Ag-gag Laws Create Moral Compass Confusion

Dairy cows spend most of their lives producing milk, which means they must be continually pregnant.

We are taught at an early age the difference between right and wrong, and as we grow our knowledge increases of what is right and what is wrong. Our nation was founded by a set of rules that denotes this fact. When did that line start to blur? Money has played a key role in causing confusion in our moral compass. No one seems to be safe from its tantalizing grasp. Ag-gag laws are on the rise and with it confusion starts to form between what is right and what is wrong. This law punishes people for reporting illegal or unethical acts that occur in factory farms.

Factory farms are prevalent in the United States due to the high consumption of animal products. Our society highly values ease and accessibility. Because of the nature of our society we have created a need for factory farming especially through fast food chains. Animals in these farms are not treated with respect. They are treated as if they have no feelings. Ag-gag laws were created not to protect animals or the public interest but to keep businesses safe from regulations. Animals are not able to voice how they are being treated in these places. We, as animal welfare advocates, cannot be their voice when we will be punished by a law that states we are in the wrong as whistleblowers. Where do we draw the line?

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The Case for Living in Harmony with Wildlife

As the outside temperature increases, so do the chances of encountering wildlife in many parts of the country. While seeingrabbit (1) wildlife can sometimes be a pleasant experience, finding skunks under the porch, rabbits in the flower bed, or bats in the attic can be frustrating. As a result, humans have developed an entire arsenal of deadly traps, poisons, and weapons designed to destroy animals we do not like or animals we do not want around our property. While lethal means of “pest control” are in many cases legal, we degrade our environment when we fail to make the effort to live harmoniously with wildlife.

Even the self-described “animal lovers” among us sometimes fall into the erroneous thinking that there are “good animals” and “bad animals.” In reality, all species serve a purpose within their native environments. Consider for instance, the copperhead, sometimes found in rural areas near bodies of water in the summer. Rare is the person who forgives the black rat snake for being a snake – but even rarer is the person who concedes the right of existence to the venomous pit viper. Nonetheless, copperheads, as many other species of snake, are valuable predators that help limit the populations of other animals, including mice and insects. In turn, the copperhead is as well, a food source for larger predators. To destroy native species to satisfy our own fear and contempt will in time lead to permanent imbalances within nature. As the famous conservationist John Muir once wrote, “”When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

There is also no denying that killing an animal in many cases, may be the quick and easy solution. Therefore, many of us might ask, “Why not snare the rabbit and cut off the head of a snake? It is clearly the quickest way to rid myself of the animal, and there is no law to stop me!” However, as caretakers of our environment, we have a responsibility to consider methods that effectively impede conflicts with wild animals without destroying them. For instance, proper disposal of trash or use of specially designed bins can effectively prevent wild animals from invading outdoor garbage cans. Using lattice under porches and sealing holes in attics can prevent infiltration by groundhogs, opossums, bats, and other animals. Keeping grass neatly trimmed around the home can eliminate hiding places for snakes. While measures like these may require extra effort, they are often more effective in the long-term, and most importantly, preserve our environment and the lives of our animal friends.

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New Bill in NJ Would Classify Dogfighting as Organized Crime

Dog fights usually occur in tandem with drug sale and gambling and as such, should be prosecuted as organized crime.

Dog fights usually occur in tandem with drug sale and gambling and as such, should be prosecuted as organized crime.

Paws Up!

To the New Jersey Senate for passing S736 to prosecute dogfighting ring leaders as members of organized crime.

Dogfighting is a grisly offense. It is not restricted to any social or demographic sphere. Thankfully it is illegal in the United States, but sadly many people are not deterred by the law when money is involved.  Dogfighting is closely linked to other forms of serious crimes and it often serves as a platform for other criminal activities including drugs and racketeering. According to a recent news article, the New Jersey Senate is trying to advance S736 into a state law which would classify dogfighting as a form of organized crime.

Take Action: Residents of New Jersey, please contact Governor Chris Christie and urge him to sign S736 into law. Residents of other states, please contact your legislators and encourage them to implement tougher laws against dogfighting offenders.

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The Case for Living in Harmony with Wildlife

As the outside temperature increases, so do the chances of encountering wildlife in many parts of the country. While seeing wildlife can sometimes be a pleasant experience, finding skunks under the porch, rabbits in the flower bed, or bats in the attic can be frustrating. As a result, humans have developed an entire arsenal of deadly traps, poisons, and weapons designed to destroy unpopular animals or animals we do not want around our property. While lethal means of “pest control” are in many cases legal, we degrade our environment when we fail to make the effort to live harmoniously with wildlife.

Snakes may not be the most popular backyard species, but they serve a valuable role within nature.

Snakes may not be the most popular backyard species, but they serve a valuable role within nature.

Even the self-described “animal lovers” among us sometimes fall into the erroneous thinking that there are “good animals” and “bad animals.” In reality, all species serve a purpose within their native environments. Consider for instance, the copperhead, sometimes found in rural areas near bodies of water in the summer. Rare is the person who forgives the black rat snake for being a snake – but even rarer is the person who concedes the right of existence to the venomous pit viper. Nonetheless, copperheads, as many other species of snake, are valuable predators that help limit the populations of other animals, including mice and insects. In turn, the copperhead is as well, a food source for larger predators. To destroy native species to satisfy our own fear and contempt will in time lead to permanent imbalances within nature. As the famous conservationist John Muir once wrote, “”When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

There is also no denying that killing an animal in many cases, may be the quick and easy solution. Therefore, some might ask, “Why not cut off the head of a snake? It is clearly the quickest way to rid myself of the animal, and there is no law to stop me!” However, as caretakers of our environment, we have a responsibility to consider methods that effectively impede conflicts with wild animals without destroying them. For instance, proper disposal of trash or use of specially designed bins can effectively prevent wild animals from invading outdoor garbage cans. Using lattice under porches and sealing holes in attics can prevent infiltration by groundhogs, opossums, bats, and other animals. Keeping grass neatly trimmed around the home can eliminate hiding places for snakes. While measures like these may require extra effort, they are often more effective in the long-term, and most importantly, preserve our environment and the lives of our animal friends.

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Why You Should Report Animal Cruelty

Photo by The National Humane Education Society

Photo by The National Humane Education Society

If you are reading this, chances are you care about animal welfare and take excellent care of your own pets. All the same, would you know what to do if you suspected someone in your community of animal abuse or neglect? While many of us wouldn’t hesitate to rescue a stray, situations in which an animal technically has a legal owner can feel tricky. Even when we know that something we’ve witnessed constitutes animal cruelty, some of us may still feel ambivalent about involving law enforcement. We don’t want to be seen as snoops, nor do we want to be seen as making frivolous complaints on behalf of a “mere animal”. Furthermore, the last thing we want is to create turmoil in our communities and social circles. Due in part to worries like these, far too many witnesses don’t report animal cruelty when they see it. However, every person should know when and how they should contact law enforcement to report animal cruelty.

First, if you see an animal in immediate physical danger, it is time to call law enforcement. Start dialing any time you see an animal trapped inside a hot car, in danger of freezing to death, or involved in a violent situation. If you do not know the number of the local animal control office, call the local sheriff’s office. If you cannot reach the sheriff’s office, call 911. You will not get in trouble for making a truthful report in good faith, and you could very well save a life. In other cases, the situation you’re witnessing may not be considered an emergency, but problematic nonetheless.

While you may not call 911 to report a continuously tethered dog, you may still be able to recruit help from animal control. In this case, it can be helpful to know about your county’s animal cruelty laws and ordinances. The website of your county commission or local humane society can help you learn the laws of your area. That said, even if you are unsure of the law as it pertains to the situation you’ve witnessed, you can still contact your local animal control or sheriff’s office, report what you’ve seen, and request that a “welfare check” be conducted at the address in question. Officers may not impound the animal, but they are likely to educate the owner. Rest assured that requesting a welfare check is not the same as filing a complaint or asking to press charges. A request for a welfare check is simply a request for officers to visit the property. You can also request that your identity not be revealed to the owner.

Unfortunately, many cases of animal abuse and neglect are resolved too late or not at all, simply because witnesses only came forward in the form of gossip or long after the fact. While advocating for abused animals can feel stressful at times, in many cases, the difference between a miserable death and a long, happy life is a single phone call. For more information on how to report animal cruelty, visit http://nhes.org/sections/view/283.

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Don’t Wait For A Ban – Stop Buying Animal-Tested Cosmetics Today

albino rabbitsNational bans on animal testing for cosmetics are gaining momentum. The European Union, Norway, Israel, and India have all passed national legislation to inhibit animal testing in the creation of cosmetics. In recent years, some legislators have even made attempts to phase out animal testing for cosmetics in the United States. These are undoubtedly promising developments in the global animal welfare movement. However, enactment of legislation to limit or prohibit testing on animals for cosmetics and other products in the U.S. may be years away. In the meantime, countless rabbits, beagles, guinea pigs, rats, mice, and other animals are languishing in laboratories around the country. Americans must support legislation to stop these nightmarish and unnecessary tests, but everyone living in the United States can stop purchasing animal-tested cosmetics and personal care products now. Rejecting personal care products sold by companies that still use animal testing conveys to those companies that now is the time to end animal testing.

As consumers, finding products that satisfy our preferences, budgets, and consumer ethics can seem like a daunting task. Even the most conscientious consumers may have only a vague understanding of how business, science, and law intersect in regard to animal testing. To add to the confusion, some companies attempt to attract consumers with a “cruelty-free” label without actually abiding by cruelty-free guidelines.

Fortunately, there are resources that make cruelty-free shopping enjoyable and accessible. Thousands of safe and high-quality products are available through companies that don’t test on animals. There are at least three ways consumers can support these companies:

•    An organization known as the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) administers a cruelty-free standard in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and parts of the European Union. Companies listed by the CCIC meet the standards set by the Leaping Bunny Program, which according to the CCIC website guarantee that “…no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.” To use this resource, visit http://www.leapingbunny.org.
•    When shopping for a new cosmetic or personal care product, you can visit the company’s website to learn the company’s policy on animal testing.
•    For spur-of-the-moment purchases, download an app to your smartphone. Many apps are now available that help users discern if animal testing was used with a quick scan of the item’s barcode.

As citizens concerned about animal welfare, we send messages to our lawmakers with pens and paper. As consumers, we communicate with our dollars, and these are messages that no business can ignore.

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Practicing “Petiquette” Improves Life for Pets and People

Leashes required signFor some, the word “etiquette” conjures up thoughts of stuffy, irrelevant, and outdated social rules designed to quell the fussiness of overly-sensitive people. In reality, our society is safer and more comfortable thanks to those who learn and use proper etiquette. This is also true of “petiquette”, otherwise known as the rules pet owners follow to show consideration for those around them.

Unfortunately, knowing a rule exists is often not reason enough for people to follow it. Why? Simply put, we tend to ignore etiquette when we think the rules don’t apply to us. Maybe we are fully aware of a trail sign that reads “All pets must be on leash,” but then decide that since our dog is friendly, this particular rule isn’t one we need to observe. Other times, we misinterpret rules as suggestions. For instance, pet owners at a rest stop may notice that other people aren’t cleaning up after their pets, and think they don’t need to either.  As a whole, we humans are adept at coming up with excuses to avoid inconveniencing ourselves for the greater good. On the other hand, we don’t hesitate to lament the thoughtless behavior of others.

Pet owners have a responsibility to consider the physical and emotional welfare of other people and their pets. Not only does it keep everyone safe and happy, but it sets a good example for others to do the same. Here are just a few examples of important “petiquette” that all pet owners should know and follow:

•    Always keep your pet leashed in public areas.
•    Always clean up after your pet.
•    Always ask and receive permission before approaching someone’s pet.
•    Always receive permission before allowing your pet to approach another person or animal.
•    Only take your pets into areas where they are permitted.
•    Respect pet rules stated by any public place. If you’re there, they apply to you, period.

Resist the urge to complain, become defensive, or make excuses when asked to follow a rule you don’t agree with. When you aren’t sure what the rules are, ask.

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