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.

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.”

Stop cruel experiments on beagles

Beagles are being force fed pesticides

A guest blog by Jennifer Wingo

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

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

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

Then they euthanize the dogs to test their organs.

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

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

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

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

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

Please help beagles by signing this petition.

Four ways you could stop deer culls

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

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

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

Pet leasing: The latest in predatory lending

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

Here’s how it works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This happened while we were sleeping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What you can do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else you can do

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

Author Lynn Hamilton writes from Louisville, Kentucky.

Disposable cups: How are they still a thing?

If you’ve ever waged a one-person war on disposable cups, you know how frustrating and lonely it can be.

Around twenty years ago, when I was trying for zero waste, I bought a rather expensive metal mug at Krispy Kreme Donuts because I was getting my daily morning coffee from that chain.

The next day, when I presented the mug and asked the server to put my coffee in there, she refused, saying that all Krispy Kreme coffee had to be served in paper cups. I pointed out that it was a Krispy Kreme mug that I had bought at that location.

She knew. It just didn’t bother her.

Only partially daunted, I made several more attempts to get my coffee put into the metal mug. One server first poured it into a cup and then decanted it in the mug.

Even at that time, Dunkin’ Donuts probably had some corporate policy about letting people use real mugs and eschew the paper ones, but these policies often don’t make it down to the store level.

On numerous other occasions, I have made store clerks and cashiers angry by refusing bags or insisting on putting items in my back pack.

The words, “No bag!” and “I don’t need a bag” hollered directly at someone picking up my items for purchase often falls on deaf ears. Or it has to be repeated–which amazes me.

Am I really the first person at Walgreens ever to refuse a bag for one item?

Considering the on-the-ground resistance to reducing pointless, conspicuously immoral waste products, I decided to do some new research. Maybe disposable cups aren’t really the ecological disaster that I think they are.

Sadly, that’s not true. According to the Huffpost, Starbucks alone is destroying forests at the rate of 8000 paper cups a minute. And, if you’re thinking that paper cups could be recycled into other paper products, guess again. Many such cups are coated with polyethylene, a chemical that makes recycling difficult, if not impossible in most places.

Paper cups were supposed to be an improvement on styrene foam (colloquially known as styrofoam) which has been proven to kill marine animals and is suspected of contributing to cancer in humans.

A writer at the Boston Globe notes that neither cup is really recyclable.

Right about now, you might be asking how this is an animal rights issue. In the case of styrene foam, it’s more obvious. Surely, you’ve heard that turtles and diving birds ingest small amounts of this trash and it poisons them.

But let’s circle back to the thousands of trees that are destroyed to make paper cups. That’s a huge loss of trees. And mature trees are almost never alone. They are homes to animals. Most birds need trees to nest in. The destruction of one tree at mating season can destroy dozens of baby birds and bird eggs.

So, what is the solution?

The most obvious thing to do is make and drink your own coffee at home–without using a K-cup because K-cups are landfill mongers–and compost the filter.

But going out for coffee is an emotional or social ritual for millions of people. Are they doomed to participate in deforestation every day?

Not where coffee chains have voluntarily figured out ways to reduce waste. Europe, New Zealand, and Canada are getting way ahead of the United States on this initiative.

What you can do

All is not lost, even in the U.S. Starbucks lets customers buy $2 reusable cups. Then customers receive a small discount when they use them. The company does this in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

So, if you’re a Starbucks addict, this is the obvious thing to do. If you’ve been getting coffee in paper cups from another chain, switch to Starbucks and use their reusable mugs and get the discount.

If you’re not addicted to chain coffee, patronizing a local coffee shop may allow you the luxury of sitting down with a ceramic mug of coffee. Imagine that!

Or you can start a local initiative to ban paper cups in your town. Start out at city hall.

Last, but not least, you could buy an espresso maker at your local Goodwill or Habitat Restore and learn to make really delicious coffee at home.