Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bullfighting: Torture or Culture?

Spain is known for its cultural history. It has influenced the modern era tremendously. Spain has left a legacy from the time it was a global empire, leaving 400 million Spanish speakers worldwide. From its food to its language, Spain has much to offer. But what of bullfighting?

Esperanza Aguirre, head of the regional government of Madrid, has decided to declare bullfighting as part of the region's cultural heritage. By making bullfighting a cultural heritage, it would be offered some legal protections.

To counter Aguirre's proposed declaration, thousands of people marched through the streets of Madrid. "In Madrid over 70 percent of the population rejects these acts of barbarism and torture, a national shame," stated Mireya Barbeto, spokeswoman for the tiny anti-bullfighting political party PACMA.

The Northeastern region of Spain, Catalonia, is currently considering a ban on bullfighting, as requested by a petition signed by over 180,000 voters.

Read more at Dalje.com.

West Virginia adds pets to domestic violence orders

A few weeks ago I wrote about Minnesota's legislature considering adding pets into protective orders for people in abusive relationships. Well West Virginia has just heard the call. Governor Joe Manchin has signed a law that will allow judges to include pets in domestic violence protective orders.

This protection will not only save innocent animals from abuse, but will also save children. "People who even witness animal cruelty were over eight times more likely to perpetrate violence. These are kids that are not necessarily even being abused themselves, but they're witnessing the violence to their animals."

Read more at Public News Service.

Boiled chicken anyone?

Although most restaurants get their chicken already slaughtered, the Holiday Inn East Taipei decided to take a crack at killing its own chicken. Chef Zhang Xiaochun was performing a 3-minute chicken-cooking skills presentation at the Holiday Inn. During this presentation he took a live chicken and threw it into a pot of boiling water. He allowed the chicken to be scalded to death before plucking it and continuing with the presentation.

The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan has called for the government to punish the hotel and the chef for violating animal cruelty laws. According to the law, the slaughter of poultry is only allowed at certified locations, a hotel not being one.

The Animal Industry Department under the Council of Agriculture (COA) also said that the conduct of boiling a chicken alive violates the Animal Protection Act. The penalty for such a crime can be up to $15,700.

Read the full story at FocusTaiwan.

Impounded animals get extra time in California

The First District Court of Appeals of California has ruled that California shelters must hold strays for 4 weekdays before euthanizing them. The court interpreted a 1998 California law that required shelters to hold animals for 4 business days to mean 4 weekdays. Justice Jenkins delivered the ruling extending the time period and stated that "longer holding periods will often provide more opportunities for redemption and adoption."

Read more at San Francisco Chronicle.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gorillas facing tough times in the Congo

Gorillas may be facing extinction in the the Greater Congo Basin in Africa. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), currently meeting in Qatar, was warned today by the United Nations Environment Programme and Interpol that Gorillas may disappear from the Congo Basin in 10-15 years if urgent action is not taken.

Gorillas are victims of habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as hunting and trade. In Congo, militias are dealing illegally in gorillas. The illegal trade may be worth of up to several hundred million dollars a year.

Baby gorillas are also a lucrative trading item to wealthy Africans. However, it is estimated that in order to capture one live baby gorilla, 14 gorillas are likely to have died.

CITES must push countries towards more effective law enforcement to save these gorillas from going extinct.

Read more at GulfTimes.

Ohio law may make antifreeze safer

With the weather finally warming up in the Midwest, dog owners in Ohio are worried about their pets eating and licking things that they shouldn't. One concern for many dog owners is antifreeze. Ohio's state Senate is looking at legislation that would require any antifreeze sold in Ohio to contain a bittering agent that makes the antifreeze less palatable.

The bittering agent has already been added to common household products such as window cleaner, and bubble bath fluids. 11 other states have also required antifreeze to have the bittering agent added to it.

Animals that ingest antifreeze die a "hideous death" where the kidneys and renal system are destroyed, says one dog owner who had to euthanize his dog for ingestion.

Read more at The Columbus Dispatch.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vermont bill looks to protect guide dogs

Vermont's state legislature is considering a bill that would go an extra yard in protecting guide dogs. Any owner of unrestrained dogs that attack a guide dog would be punishable by a year in prison.

The special abilities and uses of guide dogs must be protected. Visually-impaired people rely on guide dogs to leave their homes and to stay mobile. When guide dogs are attacked, a visually-impaired owner is left vulnerable. Furthermore, these attacks can traumatize guide dogs to the point that they can no longer lead their owners.

Read more on the reasons behind this bill at RutlandHerald.

Wales Bans Electric Collars

Wales has become the first part of the UK to ban the use of electrical collars on dogs and cats. These collars are usually used by owners to punish and train disobedient or rowdy pets. However, the collars send a shock of electricity to the pet each time it is triggered.

Experts have stated that these collars can backfire. The owner-pet relationship can begin to breakdown when the owner is constantly shocking the animal. Dogs can often become confused by the shocks and begin to attack those near them.

Anyone in Wales found using the electric collar will face a fine of £20,000 or six months in prison.

Read more at DailyMailOnline.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Illinois senator does an about-face...

Just a few weeks after catching a lot of political heat for attempting to sponsor legislation that would re-introduce the mass-gassing of pets in Illinois, one Republican senator is trying to make nice-nice with the state's increasingly vocal animal constituency. Senator - and gubernatorial candidate - Bill Brady is breaking GOP ranks to support some anti-tethering legislation making its way through the Illinois legislature.

Governor Quinn, the consummate Illinois politician, has still managed to find a way to take jabs at Brady even if they are on the same side of the issue: his spokeswoman suggesting that Brady flip-flops on animal welfare issues.

You can read more about all the posturing in Dave McKinney's Sun-Times article from yesterday. What the article does not go into, however, is the substance of the measure. While arguably any legislation reducing tethering is good, imho, this proposal does not go nearly far enough to really be "anti-tethering". It is more accurately described as "less inhumane tethering." Oh well. Half a loaf, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Animal Research Industry Under Fire

It's no secret that animal research facilities aren't the safest place for animals. However, even in the name of science, negligent treatment of animals should not be tolerated. In the last two years, the Agriculture Department has cited 97 negligent deaths of research animals.

Leading the pack in the murder count, Charles River Laboratories. In two facilities in Nevada, 33 monkeys were negligently killed between 2008-2009. Reports came from the facilities of the horrific nature in which these monkeys died; cooked alive in cages where the temperature had peaked well above a safe range.

Of course Charles River Laboratories has nothing to say on the matter.

Read more at MSNBC.

Elgin passes animal control bill, but leaves Pit Bulls out

Elgin's city council was preparing to create a bill that would make all pit bulls dangerous dogs. All pit bull owners would have to carry insurance (at least $100,000 worth), erect a 6-foot fence, and post a warning sign. However, amid protests from pit bull owners and animal activists, the bill passes without the pit bull inclusion.

The city of Elgin now has the right to require a dog owner to carry the insurance, build the fence, and post the sign, if an animal control officer designates them to be "dangerous".
Read about Elgin's ordinance at ChicagoTribune.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UK Rules Out an All-Dog Insurance Plan

The Labour party of the United Kingdom recently brought a proposal that required all dog owners to carry a third-party insurance to cover any damages a pet dog might cause to another person. However, due to uproar from dog owners, the Labour party has decided to turn the proposal into policy.

The government has not ruled out the possibility of proposing a dog tax upon owners of dogs that have already been classified as dangerous - or has received a dog control notice.

Read more at BBC.

Tennessee May Make Animal Cruelty a Felony

Although most states have made animal cruelty a felony, few have made it so for livestock. Livestock are often exempt from felony rules, leaving the harshest penalties for companion animals only. A recent bill proposed Janis Sotany in the Tennessee legislature would aim at making "starving or sadistic behavior toward livestock a felony".

Read the article at WSMV.

What's happening to sheep at UW-Madison?

PETA and the Alliance for Animals seeks to bring suit against UW-Madison for mistreatment of sheep in the laboratories. UW-Madison is currently testing the effects of decompression upon sheep. The study is funded by the U.S. Navy to see the effects of a deep-sea dive on the sheep.

There is a state statute that makes it illegal to kill an animal by decompression. Although the Dane County District Attorney found that UW-Madison was in fact breaking the law, he did not feel it was wise to spend the offices money prosecuting the school.

Read more at The Daily Page.

Monday, March 15, 2010

No Monkeying around in Illinois

Illinois is steeped in problems. From our budget to our corrupt politicians, Illinois has it all. The state legislature has reconvened on some interesting new bills, few if any dealing with the corruption in the state's government.

One of these bills is a ban on monkeys. The proposal, led by Democrat Dan Burke, would make it illegal to harbor primates unless you are a zoo, circus, or science lab, or if you have a severe disability and require a therapy monkey.

Read more about this and other bills proposed in the Illinois State Legislature at the Daily Herald.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Would you like Whale with that?

Sushi in Santa Monica has taken "exotic" one step too far. Hump, one of Santa Monica's hottest sushi spots, has just been outed for serving whale meat. A recent documentary, The Cove, showed hidden camera footage of the restaurant serving up whale meat to its diners. The documentary's crew saved some of the meat to be analyzed by the associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. Federal labs also confirmed the meat to be whale.

Selling the meat of an endangered animal is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 1 yr in prison and up to a $100,000 fine for an individual and a $200,000 fine for an organization.

Read more at NBC-LA and The Age.

Minnesota Bill Aimed at Protecting Pets from Domestic Abuse

People in abusive relationships often find it hard to leave them, but add in the fear of the abuser hurting a pet, and the abused may never leave.

While Minnesota judges can currently include pets in domestic violence protective orders, there is no state law to the matter. The proposed bill would make it easier for a victim of domestic abuse to ask the court for a protective order for their pet as well.

Read more about the proposed bill here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Animal suicide sheds light on human behavior

Whether it's a grieving dog, a depressed horse or even a whale mysteriously beaching itself, there is a long history of animals behaving suicidally, behavior that can help explain human suicide, says newly published research.

Read more in this recent MSNBC article by Larry O'Hanlon...

Swiss referendum

I thought I blogged about this earlier in the week but realize now I did not. My apologies. The referendum failed.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Break these chains and shackles!

Laws of certain states have been pushing dog owners from chaining their pets. Thirteen states have already passed laws restricting the amount of time a dog can be chained, and further require that the dog be given shelter and minimum length of chain. Illinois' state legislature may take the chaining laws a step further and require that a dog not be chained or tethered away from it's owners eyesight.

Dogs that are chained for long periods of time often become forgotten, malnourished, or pest-ridden. They also become frustrated by their time alone and inability to move and run. These dogs are also more likely to injure themselves or choke from the chain.

Read more about this movement at USAToday.

Future of Whaling

The International Whaling Committee (IWC), the international committee made of 88 countries, recently came up with a proposal to allow commercial whaling. Japan, Norway, and Iceland have continued whaling despite their membership with the IWC. The proposed plan would allow some recessions from Japan, but for long-term whaling rights.
The proposal will be considered by all members of the IWC in June.
Read more at Politics.co.uk.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

HSUS takes aim at puppy mills in Illinois

Check out the online version of a big feature by reporters Lisa Black and Jeff Long scheduled to run in tomorrow's Chicago Tribune Living section!

More on the Swiss vote...

Ok I know I just blogged about this, but since three people sent me the Wall Street Journal article this morning, figured I may as well post it too! Thanks Pat, Tom and Greg!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Swiss To Vote On Whether Animals Need Lawyers

If enough Swiss citizens check the "yes" box in a referendum to be held this Sunday, cats, chickens and pigs across Switzerland will be entitled to state-appointed legal representation.

Read more about this important upcoming referendum, and an interview with Swiss animal rights attorney Antoine Goetschel, in this Spiegel Online International article.

Thanks again to blog reader Bruce for the heads-up!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Public lands or zoos for wild horses?

The funding testimony for the planned sanctuaries dubbed by wild horse supporters as "Salazoos" outlined last October by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Energy and Natural resources on March 3, at 10am.

Read more about the proposal and some of the controversy and opinions surrounding it in this press release at Harnesslink.com.