Archive for August 2013

anim1763 Taiji, Japan – a place where, between September 1st and sometime next spring, an estimated 20,000 dolphins will be brutally slaughtered. Although there are always so many pressing and important animal rights issues to blog about, for me, as this date draws closer, there is very little else I can think about. These beautiful, intelligent, sensitive and social creatures will be herded into a small cove (which is where the name came from for the movie, “The Cove”), held captive, and will be violently and barbarically killed by being stabbed or hacked to death in full view of their family members and any other dolphins around. The ones who do not die of blood loss or trauma might drown, or, as in the case of at least one dolphin in a previous year, allowed herself to suffocate by closing her blowhole, killing herself. It is actually so bad that the waters of the cove become deep red from the blood of the slaughtered creatures. This atrocity takes place every year, and every year, the pressure on Japan to stop it grows more intense. The work of the entire production crew of “The Cove,” as well as organizations like Sea Shepherd, OPS, Save Japan Dolphins and others, have worked very hard in recent years to highlight to the entire world this previously hidden and unpublicized horror.

The fact that this slaughter continues is in stark contrast to actions other countries have taken, such as India declaring dolphins to be nonhuman persons with rights to life and liberty (the first country in the world to do so). In fact, India is in the process of starting the shutdown of its dolphin parks. How some governments can be so forward thinking in recognizing the sentient nature of dolphins while others fight world opinion to continue a barbaric, ruthless, and gruesome practice is a sad example of how wide a gulf still exists between those who might attempt to protect nonhuman animals and those who choose to continue exploiting and murdering them for profit.

And let’s not kid ourselves, this IS about profit. The people who commit these acts might claim it is a “tradition,” but in the end, money does change hands. Much as the whale flesh from the slaughter of whales in the southern ocean sanctuary is sold to be consumed, the flesh from these poor murdered dolphins will be sold to be consumed, despite growing concern about mercury levels in that flesh and the health effects on people who eat it. And for the small percentage of creatures who survive, many of them will end up in marine mammal parks such as Seaworld, recently highlighted in the movie Blackfish about the awful treatment of orcas in captivity.

So after reading all of this you are completely disheartened and horrified, you might be wondering if there is anything you can do. There is – as with whaling, the more economic pressure that is brought to the countries who still sanction these atrocities, the more likely they will be willing to abandon them in favor of activities that might actually improve their economies without horrifying the world.
Here are some things you can do:

1. Visit the Sea Shepherd Society’s website – they have an action page with contact information for Japanese government officials to write to and a link to donate if you are able.
2. Spread the word – through your facebook page, twitter account, or whatever social media you visit. Tell family, friends and coworkers.
3. If you know people who visit marine mammal parks, tell them about Taiji and suggest that they see the films The Cove and Blackfish. By buying a ticket to these parks, they are inadvertently supporting the dolphin slaughter industry, which sells surviving captives to these parks.
4. Educate yourself about the products that come from Japan and the companies that export their goods so that you can choose not to buy from them. Here are Japan’s top ten exported products, and here is a list of the top ten exporting companies. You can mention this to your friends as well or post the links to your social media pages.

At screenings of the movie The Cove in Japan, a survey found that 68 % of the people surveyed thought that the hunt and slaughter in Taiji should stop. This is clearly not the will of the world, or even perhaps of the Japanese people themselves. If we keep spreading the word and putting economic pressure, this horror could come to an end, hopefully sooner rather than later.

photo: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

This is a pretty new blog, and it is not a high comment blog at this time. Due to the amount of comment spam, I am, for now, requiring a log-in to comment. I am hoping it will make the spammers discouraged enough to go away. I apologize to any of you who might be tempted to leave a comment, as there is one more step to take. I am hoping this will be a temporary measure. Thanks ~ Linda

BeagleNiniJule

Today I came across this video of rescued laboratory beagles being taken outside to see the grass and the sky for the first time. It is amazing and gut wrenching to see them timidly stick their heads out of their carriers, and, with encouragement from their rescuers, start to toe their way onto the grass. These animals have been victims of laboratory testing/experiments and have never been outside of a building. They have never even felt grass under their paws, nor seen the sky above them. They aren’t even used to being out of the confines of cages or crates. Like many, I was moved to tears watching these precious ones experience their first taste of freedom- not only to the outdoors but from the invasive, controlled, and terrifying experience of being tortured for so-called science. These tests are not only not necessary, but actually work against the objective of making drugs and products safe for humans, but that will be an article for another day.

Today I want to focus on these rescued beagles and others like them-because many people like to think “lab animals” are some other entity, some “other” animals that belong in a lab and don’t feel or experience feelings like their companion animals. That fantasy, which many people cling to, is just not true, although it probably does on some level assuage the collective guilt and discomfort with the idea of subjecting these beautiful creatures to laboratory horrors. Beagles, like many other animals, are purpose-bred, meaning that they are bred by commercial breeders specifically to be sold to research facilities. Beagles are often chosen because of their docile and trusting nature (how depraved is that?). These beagles could be YOUR beagle – they have the same personality, the same capacity to feel pain and anguish, the same capacity to feel loneliness and fear as any companion animal. And they are suffering, like many other species, in labs all around the world.

“So what can I do?” You might be asking. You may have watched this video and been moved and want to do something. There is plenty that we can do, depending on our skills, time availability, and financial circumstances. The following is a partial list of what we can do as individual activists to help end this atrocity and rescue the victims.

1. Shop for cruelty free products – Websites such as Leaping Bunny inform about which companies and products are cruelty free and were not tested on animals such as these beagles. Every dollar that goes to a cruelty free product is one less dollar that goes into the pockets of companies that sponsor this cruelty.

2. Write to companies whose products you are no longer purchasing and tell them that you will no longer be a customer until they end animal testing. Companies don’t like to lose customers and don’t like to hear from unhappy ones. If they hear from enough of them, they might rethink their policy.

3. Support cruelty free charities – PCRM keeps a list of charities that are cruelty free (there are other lists as well).

4. When solicited by a charity, tell them if you will not be contributing and why. If you get a phone call, tell them you don’t contribute to charities that conduct animal tests. If you get a mailer, you can write a note back to tell them why you won’t be supporting their charity but that you WILL be supporting a charity that does not sponsor animal testing.

5. Get plugged in to the legal and legislative pipeline. Organizations such as HSUS have information about the latest developments and issue legislative alerts, so that you can write to your congressional representatives on pending legislation.

6. Financially support organizations, such as the New England Antivivisection Society (NEAVS) , HSUS, and others who are actively working to put an end to animal testing and research and rescuing laboratory animals, such as Beagle Freedom project.

7. Donate your time to organizations that are working to end vivisection, are promoting alternatives, or are rescuing liberated laboratory animals.

8. Take advantage of opportunities to get the word out informally to family, friends, and coworkers who may not be aware that such testing still happens and might want to do something.

9. Adopt! If you are able. If you can adopt a rescued animal, great. But if you adopt from your local shelter, you are still making a space available that might go to a rescued lab animal.

10. Keep reading! Progress is being made on this front and you can keep up with it by checking in with the organizations and websites fighting to end animal testing.

Photo: wikipedia

Photo: National Archives (NARA)
Former President of the United States Bill Clinton speaks to attendees at The U.S. Conference of Mayors in Seattle
Bill Clinton is now following a vegan diet, and according to this article, he has been doing so for about three years. How many of us remember the Clinton years – the jokes about all the fried food, not to mention the stories of how he would stop at a burger joint during his jogging sessions! Not anymore. After enduring a quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 and a more recent heart-health scare in 2010, Clinton, with encouragement from his friend (and heart specialist) Dr. Dean Ornish, adopted a diet free of all meat, dairy, and eggs. He has lost 30 pounds and says he feels great.

Although he admits the transition was difficult, Clinton says he was motivated by his desire to “live to be a grandfather.” That is certainly a strong reason for wanting to improve health. And a plant based diet tends to do that – not just for Bill Clinton, but for pretty much everyone who follows it. In my other blog, I recently wrote about some of the many health benefits of adopting a vegan (or plant-based, or animal-product free) diet, and a while ago on this blog about the possible effects on lifestyle advice now that obesity is considered a disease by the AMA. The health benefits of vegan diets range from improved heart health, to a lower risk for many cancers, less chance of type 2 diabetes, and a lower BMI, among others. Bill Clinton has said he is worried about the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and believes that collectively changing what we eat could go a long way towards improving health and reducing the overwhelming health care costs in the U.S.

Most interestingly, to me though, was this comment: “So I decided to pick the diet that I thought would maximize my chances of long-term survival.” Many people adopt a vegan diet because of concerns about the horrific animal suffering, environmental devastation, and potential food shortages which result from raising animals for the express purpose of killing and eating them. And for many of us who would like to see widespread veganism become the norm, it would be really emotionally satisfying if people were more aware of the suffering of sentient beings and acted accordingly. But what if people became vegan to save themselves? Would that be so bad? It certainly would be better for the suffering creatures, the environment, and the world’s food supply. Maybe we need to more strongly emphasize the health benefits of becoming vegan in diet and the consequences of not doing so (which is not to say we should ignore the other compelling reasons to become vegan). But for all beings, including those who cruelly and sadly end up in slaughterhouses, the drive towards self-preservation is great. Most people want to live long, healthy, active lives. And if Bill Clinton, a man who had a reputation for reveling in the consumption of cholesterol-filled, deep-fried, saturated-fat-laden heart-poison, is happily promoting a vegan diet and using his own story as an example, then there is definitely hope that anyone else can do it too. So keep talking up veganism, Mr. President!

Finally, since we are on the subject of veganism, I’d like to mention one of my newest-discovered vegan blogs: Have Gone Vegan. We ran into each other in the blogosphere, and HGV is another voice in the effort to promote a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle, so take a look if you like. A permanent link is over in the blogroll for future reference.