When is pet rescue really theft?

Clifton Benjamin is suing a New York animal shelter for stealing his dog and giving it to another person. Benjamin seeks a million dollars in damages, according to most news sources.

 

What happened?

 

It appears that Benjamin lost his dog in the Fall of last year and the shelter held the Belgian Malinois, named Eto, for about three weeks. According to his lawsuit, Benjamin made several attempts to repossess Eto and provided photos of himself with the dog.

 

On their part, the Town of Islip says that Benjamin did not provide paperwork that proved he was the dog owner, the microchip number he provided did not match the one on Eto’s chip, and that there were multiple people claiming ownership of the dog, who is the same breed that brought down a known ISIS leader.

 

The language used by Benjamin’s team is troubling. His lawyer refers to Eto as “chattel,” a term that was used for wives back in the middle ages when both dogs and women were the legal property of men, not their loving companions. Benjamin also founds it outrageous that the shelter neutered Eto, making it impossible to breed him and sell expensive puppies.

 

Bad news coverage

 

There are many holes in the news coverage of this story. Did Benjamin not provide veterinary records or a rabies certificate? Did the shelter advertise the lost dog in the newspaper? The shelter claims that Benjamin had already transferred ownership of Eto to a third party. We need to know more about that.

 

Many animal lovers have rescued and adopted dogs and cats, so it behooves us to consider when a dog has been forfeited and when a dog has been stolen.

 

A dog has been stolen if …

 

  • He has been removed from the owner’s private property without the owner’s consent.
  • The owner has presented proof of ownership, such as rabies vaccination documents or a receipt of purchase or adoption, and the dog has not been returned to the owner.
  • The owner has a microchip certificate that matches the animal’s chip, and the dog has not been returned to the owner.
  • If the shelter holding the dog has not made a reasonable effort to locate the dog’s owner. In most cases, the shelter must, at minimum, publish a notice in the local newspaper stating that a dog has been found and describing the dog.
  • If multiple people claim ownership of the dog, the shelter must make a reasonable effort to determine which claim has the most convincing evidence. Unless the animal has been abused, the shelter should give benefit of the doubt to someone who can document ownership.

 

A dog has been forfeited and may be given in adoption to another owner if …

 

  • The dog shows signs of abuse or abandonment, especially poor nutrition, parasites, damaged paws, scars, or injuries.Someone claims to own the dog, but cannot show a record of veterinary care, minimally vaccinations or proof of purchase or adoption.
  • No one claims the dog within a week of the dog’s first day in the shelter. 

 

 

Pictured above is a Belgian Malinois who was trained to serve in the U.S. Air Force 673rd Security Forces Squadron. Photo courtesy of Justin Connaher.

Five easy ways to save bees

You don’t have to be a champion of animal rights to care about bees dying out.

You just have to like food.

By Joel Worth
Bees can survive on the despised dandelion.

Bees aren’t the only pollinators out there. But they are, by far, the most efficient.

This is a swarm of honey bees. They make it so we can eat food. Cherish them.

Let’s put it this way. If bees all die, we can quit worrying about climate change. We’ll starve to death before the permafrost melts.

The catastrophic decline in bee populations doesn’t make headlines anywhere near often enough. It’s not sexy news.

But while we pant after Lady Gaga’s latest outrage, the boring farms that feed us draw closer to peril.

It’s now a common thing for farms to rent bees, which get trucked in from elsewhere. Without these mercenary pollinators, crops would fail.

Scientists point to pesticides as an obvious reason why bees are dying. But the pesticide industry got busy and pointed back at the varroa mite.

Yeah, we know it’s really the pesticides.

While competing interests fiddle, we may want to consider the easiest things we can do to save bees. They are:

  1. Put down the bug and weed killers. The one kills bees, the other kills bee food. You can save money and go to heaven by leaving the poisons on the shelf at Walmart.
  2. Leave your dandelions alone. Bees don’t get enough nutrients from dandelions alone. But this sturdy and abundant little weed often saves bees from starvation while they are looking for a richer meal.
  3. Learn to identify honey bees and bumblebees. Bumblers are more or less unmistakable. Honey bees can be confused with wasps. But a few seconds spent looking at a photo of honey bees will show you what to look for.
  4. Where you see bees in your yard, don’t mow. Bees latch on tight to any steady source of nutrients. They love milkweed, goldenrod, pokeweed, and wild clover. Learn to love the weed. And know that, in other parts of the world, people prize that weed that you take for granted or despise. If you can’t give up your whole yard to bees, at least set aside a corner or fence buffer.
  5. Buy locally harvested honey. Bee keepers are the first line of defense of bee extinction. Supporting small-scale honey production ensures a good distribution of bee habitat.
Bees can easily locate a sunflower, and the big petals make it easy to feed from.

Top Ten Animal Rights Issues

The top ten issues affecting the animal kingdom are:

1. Climate change

 

earth embroiled in climate change

Parched and flooded at the same time? Yes, it’s climate change.

Climate change is head and shoulders the top concern for animals. We are all familiar, by now, with the plight of the polar bear. But hundreds of animal species are at risk from changing weather. Climate change is not just warming the arctic home of polar bears and penguins. It has also depleted snow in areas where animals depend on their winter white fur to camouflage them against the white backdrop.

Climate change has fucked with animal migration. When the weather is inconsistent, birds and other migrators don’t know when to depart. Where climate change has disrupted breeding habitats, it has the potential to decimate an entire species in one generation.

 

 

What you can do: Drive a hybrid or all electric vehicle, limit travel, drive instead of flying when possible, ride a bike or walk to nearby destinations, eat fish and chicken instead of red meat. Eat vegetables instead of fish and chicken to the extent you are able. Insulate your house and lower your energy bills.

2. Suburban sprawl equals lost habitat

Some people would say that human overpopulation is the problem. But humans could have expanded their population while sharing space with animals. The problem is urban sprawl and development practices.

Instead of keeping the footprints of our houses small and building up instead of out, we chop down twenty trees just to build one McMansion. Then we pave half an acre for a driveway and parking pad.

Every time you chop down one mature tree, you are destroying the breeding habitat of twenty bird couples. Paving destroys any number of box turtles, lizards, and frogs.

What you can do: Limit your family to two children. If you are building your dream house, build it on two levels, take down only the trees you need to build, don’t put in a yard, create a white rock driveway and parking pad. Consider hiring a LEED certified builder to build your house to LEED standards.

3. Disastrous fishing practices

Albatross_hook

An albatross caught on a longline

Dragnet fishing, especially bottom trawling, is a disaster, plain and simple. It wipes out every animal in its path, including endangered turtles, whales, dolphins, and any number of other species that are not edible. Longline fishing also comes with a catastrophic by-catch of sea birds and turtles.

What you can do: Hook up with community-supported fisheries. Don’t buy any fish on the endangered list. This list changes frequently, so stay up to date on the most threatened fish species to inform your shopping choices.

4. Invasive species

Where invasive species have been introduced, they wipe out the local wildlife. The invaders eat all the food or they simply dine on the more fragile species that occupy that habitat by right.

The most dramatic example is the Asian carp that have taken over the Illinois river. They eat up all the plankton, leaving the native fish to starve to death. The fear is that they will take over the great lakes which is open to the Illinois river.

What you can do: Fish for carp and green mussels, and throw back all native species. If you like to hunt, kill and cook wild pigs.

5. Factory farming

Animal Rights Issues

There’s no getting around the fact that corporately farmed chickens are handled with extreme cruelty. They are confined to extremely small spaces, injected with hormones, and fed only on cheap grain. Many farmers cut off their beaks so they don’t peck each other to death.

chicken-1230969__340

But the evils of farming don’t end there. The methane produced by cows is a major contributor to climate change. The run off from farms pollutes waterways where it kills wildlife.

What you can do: Buy organic, free-range eggs and chickens. Buy your meat at farmer’s markets. Eat more veg and less meat, especially red meat.

nature-3276105__340

6. Feral cats and dogs

Overbreeding pets is a problem for the pets themselves and for the wildlife they destroy when they go wild and live outdoors. Dogs who run wild will kill everybody from turtles to baby alligators to frogs, lizards, and even birds. Cats do the same, and they’re particularly adept at killing birds.

What you can do: Spay and neuter your own animals. If you are feeding outdoor cats, take them to the vet and have them spayed or neutered. Make your cats indoor-only cats, and provide toys and other environmental enrichment to keep them happy.  If stray dog is terrorizing your neighborhood, ask the police to pick him up. If you find a friendly stray, take him to the vet, foster him, and then sell him to a good home on Craigslist.

7. Destroying predators

 

Eastern wolves used to roam the entire United States from the Atlantic coast to the mid-west. We have obliterated this species which is now only seen in remote parks of Canada. Eastern big cats, especially the panther, have also been decimated.

Taking out predators causes a collapse in the food chain which is devastating to other wildlife. For example, in Canada, hunters killed the wolves who were thinning the caribou herds, taking out the sick and diseased individuals. When the wolf population collapsed, the caribou population collapsed with it.

In the United States, taking out predators has meant that we are overrun with deer who, in turn, eat too much native vegetation. Other animals need that vegetation or they die of starvation.

What you can do: Don’t encourage fear mongering about a wolf, big cat, bear, or alligator that needs to share your neighborhood. Put up a fence to protect your children and pets. Encourage re-introduction of native wolves and big cats.

8. Pet euthanasia

 

According to the ASPCA, “Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized.” That’s a lot of animals dying unnecessarily.

What you can do: Spay and neuter your own animals. If a dog or cat strays into your yard, take him to the vet and get him fixed. Train your pets to behave so that you don’t have to surrender them to a shelter. Try to purchase a rescue animal rather than go to a breeder. Don’t buy a dog from a pet store, unless it is a rescue animal.

9. Destruction and displacement of service animals

On the battlefield, dogs take bullets for their soldiers. They sniff out bombs for their soldiers and generally alert their men to dangers. They save thousands of lives.

Then these brave and loyal beasts are rounded up in trucks, and their men are likely never to see them again. Some of them are commandeered by high-ranking military guys who work in elegant offices all day and never have to face a moment’s danger. Others are euthanized, against the will of the men they fought with.

What you can do: Tell your state lawmakers that you demand better retirements for retired military and police dogs. When a soldier has applied to adopt a dog, that bond should be held sacred, and the adoption should take place immediately. Demand complete transparency on the fates of decommissioned military and police dogs. Demand therapy and re-training for dogs with PTSD.

10. Animal experiments

Many animal experiments entail needless suffering, and the aim of the research may well be unrelated to human welfare. For example, there was an experiment that involved sewing shut the eyes of kittens. The purpose of this experiment was to study the effect of sensory deprivation on the kitten brain.  Obviously, this has nothing to do with making sure heart surgery on children is done safely and successfully.

What you can do: Call your local university and ask them what animal experiments they are conducting. If they are pointlessly experimenting on animals, let the local media know about that.

 

 

 

How guilty is my fake fur?

Yes, I bought a fake fur.

I can’t fix all the problems of climate change and extinction. But I can dress for winter. So off to my favorite “gently used” clothing store for some new-to-me sweaters.

Do I really buy all my clothes used, out of a political conviction about consuming raw resources? Or am I just cheap? Luckily, I don’t bother myself about these fine distinctions.

After wearing the fur a couple of times (It’s definitely too much for the pinball bar where I spent New Year’s eve, but not too much for the hipster pizzeria,  strangely enough. Could I wear it to church? If, you know, I were a churchgoer and not an atheist?), I  got to worrying.

Does owning a fake fur sweater make me a piss poor animal lover?

I went, almost mindlessly,  to the PETA site (People for the ethical treatment of animals). I expected a full on sermon on the symbolic evils of fake fur. After all, these are the folks best known for throwing paint on the minks of celebrities.

To my amazement, I found a carefully reasoned policy saying that fake furs are okay.

Fakes, it emerges, are even a little trending.

Of course  I was bred for guilt, so I  couldn’t rest there. It seems there are also some fake furs out there that have a quantum of real fur.

So I used the three tests recommended by the Guardian for determining whether fake fur is really fake.

The skin of the dead is a giveaway

First, the back should look and feel like fabric, not skin. Check. That’s definitely a knit backdrop.

Beyond all that, my fake fur sweater smells like the acrylic content that the label asserts.

(A fellow activist and I once crept into a fur store just for the hell of it. The smell of dead animals was overwhelming.  Apparently,  there aren’t enough odor eaters in the world to cover up that travesty.)

Better to have faith than to burn

The next test is to burn a small amount of fur. Clearly, I had to wait until I got home, rather than setting fire to the ladies’ auxiliary thrift store.

Hell, that was dangerous.

And inconclusive. I was supposed to get sticky plastic balls, if it’s fake, and singed fur, if it’s real. The sample instantly disappeared in the experiment, and then I was figuring out how to keep from burning down the kitchen.

Do NOT test your fur this way, not at home. Not anywhere. I hope the smell dies back before my husband gets home. I’m canceling my subscription to the Guardian.

Blunt or tapered

The third test is to examine the individual hairs to determine whether they are tapered or blunt. If blunt, they are man-made.

Seriously?

They look blunt, but I’m not at all sure I could tell the difference. And I’m still shaking from the fire experiment, so that’s it. I’m going a different direction with this.

The pit bull smell test

As I said, the fur smells fake, which is to say, it doesn’t smell like a murdered mammal.

Nevertheless,  my smell is not my superpower. But I know someone who can smell trace elements of meat and plant food through a brick wall a mile away.

My pit bull, Alice.

She was napping when I began my experiment.

Here is Alice’s level of interest in my fake fur:

This continued for a few minutes.

Here is Alice’s level of interest when her favorite cat entered the room. Trust me, there’s tail wagging here.

Quick kiss, then back to the experiment.

Alice’s level of interest in trace elements of tuna:

So, I’m declaring my fake fur fake. But the great thing about buying from a charity thrift store is that I can always donate it back. What do you think? Should I?

Are you ready for a husky? Answer key

Give yourself five points for every answer that appears in green and three points for every blue answer. More than a hundred points possible for husky wizards.

Does your family have ten hours a week to walk a dog?

  1. Yes. Ideally, your husky is walked twice a day for at least thirty minutes a walk.
  2. No.

To which of the following do you have daily access? Circle all that apply.

  1. A fenced in yard of a half acre or more.
  2. Access to a dog park.
  3. Access to a dog day care facility where dogs play at least eight hours a day.
  4. None of the above.

Huskies need to be run and walked just about every day. They get discipline and a sense of relationship to their humans from walking on leash. They burn off their nervous energy through running and wrestling other dogs. Dog day cares that offer ten or more hours a day of play can really help you manage your husky’s excess energy.

How many hours a day will your dog be completely alone, i.e. without companionship of other dogs, cats, or humans?

  1. No more than three hours a day. Huskies are not wolves and do not enjoy lone wolfing it. They are highly social, with people and other dogs. They also get bored very quickly when not socially stimulated. Unless you are retired or home all day, it’s really better to get two huskies than one husky. Two huskies can entertain each other, taking the pressure off you to entertain them constantly. Huskies will also bond closely with other dog breeds, especially herding breeds like blue heelers, and, under some circumstances, household cats.
  2. Three to eight hours a day.
  3. More than eight hours a day.

Define “positivity training.”

  1. Reward positive behavior. Constantly. Especially if you are raising a husky under two years of age, you really have to administer a lot of treats. Don’t count the treats. Is that too many? No. As long as he’s doing something you like or even just something that doesn’t bug the shit out of you, reward that behavior with treats, toys, play, and praise. Huskies love to play and will often learn to sit, go down, stay, etc. for a game of tug the rope. Positivity training is really the only viable training for a husky.
  2. Reward positive behavior and administer physical punishment for negative behavior.
  3. Reward only really good behavior with treats, then ignore bad behavior.

Do you fundamentally believe that dogs don’t need to take obedience classes?

  1. Yes. Huskies are feral enough with training. Don’t even think about getting a husky and not hiring a trainer or taking a class.
  2. No.

If you have children, did you ever discipline them by hitting, spanking, or shouting?

  1. Yes. If you couldn’t manage your children without resorting to violence, you should definitely not get a dog. And please don’t have any more children.
  2. No.

Do you believe that dogs learn from being slapped or kicked or yelled at?

  1. Yes.
  2. No. All a dog learns from being yelled at or beaten or slapped is that you are a mean person and not to be trusted.

When your dog steals half a bagel, dressed with cream cheese, from your plate, what is the appropriate response?

  1. Yelling “no!” in a loud, firm voice.
  2. Screaming and then rubbing the dog’s face in the cream cheese.
  3. Beating the dog for ten seconds or less.
  4. Taking responsibility for putting your dog in a position to do something that displeases you and letting him finish his bagel in peace. Husky ownership obligates you to anticipate things that can go wrong. 

Are you or is at least one member of your family physically able to walk a mile in fifteen minutes or less?

  1. Yes. Huskies like to walk fast. Unless you have an older husky–six or more years old–you will need to walk briskly to keep him happy. A husky is a good choice of dog if you want to get in shape through power walking.
  2. No.

How big do huskies get?

  1. 40-70 pounds. According to the American Kennel Club, they average 50 pounds, but sometimes get as big as seventy pounds. This is a big dog. If you want a bigger dog, consider a Malamute. If you want a smaller dog, consider a Pomsky, which is a breed that looks like a husky, but will only get to be twenty-five pounds or so. If you want to be assured of a forty pound husky, you will have to obtain one that is already at least two years old. If you are obtaining a husky puppy, you should try to meet the mother and father and observe their size. This will give you some idea how big your puppy will get, but it is not a guarantee. Other indications that your puppy will be huge are: if he is the first born of the litter, if he arrived a day ahead of all the other puppies, or if the breeder says things like, “he eats all the food.”
  2. 60-80 pounds.
  3. 25-45 pounds.

What is the best harness for a husky? Circle all that apply.

  1. A weighted back pack. You get full points for this, because a weighted backpack will divert some of your husky’s pulling instincts into carrying. Weighted packs also help equalize the energy level of the husky and her walker.
  2. A sled harness.
  3. A shock harness.
  4. This is a trick question. You shouldn’t harness a husky because it activates her pulling instinct.

Do you need a lot of physical affection from your dog?

  1. Yes.
  2. No. There are definitely more affectionate dogs. Pit bulls, beagles, King Charles spaniels, and Labrador retrievers, to name the most obvious. That’s not to say that your husky won’t come to love you, but it will take longer, and you will have to earn it.

Do you need a lot of eye contact and emotional support from your dog?

  1. Yes.
  2. No. There’s a reason you rarely, if ever, see a husky performing as an emotional support dog. They never make the list of best dogs for fighting depression either. Huskies will challenge your physical and problem solving abilities, rather than supporting you.

When training a dog, what is the reward that most reinforces good behavior?

  1. Dry, odorless dog treats.
  2. Stinky, moist dog treats. If you think all dog treats are equally good, you will be in for a rude shock. Huskies quickly develop a sense of what treats are high value enough and will only learn new things for those treats. Your husky might initially go outside to pee for a small, dry treat, but, if going outside isn’t enough fun, you will find yourself graduating to beef jerky, then cold cuts, then redesigning the yard to be more fun. 
  3. Scratching behind a dog’s ears.
  4. Praising the dog lavishly with a loving tone of voice.
  5. Rewards will have to be rotated and re-evaluated on a daily basis because your husky will tire of any reward that’s too consistently administered.

You believe your relationship to your husky will be most like:

  1. A master, servant relationship. Don’t get a husky. 
  2. An alpha dog, beta dog relationship. Whatever Cesar Millan might think, there’s no science to the notion that dogs think of people as dogs. 
  3. A friendship.
  4. A collaboration. Your husky wants to play and explore. Your best option is to be his fellow explorer and play buddy.

Do you enjoy gardening and raising flowers, fruits, or vegetables in your front or back yards?

  1. Yes. Unless you have a six foot fence around your cultivars, there’s really no mixing a beloved garden with a beloved husky. Huskies have an instinct to dig. They are great dogs for people who look out on their backyards and say, “You know, what we really need back here are some craters.”
  2. No.

When your husky kills a baby bird, the appropriate response is to:

  1. Beat the dog because he knows better.
  2. Scold the dog so that he never does that again.
  3. Identify where in your yard birds are nesting and then, during the winter months, trim tree branches and block cavities to prevent birds from nesting in your yard.
  4. With the patience of Gandhi, accept that huskies have a strong prey drive and that there will be a few casualties.

As you are taking off your shoes, your husky grabs one, runs across the house, and has chewed a hole in it before you catch up with her. The appropriate response is

  1. Nothing. Your opportunity to make this a learning moment expired the moment she got her teeth around your shoe. You will now buy only cheap shoes. Again, it’s not enough to be a good dog owner who keeps her temper. You must also anticipate trouble and get ahead of it.
  2. Scream “NO” at your dog and then get the shoe away from her by screaming and pulling.
  3. Hit your dog until she gives up the shoe, then hit her with the shoe for at least five seconds.

You come home to find that your husky has chewed the corner off your favorite chair. The appropriate response is to:

  1. Remind yourself that you signed up for chewed furniture when you got a husky and take your dog for a lovely long walk.
  2. Drag your dog by the collar to the chewed chair. Scream and point at the damage.
  3. Hit your dog at least three times while yelling, “chair, chair, chair!”

Your husky pees the floor when you come home from a long day at work. The appropriate response is to:

  1. Rub your dog’s nose in the pee.
  2. Make a mental note hat, when you come home every night, the first thing you should do is firmly command your dog not to pee the house.
  3. Recognize that your dog was probably stressed and lonely in your absence and that, when she saw you, she got so excited she lost bladder control. Make a mental note that, when you come home from work, you should immediately go outside with your dog and show her that you are as excited to see her as she is to see you. If you don’t have an enclosed yard, keep a leash by the door.

Your results

I lied. I’m not going to tell you what kind of dog to get. I just want you to know what you’re getting into.

 

 

Are you ready for a husky? Take this quiz

We don’t need another scientific study to tell us why huskies are so popular. They’re beautiful dogs. 

Really beautiful.

Finn2

0.jpg

Distractingly beautiful. What was I talking about? Damn it!

So let’s all quit blaming Game of Thrones, Balto, and Jack London for all the huskies that are purchased with high hopes, then abandoned in despair because huskies are a lot more and a lot less than what some people can handle.

Huskies are a specific challenge because of their breeding, strength, high energy, high intelligence, and independent personalities.

Is a husky the right dog for you and your family? Take this quiz to find out. Or skip directly to the answer key.

Does your family have ten hours a week to walk a dog?

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

To which of the following do you have daily access? Circle all that apply.

  1. A fenced in yard of a half acre or more.
  2. Access to a dog park.
  3. Access to a dog day care facility where dogs play at least eight hours a day.
  4. None of the above.

How many hours a day will your dog be completely alone, i.e. without companionship of other dogs, cats, or humans?

  1. No more than three hours a day.
  2. Three to eight hours a day.
  3. More than eight hours a day.

Define “positivity training.”

  1. Reward positive behavior.
  2. Reward positive behavior and administer physical punishment for negative behavior.
  3. Reward only really good behavior with treats, then ignore bad behavior.

Do you fundamentally believe that dogs don’t need to take obedience classes?

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

If you have children, did you ever discipline them by hitting, spanking, or shouting?

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

Do you believe that dogs learn from being slapped or kicked or yelled at?

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

When your dog steals half a bagel, dressed with cream cheese, from your plate, what is the appropriate response?

  1. Yelling “no!” in a loud, firm voice.
  2. Screaming and then rubbing the dog’s face in the cream cheese.
  3. Beating the dog for ten seconds or less.
  4. Taking responsibility for putting your dog in a position to do something that displeases you and letting him finish his bagel in peace

Are you or is at least one member of your family physically able to walk a mile in fifteen minutes or less?

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

How big do huskies get?

  1. 40-70 pounds
  2. 60-80 pounds.
  3. 25-45 pounds.

What is the best harness for a husky? Circle all that apply.

  1. A weighted back pack.
  2. A sled harness.
  3. A shock harness.
  4. This is a trick question. You shouldn’t harness a husky because it activates her pulling instinct.

Do you need a lot of physical affection from your dog?

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

Do you need a lot of eye contact and emotional support from your dog?

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

When training a dog, what is the reward that most reinforces good behavior?

  1. Dry, odorless dog treats.
  2. Stinky, moist dog treats.
  3. Scratching behind a dog’s ears.
  4. Praising the dog lavishly with a loving tone of voice.
  5. Rewards will have to be rotated and re-evaluated on a daily basis because your husky will tire of any reward that’s too consistently administered.

You believe your relationship to your husky will be most like:

  1. A master, servant relationship.
  2. An alpha dog, beta dog relationship.
  3. A friendship.
  4. A collaboration.

Do you enjoy gardening and raising flowers, fruits, or vegetables in your front or back yards?

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

When your husky kills a baby bird, the appropriate response is to:

  1. Beat the dog because he knows better.
  2. Scold the dog so that he never does that again.
  3. Identify where in your yard birds are nesting and then, during the winter months, trim tree branches and block cavities to prevent birds from nesting in your yard.
  4. With the patience of Gandhi, accept that huskies have a strong prey drive and that there will be a few casualties.

As you are taking off your shoes, your husky grabs one, runs across the house, and has chewed a hole in it before you catch up with her. The appropriate response is

  1. Nothing. Your opportunity to make this a learning moment expired the moment she got her teeth around your shoe. You will now buy only cheap shoes.
  2. Scream “NO” at your dog and then get the shoe away from her by screaming and pulling.
  3. Hit your dog until she gives up the shoe, then hit her with the shoe for at least five seconds.

You come home to find that your husky has chewed the corner off your favorite chair. The appropriate response is to:

  1. Remind yourself that you signed up for chewed furniture when you got a husky and take your dog for a lovely long walk.
  2. Drag your dog by the collar to the chewed chair. Scream and point at the damage.
  3. Hit your dog at least three times while yelling, “chair, chair, chair!”

Your husky pees the floor when you come home from a long day at work. The appropriate response is to:

  1. Rub your dog’s nose in the pee.
  2. Make a mental note hat, when you come home every night, the first thing you should do is firmly command your dog not to pee the house.
  3. Recognize that your dog was probably stressed and lonely in your absence and that, when she saw you, she got so excited she lost bladder control. Make a mental note that, when you come home from work, you should immediately go outside with your dog and show her that you are as excited to see her as she is to see you. If you don’t have an enclosed yard, keep a leash by the door.

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Brownouts: Is Solar Energy the Cause or the Cure?

If you don’t have a dog in the fight against climate change, you might be confused about conflicting headlines. The “Daily Caller” once claimed that solar power could fry Germany’s power grid while other publications are claiming that solar energy is the cure for brownouts.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Solar energy, like any form of new power, has some kinks to work out. And it’s worth noting that the kinks in solar energy are nowhere near as dangerous or frightening as the kinks in electricity’s early days. Ask anyone whose house blew up before alternating current was discovered. And before clean electricity became a thing we all take for granted, households that ran on coal were plagued with upper respiratory health issues.

Like early electricity, solar power is still in development, and the auxiliary technology needed to make it secure is still in development, too. In Europe, Austria, and North America, most solar technology is tied into the existing power grid. When their houses can’t run on the sun, they have electricity and natural gas as a backup. That means, when the sun hasn’t shone for a week, people with solar panels still take hot showers and have the benefits of heat, air conditioning, lights, refrigeration, and computer technology.

Unarguably, a connection to the grid makes solar power more secure. At its very best, excess solar energy can be given back to the grid to meet the needs of an ever expanding population. Many solar panel owners find themselves in the enviable position of being able to sell power back to the power company.

But the downside of tapping into the grid is that, when the grid fails, so does the solar. That’s why some towns in California find themselves in the ironic position of having no power at all on a sunny day. Solar energy cannot save them from a brownout when the demand for power exceeds the abilities of the grid or, sometimes, if a single power line succumbs to storm or fire.

Remote regions, such as rural India, which have skipped over the grid and gone straight to solar do not have this problem, but they also don’t have the security of power when the sun or their solar equipment fails.

And solar power in abundance can add to the strain on an aging power grid. Some experts predict that, in Germany, where solar power has flourished due to generous subsidies, the amount of solar power will soon outstrip the capacity of the country’s energy infrastructure.

Three things are needed to keep the dream of solar alive across the world: solar batteries, smart inverters, and improvements to the infrastructure.

Solar batteries

Batteries that can store solar energy for use at night, during a cloudy day, or during a black out, offer new hope for better energy stability across the globe. A leader in creating space-efficient, wall-mountable batteries is Tesla, led by Elon Musk, an inventor most famous for PayPal and an electric luxury car. Tesla’s Powerwall is a battery that basically acts as a backup generator—without the diesel. It can store both traditional electric and solar power for use when every other form of power fails.

The use of solar batteries should not be confined to individual homes and businesses. Smart community leaders are already looking at how centralized batteries can keep the town’s lights on—even when it’s surrounded by blackouts.

Smart Inverters

Smart inverters are an improvement to solar technology that enable grid-based solar panels to switch off their dependence on the energy infrastructure and operate independently. This is a huge step toward energy stability and solves the problem of brownouts on a sunny day. Tesla has incorporated inverters into some of its Powerwall batteries so that solar customers can bundle their energy security.

Improvements to the grid

It’s a good time to live in Germany which is now leading the world in solar energy use. Would that we all had the problem of too much solar power. However, Germany will soon have to bite the bullet and invest in improvements to its elderly power infrastructure. Without country-wide improvements, solar users could, indeed, find that a flip of the switch does not turn the lights on.

However, it is empirically unfair to blame solar energy, alone, for straining power grids. Like it or not, power grids must be upgraded from time to time to accommodate both increasing populations and the escalation of small and large appliance development which has become part of modern life. Some people couldn’t imagine life without wii sports. But in the 1950s, when much of today’s power grid was constructed, wii was not even a glimmer in an inventor’s eye.

The truth is that power grids would have to upgraded, with or without solar energy’s advent. Headlines that predict a power failure in Germany for which solar is solely to blame are wildly inaccurate.

At the same time, solar advocates need to be careful not to oversell solar energy. It has the potential to stabilize energy security in combination with other energy sources. But the technology to make it so is still partly on the drawing board.

California could go fur free

Imagine a world where everyone gets to keep her own skin.

By Joel Worth

California Assembly member Laura Friedman dared to imagine it. She proposes a law that would make it illegal to sell fur products in California.

Wild minks are semi-aquatic animals with no real capacity for domestication.

If passed, Assembly Bill 44 would shut down imports of animal fur from other states and abroad and require California fur farmers and retailers to re-purpose their businesses.

No longer would an emerging starlet be able to drop into a Beverly Hills furrier and spend her latest royalty check on a murdered mink.

It doesn’t do to think about where fur comes from if you want to sleep at night.

Minks, for instance, cannot really be domesticated. Genetically programmed to move between land and sea in relative isolation, the caged mink lives in terror and madness, denied the opportunity to roam and swim.

And, if you buy a fur, you can’t really be sure that it was even farmed. It’s about as likely to have been trapped. It may or may not be a wild animal. Almost no fur-bearing animal is safe.

Even some very conservative news outlets have darkly insinuated that your family pet could end up on someone’s back if you don’t keep Fido out of a nearby trap.

And the news gets even worse and weirder. There’s really no guarantee that so-called faux fur or fake fur is really fake. According to several animal rights groups, it could just as easily be real fur posing as fake.

My brain hurts, doing the math on this, but it seems it’s cheaper to kill and skin a dog or coyote than to manufacture an actual synthetic coat.

If AB 44 passes, California will be the first state in the United States to ban fur.

“This is history,” says Leslie Goldberg, a former San Francisco newspaper reporter and organizer for Compassionate Cities. “The animal rights movement has been fighting to end fur for fifty years.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States are working together to push the bill through. As of this writing, the bill is under review with California’s Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee.

Becoming law requires the bill to jump through quite a few more hoops before landing on the Governor’s desk.

Goldberg is optimistic about the bill’s chances. based on California’s history of supporting animal rights and a strong Democratic legislature.

“California has been pretty strong on animal rights,” she notes, adding that there is strong Democratic representation in the state legislature.

In general, the United States lags behind some other countries that have already banned fur. In the United Kingdom, fur farming is no longer legal. The good people at Fur Free Alliance have compiled an exhaustive list of countries with fur bans.

Other states may well follow suit if California sets a fur-free precedent.

“The country is with us,” Goldberg avers. “Poll after poll show that people are concerned about animals.”

Stop cruel experiments on beagles

Beagles are being force fed pesticides

A guest blog by Jennifer Wingo

Editor’s note: Jennifer Wingo reports that the experiment reported on here has been shut down and 36 laboratory beagles are up for adoption.

Gentle beagles are being bred for torture by companies like Marshall BioResource. Laboratories in Michigan and other parts of the United States then use these healthy beagles for experiments.

Specifically, the Dow AgroSciences, Paredox Therapeutics, and Above and Beyond NB LLC, at the Charles River Laboratories in Mattawan, Michigan are force feeding healthy dogs pesticides as part of a year-long experiment.

Then they euthanize the dogs to test their organs.

These companies are destroying a loving sensitive animal that could easily have had a healthy life for 13-16 years. These laboratory dogs don’t ever get to play in the grass or smell the outdoors.

Though they are genetically programmed to love humans and be loved in return, they receive no positive human interaction.

Beagles are social dogs with big personalities and giant hearts. They are exceptional companions because of their sweet dispositions, protective instincts and ability to adapt to many environments.

They are more than just hunters, they are playful and love being part of a family. Beagles are gentle, smart, happy-go-lucky, but sensitive creatures. They love to run in the grass, chase and play.

I have owned beagles for many years and love the breed dearly. They require a lot of attention, but provide so much love, entertainment and general companionship to a home.

Please help beagles by signing this petition.

Four ways you could stop deer culls

Whitetail deer are gorgeous. There’s no getting around it.

If you hate it that your city or county heartlessly kills deer, even pregnant does, here are the alternatives:

  • Ask your local government to plant a dense forest perimeter around areas of human habitation. Deer stay away from dense forest, and interactions between deer and humans is the main reason for deer culls.
  • Stop planting ornamentals! If you have deer, those cherished tulip bulbs are nothing but deer food. Let your yard go wild with native plants and plant native trees. Ditch the lawn. Suburban lawns are the main reason deer have become a suburban nuisance.
  • Pressure your local government to reintroduce wolves into your neighborhood. There’s a good chance wolves were once native to your area. The decimation of wolves and big cats is the main reason for deer overpopulation.
  • Lobby to protect deer predators at the local and national level. The despised coyote is actually the best defense against deer overpopulation. And coyotes kill way fewer people than deer, if you add up the car fatalities that result from collisions between cars and deer. Other predators that should be cherished are big cats (especially mountain lions and bobcats) and golden eagles. You don’t believe an eagle can kill a deer? Watch it on YouTube.

Pet leasing: The latest in predatory lending

Pet leasing appears to be the latest scheme to bilk the unwary of their hard-earned dollars. Unfortunately, this particular scam also involves the welfare of an innocent dog or cat.

Here’s how it works

You watched Game of Thrones (or Balto or White Fang), and now you want a dog who looks like one of those tame wolves owned by the Starks. You go to Pets R Us or a store like it. There you see and instantly fall in love with a Siberian husky puppy.

The sales person apparently wants to help you. She tells you about Wags Lending. This nice company will loan you money so that you can take your puppy home! The loan process is amazingly easy, so easy you should probably be a little suspicious.

But you’re drowning in love hormones (oxytocin) every time the puppy makes eye contact with you. So you sign the loan document over your phone, confident that you can make the monthly payments.

Over the next two years, you, not Wags Lending, will train your small wolf to be a family dog. You will eventually teach him to pee outside and quit jumping on the table and pulling half a bagel off your plate.

You will put up with this, happily, because every time you look into his blue eyes, you see the love and happiness that you have brought to a wonderfully uncomplicated soul.

By now, you are well over any notion that your husky is anything more mystical than a dog.

He pees on the sidewalk and paddles through his own pee. He lives for treats. The two of you sit on the couch watching Game of Thrones together. When one of the tame wolves kills a Stark enemy, you pat your dog on the head and say, “You go, pup.”

Who knows at what point you will learn that you do not legally own your dog? Maybe after you’ve made the final payment, Wags Lending will ping you and offer to sell you the dog at “fair market value.”

Perhaps, earlier on, you were late with a payment, and the seemingly so-friendly company you “borrowed” from is now threatening to repossess your dog.

This happened while we were sleeping

Admittedly, AnimalRightsChannel.com is just now catching up to the sad existence of pet leasing. Luckily, the governments of New York, California, and Nevada have been on top of this long enough to make the practice illegal.

As usual, buyers should beware, especially when it turns out they are not actually buying.

Wags Lending and other similar companies are trafficking in the human longing for non-judgmental companionship. And they didn’t have to do the hard work of inventing a revenue model. It was right there in plain sight: car leases.

They just adapted the model of the car lease and tailored it to dog lovers who want a classier dog than they can actually afford.

This is not where we will debate the merits of buying a thoroughbred against the merits of just going to the pound and saving someone’s life.

I lied. If you don’t have, on hand, the thousands of dollars needed to pay for an expensive designer dog, definitely go down to the pound and save someone’s life for a clean hundred.

Here is a complete list of things you should borrow money for:

  1. a house
  2. a car, but only if you need it to get to work

What you can do

If you have unwittingly leased a dog (and many have; you are not alone), you have a buy out option. Go to the lender’s website and see what that option is. At Wags Lending, the buy out option is described as follows:

“consumers can buy out of their lease at any time and become the outright owners of the property. And, there are no penalties or extra fees if you choose to buyout [sic] early!”

Drilling down a little further, however, brings up this unsavory information:

“The customer can pay their buyout at any time. Assuming they’ve fulfilled monthly payments on time, they are not restricted as to when they can pay this.”

Let’s put that into plain English. If you ever miss a payment or make a payment late, you may have no option but to make all contracted payments before negotiating the purchase of your pet.

If you are fortunate enough to have made all payments on time, this is, according to the Wags Lender website, how you will be charged for the purchase of your pet:

“The buyout payment total, includes what is currently owed plus 15% of the pet’s value. This is also known as a “purchase fee”.”

No further directions are available about how to buy your animal on the Wags Lending website. However, there is a phone number, (844) 761-4950.

Call it and you get an automated message that you have reached “Monterey Financial.” Montery Financial is an unregistered lender with a one star rating from Consumer Affairs customers.

Upon calling this number, I got the usual warning that “this is an attempt to collect on a debt,” not the warm fuzzy greeting I was hoping for, from people who are involved in handing out puppies.

Eventually, I got a human being who sounded very stressed, and she told me that, yes, this is the right number to call if I want to buy an animal I accidentally borrowed.

So, to the best of my knowledge at this point, if you want out of your bad contract with Wags Lending or other predatory lending service, call (844) 761-4950, let the system take you to a human by not entering any numbers or saying anything, and then, with your account number handy, tell them you want to buy your leased pet.

What else you can do

Please sign my petition to end pet leasing at the federal level: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/620/181/276/

Author Lynn Hamilton writes from Louisville, Kentucky.

Isle of Dogs: Wes Anderson’s best so far

Dogs are not wild animals.

But what if they had to be?

Would they latch onto the first human that came along?

Probably. At least that’s what Wes Anderson hypothesizes in his latest film, Isle of Dogs. In this movie, a province of Japan has deported all its family pets and watchdogs to Trash Island. The cat-loving local Japanese administration claims that the dogs will spread their flu to the human population if not exiled.

Formerly used for manufacture, transportation, and animal experimentation, Trash Island has been devastated by multiple storms which have left it in chemical and architectural ruins.

Only one human attempts to rescue his dog, and that is Atari, a twelve year old boy who steals a prop plane and crash lands on the island in search of his dog, Spots.

Of the five animated dogs who star in Isle of Dogs, four immediately make Atari’s mission their own. And the outlier, Chief, voiced by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, never actually walks away from the mission. Instead, he keeps a close eye out on the others from a distance of a few yards.

Eventually, Chief comes to love Atari, saves his life, and pledges his lifetime loyalty to the twelve year old. When it turns out that Spots is Chief’s long lost brother, Chief has one question: “Was, was I the runt?”

“Not any more,” replies Spots as the two of them protect Atari from a raging current.

The movie is partly in untranslated Japanese, about which some reviewers have taken issue. In point of fact, nothing is said in Japanese that cannot easily be understood in context. It’s a bit like harping that you didn’t catch every word of an opera.

And one reviewer, Moeko Fujii , has said that language and the failure of translation is really what the film is all about.

Other critics have accused Anderson of stereotyping because his film traffics in a number of Japanese art forms: sumo wrestling, cherry blossoms, haiku.

We condemn this as cultural appropriation at our own risk, however, as Anderson is so tongue in cheek. In other words, he might be stereotyping, or he might be making fun of the way America stereotypes Japan.

What we do know is that Isle of Dogs is a really loving portrayal of dogs, their attachment to humans, and how little they ask of life. Isle of Dogs has all the heart that is absent from Anderson’s intriguing early work.

Perhaps not every dog is as rational and compassionate as Rex, King, Boss, and Duke, voiced by Edward Norton, Robert Balaban, Bill Murray, and Jeff Goldblum. But we all know dogs who are that gentle, dogs who will put up with the worst travel accommodations just to be near their people, dogs who would do anything for a twelve-year-old boy.

And the trademarks of Anderson’s work–the softly spoken monologues and characters staring straight into the camera–really work in this film. Especially when dogs and boy have their eyes full of tears.

Altogether, Isle of Dogs is Anderson’s most complex, subtle, and clever film so far.