Archive for January, 2015

All hands on deck alert! Your voice needed now to stop USDA farm animal experiments

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for a myriad of animal agriculture oversight duties, but they often fail to protect animals or the safety of our food supply.

On Monday, the New York Times exposed some of the cruelest, most gruesome animal abuse on US soil including death by rape and starvation (as reported in the Huffington Post), only for readers to find out that the abuse was TAXPAYER funded and initiated by the USDA.

Farm Sanctuary, a leader in animal welfare protection summarized this abuse saying:

The facts and eyewitness accounts uncovered by the Times are gut-wrenching.   In just one particularly gruesome experiment recounted from the Times story, a teenage cow had her “head locked in a cagelike device to keep her immobile.” She was raped by as many as six bulls for hours, until her back legs were broken and her body was “torn apart,” and she died.

This situation is so dire and horrific, that all animal advocates — from cats and dogs lovers to vegans — must speak out right now!  Here’s what to do. Please do all these items (they don’t take long):

  • Make a call to USDA’s Secretary Vilsack’s office during business hours and explain how outraged you are. Tell them to close the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center immediately. The direct line to reach his office is 202-720-3631.  They may also give you an email address to email them, but insist that you can leave a message for the Secretary.
  • Email your congressperson TODAY.   You can contact your representatives by visiting the Farm Sanctuary action tool.  Ask your representatives to “Close the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center”
  • Read The Humane Society of the United States blog on this issue about the US agro-industrial complex and why this abuse happened. Use the HSUS action alert tool in addition to the Farm Sanctuary action too.
  • Ask all your family and friends to take these actions as well —  because we can only expect an immediate stop to this abuse if we all speak up. 

The New York Times posted letters expressing the outrage of the public on this issues, include a letter for The Humane Society of the United State’s CEO, Wayne Pacelle saying:

The grotesque and inhumane experiments performed on pigs, sheep and other farm animals at an obscure and secluded Agriculture Department research facility in Nebraska demonstrate the unholy collusion between government and industry in driving production on factory farms and in the process treating animals like machines and throwaway objects.  Apparently, it’s not enough to confine farm animals for their entire lives in windowless buildings and in cages and crates on factory farms. We are also engineering them to grow at absurdly fast rates and to produce inordinately large litters, which often cause misery and death for the animals.

In addition to speaking out, you need to boycott the the meat, dairy and egg industry. Think of the chickens, cows, pigs and sheep who have suffered at the hands of the USDA and the meat industry.  Those animals deserve your boycott of the agro-industry that hurt them.

If you do eat animal products ensure that 100% of the meat and eggs you buy are from suppliers that attempt to provide the highest animal welfare standards (as confirmed by animal welfare advocates).  Note that there is NO SUCH THING as more humane dairy — so avoid dairy at all costs.  The dairy industry is inherently abusive to cows.

Thank you for speaking up for animals at this critical junction in US history!



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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Seattle Arts & Lectures Presents “Thinking Animals”

Guinea pigs at factory-style breeding farm in Peru

Guinea pigs at factory-style breeding farm in Peru

by Christie Lagally

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

December 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

This January, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) is hosting a series of talks on animal issues near to our hearts and minds. “Thinking Animals: Species, Power and the Politics of Care in the World” is a series of five lectures that explore the interdependencies of humans and animals. Nationally recognized leaders will discuss various aspects of human-animal relationships — from the thought-provoking behavior of cats in French history to guinea pigs in Peruvian politics. These lectures are for anyone who loves animals and thinks critically about their roles in society.

Prof. John Marzluff (UW)

Prof. John Marzluff (UW)

Relating to animals

University of Washington (UW) professor John Marzluff has done extensive research on birds in our city. On Jan. 9, in his lecture “Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers and Other Wildlife,” Marzluff will illuminate how birds continue to evolve in response to changes to our cities.

Marzluff explains that cities were once just single ecosystems but now consist of many different types of ecosystems, such as ponds, fields and high-rises. This allows for a more diverse bird population than we see in rural areas, and Marzluff will explain how we can foster this unique interdependency.

“This talk will be like a field guide to your yard,” Marzluff explains.

On Jan. 30, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, will speak on the juxtapositions of animal issues within the context of our economy, as we struggle to reconcile our natural concern for animals with widespread economic exploitation of animals.

In his talk “Animal Protection in the 21st Century: Finding Clarity in Our Tangled, Contradictory Relationship with Animals,” Pacelle will discuss how we need to reject institutionalized cruelty to truly address issues of violence in society.

“The exploitation of animals is retarding progress for us and creating all sorts of collateral damage in society,” Pacelle describes. “I’ll be talking about how technology and innovation can provide a pathway forward for society on a range of animal issues.”

Kathryn Gillespse

Kathryn Gillespie

SAL’s Feb. 13 lecture is not to be missed for anyone who thinks critically about the sources of their food and our relationship to farmed animals. Beacon Hill resident and UW part-time geography lecturer Kathryn Gillespie has meticulously researched the lives of dairy cows in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.

In her talk “The Cow with Ear Tag No. 1389: Species, Place and Power in U.S. Animal Agriculture,” Gillespie follows individual cows through potent moments in their lives — from the dairy farm to the auction house, where all spent (terminally over-milked) dairy cows and separated calves end up for sale to slaughterhouses. Through her research at 4H shows, dairy farms, auction houses and dairy-industry trade shows, Gillespie reveals the inherent violence that dairy cows and calves experience and how it differs dramatically from the public perception of the dairy industry.

In her Feb. 27 lecture “Thinking with Cats,” UW French and Italian studies professor Louisa Mackenzie will explore the role of cats in the intellectual lives of prominent French historical figures as a means to understanding the human-animal divide (i.e. what makes us human and “them” animals).

Mackenzie explains, “There is something of a minor tradition in European philosophy of cats provoking moments of deep existential questioning about the limits of what we know.”

She will discuss how cats seem to know things that humans may not know or know in the same way. Mackenzie adds that it is good “to be reminded that human ways of ordering the world are not the only ways.”

Guinea pigs at an intensified farm in Peru (photo courtesy of Maria Elana Garcia)

Guinea pigs at an intensified farm in Peru (photo courtesy of Maria Elana Garcia)

From food to celebrities

On March 6, Wallingford residents and UW professors María Elena García and José Antonio Lucero will explore the shifting role of animals in Peru, with a focus on guinea pigs and a high-profile Rottweiler.

Once mainly an indigenous food animal in Peru, guinea pigs have increasingly been used in elite food-tourist products and as symbols of Peruvian unity. García’s research questions how Peruvian society has changed this indigenous food by incorporating it into modern cuisine, thereby creating a greater demand for the meat. This has resulted in intensified guinea pig farming and genetic manipulation to make the meat more available, much the same way chickens are factory farmed in the United States.

García also considers the consequences of this move for indigenous peoples.

Lucero will speak on the curious case of a Rottweiler who killed an alleged burglar and then became a celebrity as upper-class Peruvians championed the dog for protecting property from the threat of criminals from indigenous society. The case reveals much about insecurity and race in the political imagination of Peru.

García and her UW colleagues collaborate to consider these and other issues of animals in society through the UW Critical Animal Studies Working group. The group has organized this lecture series with SAL.

García explains, “Animals represent a paradox for us humans: Animals are everywhere, yet they are often almost invisible. When we slow down to ask some questions about the place of animals in the world, we gain a greater understanding, not only of the animals that share our world but also about ourselves.”

For more information and tickets for SAL’s “Thinking Animals” lecture series, visit

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