Breaking: Florida legislature fails to act on decoupling

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Once again, it seems very possible that enough members of the Florida legislature are willing to pull defeat from the jaws of victory – for suffering greyhounds.

A WFTV article flashed across the Pack News Wire today, reporting the bill to decouple greyhound racing from the casinos has failed. I can’t imagine why anyone, with the information we have available to us, would want to allow dog racing to continue for another day. But here we are again.

And then we have the misleading headline over a Miami Herald blog entry – “Economists: If greyhound tracks decouple, state will see revenue dip for two years.”

The writer explains some economists are saying that decoupling occurs and some tracks shut down racing, tax revenues will dip – from $78,000 to $336,000 the first year to $121,000 the second year. After that, the revenues should recover.
But it is also reported that a recent study notes – “the state spends about $4.1 million a year to regulate the industry and takes in $3.1 million in revenue — a net loss of about $1 million, according to 2012 numbers.”

So in reality, even with a reduction in tax revenues for two years, dog racing is costing the state of Florida in a big way. The state continues to prop up an industry that hurting the budget and more importantly, the dogs.

The one bit of good news is the fact another piece of legislation that would require the tracks to report serious injuries has advanced out of a committee.

 

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Florida could be a step closer to phasing out greyhound racing

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If the Florida legislature can muster the final steps this year, we could see biggest news to date on greyhound racing. Reports out of the state indicate the legislature might drop efforts to completely transform the gambling industry in the state, in favor of going back to the proposal of decoupling dog racing from the casinos.

This move would drop the ill-advised and long-standing mandates on the number of races held and allow the casinos shut down their tracks – or at least reduce the numbers.

While I keep hoping for a complete ban on this industry – everywhere, this could be the most significant news to date. If we can see an end to dog racing in Florida, where the bulk of the industry lives, it spell the end all across the nation.

The Tampa Bay Times also reports on another important effort underway – legislation to require the tracks to report serious injuries.

The article also quotes on representative as reminding everyone that the taxpayers are subsidizing an industry that has very little support. Unfortunately, a couple of tracks have announced they will continue to hold races, to some degree. But hopefully, once the legislation is on the books, the operators will see their losses reach a point where they have to shut it down.

 

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AKC continues to oppose puppy-mill regulations

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I read an interesting article from WCNC out of Charlotte, NC – back in late February that I saved to soak in and then comment on later.

The headline was – “AKC leads lobbying against NC’s puppy mill law.” The proposed law is in the form of House Bill 930, which is currently held up in the North Carolina Senate.

As the article notes, this is a compromise bill and from previous reports contains standards of care that follow those published by the American Kennel Club. Yet the AKC is now in a position where its lobbyist are opposing those standards.

WCNC reports all other industries dropped their opposition to the NC legislation, while the AKC continues to fight anything that might cut into the numbers produced by mass-breeding operations; you know – puppy mills.

Kim Alboum of the HSUS in NC is quoted as saying – “The American Kennel Club actually receives money for all the puppies that [are] registered through them.” Yes – that is the key.

And we are reminded that the New York Times recently reported the AKC “often lobbies against basic animal rights bills because they could cut into dog registration fees And “Roughly 40 percent of the AKC’s $61 million in revenue came from fees related to registration.”

And then a statement from the AKC is included, one based far more on wildly-inaccurate propaganda than facts.

For example, the claim is made that the bill would make the job of law enforcement more difficult. This flies in the face of law enforcement statements from around map, where officials are calling for better tools to fight this sort of abuse.

The AKC tosses out the tired old claims about the regulations being based on numbers and that they don’t cover hobby breeders such as hunters. But the huge reality is this – IF a bill ever included ALL breeders, the AKC would be first out of the box to scream that is wasn’t fair. This crying about the bill not covering everyone is pure nonsense from groups like the AKC.

The NC bill passed in the House 101-14, but some twisting by a few Senate members has it held up there – unfortunately. Another big item of note in the WCNC article is the AKC campaign donations to Senator Bill Rabon, who is a ringleader in blocking the legislation.

 

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The case against the Supreme Court

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Once again, the Supreme Court has handed down a decision that shows the majority of justices hold a complete lack of understanding of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

This morning’s announcement that the court has ruled – in a 5-4 vote – that allowing limitless campaign donations in any particular election is protecting free speech is stunning. The five justices in this case have stepped away from any real Constitutional principle to do nothing more than protect the very wealthy and to support the purchasing of elections.

This is something we should all be united against. Limiting the amount of money one can donate in an election cannot be equated with free speech, unless we all had the capability to donate huge amounts in equal parts. In this case, the court is ruling the very wealthy have more in the way of rights – to impact elections.

And in regard to the previous Citizens United ruling, corporations are not people. And this is where writing about this in an animal-welfare blog is highly appropriate. My dogs are far closer to being people than any corporation. At least dogs and other animals have a state of consciousness and a circulatory system.

On the other end, some corporations not only are lacking in the area of states of consciousness, some engage in actions that are not at all conscientious. So five of the what I call the “injustices” would have us believe that conscious beings that experience emotion and suffer if mistreated should not be afforded any more in the way of rights that a kitchen stove enjoys.

And yet, the five injustices believe corporations are people and massive campaign donations are protected free speech, with all of the rights that go with that protection. A group of 4-year-olds could better follow the Constitution.

When we were all young, we probably looked at people in positions of power – Presidents, Congressmen, Supreme Court justices and governors – as being really smart people. After all, they hold these high offices. I don’t know about you, but the older I get and with the more information I consume, the more I understand some of these officials have reached their higher offices with barely any, if zero credentials to hold these positions.

 

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US responds to Iceland’s horrendous whale meat industry

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In a great bit of news, the US is challenging Iceland’s trade practices in whale meat and other products made from whales.

What Iceland, Japan any others involved in whaling, directly or in purchasing the products, are doing crosses the line. Whales are vital to the Earth’s ecosystem and more importantly, whales are highly intelligent beings. Wiping them off the face to the Earth is criminal and inflicting such extreme suffering on them is both criminal and evil.

The press release from the US Fish and Wildlife Service:

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Federal Agencies Directed to Take Action in Response to Iceland’s International Trade in Whale Meat and Products

The President has notified Congress of actions he directed federal departments and agencies to take to encourage Iceland to cease international trade in whale meat and products. The President’s instructions come in response to a certification issued by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products is diminishing the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

“The Icelandic government continues to increase its fin whaling quotas despite international pressure to cease its commercial hunting operations,” said Secretary Jewell. “The President’s actions today highlight our continued concern about and staunch opposition to Icelandic commercial fin whaling and the export of endangered fin whale meat.”

Secretary Jewell’s certification, as required by the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act, followed on from a similar certification by then-Secretary of Commerce Locke in July 2011, in which he stated that commercial whaling by Icelandic nationals diminished the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) conservation program. The IWC adopted a commercial whaling moratorium in 1982.

In the letter notifying Congress of his actions, the President said: “Just as the United States made the transition from a commercial whaling nation to a whale watching nation, we must enhance our engagement to facilitate this change by Iceland.” His directives reaffirm those made pursuant to the 2011 certification and include several additional actions including, among others, encouraging Iceland to promote alternative non-lethal uses of whales in Iceland, such as whale watching; working with other international actors on additional measures to reduce Iceland’s fin whale trade and enhance the effectiveness of CITES; and re-examining bilateral cooperation projects with Iceland in light of its whaling policies. A detailed list of the actions directed by President Obama can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/01/
message-congress-iceland-and-fisherman-s-protective-act.
Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006 and since then has exported whale meat and products despite a ban on international commercial trade. Unlike Japan, Iceland does not consider itself to be bound by the IWC’s moratorium on commercial whaling. In December 2013, Iceland issued a fin whale quota of 154 fin whales per year for the years 2014-2019.

From 2008 to 2012, trade reports show that more than 1.6 million kilograms of fin whale meat and products were exported from Iceland to Japan. Fin whales are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which prohibits trade for primarily commercial purposes.

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April Fool Video: Dog Highchair

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Is anyone going to try to order this:

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Minnesota could improve regulations on dog breeders

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The Minnesota state legislature could vote this month on a bill to regulation dog breeding in the state and offer a better means to uncover puppy mill breeders.

The MyFox9.com article posted March 28 does start out with a somewhat unsupported statement – “Most dog and cat breeders in the state of Minnesota play by the rules, but what about the ones that don’t?

How does the writer know this. At this point in time, I would venture to say the quality breeders are out-numbered by the substandard breeders, even to the degree of breeding practices that take into account genetics.
The article reports the proposed bill features provisions for annual inspections, record keeping and “minimum health protocols.”

One dog breeder is quoted, who doesn’t like regulation that requires the dogs receive some physical affection. Who could be anti affection?
And I’m sure the AKC types will roll out their objections, as they usually oppose inspections and health standards and anything that might lead to better, more humane care. They believe it would be terrible for inhumane conditions to be uncovered during an inspection. Certainly they can’t be opposed to inspections where the breeder is taking great care of their dogs or cats.
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Video: Incredible two-legged boxer puppy runs on beach

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This dog is amazing.

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Sea Shepherd celebrates court finding that Japan is illegally whaling

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Sea Shepherd sent out the following press release today, in response to the report that the International Court of Justice has ruled Japan’s whaling operation is illegal.

Of course, not only is it illegal, it is also immoral.

The Independent ran a news story today concerning the ruling and the finding that Japan’s whaling is not based on scientific research. Finally. We all know it isn’t based on research, unless they’re researching the taste of whale meat.

And the BBC reports Japan will accept the ban on whaling in the Antarctic region. This is great news and I hope the country holds to its acceptance. We can only hope bans can be implemented for all region’s of the Earth’s oceans.

The BBC article quoted Greenpeace UK spokesman Willie MacKenzie as saying – “The myth that this hunt was in any way scientific can now be dismissed once and for all.”

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March 31st , 2014 – Melbourne, Australia —

“The International Court of Justice findings that Japan’s whaling is illegal vindicates a decade of courageous actions by Captain Paul Watson and his crews,” Sea Shepherd Australia Chairman, Bob Brown said.

“All across Australia people will be celebrating this win due to Sea Shepherd and their huge public support for protecting whales in this country that led to the Australian Government to take this legal action,” said Dr Brown.

“Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott should tell Japan, ‘Never cross the equator again with a whale harpoon gun’,” said Dr Brown.

“This result gives further credit to Sea Shepherd for not only upholding Australian Federal laws also International laws in defending the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary for the whales and for future generations.” said Jeff Hansen, Sea Shepherd Australia Managing Director.

“In the absence of law enforcement in the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd has been the only organisation upholding the law in defence of the International Whale Sanctuary, while Japan has been consistently breaking the law and this ruling now proves that,” said Mr Hansen.

 

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No surprise here; horrors of greyhound racing in Australia swept under the rug

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It keeps happening in regard to animal welfare and environmental issues. But it’s hard to imagine why it’s seems okay to some, to produce a study, without covering the main topics involved in the particular issue at hand.

In what is being called a “parliamentary inquiry into the greyhound racing industry,” the producers of the study have conveniently omitted key facts that cover the suffering the dogs endure. The rug has been lifted, however, in a Sydney Morning Herald article published March 30.

Reportedly, any mention of the massive number of greyhounds killed each year by the industry was removed from the report. This comes even in light of a racing insider admitting in a hearing that 3,000 dogs are killed each year.

The article also states other problems, such as the “mistreatment of dogs, loopholes in drug testing inadequate animal welfare standards and the absence of lifetime tracking” were “glossed over.”

And the article ends with this: “Mr Borsak said the panel found that the incidence of greyhound cruelty and neglect was minimal.” Robert Borsak is the select committee chairman and Shooters and Fishers MP.

As is the case in the United States and elsewhere, some politicians will make any wacky statement, no matter how far it is from reality. Why? – Because some people will believe anything that crawls from their mouths and in too many cases, national media outlets let them get away with it.
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