JULY 2016


“…living by voices we shall never hear” (see our slideshow)


  • A picture is worth…a handful of peanuts
  • The VP pick we didn’t get…is already a VP!
  • Puppy mill madness
  • Plastic bags, bans, & sea turtle autopsies
  • Proposed rule change would end cruel horse soring 
  • What do cats, dogs, pineapples, & cows have in common?
  • RoboRoach revisited: DIY cyborg kit
  • QUICK LINKS: Just stuff FYI, without all the blather
  • The tail end: WAG IT!

deadbearA picture is worth…a handful of peanuts: Yes, this guy’s wildlife photos are truly amazing (view them here). Beautiful. Intimate. How do you get the shot of a lifetime like that–over and over again?!? “His secret? He brings snacks to the photo shoots and feeds them to the animals.” Oh. He baits them. Feeds them. Handles them, too…and takes selfies with them. What’s wrong with THIS picture?!? (Revealing that he uses bait was the right thing to do, but still…) Comments at the companion Facebook page are mostly adoring (mine and a couple others are exceptions), including one from a woman who has habituated a wild fox to come running when food wrappers are rattled. What could possibly go wrong?

While no official list of ethical dos and don’ts exists for professional wildlife photographers, National Geographic talked to one pro about his own personal ethics: “It never occurs to me to touch an animal, to move it or try to get it to do a particular thing. I want authenticity” (“Don’t feed the bears: Ethics in wildlife photography…”). Some of you might remember this post from January 2014 (“Deer-feeding video draws praise, criticism”) and how badly things can go awry when humans–even when their intentions are altruistic–fail to respect the wildness of wild nonhumans and impose themselves upon their lives. Pictures for peanuts? Not a fair trade.

THE VP PICK WE DIDN’T GET – It’s no secret that many animal activists were holding our collective breath for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey to be Hillary’s vice presidential pick. The man is already a VP: “Prior to Tim Kaine’s nomination as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Booker was rumored to be Clinton’s ‘VP,’ to which the senator responded, ‘I am already a vegan person'” (Veg News). An Aug. 1 op-ed in the New York Times advises that, if Booker wants to someday be president, he must “start figuring out how to at least mime eating bratwurst. It is reasonable to expect progress but it will be awhile before a vegan escapes the Iowa caucuses intact.”  Go ahead and scowl at that statement–I did–but take a look at Iowa on this factory farm map. Yikes!

images-1PUPPY MILL MADNESS: It’s bound to happen in a state where puppy mills are entirely unregulated. In the news again right here in western Montana: Another procession of filthy, matted dogs with infected eyes, crippled limbs, and protruding tongues hauled out of a disgusting breeding operation (article w/video). Only those in the worst condition could be seized and taken for medical evaluation (11 dogs); of those, seven had to be returned to the kennel owners while four remain in veterinary care (article). The problem is twofold: people who purchase from breeders instead of adopting one of the million-plus innocent dogs executed each year in the U.S. for the crime of being “excess,” and Montana state legislators who are so concerned about their own special interests in the “livestock” industry that they refuse to impose even minimal regulations on companion animal mill breeders. Another culprit: the American Kennel Club not only works against puppy mill laws in state legislatures, but also assures that breeders keep cranking out dogs by recognizing “new breeds” (here’s the latest). It’s immoral. Videos, articles, more: Other Nations puppy mills page.

INTERACTIVE MAP SHOWS GLOBAL PLASTIC BAG BANS: Plastic bags are fouling the earth and harming wildlife–especially marine life. France has banned them (article). Morocco has banned them (article). In England, plastic bag use has dropped more than 85% since a 5 pence charge (roughly $o.o7) was introduced. In the US, Nantucket, MA banned them way back in 1990. California hopes to ban them with Prop 67 this November. Some state legislatures have passed bills preventing local governments from banning or taxing single-use plastic bags (I’m lookin’ at you, Indiana & Missouri). Here’s a cool, interactive plastic bag ban map, showing where they’ve been banned, where use comes with a fee, and where bans have failed. Watch “Silent Killers,” a 4-1/2 minute video (embedded here) about a sea turtle who was starving to death after she had ingested a plastic bag (sea turtles mistake them for their jellyfish prey). Spoiler alert: She was rescued, rehabbed, and released! For a less happy ending, here’s a video of a sea turtle autopsy where human trash– yes, a plastic bag–was lethal. Certainly we humans can do more to #banthebag –after all, our trash has done so much harm to others. 

nobiglickWILL THIS END CRUEL SORING FOREVER? What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Tennessee walking horse”? Perhaps that high-stepping gait know as the Big Lick? Those not in the know are usually horrified to learn that the Big Lick is typically produced by terrible abuse of horses’ forelegs known as soring. Get up-to-speed on the horrors of soring with “The Big Lick: Horse abuse for fame and fortune,” here. Don’t miss the X-ray photo (and video) of the hoof filled with nails (yes, you read that correctly) and ABC-TV’s excellent “Nightline Investigates” expose’ (can’t emphasize enough how good this video is).  I wrote this post going on four years ago, but soring is still in the news. A federal bill, Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, has been stalled by politicians sympathetic to the abusers (source).  Now, the USDA proposes to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and end inhumane soring once and for all. You can encourage them to lick the Big Lick by submitting your personal comment here, due Sept. 26, 2016. Horses can’t petition the government for themselves–we must speak up for them. Say NEIGH to soring!

CATS, DOGS, PINEAPPLES & COWS: What’s holding your pants up? – The Guardian asks: “Is your leather from China? It might be made of dog or cat skin” (article). Importation of cat and dog leather is illegal in the U.S., but leathers aren’t easily distinguishable, and this contraband trade gets into the country and onto the bodies of consumers who love cats and dogs (but are mostly willing to throw cows under the bus). So what does pineapple have to do with any of this? Well, its “skin” (leaf fibers) can also become leather, and, as you know–because you’ve never seen anyone walking one on a leash or providing sanctuary for a herd of ’em–pineapples aren’t sentient the way cows, dogs, and cats are. Enter Pinatex–“a non-woven natural fibre-based textile which, after a finishing treatment, becomes aesthetically similar to leather, while retaining similar characteristics.” See the Pinatex FAQs at its website. See what it looks like here. Then check out a 1-1/2 minute video from the founder of Pinatex (“From pineapple to Puma”) and scroll farther down for a sweet video of cows playing ball, opening gates, pumping water–just being cows who love living in their own skin. 

ROBO-ROACH: Because who’s going to stop you–the cockroach lobby? This 2013 item just scuttled out of the woodwork and into my consciousness again–and won’t leave. It’s just so horrifying. With the RoboRoach kit, you can “wirelessly control the… movement of a cockroach by microstimulation of the nerves in their antennae” using a smart phone. Produced by Backyard Brains and sold on Amazon for $119.99 (cockroach not included; available for purchase online), it’s “the world’s first commercially available cyborg! Perform your own advanced neural interface surgery to remotely control the left/right movement of a cockroach…” (more at Amazon). Watch this video of the hapless insect (“There’s an app for that: Cockroach mind control”) and give the comments posted to it a glance–until your eyes glaze over. Then, if you’re seeking relief, read “In defence of the cockroach: RoboRoach…ignores ethics,” here. Excerpt: “it’s…a serious potential upgrade for those kids that love to burn ants with a magnifying glass in summer — and an ethics-free lesson in mind control for the pursuit of entertainment.” Even if cockroaches make you shudder, this ought to make you shudder more.

quicklynxQUICK LINKS: Just stuff FYI, without all the blather!

  • “Trump’s wall? Also terrible for animals, conservation, and scientific collaboration,” Slate.com.
  • Ten worst tanks for dolphins & whales in No. America. Here.
  • “Abuse cases rile China’s growing animal rights movement” – “You should never hurt a dog, even if you don’t love it.” Change is coming to China…thank dog! Here.
  • “Vegan diets for children aren’t abusive–raising a child to eat meat is actually more extreme,” here.
  • What happened when a deaf dog rescue sanctuary was in a wildfire’s path: “Prisoners rescue deaf dogs evacuating California fire: ‘We sprung into action,'” here.
  • “Neighbors divided over 3 coyotes killed” in Seattle neighborhood…deaths paid for with our tax dollars. Here.
  • “Pope Francis pets a tiger at a Vatican jubilee for traveling performers,” here (includes video). *sigh* How long did that tiger have to go without eating?!?
  • The saga of Thailand’s notorious Tiger Temple continues as the temple sues an animal activist for defamation. Here.
  • “Animal rights groups decry live mascots. But what’s daily life like as a sideline pet?” Am betting that ‘tradition’ has something to do with it. Here.
  • “Conditions for these captive dolphins are heartbreaking,” 2-min. video.
  • Food Not Bombs — website; three principles; Facebook. Peace is the way.
  • Vimeo: Grieving striped dolphin, Gulf of Corinth, Greece. Here.
  • USDA Wildlife Services sickening stats: See a breakdown by species of the 3,206,238 animals killed in 2015 with U.S. taxpayer dollars. Here.

tailendwagitThe tail end: WAG IT!

  • A “vicious” cat fight. Put your dukes up here.
  • Would that *all* head-butting were so gentle! Here.
  • Goin’ nowhere fast but lovin’ the trip…here.
  • Hungry, homeless cat eats & talks with mouth full,  here.