“How smart does a chimp have to be before killing him constitutes murder?” – Carl Sagan

I have had an affinity and fascination for non-human primates from the time I was a little girl visiting the zoo, and a baby chimp came to the window of his enclosure where I was standing; he planted his lips on the glass near my face to deliver a big, sloppy kiss. He won my heart, of course. While back then, I never considered how these sociable creatures might be faring in their captive surroundings, today I know better. Thus, I don’t support zoos, circuses or any other form of entertainment that exploits animals.

Unfortunately, the exploitation goes much further. . .into the dark world of non-human primate use for experimentation. During my research, I read about countless facilities where negligence was routine, resulting in injury and death. I read about horrible invasive procedures that truly served no purpose other than to inflict anxiety, pain, terror, and ongoing psychological and physical harm to the victims, many of whom lost their lives in these torture chambers. Before I describe some of the conditions and treatment of these hapless primates, I’d like to share what I learned about them when they are in their natural habitats.

According to Save the Chimps sanctuary in Ft. Pierce, Florida, chimpanzees are considered our closest relation because we share all but 1.4% of our DNA. They are extremely social beings and capable of experiencing pleasure, joy, boredom, anger, grief, sorrow, fear, and depression much as we do. They comfort one another and express themselves by kissing and embracing. Sadly, they have become an endangered species whose population is rapidly decreasing.

Chimps, along with other primates (monkeys, orangutans) are often stolen from their mothers when young and sold for entertainment or to private owners. . .until they become too big, strong, old or unmanageable. Consequently, many end up living the remainder of their lives in isolation and neglect, if they are not fortunate enough to be turned over to a proper sanctuary. Others are sold to research facilities where a horrible fate awaits them. Chimps in captivity can live an average of fifty years – that’s fifty years of pain and suffering, if the invasive procedures don’t kill them sooner and release them from their hellish lives.

Chimpanzees who are languishing inside research labs, suffer emotional and physical trauma. Ironically, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation still utilizing them as research subjects, even though technology has replaced the need for animal testing. Yes, you read correctly. Our progressive country is still caught up in archaic and inhumane testing on live subjects.

Following are just a few documented incidents that have occurred in research facilities:

In 2008, thirty monkeys were cooked alive at Charles River Laboratories after a worker left the heater on. Two others were near death and had to be euthanised;

One year later, at a research lab (run by the same company), a monkey was scalded to death after it was sent through a washer while still in its cage;

Among ivy league universities across the country, notable violations have included primates being forced to go without water for more than 24 hours; baboons were burned and blistered when heating pads were accidentally substituted for warm water units; an investigator noticed that a primate was so thin that his pelvic bones showed and no one had bothered to notify the attending vet of his condition.

Though the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) offers some protection for the well being of primates in research, the USDA has not consistently followed through on requests for investigations into research animal deaths. It’s troubling to note that of the 26 registered U.S. importers of non-human primates (this group includes universities, zoos and private labs), one of its leading importers is a company that is also one of the biggest violators of the AWA.

In 2000, undercover video taken by an investigator with In Defense of Animals (IDA) at the Oregon National Primate Research Center showed monkeys in various stages of distress, crawling around in their own filth. Some had bitten off their own flesh; others were despondent or had gone crazy. Still others were shown strapped down and subjected to painful experiments (torture). (see www.idausa.org or contact ida@idausa.org for a copy of the video). Check out www.vivisectioninfo.org.

In information obtained from the University of California San Diego, the USDA, and the website of UCSD researcher Stephen Lisberger, one can read about the 25-year history of invasive surgical procedures that involve the use of primates. In these sick procedures, their eyes are sliced open and wire coils placed inside. Screws are drilled into their skulls which later help bolt the victims by their heads to restraining chairs, where they are forced to sit for up to 8 hours daily. If they don’t perform, they are denied fluids. After this procedure, the animal cannot sit or stand for several days and must be fed food and drink by hand. These experiments can last for 3 years or longer for some of the victims.

Experiments such as these are costing taxpayers millions of dollars annually and only serve to cause extreme suffering to higher primates for very little scientific gain. Do you really want to see your money wasted on this cruelty, while it’s main purpose serves to subsidize the researchers who insist on utilizing archaic testing methods? I can think of more important and less cruel ways that I’d like to see my government spend my money.

Not long ago, a “Special Report” on chimp experimentation by McClatchy Newspapers investigative reporter Chris Adams was featured in papers and blogs nationwide. This three-part series, accompanied by video, pictures and graphics, exposes worldwide the mental and physical anguish that chimps are forced to endure in labs. You can view this report at http://www.mcclatchydc.com/chimps. This report, based on a lawsuit by IDA against National Institutes of Health (NIH), reviewed the medical records of chimps at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in NM. The shocking expose reveals a look behind the closed doors – and clearly shows why NIH fought to prevent the release of these records.

While many people might believe that animal testing is necessary, this belief is challenged by a growing number of physicians and scientists who see the negative consequences of using one species to provide information about another species – even one as close to humans as primates. Often, the result of animal experimentation is harmful to humans or misleading. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (www.pcrm.org), scientists note problems with translating data from animal experimentation to human conditions. Additionally, more sophisticated technology that doesn’t use animals, accompanied by growing concern about animals’ capacity for pain and suffering, is prompting many scientists to choose alternatives to animal testing.

Animal experimentation is archaic especially in light of all the technological advancements in the biological sciences. Far more advancement could be made in medicine if funding for animal testing was redirected to physicians for clinical research.

Thanks to the hard work of animal welfare groups and the media, the spotlight continues to be focused upon the blatant exploitation of chimps and other primates in research, entertainment, and the pet trade. Sanctuaries such as Save the Chimps offer permanent homes to rescued chimpanzees so that they can live out the remainder of their lives in peace. From living in cramped, filthy, windowless isolation and being subjected to abuse, painful and invasive procedures, neglect and suffering. . .these creatures can experience the joy of socializing among their group, feeling the grass beneath their feet, the sun on their backs, playtime and love at the hands of humans (for the first time in most of their lives). This takes place in a natural island habitat that was created specifically for them. To learn more about Save the Chimps and how you can help make life better for their residents or even adopt one, go to www.savethechimps.org. Their wish list includes, peanut butter, jelly, toddler toys, fleece blankets, powdered Gatorade, laundry soap, to name a few items.  Check their site for a complete list.  One year, I sent them a box of sunglasses when I learned that the chimps loved to wear them (you can picture the visual). Your support helps allow these sweet creatures to live out the rest of their lives in comfort – something they so well deserve after the hell that humans have put them through.

Every one of us can do something, keeping in mind that there is power in numbers. Don’t wait for the other person to take action. YOU are that other person. For starters, don’t send money to charities that support animal experimentation. If the college or university from which you graduated engages in animal testing, let them know why you will no longer donate to the alumni fund.

Boycott companies that conduct testing on animals.

Contact IDA, PCRM or the Doris Day Animal League (www.ddal.org) to lend your support to their campaigns and demonstrations targeting animal experimentation.

Extinction of chimpanzees has been predicted in as few as 10 years. We can all help prevent this. With your involvement, you can help change the fate of suffering primates, prevent further suffering, end the wasteful spending of your tax dollars on animal testing; and ensure that future generations can enjoy these beautiful creatures instead of just reading about them.

- Annoula Wylderich

https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/512065965475990/

 

Most of us grew up looking forward to attending the circus, blissfully unaware of the horrors that animals suffer in the entertainment industry.  This area of animal exploitation is not depicted accurately, in most instances.  The realities have been well hidden from the public until animal welfare groups began conducting undercover investigations and sharing their findings. A few examples from investigative reports and video footage reveal the following:

The plight of Stoney, an elephant born in a zoo and subsequently dumped to a circus when he was only 3 years old.  He worked for the next 21 years, until the day he was forced to do a leg stand while warming up at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.  Stoney pulled a ham-string in his left rear leg, which is a crucial injury to an elephant.  He was unable to walk.  He was in extreme pain and needed immediate veterinary care, which was denied to him.  His trainer and hotel officials forced the screaming elephant into a hotel dumpster, dragged it into a maintenance shed behind the hotel. . .and left him standing in a mechanical device (a “crush”), isolated, for almost a year.  Stoney lived in a buildup of feces and flies, received no fresh produce or other supplements and no apparent physical therapy.  Ultimately, worried about negative publicity and pressure from animal advocates, it was decided to move Stoney to a breeding farm.  As they tried to get him out of the device that had been holding him up, he fell, screaming in agony.  After his year of existing in miserable, lonely conditions, and suffering even more pain during the attempt to move him, he was euthanized.

Ricardo, an 8-month-old baby elephant was killed by Ringling after he broke both legs following a fall from a circus pedestal.  His injuries were compounded by the bone disease from which he was suffering (attributed to malnourishment).  Ricardo’s mother was only 7 years old when she was used for breeding, much too young.  During labor, she was chained by three legs to a cold, hard cement floor.  After Ricardo was born, she tried reaching her trunk out to touch him; however, the staff had already pulled him away from her reach.

A young Bengal tiger was shot five times by his angry trainer; a sick baby elephant was forced into the ring repeatedly against veterinary orders, until he died when the show was over; a healthy 2-year-old lion died during transport in a stifling boxcar.

Animal circuses are deadly, miserable places for all the animals forced to spend their lives performing unnatural acts to entertain audiences.  They are kept in cramped, sweltering, poorly ventilated boxcars or trailers during travel; beaten, neglected or killed.  These animals are frightened into submission by the use of whips, sticks, bullhooks (heavy clubs with sharp metal hooks at the tip), and fists.  They are routinely beaten and forced into confusing, frightening and painful stunts.  How often do we see elephants performing headstands in the wild?  Does this sound like wholesome family entertainment?

Baby elephants are torn away from their mothers, tied hammock-style between two trees or posts; or chained to the ground for most of the time (up to 20 hours a day) in order to break them and make them submissive.  They can be heard crying out for their mothers, while being denied the right to play and do what is natural to them.

Ringling and other circuses sometimes try to sneak into town after nightfall, undetected, so as to avoid having anyone witness the abusive treatment of their animals.  They hired a former deputy director of the CIA to disrupt advocacy group efforts to expose their shameful abuse of animals. 

Former employees have confirmed the horrors that the circus has worked hard to hide.  These individuals left because they could no longer tolerate the horrible abuse inflicted upon the animals.  In their signed statements, they describe an incident in which an elephant refused a command; the trainer savagely beat her with a bullhook, hooking her behind the ear, on her back, on the leg. . .and at one point, swinging the club as hard as he could, embedding the sharp point inside the elephant’s ear canal, and pulling on the handle using both hands and all his bodyweight.  The elephant, crying out in agony, was left bleeding profusely from severe wounds.

Many hardworking animal welfare organizations such as In Defense of Animals. PAWS, PETA and The Humane Society of the United States work tirelessly to amass evidence, which is used to open investigations leading to fines, citations, forced compliance of the Animal Welfare Act, and the removal of some animals. Smaller circuses have been forced to shut down.

We can all help by refusing to patronize entertainment venues that are based upon the use of animals.  Additionally, investigations require ongoing funding; instead of paying circuses, consider contributing that money to one of the organizations above.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

By Annoula Wylderich

https://www.facebook.com/groups/512065965475990/

 

“Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.” – James A. Froude (1818-1894)

I have yet to hear any acceptable justifications for hunting, although many have tried to come up with convincing arguments in favor of this very unsportsmanlike sport.  So, after talking with hunters and conducting some research, I offer the following. . .

Hunters claim that hunting helps to control the wildlife population. It seems that we cannot trust nature anymore, so we need to intervene and assume Mother Nature’s job of taking care of her own. Actually, the balance of ecosystems ensures their own survival, as long as they are left unaltered. Natural predators will help to maintain this balance by killing only the sickest and weakest among them. Additionally, when faced with a diminished food supply, animals such as does may stop ovulating, while bucks reduce their sperm count. Hunters, on the other hand, kill any animal who they covet, including the strong and healthy ones who are integral to keeping the population going. When they talk about targeting overpopulated animals, they’re usually referring to white-tailed deer, which represent about 3% of all the animals who fall victim to this ruthless sport. Even so, I wonder how many hunters search for starving animals versus shooting at random or going for the ones who will bring home the most impressive trophy.

Should any unusual natural occurrences result in an over-population, natural processes will help stabilize the group. Although tragic, disease and starvation are nature’s ways of making sure that healthy and strong animals survive to maintain the rest of their group. The argument that shooting an animal because he/she might become sick or starve is a destructive, self-serving and arbitrary one. Hunting for sport jeopardizes the balance of nature and causes other problems.

Aside from the extreme suffering that hunters impose upon their victims, there is significant collateral damage to non-targeted animals (both of the domestic and endangered species variety). Much of this can be viewed at www.bornfreeusa.org in their investigative footage and graphics. Hunters have severely wounded countless animals who have been left behind to suffer prolonged deaths. For every animal that a hunter kills and recovers, approximately two are wounded but not recovered, resulting in infection, starvation, predator attacks, dehydration, or slow painful deaths from blood loss. Many who survive end up with disabling injuries. Hunters have also rendered extinct many species, including eastern elk, the Florida black bear, and the dodo. Last, but not least, a search of hunting casualties will bring up countless reports of injuries and deaths to companion animals and humans.

During canned hunting, where hunting occurs mostly on private land and laws that protect wildlife are often inapplicable or difficult to enforce, hunters pay to kill native and exotic animals. These animals might be either from the area or brought in from elsewhere; many are purchased from traffickers who obtain unwanted or surplus animals from circuses and zoos. The sole purpose for these animals is to provide a trophy for the hunters. I am incredulous that this can even be called a hunt or a sport. The animals on these canned-hunt game preserves and ranches are often accustomed to humans and might not feel in any danger. Also, they are usually unable to escape from their enclosures, which might range in size from a few yards to several thousand acres. The helpful owners who want to ensure their clients a successful “hunt” offer guides who are familiar with the animals’ locations and habits. They additionally supply “feeding stations” to lure unsuspecting victims to food while the hunters await. If this is not enough, the use of dogs is also permitted. While many states have limited or banned canned hunts, I am not aware of any federal laws regulating this practice presently.

I’d be remiss to exclude fishing, as this is another form of hunting; it just happens to not take place on land. We can’t be selective, after all, if we are talking about animals who are targeted by humans in their search for the biggest, best, and most impressive catch. Many people might not think much about whether fish can feel, but they do. Imagine swallowing a barbed hook and being dragged, then suffocating; or worse, being sliced open and gutted. Fish are not the only water creatures who suffer, as millions of turtles, seals, birds, otters and other animals suffer injuries or starve to death after becoming entangled in filament line or swallowing fish hooks. When I lived in Florida, pelican sanctuaries were constantly treating birds for injuries sustained from hooks or monofilament lines.

There is the argument that one must feed their family. According to Karen Dawn, in her book, Thanking the Monkey, she estimates that about .00001 percent of the population hunts because they have no other way to feed their families. I’m inclined to agree with her, because I had a difficult time locating populated regions that were so remote that the only way to survive was to hunt for dinner.

Since hunting has been an American tradition for so long, it’s expected that few who engage in this sport would stop to question their actions. However, I wonder how fair a sport it is when a hunter, armed with handguns, bows and arrows, rifles, shotguns, and other high-powered weapons, chases after an unarmed victim with no defense. How ethical and fair is this? More than 200 million animals are killed annually, with millions more being maimed, crippled, orphaned, and stressed. And while hunters and wildlife agencies promote the idea that hunting is integral to the management of wildlife, agencies intentionally breed some species to ensure that there are enough animals available to be hunted. The bigger picture has nothing to do with decreasing the number of overpopulated animals or protecting certain species, but increasing the number of potential hunting licenses sold since this is a major source of income for wildlife agencies.

Who are these people who think it’s okay to chase after defenseless animals, terrorize them and wound or murder them? Well, I have learned that the hunting community is composed of mostly men, though there are some women. They enjoy killing small and large animals because it’s “fun, exciting and challenging” (though I fail to see how challenging it is when the odds are stacked in the hunter’s favor – perhaps I’m missing something, here). Apparently these people need to feel powerful; and inflicting cruelty upon animals, away from public view, is one way to accomplish this. Although participating in outright brutality, many hunters will use denial and self-delusion in order to avoid taking responsibility for being the cause of horrible suffering. There are supporters of the theory that some hunters are trying to compensate for other problems in their lives. Clinical psychologists have offered their thoughts that perhaps there is some sexual inadequacy, erotic sadistic motivation, or a need for reassurance of masculinity among hunters. According to Karen Dawn, in her aforementioned book, she writes that clinicians report that incidents of wife-beating are at peak the day before hunting season opens. During my research, I read of numerous people who have been wounded, harassed and killed by hunters.

Ironically, taxpayers help subsidize the public lands used by hunters, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs (which hunters benefit from) get the majority of their funds from general tax revenues – not the money from licenses and stamps that hunters buy, claiming they are helping pay for conservation.

What can you do? The obvious is to refrain from hunting! Encourage your legislators to enact or enforce wildlife protection laws. Insist that non-hunters be equally represented on wildlife agency staffs. Post “No Hunting” signs on your land or form an anti-hunting organization. Before supporting a “wildlife” or “conservation” group, ask about its position on hunting. Protest organized hunts. Spread deer repellent or human hair from barber shops near hunting areas. Call 1-800-628-7275 to report poachers in national parks to the National Parks and Conservation Association. Educate others about hunting.

Contact PETA, the Humane Society, Born Free USA or In Defense of Animals to offer support of their campaigns and get more information.

By Annoula Wylderich

https://www.facebook.com/groups/512065965475990/

 

 

 

 

 

 

I volunteer at a local animal shelter on weekends, working with the Behavior Modification team to concentrate our efforts on those animals who seem to have problems, so that they may have a better chance at getting adopted.

Each time, I am greeted by hundreds of pairs of eyes that express confusion, fear, sadness and hope.  It breaks my heart every time because I know that:

1.  Many of these animals were someone’s “family” once and have been given up, because it wasn’t convenient or possible to keep them.    They went from a home to a kennel atmosphere overnight and don’t understand why they were abandoned.   Some have been confiscated due to cruelty issues and might not have ever known a loving owner.

2.  For a good many of these creatures, this could very well be their last stop.

Instead of going further with my own observations, I prefer to reprint a letter from a California shelter director who posted this on Craigslist (anonymously) with a request that it be shared.  I think this letter far better describes the life of a shelter animal than anything I could write. While not all shelter operations may follow identical protocols, the bottom line is that animals do share similar experiences and emotions; and they do get euthanized, all too often, due to the overpopulation problem. Retail sales and breeding contribute to this, as well as a reluctance to spay and neuter pets.

For those who decide to turn in their pet to a shelter and think their animal will be “fine,” guess again. There is no guarantee.

Letter From a Shelter Director (California)

You can’t keep your pet? Really?

~By a Shelter Director

Our society needs a huge “Wake-up” call.
As a shelter manager, I am going to share
a little insight with you all…
a “view from the inside” – if you will.

First off, any of you whom have surrendered a pet
to a shelter or humane society should be made to work
in the “back” of an animal shelter – for just ONE DAY.

Maybe if you saw the life drain from those sad,
lost, confused eyes, you’d stop flagging the ads on here
and help these animals find homes.

That puppy you just dropped off will most-likely end up
in my shelter when it’s no longer a cute little puppy anymore.

Just so you know, there’s a 90% chance that your dog will never
walk out back out, once entered in to the shelter system…
Purebred or not!

About 25% of all of the dogs that are “owner surrenders” or “strays”
that come into a shelter are purebred dogs.

The most common excuses: “We’re moving and can’t take our dog (or cat).”
Really? Where are you moving to that doesn’t allow pets?
Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would”.
How big did you think a German Shepherd would get?
“We don’t have time for her”.
Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs!
“She’s tearing up our yard”.
How about making her a part of your family?
“We just don’t want to have to stress about finding
a place for her & we know she’ll get adopted,
she’s a good dog”.

Odds are, your pet won’t get adopted
& how stressful do you think it is for your pet?

Did you know…
Your pet has 72 hours to find a new family
from the moment you drop it off?
Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full
and your dog/cat manages to stay completely healthy.

If it sniffles, it is euthanized.

Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room
with other barking & crying animals.
It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps.
It will be depressed and will cry constantly for you.
If your pet is lucky, there will be enough volunteers in that day
to take him/her for a walk.
If not, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food
slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of it’s pen
with a high-powered hose.
If your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds
(pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when
you walked it through the front door.
If your cat is scared and doesn’t act friendly enough,
or if it catches a cold (which most of them ‘do’),
it will be put to sleep.
Those dogs & cats just don’t get adopted.
In most cases, it doesn’t matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are.
If your pet doesn’t get adopted within it’s 72 hours
and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed.
If the shelter isn’t full and your pet is good enough,
and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution,
but not for long.

Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are
destroyed for showing aggression.
Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment.

If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it
will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be
destroyed because the shelter gets paid a fee to euthanize each animal and
making money is better than spending money to take this animal to the vet.

Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a 
perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”.

First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash.
They always look like they think they are going for a walk…
happy, wagging their tails…
until they get to “The Room”,
every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when they get to the door.
It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there.
It’s strange, but it happens with every one of them.
Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 shelter workers,
depending on the size and how freaked out they are.
Then a shelter worker who we call a “euthanasia tech (not a vet)”
finds a vein in the front leg and injects a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”.

Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic from being restrained and jerks.
I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood…
the yelps and screams are deafening.

They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes they spasm for a while,
gasp for air and defecate on themselves.

You see, shelters are trying to make money to pay employee pay checks
and then, there’s the board of directors…
who need to be paid too!

Consequently, corners are cut, & we don’t spend our funds to
tranquilize the animal before injecting them with the lethal drug,
we just put the burning lethal drug in their vein and let them suffer until dead.

If it were not a business for profit, we’d do it humanely and hire a
licensed vet do this procedure.
That way, the animal would be sedated or tranquilized and THEN euthanized.

But to do this procedure correctly would only cost more money…
so we don’t necessarily do what is right for the animal,
we do what’s expedient so we can continue to make a buck!

Shelters do not have to have a vet perform their euthanasia procedures.
Oftentimes, they are untrained personnel administering lethal injections.
So… that employee may take 50 pokes with a needle and 3 hours to get inside the vein.

In the end, your pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer,
usually in the back of the building with all of the other animals that were killed.
There they will sit until being picked up like garbage.

What happens next? Cremated?
Taken to the dump?
Rendered into pet food?
Or used for schools to dissect and experiment on?

You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind.

After all, it was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?!

I hope that those of you who still have a beating heart and have read this
are bawling your eyes out and can’t get the pictures out of your head.
I deal with this everyday.
I hate my job, I hate that it exists &
I hate that it will always be there unless you people make changes
and start educating yourselves, your children, the public.
Do the research, do your homework, and know exactly
what you are getting into before getting a pet.
These shelters and humane societies exist because people just do not care about animals anymore.

Animals were not intended to be disposable but somehow that is what they’ve become.

For those of you who care, please repost this to at least one other Craigslist in another City/State. 
Let’s see if we can get this all around the US and have an impact.

The above letter sums up the reality for countless animals who are relinquished to a shelter, confiscated in animal cruelty cases, or are picked up by Animal Control as strays.  Everyone has the opportunity to help curtail this tragedy by adopting from a shelter or rescue group, spaying and neutering their animals, and encouraging others to not patronize retail or breeding establishments.   We shouldn’t be part of the problem, when we can be part of the solution.

- Annoula Wylderich

https://www.facebook.com/groups/512065965475990/ 

Waiting on Death Row

 

 

 

The Bureau of Land Management has a responsibility to American citizens as well as our wild horses and burros.

Over forty years ago, the Wild Horse and Burro Act was signed into law, in response to the wishes of the American people (and over objections by the cattle industry). The law mandated that wild horses be preserved on public lands.

Forty years later, we have to look back on what a farce that law was and how ineffective it has been towards carrying out its promises.

In Nevada, as well as other western states, teams of horse hunters are paid a bounty to scour public lands and capture an animal. The going rate was $350 per captured animal. I might mention that a couple of these contractors, some of whom had previously worked for the Department of the Interior, have made millions from their buddies in the BLM.

Wild horses are forced to run across some of the roughest terrain in the west, terrified by the helicopters used to frighten them. In the process, they smash their hooves on the sharp rocks, some actually running their hooves off. There have been documented incidents of foals who collapsed after wearing their feet to bloody stumps; some have been left to lie in agony for days before dying or being euthanized. Many horses die on the spot in the snow-covered terrain during the roundups, while others have perished in the holding pens. Pregnant mares, as well, have aborted their young.

Though the BLM regularly issues statements as to their intentions to conduct a more humane roundup and be more open to public input, this doesn’t happen. In fact, more horses are added to the pens of privately owned ranches of BLM-connected friends. The animals will spend the remainder of their lives in these pens, in misery; or they might get shipped to a slaughterhouse across the border. In any case, I doubt the public had this in mind when they celebrated the passage of the WHBA.

While the BLM makes a media circus of issuing announcements or providing information sessions, hundreds of horses are being routinely run to death and also die of dehydration, stress and injuries. There is no refuting the video footage of advocates who have captured the roundups on film. Here, one can see helicopters smashing into animals, or view hired contractors kicking horses and burros in the head, jamming them with cattle prods, and generally abusing them. . .while government observers stand a few feet away, doing absolutely nothing.

Why is this happening? Because the cattle industry wants the public land in order to support privately owned cattle ranches. Unfortunately, the beef industry doesn’t want horses around and the BLM is only too happy to comply. Friends stick with friends, especially when there’s money involved. It’s ironic that though horses are deemed a threat to the land, there are fifty times as many cattle as horses on the range. . .and the effects of long-term livestock grazing are detrimental to our resources. Many of the studies conducted by panels aren’t going to publish the truth because members have ties to the cattle industry.

Sadly, there are only around 25,000 horses still left in the wild, with more than 20 million acres of mustang country no longer being occupied by mustangs. One has to wonder if future generations will still have any wild horses left freely roaming on public lands, or if they will only be able to view their majestic beauty in old western films.

To learn more about the roundups and to view video footage, check out www.wildhorsepreservation.org. To learn more about horse slaughter, which is where many of these wild horses could end up, click on www.equineadvocate.org.

If you are motivated to do something, you can contact your representatives, or write to President Obama and let them all know that you expect the BLM to handle horses humanely, by helping preserve them on public lands.

You can go a step further and reduce or limit your consumption of beef, which thereby reduces the demand for it and hits the cattle industry directly in the pocket. Decrease the demand and you impact the supply.

- Annoula Wylderich

https://www.facebook.com/groups/512065965475990/

 

“Excruciating pain.  Lost limbs.  Even death.  These are the results of trapping. . .not only for the wild animals whose furs are stripped from their bodies, but also for family dogs and cats and even endangered species who are ‘incidentally’ caught in the remorseless jaws of leghold traps, Conibear traps, or snares (cable nooses).”  – Born Free USA

As I researched trapping, I found out that the United States catches more wild animals for the fur trade than any other country in the world, with three to five million animals getting trapped each year by commercial fur trappers in the U.S. 

Millions of “non-targeted” animals get trapped as well, including pets and those on endangered species lists.  We call this “collateral damage,” which I’ll address later in this article.

Trapping is used by the fur trade, as well as wildlife control and by the federal government in the killing of native carnivores.  Some states permit wildlife damage control operators to sell the pelts of killed animals, which serves to encourage the killing of animals rather than using non-violent means of problem resolution. 

Types of traps that are used include the body-gripping variety (leghold traps, snares, and Conibear traps).  The steel-jaw leghold trap is a commonly used trap by both commercial and recreational U.S. trappers.  Approximately 89 countries have banned the use of this trap, while here in the U.S., some eight states have either banned or severely restricted its use (a pretty pathetic number).

Traps cause intense suffering and death to millions of animals every single year.  If the animals are not mercifully killed instantly by the trap, they sustain severe injuries and can suffer from exposure to the elements, dehydration, physical trauma, or fall victim to other predators.  Another fallout from trapping is the number of cubs and pups who are orphaned when their parents are caught and killed.  These orphans cannot fend for themselves or protect themselves from predators, and end up perishing from starvation, dehydration, exposure and attacks.

Trapped animals are usually clubbed, drowned, suffocated or have their chests crushed, rather than being shot and having the blood stains reduce the value of the pelt.  These methods would be considered cruelty to animals if they were inflicted upon cats or dogs.  Consequently, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the World Veterinary Association, and the National Animal Control Association have declared leghold traps to be inhumane.

While trapping regulations vary widely from state to state and are poorly enforced, some states have no laws whatsoever requiring traps to be regularly checked.  Thus, many animals linger for days suffering tremendously from their injuries.  And while the National Wildlife Refuge System’s original intent was to provide a safe haven for wild animal species, trapping is permitted on more than half the refuges across the U.S.

Trapping is an extremely cruel practice; and despite claims to the contrary, all traps cause horrific injuries and intense suffering to trapped animals.  If you don’t believe this, just try sticking your hand or foot in a leghold or Conibear trap. 

In 2011, Born Free USA conducted an investigation which exposed this highly unregulated, inhumane, dangerous industry.  The investigation bore out that the few existing regulations that monitor trapping are often ignored by trappers who openly use (illegal) snares and leave traps out after the close of the trapping season, continuing to capture animals.  There are no authorities present when traps are set or an animal is killed.  Most states don’t require trappers to report the number of animals they kill.

It’s interesting to note that a branch of the USDA, called “Wildlife Services,” spends $100 million annually on the goal of killing wildlife, mostly because they’re deemed a nuisance to municipalities, farmers or ranchers.  Wildlife Services kills a staggering number of animals using steel-jawed traps, snares and other body-gripping traps, in addition to the aerial shooting of animals and the use of deadly poisons.  These techniques are primarily random and non-selective, which results in the deaths of “non-targeted” species, as well.  Species that are killed include dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, turtles, bears, squirrels, and many others.  Ironically, though Wildlife Services’ work is conducted on behalf of the livestock industry, data show that wildlife plays an insignificant role in livestock losses.

Then, of course, there are also the “damage control trappers,” who each year trap and kill more than four million animals in the U.S. (in the name of game or livestock protection).  Or they may use “nuisance control” for the killings.  Taxpayers should note that many of these animal control programs are funded with our tax dollars.

Earlier in this article, I referred to the collateral damage related to trapping.  Non-targeted animals routinely fall victim to the traps which are set for other species.  Dogs, cats, hawks and many threatened and endangered species often become victims.  A Born Free USA investigator speaking with a trapper reported the following:

“In one of [the foothold traps] we find a fox squirrel, caught by both front paws. [The trapper] released the fox squirrel from the trap. Both of its front legs are stripped down to the flesh by the trap. He doesn’t usually use fox squirrel, though others will use the fur, so lets it go. At the same time he says it probably won’t survive and that seems the case as it limps off slowly.”  (I’m going to assume that it had to be in sheer agony from its injuries.)

Dogs are the most common non-targeted victims of traps and I read of two incidents (out of many) where a therapy dog for children of disabilities choked to death in a trap (“it took three men to pry the trap’s springs open in order to release Rupert”); and another pet ran home in agony, covered in blood, with his head locked in a Conibear trap.  He died in transit to the vet (“it took four people to get the trap off the dead dog’s head”).

During trapping season, hundreds of thousands of body-crushing traps and snares are baited and set, many of which are not retrieved by trappers at season’s end.  Unretrieved traps are waiting and ready to do their deadly damage, in addition to those traps which are set illegally by other trappers.  While State Wildlife Agencies don’t track data on unintended victims of trapping, Born Free USA does so all across the country and maintains a database of incidents that are reported to them.  This information is used to educate lawmakers and others to help prevent future injuries.

There are steps we can all take to help organizations like Born Free USA on the issue of trapping.  The goal is to expose the truth about this awful practice and to eliminate the cruel devices that are used to inflict suffering and death to both intended and unintended victims.  It is important that legislators and policymakers enact stronger laws and ensure the enforcement of existing protections.  Additionally, we need to urge the use of alternative humane methods of animal control.

You and your friends can be on the lookout for hidden traps when hiking with your dogs. 

Report incidents to Born Free USA at (916) 447-3085 x 208; or www.bornfreeusa.org/trappingreport; or your local animal welfare group.

You can write letters to the editor of your local paper addressing this issue.

Post signs and prosecute anyone setting a trap on your property, if you live in a rural area.

Don’t buy anything made of fur.

Check out www.bornfreeusa.org, for other suggestions, or to join their Action Team.  For more information about the gruesome consequences of trapping, go to their Victims of Vanity tab where they provide investigative video and graphics.

Below is an image of a discarded coyote whose fur was deemed “unsatisfactory,” and thus, died a needless, agonizing death.

discarded coyote

- Annoula Wylderich

Powerful factory farming interests, threatened by undercover investigative footage which has gone public, are trying to criminalize this activity; and for good reason.  This industry is wrong on so many levels.

Already passed in Iowa and Utah, a number of other states are trying to pass bills making it a crime for undercover investigators to document animal neglect and abuse on factory farms.  Those who profit from factory farming are attempting to protect animal abusers from public scrutiny by passing these bills.  The implications of these bills are far-reaching and grave not only for the animals who are affected, but for consumers and the general public.

Ag-gag bills would serve to make factory farms sanctuaries for those who torture animals, and provide protection for food safety and environmental violators.  Exposes via hidden-camera videos have brought this industry and it’s cruel, abusive and illegal practices into public scrutiny; and they obviously have much to conceal if they’re trying so hard to prevent further undercover investigations.  Footage shows animals crammed into tiny, filthy enclosures where they cannot even turn around; it shows animals who are beaten, thrown into grinding machines, tortured relentlessly in sadistic ways, mutilated without painkillers, and forced to face unspeakable violence and slaughter.  One can hear them screaming and squealing as they have body parts and skin hacked off with no one to offer them any protection or an ounce of compassion.

This greedy, corrupt industry not only harms animals, it destroys our environment and public health as well.  Factory farms account for land, air and water pollution.  Theyfurther contribute to endangering consumer health by the drugs and chemicals that are administered to farm animals, as well as the filthy conditions in which these animals are raised.  With all the billions of dollars that have gone into cancer research, we must wonder why this deadly disease is on the rise.  I believe there is a direct correlation between our health issues and what we are ingesting.  Our bodies are not meant to process chemicals and there are plenty of cancer-causing carcinogens in the meat, pork, chicken and fish that is consumed daily.  In a previous article, I mentioned that there is invariably a certain amount of poop in every burger.  I wasn’t kidding.

We must ask ourselves why an industry would be working so hard to keep their operations and practices from public view if they had nothing to hide.  Additionally, we need to step up and speak out against any legislation that would serve to take away protection of public health or expose injustices.  Passage of these bills is essentially taking away our right to be informed about wrongdoing that affects our families’ health and the wellbeing of vulnerable animals.

There is a reason factory farming groups don’t want whistleblowers to speak out or show the public what is occurring on farms; it’s a horror movie for the victims (picture Texas Chainsaw Massacre).  There is plenty of footage available for viewing on the websites of Mercy for Animals, PETA, and the Humane Society of the United States, to name a few of the dedicated organizations that work hard to expose the truth about factory farm abuses.

We must not allow Iowa or Utah to set a precedent for other states.  If you’re concerned about the health of your family and that of future generations, as well as the helpless animals who are suffering behind the closed doors of these factory farming torture chambers, please voice your opposition.  These dangerous bills have the potential for imposing egregious effects on every citizen, not just residents of the aforementioned states.

For more information about ag-gag bills, go to:

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/world-our-backyard/2013/apr/2/ag-gag-bills-criminalizing-whistleblowing-factory-/

To view undercover footage, check out:

www.mercyforanimals.org

www.PETA.org

www.HSUS.org

Finally, don’t support these animal abusers.  Go for a plant-based diet, either by eliminating animal-based products or cutting down your consumption.  You’ll help save the planet, animal lives, and your health.

- Annoula Wylderich

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