The evidence mounts against horse racing

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Another huge story has hit the web, highlighting the ills of horse racing. Anytime you put animals in the path of gambling or corporate profit, the animals are at risk to get steamrolled by dollar bills.

The New York Times reports the trainer of Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another has a history of violations. Doug O’Neill has “more than a dozen violations for giving his horses improper drugs” – according to the Times article.

The cases were spread over four states over 14 years. The NY Times also analyzed his horses’ tendencies to break down and reported “the horses he trains break down or show signs of injury at more than twice the rate of the national average.”

And then there is this troubling sentence from the story – “” The racing industry has come to realize that lax regulation and the absence of meaningful punishment have fostered a culture where top trainers with multiple drug violations are more the rule than the exception. “”

Translation: The industry has looked the other way while these violations have gone on.

So are we to believe that suddenly, after years of negative information coming out of horse racing – about the drugging of horses and horses being raced at too young an age and race horses being routinely sent off to slaughter after they are of no more value to the industry – that now the powers that have suddenly seen the light?

The problem is it’s too tempting. The money is a carrot on a stick – a very big, pricey carrot on a stick. Gotta find a way to reach the big money. Gotta get an edge.

It’s time to shut it down. Let everybody gamble on the cards and dice and other table games. Cards, dice and slot machines can’t suffer. Cards, dice and slot machines are not sent off to slaughter; to suffer in horrible fear, through the pain of a bolt through the skull or a gun blast.

It’s time to shut it down – dog and horse racing.

Hero pet and hero person

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I just found two great stories that once again reaffirm our connection with our animals.

The winner of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles’ 30th National Hero Dog Award has been announced and it’s Bear, a 100-pound Shiloh German shepherd rescued from a Texas animal shelter three years ago.

Bear’s guardian had a seizure last May and lost consciousness when she fell hit her head. The Associated Press reports Bear raced from house to house, scratching on doors for help. A county animal control officer saw him and followed him to home.

The dog then jumped into the ambulance to accompany his guardian to the hospital.

And a woman in Massachusetts saved her 9-year-old golden retriever  from a bear attack, using a toy sword.  She waved the toy at the bear and banged it on a stone wall and screamed until bear had enough, stopped its attack on her dog left the yard.

That’s some kind of brave stuff there.

Puppy mill news out of New York, Indiana and Oklahoma

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Puppy mills are back in the news in a big way over the last couple of days. In my view, the more we see headlines about puppy mills – the better. Hopefully, it will open more eyes.

A new bill in New York State (A.10150) would increase standards of care for dogs in large-scale breeding operations. Hopefully, it will pass without delay.

The NWI Times reported Thursday on the Indiana Supreme Court’s review of cases where the state seized puppies from suspected puppy mill breeders with unpaid taxes. Hopefully, the ultimate ruling will not negatively impact the state’s ability to shut down puppy mills.

And in Oklahoma, it looks like some elected officials want to gut important regulations on puppy mill breeders, through the new House Bill 2912. The new bill calls for the state Department of Agriculture to set breeding regulations, while dropping the past upgrades to the rules.

An editorial posted Thursday on suggests this means that in the meantime there would be no regulations on breeders, until the Department of Agriculture got around to setting the new regulations. When that happened, soft might be the proper terminology for what will happen.

Oklahoma offers a clear example of why we need to see the new federal guidelines pass to cover breeders who sell over the Internet and though other means.

USDA’s new proposed rules for dog breeders could help shut down more puppy mills

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It is at least a couple of decades past due, but we might finally see Internet sales and other retail sales of puppies covered under the Animal Welfare Act.

The change in the Animal Welfare Act has been on the table for some time now, but it is again a hot topic in the news this week, with the USDA proposal in the headlines.

The Washington Post reports the new regulations would cover breeders who breed more than four females and sell over the Internet, by mail or through phone sales. They will fall under the same guidelines as wholesale breeders. And this is the important change, as reported by the Washington Post – “” Sellers either must open their doors to the public so buyers can see the animals before they purchase them, or obtain a license and be subject to inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. “”

The time is now for the federal government and all state governments to get serious about shutting down puppy mills. The horrible suffering has gone on for far too long.

The new regulations are getting bipartisan support in the US Congress. This is really great news! The bad news is it still doesn’t cover so-called backyard breeders who sell locally from their homes.

The Philly Dawg blog on jumped on the news yesterday and and reported a large number of breeders in Pennsylvania have dropped their USDA licenses of late to sell over the Internet and slide by any oversight.

The Humane Society of the United States is applauding the move:

Pack Line Headlines 5.11.12: Animal cruelty, factory farming

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Ohio ranks low in punishment for animal cruelty – News Channel 5 out of Columbus investigated the state of Ohio’s animal cruelty laws and found them weak when compared to other states.

An act of animal cruelty is a second-degree misdemeanor in Ohio for a first offense. The news outlet reports animal cruelty is a felony in 44 other states. The state ranked No. 45 in 2010 and No. 36 in 2011 in the Humane Society of the United States’ yearly “Humane State Ranking.”

Sadly, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is against making penalties more severe for animal cruelty.

Wyoming pig farm accused of animal cruelty – The Wyoming Tribune Eagle ran a story today about the release of a HSUS video showing alleged acts of cruelty at Wyoming Premium Farms in Wheatland.

The article includes this – “” The video shows workers drop-kicking live piglets and whipping sick ones around in circles. “”

And thankfully, the article reports some good news – including the fact that eight states have banned the use of gestation crates for pigs. And Safeway, McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have all announced timelines for no longer purchasing produces from facilities that use gestation crates.

Arizona Governor signs measure to reduce number of annual races at Tucson Greyhound Park

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Grey2K USA reports today that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has signed a measure that will reduce the number of required dog racing days at Tucson Greyhound Park. The number will now be 100 days per year.

On his Saving Greys blog, Carey Theil states, “This is a huge step forward for Arizona’s greyhounds.” It is just that. It’s a great step in the right direction, a positive step to the ultimate goal of shutting down dog racing everywhere.


Pack Line Headlines for 5.10.12: Horse racing, puppy mills, animal cruelty laws

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HSUS offers reward for exposing puppy mills – As the Humane Society of the United States focuses on Puppy Mill Action Week, the organization is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone operating a puppy mill.

The number to report an anonymous tip is 877-MILL-TIP.

The Philly Dawg blog on recently posted on this news and also discovered Humane Society University and notes the site has added an online course for those focused on shutting down puppy mills.

New York State could strengthen anti-cruelty laws – The New York State Senate Agricultural Committee conducted a public hearing Wednesday concerning the states existing animal-cruelty laws.

On her blog, Amy Rossi violations of animal cruelty are merely considered violations of the “agriculture and markets” law.

Let’s hope these hearings will soon lead to much more severe penalties for those who torture animals.

Very odd suggestion for horse racing on Wall Street Journal Sports page – An article posted on the Wall Street Journal website on May 3 offers the odd suggestion that horse racing might be better without the jockeys.

One jockey is quoted as saying the races are “probably 95% horse, 5% rider.” But then a few paragraphs down we see this quote from a trainer – “Jockeys are pound for pound the best athletes in the world.”

Nothing against jockeys personally, but I don’t think that statement carries a lot of accuracy at all. And the article focuses a bit on jockey injuries but not injuries and deaths for the horses.

If horse racing is struggle as an industry and needs a change, I’d suggest shutting it down, as opposed to turning it into greyhound racing. We’ve got enough animal exploitation. Let people gamble on pro sports, dice, cards and other games. Let the horses and greyhound live a much happier life.


Another case offers more evidence of self-awareness in dogs

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I recently got into a back-and-forth about greyhound racing under a Huffington Post blog entry. A couple of folks on the pro-racing side talked about the dogs as “athletes” and about how much they are worth in monetary terms. And they claimed the dogs love racing.

I came out of the discussion thinking about how far behind these people are when it comes to understanding animal welfare, animal behavior and cognition. One side of the animal-welfare debate is pushing compassion for animals and pushing for better laws to protect animals from cruelty. The other side is fighting all of that and considers an animal to be nothing more than a physical possession.

The science is in, however. The research and study needs to go on, but the conclusion has been reached. Animals – most notably what we might call the higher-order animals – have self-awareness and a state of consciousness. A recent story out of Massachusetts piles more information on the ever-growing mound of proof that these theories have now advanced deep into the category of FACT.

And this story heaps more evidence into the research:

This pit bull – yes pit bull – pulled his unconscious guardian off a train track and saved her life. Lilly risked her own life and suffered severe injuries. After her leg has been amputated, Lilly is expected to recover.

As reported by My Fox Boston, the train engineer witnessed Lilly pulling Christine Spain off the track, but despite all of his efforts to stop the train in time, he could not avoid hitting the dog.

This is not instinctive behavior on Lilly’s part. What she did took a higher-order thought process, to recognize a danger and act on it to save another being from harm. How can we – as an advanced society – not advance our legal system to offer for animals better protection from cruelty?

How can we allow horse slaughter, knowing they have an advanced level of consciousness? How is it that particular entities in 2012 are fighting against stronger anti-puppy mill laws? How is it that certain entities are trying to hide from public view the cruelty that takes place on too many factory farms?

These people and entities fighting against animal welfare are not only on the wrong side of history, they are on the wrong side of the galaxy when it comes to compassion and science. I am excited and heartened by the fact that in the case of animal welfare, science and compassion have fully joined forces. The mounting scientific evidence clearly supports the animal-welfare movement and its compassionate message.

Can dogs experience disappointment?

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I found an interesting post on a blog called “A City Mom” on the Chicago Now website. Kim Strickland asked the question – “Can a dog understand a broken promise?”

It seems she promised her dog they would go on a morning jog, but circumstances pushed back the outing. Her dog exhibited some unusual behavior, in expressing displeasure with the delay.

Dogs do indeed experience emotions such as this. Recent studies have even suggested there is special and unique mental connection people have with their dogs, quite possibly the result of a shared bit of evolutionary process, over thousands of years of living together as buddy species – if you will.

I’m glad other bloggers and writers are sharing their stories that highlight the human-animal connection.

Report: No-Kill movement facing hurdles in San Angelo, Texas

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An article that came across the Pack New Wire this morning highlights the no-kill shelter movement and in this case the hurdles the system in one municipality is facing to reach this status.

Let’s start by reaffirming my thoughts on the No-Kill Movement. I’ve scanned over the book Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution  by Nathan J. Winograd and finally this week I’ve started reading it straight through.

The ultimate goal should be No Kill – for all shelters, animal-welfare groups and rescue organizations. Of course, everyone involves admits that some homeless pets will never make it out of shelters, due to severe health problems or aggressive behavior.

But again, I FULLY support the mission of the movement. Where I tend to get a bit squeamish is this message that pet overpopulation is a myth. I understand the point Winograd is making, but I fear the people at the root cause of the problem will decide it lets them off the hook.

And the people and entities creating homeless pets should never be let off the hook.

Winegrad suggests there are plenty of homes available for homeless pets in the United States. The problem he and others see is that too few families are being reached out to as potential homes. Again, this is probably true. But half of the equation is being left out of the mix.

On one hand, we’re asking these families to take on the responsibility of caring for the dogs and cats dumped out by irresponsible people. This is happening by the what – say the millions of pets each year? So it is very important to suggest the system is broken and we need to do more in shelters to drastically reduce the euthanasia rates. And it is important to try to reach out to more potential homes each year.

But I would like to see an equal emphasis on the root causes of homelessness. We need to shut down the puppy mills and greyhound racetracks and find a way to make sure more dogs and cats are spayed and neuter. We need to reach a point where ONLY quality breeders are selling dogs and cats and where the general population is not allowing their pets to breed puppies and kittens into homelessness.

The article on (Standard-Times) reports about half of San Angelo shelter’s adoptions are through rescue groups. Last year, 6,061 cats and dogs were euthanized at the shelter, down from 7,089 in 2010. That number is still way too high. I think everyone can agree on that.

The article quotes Jenie Wilson, director of Concho Valley PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) – “We may need to look at restructuring some ordinances so there are some consequences to people who breed (their pets) indiscriminately,” Wilson said, adding that the puppies breeders sell often end up in shelters and face euthanasia. “People adopt (from breeders) and realize it’s more than they can handle. That is one of the biggest feeders to the shelter.”

The biggest feeder to the shelter – dogs purchased and puppies breed indiscriminately. Exactly. And don’t let anyone tell you that purebred dogs don’t end up in shelters or with local breed-specific rescue groups all over the country.

We need better and more cooperation between municipal shelters and local rescue groups. We need more low-cost and no-cost spay/neuter programs. We need improved legislation to shut down puppy mills and greyhound racing.

It’s not just about the shelter operations and it’s not just about spay/neuter and it’s not just about the irresponsible people who create homeless pets. The solution is multifaceted and unfortunately the change for the better won’t happen overnight.

But now is the time to make it start happening.