Archives for category: General Animal Welfare/Rights

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which takes place in Yulin, China every summer solstice, consists of the torture and slaughter of countless animals for the purpose of consumption.  It is believed that the more the animal suffers, the tastier the meat.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDLC_f-uArM

 

Dogs grabbed off the streets, often stolen from pet owners, and others raised specifically for this dark industry, are spared no mercy.  In fact, witnesses have attested to observing the tormentors exhibit enjoyment while meting out the torture.  During this display, perpetrated in public, children are not protected from being exposed to the horrors.

 

Animals destined for slaughter are crammed so tightly into cages, that many have their legs purposely broken in order to fit them all in.  They are denied food, water, vet care; and are forced to suffer through extremely harsh conditions both while held captive and when transported to their destination in cages stacked so high on the trucks, that they suffer crushed bones when crates are roughly tossed onto the ground as the workers don’t bother to exercise care or compassion when unloading.

 

Among the torture witnessed, animals have been crucified with nail guns and disemboweled while still alive and shrieking in agony.  Those who do not die quickly are left to slowly perish, suffering every minute of their last moments on earth.

 

Others are hung by ropes or meat hooks through the jaw and burned (blow torched), beaten, or butchered.  Many are boiled alive in vats of water, meant to loosen the fur.  Workers then scrape off the fur with a knife.  Commercial slaughterhouses use agitator machines filled with boiling water to spin and rip off the fur, often while the animal is still conscious.

 

While this practice is deemed as “tradition” or “culture” by those who support it, the global community has responded with outrage.  Chinese government officials seem to be distancing themselves while the rest of the world is denouncing this festival and demanding that the dog and cat meat trade in participating Asian countries be banned.

 

Farmers who derive their livelihood from the sale of dogs and cats destined for consumption are often willing to end their enterprise once they are assisted in replacing this cruelty with another form of income that does not involve harming animals.

 

Organizations such as Humane Society International and Soi Dog Foundation, are among many groups that are working to rescue animals, provide education to societies and businesses, and compel the Chinese government to take action.

 

A Los Angeles businessman, Marc Ching, has been actively traveling overseas to conduct his own mission of documenting the horrors, sharing his footage with the world, and rescuing animals.  He has additionally helped tear down one slaughterhouse with a promise to the owner that he will help him establish a noodle restaurant.  Marc’s testimony can be viewed here:  https://www.facebook.com/AngelsfortheInnocent/videos/1715390338710153/

 

While we are horrified by the brutality, we are reminded that in the U.S. and other countries, we consume cows, pigs, and chickens in much the same manner.  They are raised in inhumane conditions, tortured and mutilated, and sent to a horrifying slaughter where many die piece by piece as they are being butchered alive.  Choosing a plant-based diet is not only humane, but healthier for humans, the planet; and certainly in the better interests of animal welfare.

Annoula WylderichYulin-Dog-Paws-Tied

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/

 

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

How many ways can we find to torture animals or profit by their needless suffering?  I asked myself that, when I first heard about this incredibly cruel practice that has been apparently going on for some time.  Sadly, bear bile farms are among those that haven’t received as much attention as the many other pressing issues surrounding animals, which is why I decided to look further into this abhorrent activity.  What prompted me to take a closer look was a photo of a tiny cage that contained a bear who could only lie there, unable to move or walk or stand.  I felt the anxiety and panic that one must feel if they were squeezed into a coffin with bars, where they would have to live out their existence, while also being subjected to routine painful procedures.

Throughout Asia, over 12,000 bears are held captive on bear farms; and most of them are kept in “crush” or extraction cages the size of a phone booth.  They are essentially coffins made of metal bars, in which the bear cannot stand or easily turn around. . .24/7.  Does that make you feel as claustrophobic as it does me?  According to Wikipedia, the cages measure around 2.6’ x 4.4’ x 6.5’ for an animal weighing between 110 to 260 pounds.  They live this way for approximately 10 to 12 years.  According to HSUS, there are several farms that move the bears to the smaller cages for milking, and the rest of the time permit them to live in larger enclosures.  However, these farms seem to be in the minority. 

Asiatic black bears (also known as “Moon bears”), and now the North American black bear, are the targets for bile farming.  The population count of the former is diminishing in China, causing concern.  Chinese bear farms are considered to be one way to reduce the demand on the wild bear population.  Thus, the government views the farming as an answer to the loss of wild bears from poaching.  According to Chinese officials, approximately 7,600 captive bears are being farmed, thereby taking the place of 10,000 wild bears needing to be killed each year to produce as much bile.  Due to the fact that Asiatic bears are now so rare and endangered, poachers and traders are turning to the next closest kin, the North American black bear, in order to meet demand.

Bears can be seen in extreme distress, often rubbing or hitting themselves against the bars of their enclosures.  They suffer muscle atrophy, bang their heads against their cages, chew their paws and exhibit signs of mental stress.  The mortality rate is high on these farms, and with good reason.

Bile bears suffer from various maladies including stunted growth, hair loss, malnutrition, muscle mass loss, and the extraction of their teeth and claws.  Once the bears stop producing bile, they are often killed for their meat or fur; and their paws and gall bladders are considered a delicacy by some.  These victims live a horrible, painful, stressful existence during their lifetime.  In fact, a mother bear reportedly killed her own cub and then herself in order to spare them both the agony of life on a bear bile farm.

Why is bear bile so sought-after?  Apparently, it is a valuable ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.  The bile, which is a digestive juice produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder, is believed to reduce fever, improve eyesight, protect the liver, and break down gallstones.  Although Chinese doctors have endorsed several cheap, effective and readily available alternatives in the form of herbal (coptis or rhubarb) and synthetic substitutes, some practitioners continue to prescribe whole bear bile and reject any form of modern substitute.  This in turn, continues to drive the demand. 

The harvesting and extraction methods cause intense suffering to the bears and are usually carried out by untrained farm workers, with no veterinary experience.   There are three ways that bile is accessed:

The first is by the insertion of a syringe deep into the bear’s body to extract the bile;

another way is by the implanting of a tube leading into the gall bladder, allowing bile to be extracted several times a day.  This causes great pain and discomfort, as the abdominal wound is opened up to three times a day;

a third method involves leaving caged bears to reach a certain age and then killing them.  The bile is then extracted.

Surgeries to create fistulas are performed without appropriate antibiotics or pain management, thereby causing great suffering to the bears, who are repeatedly exposed to this process since the fistulas often heal over.  There is often infection at the incision site and about one third of fistulated bears experience abdominal hernias and liver cancer.

As you can imagine, none of these methods are humane.  Bears subjected to these barbaric procedures sometimes die, or suffer from serious ongoing health problems.  They are vulnerable to infections, open wounds, tumors, gallstones, abscesses. . .and a life of constant pain and stress.  Those bears who stop producing bile after a few years, are left to die or are killed.

While the Chinese government established a Technical Code of Practice for Raising Black Bears (requiring hygienic and humane techniques and conditions), a 2007 Veterinary Report (published by Animals Asia Foundation) stated that the code was not being enforced.  Many bears were still spending their lives in tiny cages without access to sufficient food or water, and experiencing pain, distress, and a general lack of wellbeing.

They were being starved, as hungry bears produce more bile.  This is still their fate today.

In the United States, a bill was introduced in New York on March 14, 2011, that would ban commercial trade of bear gallbladders and bile.  New York is among five states that have allowed this trade. 

Meanwhile, several international organizations continue to conduct ongoing undercover investigations and campaigns towards ending bear bile farming.  Check them out and lend your support either by signing petitions, helping spread the word, and/or contributing financially: www.wspa-usa.org/, www.bornfreeusa.org/, and www.animalsasia.org/

To view an undercover investigation, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9snODccgIc (The Bear Bile Business).

 bear bile coffins 

Photo courtesy of WSPA-USA

– Annoula Wylderich

A dog shot, then dragged behind a vehicle; cats and kittens found with their limbs broken; twelve dogs found starving; two dogs tortured and then burned; a kitten cooked to death in an oven; over 800 captive pigs left to starve in the cold on a Pennsylvania factory farm when their owner abandoned the premises, with no one to come to their rescue until it was too late.  If that isn’t enough to make us sit up, I can continue. . .systematic and pointless torture of animals in laboratories; factory farmed animals literally dying piece by piece while going through the processing line, after living in miserable, inhumane conditions since birth; dogs and cats being beaten and butchered alive in S. Korea for their meat; reptiles and other animals being skinned alive for their skins. . .and on it goes.  Somehow this doesn’t seem to be what was intended for humans to perpetuate or condone when we were given stewardship over other creatures.

At one time, we found it perfectly acceptable to burn “witches” at the stake, force human beings into slavery, and withhold the right to vote from women. However, society evolved and changes were enacted to respect human beings and their rights.  Why is it that we cannot seem to extend that same compassion to other species, especially those who have no voice or protection?  Worse, many people will refuse to read or learn about the issues involving neglect and cruelty to animals because it “upsets” them.  If it upsets them, imagine what the animals are going through!  The epitome of ignorance is refusing to learn or hear the truth.  The epitome of callousness is knowing the truth, yet refusing to do something about it.

It is disturbing that people continue to commit the most brutal acts of abuse, neglect, and murder of animals each year by beating, burning, torturing, sexually abusing, impaling, crushing, breaking limbs; or contributing to these actions by way of their consumer choices.  Whether we commit these acts ourselves or pay others to do it, we are complicit.

Research has proven that those who are capable of intentional cruelty are exhibiting the most serious signs of psychological problems that have been linked with sociopathic behavior.  The link between the abuse of animals and human violence has been made time and time again.  

Currently, 47 states have a felony provision in their animal cruelty statutes, thanks to the hard work of various animal welfare groups.  But that’s not enough.  It is up to each of us as citizens of planet Earth to make sure that the laws are enforced, and that knowledge about global animal exploitation issues is shared so as to raise awareness and to work towards a more compassionate society where life is respected.  It’s up to each of us to demand that our government do its job to seek justice for animals where due, to compel truth in advertising from fashion industries who lie about how animal skins are actually obtained or used, and to compel agri-business to keep from hiding the truth from consumers about what is occurring on factory farms and what is actually in animal-derived products (growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, arsenic, dioxins, herbicides. . .and poop).

As my esteemed friend, Professor Tom Regan (author of “The Animal Rights Debate”) so accurately puts it, “In a democracy like ours, the will of the majority (usually) is where the power is.  That’s our challenge: to make animal rights the perspective of the majority. All of us — you and I — will be needed to make this happen.”

On a moral scale, killing/abusing other beings is an act of exploitation and violence; we must ask ourselves if any being deserves to be tortured or killed to satisfy our taste buds, vanity, or need for amusement.  Many good folks, raised in our present culture, simply haven’t given much thought to how society envisions and treats animals.  Fortunately, a shift is occurring that has been bringing this issue to the forefront, compelling many of us to address it and make our personal choices in alignment with what we value.

It is my hope that 2013 begins an era of exponentially increased awareness and positive action on behalf of those who depend upon us to protect them.  We can create a more compassionate society and future generation by our present actions.  What other more significant legacy could we possibly leave behind to speak for our short existence in this life?  

There are many groups doing wonderful work that benefits animals all over the world, from companion animals in your own neighborhood to wildlife on other continents.  These organizations can always use our help and support in order to do their jobs and make them even more effective.  If you can’t afford to offer financial support, your voice or pen are just as important.  We can let these dedicated groups know that we have their backs and are willing to do what we can to further their efforts.  Lives are depending upon us, EACH and EVERY ONE of us.

“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)

Happy and compassionate New Year to all, a little belatedly.

Below are a few links to animal welfare organizations with a great track record.

www.hsus.org

www.PETA.org

www.PCRM.org

www.ida-usa.org

www.bornfreeusa.org

www.mercyforanimals.org

www.aldf.org

– Annoula Wylderich

 

Most of us haven’t given much thought to horse slaughter until recent stories emerged about the Bureau of Land Management roundups and the removal of a prohibition on spending tax dollars to inspect horse slaughter plants (a move, encouraged by wealthy slaughter proponents, that will reverse years of a humane policy that ended horse slaughter in the U.S.).  I had to look further into this industry and was horrified by what I discovered.

BLM roundups are strongly opposed by equine groups and animal activists for good reason.  Ample videos have demonstrated that the methods used to gather horses induce fear, injury, and in some tragic cases, death to the animals.  Anyone who thinks that all these animals go to a place where they can live out their days in peace is mistaken.  For many, their ultimate destination will be a slaughter plant. 

According to Southern Winds Equine Rescue, 130,000 horses were mercilessly slaughtered in 2012.  They were shipped over our national borders, only to end up dying brutal deaths in foreign slaughterhouses. 

There is profound animal suffering involved in both the transport and the butchering of horses. The terrified animals are crammed into overcrowded double-decker trailers that are not appropriate for horse transport.  They endure days of travel in this confinement, without food or water, and often in extreme temperatures.  This stressful transport often results in injuries which can lead to leg amputations, broken backs and extreme misery.  It doesn’t get better.  Investigators have witnessed horses with their eyeballs hanging from their sockets; horses being beaten, dragged, and having their limbs broken from rough handling.

At the foreign slaughter plants, the animals are prodded and whipped as they progress through the processing line.  Typically, they are either shot in the face or stabbed in the neck repeatedly in order to sever their spine and be systematically hacked apart piece by piece, usually while still alive.  This is such a frightful, agonizing, and gruesome ending for a beautiful animal that has been part of American history for so long.  And it’s so undeserved.

This year, approximately 100,000 American horses will be transported to their deaths in foreign slaughterhouses, while our elected officials are preparing to open the floodgates for legal horse slaughter in our own country – despite that the overwhelming majority of American citizens object to the butchering. This is outrageous!

Those who are fighting to save and protect these animals are demanding that Congress ban horse slaughter in America.  Citizens are urging the passage of The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and The Horse Protection Act Amendments (that would toughen the laws against abusing horses).  These bills have bipartisan support and with everyone’s help, our newly elected officials will learn that if they value their jobs, they need to pay attention to the call of outraged Americans for whom they work.

Proponents of horse slaughter include breeders, ranchers and lawmakers who have pointed out the untapped economic resource, claiming that the reopening of horse slaughterhouses would create jobs and help increase the market value of horses.  They expressed an interest in seeing horse plants all over the country.  Former Montana state legislator Ed Butcher (appropriately named) commented that “We are looking at plants that will probably kill 100 horses a day, nothing big.”

To see what he considers “nothing big,” I strongly encourage readers to check out the links below to learn more about what the horsemeat trade entails.   It’s a travesty to permit such an integral part of our nation’s history and heritage to be treated so callously.  I urge those who care to contact their legislators or go onto the www.hslf.org website and get involved.  Additionally, there are many local advocacy and equine groups in each town, as well as PETA, who are working on this issue.  We shouldn’t permit our Administration to cow-tow to those with big money.  Let your voice be heard loud and often.  That’s what we have representatives for.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYJCoaHrHvw

www.kaufmanzoning.net

– Annoula Wylderich

There are many arguments for and against the use of animals — and whether or not we have dominion over them.  Ultimately, it is an ethical and moral choice that each of us has to make.  However, Jeremy Bentham’s quote that is my subject line sums it up for many of us who believe that all life has value and should be respected and protected. 

There are consequences resulting from various animal abuses that affect our health and environment; so, even those who may not be concerned about the welfare of sentient beings are ultimately affected by their mistreatment.

We can choose to live in denial so as to justify our actions or avoid having to make changes; we can look the other way and pretend the exploitation and cruelty do not exist, because the images and knowledge upset us.  However, while we are averting our eyes or refusing to listen, billions of innocent, feeling beings are literally suffering to death every single day.  Animal exploitation has a massive negative impact on society, if not our very souls.

Factory farming greatly contributes to the destruction/depletion of the earth’s resources, harms the environment, reduces the potential to feed millions who live in poverty, impacts global warming (the results of which we have observed or experienced in recent years via the climatic catastrophes), imposes massive suffering upon innocent animals, and poses a huge threat to our own health and lives.

Animal experimentation is another controversial issue.  There is countless research disproving the efficacy of using animals, as they do not respond the same as humans. . .even though they feel the same sensations, including fear at the hands of researchers.  Imagine yourself being tested upon by a doctor who does not care about your comfort or pain level and whom you cannot communicate with because you can’t speak.  That is horrifying in itself, but let’s take it a step further.  That same doctor does not value your life, either.  Wow, my heart just froze at the thought.  With so many better and more accurate methods of testing that are available today, we no longer need the archaic and barbaric use of live subjects.

The fashion industry is a great example of how we have allowed vanity to trump compassion.  Animals have their skins torn from their bodies, often while they are still conscious. Snakes have their heads nailed to a tree, while their skin is peeled off.  Due to their slow metabolism, they can languish for several days in sheer agony before death gives them their final welcome release.  Animals on fur farms are subjected to anal electrocution (basically being fried from the inside out), or have their necks snapped, or are beaten.  Many of these hapless beings awake during skinning.  In China, one of the biggest manufacturers of “faux fur” products, they don’t even take the time to attempt to stun the animals, as there are no animal welfare laws protecting them.  Here, raccoon dogs are routinely beaten and then skinned while still alive in order to produce trinkets, dog toys and fur trim that is illegally labeled as “faux.”  I once watched a video of a raccoon dog after it had been skinned.  He was bloody, dazed, and still alive for several minutes after the skinning.  He lifted his head agonizingly, turning to look back upon his body in obvious shock and pain; and then, looked directly into the camera before finally expiring.  His eyes asked “why?”

Alligators and crocodiles don’t get a break.  They have tough hides; therefore, it takes a little more effort.  I’ve seen videos of men taking sharp knives and chisels to the back of their heads in order to paralyze or stun them so they can remove the skin.  If you are shocked and disgusted at this point, then perhaps you will think twice before making that next purchase of snakeskin boots, crocodile handbag or alligator pumps.

The entertainment industry is notorious for employing fear and pain in their training of animals.  Think about it.  A wild animal is not about to jump through a ring of fire just because you politely asked it to – or offered it a treat.  Research has led to case after case of trainers and owners who have been prosecuted for animal cruelty.  I’ve read of people who have beaten chimpanzees to an inch of their lives, denied tigers water in triple digit desert temperatures, sewn shut the mouth of snake with needle and thread, forced animals into tiny enclosures where they cannot even turn around, tied animals down for up to 20 hours a day. . .and the list of injustices goes on.  Patronizing circuses, zoos, marine exhibits such as Sea World, and other venues where animals are exhibited in a confined habitat that is not their natural world helps perpetuate this exploitation.

In the wonderful world of pets, supporting pet shops is supporting the underworld of puppy mills and other suppliers of animals that are mistreated.  Shoppers don’t often get to see this world until it is exposed in some form of cruelty case that has made it to the news.  Animals are treated like commodities.  Sick and injured birds and small creatures are routinely ignored and thrown away (while still alive and barely hanging on), since the bottom line is the dollar and paying a vet costs more than simply producing more animals.  Most of us know about the hellish conditions at many puppy mills, thanks to the media.

Society has shown increasing evidence of  desensitization towards others.  FBI data suggests that those who commit crimes against animals have a propensity to go on to commit crimes against people and property.  If we have children, nieces and nephews, or grandkids, then I believe we ought to be greatly concerned about what kind of world we are leaving behind for them.  It is our responsibility to teach the younger generation about their connection to other beings, both human and non.  It’s directly upon each of us to practice compassion for others and to promote responsibility for the voiceless – the animals who need protection and to be kept free from harm at the hands of humans.

One does not need to become an activist or animal advocate in order to help animals in need.  We just need to incorporate a philosophy of compassion into our daily lives.  We need to be more aware and alert to animal cruelty around us – and to do our part to report it, whether it be a dog chained to a tree all day, every day; or knowing about a pet or other animal that is the victim of cruelty.  Joining some of the great national animal welfare organizations, such as HSUS, PETA, In Defense of Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Mercy for Animals, or Born Free USA allows us to receive action alerts and petitions about campaigns.  Foregoing a couple of beers or lattes a month and instead donating that money to one of these organizations or a local (reputable) animal organization is another great way to do our part.  Of course, donating a couple hours of our time to walk the dogs at the local shelter is an invaluable way of helping make life better for animals.

My blog offers information not only about the various issues and campaigns occurring globally, but also includes links to websites that provide detailed information and an opportunity to do something for those who feel compelled to take action, whether by contacting legislators and companies, signing petitions, making a contribution or volunteering their time.

At the end of the day, how we treat animals reveals who we really are.

– Annoula Wylderich