Burger King announces move to cage-free eggs and cage-free pork products

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Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to announce a major shift in the direction of animal welfare for Burger King.

The No. 2 fast-food giant will by 2017 phase out the use of eggs and pork products from severely confined hens and pigs.

Pacelle was also quoted by the Associated Press as saying – “So many tens of thousands of animals will now be in better living conditions. Numerically this is significant because Burger King is such a big purchaser of these products.”

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The AP also noted Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork each year.

We’ve still got a long road to travel to end suffering, but this news is a positive step in the right direction. The use of gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for chickens is barbaric and if more companies like Burger King would make this call, maybe the factory farming industry will end these practices for good.

Study shows baboons have rudimentary reading skills

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A French university study has found baboons could very well have rudimentary reading skills. The baboons have been able to distinguish between actual words and scrambled letters.

Four-year-old Dan has an 80-percent success rate in identifying words and has reportedly learned 308 four-letter words.

An Associated Press reports makes this assertion -

“” The study shows that reading’s early steps are far more instinctive than scientists first thought and it also indicates that non-human primates may be smarter than we give them credit for. “”

The results of the study were published earlier this month in the journal Science.

And the best aspect of this story involves the testing methods used. The baboons were not locked in rooms and forced to engage in the testing. They could go into 10 computer booths any time they wanted to. Some worked more than others.

The damage from the BP Gulf Oil Gusher goes on and on and on and ….

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Despite the BP TV ads that paint a rosy picture, the Gulf Oil Gusher continues to wreak havoc under the surface of the water and in the adjacent wetlands.

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The National Wildlife Federation issued a new report earlier this month, noting it may take years to decades to overcome the damage done by the huge spill. The suffering and deaths of dolphins and sea turtles are highlighted in the report.

National Wildlife Federation Senior Scientist Dr. Doug Inkley was quoted on the NWF website as saying – “Little action has been taken to address the long-term species threats and wetlands habitat degradation exacerbated by the oil disaster. Much more needs to be done to ensure a complete recovery.”

26th Genesis Awards to air 4 p.m. May 5 on Animal Planet

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The Humane Society of the United States’ 26th Genesis Awards Television Special will be televised on Animal Planet – at 4.00 p.m. ET/PT May 5, with an encore presentation at 8.00 a.m. Sunday, May 6.

From the press release -

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Hosted by dedicated animal advocate Dancing with the Stars’ Carrie Ann Inaba, with a little help from Uggie, the canine hero from the Academy Award-winning film The Artist, The HSUS’ 26th Genesis Awards is the only major awards show in which animals are the front and center, and the honors go to those in the news and entertainment media who call attention to the numerous welfare issues affecting animals the world over.

Opening with a fun, “revealing” interview between Carrie Ann and Uggie, who talks about his new-found fame as an A-lister, the show moves easily from consciousness-raiser to a unique celebration of the place animals hold in people’s lives.

Must-see TV for the millions of animal lovers who want to make a difference, The HSUS’ 26th Genesis Awards brings together many Hollywood celebrities known for their support of animal protection, including Bill Maher, Kaley Cuoco, Kesha, Moby, Deepak Chopra, Wendie Malick, Sophia Bush, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Pauley Perrette, Jason Ritter and Jon Bernthal.

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Police officer directed to wrong home shoots innocent family dog

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An Austin, Texas police officer was sent to the wrong address in responding to a recent 911 call about a woman being held against her will in the front yard of a home. When the officer arrived at the wrong address, he reportedly found a man outside with his dog.

The officer told the man to hold up his hands and as the dog approached, barking, the officer then shot the Australian Cattle Dog named Cisco. The shot killed the dog.

First, it is terrible that the officer was sent the wrong address and he was no doubt expecting trouble when he arrived. We all should understand that. But we’ve seen enough of these cases now where dogs are being shot by law enforcement officers – to prompt better training on dog behavior and how to react to an approaching canine. For example, why didn’t the officer use his spray in this case?

Over the years, I recall a number of cases where I encountered dogs showing a degree of aggression – in neighborhood walks or on visits to homes, etc. I merely faced the dog in each case and began talking to it in a calm voice, with something like, “Oh now, what are you doing.”

I’m not saying that will work every time, but usually the dog will stop and show some restraint in getting any closer.

I’m sure local dog behaviorists or trainers would be willing to work with local law enforcement offices in training sessions.

 

Supporters of pet store puppy sales call the rest of us “anti-pets”

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We have a double-winner this week. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) gets both a Wacky Mentality Award and a Pack of Putrid Punditry Award for calling the movement to end the sale of puppy mill puppies – an “anti-pet movement.”

The reference is actually to the banning of the sale of puppies in pet stores, which is really, basically the same thing.

The statement and others were highlighted in an article posted on PetProductNews.com.

I thought I’d heard it all in watching political debates over the past decades. But this one has to take a special place in the annals of idiocy. It would be like calling laws to protect kids from child abuse – an “anti-child-birth movement.”

So let’s get this straight. Some people think that an effort to ensure that breeders take proper care of their breeding dogs and cats means people who love dogs and cats don’t want people to include dogs and cats in their families? – Huuh?

But the article does shine the light on why some in the “pet industry” don’t want to shut down the sale of puppy mill dogs. Michael Maddox, PIJAC’s vice president of governmental affairs was quoted as saying – “Clearly, if we have fewer pets, you’re going to see the industry adversely affected because we’re going to see less demand for pet products and see less sales.”

So some industry insiders equate fewer puppy mill puppies being sold with fewer sales of pet products. That’s an important admission. What these people don’t understand or don’t have the capacity to understand is the fact that millions of dogs and cats are dying EVERY YEAR in shelters across the nation.

Millions of available pets – from pure bred dogs and cats of all varieties to the great and wonderful mutt and standard stray cat – never find homes each year. We are VERY far from having a supply problem for pets in this economic equation.

What we do have is suffering problem and anyone fighting against legislation to ease this suffering is either completely uninformed, guided only by profit or is lacking in a compassion gene.

In the article noted about, Maddox was also quoted as saying – “There is no single best place to get an animal.”

Wow. Unbelievable. To call this one-dimensional and out of touch would be an understatement. The top two places “to get” a pet are shelters and rescue organizations.

Sarah McLachlan asks Canadian PM to halt seal clubbing cruelty

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One of my favorite all-time musical artist, Sarah McLachlan, has written a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, calling for an end to the country’s annual seal hunt. The the so-called ‘hunt’ is actually the clubbing of baby seals – the brutal beating of defenseless baby seals.

The Globe and Mail notes Russia banned the import of seal fur last year, joining the European Union and the United States with bans. Russia was buying 95 percent of Canadian seal fur. But the cruelty continues despite these facts.

McLachlan wrote – “This business is about as lucrative as an eight-track tape factory.”

But Harper is a full-blown supporter of this cruel and barbaric industry. The Globe and Mail also reported back in February on the PM’s trip to China, when he was set to make it priority to promote the sale of seal products.

At the time, Harper was quoted as saying – “Our government will continue to vigorously defend this humane and highly regulated industry and to seek new international markets for Canadian seal products, including China.”

So he gets a major-league Pack of Putrid Punditry Award. “Humane?” – really? No one with the ability to form even a tiny sliver of logical thought would call clubbing baby seals to death a “humane” act. This guy was really elected as the Canadian Prime Minister? Do they vote on that in Canada?

Sarah McLachlan, on the other hand, is officially awarded a Pack of Justice Award and a Pack of Compassion Award and a Wow Isn’t She Fantastic Award. (Okay … I just made that last one up, because it’s Sarah McLachlan we’re talking about here.)

Florida reverses 45-year ban on dyeing small animals

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Florida legislature and Gov. approve dying of animals for Easter sales: A Pack of Putrid Punditry Award goes out this morning to the Florida State legislature and Governor Rick Scott, who took part in passing a law which reverses a 45-year ban on artificially dyeing birds and other small animals.

It is amazing what some people will do for profit. While we need to be working on improving animal welfare, elected officials in Florida are looking to promote the sale of artificially colorful chicks and bunnies during holiday seasons. These folks are clueless as to what happens to so many of these “pets” a little later in their short lives.

And they are clueless as to what happens in some of the animal mills that breed these pets for sale to the public.

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida had asked Governor Scott to veto the bill.

What is it with Florida? The state seems to be perpetually in the news – and not in a good way – from being the greyhound racing capital of the US – to the 2000 election debacle – to the Casey Anthony trial debacle – to the investigation controversy in the Trayvon Martin case – to pulling back important animal-welfare regulations.

Come on Florida, get it together. A few oddballs in your state are damaging your overall reputation – in a huge way.

Pets have health benefits for the elderly

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Sorry folks. I’ve been slammed of late with other writing projects, so I have been woefully off line when it comes to the blog.

To get back into gear and back on my daily blogging pace, we have the results on a study about the health benefits pets offer to the elderly. File this one under the heading – “We Knew That, But it’s Great to see the Science Backing it Up.”

Pets Benefit Aging Adults’ Health, MU Researcher Says from MU News Bureau on Vimeo.

I received a press release this morning from the News Bureau of the University of Missouri, which states, “Having a pet can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, while increasing oxytocin, prolactin and norepinephrine, hormones related to joy, nurturing and relaxation.”

And the following is really important – “Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor in the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing and in the College of Veterinary Medicine, says long-term care facilities should follow the lead of others in their industry such as TigerPlace, an independent living community in Mid-Missouri, that enable residents to have pets.”

I hope this study will enlighten more facility managers and families as to the great connection people in general have with pets and certainly how much this connection means to older people.

Johnson is also director of MU’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI).
“Research suggests older adults live longer, healthier, happier lives when they interact with pets on a regular basis,” Johnson said through the release. “Pets provide companionship and unconditional love that improves the overall health of aging individuals.
“Caring for animals gives older adults responsibility and more reasons to get up in the mornings.”

Video: Soldier welcomed home by his very excited dog

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I will never get tired of seeing video like this one, where a soldier returns home to a fantastic welcomed by his kids or in this case, by his dog.