Are you ready for a husky? Take this quiz

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

Really beautiful.


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

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

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

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

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



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

A fenced in yard of a half acre or more.

Access to a dog park.

Access to a dog day care facility where dogs play at least eight hours a day.

None of the above.

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

No more than three hours a day.

Three to eight hours a day.

More than eight hours a day.

Define “positivity training.”

Reward positive behavior.

Reward positive behavior and administer physical punishment for negative behavior.

Reward only really good behavior with treats, then ignore bad behavior.

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



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



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



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

Yelling “no!” in a loud, firm voice.

Screaming and then rubbing the dog’s face in the cream cheese.

Beating the dog for ten seconds or less.

Taking responsibility for putting your dog in a position to do something that displeases you and letting him finish his bagel in peace

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



How big do huskies get?

40-70 pounds

60-80 pounds.

25-45 pounds.

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

A weighted back pack.

A sled harness.

A shock harness.

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?



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



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

Dry, odorless dog treats.

Stinky, moist dog treats.

Scratching behind a dog’s ears.

Praising the dog lavishly with a loving tone of voice.

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:

A master, servant relationship.

An alpha dog, beta dog relationship.

A friendship.

A collaboration.

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



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

Beat the dog because he knows better.

Scold the dog so that he never does that again.

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.

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

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.

Scream “NO” at your dog and then get the shoe away from her by screaming and pulling.

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:

Remind yourself that you signed up for chewed furniture when you got a husky and take your dog for a lovely long walk.

Drag your dog by the collar to the chewed chair. Scream and point at the damage.

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:

Rub your dog’s nose in the pee.  

Yell “NO PEE.”

Recognize that your dog was excited when you got home. She peed in her excitement. Resolve that, in future, you will immediately go outside with your dog when you get home to help her with house training.

Go here to see the correct answers!

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Are you ready for a husky? Answer key

Below are the correct answers. In some cases, there are multiple correct answers. Give yourself four points for every correct answer. 

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

Yes. Correct! Ideally, your husky is walked twice a day for at least thirty minutes a walk.

To which of the following do you have daily access? You get four points for each resource.

A fenced in yard of a half acre or more.

Access to a dog park.

Access to a dog day care facility where dogs play at least eight hours a day

How many hours a day will your husky be alone?

No more than three hours a day. Good job! 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.

Define “positivity training.
”Reward positive behavior.” Yes. 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.
Do you fundamentally believe that dogs don’t need to take obedience classes?

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

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

No. Good answer. 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.

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

No. Good answer. 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?

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?

Yes. You will be better off if you answered yes here. 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.

How big do huskies get?

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.”

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

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.

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?

No. Good answer. 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?

No, is a better answer. 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?

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. 

Praising the dog lavishly with a loving tone of voice. You get four points for this because your husky will respond to voice quality.

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 get four points for this, too. Don’t spend them all in one place.

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

A friendship. Correct! Whatever Cesar Milan might think, there’s no science to the notion that dogs think of people as dogs.

A collaboration. Your husky wants to play and explore. Your best option is to be his fellow explorer and play buddy. Also correct!

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

No. Good answer. Sorry. 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.”

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

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. Correct!

With the patience of Gandhi, accept that huskies have a strong prey drive and that there will be a few casualties. Also correct!

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

Nothing. Correct! 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.

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

Remind yourself that you signed up for chewed furniture when you got a husky and take your dog for a lovely long walk.

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

Recognize that your dog was excited when you got home. She peed in her excitement. Help your dog with house training by letting her outside to pee as soon as you get home.

Your results

100 points or better: You are knowledgeable about huskies. Assuming you can follow through on these principals, you will be a good husky parent.

80-100 points: You may want to foster a husky before adopting, if possible. There is a wonderful group that rescues huskies and malamutes at this address: They pull huskies out of high kill shelters and get them into foster care so that they have time to be adopted. Fostering would be a great way to get to know the breed better.

Under 80 points: I’m not going to tell you what to do, but please be aware that a dog is a lifetime commitment, not something it’s okay to experiment with. If you believe you have the time, patience, and resources to deal with this breed, take my blessing, but you may want to research other breeds. German shepherds, for instance, are big, smart dogs, but they receive training more efficiently than huskies because they have a stronger drive to please their people.

Hank Was Framed

Hank the Tank, the beloved 500-pound black bear that stood accused of breaking into thirty Lake Tahoe homes, has been acquitted, at least partly.

While the mainstream media demonized Hank, using words like “terrorized,” “rampage,” and “thief,” the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was conducting DNA evidence on the break ins.

Turns out, the thirty break ins were the work of at least three different bears. The last break in, which incited international media attention, was the work of a female bear, definitely not Hank.

Long-time residents of Lake Tahoe know how to live side by side with their black bears, like Hank the Tank. But new residents who bought into Lake Tahoe when they learned they could work at home are calling the police and endangering the community’s beloved bears, according to Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League.

Hank garnered media attention for the work of multiple bears who were breaking into houses and scarfing homeowner’s food. These three or more bears harmed no one during the recent break ins, although residents of bear territory have been injured by bears in previous years. Hank, who was blamed for all the break ins, was in danger of being euthanized. Hank was a convenient scapegoat for general bear damage because he is easily recognizable to people who know what traits to look for. In addition to his size, he has distinct facial characteristics.

Several wildlife sanctuaries offered Hank a permanent home where he can roam free without running amok of millennial techies’ potato chips. But bear relocation is complicated and potentially dangerous to those bears who have little experience foraging in the true wild.

The mainstream media grossly exaggerated Hank’s size, adding to the fear mongering. claims that Hank is “twice the size” of a normal bear. That’s nonsense, Bryant notes. Hank is big, she concedes, but it is perfectly normal for a male black bear to be 400 pounds. There have been much bigger bears. She remembers one named “Brownie” who was 960 pounds.

Hank gained weight through the winter because he did not hibernate. Bryant explains that bears don’t hibernate because it’s cold or because they are tired. They hibernate to save themselves from starvation during the winter. Hunger triggers the hibernation. But there’s no lack of food in Lake Tahoe where affluent people often don’t sequester their garbage well enough, Bryant complains. So Hank is among the twenty percent of Lake Tahoe bears that do NOT hibernate. Instead, they stay awake, snack, and pack on the happy fat.

Bryant says it’s not that difficult to live in harmony with bears. Until the latest influx of new residents, she and her neighbors lived with bears in peace. “They go swimming at the beach with us, they have names,” she says.

What Tahoe Keys can do to save bears

Tahoe Keys does have a human-created bear problem, but the solution lies with humans, not bears. For the time being, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has promised not to euthanize any problem bears, but the community’s bears are still in danger. Residents can obtain a permit to shoot bears on their property. Homeowners who wish to save bears need to do their part, including:

  • Community-wide use of bear-proof garbage containers. The homeowners association should mandate these.
  • Educate all homeowners, especially new ones, about living in harmony with bears.
  • Owners of short-term rentals need to lay down very firm guest guidelines about how to interact with bears. (Don’t feed the bear, don’t leave food on the patio, don’t leave food in your car. Don’t feed birds)
  • For the love of god, don’t feed bears directly, no matter how cute they are.
  • Bears who lose their fear of humans are always in danger of being killed. Though it seems counter-intuitive, bear lovers need to discourage bears who come on their property. If you are at a safe distance from the bear, have your dog bark at the bear. Use a paintball gun to shoot the bear on its flanks or backside. This applies, in particular, to bear cubs who must learn to fear humans and human communities at a young age before they develop unbreakable habits.
Black Bear. Photo courtesy of photographer Thomas Fuhrmann, SnowmanStudios.

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 article that clearly intends to poke fun at animal rights, but it’s as good a place to start as any.


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?



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?


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

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.


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?

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, 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:

Author Lynn Hamilton writes from Louisville, Kentucky.

Isle of Dogs: Wes Anderson’s best so far

Dogs are not wild animals.

But what if they had to be?

Would they latch onto the first human that came along?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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:

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:













North Carolina





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, 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, 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.

Animal abuse in zoos and marine parks | Animal Rights Channel

Are zoos really cruel? Is animal abuse in zoos actually common?

Answer: It completely depends on the zoo. Some zoos have gone to great trouble and expense to recreate habitats for the animals in their care. Most reputable zoos are staffed by people with university degrees in animal science.

As a society, we have come a long way since the days of caged tigers and chimpanzees.

Now zoo animals have constructed habitats that look like the savannas or rock formations in which those animals would exist in the wild. The animals are surrounded by real vegetation that would typically exist in their native habitat.

Zoo animals receive exactly the right foods in the right amount. And, if they are naturally social, they usually get to socialize with others of their kind.

Zoos have three important functions:

  1. To educate the public about animals in various parts of the world. When a zoo is doing its job, it posts a sign in front of the animal exhibit that tells you important information about that animal–where it is from and something about its lifestyle.
  2. To protect endangered animals, implement breeding programs to ensure the survival of the species, and create public awareness of the plight of endangered animals.
  3. Many zoos take in injured animals and save them. If the animal recovers without losing its wildness, it can be re-released to the wild. That was the story of a bald eagle who was dying of lead poisoning until a zoo nursed him back to life.

Zoos prolong life in many animals

Some animals that have made it into reputable zoos have basically drawn the high card. According to a 2016 study, eighty percent of the mammals at the zoo will live longer than they would have in the wild.

Zoos, you see, remove the threat of predation while providing medical care. Instead of dying of a bacterial or fungal infection, a white tail deer in the zoo gets a shot of antibiotics and goes on living.

It is true that zoos severely limit the range of animals that have the instinct to roam. Big cats, wolves, elephants, zebras, and many birds would typically migrate over thousands of miles.

But one might conclude that, for some animals, the benefits of expert medical care and freedom from predators outweigh the benefits of roaming.

Zoos are not right for some species

Does that mean that animal abuse in zoos is a thing of the past? Not really. There are some animals that should never be in a zoo or marine park. Polar bears, for instance, should never be in zoos, except as a last resort to save their lives. It is simply too difficult to recreate the freezing natural habitat of a polar bear. And polar bears will overheat to the point of psychosis in a zoo environment.

Similarly, sea turtles, dolphins and whales do not belong in a zoo or marine park unless they are so badly injured that they cannot survive in the wild. Dolphins and whales have big brains. They understand that they are captive.

While they might take some joy from performing, in general they are miserable. Captive dolphins who swim around their tanks with their eyes squeezed shut are testament to this fact.

We all need to welcome the recent trend of marine parks to quit acquiring new marine mammals.

Beware cruel roadside attractions

Meanwhile, there are a number of small, private animal attractions that need to shut down. These exhibits are sometimes called “roadside zoos.” The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have compiled a list of the worst of these zoos. These roadside attractions, sometimes billed as “adventures,” definitely participate in animal abuse in zoos.

One of these institutions kept a primate in isolation for decades, even though all primates are extremely social animals. Another one pits tiger cubs against chimpanzees for the amusement of visitors.

The downside to zoos is that they encourage people to see animals as entertainment. Animals have rights to live as they were born to do, independent of what they may or may not provide to humans.

What you can do:

If you are concerned about animal abuse in zoos, don’t spend any money at small zoos that are advertised on billboards off the highway. Instead, visit only zoos that have made every effort to create appropriate habitat for animals. Make sure that the zoo you support allows animals of a kind to socialize and does not isolate any social animals.