and puppies and join me in making sure dogs are safe and happy in Colorado.”

Currently, Colorado has a statewide law meant to regulate puppy mills, but it does nothing to limit the size of the facilities. Puppy mills can range in size from a dozen dogs to thousands of dogs, often stacked in wire cages, without exercise, socialization, or human companionship.

“This legislation will crack down on abusive puppy mills where man’s best friend is treated like a cash crop,” said Holly Tarry, The HSUS’ Colorado state director. “The Humane Society of the United States and its 166,000 Colorado members are grateful for Representative McCann’s dedication to this important animal welfare legislation.”

The amended Pet Animal Care & Facilities Act will prevent mass dog breeding operations from maintaining more than 25 adult breeding dogs. Reputable hobby breeders and breeders who maintain 25 or fewer adult breeding dogs would not be impacted. By limiting the size of the facilities, the legislation will help ensure more humane living conditions and enable humane investigators to more effectively and efficiently deal with complaints about dogs living in squalid conditions and receiving inadequate care. Other states, including Louisiana and Virginia, have already passed similar legislation limiting the number of dogs in breeding facilities.

The new legislation would also prohibit dog breeders from maintaining a license if they have previously been convicted of animal cruelty and would mandate annual certification by a licensed veterinarian that a dog is healthy before the dog may be bred.

Puppy mills drain state resources and directly contribute to pet overpopulation. Investigations have shown repeatedly that there are inhumane puppy mill operations in many states, yet the current laws are often inadequate to address the scope of the problem. In addition, The Humane Society of the United States estimates that U.S. animal shelters care for between 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats every year of whom approximately half are euthanized. The International City/County Management Association Animal Control Management Guide suggests that cities and counties budget between $4 to $7 per capita for animal control programs. The impact of pet overpopulation is a humane crisis as well as a financial one.

Facts

  • The HSUS estimates that 2 million to 4 million puppy mill puppies are sold each year in the United States.
  • Puppy mill puppies often have health problems, genetic defects and behavioral issues.
  • Documented puppy mill conditions include over-breeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor food and shelter, crowded cages and lack of socialization.
  • Dogs kept for breeding in puppy mills suffer for years in continual confinement. They are bred as often as possible and then destroyed or discarded once they can no longer produce puppies.
  • Pet stores and puppy mills often use attractive websites to hide the truth and to dupe the public into thinking that they are dealing with a small reputable breeder.
  • Reputable breeders never sell puppies over the Internet or through a pet store and will insist on meeting the family who will be purchasing the dog.
  • Puppy mills contribute to the pet overpopulation problem which results in millions of unwanted dogs euthanized at shelters every year.

To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills or aspca.org/puppymills.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501[c][3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited, animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York’s animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit aspca.org.