Researchers: Apes have similar personalities to humans

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An article published last week by the Huffington Post reported on new research on the personalities of chimpanzees, conducted by an international team of researchers. The conclusion: chimpanzees and orangutans do share personality traits with humans.

The writer explains that to date some scientists are still challenging to the notion that suggests once again that other researchers are engaging in anthropomorphism, merely wishing human qualities on animals. But the naysayers seem to consistently overlook the fact that individual personalities and emotions can be shared by humans and animals.

So we are not at all engaging in anthropomorphism when we see emotion and personality in beings from apes to dogs to cats. The fact is, some of these qualities of self-awareness are shared. I fear some of these other scientists are putting up a wall to any new findings that show this, because they can’t bring themselves to come to the conclusion – for whatever reasoning.

From the article: “(Jane) Goodall’s impressions of the human-like personalities of the chimpanzees she studied reflected the chimpanzees’ individual behavioral differences,” the researchers wrote in their study.

We now know this is true for other animals, such as dogs and cats. We’ve personally adopted enough basset hounds and greyhounds, for example, to know that dogs within the same particular breed have their own, distinct personalities and self.

Legal Stuff: Anti-tethering bill; man ordered to pay for care of seized dogs

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In Delaware, the state’s Senate has voted to ban the practice of tethering dogs for for 18 hours or more within any 24-hour period. If passed, the would also prohibit tethering for dogs under 4 months old for any period of time and would ban the practice for nursing moms in the presence of their puppies.

The Republic article from Wednesday notes opponents of the bill believe it will lead to ‘further restrictions on dog owners,’ such as bans on animals housed in enclosed kennels all day. It’s the old slippery-sloop argument. So we can’t enact any more laws against anything, because it might lead to some really extreme additional laws?

Ooooh – If your city reduces the speed limit near a new school from 55 to 45 that could lead to the speed limit dropping to 15 miles per hour all over the city. Oooooh – If important laws are passed to protect kids from on-line predators, then laws will soon follow that will require all kids remain inside a plastic bubble 24 hours per day until they are 14 years old.

But where the slippery-sloop, pro-tethering folks go in the case above doesn’t really seem too extreme at all, does it? Shouldn’t we not want dogs caged 24 hours per day?

AND – A man accused of operating a puppy mill out of his home in Indianapolis, Ind. has been ordered by a judge to pay for the care of the 51 dogs seized in the case.

Good for that judge. This needs to happen in far more cases.

Another dog mistakenly shot and killed by police officer

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Sadly, another family dog has been shot and killed by a law enforcement officer, this time in Fort Worth, Texas. And once again, it involves an officer responding to the wrong address.

I’ll start this off by once again stating I am one who has complete respect for those who put their lives on the line every day – in law enforcement, fire fighting and military careers. But when anyone does something like this, they need to be called out for it.

In this case, reports the family was just returning home from a shopping trip when the officer arrived at their home. As their two dogs approached the officer, the couple said they told him that their the dogs don’t bite. They managed to grab one of them, but Lille, a Border collie mix, approached the officer on the porch. Lillie was shot in the back and died a short time later.

If the United States Postal Service can train their employees, to a point where dog bite cases are nearly nonexistent, why are we still hearing about cases with police officers. Mail carriers don’t carry guns and yet they are handing dog encounters with much better outcomes. And mail carriers are going door to door six days a week.

I’m sure a vast majority of law enforcement officers across the country are not of the shoot-the-dog-first mentality. But this is happening to a level now that training for these cases must be implemented – now.

Peter Dinklage is Farm Sanctuary’s 2012 National Walk for Farm Animals spokesperson

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Peter Dinklage, the star of the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” is serving as Farm Sanctuary’s 2012 National Walk for Farm Animals spokesperson. Walks will take place in more than 35 North American cities this fall.

“I love animals and the way they are treated on factory farms is not OK with me,” Dinklage said through a press release. “Numerous studies have shown that cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other farm animals possess the same intelligence and capacity for fear, pain, and joy as dogs and cats, yet the meat industry uses expensive ad campaigns and clever marketing to hide the reality that animals used for food are treated like unfeeling machinery.

“Fortunately, we can think for ourselves and challenge the status quo by making choices that don’t hurt animals. Please join me in making the world a kinder place for farm animals by registering to participate in a Walk for Farm Animals near you at”

Also from the release – “” For more than 25 years, Farm Sanctuary has rescued and provided sanctuary for abused farm animals, educated the public about the routine cruelty they endure on factory farms, and advocated on their behalf. The Walks bring together thousands of people from different backgrounds in cities all across the U.S. and Canada to raise vital funds to support the organization’s life-saving work and promote kindness towards farm animals. “”

Topics: Factory farming (gestation crates) and greyhound racing

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McDonald’s is getting heat from pork producers after announcing that within the next decade the fast-food giant will stop purchasing products from suppliers who use gestation crates.

The Des Moines Register ran a statement from the National Pork Producers Council that included a couple of unbelievable statements –

“Individual sow housing allows us an option to give that best care.” – and – “NPPC notes that the key factor that most affects animal well-being is husbandry skills – that is, the care given to each animal.”

Gestation crates are extremely cruel, so that first statement is flatly false. As far as the second statement goes, if the NPPC really wanted the best care for each animal, it would propose a free-range system for the pigs.

The Florida Times-Union ran an editorial last week promoting the passage of legislation in the state to decouple greyhound racing from the casinos.

The piece includes this important statement: “This bill needs to be passed next legislative session mostly because the state should not be forcing unprofitable businesses to remain open.”

More troubling news out of greyhound racing

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The troubling news out of greyhound racing continues to mount – this past week from Arizona to West Virginia.

The dog races at the Tucson Greyhound Park were scrapped Wednesday, after three trainers tested positive for drugs and a kennel operator refused to take a drug test the day before.

And over in West Virginia, what is being called a “small outbreak of kennel cough” has put the Wheeling Island racetrack under quarantine. I just have to wonder what the insiders consider a small outbreak.


Hen battery cages debated

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Two editorials hit the Pack News Wire this morning, crossing the vast canyon of the animal welfare debate. One rightfully calls for new, more humane practices within the egg-production industry. The other uses scare tactics and wild clams and pricing predictions and financial mumbo-jumbo – and everything but concern for the chickens packed into tiny cages for the entire span of their lives.

First, lets go to Mindy Patterson’s editorial posted on American Thinker website. Her thoughts really don’t match up at all with logical thinking, but I guess warped thinking is some sort of thinking. Patterson is speaking out strongly against US Senate Bill S. 3239, which would require more space for hens – by 2029.

Before I get to Patterson’s rant, I have to say that the obvious injustice in an otherwise forward step to more humane practices on factory farms is the length of time that hens will continue to suffer. Why 17 years? A kid born today could be getting ready for high school graduation in 2029. But still, the supporters of inhumane practices on factory farms are crying that is too much?

In the middle of her scare-tactic tirade, she claims the “regulations may seem reasonable on the surface,” but it’s all a plot by the Humane Society of the US to push for “cleverly crafted laws.” So for that side, even if it’s reasonable, if it’s pushed by the HSUS, it’s wrong?

And she throws this one at the readers: “HSUS’ goal is to provide relief to chickens, not provide food for humans.” And her point is what? – How dare a Humane Society try to end the torture of chickens? It’s like saying – ‘Weight Watchers goal is to help people loose weight, not provide donuts and sodas for overweight people.’ Oh the horrors.

She wraps up the editorial by quoting Henry Kissenger with,  “If you control the food supply, you control the people.”  And calls the move for more humane practices on factory farms – “food tyranny.” I hope the SNL writers are reading this.

Thankfully, we have folks like Tim Vande Bunte on the other side of the debate. In his editorial posted Friday on out of Michigan, he calls for the new legislation to be enacted, to provide “enriched colony housing which will provide hens with nearly double the amount of space.” And he notes the new rules would provide “perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas that allow the hens to express natural behaviors.”
He cites a report that notes better housing for hens reduces the mortality rates and increases production. And get this, Vande Bunte represents Konos Inc., a family-owned egg producer since 1946.
He notes the new standards are supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Consumer Federation of America and the United Egg Producers.
Would Patterson accuse the United Egg Producers of “food tyranny?”

Any egg producers who use battery cages and are now fighting against new, humane regulations got themselves into this mess. If it is going to cost them money to modify their facilities, they should consider that they should have never gone to battery cages in the first place.


Foie gras: Come on … is anything too much for some people?

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While those on the side of compassion continue to speak out for the improved treatment of animals and to protect them from cruelty, a few folks on the other side keep coming up with different ways to torture animals – mostly in the name of profit.

Foie gras (translated from French to English as ‘fatty liver’) is hitting the headlines more of late. The so-called menu item is created by stuffing a pipe down the esophagus of ducks, to force feed them into having a fatty liver.

The reality is our society will continue to consume meat, for at the least the foreseeable future. Thankfully, there is a movement – fueled by animal-welfare advocates – to improve the conditions for animals on farms. But the effort has been slow to advance, as too many defenders of the inhumane practices fight against treating animals with at least a little compassion.

But even more troubling is some of the more recent practices developed by the factory farming industry. So somebody decided a fat duck liver tastes good. And in response to this revelation, an extremely cruel method of fattening up the liver moved to the top of list of the methods of ‘production.’

Our society has advanced in many positive ways over the last several decades. Where some people in the middle of the last century were considered to be second-class citizens, the push for equal rights changed much of that.

But factory farming has taken a wide, sweeping turn in the wrong direction over the last several decades. And it’s hard to understand how, in 2012, some of these practices are considered acceptable at all.

I think, with all of the vast menu options available at restaurants all over the country, we can do without new developments such as foie gras, if it means another species of animal will added to the list of those who suffer every day.

Where does it stop? How much is too much? Where do we, as a society, draw the line – at least when it comes the fancy items on the menu?

The Associated Press reports a ban on foie gras will go into place in California on July 1. Back in 2004, the California legislature gave the industry seven years to develop a cruelty-free method of producing the product. It didn’t happen and sadly, a group of chefs has launched an effort to overturn the ban.

Topics: Factory farming, seal slaughter, kangaroo slaughter – and greed

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What led to current state of factory farming? – Greed. What prompts the annual seal slaughter in Canada and the similar kangaroo slaughter in Australia? – Greed – And then there is the unfortunate market for the products from these mass slaughters.

A new Whole Foods just opened in my hometown. My wife and I roamed through the store over the weekend and I found a section with meat products from animals raised as free-roaming. This – for the most part – is the way it used to be, before factory farming took over the industry.

For the sake of massive profit – pigs, cows, turkeys and chickens, etc are crammed into tiny cages for the entire span of their entire lives. It’s horrible. Why can’t the animals at least be free to roam before their deaths? Why can’t they live free of cruelty at least until the time of their deaths?

The response to these questions from the supporters of factory farms always turns to the cost of production and the increased price on the shelves. It’s always about money. They can’t help it. It’s money and profit and pricing and sales. All things are excusable because finances always come first in the era of factory farming.

Employees need better working conditions? Employees need a raise? – Can’t be done. After all, the CEO needs another multimillion-dollar bonus. The record profit margin must be maintained. The vice-president in charge of what-ever is only making $1.2 million; hardly enough to maintain homes in California and Florida. And have you checked how much it takes to fill the gas tank on a yacht lately?

The employees don’t need a raise. The price of house-brand macaroni and cheese is still pretty cheap in the grocery store. They can eat that every day. After all – they’re only workers. If they want more, they can get a fourth job. What are they doing in the overnight hours anyway – sleeping? That’s pretty lazy.

And for the animals; if they weren’t crammed into crates 24/7, they’d be wandering around outside doing nothing. They can’t read or watch TV and they aren’t allowed in the mall, so what kind of life could they lead?

This is the philosophy of the universally greedy.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill last week that could improve the housing for hens on factory farms – in this case, in mass-production egg farms. The bill is endorsed by the United Egg Producers  and the Humane Society of the United States. It doubles the size of the cages most hens are crammed into today – for at least 124 square inches for each hen.

An editorial this week on the Chicago Tribune website noted the following – “” Major chains like Costco and Wal-Mart already insist on cage-free eggs for their private brands. Food companies General Mills and Kraft are shifting in that direction. Burger King has announced that within five years it will switch to all cage-free eggs. “”

Slowly but surely, progress is being made toward more humane conditions. But there is a long way to go and other facets of the factory farming industry might not be so willing to change their ways.

I referenced the annual seal slaughter and kangaroo slaughter above. Lesli Bisgould, a Canadian animal rights lawyer is making a connection between the two very similar atrocities, on separate continents.

An estimated 90 million kangaroos have been killed in Australia over the last two decades.

Bisgould, reportedly the first lawyer in Canada with a focus in animal rights, has been challenging the Canadian seal hunts and questioning the justifications for the slaughter. I haven’t handed out one these of late, but Bisgould is hereby awarded a Pack of Humane Justice Award.

Topics: Factory farming, lab animals

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A protest was held Sunday near the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. The Philly Dawg blog reports it was part of the National Day of Mourning for Animals in Laboratories.

The writer reports – “” A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report found that employees at Children’s Hospital inaccurately mixed formula for lambs who were languishing likely from lack of nutrition. The lambs had to be euthanized as a result, the report said. “”

The University of Pennsylvania was warned last year by the USDA about the treatment of animals at its lab.

A bill working its way through the US Senate would amend the Egg Products Inspection Act, to modify rules for the housing of hens. It would double the space for hens.

The Dot Earth blog on the New York Times website notes the National Pork Producers Council is saying this bill “would set a dangerous precedent for allowing federal bureaucrats to regulate on-farm production practices.”

The NPPC is of course WRONG. – The dangerous precedent was set – for animals and consumers – when too many factory farms started abusing animals.