Nearly 25 years ago when I decided to dedicate my life to the cause of animal rights, I was faced with an important decision: where to focus my attention? Given my concern for all animals, it was a tough choice and one I weighed very carefully. Should I focus on animals used in research? Animals raised and killed for “food”? Animals in captivity? Wild animals? Both then as now, the list of issues needing attention was a long one and as a young law student at Stanford, I focused on all these issues through the campus animal rights group I founded. But several experiences helped me to answer the calling I eventually chose after graduation: working to end the killing of companion animals in American shelters.
First, I was influenced by a mother who was the neighborhood cat lady. Second, I was fortunate to have life-altering experiences working with two local No Kill shelters while attending law school. Third, I was deeply troubled by the animal protection movement’s philosophical embrace of the killing of companion animals. Finally, I was inspired by the legal and societal precedent-setting potential for all animals embodied in the concern and love most Americans already have for companion animals. As a result, I decided to focus most of my time and energy on an issue which I saw almost no other activists with an animal-rights orientation addressing: shelter killing.
Over the last two decades, that is precisely what I have done. As a former director of two of the most successful shelters in the nation and the current Executive Director of the No Kill Advocacy Center, a non-profit organization working to bring an end to the systematic killing of animals in shelters, companion animals are the animals on whom I have focused most of my professional time and energy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the suffering or plight of other animals any less. And that is why I have always lived my life according to a simple ethos: do no harm; a maxim that is reflected in what I eat, what I wear, how I spend my consumer dollars, how I respond to the animals in need who cross my path, and how I am raising my children, among other things. It is also why my wife and I authored All American Vegan, a vegan primer and cookbook that seeks to inspire other No Kill advocates and everyday dog and cat lovers to likewise embrace a compassionate way of eating.
Nonetheless, in spite of these efforts to promote veganism and my long, personal identification as an animal rights activist, some people—often those new to my Facebook page or the cause of No Kill—have certain preconceived notions about who I am or should be, and what I should be allowed to say on my own Facebook page (a form of censorship with which they would no doubt take great offense were similar limitations to be dictated to them about permissible content on their own page). And often, that means not only surprise and frustration but sometimes even anger when I post about other animal related issues that matter deeply to me but do not concern the plight of companion animals.
Sadly, it seems that there will always be a portion of the followers on my page who I cannot please: animal rights activists who accuse me of not caring about other animals beyond dogs and cats simply because I have chosen to focus most of my effort on those animals (a criticism I doubt they would ever make of other animal rights activists focusing exclusively on more traditional animal rights issues such as animal agriculture or fur), and on the flip side, No Kill advocates who attack me for expressing concern about other animals beyond dogs and cats, such as a pit bull advocate who called me an “extremist” for a comment I made on the Facebook page of a No Kill colleague in defense of chickens after other No Kill advocates defended their killing. To the latter group, the fact that I do not wish any animal to experience pain, suffering or a premature death, instead of limiting my compassion to dogs and cats labels me an “extremist.” My response? To thine own self be true.
And that is why when I see the nation’s large, so-called “animal protection” groups—most notably, the HSUS, the ASPCA and AHA—behaving as unethically towards cows and chickens as they have historically behaved towards dogs and cats, I must say so. Not only do the animals these groups are throwing under the bus in deference to those who systematically abuse and kill them deserve a voice, too, but there is value in exposing the hypocrisy and philosophical rot that permeates these corrupt institutions at every level. Often, people want to compartmentalize the malfeasance of these groups: to argue that their different divisions are separate and distinct from one another and that an institutional culture which allows for the thwarting of shelter reform efforts, which defends shelter killing and even celebrates shelter directors who oversee facilities where animals have suffered horrible abuse and senseless deaths, is none-the-less capable of a morally consistent and effective agenda for wild animals, animals abused and killed in agriculture or in other spheres. As several recent campaigns by these groups to promote the lie of “humane” meat clearly demonstrate, not only is this view ill-informed and naïve, but dead wrong.
A couple of weeks ago, Jennifer and I ate at one of the newest locations for a chain of vegan restaurants whose food we absolutely love: Veggie Grill. And like virtually every other time we have eaten at Veggie Grill, we were thrilled to see the restaurant not only packed, but filled with a broad array of people from all possible demographics—old and young, male and female, entire families, businessmen in suits and tattooed hipsters. This popularity is also reflected in the expansion of Veggie Grill which has opened 25 locations since its debut in 2006. With delicious, faux meat sandwiches that mimic the real thing, Veggie Grill is proof positive that if you make it delicious and familiar tasting, vegan food can have tremendously broad appeal, especially among an American public that is becoming increasingly conscious about the animal suffering and killing enabled by their consumer choices.
Perhaps it was this awareness that compelled the pizzeria next door to attempt to compete by advertising itself in two ways. On one side of the door was writing upon the window advertising its wide array of vegetarian offerings. I was happy to see a pizzeria using its meatless options as a possible selling point. But my enthusiasm for the pressure Veggie Grill was obviously placing on the pizzeria was immediately eviscerated when I noted what was written on the other side of the entry door, a statement so oxymoronic as to make my head spin: “cruelty-free meat.”
Although the number of companies that disingenuously refer to their meats, eggs, and dairy products as “humane” has rapidly increased over the last several years, I had yet to encounter such a blatant co-option and misappropriation of that particular term and certainly never before to describe meat. Historically, the term “cruelty-free” has been used to describe products made without animal testing. It was coined by a vegan who never would have imagined it would someday be used to describe animals killed for food. But sadly, as more and more companies scramble to respond to a public that is increasingly weighing the moral implications of their food choices, lies like this are becoming more common. Enabling its spread are corrupt “animal protection” groups such as HSUS, the ASPCA, and the American Humane Association which not only pay lip service to the lie of “humane meat,” but get rich in the process of doing so. There is a lot of money to be made partnering with the people who harm animals, and these groups are feeding at their troughs.
The catch: HSUS claims they were raised and slaughtered “humanely.” But these claims are untrue by definition. There is no such thing as “humanely” killing an animal who does not want to die, and killing animals is an inherent part of the production of meat, eggs and dairy products, as are confinement, reproductive manipulation, social deprivation, and physical mutilation, all ending with getting their throats slit. Indeed, on the Hoofin’ It website, they boast of some animals being killed—or what they euphemistically call “harvested and processed”—after living only 24-30 months despite a natural lifespan of 25 years. We’re told that the methods they use are important for one primary reason: they make the animals more “delicious.”
Does AHA prevent animals from being kept in crowded indoor cages in warehouses? No.
Does AHA require chickens to be allowed to go outside, to get fresh air and sunlight, to be able to act in accordance with all of their instincts to ensure their happiness and psychological as well as physical well-being? No.
Does AHA prohibit beaks from being cut off? No.
Does AHA prohibit the use of masticators—giant machines in which unwanted, live baby chicks are ground up while alive and fully conscious? No.
Does AHA prohibit chickens from being hung upside down by the legs and feet (legs and feet that are often suffering from terribly painful joint diseases), being electrically stunned, and having their heads cut off? No.
Does AHA prohibit the cutting of the teeth of piglets? No.
Does AHA prohibit cutting off the tails off pigs? No.
Does AHA prohibit the use of electrical shock on cows? No.
Does AHA prohibit the use of restraints to forcibly inseminate a cow or a pig? No.
Does AHA prohibit the use of a gas chamber to kill despite calling it “inhumane to all animals”? No.
Does AHA prohibit the castration of newborn calves by a rubber band being placed around their scrotums to cut off blood supply? No.
Finally, under what warped definition of “humane” can a process that ends with animals having their throats slit possibly qualify? The kind where AHA is paid to say it is.
Whether it packaged as “humane meat” or “pet overpopulation,” the idea that killing animals is acceptable if done for the right reasons, by the right people or under the right circumstances are merely different manifestations of the same insidious lie that permeates and hinders the animal protection movement at the beginning of the 21st century: that killing animals who are not suffering can ever be humane. It can’t. It isn’t. And if HSUS, the ASPCA, and AHA are going to claim to speak on behalf of animals and raise money off their plight, then morality and integrity compel them to challenge and stand up to this pernicious idea, not perpetuate it, even if it upsets their donors, their corporate handlers, or the people on their Facebook pages.
Data for Colorado shelters and rescue groups was released this week for 2014. Overall, 89% of dogs were saved, 82% of cats were saved, 86% of birds, 82% of rabbits and other small mammals, 87% of reptiles, 85% of farm animals, and 77% of “other” animals. There was great hope, given 2013’s numbers, that Colorado would be the first state to verifiably save 90% or more of all the animals. That did not occur, but they remain close and exceed many states.
Moreover, Colorado shows 96,960 dog and cat adoptions, an increase of 9,739 over 2013. That is an adoption rate of 18 dogs and cats per 1,000 people. Not only are these numbers high, showing that shelters across the country can and should do more adoptions, but they disprove those who claim high adoption rates are not sustainable. In fact, not only does Colorado prove they are, they are getting higher (in 2013, it was 17 per 1,000 and 2012 was 16 per 1,000) and can go higher still. Comparing Colorado as a whole to the most successful shelters/communities in the nation, Colorado has the potential to adopt out about 122,000 animals a year.
In the next week or so, the individual cities with save rates exceeding 90% will be posted to saving90.org. Colorado has more cities/towns with 90+% save rates than any other state, though it should be noted that not all Colorado cities care about all dogs. While Colorado bans new breed-discriminatory legislation, it has grandfathered in existing laws and cities like Denver and Aurora continue to ban and kill dogs based on the way they look.
For numbers junkies, here are the rough numbers, based on back of the envelope calculations:
In 2013, Colorado shelters saved roughly 90% of dogs and 81% of cats. I say “roughly” because there are some assumptions built in: animals transferred in from other shelters within Colorado may be double counted (which can skew the numbers 1-2%), animals transferred in from outside of Colorado skew the picture of what is happening to Colorado animals, and animals missing/lost may be alive or they may be dead.
In 2014, with these assumptions in mind, Colorado took in 104,603 dogs. If one removes in-state transfers to avoid double counting, the number is 95,036. Because some of these may be from non-reporting shelters, it is possible some of them are not already counted. That aside, the intake is a small increase from 2013, but 24,278 dogs were brought in from outside the state.
Of all live intakes, 57,891 dogs were adopted out (55%), 23,930 were reclaimed by their families (57% of strays), 908 were neutered and released (or other live outcome) (1%), and 7,803 were transferred to shelters or rescue groups (7%). 10,412 were killed (10%), 109 were lost, and 666 died (1%). That is a save rate of 88%-89% for dogs.
Colorado took in 64,521 cats. If one removes in state transfers to avoid double counting, the number is 59,444. That is a decline in the number of cats from 2013, even with 3,869 cats brought in from outside the state.
Of all live intakes, 39,069 cats were adopted (61%), 2,830 were reclaimed by their families (10% of strays), 5,441 were sterilized and released (8%), and 4,766 were transferred to rescue groups/other shelters (7%). 10,174 were killed (16%), 54 were lost, and 1,410 died (2%). That is a save rate of 80%-82% for cats (again depending on the assumptions above).
Colorado shelters and rescue groups also took in rabbits and other pocket pets, birds, reptiles, farmed animals, and others. Of 876 birds taken in, 86% were saved. Of 5,142 rabbits and pocket pets, 82% were saved. Of 459 reptiles, 87% were saved. Of 294 farm animals taken in, 85% were saved. Of 224 “other” animals taken in, 77% were saved.
A chocolate maker who donates all profits to No Kill groups. Truckers who transport animals from death row in shelters to the loving arms of rescuers. Pilots who fly animals to where they are under threat to where they need to go to thrive. Photographers who spotlight the dignity and beauty of community cats. Programmers who help reunite lost dogs with their worried families. Attorneys who give the animals a voice in court. These are people doing what they love for the animals they love and, in the process, they are making a profound life and death difference. In 2015, more people and more groups became active by simply utilizing their talents to help the animals at risk. To help push this further, the No Kill Advocacy Center, my organization, released a free guide, “How To Be a Superhero for Shelter Animals” to give people even more ideas on how they can help animals doing, in some cases, nothing more than what they already do.
The guide and page which shares inspirational stories are here.
Expanding the Circle of Compassion
In addition to more shelters saving animals beyond dogs and cats, including reptiles, amphibians, birds, aquatic animals, “farmed” animals, and wildlife, as noted yesterday, 2015 was also an important year for other animals. “In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge … granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeas corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention…” After the news hit like a bombshell, the court backpedaled somewhat, but in a sustained victory for chimps, the National Institutes of Health retired all remaining chimps used for animal research after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife ruled that both wild and captive chimpanzees would receive “endangered” protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The Governor of Hawaii stopped issuing permits as Hawaii set itself to become the first U.S. state to ban wild performing animals, including bears, elephants, tigers, primates, rhinos, hippos, hyenas, crocodiles and big cats used for entertainment purposes.
The California Coastal Commission banned the breeding of orcas in SeaWorld and ruled that no new whales from the wild could be kept there.
And 2015 was also the year of the vegan. Spurred by ethics, health concerns, and a growing number of vegan fast food chains, meat eating is down in the U.S. and the meat-alternatives market is in double digit growth and poised to hit five billion by 2020. 2015 also saw world renown brands embrace veganism or introduce vegan options such as Guinness which announced it was going vegan, Travelodge which began offering vegan food in all its UK hotels, Ben & Jerry’s promise of a vegan ice cream, White Castle making vegan sliders, Wendy’s test marketing a vegan burger to rave reviews, French Champagne Duval-Leroy announcing its products will soon be suitable for vegans, and GQ naming a vegan burger the best hamburger in the world.
Photo: Two of the little critters saved by UPAWS in 2015.
Yesterday, I reported the progress we made in 2015 fighting animal cruelty. 2015 was also a banner year for saving lives, with animal shelters in cities and towns across America rejecting killing like never before. In Michigan, for example, there are new communities saving 95% or better of the animals and a fair number saving 97%, 98%, even 99%.
Likewise, Colorado reported saving 89% of dogs statewide and 82% of cats. The shining star of the Centennial State was Fremont County, where a new director brought lifesaving rates to 98% or better throughout the year.
Under new leadership, Austin, TX, already the largest city in the U.S. with save rates above 90%, reached new heights: running at 96% and as high as 98%.
Overall, roughly 1,000,000 people now live in communities saving between 98% and 99% of dogs and cats in their shelters. About 9,000,000 people live in communities saving between 90% and 99% of dogs and cats in their shelters. And over 40,000,000 people live in communities saving at least 80% of dogs and cats in their shelters.
What also makes 2015 so exciting is that it is not just about dogs and cats. When the San Francisco SPCA essentially launched the No Kill revolution in the 1990s, it focused exclusively on dogs and cats, leaving rabbits, hamsters, other companion animals, and wildlife to the mercy of the city pound which slaughtered them in large numbers (roughly half of them). San Francisco never achieved No Kill and given that the city was turning its back on companion mammals other than dogs and cats, reptiles, amphibians, birds, aquatic animals, “farmed” animals, and wildlife, it was not even close. It wasn’t until Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, NY, which ran animal control under contract, embraced No Kill that a community not only saved all non-irremediably suffering dogs and cats, but all species of shelter animals, including rats and rabbits, hamsters and gerbils, exotics and “farm” animals, becoming a true No Kill community.
In 2015, we saw a large number of other communities which likewise embraced the principles of No Kill for all species of animals entering their shelters. The Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) which serves Marquette, Michigan, for example, is one of the shelters highlighted in Redemption, my documentary film about the No Kill revolution in America. It reported a 100% lifesaving rate for rabbits, 100% for guinea pigs, 98% for dogs, 98% for cats, and 94% for “pocket pets.” Meanwhile, Austin turbocharged the safety net beyond dogs and cats, frequently highlighting its effort to help displaced owls, donkeys, rabbits, and others.
Increasingly, no bunny is being left behind.
(P.S.: An exciting new website launched in 2015 that tracks save rates in U.S. shelters saving at least 90%. For those who want proof — just the stats and nothing else — demonstrating that many communities across the country are saving 95%, 99% and in a few cases 100% of the animals, including rabbits and others, we now have one: saving90.org)
We obviously have a long way to go, but in 2015 our movement made significant progress toward tackling the abuse of animals: in puppy mills, in homes, in shelters, and on farms. Here’s a motivating backward glance to encourage us to redouble our efforts in 2016.
Protecting against abuse in breeding mills
As more cities ban the sale of commercially bred animals in pet stores, those stores and the mills that supply them have been filing lawsuits and losing. A Federal Judge in Rhode Island upheld a local law that bans the sale of commercially-bred dogs and cats from pet stores. Pet stores in the city are now only allowed to adopt out rescued animals from shelters and rescue groups with which they partner. The law was passed based on concerns about the treatment of dogs in puppy mills and in order to increase the number of rescued animals in need of homes who find them. It also strikes to the heart of so much animal suffering: their commodification. When there is profit to be made on the backs of animals, history shows that those backs are often strained and broken.
Likewise, a Federal District Court in Phoenix also upheld the city ordinance there banning the retail sales of purposely bred dogs and cats in pet stores. And yet another Federal District Court upheld a similar Chicago law, dismissing a lawsuit brought by an out of state breeder and local pet stores challenging the City of Chicago’s ordinance.
At the same time, more cities passed such laws including Palm Springs, CA and Camden County, NJ. In the latter, a local pet store closed and reopened with a new mission: rescuing puppies from the street and from shelters.
Protecting against abuse in homes
While counties in New York and elsewhere have passed them, Tennessee became the first U.S. state to pass an animal abuser registry law in order to keep animals out of the hands of abusers. To help others do the same, the No Kill Advocacy Center produced a model law to help ensure that animals are not placed into the hands of convicted animal abusers. By knowing the right lies to tell and which truths to omit, convicted animal abusers can potentially acquire animals from those who lack access to valuable information that would help them make better, more informed choices. This law would strip abusers of this advantage with nothing more than a few strokes of a keyboard.
In addition, the FBI committed to tracking animal cruelty offenses. In the past, the FBI simply considered animal cruelty a lesser offense and reported it in a combined “other” category. The data will be collected as part of the Uniform Crime Report National Incident-Based Reporting System, a program that collects data from law enforcement agencies around the country to provide national statistics on criminal activity.
Protecting against abuse in shelters
A 2015 Federal District Court in Maryland ruled that complaining about inhumane conditions, abuses, or violations of law at shelters is a constitutionally protected right. A volunteer, rescuer, or any other member of the public not only has the First Amendment right to speak out against abuses and violations of law committed by a government shelter, he or she also has a constitutionally protected right to demand that the government correct the wrongs that are identified. The Court also ruled that simply asking volunteers to sign a confidentiality agreement violates their rights. To help others, the No Kill Advocacy Center has a new, updated guide to protecting volunteers and rescuers.
As states across the country moved to pass Agriculture Gag (“Ag-Gag”) laws making it illegal to document and disseminate information on abuses of animals on farms, a Federal District Court ruled that such a law is unconstitutional, the first time a court has done so. Like in shelters, complaining about inhumane conditions, abuses, or violations of law on farms is a constitutionally protected right.
We are the voice of the voiceless. Stand up, speak out, take action.
I am also joined by countless animals lovers, animal rights activists, and vegans who will not accept the hypocrisy that it is wrong to kill chickens and cows but ok to kill dogs and cats. We criticize PETA not because it advocates for the rights of animals, but precisely because it does not; and because like many other cleverly disguised death cults in history which likewise hid their true and nefarious agenda behind a facade of “good works” that discouraged greater scrutiny and accountability among the public, the media and law enforcement officials, PETA uses its false public perception as a “radical animal rights group” to obscure what is in fact a black and white issue: for decades, PETA has systematically sought out thousands of animals a year for the sole purpose of executing them. And that is conduct that only those who love the identity PETA gives them more than they love the animals can ignore.
A lot of attention has been paid within the vegan community to the terrible harm associated with the production of palm oil. With a food industry that has recently begun to move away from the use of partially hydrogenated oils in light of the serious hazard they pose to human health, the demand for trans-fat free oils has caused a boom in the palm oil industry—an industry which was already thriving given the many applications for palm oil and its derivatives in the cosmetic, cleaning supply and chemical industries, among others. Many vegans are now aware that in response to this growing demand for palm oil, tropical rain forests in Southeast Asia are being decimated in order to make way for palm oil plantations, destroying vital habitat for the animals living in these forests. The United Nations Environment Programme has announced that palm oil plantations are now the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia. Deforestation for the establishment of palm oil plantations is responsible for habitat loss of the Asian elephant, tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros and the orangutan. But even worse is the fate suffered by those animals who are found eating palm fruit on these plantations, cutting into plantation profits. They are shot, beaten to death and even set on fire.
News of the atrocities associated with palm oil production has inspired some vegans to reject the use of palm oil, and that includes the use of vegan butters which contain it. With a compassionate, DIY spirit, many intrepid vegans have experimented with making homemade vegan butter, based not on palm fruit, but that darling of the vegan and raw food communities alike, coconut oil.
Likewise concerned about issues relating to palm oil production and inspired by their example, we created a recipe for our own palm oil-free, vegan butter in the third edition of our cookbook, All American Vegan. But before we did so, we did a little research to ensure that in offering people an alternative to vegan butter based on palm oil with one based on coconut oil, we weren’t simply encouraging the use of one ethically problematic tropical oil for another. Sure enough, what we discovered about the production of coconut oil is deeply troubling: the use of monkeys to harvest coconuts; pig-tailed macaques to be exact.
Agile and adept climbers, such monkeys—native to coconut growing regions in Southeast Asia—are capable of harvesting several hundred more coconuts a day than a human can; reports vary widely has to how many coconuts a day one monkey can pick, ranging from 300 to 1,000. Monkeys are chained by the neck and trained to pick only ripe coconuts and are then forced to do so, day in, day out and all day long. They are trained at monkey training facilities one visitor described as such, “The primitive, primate campus, a simple, open sided shed,” contains, “individual, meter high stakes, driven into the dirt floor… Onto each perch is tethered a solitary monkey by collar and chain. There are a dozen such perches, each one just out of reach of its neighbor.” During training and beyond, the monkeys are tethered or caged 24/7, sometimes with little to no opportunity for socialization. Where do these monkeys come from? According to one monkey handler, “Sometimes the monkeys are offspring of berok (already trained monkeys); sometimes they are caught on the forest with nets or traps. Often though, nursing mothers are shot and their babies are taken.”
Harvesting coconuts with this method is prevalent throughout Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, nations that together account for much of the world’s coconut production. Indonesia is the number one coconut producing nation in the world, producing over 18 million tons of coconuts annually. Some reports also suggest that due to a labor shortage in Kerela, India where coconut palms are grown, harvesting coconuts with monkeys may begin occurring there, as well. Picking coconuts is difficult, dangerous, labor intensive work, something younger generations of Indians are becoming increasingly unwilling to do.
Unfortunately, much of the reporting you will find on this issue approaches it from a disturbing “entertainment” angle in which the subjugation and forced labor of primates is treated as a curious, amusing oddity rather what it really is: exploitation of highly intelligent individuals. Instead of living fulfilling, autonomous lives in deference to their natural instincts and will—lives that would include social interaction with others of their kind, mating, raising young, moving about freely and resting whenever they choose—these monkeys spend their lives in endless toil and forced obedience to the will of humans. Monkey training facilities are popular destinations for tourists, so much of the information available about the lives of these monkeys is whitewashed for the purpose of encouraging that tourism, glossing over the grueling labor and often dangerous conditions the monkeys are forced to endure, including climbing tall trees over and over again during the course of a day, retrieving fallen coconuts from thick brush, retrieving coconut cutting tools for their handlers that include long, sharp blades, and loading hundreds of coconuts onto trucks which then transport them from picking location to picking location. And though many articles about these monkeys contain quotes from handlers who state that they care about their animals, it is impossible to square such assurances with the long hours, hard labor, constant shackling and lack of autonomy these animals are forced to endure day in and day out for no personal benefit. It is, in a word, slavery. And as human nature and history demonstrate again and again—where there is a profit to be made on the backs of non-humans, those backs are strained and often broken.
And by all accounts, the increasing popularity of coconuts, coconut oil and its various derivatives means that things are only going to get worse for these animals. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, “World coconut oil production has been increasing over the past decade” and coconut production worldwide now stands at 62 million tons a year. Nor has this trend escaped the vegan and health food communities, in which the use of coconuts has become ubiquitous: in raw food dishes, vegan cheeses, and the current rage for coconut water.
In light of the conflict between the humane values motivating so many to embrace a vegan diet and the treatment coconut harvesting macaques are forced to endure, we wanted to bring this issue to greater attention and to welcome any additional information about this issue that might exist.
A horse injured while filming for a movie. AHA certified that “no animals were harmed” even when they have been killed.
How do Americans feel about animals? In a national survey, 96% of Americans—almost every single person surveyed—said we have a moral duty to protect animals and should have strong laws to do so. Three out of four Americans believe it should be illegal for shelters to kill healthy and treatable animals. Specialization and advancements in the field of veterinary medicine have been driven by a population of Americans willing to spend and do whatever it takes to save the lives of the animals they love. In fact, spending on our animal companions is the seventh largest sector of the retail economy, showing steady annual increases even in the face of economic uncertainty. And giving to animal related causes continues to be a fast growing segment in American philanthropy.
And while we have a long, long way to go with regards to non-companion animals, in the last two decades the number of vegetarians has vastly increased. And with greater consumer demand has come more choices—more vegetarian restaurants and more natural food stores that surpass traditional supermarkets in terms of selection. According to a food-industry magazine, “Product innovation, media attention, and buyer demand are creating strong growth for the vegetarian foods market, and more companies are trying to profit from meat, egg, and dairy alternatives.” In fact, sales of ready-made vegetarian products are a billion-dollar industry in the U.S., and more Americans are eating soy-based meat substitutes than ever before.
In turn, our concern for animals has made some organizations very, very rich, but too often the animals no better off. By emotionally manipulating people with heart-wrenching commercials and appeals, Americans continue donating to the large national “animal protection” organizations in spite of their many failures. It is a great betrayal and perhaps none so wide ranging as that of the corrupt American Humane Association. They not only betray dogs and cats. They not only betray horses and other animals being used in movies. They also betray the billions of animals killed every year in factory farms. And they do this all for money.
How to Become an AHA Certified Killer of Dogs, Cat, & Other Companion Animals
The American Humane Association bills itself as “the nation’s ‘voice’ for the protection of animals.” And it claims that,
One of the important ways American Humane helps protect animals is by educating and training people how to provide the best animal care possible. Throughout the year, we host trainings nationwide for animal welfare professionals and for all people who love animals and want to make a difference in their well-being.
What kind of training does AHA provide for those who might want to “make a difference” in the “well-being” of animals? By teaching people to kill them. “Whether you’ve never performed euthanasia or have years of experience with it,” says AHA, everyone is welcome—including those who will use the knowledge to kill healthy and treatable animals. AHA holds the workshops at regressive shelters across the country—so there are plenty of animals on hand to kill. And even though it is not the job of an “animal protection” group to teach people how to kill, at this workshop, not only will AHA teach you how to kill real animals, not only will they “catch you up” on the “latest techniques and drugs,” they’ll teach you how to kill animals in a variety of ways, too. And what happens if you have a moment of clarity about what is actually happening—about how an organization that claims to be about helping animals is teaching you with precise detail how to kill them—and your conscience protests? What then? Not to worry. AHA will soothe your guilt by teaching you how to smother your compassion. With “an entire section” of the conference devoted to dealing with “the unique stress felt by those who perform euthanasia,” they’ll lull you back into a state of complacency and assure you that you are, in fact, a hero for helping create that pile of dead dogs and cats. They’ll teach you to regard any empathy you might have felt for your victims not as a plea from your better nature to reject killing, but as a pesky case of what they call “compassion stress.”
Complicit in Animal Cruelty of Horses & Other Animals Used in Movies
“From being the protectors of animals they’ve become complicit to animal cruelty.” That is how a criminal prosecutor describes the American Humane Association which will sell out the animals for the almighty dollar. Movies where animals were injured and killed received an AHA certification that “no animals were harmed.” In one movie, 27 animals were killed, but AHA looked the other way. In another case, after an animal nearly drowned, the AHA inspector wrote: “I think this goes without saying but DON’T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE! I have downplayed the f— out of it.”
For an undisclosed sum of money, American Humane Association is paid by companies like Foster Farms to label their factory farms and slaughterhouses as “humane.” But undercover videos show that at Foster Farms, workers throw bins of live baby chicks onto the ground. They show the bodies of chickens that were boiled alive after missing an automatic knife that’s supposed to slit their necks. They show live birds being slammed upside-down into shackles. They show workers burning the beaks and toes from baby turkeys.
When Foster Farms slits the throats of millions of chickens every year or puts live, baby male chicks into a giant grinder because they don’t lay eggs or grow fast enough to provide maximum profitability to the industry, AHA does not condemn it. Instead, they give it their seal of approval.
Plan to Decimate East Bay Forests Scheduled to Begin This August
By Jennifer Winograd
FEMA has just announced a grant of nearly $6 million dollars in federal funding to pay for an environmentally catastrophic plan by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Parks District to decimate the forests of the Oakland and Berkeley hills in California. When implementation of this plan begins at the end of summer, 100,000 majestic, towering, shade-giving, habitat-creating, greenhouse gas eliminating trees will be clear cut and reduced to mere stumps. In order to prevent regrowth, clear cutting sites will be repeatedly soaked in toxic herbicides for an unspecified number of years to come; chemicals officially classified as “hazardous” which will poison the food and water supply for local wildlife – including several endangered species – and threaten the health and well-being of the people and animals visiting and residing in the region.
Dangerous to Wildlife & Pets
Included among their chemical arsenal is Garlon Ultra 4, an herbicide OSHA defines as “hazardous.” Made by Dow Chemical, Garlon 4 has been demonstrated to cause damage to the kidneys, blood and liver of dogs. Garlon is also a tenacious chemical that can persist in dead vegetation for up to two years after application. Not only will wildlife residing in the areas be subjected to repeated and prolonged exposure to a chemical known to be toxic to acquatic species, birds and other wild animals, so will the many dogs visiting the parks with their families, especially those at the EBRPD off leash areas.
Destroying Our Historical Heritage
While fear mongering about fire is being used to justify this assault on nature, the plan will actually increase the risk of fire. Healthy, green trees are to be chopped down and turned into wood chips which will be spread around clear-cut hillsides at a depth of several feet, creating thick beds of highly combustible dried wood. In reality, this plan has nothing to do with fire abatement and everything to do with promoting the agenda of a small group of irrational, tree hating zealots who are using fire abatement as publically palatable excuse to masquerade their true agenda: returning the region’s public lands to their bleak, barren, clear cut appearance at the end of the 19th century after timber hungry fortune seekers who arrived in the region during the Gold Rush decimated the hillsides. It was at that time that a plan to beautify the hills by planting Eucalyptus, Monterey Pine and Acacia trees was undertaken by celebrated poet and naturalist, Joaquin Miller, and other early Oakland settlers over a century ago. The beautiful, now towering trees they planted, which create shady, other worldly Edens beneath their canopies, provide vital habitat for the millions of animals residing in the East Bay hills, and which have become so iconic and defining of the region, are now the target of deliberate extermination. As FEMA notes in its Environmental Impact Statement about the plan they are funding, the EBRPD’s goal is to destroy eucalyptus and pine forests in order to “promote conversion to grassland with islands of shrub.”
If allowed to proceed in August, this plan will not only displace and poison wild animals, it will radically transform the character and appearance of one of the most beloved natural treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area. Not since the Firestorm tragedy of 1991 has the region been under a similarly devastating threat but for one, crucial difference: this time, the danger to the well being of those residing in the hills and the scars upon the landscape will be deliberately inflicted by elected officials.
Please contact the following Oakland politicians to voice your opposition to this environmentally catastrophic plan to destroy the beauty and historical heritage of the East Bay:
2014 was a very good year for the No Kill movement. Here are five of some of the most significant achievements this past year:
—We’re here to save animals. And so the most important achievement is the fact that they are being saved. How far has the movement come? My walk through an airport a couple of months ago on the way to New York tells the story. On layover, I noticed one of the gate monitors for a flight going to Marquette, MI, a community with a 97% save rate. At the next gate was a flight going to Duluth, MN, a community with a 95% save rate. Then I passed another: Saulte Ste. Marie, MI, with a 97% save rate. From my arrival gate to my departure gate, I walked by five gates of flights traveling to communities with save rates of 90% or better, with Ithaca, NY and St. Paul, MN, at 90%, rounding them out. (If you also include Cortland, that is six.) A couple of decades ago, that number would have essentially been zero. Today, there are hundreds, with over seven million people living in those communities.
—Of course, while we celebrate shelters that have achieved save rates of 90% are more, we can no longer accept the fiction that it signifies the achievement of a No Kill community. Admittedly, I have been guilty of commingling the two—90% and No Kill—and we shouldn’t. The goal is to end the killing of all animals who are not suffering, and that includes all the animals still falling through the safety net in those communities with a 90% plus save rate, often large, exuberant dogs, shy cats, wildlife, and species of companion animals who are not dogs and cats such as rabbits, rodents and reptiles. But in 2014, shelters claiming the No Kill mantel are increasingly recognizing that the individual is paramount and are embracing a No Kill policy for all species of animals entering shelters, undoing the movement’s singular preoccupation with only dogs and cats.
—No Kill is Love hits the nation. With dozens of cities and more than 5,000 people reached, Redemption, the film, changes hearts and minds across the nation. Look for its release on DVD/Amazon download in a couple of months: www.nokill.org
Of course, with any year, it also had its down sides. Here are some of the most notable ones:
—HSUS defeats the Minnesota Companion Animal Protection Act. Sadly, though 2014 was the year of rhetoric change for HSUS, they still continue to put the limited professional interests of their colleagues before the lives of those they are pledged to protect. Though HSUS has now publically expressed support for rescue rights access and other lifesaving programs, they continue to oppose attempts to legally mandate that shelters embrace them. Statistics revealed that the 2010 Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act helped reduce killing by 78% in that state, yet Minnesota CAPA—mandating, among other things, that rescue groups be given the right to save animals on death row at shelters—was unsuccessful after HSUS privately lobbied for the defeat of that bill at the behest of a resistant Minnesota shelter director with whom HSUS had a long association.
Despite these setbacks, all in all, it was a remarkable year and marks a major step forward. Let’s work to make 2015 even better. Together, not only will we save lives; but we will create a future where every animal will be respected and cherished, and where every individual life will be protected and revered.
The views expressed in this blog are solely the opinions of the writer and no one else, nor any agency or organization. The author is an attorney and notes that the communications are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Any attempt to infringe on that right, whether actual or threatened, will be considered a strategic lawsuit against public participation.