Massachusetts Outlaws the Sale of Shark Fin Products

This fall, restaurants, food stores, and other vendors will be prohibited from selling shark fin products.

This fall, restaurants, food stores, and other vendors will be prohibited from selling shark fin products.

pawsupPaws Up!
To the Governor of Massachusetts for signing a bill into law that outlaws the sale of shark fin in products.

Shark finning is the practice of amputating a shark’s fins, typically so that the fins can be used in culinary products such as shark fin soup. The fins are cut off after capture, and the dying shark is thrown overboard to bleed to death in the ocean. It is an inherently inhumane and wasteful practice, and shark finning is already illegal in American waters. According to a recent article, last month Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill into law that prohibits the sale of shark fin products in the state of Massachusetts.

Beginning September 1, 2014, anyone convicted of selling shark-fin products may be subject to a $500-$1000 fine per fin, or 60 days imprisonment.

Take Action: Massachusetts residents, contact the governor’s office and thank him for signing this important bill into law.

Massachusetts State House
Office of Governor Deval Patrick
Room 105
Boston, MA 02133

When you think about it…losing a pet teaches children how to grieve.

1379641382bmhauIt’s a day that we know will come in one form or another. That day, you may feel a pit in your stomach when you arrive home from work and find your daughter’s rabbit stiff and unmoving. Maybe you’ll glance at the fish tank and notice your son’s goldfish floating at the top of the tank. Your family pet may die in an accident, or you may meet the day when the only way to end your pet’s suffering is to ask the veterinarian to end his life.

As a parent, you ache for the pet you lose, but also for your grieving children. You may feel tempted to take great measures to spare them the anguish of losing their pet. Even if you don’t resort to the now-iconic adage of claiming the pet “went to live on a farm,” you might feel tempted to “fix it” by asking your children to choose a new pet before the sun even sets on the former pet’s grave. Some parents have even tried to deny the loss entirely. One mother became so distraught when she awoke one morning to find her daughter’s hamster dead, she hastily buried the hamster’s remains in the trash and bolted to the nearest pet store with hopes of purchasing an identical hamster before her daughter woke up. The desire to protect children from emotional pain is understandable. But are there other ways to support children through grieving for a companion? Just as pets help children understand living, the loss of a pet may be a child’s first experience with death and dying. Though it’s inherently unpleasant, healthy grieving is a life skill. The way you guide your children through grieving for a humble goldfish will influence how they cope with grief later in life.

In the first 48 hours… First, acknowledge your own emotions. Although it is vital that you remain calm, it is okay to show your feelings, even if you cry. If you want your children to recognize the intrinsic value of animals, don’t allow anyone to dismiss your loved one as “just an animal.” This will also reassure your children that their feelings of loss are justified. Seeing the lifeless body of a pet who was moving just days or hours before can come as a shock, especially if the body is still surrounded by food, toys, and the things it enjoyed in life. If possible, put the body in a blanket-lined box. Inform your children of the death in a separate room from the body. Ask your children if they would like to see it. If they don’t, that’s okay.

As a family, you may decide to hold a memorial service or “celebration of life” for the pet. If your family holds religious beliefs that include animals, you might incorporate those into your service. Avoid referring to the pet as “asleep.” The euphemism doesn’t spare older children, and can be confusing to young children. They may feel reluctant to fall asleep themselves, or believe that in time their pet will wake up.

The week of… Encourage your children to write a letter to their pet, or if they want to, build a memorial.

Reassure your children that the pain of loss subsides with time and will be replaced by happy memories.

Watch very young children for signs of guilt and worry. Some children may fear that the death was their fault or begin to fear that you will die. Reassure them that death is a part of life. Also, let your children know that you will be around for a long, long time!

Resist the urge to immediately acquire another pet. Doing so inadvertently sends a message that animals, and for that matter, relationships, are replaceable. Equally problematic is the perception that grief is bad and something a person should fight to distract oneself from.

Allow your children to choose a few of the pet’s belongings to keep in the family as mementos, such as the collar and a few favorite toys. Other items should be thrown away or donated. If young children continue to see pet food in the cabinet, this could delay their acceptance of the pet’s passing.

The weeks following… Allow your children the freedom to grieve, but encourage them to continue hobbies, even when they don’t feel like it.

If your children wish, allow them to talk about any dreams they might have about the pet. Also, be aware of “grief hallucinations”. Some studies show that over 50% of people think they can see or hear a deceased loved one immediately after the loss. A child may tell you he “saw” his cat rounding the corner. Simply put, our brains are so accustomed to seeing familiar people and objects on a regular basis, that our perception can take some time to catch up. This phenomenon is temporary.

As your grief within the family eases over time, consider the possibility of adopting another pet. There are millions of animals in shelters whose very lives depend on adoption. Adopting an animal could very well be one of the best ways to honor your pet’s memory.

When you think about it…the death of a pet can teach valuable lessons about the end of life.

Tony the Tiger Still Languishes

Lions, tigers, and other exotic cats are not suitable companions.

Lions, tigers, and other exotic cats are not suitable companions.

The Louisiana legislature has passed a bill that would exempt certain persons from the requirements for possessing big exotic cats and, therefore, would allow Michael Sandlin to continue to house Tony the tiger at Sandlin’s Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete.

Only experts with many years of experience studying and working with wild and exotic animals are capable of caring for and safely interacting with them. The general public lacks this expertise and should not attempt to keep wild and exotic animals as pets. Documented attempts by members of the general public keeping wild and exotic animals as pets have led to tragedy in many instances for both humans and animals.

Louisiana residents, please contact your governor immediately and let him know you want to see Tony freed from his captivity.  Ask him to veto this SB 250.

Humane Travel

STA Travel has taken a step in the right direction by ending tours involving inhumane treatment of animals.

STA Travel has taken a step in the right direction by ending tours involving inhumane treatment of animals.

pawsupPaws Up!
To STA Travel for ending tours that involve elephant rides and trips to SeaWorld.

According to a news story, “STA Travel, which provides flights, accommodation, tours and expeditions for 2.5 million students and young people each year, has stopped tours taking in elephant rides and Tiger Temple in Thailand, as well as trips to SeaWorld in Orlando and San Diego….”

There are many ways to teach humane treatment of animals and STA has taken one way—by no longer offering tours to locations where animals are being mistreated and abused. The old cliché, “actions speak louder than words,” is definitely at work here.

Take Action: What actions can you take that will show others you will not tolerate animal mistreatment and abuse? Take those actions now. Support organizations that are already taking action to disengage from events/locations that support animal mistreatment and abuse. You can also write a note thanking STA Tours for taking action.

John Constable, CEO
STA Travel Ltd.
Priory House, 6 Wrights Lane, Kensington
London, W8 6TA England

Amendment to Delaware Code Would Save Victims of Dogfighting

With proper care, many rescued victims of dog-fighting can live long and happy lives.

With proper care, many rescued victims of dog-fighting can live long and happy lives.

If passed into law, a new bill in Delaware would protect victims of dog fighting from being automatically euthanized following confiscation. The bill, SB 245, was assigned to the Delaware Senate Health and Social Services Committee in June 2014. Currently in Delaware, the law requires that any dog suspected to have been the victim of dog fighting must be humanely destroyed. SB 245 would change the code so that that dogs confiscated from an animal fighting situation would first be evaluated. Any dogs found to be good candidates for rehabilitation and adoption would then be transferred to a rescue organization.

In many cases, dogs who have been removed from animal fighting situations have gone on to be adopted and live long, happy lives with new families. Many dogs are excellent candidates for recovery, but they must be given the chance.

Delaware residents, please contact your legislators immediately and let them know you support SB 245. Address written correspondence to:

The Honorable Bethany A. Hall-Long
Senate Chairman of Health and Social Services
411 Legislative Avenue
Dover, DE 199013

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When you think about it…can you trust animal-based product labels?

Find vegan and vegetarian versions of popular foods at .

Find vegan and vegetarian versions of popular foods on the NHES website.

We are bombarded by advertisements encouraging us to buy the latest and greatest, the biggest and best. Many of these products come with labels using words we think we understand but do we? For instance, when grocery shopping, do we know what “cage free” means when referring to eggs, or even what “humane” means when referring to farmed animals?

“Although USDA  [U.S. Department of Agriculture] regularly approves claims related to animal welfare, no legal definitions exist for the terms ‘animal welfare,’ ‘humane,’ or ‘animal care.’” So if there are no legal definitions, how are we as consumers to know how well, or ill, treated the animals are who produce food for our table? Sadly, we have no way of knowing.

We can, however, avoid the issue altogether. We can shop vegan. Vegans  eat no animal flesh or animal products thereby avoiding the issue of what exactly animal-based product labels mean. For, when you think about it…can you trust animal-based product labels?


When you think about it…garbage destroys life.

Marine animals are drastically affected by garbage, litter, and pollution.

Marine animals are drastically affected by garbage, litter, and pollution.

We’ve seen pictures of floating masses of sea junk , mounds of typically plastic garbage coming together to form sea islands larger than some countries. Other than the fact that these islands are ugly to look at, what harm are they doing to our oceans? The fact is that many sea creatures are injured or killed as a result of coming into contact with sea junk. Some sea creatures become entangled in long fishing lines, which cut into their flesh. Some ingest plastic objects floating in the sea which then cause blockages and death. Some of the sea detritus keeps orcas and dolphins from surfacing so they suffocate.

As we have polluted our land masses, we are now polluting our water masses and in the process we are destroying life. What masses are left to us? None. We must take care of the land and water masses we have for when you think about it…garbage destroys life in the ocean just as it destroys life on land.




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