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[This is Gary Grady, Tom’s brother, posting something that Tom would have wanted his readers to know about. This article is cross-posted from my own blog here.]
The United States Department of Agriculture has ended a longstanding practice of making animal welfare reports available on its website. Previously tens of thousands of reports could be read online concerning treatment of animals at nearly 8000 facilities, including about 1200 research laboratories as well as zoos, circuses, and various commercial enterprises. The reports have to do mainly with large mammals covered under the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act.
This is according to articles published in both Science and Nature, the two largest-circulation general science journals.
The USDA’s statement says that the change is intended to protect personal information. But personal information is in fact routinely redacted from these reports, and the reports are still available through Freedom of Information Act requests.
The article in Science says in part,
Inspection reports contain little, if any, personal information about individuals.
Public access to the reports has led to scores of media reports like this article in The Boston Globe in 2012 documenting problems at Harvard University’s primate research facility; the university later closed the trouble-prone New England Primate Research Center. Similarly, the reports allowed Nature and The New Yorker to report on the chronic abuse of goats held at the private company Santa Cruz Biotechnology in California, once the world’s second largest marketer of research antibodies. Several months after the Nature report, USDA in a rare move revoked the company’s license to market the antibodies.
“[These are] basic data about animal use and compliance that taxpayers have a right to access, particularly when it comes to taxpayer-funded labs,” says Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy at the White Coat Waste Project, a Washington, D.C.–based group that opposes taxpayer-funded animal experiments.
The Humane Society of the United States said in a statement: “This action benefits no one, except facilities who have harmed animals and don’t want anyone to know.”
PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
The disappearance of information caught animal-welfare groups by surprise. “I’m just flabbergasted,” says Eric Kleiman, a research consultant at the Animal Welfare Institute, an advocacy group in Washington DC. “This is not only the opposite of transparency, it takes us back to the Stone Age.”
Getting such information through FOIA requests can take years, Klein says. And knowing what information to request will be difficult, as the USDA will no longer post complaints that it or outside groups file against an institution. These complaints often trigger USDA investigations.
This is Gary Grady, Tom’s older brother. I am very sorry to say that Tom died at home September 15.
As he mentioned on this blog, in March of 2015 he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a particularly deadly type of brain cancer. He initially responded well to treatment, experiencing few side effects, but earlier this year the tumor began to grow again and he was hospitalized for a few weeks in July. He kept apologizing for being a burden, saying that he was the youngest and he should be taking care of us. Finally he was placed in home hospice care and after a steady decline he finally simply stopped breathing. Toward the end it was very difficult for him to express himself, but he still got jokes and smiled and laughed.
Tom was a life-long athlete and sports enthusiast who played on the longest-lasting recreational softball team in his area. As a volunteer he officiated at basketball games and coached youth soccer. One of his teams, the Pink Panthers, gained the state championship for girls in their age group, but he emphasized enjoyment and sportsmanship over winning. Once when officiating at a basketball game a young boy who had not scored a point all year had a free throw. The ball went in, but the boy stepped a bit over the line. Determined not to take away his one point, Tom pointed at the scorer’s table and said, “Count it!” This drew angry reactions from the other team and their supporters, but the coach later came to Tom and apologized, saying that after thinking about it he realized that Tom had done the right thing. The boy’s father told Tom, “You made my son’s year.”
Tom was fortunate enough to have his a dream job, becoming a sports and features writer for the Wilmington North Carolina Star-News newspaper. The sports editor wrote an excellent article about Tom you can read here.
Animals, especially pets, and more especially dogs, were his other great passion, and he wrote a column about pets for the newspaper, often arguing against cruelty, as he did for many years on this blog and his Facebook page.
A memorial service for Tom will be held Saturday, October 1, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm, on the softball field where he played for many, many years. Details can be found here.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
There is really somethings wrong with anyone who hunts down an endangered species for “sport.” Maybe it’s a lack of education from these folks or maybe it’s something more.
But there are no excuses for engaging is this level of behavior – where individuals torture and kill animals – that we might never see again on the face of the Earth.
It would be extremely difficult to get more selfish and cruel than that. The individual who gunned down a lion earlier this year tried to use the warped excuse that he didn’t known the lion had a name.
The lion clearly has a higher IQ than the hunter. I just gave every endangered species on the planet a name. So that takes care of that.
In August 9 article by the Star Tribune included an interview with another tropy hunter. He was asked about his killing trips. He said, “This is who I am.”
Trophy-hunting dentist Jim Derhaag called trophy animates a “three-dominional picture that is a memory for me.” The animals take away a vastly different picture, one of extreme suffering.
Let’s be VERY CLEAR. This asinine notion that killing endangered species is a good way to save endangered species is just that – asinine. They cannot kill their way to more animals and certainly humane safaris are way more efficient and humane.
Yes – humane. It’s an important phrase that no one can argue against.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
After some time away from the blog, I am back.
To update, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor back in early March and underwent surgery immediately. About 75 percent of the rumor was removed and I’ve undergone chemo and radiation treatments and more.
On the one hand, I’ve been given a though diagnosis and a though possible outcome. But if by nothing more tHan massign determination, I will beat it.
My healthcare slogan is – “I’m a lean, mean, tumor-fighting machine.”
I’d like to thank my family for their support, in many ways. It has been an up and down ride and my vision – due to a partisan field-of-vision loss – has been impacted.
But getting to the main theme today, I am going to continue my mission of speaking out for animals. I will continue to focus on topics such as the evils of puppy mills and greyhound racing and so much more.
I will also dive into more positive topics and even some humour on occasion to mix things up. And I’d like to bring in updates on my cancer battle, as I want to be an advocate for others battling cancers – for humans and animals.
Please follow the blog and hollow along on Twitter.
– TOM GRADYPACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
I continue to collect the on-going statements out of the greyhound racing industry that not only boarder on asinine, they wallow in it.
But let’s start with May 22, when Terry Frei wrote a column for the Denver Post that contained the following: “In a perfect world, live racing could stand on its own four feet. ” He was writing mostly about horse racing, the equally-evil brother of dog racing.
“In a perfect world,” you Mr. Frei would not be writing about horse or dog racing. In a perfect world, both industries would be banned forever.
You apparently are not aware of the abuses in both industries, where horses and greyhounds are sent off to be shot, have their heads cut off or are slaughtered.
This next story goes back to February, but it’s worth a focus on this post. The Florida Greyhound Association does not support a call for decoupling in the state, of course.
David Bishop of the Florida Greyhound Association was quoted in an article by the Broward Palm Beach New Times as saying: “The Florida Greyhound Association fully supports reporting at-track injuries and deaths, but this is more than just gathering numbers.”
Once again, we see an official from greyhound racing admit there are injuries and deaths in dog racing. But they still want to race dogs. There is no reason whatsoever in that position.
Our moral compasses tell us that admitting that dogs are being killed for gambling profits means the industry should be shut down immediately.
The industry also continues to make the bizarre claim that ending greyhound racing would lead to an increase in gambling. This is tinfoil-hat stuff. The industry would love to see the now-empty stands at dog tracks filled with people gambling on dog races.
That would increase gambling – right? So dose the industry not want to see an increase in gambling on dog racing??? Come on folks – let’s not go off on wild tangents that you really can’t possibly believe are true – at least I hope.
The dog racing industry suggesting it thinks an increase in gambling is a bad thing would be like Kim Kardashian saying she’s going to drop TV appearances and drop fashion and just wear sweatpants to major events.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
It has happened again; ANOTHER huge oil spill, this time along the California coast, due to a pipeline break.
TV channels are filled with oil and gas advertising – probably exceeded only by healthcare and medication ads. But the oil and gas ads like to spread the message of how great they are and how safe oil drilling, pipelines and the industry overall are.
Those of us with working brain cells know that’s a load of crap. We regularly have big spills and the horrible images of wildlife suffering that go with them. Big Oil only cares in dollar signs. They shed tears for their lost profits.
Reports suggests at least 105,000 gallons of oil spilled along the California coastline. The Big Oil reps tried downplay the numbers initially and at least one clueless individual jumped out of the gate to suggest no animals had been harmed.
Tens of thousands of gallons of sludge spilled along the coastline and these folks didn’t realize animals live in the water or fly into the water. They saw the images and were unable to connect the most simplistic of dots. That is a duuuuhhh moment on a galactic level.
There are elementary-school kids all over the country that could figure out in a minute that oil spilled where animals live will impact animals. How does an oil company hire anyone who is unable to think on this level.
These people have nothing on their minds beyond profit. They can’t help themselves. And they have to downplay the seriousness of ANY spill, because nothing trumps profit.
With all of the evidence that comes with each spill, some politicians are still pushing hard for the Keystone XL Pipeline. On the subject of climate chance, many of the them proclaimed they are not scientists. That is an understatement – also on a galactic scale.
North Carolina – my home state – is close to approving offshore drilling. Politicians will ignore the current images and the same politicians will act as though they are surprised when a spill hits an offshore rig in the Atlantic.
Too many politicians will watch the coverage of spills and the severe impacts and will not care, even a little bit. If their big-money donor who hold the puppet strings don’t want them to respond, they won’t.
That sucking sound you hear is the spinal fluids leaving the backbones of every politician who backs Big Oil.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
It is predictable and disgusting at the same time – the news that the West Virginia Racing Commission has handed over more than $10 million to greyhound breeders.
This dying industry is being held up to just benefit a few. The casinos could drop racing and hire the employees into the rest of the facilities. But they can’t because some elected officials in states like Florida and West Virginia are in their seats for no other reason than to benefit the few. These officials certainly are not there to represent the public and they certainly do not have any concern for animal welfare.
We should offer our thanks to the elected officials who are pushing for decoupling legislation.
The money being given to breeders could instead help with job training and caring for the dogs in need of new homes when greyhound racing shuts down for good.
And then there’s the breeding. My wife and I know of one couple in our state that has adopted four rescued racing greyhounds who all died of Osteosarcoma, a nasty form of cancer.
We have faced cancers with our rescued greyhounds. And we keep running into people at veterinary hospitals who tell their emotional stories of racing greyhounds with cancer, many at far too young an age.
When I’ve debated the pro-dog racing crowd online, they typically throw out the tired line that other big dogs get Osteosarcoma. My response includes the fact that comparing bad breeding practices with with bad breeding practices is a losing argument – every time.
And we have always argued about inbreeding. The racing insiders call it “line breeding.” But line breeding is just inbreeding on steroids. Every time we adopt a new, rescued greyhound, my wife goes on the racing site and looks up the dog’s lineage.
Way more often than not, she finds family connections to our current and previous greyhounds. And we find the same dogs are regularly listed as the parent or grandparent or great-grandparent of an unending list of dogs.
That’s inbreeding and it’s a small gene pool and both are not what we want. But in greyhound racing, the post-racing career doesn’t matter to the insiders. It’s about the profit motive.
I’ve written about cancer in dogs for many, many years and I’ve researched into the issue – a lot. Now that I have brain cancer, I plan to ramp up my efforts in speaking out against bad breeding that lead to cancers in dogs.
$10 million to breeders? That money could have gone to job training for track employs – as the state legislatures do what they should do today – shut down dog racing. Thanks to a request put in by Grey2K USA, these payments where brought to light.
The money came from the Greyhound Breeding Development Fund. It’s almost too nutty to believe. But we’ve heard enough out of racing to not be shocked.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
Johnny Depp is in a spat with government officials in Australia over the screen actor’s two dogs, who he reportedly brought into the country without quarantining them for the required time period.
So now the dogs are being threatened with euthanasia if Depp does not take then back to the US.
Depp certainly carries his share of the blame for not addressing the requirements and therefore putting the dogs and others at risk. He should know better.
But Australia is a nation that allows greyhound racing and the government is still closing its eyes to the history of abuse and the current scandal over the use of live baiting in the so-called training of the dogs.
So Australia – if you really want to do the right thing for animals, show us some real steps. Announce tomorrow that due to the preponderance of evidence, greyhound racing has been immediately banned – forever.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
The recent news concerning a man who broke out a car window to save a dog locked in a hot car should signal a change in Good Samaritan laws across the United States.
Our laws in general and across the board should be based on logic.
We don’t know all of the details about this case out of Athans, GA. But in general, a person should be able to save an animal in distress and be protected from prosecution, should it be found he or she acted appropriately and to save an animal from suffering or near death.
It is idiotic to even suggest that a person should let the suffering go on, because the damage to a car is wrongly perceived to be more important than the life of an animal. Who could have that mentality now?
We other inhumane laws, like those that suggest the life of an animal has no more value that a stolen TV. Who could think that way in 2015? We should be better than that as a society.
It seems we still have people in charge in the United States who believe a woman or girl who has been raped has limited rights. We’ve seen recent interviews that suggest these people want to minimize and marginalize what the victims have gone through.
We don’t live in the 1920s. And we can’t allow people without souls or an ability to feel compassion to run the country.
Back to the case in Georgia, if it is found that witnesses are correct and the dog was locked in the care for an extended period, the charges filed against the man who broke out the window should be cropped. And the driver of the care should be charged.
Let’s get these laws changed and make the rescuing of an animal in a health crisis something that people are honored for doing.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic
The horrible system created by Class B pet dealers could soon be a thing of the past. It would be one more step into the direction of stopping another cruel practice.
On his A Humane Nation blog, Humane Society of the US top dog, Wayne Pacelle stated earlier this week: “Of the two remaining Class B dealers, one had only four dogs in its most recent inventory and the other is facing formal enforcement action from the USDA.”
Pacelle also notes these dealers get the dogs they sell from “flea markets, shelters, auctions, and even the backyards of unsuspecting owners.” Many end up in research labs.
Thank you to the HSUS and to everyone who fought to make this happen. Hopefully, we’ll see a complete end to the Class B system very soon.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic