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


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



“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:


To view undercover footage, check out:




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.








– 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.



– Annoula Wylderich