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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Helping animals internationally

Children looking at Help Animals India sign (Courtesy of Help Animals India)

Children looking at Help Animals India sign (Courtesy of Help Animals India)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

October 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

In comparison to much of the world, Seattle’s safety net for companion animals is world-class. Rescue and adoption groups work tirelessly to find homes for thousands of pets every year and animal-rights groups fight for the less-protected farm animals and captive wildlife. But worldwide, the picture is not always as ideal, and several organizations in Seattle are finding ways to help animals internationally.

Animal shelters

Eileen Weintraub, the founding director of Help Animals India, works on a volunteer basis. This Seattle-based, nonprofit animal-rescue, rehabilitation and educational organization provides critical services for India’s animals by funding and advising Indian animal welfare groups.

Help Animals India helps develop and fund a network of animal organizations, like the Visakha Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA) and JBF (Just Be Friendly), to provide services, from saving orphaned baby monkeys to serving vegan meals to the poorest people to disaster relief from floods and cyclones. Veterinary experts working with Help Animals India have taught shelters to implement puppy quarantines for the first time and have trained staff to spay/neuter. Help Animals India also coordinates volunteers and veterinarians-in-training to work at Indian animal shelters.

The concept of animal shelters is not new in India because of the culture of Ahimsa (against killing) in the predominantly Hindu culture. Unfortunately, this often translates as benign neglect of animals, and the means to protect dogs, cats, elephants, cows, monkeys and more is extremely limited. By donating to Indian animal-rescue groups, American funds may go 10 times further because of the strength of our currency in India, Weintraub said.

People who travel to India for yoga training or tourism often want to rescue the suffering street animals they see, but they don’t know where to start.

“It’s our job to educate and inspire,” Weintraub said.

Help Animals India makes it possible to help animals a half a world away; learn more at www.helpanimalsindia.org.

Foreign adoptions

Chelsea, an Iranian dog (Courtesy of PAWS)

Chelsea, an Iranian dog (Courtesy of PAWS)

Seattle’s helping hands can touch many places around the world, and PAWS is caring for a few Iranian dogs right here at home. Kay Joubert, PAWS’ director of Companion Animal Services, explained that while they always aim to help local dogs first, they also work with the Vafa Animal Shelter in Iran to bring dogs to the Seattle area.

A volunteer for the Vafa Animal Shelter arranges for Iranian dogs to accompany a volunteer human traveler between Tehran and Seattle. Upon arrival, PAWS places the animal in a temporary quarantine, as required by the USDA, and then the animal is adopted by a family in the Seattle area.

PAWS has taken seven dogs through Vafa, who places animals in forever homes throughout North America. You can support Vafa through its website at www.vafashelter.com

Chelsea, an Anatolian shepherd-cross, made it to Seattle, thanks to Vafa and PAWS, and she is now awaiting adoption. Joubert explained that dogs as companions is much less common in Iran. As a result, rescue dogs need to learn about walking on a leash and living in a house, although they tend to be well socialized with other dogs because they lived in groups in Iran.

PAWS is expecting two more Iranian arrivals in October.

Saving marine animals

While rescue is an important part of animal welfare, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS, www.seashephard.org) has traditionally worked on prevention of harm to marine life. SSCS started in the Pacific Northwest in 1977 to take on some of the world’s most egregious abuses of marine life. Among other issues, SSCS addresses crimes such as whaling, baby seal hunts and dolphin hunting by sailing to places such as Japan, the South Seas and the Canadian North to take direct action against pirates and government fleets who are killing of wildlife.

SSCS is known worldwide for successes such as recently stopping the needless slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, showing once again why “sea shepherd” is such an appropriate name.

Since its inception, SSCS has grown into a worldwide network of marine animal protection groups and has recently organized On-Shore Volunteer (OSV) efforts for individuals who apply to become part of the Sea Shepherd crew. Suzanne West is the Seattle chapter coordinator for SSCS, and she currently manages about 20 OSVs in the Seattle area. These volunteers raise awareness of SSCS’s work and fundraise to support direct action for animals worldwide.

“We are looking for people who have a passion for the ocean,” said West, who explains that the best way to get involved is to visit the group’s website and read about the commitment required to be an OSV.

A connection

With the unrest in the world today, it is natural to be concerned about the people and animals in harm’s way. In the United States, our freedom, safety and stable government gives us the opportunity and the power to make a difference to help people and animals worldwide. It also gives us the chance to connect with people internationally who devote their time and their love to care for the world’s most vulnerable yet precious animals.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Demonstrating for animals

Chelsea Knutson and  Claire Humphrey (right) (Photo by Doug Armstrong)

Chelsea Knutson and Claire Humphrey (right) at the dolphin slaughter protests in Seattle (Photo by Doug Armstrong)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle and the Queen Anne & Magnolia News

September 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

The day after Watoto the elephant died at the Woodland Park Zoo in August, advocates gathered for a vigil outside the zoo to demonstrate their support to send the two remaining elephants to a sanctuary. Although the zoo has maintained that the elephants were healthy, Watoto’s collapse seemed to confirm advocates’ arguments that zoo life is inherently unhealthy for elephants.

I attended Watoto’s vigil and the demonstration outside the zoo. As I stood alongside 60 Seattle residents peacefully voicing their conscience, a man in a passing vehicle shouted, “Get a job!” as if to denigrate us for expressing concern.

That driver’s anger was directed at a protester who replied, “I’m a retired zoo-industry employee of 35 years.” She was standing alongside teachers, lawyers, parents, engineers, artists, business and nonprofit professionals and reporters who were all gainfully employed. People from all parts of society can and will stand up for animals.

This September, demonstrators gathered outside the Japanese embassy as part of a worldwide, annual protest against the dolphin slaughter and capture in Taji, Japan.

“Sixteen thousand people took part in 117 protests last year,” accounted Seattle resident Franziska Edwards, speaking of the simultaneous protests held around the world. The events are held at marine parks to discourage attendance and at Japanese consulates to hold the Japanese government accountable, Edwards explained.

Queen Anne resident Claire Humphrey also attended, though she had never protested for animals before. After Humphrey saw the documentary “The Cove” and learned more about the threats to dolphins and ocean mammals, she has decided to get more involved.

“Attending the demonstration was a step in the right direction,” Humphrey said.

Joining the charge

Fall is a perfect time to get involved and let your voice be heard for animals. Protests, demonstrations and marches are taking place throughout the region.

Every year, a circus comes to town to display elephants and other captive wild animals by forcing them to perform tricks for amusement. Local residents Jim Becker and Doug Armstrong, volunteers with the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN), are helping people understand the consequences of attending the circus.

“A day at the circus for your family constitutes a lifetime of misery for the animals,” Armstrong said. New Metro Transit bus ads will remind people of this message and to not attend the circus.

narn_circus_ad_tail_18x60_150dpi2

Metro bus ads (Photo courtesy of NARN)

“Like most people, I grew up going to the circus,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think anyone goes with the intention to cause harm to animals. I think people don’t realize what happens behind the scenes. Elephants go through a tremendous amount of suffering — everything from being separated from their mothers to being beaten and whipped and chained up for most of their lives, just so people can spend a couple hours eating popcorn and laughing at some silly elephant tricks.”

Becker and Armstrong are coordinating demonstrations at each of the performances of Ringling Brothers Circus in Kent and Everett this September. You can help educate the public and let your voice be heard against animal cruelty by attending a demonstration. Visit www.narn.org/circus/ for dates and times, and check out the Pacific Northwest Against Circus Cruelty Facebook page.

While elephants suffer in circuses and zoos, they are also at risk in the wild. Oct. 4 is the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, and concerned citizens will gather in Seattle’s International Children’s Park (700 S. Lane St.).

Co-organizer Nicki Aloisio explained that an elephant is poached every 15 seconds for the ivory in her tusk, and every nine hours a rhinoceros is killed for her horn. Animal advocates expect that by 2025 wild elephants and rhinoceros could be wiped out.

Event co-organizer Alyne Fortgang, co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, said that the poaching crisis is at a tipping point: “Bringing awareness to this tragedy is critical. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is committed to the welfare of elephants; not just those suffering and dying young in zoos but also those dying young in the wild.”

(For more information, visit the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on Facebook.)

A catalyst for change

Alyne Fortgang (left) and Kimberly Mills (Photo by Jenn Forbes)

Alyne Fortgang (left) and Kimberly Mills (Photo by Jenn Forbes)

The brave individuals who attend demonstrations, rallies, marches and protests are just as busy as you and me. They have full-time jobs and many are raising children, but they know they must show up for an hour or so and speak out if they expect an end to animal injustices.

While a small number of protest on-lookers deal with these uncomfortable messages by showing anger, demonstrators often find that their efforts are rewarded by hearing passers-by say, “I just didn’t know, but now I know and I can make better choices for animals.”

In the United States, we depend on demonstrations to move our society away from the status quo. Our history of progress from civil rights and LBGT equality to environmental conservation and animal rights depends on demonstrations to bring hidden issues into the light of day. While this transition is rarely comfortable, it is absolutely necessary and is often the primary catalyst for change to help humans, animals and the environment.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com. To comment on this story, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Peace for Geese

Canada goose in Seattle Park (Photo by D. Weinstein)

Canada goose in Seattle Park (Photo by D. Weinstein)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

August 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Our relationship with Canada geese in the Puget Sound region has a convoluted history. The resident population of geese was originally transplanted here as goslings by the government in the late 1960s as hunting stock. With the mild climate, the fledglings formed a non-migratory population that now lives in the Puget Sound region year-round.

Unfortunately, geese living and defecating in waterfront parks is an annoyance for some. So around 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) began conducting region-wide geese roundups by suffocating the birds with carbon dioxide or shooting them on Lake Washington.

Videos and eyewitness sightings of the roundups motivated local residents to demand an end to geese killing, and in 2004, the Seattle Parks and Recreation announced it would no longer use lethal control. However, Wildlife Services did not stop killing geese on behalf of King and Pierce county municipalities, according to reports obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Each year, local cities sign onto an Interlocal Agency Agreement to collectively pay for USDA-WS services. This year’s agreement included Bellevue, Kent, Kirkland, Mountlake Terrace, Renton, Tukwila, Woodinville, the Port of Seattle, Seattle Parks, Tacoma MetroParks and the University of Washington (UW). Most participants pay $2,230 per year to have USDA-WS conduct surveys, addle eggs (to prevent development) and kill geese. USDA-WS Washington state director Roger Woodruff explains that the fees collected for these services, around $25,000 per year, covers all costs for these services.

The UW, Seattle and Bellevue, among others, report that they do not request lethal control, but all the agreement signatories pay for lethal control regardless of whether it is done within their jurisdiction. In 2013, 1,159 geese were killed in King County.

Non-lethal control

Geese in Seattle parks (Photo by D. Weinstein)

Geese in Seattle parks (Photo by D. Weinstein)

According to Woodruff, the geese population in our region soared in the late 1990s, when the agency ramped up lethal control. He says that egg addling is only minimally successful because much of Seattle’s shoreline is privately owned where USDA-WS cannot reach the eggs, and that culling prevents bird strikes at local airports.

However, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Bird Strikes database, in 1998 and 1999 (at the height of the geese population), there were two strikes involving Canada geese each year at the local airports. By 2004 and 2005, after years of killing geese, the average number of Canada goose strikes was still two per year. Even today, while many cities shun lethal control, only one Canada goose bird strike occurred in 2013. These strikes caused only minor or no damage to the aircraft and no human injury.

Animal advocates maintain that lethal control is cruel and unnecessary and should not be funded by taxpayers. When gassed, geese are corralled into metal boxes, where they struggle and gasp for oxygen. Eyewitnesses report the geese break their necks and wings in a desperate struggle for their lives.

Advocates encourage the use of a wide range of non-lethal alternatives, including expanded egg addling, modifications to park landscaping and harassment of geese with trained dogs and other deterrents. Certain cities do use some of these methods.

Feces-cleanup equipment, such as Naturesweep, can be purchased for park cleanup. For population control, OvoControl (a birth control-laced bird feed) and male goose vasectomies could be used.

Unfortunately, Interlocal Agreement signatories have shown little innovative spirit to implement new solutions. Bellevue, Seattle and UW report never having tried OvoControl, citing concerns about delivering the right dose or feeding non-target species, such as rats.

However, scientists at the USDA National Wildlife Research Center collaborated to develop and test OvoControl. Studies on Oregon geese populations have shown the product is successful at population control and is cost-effective.

The drug is administered during breeding season and would mitigate the problem of not being able to addle eggs on private property. With some ingenuity, a geese-specific feeder could be used to ensure the OvoControl does not reach non-target species.

Similarly, a Bronx Zoo study showed that vasectomies in resident goose populations reduce egg viability from 90 to 12 percent. Perhaps this kind of permanent solution for resident geese could be sustainable for decades.

Petitions circulating

Goose in Seattle park (photo by D. Weinstein)

Goose in Seattle park (photo by D. Weinstein)

For 15 years, geese management in King County has been a revolving door of human-goose conflicts. When agencies pay only $2,230 per year, it is not surprising that USDA-WS services are not sustainable and geese conflicts continue to occur. UW reports having to continually clean up geese feces at significant cost, but it continues to rely on USDA-WS.

A local group, Peace for Geese, is asking cities to stop killing geese and focus only on humane alternatives. As a matter of humane justice, taxpayer funds should be used for non-lethal, region-wide, sustainable, innovative solutions to geese population management. A petition is available asking cities to make this shift, and Peace for Geese is asking you to sign.

Hopefully, Puget Sound citizens will demand that our cities stop killing urban wildlife and implement long-term, humane measures for our resident geese.

To learn more, visit the Peace for Geese Project on Facebook and sign the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/puget-sound-area-officials-stop-killing-canada-geese#sthash.MhG0yhSe.dpuf

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is the editor of “Living Humane,” a news site on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com. To comment on this column, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.

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COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret, Nov. 5th at SIFF Film Center

cowpsiracy-smallcropA movie presentation of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret will be shown at the SIFF Film Center on Wednesday, November 5th, but you need to get your tickets in advance to keep the showing on the schedule.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.

See the Tugg website for more information and to buy tickets.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Taking Action for Animals

 The Washington delegation attending Humane Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., in June included Michael and Sandy Smith (from far left) of Kirkland, Seattle residents Steve Ann Chambers, Hilary Hager and Jennifer Hillman; Geoff Urton, of Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle columnist Christie Lagally; and HSUS Washington State director Dan Paul. Photo courtesy of Sandy Smith

The Washington delegation attending Humane Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., in June included Michael and Sandy Smith (from far left) of Kirkland, Seattle residents Steve Ann Chambers, Hilary Hager and Jennifer Hillman; Geoff Urton, of Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle columnist Christie Lagally; and HSUS Washington State director Dan Paul. Photo courtesy of Sandy Smith

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News and City Living Seattle

July 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Last month, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference. Hosted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), this conference brings together community leaders, professionals and locally oriented volunteers from around the country who are working to help animals in every regard.

Most people I meet care deeply for animals because of a relationship with their own pets or through a broader empathy for all animals. And when animals are suffering, most of us suffer in our hearts (sometimes unknowingly) because of our natural love for animals and our aversion to cruelty. Hence, TAFA is meant to inform, inspire and empower us to be better advocates for animals.

As a young adult, no issue disturbed me more than animal testing, and I had been indoctrinated to believe that it is necessary for the good of humankind. When I eventually learned about the treatment of animals in laboratories, I learned that much of the testing is actually unnecessary and fails to benefit humans.

At TAFA, I met folks from the White Coat Waste Project (www.whitecoatwaste.com), a nonprofit organization that exposes government funding of unnecessary animal testing (including testing on beagles, household cats and monkeys.)

The project reports that our government wastes $12 billion per year on animal studies, such as forcing monkeys to smoke cigarettes or feeding them high-fat, sugary foods to create obesity. Yet, the dangers of smoking and obesity are well known and are more appropriately studied in humans who exhibit these behaviors.

Luckily, we can make conscious choices not to support animal testing. Start by switching to cruelty-free household products and cosmetics. Visit www.leapingbunny.org to find a list of companies that do not test their products on animals.

Animal cruelty at farms

It was an eye-opening moment at TAFA to learn that the vast majority of animal cruelty around the world occurs in industrialized factory farms where most of our meat and eggs are produced.

In factory farms, mother pigs are confined to gestation crates that are no larger than their bodies, laying hens are confined to battery cages with no more room than a piece of notebook paper, and baby calves, who are taken from their mothers in the dairy industry, are confined to tiny crates shortly after their birth and later killed for veal. Although billions (not millions) of animals in factory farms suffer cruelty, everyone in our community can make a huge difference to help animals by reducing our meat consumption.

Consider trying Meatless Mondays, a global movement originally started in World War I to ration supplies that continues today to help people consciously reduce their consumption of meat. Amazingly, if all Americans participated in Meatless Monday, it would save 1.4 billion animals per year from factory farms. Visit www.meatlessmonday.com for recipes and ideas for sharing Meatless Mondays in our community.

Animal activism

Another goal of TAFA was to amplify our efforts to protect animals from cruelty by talking with our senators and representatives in Washington state and in Washington, D.C.

Following TAFA, I participated in Humane Lobby Day at our nation’s capital. Along with a delegation from Washington state, I attended meetings with legislative staff of Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Rep. Jim McDermott. Our delegation encouraged the senators to co-sponsor a bill to keep horse slaughterhouses from operating in the United States and to prevent the sale and transport of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 541/H.R. 1094) is already cosponsored by McDermott.

We also encouraged support of the Captive Primate Safety Act (S. 1463/H.R. 2856), which prevents monkeys, apes and nonhuman primates from being transported for exotic-pet sales. Sadly, primates in the exotic-pet industry are held captive for breeding, and their babies are taken from them and sold as pets. These wild animals pose considerable danger to humans as they grow into adults and can harbor transmittable diseases.

Finally, our delegation asked for co-sponsorship of the Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 4148). Passing this bill would end the use of animals for testing cosmetics. If passed, the United States could join major world powers like the European Union and India, which have already banned the use of animals for cosmetics testing. This bill is currently only in the U.S. House of Representatives, so you can contact our senators to request they introduce this bill in the Senate.

The power to act daily

All of us inadvertently encounter animal cruelty in our everyday lives with just a trip to the supermarket or even paying our taxes, which funds animal testing. Although awareness of such issues is uncomfortable at first, we can take comfort that we have the power to really change the world for animals by the actions we take daily.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” which means we can be more proud to be Americans each day we make progress for animals.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com.

 

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Keeping cats safe and ‘enclosed’

Serena the cat in her veranda enclosure

Serena the cat in her veranda enclosure

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

June 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

When I adopted my cat Buca from a city shelter, I signed a contract in good faith to keep her indoors. After all, the shelter had saved her life, and I promised to protect her.

After several years as an indoor-only cat, Buca decided she wanted time outside, and she made her wishes known in potent ways. However, cats pose considerable risks to themselves and other animals when allowed to roam freely, so I decided to provide Buca with an enclosed area where she could enjoy the outdoors without the risks.

Cat enclosures are highly recommended by local shelters. Otherwise, free-roaming cats can be hit by cars; attacked by wild animals, dogs or other cats; eat poisonous plants; inadvertently get caught in a neighbor’s garage; catch fleas, ear mites or ring worm; or be kidnapped and go missing without any explanation.

Hillman's cat enclosure

Hillman’s cat enclosure

Furthermore, free-roaming cats impact the environment by killing songbirds or native small mammals and defecating in neighborhood gardens.
Providing cats with outdoor access in enclosures ensures we are good cat owners and good neighbors, explains Jennifer Hillman, Western Region director for The Humane Society of the United States.

“It means being responsible for wildlife, responsible for community space and responsible for the safety of our cats,” said Hillman, whose five happy cats enjoy a spacious cat enclosure built along the side of her North Seattle home.

Hillman built the enclosure when she moved to the neighborhood a decade ago and decided to bring her once free-roaming cats indoors. As a new neighbor, she did not want her cats digging in neighborhood vegetable patches, and she had some traumatic experiences with her cats catching wild birds.

Hillman's cats enjoying the enclosure

Hillman’s cats enjoying the enclosure

Access to the outside

Hillman said her cats seemed to easily acclimate to using an enclosure, possibly because she built it just before the rainy season and the cats were not inclined to go out anyway. She explains that the secret is to provide enrichment in the enclosure, such as stumps to scratch on, platforms to jump around on and trees to climb. Hillman’s enclosure even has cat tunnels between upper and lower sections.

Cat enclosures can easily be built with a little help on the design. Ingrid Gordon of West Seattle seeks to share how feasible cat enclosures are to build onto any home. On her Facebook page for Creative Cat Enclosures, Gordon posts videos of her cat enclosures, and she gives ideas and advice on how to plan and build your own.

Additionally, Gordon and her friend Stephanie Hillman have volunteered their time to help fellow residents build enclosures for the safety of local cats. They also built Stephanie’s cat enclosure in Ballard.

“My enclosure is definitely one for limited space or barely a yard. It gives the cats access to the outdoors through my bedroom window,” describes Stephanie Hillman. “It’s small, but functional, and I have a chair out there so I can sit outside with them.”

Gordan explains her enclosure provides her peace of mind, knowing her cats will be safe while she is away. Meanwhile, her cats get time outside watching bugs and birds whenever they wish.

‘Catios’

Serena in the catio

Serena in the catio

Seattle resident Cynthia Chomos had the same concerns for her cat, Serena, a female orange tabby with a tranquil presence. When Chomos adopted Serena just more than a year ago, she saw the need to protect her with a cat enclosure — but one that Chomos and Serena could share.

Chomos is a certified Feng Shui consultant and color designer, which made her uniquely qualified to design outdoor spaces for cats and people to enjoy together. As a new addition to her consulting services, Chomos runs a small business designing and building custom cat enclosures called “catios”; hence, the name of her business, Catio Spaces (www.catiospaces.com).

Chomos works to design the enclosure to visually complement the home’s exterior, and she can specifically design and decorate the catio to meet the resident cats’ needs and likes.

At her Ballard home, Chomos has two cat enclosures: a “window-box veranda” outside her office, and a large, ”garden sanctuary” catio in her backyard that she and Serena share. Both spaces incorporate the design principles of Feng Shui to make the spaces restful yet stimulating. And since catio structures are a modification to the house itself, Chomos is a licensed and bonded contractor qualified to complete the work with her team of carpenters.

Hillman's upper enclosure

Hillman’s upper enclosure

There are many good reasons to keep cats indoors, and the options for creating an enclosure are nearly as diverse as cats themselves. A simple add-on wire structure with plenty of enclosed space, a sturdy window box or a built-in structure such as a catio can all be successful by providing the cat with plenty of enrichment, with grass, a fountain, tunnels or walkways or a sunny place to safely watch the birds.

Your own peace of mind and the joys of keeping cats healthy are worth the investment of time, creative energy and money to create a cat enclosure.

For more about keeping happy, indoor cats, visit www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/cat_happy_indoors.html.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com.

– See more at: http://citylivingseattle.com/Content/News/Urban-Dwellings/Article/AMONG-THE-ANIMALS—Keeping-cats-safe-and–enclosed-/22/169/90071#sthash.VvhDI2oP.dpuf

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Shelter finding home for chickens

Greyson the Rooster at SAS

Greyson the Rooster at SAS

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News and City Living Seattle

May 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Coreena the Hen graciously allowed me to spend some time getting to know her when I visited the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) last month. She had laid an egg in a makeshift nest in the Critter Care room at SAS, and occasionally, she sat on it with pride.

One of several hens surrendered to or rescued by SAS each month, Coreena has an unknown history; she was found wandering in a Seattle neighborhood. SAS waits three days for the chicken’s owners to claim their lost animal.

“It’s never happened,” said Killy Keefe, SAS’ Critter Care team lead volunteer. Keefe explains that, although plenty of chickens are found wondering Seattle, their owners rarely claim them.

Coreena was soon joined in her cozy kennel at SAS by two other hens. Keefe said that chickens are often surrendered because the hens are no longer producing eggs. Chickens only lay eggs consistently for two years of their lives; yet, they can live to be 10 years old. For surrendered hens, the onus is then on SAS to find the chickens new homes.

SAS spokesperson Kara Main-Hester said choosing a new home for a chicken means screening applicants carefully. Chicken adoption is a commitment to care for that animal for a lifetime, and chickens like Coreena are only adopted out to homes where they will be cared for as a pet, like a dog or a cat, and not be killed for meat.

“They need to be part of the family,” Main-Hester said.

In just a week, Sharon Miller of Whidbey Island adopted Coreen and her two hen sisters. Miller keeps hens and roosters as pets in small flocks on her farm.

“They have personalities like cats do,” Miller said of the unique nature of each of her 14 resident birds.

Miller’s vegetarian/vegan family keeps the chickens as pets, although she says it is a bonus to have a fresh eggs once in a while from her flock. Miller became a vegetarian after seeing a truck full of chickens being transported while stuffed in tiny cages. Naturally, Miller found this mistreatment incompatible with her love of these creatures.

Only hens allowed in city

Coreena the Hen at SAS

Coreena the Hen at SAS

In Seattle, residents can keep only female chickens (hens); male chickens (roosters) were banned several years ago. Unfortunately, people purchase their chickens from local hardware or animal feed stores as baby chicks or purchase the chicks online, and at that age, there is no easy way to tell if you are purchasing a hen or a rooster. Residents inadvertently find themselves violating the ban on roosters.

“It’s been noticeably increasing in the last few years,” Main-Hester said, regarding the number of surrendered roosters to SAS.

This was the case with Greyson the Rooster, a glorious, tall, red-and-brown bird who was weary of surroundings at SAS. Roosters like Greyson are re-homed at local sanctuaries, instead of being adopted out to Seattle residents.

Although SAS is happy to re-home the roosters, indiscriminant sale of baby chicks to the public leads to shelters and sanctuaries having to provide short- and long-term care for these animals whose future was apparently not considered prior to purchase.

“People need to know there are consequences,” Main-Hester said, about the sale of baby chicks in Seattle.

Currently, the sale of farm animals is not regulated in Seattle, but Main-Hester said one possible solution is to ban the sale of roosters. Since it is difficult to determine the sex of chicks, perhaps it would discourage their sale.

An ‘unjust’ relationship

Sadly, the plight of chicks in industrialized hatcheries, where the vast majority of birds like Greyson and Coreena are born, is heartbreaking and unacceptable. Since only hens lay eggs or are raised for chicken meat, approximately 50 percent of the chicks born in factory barns are killed once they are identified as male.

In a recent undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals, a chicken hatchery in Canada owned by Maple Leaf Foods was found to be committing egregious acts of cruelty against baby birds. Undercover video shows employee flinging chicks by their fragile wings, scalding chicks with hot water and drowning them and shoving chicks into machines and grinding them alive.

Unfortunately, these atrocities are not specific to this one facility and have been documented by several animal-welfare agencies around North America.

Yet, there are easy ways we can change this unjust relationship that humans currently have with chickens. First, consider reducing your consumption of eggs and poultry to help save the 9 billion chickens that are killed every year in factory farms.

If you wish to house backyard chickens, be sure to “adopt — don’t shop,” much like the mantra to avoid purchasing puppies born in puppy mills.

Finally, commit to care for your chickens for their natural lifetimes in honor of their gift — not just of eggs, but also of spritely companionship.

For information on chicken adoption, visit www.seattle.gov/animalshelter.

To learn about advocating for chickens, visit www.mercyforanimals.org.

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