Here’s why they hate vegans

Of course you think you’re better than everyone else, especially the meat eaters. But why do they hate you with the venom that is usually reserved for child molesters and cop killers? Read on for a few respectful suggestions.

Quit pitching fits in restaurants

A smile and a decent tip go a lot further to sell veganism than huffing “You need to offer more vegan options” at the waiter. Especially if the restaurant does actually have a decent vegan entree. The person who hears this complaint is unlikely to have the power to do anything. You are being pissy with someone who works for tips.

This is how it should look: If they have a decent vegan offering, ask the server to thank the chef for putting it on the menu. If all they have is a green salad and fries, just say, “That was lovely, thank you.” I mean, you’ve given up ever feeling full. It’s not like you can’t suck it up and be gracious until you get home to your soy nuts.

Don’t disrespect non-vegan gifts

If you have invited people to your home for a pot luck, common civility dictates that you thank everyone for what they brought and put everyone’s contribution on the table. If someone missed your memo about how you have no animal products in your home, oh well. Put the mac and cheese on the table and be charming.

This is how it should look: Steer any non-vegans toward the non-vegan dishes. If almost everyone is a vegan, quietly put a place card in front of the dairy dish that says, “contains cheese.”

Quit judging other people’s cooking

“Oh, you put raw tofu (or white rice or fried potatoes or bread crumbs) in the green salad (or the soup or the casserole.)”

Everyone who is new to veganism, or just trying to accommodate you, is going to make something she can tolerate. Newbie vegans are worried about getting enough protein, and they are potentially repulsed by bean curd, quinoa, and bananas. Don’t make conversion harder than it already is by judging their early efforts. They will find their grains in time. Honor the journey.

Also, if you are at a social gathering, it is rude to make it all about the food. It’s supposed to be all about the company. Are you making eye contact and asking about their job search? So what if somebody brought a batch of boiled potatoes! Quit looking at the food and commenting on the food. It doesn’t matter. That shit is just fuel. Focus on your people.

Over the long haul, most vegans will learn to cook, wonderfully. Otherwise, there is no surviving the lifestyle. Don’t bite the beginners.

This is how it should look: Thank you so much for bringing a green salad; I was worried there wouldn’t be enough fresh greens at this event.

Learn to cook

On the other side of the spectrum, quit surviving on chips! You’re being a horrible role model! The main selling point of a vegan diet is that it’s healthier. When people see you, literally, scarfing your lunch out of a bag, you have lost your brand. And the bag should NOT be going straight up to your face. At least put that crap on a plate, and eat them one at a time. I know you weren’t raised in a barn.

This is how it should look:

“What are you eating?”

You (smugly smiling): “Homemade mix of cashews, pecans, and dried blueberries. Would you like some? Mmmm, so good!”

Random vegan foods that make your friends want to barf

A delicious pasta and red sauce will go over with everyone. Ditto brownies made with a vegan mix and a can of pumpkin. Steamed broccoli is maybe not for everyone, but everyone can easily tell what it is.

There are other foods that the general public secretly fears:

So tiresomely good for you. So, so boring

Brown rice–I know. It’s really not that bad when mixed with salsa and black beans. But they’re already figuring out how to avoid ever seeing you again.

Alternative: Red, skin on potatoes, boiled. They’re tasty and familiar, and they pack as many nutrients.

Alternative to the alternative: White rice.

Seitan–Long-term vegans will eventually try it and put it on rotation or recoil in horror. Their choice. But when cooking for mixed company, in general you want to avoid foods that sound a lot like “Satan” and feature unmitigated gluten.

Alternative: Grits cooked in oat milk.

Alternative to the alternative: Coconut cheese.

I mean, unless you have developed
a taste for this, yuck.

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Green smoothies–I know they’re delicious, but don’t serve them in mixed company. Few people really want to drink their kale, which is what it looks like you’re doing.

Alternative: Substitute enough tomatoes to turn it bright red.

Alternative to the alternative: Substitute enough sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, and oranges to turn it bright orange.

Think your cat is aloof? I’m already gone

What kind of monster are you, that your cat doesn’t adore you?

Almost any time I mistakenly talk about my close relationship with my cats, somebody says some version of “I like cats, but they are so aloof.”

“My cats are not aloof,” I used to naively reply, thinking about how I barely got five hours sleep last night because they were head butting and aggressively snuggling with me and occasionally standing on my hip.

It turns out that people who think cats are aloof are often just bad people. So, now when someone says “cats are aloof,” I back slowly out of the room, walking backwards.

So, if you think cats are aloof, here’s a quick list of points to review

Do you kick cats?

Kicking cats is such a common past time that dozens of people have been caught on door cams and mobile phones doing it. Just google “videos of people kicking cats.” There are about ten pages of results. I don’t watch these things. Doing so would defeat the good work of my antidepressants.

I may need to spell this out. If you get mad enough to kick an animal, don’t get a pet. And don’t have children. This is a definite disqualifier for breeding. People who kick animals should have special driver’s licences and probation officers.

Do you respond to your cat’s overtures for affection?

They’re not “creeping up on you.” They’re quiet and hesitant. Cats, unlike dogs, need you to make eye contact with them, then offer to pet them. Petting and eye contact are how you connect with your cat. They don’t connect to us through treats and walks the way dogs do.

Image by Rick Brown from Pixabay

Are you petting your cat wrong?

If you seriously can’t figure out how your cat likes to be petted, there are plenty of youtubes and how-to articles out there. You don’t PAT a cat, you massage her, in the direction of her fur, with gentle strokes. Beyond that, every cat is different. Some like to have their tails stroked and some do not, for example.

You have to watch your cat as you are petting to find out what your cat likes.

This is not rocket science. If she swats you, don’t do that again. If she gets up and walks away from you, you’re doing it wrong. If she pushes her head into your hand or gets in your lap, that’s telling you, “more of that.” It’s basically the same approach you should use to make love to a human. If you can’t figure out how to pet a cat, don’t have sex.

The above chart is fairly accurate. Light scratching under the chin, behind the ears, forehead, cheeks is the standard of care. Many cats love having one or more cheeks scratched lightly by a human.

There’s a cluster of nerves at the base of the tail where it connects to the cat’s spine. That can be a pleasure center for many cats. But you must NOT apply too much pressure, or your cat may come to bite and scratch anyone who goes near that area. A little light scratch, see how it goes, not too much.

Never scratch a cat’s belly. Don’t attempt to touch the belly or paws of a cat you have not known for several years. A cat that trusts you will eventually let you touch its front paws, but don’t make it a regular thing. Don’t ever touch the back paws or thighs. You will get hurt.

Did you adopt a kitten or a cat?

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

If you adopted a kitten and she doesn’t love you, you did it so wrong, I don’t want to deal with you at all. Kittens seek out human laps with special kitten radar. Kittens wish to please. All you have to do is subtly communicate your expectations, and you will have a great cat. This is the time when you teach your cat to sleep in your bed or elsewhere. You teach her to free feed or feed at appointed times. You teach her how to snuggle while you are watching TV. If you pet her, she will love the feel of your hand all your life.

If you adopted an adult cat and she doesn’t warm up to you immediately, it’s mostly about patience. Make eye contact, speak gently, offer affection. Living with a cat is a long game. The relationship does NOT stay the same over the years. If you’re doing it right, your cat trusts you more every year, and becomes more and more loving and affectionate as the two of you develop your togetherness rituals.

Do your cats live outside?

A cat that lives outside is not your cat. You have no idea how that cat lives his life. He might have found love with the third grade teacher half a mile away from your house. And, just so you know, the real cat lovers have already condemned you They nod politely when you say you have “indoor/outdoor” cats, but, inside, they are thinking, “That guy doesn’t give a shit about his cats.”

Because outdoor cats die young. They get killed, mostly by cars, sometimes by dogs. often by infections and injuries that could easily have been avoided if you kept them inside.

Quit saying cats are aloof

If you don’t have a cat, that’s okay. If you don’t want a cat, that’s okay, too. But quit telling cat lovers that cats are aloof. You’re revealing too much about yourself, too soon.

–Lynn Marie Hamilton

Meeting Your Dog’s Needs Before, During and After a Move

If you’re a dog owner, you’ll do anything to keep your pet happy and safe. That means keeping his well-being in mind when looking for a new place to live, and paying careful attention to details like layout, staircases, room flow, and external surroundings. Bear in mind your dog’s personality, condition and any physical limitations as you house-hunt. You don’t want to invest in a property your pet can’t move around in freely or safely. 

Read on for some more pointers from the Animal Rights Channel.

Physical features

Watch for houses that have a laundry room or “mud room” with enough space for cleaning your dog after a walk around the block or a romp in the backyard. It helps to have a room for a cleaning station that includes towels, brushes and other tools for keeping dirt, mud and dead hair from being tracked throughout the house. 

If your pal is rambunctious and likes to be physically active, make sure your new house has a yard big enough to run around in and a security fence with no gaps or holes underneath through which he might escape. Focus your search on quiet neighborhoods that don’t get a lot of traffic so your dog is less likely to encounter a speeding car if he gets away. If possible, Vetstreet suggests engaging a realtor who has experience working with customers who have pets. 

Moving

Hire a professional cleaner so you’re leaving behind a tidy and odor-free space. “Dog smell” can be difficult to get rid of, and it sometimes takes the resources and expertise of a professional to deep clean the carpet and other places where odors linger. 

Also look into professional movers in your area and get quotes on the move. For each company you contact, ask whether they’re a member of the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA). AMSA movers are among the best at what they do and are licensed, insured and certified, so you’ll rest easy knowing the move will be done right and done efficiently. 

Remember that dogs are creatures of habit. They get very upset when their environment is disrupted, so ask a friend to watch your pet while everything’s being packed up by the movers (pet sitters can be a big help at a time like this). Pets are remarkably sensitive. They’re capable of perceiving your emotional states, and know when stress levels are on the rise. You can alleviate the situation with calming strategies like homeopathy, essential oils and acupressure points. If necessary, board your pet until everything’s packed up and you’re ready to move. 

Moving day

Moving day may be the most chaotic experience in your pet’s life. How you handle it will depend on your pet’s personality and how you anticipate he’ll react. If Fido tends to be excitable and skittish, it’s probably worth hiring a pet sitter, leaving him with a friend or boarding him for the day. It’s probably safer to keep him away from the movers and eliminate the possibility that he may run away while the door’s opening and closing all day. 

Prepare a care package for the trip with dog snacks, his water dish and a comforting object, like a pillow or toy. Take along anything that will help your pooch stay anxiety-free during the trip, whether it’s a long or short journey. Be sure to manage your time well, including at work, so you can dedicate extra time to the move as well as tending to your animal’s needs. Take time off if needed.

Moving in

Once you’ve arrived, let your dog do some exploring, and be prepared to spend extra time with him until he’s adjusted. The Honest Kitchen advises setting up a “safe space” that’s just his, with just his food and water dishes, toys, and other familiar items. If you’ve got too much stuff and space is a problem, consider renting a storage unit. That will make it easier to create a comfortable and orderly home right from the beginning.  

Once you’ve found a property that’s right for you as well as your pet, be attentive to his needs, and be prepared to do lots of comforting until both of you are settled in. Finding a new home, packing and moving is a stressful process. Pets are affected by your emotional responses, so take steps to reduce the stress you’re feeling. 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.

Store owners: put the condoms next to the video games

Unwanted teen pregnancies continue apace. Even though the obvious alternative, condoms, exist and seems readily available at every convenience store.

Who is to blame?

It appears that one barrier to the right barrier is simple reticence. In other words, it’s virtually impossible for a young lady of about sixteen to ask anyone where the condoms are.

And what are we to do? Trust the boyz to men in our lives to obtain condoms?

Imagine me snorting here.

I’ve decided not to bore or horrify you with my tales of men who were supposed to bring the condoms. Suffice to say that I was on birth control pills for three years. And that might be the reason I had to get a liver transplant.

So take my word for this. It would be naive of us to just tell boys and girls to suck it up and ask for the condoms.

If you’re having trouble relating to a teen that can’t ask for the condoms, try remembering back to the time when you needed to buy the underage beer for the unpermitted party.

Or, if you never did that, think back to the time you had to tell your father that you got a D in physics. Or a C or B, depending on your parent’s expectations.

Did you hide your report card? Forge a signature? Offer free babysitting services for six months?

Teenagers are secretive. And they have no context for traumatic life events just because they haven’t lived that long.

So, yes, asking for condoms is the end of the world.

Even young people with good relationships with their parents may not want those parents to know they are having sex.

Your children know exactly who you are under that liberal, rational veneer. And they know, perhaps better than you do, that you would prefer they didn’t have sex until they are thirty. They don’t want to deal with all your feelings on top of their own.

So what do we do?

A change in strategy is called for.

Condom buying needs to be normalized in an effective and immediate way. Here is what I propose. Wal-Mart and Target step up to the plate and offer three dollars off the purchase of any game or gaming device when purchased with a condom package. And put the condoms next to the games to make this choice easier. Even if a young person is not having sex at the moment, he/she will now have a condom when that moment does arrive.

This is a public health issue, not a religious or moral issue.

Why is this an animal rights issue?

In brief, unwanted humans make terrible humans. Overpopulation is a leading cause of wildlife destruction via habitat destruction and direct murder. Gorillas are killed simply for their hands which are turned into novelty ashtrays. Parrots are seized as chicks and sold for pets by people who can’t find or create any other opportunities. In third world countries, apes are killed for food. People are the problem. Let’s make fewer of them.

Frequently asked questions about animal rights and animal rights activists

The animal rights movement is a big, big tent

“Why do you think they have rights?” a dog breeder asked me.

He didn’t actually wait for the answer. Instead, he launched into a mansplaination about Genesis and how God put Adam in charge of the animals.

I had to attend a LOT of Sunday school classes, so I’d heard the Eden story before. I found a semi-polite excuse to hang up the phone.

But it got me thinking about what animal rights activists and believers have in common. What I realized is that the animal rights movement is a big, big tent.

Think about how few things Republicans have in common. The animal rights tent is bigger than that.

The one thing we have in common: We cherish animals!

So I scoured the internet for the most frequent questions that people have about the animal rights movement, and here’s what I came up with.

FAQ: If you could only save one, would you save the life of a chicken or a baby?

This questions comes directly from a Vice.com article that clearly intends to poke fun at animal rights, but it’s as good a place to start as any.

ANSWER: OF COURSE WE SAVE THE BABY!

Setting aside the fact that, at no time in history, has anyone actually faced this dilemma, most animal rights activists do not regard animal life as equal with human life.

Peter Singer, the most influential voice on animal rights in the twentieth century, was very clear that his daughters were always going to take priority over anybody else.

There might be a few crackpots in the animal rights movement that would say, “It depends.” But most of us have no hesitation about placing a higher value on human life. It’s also normal for us, as animals, to be loyal to our own. Orcas don’t kill other orcas. Most species will blindly defend their own kind.

FAQ: Why is it so important to save dolphins while fishing for tuna? If we kill and eat tuna, why shouldn’t we kill and eat dolphins?

For one thing, it’s wasteful. People don’t want to eat dolphins, they want to eat tuna. So the dead dolphins get thrown in the trash. That kind of disregard for life should be abhorrent to anyone.

For another thing, most animal rights believers prioritize the rights of bigger brain animals over smaller brain animals. Bigger brain mammals feel pain and panic when they are drowning or being beaten.

We also identify more completely with bigger brained animals. Dolphins and dogs seem to be smiling at us. They definitely interact with us. This makes them more precious to us. Some animal rights activists decry this as speciesism, but it’s more or less unavoidable because we can’t save everyone.

FAQ: What is speciesism?

In a nutshell, speciesism is putting a higher value on the life of one species of animal than on another.

For instance, when the newly made vampire Bella passes on the baby deer and kills the mountain lion, she is practicing speciesism. The wrong kind. Because wild cats are endangered, while deer are not. Deer, in fact, need predators to keep their damage under control. Where are the vampires?

Some animal rights activists will decry speciesism. But, at the end of the day, it is inevitable. When we put Frontline on our dogs and cats, we are preferring dogs and cats to fleas.

The most textbook example of species warfare is cat people vs. bird people. Bird watchers and wildlife experts want people to keep their cats inside, and they want to euthanize feral cats for whom no decent homes can be found.

The cat lovers cry “Speciesism!” and say things like, “who cares if a few birds die if my cats are having fun?”

Who is right?

THE BIRD PEOPLE ARE RIGHT!

Because:

Don’t be a dick. Keep your cat inside or put a bell on his collar.

Birds were here first. They were here long before the domesticated cat decided to home share with humans. They were also here before homo sapiens. According to Britannica, birds showed up on the earth stage 150 million years ago which gives their species roughly 149 million years seniority over humans and their companion animals.

As you can see, I’ve employed a form of speciesism to determine that wild birds should be protected from Garfield. I used the “they were here first” argument, which is the right form of speciesism.

FAQ: What is veganism?

Veganism is a diet which excludes all animal products, not only meat, but also dairy products and eggs. Contrary to popular belief, it is not overwhelmingly difficult to get all the protein you need from plants. A breakfast of peanut butter and whole wheat bread, a dinner of brown rice and beans will suffice. God bless the vegans.

FAQ: What is a fruitarian?

Someone who claims to eat only fruit. Fruitarians, if they really exist, define fruit as something that grows on a tree or shrub. The philosophy behind fruitarianism is that the plant yields food that can be picked with no harm to the plant. By contrast, when you eat a carrot, you destroy the plant.

Fruitarians exist mostly in theory because, even if you consider peanuts a fruit, it is impossible to get sufficient protein from a fruit only diet, unless you cheat and add a little brown rice.

Whenever you read about a fruitarian, it’s anecdotal. And it’s always somebody who WAS a fruitarian. I’m not saying it can’t be done, just that it can’t be done for long, though alternating between fruitarian and vegan is feasible.

FAQ: Are all animal rights activists vegetarians?

No, some of us eat meat. And we want you to quit judging us.

The late, great Cynthia Heimel (Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth; I’m Kissing You Goodbye) was a powerful animal advocate. And she called for the animal rights movement to accept the hamburger eaters with open arms. Food writer Andy McDonald rightly notes that most meat eaters care about animals and want more efficient food production systems that do not place an nonviable burden on the planet’s resources.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will tell you that you cannot eat meat and be a true animal lover. However, PETA does not speak for all animal rights believers.

FAQ: If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them taste so good?

ANSWER: Why are you so sure God is a guy?

FAQ: What is factory farming?

Factory farming refers to systems of farming animals that maximize income by minimizing animal movement and crowding animals together. “Factory farming” usually refers to corporately raised chickens.

Yes, some of us do sincerely believe that crowding chickens together in a toxic enclosure under hot lights with their beaks sliced off is cruel. And we will pay the extra dollars to buy eggs that came from free range chickens. However, I want to emphasize that you are still welcome in the animal rights tent if you eat the cheaper factory chicken and/or eggs. This is a big tent, and we realize that some people have tight budgets.

FAQ: What is free range?

Free range refers to a farming practice that allows livestock animals to roam freely and to live out their short lives as they would do in the wild. It refers mostly to chickens. Free range chickens are allowed to graze freely outdoors rather than spend their lives in cages.

But free range can also refer to larger farm animals. One of the most historic crops is the Spanish black pig who roams the plains of Spain with little supervision. In a bizarre twist of fate, Iberian pigs were exported to the US where they are also free ranged in Georgia and Kentucky.

FAQ: What does organic farming have to do with animals?

Organic farming restricts the use of chemicals in both fertilizing crops and eliminating insects that destroy crops.

The problem with spraying chemicals on crops is that the chemicals then enter the air, soil, and water. Airborne pesticides don’t just kill grasshoppers who eat corn, but also butterflies, bees, and birds. Pesticides that enter streams and rivers kill fish, turtles, frogs, and other river dwellers. Buying organically grown food is one way people can protect wildlife.

FAQ: What is a locavore?

A locavore is anyone who makes a consistent effort to eat food that is grown nearby. For instance, a locavore might have a subscription service with nearby farm. The locavore pays a fixed sum, like a hundred dollars a month, and the farm delivers food to the locavore on a weekly basis, or boxes food for the locavore to pick up.

Locavores also frequent farmer’s markets because that’s where they find food grown locally. They also value and frequent restaurants that obtain local produce and meat products.

Locavores are not always vegetarians, but they may prioritize plant food in their diets. They are likely to prefer organically grown food. They also prioritize and support small scale growers, as opposed to corporate farms like those owned by Monsanto.

Locavores know that transportation, especially the transportation of food, is the leading cause of climate change and that climate change is the leading cause of animal extinctions.

FAQ: What does it mean to eat “Low on the food chain”?

People who eat low on the food chain eat a lot of vegetables and grains, some fish, little chicken and turkey, and very little or no red meat.

In other words, the more resources a livestock animal eats, the more damage it does to the environment. A fish in the wild eats smaller fish or even filter feeds. So his impact on the environment is sustainable.

Chickens and other livestock poultry must eat grain, so they often cause grain to be grown with pesticides which damage the planet. And they are often frozen and shipped, using energy and causing carbon dioxide emissions.

Beef and pork are raised with the same ethical ramifications. But they eat a lot more grain. Some people think it is cruel to kill large, sentient mammals. Some people think it is cruel to raise animals for food when the grain those animals consume could easily feed all the hungry people on the planet. Excuse me for a minute. I need to go cry into my quinoa.

FAQ: Do animal rights believers eat eggs?

Some do. Some don’t. A few animal rights activists believe that a chicken egg is a potential life that was cut short. More animal rights believers think that the cultivation of chickens for human use is abusive to the chickens. Some of us think that, if the chickens got to range, squawk, and mate, maybe it’s okay to buy a dozen eggs from a free-range chicken farmer.

FAQ: What religions preach animal rights?

Pretty much all of them, even the total crackpot religions.

You can see a respect for animals in the dietary traditions and religious texts of all the world religions. Muhammad, the father of Islam, for instance, loved cats. When his beloved cat Muezza was sleeping on the sleeve of his robe, he cut the fabric off his sleeve so he could arise without waking her up. Tibetan Buddhists eat a lot of barley. That’s because their religion tells its followers to eat meat only when it can be obtained without butchering an animal or causing one to be butchered. The Jewish religion restricts meat eating to animals that have been quickly butchered. In earlier centuries, pigs were slowly drained of blood to preserve their meat. That kind of thing is prohibited by Judaism.

The Christian Bible has fewer obvious instructions about how to treat animals. But Matthew 10:29 tells us that God knows when a sparrow dies.

FAQ: Who are the Jains?

Jainism is an ancient religion whose most important tenet is non-violence. The commitment to non-violence makes Jains the ultimate animal rights believers. They are not only vegetarian, they refrain from stepping on insects and digging (because digging in the earth disrupts worms and bugs). Their religion prohibits them from working in circuses and zoos. They cannot work in any business that involves butchering animals, selling leather, or cutting trees.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists believe in euthanasia?

I assume you’re talking about pet euthanasia? Otherwise, WTH? Many animal rights believers think that sick or injured companion animals should be euthanized if they are suffering. PETA has firmly taken the position that animals with no life quality need to be put down. Other animal rights believers think PETA is a little too handy with the phenobarbital. It’s a big tent.

FAQ: Canada geese have taken over the nearby ball field. Why can’t I just shoot them?

Some, NOT ALL, Canada geese have given up migrating. And can you blame them? Their migratory route is two thousand miles. One way.

These geese have various reasons for abandoning migration and putting down roots. In every case, however, it is the fault of humans.

Some non-migratory geese are the descendants of farmed geese whose wings were cut. They don’t migrate because no one taught them to do so.

Other permanent geese have simply found that they need not migrate. Or they need not go so far north. Why go to the arctic circle when Wisconsin is so nice in the spring and summer? Climate change and the warmer winters everywhere as well as open waters that used to freeze are to blame. And humans, not geese, are to blame for the warming.

AND geese that still migrate to the arctic will often join the non-migratory geese for a quick nibble on a golf course or baseball diamond. So, no. You can’t shoot the geese. Some of them are migratory birds protected by federal laws.

And if you shoot them, I will bust you.

FAQ: Do all animal rights activists recycle?

Most do, yes. We recognize that the production of new materials creates pollution which is toxic to wildlife. And we think that recycling reduces pollution.

FAQ: Why do animal rights activists wear leather?

Stop judging me for my leather jacket! I got it at a second hand store!

Also stop judging animal rights believers for wearing leather shoes. In the first place, they may not be leather. There are plastic shoes that LOOK exactly like leather.

More importantly, it’s easy to pick on people with ideals. Having ideals means living with inconsistencies. The only people who can maintain a 100 percent consistency with their ideals are selfish dicks who care only for themselves and declare as much.

FAQ: Why do animal rights activists throw paint at fur coats?

Please, only a few of us do that. Many of us feel that stunts like that make the rest of us look like crackpots.

It should be noted that the PETA website does NOT recommend paint throwing. Instead, we are supposed to politely ask the fur wearer if the fur is real. Then, if it’s indeed a dead animal, we’re to deliver a lecture about your terrible immorality. No paint throwing.

That said, you really should donate your real fur coat to a homeless shelter.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists have pets?

A few hard-core extremists believe that pet ownership is exploitative and wrong. Most animal rights activists will tell you that it is wrong to take an animal, like a bird, fish, snake, or turtle out of the wild to make it your pet. (There are exotic breeders who raise reptiles ethically.)

Many animal rights believers have dogs and cats. We believe that these animals have evolved to be symbiotic with people. And we think our dogs and cats enjoy our company as much as we enjoy theirs.

Please, please don’t buy a parrot or turtle.

FAQ: Do all animal rights activists spay and neuter their pets?

Most do, yes. We believe there’s no need to bring more domestic animals into the world. Many of us also believe that breeding a female dog or cat repeatedly causes injury to the animal. PETA strongly, strongly favors spaying and neutering all pets to avoid the possibility of unwanted offspring.

But there is a minority opinion. No one could possibly love dogs more than Alexandra Horowitz. And she has written an impassioned plea to reconsider desexing all dogs.

FAQ: Why do animal rights activists despise pet breeders?

“Despise” is a strong word. Some people think that, by breeding dogs, you are taking away a home from a shelter dog.

FAQ: Why do animal rights activists oppose the Iditarod?

Some dogs are injured and some even die racing the Iditarod. It is a harsh race. For that reason, some colorful personalities advocate for it to be shut down.

It should be noted, however, that most mushers love their dogs. And it must also be noted that some dogs LOVE to run and feel insulted if they are left out of the race. And it should be noted that we let humans participate in extreme sports like ski jumping and surfing, even though a percentage of skiers and surfers have died doing what they love.

But now I’m going to shut up because I don’t want to bring the wrath of PETA down on my head.

FAQ: Doesn’t it demean humans to give rights to animals?

No, it does not. How insecure must you be to ask that question?

FAQ: Do animal rights activists think that blind people should not have service dogs?

Yes, a few crackpots think that you should not exploit a dog in this way. However, this is an extreme view. And it completely overlooks the fact that big dogs usually like to have a job. The dogs that are bred and trained to be service dogs to the blind would be miserable without a job. To understand a dog’s need to serve, we must look at the evolution of dogs. Humans did not court and tame wolves because they were cute. They needed wolves as hunting companions. The cave dwellers noticed that, when raised by humans from birth, wolves would bond with humans and show varying degrees of loyalty. This, combined with the wolf’s hunting skills, made her an invaluable hunting partner. Cambridge researchers have theorized that dogs were there at the very beginning of civilization, giving humans the upper hand over our earliest competitors, the Neanderthals.

FAQ: If everyone became vegetarian and gave up keeping pets, what would happen to all the animals?

Yes, my students asked me this. I see two scenarios for the livestock, one in which everyone in the world enjoys one last hamburger, one last chicken sandwich, and one last omelet. Then a mass grave for the bones. In the other scenario, livestock is released to live in the wild, and they mostly die off because they are not equipped with the life skills or DNA to survive the wild. A few of the strongest, smartest individuals would create wild communities of steer, chickens, and turkeys. How cool would that be?

I don’t see pets ever dying out because people are more attached to their pets even than to meat eating. And there are plenty of people who refuse to spay and neuter their pets.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists consider the economic consequences of protecting animals?

We think that an economy based on animal slaughter is a bad economy and that there are better alternatives. Cattle farms can be converted to wind turbine farms and solar farms. Poultry farms can and should be converted to the farming of organic vegetables, soy, quinoa, broccoli, asparagus, blueberries, etc. or animal sanctuaries.

FAQ: Don’t animal rights activists read the Bible?

Do Christians read the Bible, might be a better question. Many Christians believe in treating animals with a basic degree of kindness. The Bible is actually very clear on the human/animal connection. God gives humans “dominion” over all animals right at the start. Thereafter, however, all the verses about animals tell us to be kind and avoid causing unnecessary suffering. Some translations of the Bible even tell Christians to let their cattle rest on Sundays. Or Saturdays; it depends on when your Sabbath is. There are some VERY specific verses on not destroying birds’ nests or bird mothers, whether they are in trees or ground nesting. Other verses tell you to pull your donkey out of the pit he’s fallen into, probably because of your irresponsibility. Even on the Sabbath, you have to rescue your donkey. Don’t be a dick! Rescue your donkey! The Bible does assume that people will eat animals and put them to work, but that does not mean that animals can be beaten, starved, or abandoned. The proverb, “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” informs the Bible reader, in no uncertain terms, that “dominion” means careful stewardship, not cruelty.

FAQ: Who are the most influential voices in the animal rights movement?

Peter Singer, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Barbara Smuts, if you are looking for the scientists. If you are looking for the movie stars, there are a bunch: Brigitte Bardot, Alicia Silverstone, Moby, Betty White, Alec Baldwin, Pink, River and Joaquin Phoenix, Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney, Bill Maher, Ricky Gervais, k.d. Lang, Kim Basinger, Bob Barker, Pam Anderson, Casey Affleck, to name a few. The writer/philosophers include: Cleveland Amory, Douglas Adams, Jeremy Bentham, Margaret Cavendish, J.M. Coetzee, Karen Davis, Robert Garner, Gerald Durrell, Keith Mann, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Alice Walker.

FAQ: Are animal rights activists violent?

In the true sense of “violence,” almost no animal rights advocates are violent. Someone out there is saying, “What about Theodore John Kaczynski?” Ted Kaczynski, the unabomber, protested deforestation by blowing up buildings and killing three people, while leaving many more injured.

Kaczynski does not represent animal rights activists at large. After being arrested, Kaczynski underwent a 22-hour psychiatric analysis which concluded that he had a severe mental illness, specifically paranoid schizophrenia.

This is how I, personally, know that Kaczynski was crazy: He blew up buildings, and killed three people. Kaczynski was NOT part of a group. He worked alone, which is why it took years to catch him.

I need to emphasize here that he was NOT part of the Earth First! movement. The connection that has been drawn between Kaczynski and Earth First! comes from his attendance at one, ONE, Earth First! meeting. If a serial murderer attends a PTA meeting, is the PTA now responsible for everything he does?

Why am I so emotional about this? Because in the late nineties, I served as a short-term editor at the Earth First! journal. This is what I know about Earth Firsters: They play a lot of video games and argue about how vegan they are going to be. They do a little half-hearted gardening and organize a few protests and a critical mass bike ride. They provide couches for the homeless and alt musicians. Oh, and a few hours a week, they put together a monthly newspaper, mostly from articles submitted by environmental activists throughout the world. That’s honestly about all they do.

So imagine our surprise when we received a copy of the Unabomber’s manifesto, embargoed (by the unabomber himself) because he was waiting to hear whether the New York Times would publish it. This actually terrified several of the tough guys at Earth First! A few amateur dramatists wanted to burn the manuscript so that it could not be traced back to us. There was absolutely no discussion about publishing it. Admittedly, we should have called the police.

Why were we so scared? Well, at least in part because of what happened to environmental activist, Judi Bari. In 1990, Bari’s car exploded with her and Darryl Cherney in it. The FBI showed up so fast after the explosion, that they are still under suspicion of knowing about the bomb and letting Bari blow up anyway. Or maybe they put the bomb there. Or colluded, passively, in allowing a disgruntled lumberjack to place it there. Bari had gotten sorely on the nerves of the timber industry in her attempts to save forests from destruction.

Why do we know so much about the Unabomber and so little about Judi Bari? Let that sink in for a minute.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists destroy private property to free or protect animals?

Sometimes. It depends on whether you’re aligned with Gandhi or Al Gore.

Gandhi would say that you can’t support and abide by an unfair law. But, at the same time, you can also perpetrate no violence against any sentient being in the process of protesting a wrong law. This philosophy does not prohibit one from breaking into a corporate farm and photographing the pigs. But if the owners or the police show up, and start beating up on you, you can’t fight back. Following Gandhi is hard. That’s why so few people do it.

Al Gore would say you have to respect all laws and work within those laws to effect positive change. If the laws are wrong, use the system to change the laws.

Almost all animal rights activists fall in either with Gandhi or Al Gore. Both are essentially peaceful pathways, even when someone is liberating your chickens from their coop.

FAQ: What’s wrong with zoos?

Zoos are sometimes the last chance to save a species. Take, for instance, the celebrated case of Diego, a Galapagos turtle who lived most of his life at the San Diego Zoo. When the fifteen remaining Hood Island tortoises were hovering on the brink of extinction, Diego was DNA tested to see if he could be part of a captive breeding program to save the Hood islanders. This does seem like a Hail Mary kind of move.

And yet.

When Diego arrived in Santa Cruz and discovered female tortoises, the previously asexual fifty-seven year old swung into action. Over the next twenty-five years, Diego fathered 900-1000 baby tortoises. Another tortoise, unpoetically named E5, fathered even more. The Hood Island tortoise population today is at two thousand. Around forty percent of them are Diego’s progeny, and sixty percent were fathered by E5. Diego was rewarded by being returned to his native Espanola Island, where he gets to live out the rest of his life as a wild tortoise. He might live another sixty years. Animals are amazing. This is why we love them.

So, zoos can be useful in keeping interesting species alive. Why do animal rights activists think they are horrible?

Answer: Some animals do okay in zoos, and others should not be there. For instance, no zoo can recreate a habitat that is satisfactory to polar bears. Polar bears range for hundreds of miles across ice and open waters. They generally lose their minds in zoos. A big cat that is trapped in a four-hundred foot enclosure paces up and down all day. Back and forth at the front of the cage. That animal is miserable. Does he want to kill and eat you for lunch? Probably.

Many of us think that taking an animal out of the wild and putting him in captivity for the entertainment of humans has had its day. Technology may solve this problem for us. How can you expect a child to be interested in captive animals when he can play Paws of Fury in the climate-controlled comfort of his own room?

Meantime, most animal welfare believers would like to close down the zoos that are most abusive to animals. Those that have a high mortality rate, for instance. If the animals are not well fed and kept healthy, with at least some space to move around in, the zoo needs to close and release the animals to the wild or transfer them to a better zoo or animal sanctuary.

We support the creation of laws that restrict importing healthy animals for entertainment. For instance, after multiple dolphin deaths at Connyland, Switzerland decided that they would not allow any more dolphins to be imported. We also support aquariums and zoo-like institutions that exhibit only animals that have been injured. For example, the South Carolina Aquarium exhibits Loggerhead sea turtles, but they are only brought to the aquarium when they have been in an accident with a boat or caught in a net, etc. They are rehabbed at the aquarium and released back into the wild if they regain their health. Most animal rights believers agree this is an acceptable practice.

Zoos are also useful if they do a good job of educating the public about animals and encourage good practices that do not endanger animals.

Bottom line: Zoos have their place, but taking healthy animals out of the wild is wrong.

FAQ: Why are selfies with animals so wrong?

Selfies with animals are not inherently wrong, as long as you do not interfere with the animal. For instance, a photo of you in the foreground, and a water buffalo in the background, grazing, is not automatically wrong unless you add information about the location of the animal that could endanger it.

However, if you offer an animal food to pose with you or if you hold a wild animal in place so you can be photographed with it, that is wrong.

Feeding wild animals endangers them in a number of ways.

The most obvious danger is that the animal can lose its fear of humans. A fed bear, for instance, is a dead bear. By the time that bear has no fear of people, it will wander into town, terrorize children, and be shot by animal control or a park ranger. Same thing with alligators and coyotes.

It should be obvious why you should not hold a wild animal to get a shot of yourself. If you are really, really lucky, you will not get bitten. If you are bugging a dolphin to get a photo, and the dolphin bites you, you deserve it.

FAQ: If a captive animal has a longer life than a wild animal, isn’t captivity a favor?

Some animals do live longer in zoos, while others do not. Specifically, species that live short, intense lives are more likely to live longer in a zoo because the predators are removed, and the diseases are prevented or treated. Ergo, most bunnies and their relatives live longer in zoos. And big cats. Big cats live longer in zoos. (Those damn vampires again!)

Does this mean it’s okay to take healthy animals out of the wild and put them in zoos? No, it does not. As discussed above, zoos justify their existence when they save a species through captive breeding. Otherwise, no, it’s not okay to relocate an animal from its natural habitat. Animal rights folks have this prickly idea that animals should be themselves. This is sometimes worded as “expressing normal behavior.” That means we think that animals should have as rich and full a life as they would in the wild.

In general, the bigger brained an animal is, the more likely it is to suffer in captivity. This is why so many of us hate it that orcas and dolphins are still kept in water parks. There is no definitive evidence that dolphins are any dumber than humans; we have locked up innocent, self aware creatures for our own amusement. Big-brained animals are the usual suspects: elephants, wolves, big cats, kangaroos, marine mammals, apes, and monkeys. Small brained, but very smart, animals include crows, parrots, and shrews.

So, when an animal rights believer sees a zoo animal, she asks the following questions:

Do they mate and have offspring? Do they hunt? Do they get to travel as far as they would in the wild? Do they engage in play behavior with others of their species? When captivity alters these behaviors, it’s a bad captivity. Most humans believe that they, themselves, are entitled to the richest, fullest life possible. Since animal rights activists don’t draw a line between people and other animals on the sentient life spectrum, we see no reason to view animal life with a different lens.

Animals don’t deserve to go to prison any more than you do if you haven’t committed a crime.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists believe that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy?

In general, yes.

While we regard all sentient life as sacred, some of us do not think that a fetus is yet sentient. And others believe that forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term is exploitative.

We do not hold human life in contempt. Most animal rights activists revere human life. It would be inconsistent not to, because we believe humans are the apex species in the animal kingdom.

However, cherishing life, for us, means freedom. Just as we think wild animals should be free to live their fullest lives, we also think that human women should be free to make their own decisions.

We consider the freedom of the individual animal perhaps even more sacred than the right of the species to exist. An abortion is always an unfortunate event, but we will not oppose human animals who choose to have them.

It should be noted that PETA does not take a position on abortion.

FAQ: In the wild, there are predators, like lions and wolves, who kill and eat other animals. Why is it okay for them, but not for us?

Ahem.

Okay, maybe you have a point.

But, first, please understand that there is hunting, and then there is factory farming, and then there is habitat destruction. Which is worst?

Habitat destruction is worst.

About the worst thing that humans humans do is to cut down a forest, teeming with bird nests, frogs, snakes, opossums, turtles, raccoons, coyotes, squirrels, bob cats, etc., then turn it into a subdivision. The second worst thing humans do is cut down a forest to grow food, whether it be corn or grazing livestock or a chicken farm. One of the least harmful things a human ever does is spend all day in the forest with a bow and arrow, and come home with one bagged deer.

Hunting and gathering humans live, pretty much, in harmony with their universe. That’s why most animal rights activists have a vague idea that we shouldn’t have destroyed the native Americans. Their civilization was sustainable. Ours is not. They took one deer or buffalo out of its community, prayed for forgiveness, and always made sure to leave enough animals so that there would be future food.

By contrast, farming often requires devastation of someone’s home and almost always devastation of the environment. The great dust bowl, the extinction of eastern wolves, the loss of the ivory-billed woodpecker: all these are directly connected to growing more food than humans need today.

Meanwhile, many hunters do care about preserving habitat for wildlife. This is acknowledged by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The biggest organization for hunter conservationists is Hunters for Habitat.

FAQ: Why do animal rights activists let native Americans off the hook when they trap, fish, or whale?

In general, the animal rights movement honors indigenous people who use traditional hunting methods. That is because the hunting/gathering lifestyle of all primitive people is far less damaging to the biosphere than the spread of western civilization which lays waste to huge sections of wilderness in order to grow food and erect housing.

FAQ: Why do animal rights activists oppose circuses?

We only oppose circuses that exploit live animals that have been taken out of the wild: bears, elephants, tigers, especially. We think that wild animals should be left in the jungles and forests where they were born.

Ringling Brothers has closed shop, citing confrontations with animal rights activists as one of the major reasons. Big, three-ring circuses that feature live animals are quickly being replaced by circuses that do not use animals. Cirque du Soleil is basically a ballet company masquerading as a circus. Go see them, if you haven’t. They’re awesome.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists oppose horse racing?

In general, yes.

It’s not so much the racing that we hate. It’s the cynical way some horse owners treat their horses.

When the BBC, USA Today, and the Guardian all report long lists of briefly famous horses that were slaughtered after the public turned its gaze elsewhere, we feel something is terribly wrong. Dog food makers don’t have to report all the horse meat they are using, but it is likely that roughly thirty to forty percent of Fido’s chow is dead race horse.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists oppose dog racing?

Yes. Dog racing is supported almost entirely by the gambling industry, and many dogs, especially greyhounds, are killed in the process. When a racing dog is injured or slows down, the owner rarely tries to find another home for him or even obtain veterinary care. It’s easier just to kill the dog. This disregard for the lives of highly sentient animals should be horrifying to everyone.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists oppose dog fighting and cock fights?

Of course we do, because we’re not monsters.

FAQ: Why do animal rights activists oppose animal testing?

Most animal testing does not lead to advances in medicine. Many animal tests simply look like malicious exercises in cruelty. Take for example the experiments in which scientists sew kittens’ eyes shut. If animal testing mostly led to saving children from cancer, it would not be conducted so furtively. In general, you should be suspicious when scientists don’t want to share their results with the public. Especially when the public is funding them.

FAQ: Do animal rights activists have children?

Most people want babies, and animal rights folk are no exception. Babies are adorable!

There is a group called the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement which encourages people to just stop breeding, and let the human species die out organically. There is no arguing with their reasoning. There is also no way humans will stop making babies. The problem with groups like this is that they go extinct. Ever heard of the Shakers? Exactly.

How we relate to animals is who we are

–Lynn Marie Hamilton

Downsizing With a Pet: Take Every Family Member With You

When the kids leave home and you’re planning for retirement, it often makes sense to scale down from that big family house to something a little easier to take care of. But have you thought about every family member that still lives with you? If you have pets, you’ll need to cater to them in the planning process.

Put Care Into Staging Your Home

You love your pets, but not everyone out there feels the same way. When you’re selling your home you need to make it appealing to all kinds of prospective buyers. This means staging your property in a way that lets everyone who walks through the door imagine they could move in right now and be happy there.

Some useful staging tips for people with pets include:

  • Ventilate the property to remove any pet smells
  • Have furniture cleaned, or cover it to hide stains
  • Vacuum the floors daily to pick up hairs, fluff, or dander
  • Put away any photos of the pets before viewings
  • Clean your air vents
  • Hide pet toys and bowls before viewings

Plan The Move and Your Mortgage

Decide what area you’d like to move to, then find out how much you can afford. Talk to your bank and a mortgage broker and get preapproval for a mortgage. This helps you work out how much you can afford to borrow, so you’ll know what homes are accessible to you. Then, when you find the perfect property you can act quickly without stressing about the mortgage.

Help Your Pet Feel Comfortable With the Move

Moving to an unfamiliar area is scary for humans and pets too. You can help your pet feel more comfortable with the move by taking them to see the area where the new house is a few times before moving day. Go for regular walks and get them used to being in that area.

Dogs are creatures of routine, and they might feel confused if a lot of things about their routine change all at once. If you normally feed your pet in a big kitchen, and the new place has a very different layout, try to get them used to taking meals elsewhere before you move. Make new routines gradually so they don’t get too much of a shock at the change.

Confirm Your New Place Is Pet Friendly

If you’re moving to a rental property rather than buying, make sure the new house is pet-friendly and get confirmation of that in writing. If you’re buying, check what furniture comes with the property and make sure that everything is as pet-safe as possible. You may have some decorating work to do to bring things up to scratch, so if necessary ask someone to pet sit for a couple of days while you fix the place up.

Take Care of Your Four-Legged Family Members

Plan carefully before downsizing by staging your home properly and making sure you have mortgage pre-approval, as well as helping your pet adapt to the new environment and change in routine. Remember that not everyone is a pet lover, so take a look at the Animal Rights Channel to learn about keeping cats, dogs, and other animals safe and healthy.

By Jessica Brody

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Baby Gorillas Grow Up

A review of the One and Only Ivan

Disney’s latest animal tear jerker, The One and Only Ivan, is a mixture of briefly inspired moments and severely flawed thinking.

The movie is loosely based on the fortunes of a real life gorilla, Ivan, who was kidnapped out of the Congo and raised to be a circus attraction.

The real life Ivan grew up alongside a child who hit puberty around the same time as his gorilla buddy. They did everything together including motorcycle rides.

Baby gorillas are adorable, as are all babies. Then they grow up.

But, as the saying goes, kittens become cats, puppies become dogs, and baby gorillas grow up into 400 pound adults. No way can an animal that size ever convince humans that he’s no threat to the family. He’s going to break several lamps just on his way to the refrigerator.

Like the real-life Ivan, Disney’s Ivan ends up in a concrete cage, making daily appearances before a pre-internet circus crowd that can still be amused by exotic animals.

Disney’s gorilla does his best to give the crowd what they want. He rears up on two legs, roars, shows teeth, and thumps his chest even though there’s no occasion for such displays.

In one of the movie’s finer moments, Ivan privately asks, “Why do they want me to be angry?”

It’s a good question. In real life, male gorillas are not in a perpetual state of anger. It’s questionable whether they’re ever angry. Their dramatic displays of aggression are designed to scare off predators and protect the females and babies of their clans. It takes a human imagination to invest that act with a negative emotion.

And it should quickly be noted that, against the gorilla’s most dangerous predator, humans, these gestures are sadly futile. As I write, gorillas in the wild are being killed to provide trophies and trinkets, like gorilla hand ashtrays, and for bush meat.

Because, despite the millions of acres of food that Monsanto grows, somehow there are huge stretches of the planet where people are starving.

When not faced with a threat, male gorillas pretty much do what all higher-order male mammals do. They scrounge for food, contribute their DNA, accept a little post coital attention from their mates, nap, look smug, and take a distant interest in their offspring.

The Disney movie’s best accomplishment is the character of the circus master/owner, brilliantly played by Brian Cranston. His obvious use of makeup and a fake English accent, laced with bizarre rolling Rrrrs, betray his thinly veiled desperation.

Circuses that exploit live animals were never much more than sanctioned freak shows. They were not designed to withstand the internet age, much less competition with non-animal circuses like Cirque du Soleil.

Cranston adeptly renders the frantic business owner who is holding the financial bag for an industry that no longer has a market. He tries to brazen it out, even talking to his animals as if they understand him, and trying to pep talk them into better performances.

The circus master is also in the unenviable position of regretting his decisions while he is also trapped in the consequences of those decisions. His wife leaves him when Ivan progresses from adolescent to full-size simian.

His misguided affection for captive wild animals leaves him socially isolated from other humans. Though he is not an unkind man, his anger frequently taints his interactions with his menagerie, especially targeting the stray dog that befriends Ivan.

Let’s not get confused about what caused the decline of animal attractions like roadside zoos and circuses. Perhaps ten percent of the decline was rooted in human enlightenment about the plight of captive animals.

The other ninety percent of circus failure owes its demise to virtual entertainment. Sitting on a couch, beer in hand, binging on Netflix, beats sitting a hot, foul smelling tent, watching a depressed gorilla and a dying elephant slowly and sadly strut their stuff, ten days out of ten. Especially when the Disney channel is only another $7 a month.

Such attractions are slowly fizzling out, propped up by a few sentimental travelers whose main motive for buying a ticket is nostalgia for the days when this was a viable entertainment.

The movie Ivan buys his freedom by painting a landscape of a prairie. One astute observer understands this to mean that Ivan wants to return to a natural habitat.

This is where the movie takes a fraudulent left turn. Animals can’t liberate themselves. It takes humans to undo human mistakes. In real life, it was the the courage of the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) who kicked up a fuss and got a better habitat for Ivan.

It took the courage of a few PAWS members who weren’t afraid to create conflict and make a scene to get Ivan transferred to a zoo. There, the real life Ivan’s story is more interesting than the Disney version.

Because the real Ivan, having been isolated from his kind for over twenty years, integrated himself into an established gorilla community. He even found a mate. In his last years, he overcame the handicap of imprisonment and led a nearly full life as a gorilla though he did not have offspring.

To suggest that, if they just wish hard enough, wild animals can improve their own circumstances is dangerous magical thinking. And movies that perpetuate that thinking encourage complacency among humans. Humans need to sustain a sense of outrage strong enough to act against animal exploitation.

The end of The One and Only Ivan is an unforgivable whitewash job. Ivan’s cell door opens to a vast and seemingly limitless African savanna. Ivan climbs a tree and there is nothing but wilderness as far as the eye can see.

Then his human visitors jump down from the boardwalk.

So, the Disney Ivan is really in a zoo. Just as the real Ivan ended up in a zoo in Atlanta.

Admittedly, a small landscape setting with others of the same species is better than a concrete cell. But to pretend that zoo animals look out on their surroundings and see a limitless preserve is shamelessly dishonest.

In the end, this Disney confection panders to one of the worst traits in humanity: the willingness to absolve ourselves of our crimes against wild animals.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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?

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.

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.