Archive for August, 2013

Comments mean a lot when we are learning about animal rescue

Puppies from shelterI appreciate everyone who reads this blog, and I’m truly grateful when I get thoughtful comments.  Just last week, I received this comment (below), and I wanted to respond because the person made an effort to find out what was going on with pet stores, and check it out for him or herself.

I’m confused why you aren’t attacking the mills. Putting people out of a job, people who genuinely care for the animals that they are taking care of at the store seems a cruel and ultimately ineffective way of solving the puppy mill issue. Especially a store that has a rather strict no-mills policy in regards to any animal they import.

I visited this store a few weeks ago to see if any of the rumors I’d heard were true about Pet Habitat, and what I found was an environment where the employees truly care for their animals. I asked to see their “Olde Bulldog”, and the gentleman that showed her was truly fawning over her. You can’t fake that kind of emotion. The bulldog also returned the affection equally, which showed me that their animals are happy.

“Why aren’t you attacking mills” is a good question, and I’m glad you commented.  I’m also glad you took the time to see what the pet store was like in Burnaby.

The reason that animal advocates ask cities to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores is because these pets stores are purchasing these animals from animal mills, like puppy mills. The store you visited, Pet Habitat, was featured in a CBC Documentary showing them to be a purchaser of dogs from puppy mills working with Hunte Corporation. See that documentary here.

I encourage you to look into the Hunte Corporation and their record as a distributor of puppy milled dogs.

However, I know that it can be confusing when you go to the pet store and they tell you that they do not buy from puppy mills (i.e. a strict no-mills policy) because it may seem like they are being honest.  However, do your homework and look at what that undercover investigations revealed.   Additionally, some people who work at pet stores genuinely do not know they are selling dogs from puppy mills, but they have also not taken the time find out.   Those who do know they are buying dogs from Hunte or other puppy mills, have been recorded on camera denying it.  For example, in Richmond, BC animal advocates had actual pedigree papers that could trace the dogs bought at a Richmond Pet Habitat store back to puppy mills in Missouri and Kansas and imported by the Hunte Corporation into Canada even through the store kept denying that they buy from puppy mills.

The second reason that we ask cities to stop retail pet sales is because most of the puppy mills supplying dogs to Canada are not located in Canada, but in the US.  Therefore the only way to stop the sale of puppy mill dogs is to stop it at the retail store.  Additionally, while pet stores will tell you that stopping retail sales is ” “putting people out of a job”, all you have to do is note that many pet supply stores are very successful even through they do not sell animals.  Pet stores in Burnaby can do the same, but are choosing not to do so.

Finally, I also appreciate your comment about how much the staff at the Burnaby pet store “truly care for their animals”.  It is possible that they do, indeed, care for the animals at that store, but are not considering the impact that their business has on all the other animals still locked away at the puppy mills.  Many people believe that they love animals, and they truly do, but they don’t realize that by eating meat they are hurting that very animals they love … like dogs.  See this link.

Finally, you should do your research into Pet Habitat.  According to their own website, “Pet Habitat” is only their “doing business as” or DBA name.  Their corporate name is International Bio Research Ltd which alludes to an animal testing company that does product testing on animals confirmed to a lab.  I can’t think of a more horrible life for animals.

I urge you to do further research into Pet Habitat and ask even more questions.  Then I urge you to check their answers and see which ones are true.  I’m commend you for going to see if the “rumors I’d heard were true about Pet Habitat”.  But not all your questions have been answered. Keep looking.

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Let’s end the practice of animal testing

Claudine Erlandson (left) and Amy Webster protest outside the SNBL in Everett.

Claudine Erlandson (left) and Amy Webster protest outside the SNBL in Everett.

By Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

August 2, 2013

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

The practice of testing cosmetics, medications, procedures or treatments on non-human animals can be a truly disturbing topic, and it is one that recently made headlines all over the world.

This year, the European Union (EU) and the country of India banned the sale of all cosmetics that have been tested on animals, thereby shunning the practice as unacceptable. The EU furthered its commitment to avoid the practice by contributing 238 million Euros (about $308 million USD) to fund alternatives to animal testing.

Similarly, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced the release of more than 300 chimpanzees held in medical laboratories, although 50 chimps will remain. The United States and Gabon are the only two countries that still test on chimpanzees, but this release is a step in the right direction.

Back in Seattle, animals subjected to medical or cosmetic testing have not been so lucky. The University of Washington (UW) regularly tests medical procedures on primates, rabbits, mice and pigs. The university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews these experiments. These meetings are open to the public, and local resident Claudine Erlandson has been attending IACUC meetings for 25 years, “to keep a watchful eye on the activities of these researchers.

“It can be quite disturbing sometimes,” Erlandson said, “because they are not just performing one experiment on one animal. Often, the same monkey will undergo multiple experiments, repeatedly.”

Erlandson takes careful notes and recounted how pain medication is sometimes not used for the animals undergoing experiments.

Not subject to review

Extensive animal testing also occurs at the Everett-based Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories (SNBL), where they test on young primates and household dogs. This private facility is not subject to review by public committee but has been noted for egregious practices such as “fail[ing] to implement standard operating procedures in laboratory study methods that are adequate to insure the quality and integrity of the data” and “fail[ing] to adequately inspect, clean and maintain equipment,” according to a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Naturally, concerned citizens who see no purpose to test on animals frequently protest SNBL — especially when study results are suspect.

Many people assume that animal testing is necessary to further medical research or to protect consumers. The EU and India have shown that the alternatives to animal testing are plentiful for consumer products.

Similarly, bioengineers, including Harvard researchers at the Wyss Institute, have developed “organ-on-a-chip” technology, where microscope slides are fitted with living human cells from the lungs, heart or the intestines.

“To test a drug, the researchers simply add a solution of the compound to the chip and see how the intestinal (or heart or lung) cells react,” writes Sebastian Anthony on ExtremeTech.com (June 2012).

Misleading research

Medical research on animals has also been shown to be misleading or to provide data that is not applicable to human physiology, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (pcrm.org).

Seattle resident Amy Webster knows this story all too well. Last November, Webster began a battle with breast cancer that she eventually won with the help of the drug Taxol.

“Taxol — a powerful chemo drug which I was given — was pulled off the market for many years because it was ineffective in treating the cancer we infected animals with. Yet, today doctors and scientists regard it as one of the most effective drugs in curing cancer in humans. I’m an example of its effectiveness,” Webster explained.

Webster points to the American Breast Cancer Foundation, Keep A Breast Foundation, Breast Cancer Fund and Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation as examples of organizations that do research on treating cancer without the use of animals.

Making conscious choices

Consumers have the choice to avoid supporting animal testing. The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics at LeapingBunny.org lists cruelty-free companies providing everything from household products to pet supplies. The list is expansive, and we have lots of options to avoid animal testing if we simply make the choice to do so.

Several Seattle-based companies are listed on leapingbunny.org, including Polish Cosmetics in Ballard. Founder and owner Laura A. Fahey explains that her line of handcrafted eye shadows are both vegan and not tested on animals, as well as certified by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (peta.org).

“We have centuries of information on the ingredients we use. We find new ways to combine them for a quality product,” Fahey said.

It is time to end the practice of experimenting on the most vulnerable members of our community: animals. Supporting the alternatives in both medical and product research may require that each of us make conscious choices about the products we buy and the organizations we support.

But the result of those choices is a world where medical data is applicable to humans and where we no longer struggle to resolve the ethical incompatibility of animal testing with our inherent love of animals.

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