Pack Topics: Greyhound racing; new anti-poaching movie; undercover video

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Greyhound racing thankfully in decline: Carey Theil of Grey2K USA posted on his blog Tuesday on some important current trends in greyhound racing. The statistics come from the National Greyhound Association.

For example, the number of greyhounds registered to race is down 14 percent, compared to last year. And the amount wagered in July 2012 on races at Florida dog tracks was down by $1.6 million, compared to the same month last year.

Let’s hope the pace of decline picks up drastically for the rest of this year and next year.

Three actors planning new anti-poaching film: Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire and Tom Hardy are teaming up to produce a film about wildlife poaching and animal trafficking

Hopefully, we will continue to see more news about this project.

Three Congressmen fighting to ban undercover video on factory farms: Three US Congressmen are billing recent undercover videos that have exposed cruelty on factory farms as an “onslaught of attacks” and “economic terrorism” – according to an article on OpEdNews.com.

It seems the three Reps from California didn’t like the fact that the Central Valley Meat Co. was shut down after the release of undercover video allegedly showing cows being tortured. They don’t want to see cruelty exposed.

Again, if we had working regulations these undercover videos would not be necessary. The OpEdNews reports the facility had been inspected by the USDA. It seems the current system has too many holes in it.

Wanna see some real factory-farming propaganda?

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It’s the old argument little kids use with their parents: “But Mom, Billy did it too. He does it all the time. No fair.”

An opinion piece on the Beef Magazine website popped up on the Pack News Wire concerning the topic of the “Emotion in Animal Welfare.” – (Interesting already)

It seems a Purdue University associate professor of animal behavior and well-being spoke before a group in Nebraska and offered some very odd spin on that well-being part. She apparently showed a photo of hens in battery cages beside a photo of two parrots in a cage. And used the Billy-does-it-too argument. Of course, it’s more like – ‘I burned the house down, but Billy broke a lamp, so no fair punishing me.’

And she is quoted as saying, “When we think about animal welfare, everyone has a different idea of what that means.” – No, not really. And later, the associate professor is quoted on the topic of what meat producers should be saying, – “Make sure people know no one is more concerned about our animals than us, and that we are committed to their health and welfare.”

And in the middle of that editorial, I found a link to another piece submitted by the Center For Consumer Freedom (a name not really related to what the group wants).

It starts off trying to define the terms ‘animal rights’ versus ‘animal welfare.’ The writer suggests “animal welfare requires science-based, sometimes difficult choices.” Actually, that’s right – and science-based is where people like me like to go. But then the text turns away from science.

It is suggested hens in cages have a lower mortality rate than hens in cage-free and free-range environments. So stuff the hens in cages where they suffer 24/7 and they’ll live longer. Forget the suffering, even within the notion that the suffering goes for a longer period of time.

It seems their ‘science’ fails to take other factors directly related to the hen’s health into account. What’s the term I need here … what is it? …. oh yeah, that’s science limited to the narrow confines of a cage.

Undercover video once again reveals cruelty at a slaughterhouse

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Until states governments and the federal governments become serious about regularly inspecting slaughterhouses across the nation and imposing serious punishment in cases of abuse, undercover video will be the only means available to uncover that abuse.

The individuals and groups trying to criminalize undercover operations are only trying to hide the abuse. It’s a cyclical argument – don’t allow undercover video because it will uncover abuse.

Over the last couple of days, another horrible case has been highlighted in the national media. The cruelty is not something that might be twisted or misinterpreted by camera angles, in the video taken at a slaughterhouse in California. The abuse shown in the video turned over to the USDA by the group Compassion Over Killing is very clear.

An Examiner.com article reports the Central Valley Meat Company in Hanford, Calif. supplies meat to the National School Lunch Program and to several fast-food chains. In-N-Out Burger, McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Burger King and others have now cut ties with the company, according to the LA Times.

Note the statement from the American Meat Institute, which is typical of those trying to defend the indefensible.

 

Alicia Silverstone promotes Farm Sanctuary’s Compassionate Communities Campaign

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Actress Alicia Silverstone is the spokesperson for Farm Sanctuary’s Compassionate Communities Campaign.

From the press release:

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“When people think about helping animals, they generally think about dogs and cats, but chickens, pigs, and other farm animals need our help even more. And science shows that farm animals are just as intelligent and interesting as our pets,” says Alicia Silverstone, whose best-selling book “The Kind Diet” shows just how easy and delicious vegetarian eating can be. “Vegetarian advocacy allows busy people like you and me to spare the lives of thousands of animals every year without a huge time commitment. For example, you can spare at least fifty animals a lifetime of misery on a factory farm with just an hour of leafleting. And there are lots more tips at CompassionateCommunities.org.”

Compassionate Communities was created by Farm Sanctuary, North America’s largest and most effective farm animal rescue and protection organization, to promote and train animal advocates and grassroots groups in the most effective forms of animal advocacy and community building.

WHY IT MATTERS
Vegetarian advocacy has proven to be the most effective thing caring individuals can do to help the greatest number of animals in the least amount of time. For each person who reduces the amount of meat they eat, dozens of farm animals will be spared a lifetime of suffering.

HOW IT WORKS
Individuals who join the Compassionate Communities Campaign will:
• Receive direct support, physical resources, and instructions on best practices to help sharpen their advocacy skills.
• Receive blog updates twice a month delivered straight to their inboxes.
• Receive challenges that will take their activism to new heights while saving thousands animals.
• Complete the challenges and report back on their progress to receive recognition and prizes.

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Amendment to US House Farm Bill supports cruelty

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There are two rather twisting aspects to an article published Friday on the Sacramento Bee website.

The topic centers on a US House Farm Bill amendment that would prevent states from blocking the sale of agriculture products from other states, as one state might object to the way that other states produce that product.

It all has to do with California’s standards on battery cages. In 2015, all eggs sold in the state can only come from facilities where the hens are housed in cages large enough to allow them to stand and spread their wings.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa doesn’t like that. He apparently believes cruelty is acceptable and that no state should be able to institute even this minimal improvement for the lives of farm animals.

But here is where the second twisted aspect comes into the article. King is quoted as saying – “If California wants to regulate eggs that come into the state, fine.” But then he states – “But don’t be telling the states that are producing a product that’s already approved by the USDA or the FDA how to produce that product.”

Is it me, or does this not make any sense at all. So he’s saying it’s okay for California to regulate the eggs coming into the state, but then again it’s NOT okay to do that. It seems to me California is not telling factory farms in other states how to “produce” their products. It is only saying we won’t allow eggs to be sold within the state from hens in smaller cages. This is exactly what King says is “fine” in the first statement.
If anyone else is reading more into this than I am, please comment below.
The Humane Society of the US fears the Farm Bill amendment could also toss out California’s ban on foie gras. Wouldn’t King typically support states rights?? I guess he is only against states rights in cases where it might protect animals from cruelty.

Pack Topics: Gestation crate legislation; dog fighting; puppy mill punishment

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NJ could ban gestation crates: A bill in the New Jersey legislature could lead to ban on gestation crates and another bill could crack down on the trade of tigers.

State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak is leading the effort and is quoted by NJ Today as saying – “Animals are God’s creations as much as humans. These bills recognize that cruelty to animals and threats to their extinction need to be eliminated.”

The bill concerning the factory farming of pigs means defines the offending practice as the “cruel confinement as crating, confining or tethering a gestating sow in order to prevent the free range of motion.”

47 dogs saved from alleged dog fighting operation: In the Bronx, NY Thursday, 47 dogs were rescued from an alleged dog fighting ring. It appears training and fights were being held in the basement of an apartment building.

45 dogs rescued from Alabama home: A Madison, Ala. couple is facing 47 counts of animal cruelty after 45 dogs were found living in filthy conditions. Another 40 were found dead, as reported by WHNT.com.
Very light punishment in Canada for puppy mill operators: The people involved in the preceding two stories will most-likely receive weak sentences if convicted for the crimes they are accused of committing. It is an unfortunate result of the very weak and crime-friendly laws on the books – most notably the laws against animal cruelty.
This is the case in Canada as well, as we see in a case this week where the operators of a puppy will only received a two-year ban on operating a commercial breeding facility. But the Ottawa Sun does report that new regulations in Quebec could lead to lifetime bans in future cases.

Pack Topics: Egg bill amendment rejected; cougars making a comeback

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The US Senate rejected this week a contentious Farm Bill amendment that would have doubled the space in cages for egg-laying hens on factory farms.

The Humane Farming Association (HFA) and another animal-welfare organizations have been speaking out against the amendment, suggesting it would have overturned California’s Prop. 2, while ensuring hens remained caged – as opposed to turning to truly cage-free hens. The HFA was calling it the “Rotten Egg Bill.”

MarketWatch.com also reports the United Egg Producers (UEP) organization is involved in a scandal and along with several egg companies “” has been sued repeatedly for alleged illegal price fixing, paying $25 million to settle allegations that they illegally manipulated the price and supply of eggs under the guise of instituting standards for animal welfare. “”

Priscilla Feral, the president of Friends of Animals, is quoted in the article as saying, “There is no such thing as an ‘enriched’ battery cage.”

I stated before that this might have been a step in the direction, but in light of the scandal information and the possibility that it might very well throw up a roadblock to truly cage-free hens, I’ll have to say it is best that the amendment was defeated. We cannot allow the momentum to slow down for more humane regulations on factory farming.

I hope this next section leads to a more positive outcome for an animal species:

I received a press release this week with the following headline – “Cougars Are Re-Populating Their Historical Range, New Study Confirms”

The release in its entirety –

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New Evidence Shows How American Big Cats are Reversing 100 Years of Decline

American mountain lions, or cougars, are re-emerging in areas of the United States, reversing 100 years of decline. The evidence, published in The Journal of Wildlife Management, raises new conservation questions, such as how humans can live alongside the returning predators.

“The cougar population declined dramatically from 1900, due to both hunting, and a lack of prey, leaving the remaining population isolated to the American west,” said Michelle LaRue from the University of Minnesota. “Here we present the hard evidence that the western population has spread, with cougar populations re-establishing across the Midwest.”

Three main cougar populations exist in the Midwest centered around The Black Hills in South Dakota, however, cougars are venturing far outside of this range. One male cougar from the Black Hills was found to have traveled 2,900 kilometers through Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, before ending up in Connecticut.

“While the distance the Connecticut cougar traveled was rare, we found that cougars are roaming long distances and are moving back into portions of their historical range across the Midwest ”, said LaRue. “Our study took in over 3,200,000 Km² of territory, confirming the presence of Cougars from Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska, to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.”

Working alongside scientists from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and The Cougar Network, LaRue and Principal Investigator Dr. Clay Nielsen analyzed cougar sightings which have been reported since the 1990’s to characterize confirmed sightings over time, assess habitat suitability and confirm where cougar populations are being re-established.

Aside from confirmed sightings, the team’s evidence included carcasses, tracks, photos, video, DNA evidence and cases of attacks on livestock across 14 states and provinces of North America. Only sightings which were verified by wildlife professionals were included, while sightings of animals known to be released from captivity were excluded to ensure only natural repopulation was analyzed.

The results reveal 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest with the number of confirmations steadily increasing between 1990 and 2008. Approximately 62% of confirmed sightings took place within 20km of habitat that would be considered suitable for cougar populations.

When cougar carcasses were recovered 76% were found to be male. As the Connecticut example shows, males are capable of traveling long distances and this finding suggests males are leading a stepping-stone dispersal of the cougar population.

“This evidence helps to confirm that cougars are re-colonizing their historical range and reveals that sightings have increased over the past two decades,” concluded LaRue. “The question now is how the public will respond after living without large carnivores for a century. We believe public awareness campaigns and conservation strategies are required across these states, such as the Mountain Lion response plans already in place in Nebraska and Missouri.”

This research was conducted in partnership with Southern Illinois University Carbondale (http://www.wildlife.siuc.edu ) and The Cougar Network: http://www.cougarnet.org/

This study is published in The Journal of Wildlife Management.

“” “”

With a bit of intelligent educational practices, we can indeed welcome the return of cougars.

Pack Topics: Bogus groups, puppy mill regulations and factory farming

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An editorial by Julia Breaux – the state director for Louisiana of The Humane Society of the United States – ran Friday on the Shreveport Times website. In part, the piece notes the bogus nature of the Humane Society for Shelter Pets. The only real mission of the group seems to be to slam the HSUS.

Breaux writes the HSSP “is just the proxy group from attack-man Rick Berman.” She’s right. And she notes – “The HSUS provided direct care to more than 76,000 animals in 2011 alone. Our Animal Rescue Team deploys in response to natural disasters, working with other organizations to rescue, shelter and reunite lost animals with their families, and we assist law enforcement in saving animals from dogfighting and cockfighting rings, puppy mills, animal cruelty and hoarding cases, and other human-caused crises.

AND– The Florida Times-Union ran a story Saturday about a new Jacksonville, Fla. ordinance that gives the city’s “” animal protective agency more enforcement power over illegal pet sales. That includes the ability to levy fines against breeders, pet shops, flea markets and individuals selling animals. “” Great ordinance.

AND – The restaurant chain Cracker Barrel has joined the parade of national eateries that are at least taking some steps in regard to some of the horrendous practices on factory farms around the nation.
News Channel 5 out of Nashville, Tenn. reports the company wants to move away from pork products that originate from farms that use gestation crates and move toward those that are “crate-free.”

Some groups opposed to bill amendment to expand space for egg-laying hens

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The new US Senate bill amendment that would double the cage space for egg-laying hens on factory farms is getting some negative feedback from both the factory farming side and some animal-welfare groups.

Food Safety News quoted the Humane Farming Association as calling it the “rotten egg bill.” The Humane Farming Association is an anti-factory farming group out of California. Its members fear the legislation might “deprive states of the right to enforce anti-cruelty laws which prohibit battery cages.”

The amendment is the result of an agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States. If passed “enriched colony housing” would be phased in, doubling the space for each hen.

On the other side, the pork, beef and poultry industry are opposed to the new regulations, using the old slippery-slope argument. Some representatives have expressed fear that improving the housing for egg-laying hens could lead to more humane housing for other animals on factory farms.

We can only hope, can’t we. I’d hate to be on the side speaking out against more humane practices from the factory farming industry. So for that side, less suffering is a bad thing?

Food Safety News reports the amendment is backed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Mercy for Animals, Farm Sanctuary and the National Consumers League.

As I’ve stated in other posts, this latest amendment is a good first step. But the hens ultimately need more than double the space they currently live in. And I’m sure a lot of caring consumers like me would be more than willing to pay more for eggs we knew came from hens who lived under humane conditions.

Senate amendment to Farm Bill could improve the lives of egg-laying hens

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The Humane Society of the United States is reporting the US Senate could vote very soon on an amendment to the Farm Bill. This amendment could improve the lives of egg-laying hens on factory farms, with improvements such as doubling the space for each hen and banning inhumane practices such starving them to force a molting process.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., filed the amendment.

The HSUS is also urging people to read an editorial on the USA Today website, under the headline: “Editorial: Egg producers, activists show how to make a deal.” The focus is on the compromise between two opposing sides – the HSUS and the United Egg Producers.

Opponents are crying that the price of eggs will skyrocket, but the USA Today editorial notes the following: “” In the U.S., a study done for the egg producers found that the gradual changes would add about 10 cents to a carton of eggs by 2025, which cost an average $1.83 in April. “”

This is bill is a good step in the right direction, but I still believe the hens need more space. And I personally would pay beyond 10 more cents for each carton of eggs, if it means the hens are leading a better life.