Archive for July, 2012

A must watch: David Kirby & Carol Ray speak on CNN in 2011

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DEATH AT SEAWORLD brings J,K and L pod’s story home to Puget Sound

click to jump to Seattle PI story

This Monday night, best-selling author David Kirby along with Naomi Rose of the HSUS, and three former SeaWorld orca trainers, Jeff Ventre, Carol Ray and Samantha Berg will be speaking at The Mountaineers near Magnuson Park.   Kirby’s book, DEATH AT SEAWORLD, is a complex story that includes the brutal capture of Puget Sound orcas in Penn Cove  and the industry that perpetuated and covered up cruelty and atrocities committed against these animals.  The book is expertly reviewed here in Digital Journal.

Event information: Monday, July 23 ▪ SEATTLE, WA, The Mountaineers, 7:30 – 10:00 PM, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

About the Book:

DEATH AT SEAWORLD introduces the real people taking part in this debate, from former trainers turned animal rights activists to the men and women that champion SeaWorld and the captivity of whales. Kirby follows the story of Naomi Rose Ph.D., marine mammal scientist for The Humane Society of the United States and senior scientist for The Humane Society International, whose warnings against keeping killer whales in captivity fell on deaf ears.  He also covers the media backlash, the eyewitnesses who come forward to challenge SeaWorld’s glossy image, and the groundbreaking OSHA vs. SeaWorld case. On May 30, 2012, the judge ruled on this case, stating that trainers performing with huge ocean predators need to be protected by physical barriers, or some other means providing the same level of safety.  The strict standard could effectively prevent SeaWorld from ever allowing its trainers to get back into the water during shows with the whales.

Kirby also introduces the reader to various killer whales, also known as orcas, (who are actually the world’s largest dolphins) and how they rarely, if ever, harm humans in the wild and are among the smartest animals in the world.

He can discuss the following shocking points:

¨ There are no records at any time in history of wild orcas seriously attacking or killing a person, but in captivity, aggressive acts against trainers are not uncommon, sometimes ending in severe injury or death.

¨ Some 15% of all orcas ever held in SeaWorld’s collection have been involved in acts of serious aggression against trainers, a dismal safety record that would never be tolerated in other industries.

¨ Orcas at SeaWorld have lunged at trainers, pulled them in the water, held them at the bottom of the pool, head-butted them, slammed them with tail flukes and breached on top of them.

¨ The 12,000 pound Tilikum – the world’s largest captive predator – killed Canadian trainer Keltie Byrne in 1991, attacked Daniel Dukes, a man who snuck into the tank in 1999 but did not make it out, and brutally killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

¨ To date, SeaWorld has spent $65 million since Dawn Brancheau’s death on high-tech safety features such as quick-rising false bottoms for pools and emergency “spare air” oxygen systems for orca trainers at the Shamu Stadiums in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio.

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Seafair! The Dreaded Soycodile and two little pigs

“The Dreaded Soycodile” at the Seattle Seafair

While giant lizards are rare in Seattle, our love of animals isn’t.   For many people, that means replacing a diet of cow’s milk with soymilk.  And since you’ve got all those soy-milk boxes anyway, might as well compete in Seattle’s Seafair Milk Carton Derby.

Much to my delight, The Dreaded Soycodile (left) made an appearance at the derby.  I have no idea whose fabulous creation this is, but it totally rocked. (Please contact me if Soycodile is yours!  I’d love to know more about it!)

The milk carton derby was good fun.  Some stayed in their boats, others did not.  And spectators were plentiful, including a few from “Bit 0’Bacon” pet pig rescue sanctuary.  The caretakers were educating folks about the responsibility of keeping (or not keeping) pet pigs.  The two pigs below munched on grass while others enjoyed their cuteness!

Now this is summer in Seattle!

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Chimps find sanctuary from experiments

Negra with a blanket on her head

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

July 11, 2012

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Photos courtesy of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW

The wind off the grassy, Eastern Washington hillside began to swirl as I got out of the car at the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW) in Cle Elum, Wash., in May. There was not a person or animal in sight. Naively, I expected the sound of jungle noises, like something in a Disney movie, but the place was silent.

I was nervous to visit. Are the chimps as human-like as I have read? Would it be difficult to learn about their prior lives in a laboratory? But the quiescent surroundings seemed to ease my fears.

“What a perfect place for chimpanzees to heal,” I thought.

Diana Goodrich, director of outreach, met me at the entrance to the building. Inside, resident chimpanzees Jamie, Jody, Missy, Negra, Annie, Burrito and Foxie were eagerly waiting for a lunch of fresh tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and leaks.

 

Annie with some food

Monkeying around

Located on 26 acres of private land, a cleverly constructed steel reinforced building allows the chimps a home to sleep, play, groom and otherwise live uninterrupted social lives as a cohesive group.

Hammocks are draped from the two-story-high, sky-lit ceilings and swing ropes and are strategically placed to access multiple platforms.

In my first glimpse of the building interior, I witnessed Missy and Annie playfully wrestling. Burrito came to the kitchen window to check on the progress of lunch, as Goodrich guided me through safety regulations that must be respected around chimpanzees.

Jamie, the leader of the troupe, arrived at the sanctuary with her six companions in 2008. The seven chimps were most recently used to test hepatitis vaccines, which required invasive liver samples taken on a regular basis — a terrifying experience for the chimps.

All of the chimps are in their late 20s or 30s, and their lives have been made up of several chapters of exploitation, abuse or trauma.

Jamie was forced to work in the entertainment industry before she was sold to into biomedical research.

Negra, the oldest chimp, was kidnapped from her parents in the wild as an infant. She lived in a research lab for roughly 35 years, often being used for “breeding” and was repeatedly traumatized by having her children taken from her shortly after birth.

While their home at the sanctuary can never replace life in the wild, this serene sanctuary offers relief, peace and the first opportunity for these chimpanzees to live with the dignity that they deserve.

Lunchtime starts with the enthusiastic arrival of the chimps. As good communicators, they indicate to Goodrich which vegetables they like most and want more of. Their individual personalities come out as she passes out tomato slices. Negra claps her hands when she is ready for another piece.

The vegetarian lunch is finished with special biscuits. Foxie playfully crams 18 biscuits into her mouth one-by-one, as Goodrich laughs at the contest to see how many Foxie will take.

“We serve the chimps; we don’t feed them,” explained Connie Robertson, a dedicated volunteer at the CSNW. “I’ve always been passionate about chimpanzees, and I wanted to give back, volunteer in some way.”

Robertson worked for many years cleaning and doing laundry at the sanctuary before she trained to serve the chimpanzees their meals.

 

Annie and Missy playing

Help is on the way

In recent months, the sanctuary added Young’s Hill, a 2-acre, fenced enclosure, to give the chimps access to a natural roaming area. Building the enclosure required many volunteer work parties over the summer. One such party from the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) in Seattle sank 10-foot fence posts for the project — a monumental task.

NARN board president Rachel Bjork explained that her volunteers were recruited from the general public, as well as from among the fellow members of NARN. They were rewarded with the opportunity to see these wild animals up close.

The sanctuary staff includes several Central Washington University graduates of the Primate Behavior and Ecology program, whose experience with chimpanzees led them to the conclusion that the use of chimpanzees in medical research, and especially in entertainment, is unnecessary and certainly unethical.

But these advocates are not alone. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), a major funder of biomedical research using chimps, recently commissioned its own medical authorities to review chimp research.

The NIH’s December 2011 report states that chimpanzee research is superfluous due to more advanced research models and that ethics should be considered in the decision to do chimp-involved research. As a result, the NIH placed a temporary moratorium on future invasive research involving chimps and are examining current experiments that are still ongoing. New ethical standards are being reviewed.

Some 1000 chimpanzees are currently owned by the U.S. government for medical research — a number that nearly 180 U.S. Congressmen and -women hope to cut dramatically. Sen. Maria Cantwell, along with 14 co-sponsors in the Senate, introduced the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (HR1513) in Congress. The act recently received its first hearing in April 2012.

The new legislation would retire 500 chimpanzees from medical research and phase out invasive research on chimpanzees by the U.S. government. The United States is only one of two countries in the world that use chimpanzees in biomedical research.

“Ending invasive research will mean a savings of more than $25 million per year for the American people,” Cantwell explained in a press release.

While biomedical chimp research is waning, the use of chimpanzees and other apes in entertainment is similarly unnecessary and is usually abusive. As wild animals, primates are coerced to act.

CSNW formed an advocacy arm called Primate Patrol to address this issue. Members are notified via e-mail about whom to contact to protest the use of primates in television and film. Patrollers can keep an eye out for featured animals in entertainment and report their appearance to Primate Patrol for follow-up.

 

Jamie examines a red boot

Free from harm

After my brief visit with the CSNW chimpanzees, I have become addicted to the organization’s blog. The site is updated with stunning pictures of the chimps living their lives on their own with a little help from sanctuary staff to provide enrichment.

Foxie is attached to dolls. Jamie is fascinated by shoes and boots. Negra and Jody love blankets. Annie and Missy are the best of friends who love to play, and Burrito, the only male, loves human interaction and loves to eat.

Being around chimpanzees seems to make you ask all the right questions about the ethical treatment of animals and what it means to us as we share the world with them.

For more information CSNW, visit its website at chimpsnw.org.

For a local connection to animal welfare, visit the NARN website at www.narn.org.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at http://www.sniffingouthome.org.

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Is your Oregon cheese green?

I don’t drink milk or eat cheese for a very important reason.  I don’t want to be a party to forcing a mother cow to give up her calves over and over again.  Unfortunately, the production of cheese and dairy products is rarely, if ever, humane since mother cows must give birth every year and those babies are immediately taken away so her milk is harvested.  Those babies are put into crates and later killed as ‘veal’.  Can you imagine if your newborns were taken from you year after year — or even once.

But here’s is the second reason I don’t eat dairy.   The methane, ammonia,  liquid or solid feces and  other toxic byproducts of raising animals on an industrial scale are mind-boggling.  Factory farms continuously release gaseous, liquid and solid wastes known to be toxic to humans and which destroy ecosystems (ref: EPA).

Just last week, the EPA fined two dairies in Oregon for release of waste streams into estuaries and rivers (ref: EPA).  The fines were small, but bring to light how much waste is released into our environment because of dairy or meat production.   An Environmental Health Perspectives report outline research on animal waste and the consequences for human and ecosystem safety.

In a similar effort, The Humane Society of the US reported last week they are planning to sue 51 pork producers for ammonia emissions that were not reported as a toxic release under the EPA’s right-to-know requirement.

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Helping Burnaby, BC end puppy, kitten and rabbit sales

Kathy Powelson and local volunteers in Burnaby, BC are working to show the Burnaby City Council why and how they should ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in their city.  This is a brief interview with Kathy on the efforts currently underway.

Q:  I understand that you are going to ask Burnaby City Council to ban the sale of animals from pet stores. Why are you requesting this ban?

A:  We believe that this is an important step in eliminating mills.  Our request focuses on puppies, kittens and bunnies.  When we first got together as a coalition, we had a lot of discussion of what animals should be included in the ban. We met with Small Animal Rescue Society of BC, Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC and Reptile Rescue and after much discussion, everyone agreed to start with puppies, kittens and bunnies.

We have such large feral and free roaming cat and rabbit populations in BC, it does not make sense to only have a ban on puppies.  As we have noticed in Richmond, one of the consequences has been in huge influx in the number of kittens that are being sold in the Richmond stores since the puppy ban.
We chose to focus on Burnaby because Pet Habitat, which is located in Metrotown Mall probably has the largest number of cats and dogs for sale, and the number of puppies that are brought in have significantly increased since the Richmond ban.

Q:  Has the city council been interested in addressing animal welfare issues in the past?

A: We have been pestering Burnaby council for almost two years now and we finally received a letter in April stating that “any restrictions regarding the sale of animals in pet stores would be contained within the Animal Control Bylaw.  License Office staff and BCSPCA are currently undertaking a review of this by law and once this process and been complete, any proposed amendment will be forwarded to Council for its consideration”

After receiving this letter I met with Bylaw staff and they recommended that I speak before council as they will be taking direction from council.  So it does seem about confusing who is taking the initiative, but at least they are finally receptive.

I present on July 16 and have received a ton of support from Helen Savkovic who, along with you and others, were involved in the precedent setting Richmond ban.

Q:  What action to you hope the council will take upon your request?   
A:  We hope the council passes a bylaw that bans the sale of puppies, kittens and pet stores.

Q:  Do other people or organizations support this ban?
A: Yes, we are working with a coalition of animal welfare and rescue groups.  BC Chihuahua Rescue, HugABull Advocacy & Rescue Society, Petnerships, Semiamhoo Animal League and Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.  We have also consulted with the Burnaby SPCA, BC Small Animal Rescue, Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC and Reptile Rescue

Q:  How would such a ban take effect in Burnaby? Do they currently restrict the sale of any other types of animals?

A:  Currently, there is nothing in the animal control bylaws that even address the sale of animals, in any regard, so I was surprised when I received the letter that stated that that is where it would be addressed.  So essentially, as I understand things, the animal control bylaw would have to add a specific section that addresses this issue and that bans the sale of puppies, kittens and bunnies in pet stores.

Q:  Do know if Burnaby residents support such as ban?

A:  Most definitely, we have received overwhelming support from not only Burnaby residents, but the people all over.  We had a booth at the Pet Expo on March and we had people coming down specifically to sign a petition to ban the sale of these animals in pet stores.  Currently, we have a poll on CTV’s social trending site and 95% of the respondents do not want these animals sold in pet stores.  This is a great example about how important education is, once people know the issues associated with this practice, they do not support it.  It’s really that simple.

Q:  Can you tell us briefly about Paws for Hope Animal Foundation?
A:  We are a provincial animal welfare organization whose mission is to advance animal welfare through education and awareness, community programming and support and rescue and rehabilitation.  In addition to our Pets are Not Products Campaign we have Roxy’s Fund, which supports homeless, street involved and low income pet guardians and our Guardian Angel Fund, which supports volunteer run rescue organizations with emergency funding to cover vet expenses.

Q:  How can be people get involved with your Foundation or help support the ban you are requesting?

A: People can volunteer and / or donate to help us build upon the work that we are doing.  They can support the Pets Are not Products Campaign by spreading the word about the reality of the cute puppy, kitten and bunny in the pet store.  They can write Mayor Corrigan and request they implement a ban (mayor.corrigan@burnaby.ca).  They can get added to our email list to keep update on what we are doing and the various supports we may need (email me at kathy@pawsforhope.org).

People can find out more about us at pawsforhope.org.  We also have a specific campaign website, petsarenotproducts.org.

Once we are successful in Burnaby, we are moving to Surrey!

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Mississauga and the political fight to end puppy mills

Scruff at a Richmond, BC shelter

The city council of Mississauga, ON (a close neighbor to Toronto, ON) banned the retail sale of dogs and cats in order to fight against pet overpopulation and protect the public from buying unhealthy dogs shipped from puppy mills (Mississauga Star).  (Thanks to my friend Helen Savkovic for this link!)

But just like in Richmond, BC, it seems the biggest opposition to pet store bans and the fight against puppy mills is not the pet industry, puppy mills themselves or even pet store owners!  It’s the media’s strange lack of research on these issues before they go to press — a phenomenon so eloquently addressed by Jennifer Kaiser of Actions Speak Louder Calgary in her article entitled The Number Twenty.

It should also be noted the British Columbia Supreme Court made a ruling on the appropriateness or the degree to which it was reasonable for municipalities to ban the sale of dogs in pets stores (see International Bio Research v. Richmond (City)). The Honourable Mr. Justice Savage ruled in the following statement.

The decision to prohibit the sale of dogs in pet stores falls within a range of acceptable outcomes that are defensible with regard to the facts and law. There is rational connection between the Bylaw [Richmond retail puppy sale ban] and its objective. (ref)

Helen Savkovic also reminded me that road blocks to legislative bans, such as in Toronto, Richmond and now Mississauga, result from incomplete research by city staff as shown in this quote:

[Pet store owners] said all levels of government should go after the animal mills, not just store owners; that they only buy from reputable breeders; and that most mill animals are sold online, not at stores. No statistics are available to verify that, city staff said. (ref)

Considering the municipal oversight that cities have over homeless dogs and cats in their city, it’s amazing that more data isn’t mined by city staff on the source of animals in their city.  That may not be due to staff intent, but just lack of money to put towards addressing the issues at hand.

But as advocates in Richmond, BC, we did address the issue of online sales through the website Kijiji to determine if our ban on the sale of dogs in pet stores would pale in comparison to online sales — as so many nay-sayers suggested.  It turned out that in Richmond, which was the only domain we could address, Kijiji was simply an advertising avenue to direct people to pet stores.  Here is my testimony to city council addressing online pet sales in Richmond.

Nov. 8, 2010

Dear Honorable Councillors and Mayor Brodie:
I am grateful that you have taken such humane and responsible steps to improve the lives of our animals in our city.
In the past year and especially the past month, we have heard many arguments against banning the sale of dogs in pet stores. While we are all aware that banning the sale of dogs in pet stores will not totally solve the puppy mill problem in Canada, it will help to alleviate the issue of homeless animals here in Richmond, BC. Nevertheless, I would like to address two recurring issues regarding this ban.
The first issue tabled several times is the suggestion that this ban is unfair because it does not influence the online sale of dogs, specifically on the Kijiji website, which allows dog sales. While there are hundreds of people selling dogs in British Columbia on Kijiji, a search limited to Richmond revealed just six  advertisements. Four of the Kijiji ads were for dogs at the Pets Wonderland [retail] store and one was for a dog purchased at Pet Habitat in Richmond Centre that someone was trying to sell off. The last ad was for a single puppy being re-homed. It doesn’t appear that Richmond puppy mills are using Kijiji to advertise their dogs. However, pet stores are.
Second, there has been the outstanding question, both in Council’s discussions as well as in the media, that banning or regulating the sale of dogs in pet stores should not be dealt with on the municipal level, and that regulation should come from the Province. I would argue that this issue was, in fact, appropriate to be dealt with at the municipal level because it is the responsibility of the city to allocate money for our local animal shelter and to regulate pet stores via the business licensing bylaws.

In the future, I am hopeful that the Province of British Columbia will take action to regulate the breeding and sale of all animals, but currently the municipal government has the power to improve the state of animal welfare in Richmond through modification of business practices.
Furthermore, the Humane Society International has formally recommended that city councils take this same bold step at the local level. Your actions here today are a perfect example of the adage, “Think globally, act  locally”, and I thank you for that.
Your careful and thoughtful administration of this proposal and amendment to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores has resonated around the world. Thank you again.
With my respect,

Christie D. Lagally
Animal Welfare Advocacy Coalition (AWAC)

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