California could go fur free

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

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.”

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.

But I didn’t mean to kill those thousand birds! So that’s okay, then

Trumps tramples the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

United States President Donald Trump and his regime are attacking one of the most sacred laws protecting wildlife: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

As you should know, migration is a risky venture. Migratory birds undertake it because they have specific ideas about where to raise their families. If you were born in the crevice of a sheer rock face, you can’t imagine any place else to make a nest.

Migrating to the arctic, incidentally, is one way some bird species are surviving. Birds who raise the next generation in the most hostile habitats have less to fear from humans and their destructive sprawl.

Some birds travel thousands of miles, and their journeys are epic. Bar-headed geese fly in the thin air five miles above the ocean. Hummingbirds, by contrast, clear the Gulf of Mexico, avoiding headwinds by flying dangerously low and risking death by drowning. Only one fourth of newborn hummingbirds will survive the journey.

Despite their bad reputations as squatters, many Canada geese still fly up to three thousand miles to the northernmost parts of North America.

To offer these intrepid travelers some kind of protection seems the least humans can do.

But the Trump regime has now reinterpreted the MBTA to mean that you can be fined only if you meant to kill the birds.

This leaves industries free to destroy birds with oil spills, construction, pesticides, tractors, concrete pours, chainsaws, and deforestation. At greatest risk appear to be ground nesters and waterfowl.

The whole point of the MBTA was to make businesses think before clear cutting or being careless with their emissions.

Of course it’s their fault if their actions kill birds. Every business and individual has the duty to anticipate unintended consequences and prevent them.

This unfortunate new interpretation of the decades-old protection means that many species of birds will head towards extinction on an accelerated basis.

What you can do

Please use this form to contact your local law makers and express concern about the disembowelment of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Make pet stores sell rescues!

California has already passed a law that prohibits pet stores from selling animals born and raised in mills. And other states are following suit.

Many cities have also enacted laws that protect animals from the cruelties of the pet trade. You can find a list of cities that have implemented laws that force big box pet stores, like Petco and PetSmart, to sell only rescued animals here: Cities that require pet stores to sell rescues.

These laws are important because they will put puppy mills out of business. And puppy mills need to go. Many breeders do not provide adequate care for their animals. And, if an animal doesn’t sell, they dump it on a rescue organization or kill it.

Recently, in the Midwestern United States, a Siberian Husky puppy was surrendered to a rescue because it didn’t have enough blue in its eyes, for example.

Animals taken out of the wild

While putting puppy mills out of business is worthwhile, even more important is cracking down on the trade in wild animals.

Parrots continue to be taken out of their nests as babies and transported to pet stores and other markets.

The United States has many laws that prohibit import of wild animals as pets. But the consumer will never know, exactly, where an animal really came from.

For example, when you buy a snake or turtle at PetSmart, you may hope it came from a responsible breeder.

But turtles, lizards, and snakes are sitting ducks and far too easy simply to trap and sell. Why would a breeder take all the trouble of mating two animals and hoping they make babies when he can simply go into the woods or swamps and pick up some red-eared turtles?

Requiring puppies to be rescues does not go far enough

In crafting legislation to save pets and wild animals from suffering, state and city legislators need to be careful to restrict the sale of ALL live animals.

Making pets of wild animals is morally irresponsible. Reptiles are far too vulnerable to poaching. The sale of reptiles should be stopped altogether.

Parrots seem like wonderful pets, and they do bond with people. But before you buy a parrot, consider that it was probably pulled from its nest as a chick. It has been removed from its habitat, where it would have flown free.

It has been deprived of its family. And it has been deprived of the opportunity to mate and raise babies of its own.

The same thing is true of other tropical birds, snakes, lizards, and turtles.

What you can do

Don’t buy animals that belong in the wild. Cats, dogs, pet rabbits, and guinea pigs are domestic animals that exist in abundance and are often destroyed for lack of a home. Adopt those animals.

If you must have a bird, adopt a muscovy from a rescue organization. Be aware that, if you get a male and female muscovy, you will soon have twenty.

Sign petitions

Please sign this petition asking the US Congress to just make sale of live animals that aren’t rescues illegal at all pet stores:

Stop cruelty in pet stores

And please also sign this petition which specifically asks PetCo and PetSmart to stop selling wild animals:

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/645/429/588/

Support legislation

Ask the mayor or a council member of your town to enact laws that require all pet stores to sell only rescue animals. Or ask your state legislature to enact state laws.

The following states need laws that protect animals from being bred or stolen and sold in pet stores:

Alaska

Alabama

Arizona

Arkansas

Connecticut

Delaware

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Missouri

Montana

North Carolina

Virginia

Wisconsin

 

 

Is Kentucky really worst in animal protections?

When I walk the streets of east Louisville, Kentucky, I see a town that loves its dogs. Dogs and their humans are everywhere: in the Morton Avenue Dog Park, in the dog friendly wine shops, at street festivals, at the patios of bars and restaurants.

On Nextdoor.com, my neighbors religiously track and return lost dogs and cats, sometimes before the owners even post the loss. My neighbors may or may not like me, but this is know: If I lost one of my dogs, they would form a dragnet to find her.

If my dogs were the only consideration, I would choose Louisville over a lot of cities, especially Denver and Miami where anti-pitbull laws are still in place.

 

good shot of alice

Is she or is she not a pitbull? If I lived in Denver, inexpert dog catchers would decide.

So it was something of a shock to learn that Kentucky has been rated dead last in protecting its critters by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

Rankings are based on laws, not actions

It’s important to note that this poor ranking is not based on the way Kentucky families and farmers actually treat their animals. Kentucky’s poor showing is because of its laws.

When it comes to animals, Kentucky has committed some sins of omission. Sure, we have laws on the books that protect an animal from cruelty and fighting.

But we have no laws that protect animals from abandonment, neglect, and sexual assault.

Should we worry about our laws when, all around us, dogs and cats appear to be cherished?

Yes, we should. Because, at the end of the day, there’s no way to measure the total love for pets or the sum of care for livestock in any state. We are stuck with laws as a metric.

Our vets are gagged

Perhaps even more troubling is a law on Kentucky’s books that prevents veterinarians from reporting cruelty to animals when they see it.

People who are abusing dogs, cats, and bunnies are unlikely to seek veterinary care. The obvious victims of this law are Kentucky’s horses.

Does this gag law exist to protect someone who hurts his own racehorse for the insurance pay off?

We need to get off this list

Even if your heart doesn’t melt every time you see a puppy on Youtube.com, you should care about this issue. A state whose reputation is largely based on horses cannot afford to be the worst state on the AlDF’s list. Kentuckians need to reach across the isle and forge laws that better protect our non-human friends and family members.

Satterfield: Hoarder or victim of animal dumping?

Marjorie Satterfield has been arrested on hundreds of counts of animal cruelty. But many questions remain unanswered by the extensive media coverage she has gotten.

The most important unanswered questions is: Was she a hoarder or did people dump their unwanted animals on her without a glance back?

I see from comments on news stories that one man had direct experience with Satterfield. He left his dog with her for four months and got the dog back in allegedly bad shape. The dog was left there to be trained for seizure alerts.

I have questions about this, especially “You really didn’t think to visit your dog in four months?” Most pet owners I know would demand pictures at least every week and reports on how the animal was responding to training.

So far, headlines seem to accuse Satterfield of “hoarding” or cruelty in the practice of animal training. You can’t have it both ways. Either she was a hoarder OR she was an irresponsible animal trainer OR too many people left their animals in her care and didn’t check up on them or even come back to get them.

Which was it? I call on the local and national media to do a better job in their coverage.

Britain admits animals feel pain

 

Turns out Britain Doesn’t Admit Animals Feel Pain

UPDATE: The Animal Rights Channel thought that Britain’s Animal Welfare (Sentencing and recognition of sentience) bill was a no brainer, but it seems Britain’s Parliament did not. Members have now told Prime Minister Michael Gove that the new bill goes too far.

They don’t agree that the law should recognize animal sentience. 

I think we all know that animals feel pain and pleasure, or we should know that. If you’re still waffling, take your neighbor’s dog for a nice long walk. You will quickly see that animals have a range of feelings and sensations.

If you live in the UK, would you please sign this petition and the one below it:

https://action.ciwf.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=119&ea.campaign.id=90883&ea.tracking.id=a8368275&utm_campaign=politics&utm_source=shared&utm_medium=twitter

If you live outside the UK, but you are counting on Great Britain to lead the way on recognizing animal sentience, please sign this petition to save the animal sentience part of Gove’s proposed bill: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/985/563/883/throw-the-book-at-dog-fighters-in-britain/

ORIGINAL ARTICLE published in January:

Great Britain’s Michael Gove has admitted that animals can feel pain and “enshrined” that into law, according to all major UK news vehicles.

Gove, the UK’s environment secretary, has been widely photographed with a white fluffy dog in his arms.

This happened because animal rights advocates got a whiff that British Parliament was getting ready to jettison a European Union law that recognizes animal sentience.

Admittedly, the European Union law is foundational for preventing animal cruelty, but it does almost nothing to protect wild animals from loss of habitat.

Nevertheless, animal rights champions should support the new bill while continuing to ask for more stringent protections of animals.

What you can do

UPDATE: You can still read the bill, but the comment period on this bill has been closed. Did anyone in Parliament read the comments? And where is the comments summary?

Read the bill here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/666576/draft-animal-welfare-bill-171212.pdf

Sing this petition:

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/985/563/883/throw-the-book-at-dog-fighters-in-britain/

 

 

Nicotine studies should be done on humans

By Lynn Hamilton

I applaud the United States Food and Drug Administration for its decision to close down a study that killed four monkeys.

Since 2014, the National Center for Toxicological Research has been conducting a study on the affects of nicotine on squirrel monkeys. That study has now been shut down, after pressure from Jane Goodall and animal rights organizations.

Nicotine studies should be conducted on paid, human volunteers, preferably those who are already smokers. Studying small animals to an effort to understand how various chemicals affect humans is not efficient.

I think we all knew that nicotine kills people. And now we know it kills monkeys. Have we actually learned anything new here?

We already know that nicotine is addictive, and we already know that it is a powerful addiction, one that is difficult to overcome.

For further, more refined knowledge on the exact effects of nicotine use, human volunteers should be recruited exclusively. The problem with using monkeys is that:

  1. Monkeys don’t smoke voluntarily outside labs. Humans do.
  2. Monkeys didn’t volunteer to be part of a dangerous experiment. Humans will volunteer for dangerous experiments if well paid.
  3. Monkeys are in no way paid or rewarded for such experiments. Humans will, reasonably enough, demand to be paid.
  4. Subjecting an innocent animal to a substance already known to cause death is morally irresponsible.

United’s peacock diverts attention from the real issues

A performance artist tried to bring an emotional support peacock on a United flight and was declined.

This comes, oh, so conveniently, as Delta is defending itself against some very real concerns over its new restrictions against emotional support and service animals.

First, we deal with the peacock. No true animal lover or good animal steward would subject a peacock to a trip through an airport and a trip in an airplane. Peacocks are easily stressed out. And they scream, loudly, inappropriately and often. I have no compunction about saying peacocks belong on a farm, not on an airplane. Also, there’s no room on an airplane for a male peacock to display its gorgeous tail feathers. And that’s the only thing about a male peacock that seems remotely therapeutic.

All this leads to my skepticism about a) whether someone really owns a therapy peacock and b) whether this attempt to get a peacock on board was staged by someone favorable to Delta’s new policies.

If so, this diversion comes at a time when many people are trying to get real answers to legitimate questions like, “Where is my service animal allowed to relieve himself when my flight is delayed for ten hours, as frequently happens, especially on Delta?” The complaints surrounding service and emotional therapy animals centers largely around these animals peeing and pooping amongst the passengers. UPDATE: The good people at ESA Doctors have told me that airports are stepping up to the plate and providing designated areas for service animals.

Meanwhile, Delta has still not responded to a request from the Animals Rights Channel about where, exactly, these animals are allowed to go potty. With no answer to this question, we are forced to deduce that there is no approved place for service animals to relieve themselves on Delta. ESA Doctors tells people not to feed or water their service dogs before getting on a flight. These experts also advise that passengers traveling with animals bring “pee pads,” and somehow get their dog to use these before getting on the plane if the flight is delayed or people at the security checkpoint are going on a power trip.

All this adds up to: Of course, your dog or cat is going to pee or defecate in the cabin because there’s nowhere else to do it. Rather than simply providing this simple accommodation, Delta prefers to engage in an enormous and reputation endangering controversy.

 

Fiddling while Rome burns

Animal rights activists are wasting time protesting circuses instead of protecting endangered species

By Lynn Hamilton

Many well meaning animal rights groups devote considerable resources every year to protesting circuses.

As someone who has, somewhat reservedly, participated in one of these protests, I have a few observations.

Circus protests are pointlessly divisive

Circus protests pit animal welfare advocates against too many relatively innocent members of the community.

Your neighbors and friends are going to the circus. They are taking their children to the circus because parents are desperate to give their children some kind of visual stimulation that is bearable for everyone.

When I protested the circus in Hilton Head, several drivers, on the way to the show, stopped to ask us what we were doing. They were friends of the protesters.

More worryingly, other people who might have supported us, if we had protested fish nets that trap turtles, saw us and mentally put a dividing line between us.

We get judged for inconsistency

It puts us in the ridiculous position of being judged by people who have no moral compass. People slow drove past us and counted our leather shoes.

Mine were fake leather, but that does nothing to prevent this kind of thing.

Admittedly, there will always be judgment from people who live unexamined, selfish lives. But to set ourselves up for that, in such a dubious effort, seems ill considered.

Most importantly, circuses that exploit animals are dying out naturally

Circuses who use animals are already getting phased out. The Ringling Brothers will soon give its last show. They can’t make a profit anymore.

Who wants to see captive elephants lumbering around out of their habitat when you can go to Cirque Du Soleil? Extreme ballet (which is basically what Cirque Du Soleil is doing) will trump captive wild animals every time.

And animal advocates are still wasting their time hammering a dying industry while frogs species are going extinct, dozens at a time.