Posts tagged animal welfare legislation

If you care about bears, please take a few minutes!

Your comments are desperately needed if there is to be an active recovery of our native endangered Grizzly Bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem.

Without your comments, all the hard work by so many conservation organizations and so many Federal agencies will unsuccessfully end.  This is tragic for such a magnificent species that is the symbol of pristine wilderness that once was and the loss for future generations.

The opposition comes from the well-funded, well-organized cattle industry that continually opposes any legislation to protect cougar, bear, and wolves in the State of Washington.  They are the greatest contributing factor to the destruction of the grizzly bear in the United States.  In just 200 years we have managed to eliminate 99 percent of their original range, reduce their number from 50,000 to 100,000 to less than 1,200.

We have the opportunity that no other west coast state has to return the grizzly to where they once thrived, where they belong, far and free from human encroachment.

The grizzly bear has a very low reproductive rate and therefore has a slow population growth.  They live most of their lives in remote areas, feeding mostly on vegetation and any dead animals they may find.  By nature, they are shy, easily retreat and cattle depredation is extremely low as well as human/bear conflicts in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Grizzly bears have been an important part of the North Cascades Ecosystem for thousands of years.  They play a vital role for the health of the environment and other wildlife species, figure prominently in regional Native American and First Nations’ cultures, and contribute to the richness of our natural heritage in the Pacific Northwest.

With nearly 10,000 square miles stretching from I-90 north to the Canadian border and anchored by North Cascades National Park, the designated North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Area is one of the largest blocks of wild federal land remaining in the lower 48 states.  Research indicates this wilderness landscape has quality habitat capable of supporting a self-sustaining grizzly bear population  Given the low number of existing grizzly bears, their very slow reproductive rate and other constraints, the North Cascades grizzly bear population is considered the most at-risk grizzly bear population in the United States today.  With so few grizzly bears left in the North Cascades, biologists believe they may soon disappear entirely from the area is recovery actions aren’t taken.

We have included a number of talking points and a website for further information, Conservation Northwest.

Simply pick one or two talking points and visit https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm/cfm?documentID=64266 to submit a comment or mail it to:

Superintendents Office

Grizzly Bear Restoration

North Cascades NPS Complex

810 State Route 20

Sedro Woolley, WA 98284

The current public comments end March 26, 2015.

Do it now!  Just a few sentences are all it takes.

Consider the following talking points to Include in your Comments:

  • I strongly support the recovery of the north Cascades grizzly bear and comment the NPS, USFWS and WDFW for moving forward with the restoration of this important native species.
  • The recovery coordinating agencies should take into full consideration the ecological, biological, cultural, spiritual and economic importance of grizzly bears to the Pacific Northwest.
  • As the only Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone on the west coast (or outside the greater Rocky Mountains) restoring a healthy North Cascades grizzly bear population is important to the resilience of the species in general, particularly in light of climate change.
  • Quality habitat still exists for grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem.  Thus, we have an ethical and legal obligation to restore a healthy grizzly bear population to the North Cascades.
  • There is strong public support for grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades that transcends geographic and demographic lines.  Washingtonians support healthy wild ecosystems with all the native species present when habitat and ecological conditions allow.
  • I want to see the best available science used to identify and implement active strategies to restore a viable population of grizzly bears in the North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone.  Therefore, the EIS must include alternatives to add a modest number of grizzly bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem under the guidance of local communities a strategy that has been used successfully in Montana’s Cabinet-“Yaak Ecosytem.
  • Grizzly bears are culturally and spiritually significant to First Nations throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia
  • Grizzly bears are considered an “umbrella” species, and they play an important role for healthy ecosystems.
  • Grizzly bears have been part of the Pacific Northwest landscape for thousands of years.  We have an ethical and legal obligation to restore this native species.
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Wayne Pacelle to visit Seattle

Wayne Pacelle (HSUS)

Start licking that fur and stay out of the mud to look your best for an honored guest to Seattle.

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), will be speaking at the Seattle Northgate Barnes & Noble on June 16th at 11:00 AM. Our friends from PAWS in Lynnwood is co-hosting the event so you know we’ll all have a good time.

In January, Pacelle gave a compelling TEDx talk in New York focusing on topics in his book The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them.  Also, here is an excellent review of the book from a Wisconsin newspaper.

Here are the details for the Seattle visit:

Humane Society of the United States President to Make Seattle, Wash. Appearance
Best-Selling Author of The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them at Barnes & Noble June 16
 
WHO:         
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States
 
WHAT:        
Discussion, Q&A and book signing 
 
WHERE:       
 Barnes & Noble, Northgate Mall, 401 NE Northgate Way, Suite 1100, Seattle, Wash.
 
WHEN:         
Saturday, June 16, 11:00 a.m. PDT
 
The discussion and signing is co-hosted by PAWS.
 
Wayne Pacelle’s bestselling book The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them (William Morrow) has been called revolutionary, uplifting and inspiring. Pacelle explains what underlies our age-old connection with other creatures and challenges readers to help build a more humane society. As Pacelle takes readers on a journey from the nation’s great open spaces to its crowded factory farms to the ice floes of Canada where seals are slaughtered, he illuminates the stark dichotomy we face in an age when animals are more beloved yet more abused than during any period in history. There is a better way, Pacelle argues, making the case for a humane economy based on ecotourism, fur-free fashion, improved farming systems, and other innovative models. It’s a message of hope and an inspiring call to action for all. The book debuted in a paperback version on April 3, 2012.
 
Pacelle will discuss the themes in the book and issues of local, national and international impact at the Seattle appearance.
 
During a quarter–century of leadership in the humane movement, most of it at the HSUS, Pacelle has become America’s foremost voice for those who cannot speak in their own defense, and has helped to bring animal protection from the margins to the mainstream.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Chicks in the City

Rhodie (left), Hedda and Honeybee

By Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

April 10, 2012

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

As consumers, most of us are disturbed by the inhumane practice of factory farming. Chickens, as well as pigs and other farm animals, suffer much of their lives in cramped, relentless conditions that would make anyone go mad.

Yet, the practice of urban agriculture has garnered considerable attention in recent years, and Seattle chicken keepers can ensure that their birds are happy and well cared for while being rewarded with fresh eggs.

At least that is the goal for Kristin Baerg’s students at North Seattle Community College. Baerg teaches a class on chicken keeping and urban farming. In addition to being a busy mom of young children, Baerg runs a hobby farm with cows, pigs and chickens in Monroe and shares her expertise in her classes.

Humane conditions

In her Chicks in the City class, Baerg explains that chicken keeping is a legal, sustainable practice in Seattle and is an easy way to avoid supporting factory farming. The two-and-half-hour class covers topics from chicken breeds to first aid. Up to eight chickens can be kept in yard pens, and Baerg said they take very little time to care for overall.

Baerg said that her chickens are raised for meat, as well: “People often asked me how I can eat animals that I know. But I remind them that the animals I raised lived happy healthy lives before it was their time to go.

“I wonder how people can buy packaged meat from the store with the knowledge that the animal suffered terribly for a lifetime,” Baerg continued. “We have a responsibility to prevent suffering of animals in our care.”

Apparently, animal advocates, egg producers and consumers alike agree with Baerg’s sentiment.

Recently, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which advocates for the humane treatment of all animals regardless of their role in our society, made an agreement with the United Egg Producers, an industry trade association, to support legislation to improve conditions in industrial egg facilities nationally.

Hedda the chicken

Paul Shapiro, senior director of Farm Animal Protection for the HSUS, said the bill is being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives but has not yet been passed into law. If enacted, the new law would apply higher animal-welfare standards equally to all egg producers. Chickens would be in better environments and have increased room to walk. The goal is to give some relief to chickens in these factory conditions.

Caring for chickens

Featherflop III

As for keeping backyard chickens, Shapiro said it can be an eye-opening experience. “As long as there are sufficient rules in place to protect chickens from cruelty and neglect, residents get the opportunity to see what beautiful, intelligent and interesting creatures chickens actually are,” Shapiro said.

Mollie Welch and Cleo

North Seattle resident Mollie Welch reported a similar experience raising hens. Welch is my neighbor, and she cares for five laying hens of all different breeds. Hedda, a white-crested black Polish, frequently roams Welch’s front yard with her sister-hens Honeybee (a partridge cochin), Rhodie (a Rhode Island red), Cleo (a white-caced Wyandotte) and Featherflop III (an Ameraucana hen).

“It’s a family name,” Welch explained of the last hen. Featherflop I and II have since passed on.

Eggs from Mollie Welch’s chickens

Welch has enjoyed her chickens for about a year. She brought them home from Portage Bay Grange, a supply store that offers chicken, rabbit and goat feed for urban animal keeping here in Seattle. Now, the flock produces seven to 12 eggs a week, ranging in color from delicately brown-spotted from Honeybee to soft green from Cleo.

Welch learned chicken keeping from a variety of sources, and recently had to care for a wound on Hedda’s head. An anti-pecking compound turned Hedda’s head feathers purple giving her a punk-rock look for a while. But otherwise Welch’s first aid was successful.

In the driveway is a cedar chicken coop with laying beds and a free-run area. The chickens are secured in the coup and safe from predators when Welch is away. But the walk from the coop door to the front gate is a familiar one for the chickens. They know the way, waiting for Welch to open the gate and begin their afternoon foraging in the front yard.

“I really enjoy them,” Welch said, as her chickens scratch around the garden for a dirt bath.

And as for friendly Hedda, Honeybee, Rhodie, Cleo and Featherflop III, the feeling appears to be completely mutual.

For information on Baerg’s Chicks in the City class, see the North Seattle Community College Continuing Education website.

Urban-farming classes are also available through Seattle Tilth (seattletilth.org).

For more information on advocacy for farm animals, visit the HSUS website at www.humanesociety.org.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a freelance pet columnist who writes the blog “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at http://www.sniffingouthome.org.

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What we need to know…

The US Humane Society rates the work of the federal government, and this year’s C- was a disappointment.  It’s important to realize that even progressive governments don’t necessarily see animal welfare as a progressive issue.  Hence the ratings for the USHS shown below.

This is a reminder of how important it is to keep educating ourselves about the changes necessary to make the lives of animals more humane and fair.  Because if we don’t speak out, the status quo and the powers-that-be are perfectly content with allowing issues of animal welfare to quietly melt into silence.  We know better, so here’s what we need to know to take action. (Click on the image below.)

Thank you to Eric for sending me this information from the USHS.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Legislation under consideration could save thousands of animals’ lives

Image

Puppies left at a NW shelter when someone didn’t spay their dog

Published in City Living Seattle
Feb. 7, 2012
By Christie Lagally
Copyright Pacific Publishing Company

For a lifetime, we have heard the mantra to spay and neuter our pets, and most of us heed the call.

But for many Washington residents, access to spay/neuter services and the ability to pay for them is not as straight-forward, and unwanted pets are a natural result. Public spay/neuter programs are a vital and effective life-saving tool to help reduce the number of animals that end up in shelters.

Sadly, tens of thousands of animals are brought to Washington shelters each year, with roughly a third or more of the animals euthanized.

Recently, the Seattle Humane Society announced some exciting news: It has achieved a benchmark of 100,000 spay/neuter surgeries over the last 30 years. Similarly, last year alone, the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project in Lynnwood performed 7,415 surgeries, and PAWS performed more than 500 public spay/neuter surgeries through its clinic and more than 1,300 shelter-animal surgeries in 2011.

While this is a big achievement, unfortunately, it is not quite enough to make a statewide dent in our pet-overpopulation problem, yet. Many animal-welfare groups are hoping for help from our state Legislature.

The legislation

Currently, the Washington state Legislature is open for business, and among the many other bills awaiting consideration in either the House or Senate are House Bill 1226 and Senate Bill 5151 — the so-called “spay/neuter-assistance bills.”

The Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation (WAHL) is advocating for these bills to be passed to implement a program to provide statewide spay/neuter services. This program would initiate a small fee on pet food paid by pet-food distributors to provide roughly 65,000 spay/neuter surgeries for pets of low-income families or homeless animals each year.

It is expected that the fee, which would cost Washington pet owners about 2.5 cents per pound of pet food, would bring in about $10 million per year and, in the long run, would dramatically reduce the burden that animal overpopulation, euthanasia and animal control has on state and local governments.

This spay/neuter program would not use any general funds.

In fact, according to WAHL board member Rick Hall, a statewide spay/neuter program has many additional benefits, including reducing the euthanasia of tens of thousands of cats and dogs in Washington shelters and helping to reduce the growth of feral-cat colonies.

Hall explained that at least eight other states in the country have similar programs, and states such as New Hampshire saw a 75-percent decrease in euthanasia and a 34-percent decrease in shelter intakes during the first few years its program operated.

More than 80 animal-welfare groups statewide have come out in favor of the spay/neuter assistance bills.

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Kittens at PAWS during ‘kitten season’

A proactive solution

Kay Joubert, the director of companion animal services for PAWS, said the organization “fully supports” the bills.

She explains that we need statewide spay/neuter programs to fill in the gaps in rural areas where no spay/neuter services are available. This program encourages pet owners to utilize the services of local veterinarians who would be compensated by the program for providing low-cost spay/neuter services to the community.

“PAWS was originally formed to provide access to low-cost spay/neuter services. It’s a core philosophy of PAWS,” Joubert said. “We can’t adopt our way out of the problem of pet homelessness. We have to have a multi-prong approach.”

Joubert feels that most pet owners won’t mind paying a little extra for pet food because they recognize that this program is a preventative measure.

“Our research shows that the pet-food fee is insignificant to the customer,” said Hall, whose research found that even simple price variance between pet-supply stores was larger than the difference a pet-food fee would add to the cost of food.

Nonetheless, several groups are against HB 1226 and SB 5151 because the fee is like a tax at a time when new taxes are as unpopular as cleaning the kitty box.  Most notably, the Pet Food Institute and the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association spoke out against these bills during a legislative committee meeting last spring, based on their concern that a tax or fee on pet food would be a burden to pet owners.

“I’d rather fund schools instead of prisons,” Joubert said, and I agree. I would rather fund a statewide spay/neuter program instead of shelter euthanasia. It’s simply a better use of our money and improves our community overall.

To find out more about the spay/neuter assistance bills, visit the Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation at www.savewashingtonpets.org. To learn more about PAWS, visit www.paws.org.

To have your pet spayed or neutered, contact your veterinarian or one of the following clinics listed on the Seattle Animal Shelter website at www.seattle.gov/animalshelter/spay-neuter-clinics.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a freelance pet columnist who manages the website “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at http://www.sniffingouthome.org.

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Bank Transfer Day rocked!

If we ever needed evidence that we are not alone in our fight to pay our bills and, furthermore, to struggle through the everyday maze that it is to move through our world of injustice, we certainly got that reassurance on Bank Transfer Day.

Yesterday thousands of people in the Seattle area (and across the US)  switched from large US banks to their  local credit union or bank.  (Seattle Times)

This is awesome.

This is the power we have to reshape our world!

This is where it starts – for the 99% of people and the 100% of animals too.  Everyday the tragedy of factory farming, pet homelessness and cruelty are among us.  At times our footsteps feel small, and traction is fleeting.

But Bank Transfer Day wasn’t just about money — as you already know.  It was about the power to change our destiny by walking away from injustice and participating in the alternatives.

If the 99% walked away from pet stores selling animals, there would be no more puppy and kitten mills.  If the 99% walked away from commercial meat sales, there would be no more factory farming.  If the 99%, banned exotic animal sales, there would be no more wild animal trade.

But it is no longer an “if” we walked away, because we “are” walking away.

You have the choice, and Bank Transfer Day showed how much that choice matters.

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Why Occupy Wall Street includes the fight for animal welfare

When the Occupy Wall Street protests began to thrive in the US and around the world, frequent commentary on lack of focus or specific demands seem to litter the media.  But the more I watched and waited,  I began to realize this movement has never been out of focus, it’s just too big for our current lens.

Some realization came while watching a compelling commentary by a literature graduate student in NY regarding his efforts to establish a library at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations (see YouTube).  He knew that his efforts to simply provide knowledge was a protest in itself.

This is equally true with the issue of animal welfare.  Once people are aware of animal cruelty and torture — particularly in the case of farm animals —  no matter how gruesome the reality may be, the knowledge of the issue allows us the option to forgo participation in a cruel system, and often easily disarm the problem by economic participation in the alternatives.

But this isn’t breaking news….

As was so eloquently reported by One Green Planet and effectively detailed in this article by the Animal Legal Defense Fund,  the ‘Occupy’ movement has included the welfare of animals as a justifiable demand on the reform of, not just corporate America, but America in general.

From vegan-ism to banning pet stores sales, our struggle to stop the cruel and horrific treatment of farm, wild and companion animals has often glided  along side other issues of  inflation, pesticide use, heart disease and environmental degradation — or so we may have thought.

But, as it turns out, we are not alone — whether meat eater, farmer, feral cat rescuer, hunter or conservation biologist, none of us wants the cruel treatment of animals, just like none of us wants to be controlled by corporations exhibiting  greed, inequality and illegal or abusive action.

So I find it very natural that Occupy protests include the demand for corporations to end the cruel, industrialized and institutionalized  treatment of animals.  This demand is no longer too big to be considered for mass reform. In fact at this point, improving welfare for animals in all situations, is practically a simple first step.

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