In Times of Disaster, Animals Need Your Help More Than Ever

 

The fires in Southern California are wreaking havoc on both wild and domestic animals. Some fires are moving at the rate of one acre per second, consuming everything in their paths. Fleeing animals can’t outrun the flames and are being burned alive or suffocating from smoke inhalation. My heart breaks because they are confused, frightened, and have no place to go. More than anything in the world, I wish I could save them all.

The news today that 25 horses trapped in a barn perished, many burned alive, saddens and angers me. Someone could have given those horses a chance to live by simply opening the latch to let them run free. Why must some people think only of themselves? Such selfishness and lack of caring disgusts me.

I have been volunteering at the Last Call animal shelters, trying to reunite lost cats and dogs with their owners. I’m also helping dozens of volunteers wash animals being brought in completely covered with ash. We’re flushing out their eyes with warm water since animals are incapable of doing that for themselves. The animals are crying and shaking; it’s so very, very sad. We’re doing what we can by giving them loving kindness and comfort.

I urge anyone who can make the time to volunteer at your local animal rescue. Even in non-emergency times and locations, animals need you to help them find safe and loving adoptive homes.

Humans who have lost their homes can rebuild, but poor animals are dying by the thousands in fear, pain, and misery.

All of us must be stewards of the earth’s animals. They are so innocent and need us to love them, adopt them, and NOT to eat them.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

Fish Are Intelligent and Social Animals – and Killed by the Billions Each Year

These images are from the animated series “Sealab 2020,” which ran from 1972 to 1973. The series was produced by Hanna-Barbera, the same studio that produced classic cartoons such as “The Flintstones,” “Yogi Bear,” “The Jetsons,” and “Scooby-Doo,” I voiced several cartoon characters for Hanna-Barbera over the years; in “Sealab 2020” I played Sali Murphy, daughter of Captain Michael Murphy, commander of Sealab, a research base constructed on the Challenger Sea Mount, an underwater mountain, in the year 2020, then 48 years in the future. Sealab was home to 250 men, women, and children, and was dedicated to the study and protection of marine life.

The series was ahead of its time in developing stories around the destructive effects on sea life, marine mammals, and the environment of human activities such as commercial fishing, shipping, oil spills, and dumping of radioactive waste. At the time, I had no idea of the extent to which humans were – and are – trashing the oceans and causing harm to the living things in it. Most people don’t have much feeling for fish, but when you do some research you learn that they are highly intelligent creatures. Even before I became vegan, I never liked to eat fish after I witnessed a fish being pulled from its ocean home. I saw the sharp metal hook in its mouth, and the fish flapping around on the deck of the boat in panic and agony as it suffocated to death.

As an adult, I learned that fish are individuals who have their own unique personalities. Dive guides have been known to name friendly fish who follow divers around and enjoy being petted, just as dogs and cats do. Yet billions of fish die every year in nets, hooks, and on long lines.

According to Culum Brown, a researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, “fish are more intelligent than they appear. In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates.” In Fish and Fisheries, biologists wrote that fish are “steeped in social intelligence, pursuing Machiavellian strategies of reconciliation, exhibiting stable cultural traditions, and cooperating to inspect predators and catch food.”

Fish communicate through a range of low-frequency sounds from buzzes and clicks to yelps and sobs. These sounds, most of which are only audible to humans with the use of special instruments, communicate emotional states such as alarm or delight, and help with courtship.

While fish do not always express pain and suffering in ways that humans can easily recognize, scientific reports from around the world substantiate the fact that fish feel pain. Researchers from Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities studied the pain receptors in fish and found that they were strikingly similar to those of mammals. The researchers concluded that “fish do have the capacity for pain perception and suffering.”

Hooked fish struggle out of fear and intense physical pain. Once fish are taken out of their natural environment and pulled into ours, they suffocate. Their gills often collapse, and their swim bladders can rupture because of the sudden change in pressure.

The average U.S. consumer eats nearly 16 pounds of fish and shellfish every year. To meet this demand, U.S. commercial fishers reel in more than 8 billion pounds of fish and shellfish annually.

Commercial fishers use factory-style trawlers the size of football fields to catch fish. Miles-long nets stretch across the ocean, capturing every fish and marine mammal in their path. Fish are scraped raw from rubbing against the rocks and debris that are caught in the nets with them. Then they bleed or suffocate to death on the decks of the ships, gasping for oxygen and suffering for as long as 24 hours. Some fishing boats use gill nets, which ensnare every animal they catch, and fish are mutilated when they are extracted from the nets.

Longline fishing, in which 40 miles of monofilament fishing line dangles thousands of enormous, individually metal baited hooks to catch tuna and swordfish, drowns thousands of turtles and birds every year. Because of the fishing industry’s indiscriminate practices, the population of the world’s large predatory fish, such as swordfish and marlin, has declined by 90 percent since the advent of industrialized fishing.

Overfishing is threatening shark populations, too, with more than 100 million killed every year. One underwater photographer says that when he works off the north coast of New South Wales, he finds that “almost every second grey nurse shark… has a hook hanging out of its mouth, with a bit of trailing line following it.” Many sharks are the victims of “finning,” in which fishers catch sharks, haul them on deck, hack off their fins (for expensive shark fin soup), and toss the maimed, helpless animals back into the ocean to die in agony.

Like the flesh of other animals, the flesh of sea animals contains excessive amounts of protein, fat, and cholesterol.

What can you do? Never buy or eat fish. Grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and seeds provide all the essential amino acids you need. Vegetarian products like mock lobster, shrimp, and crab have all the taste of the “real thing” with none of the cruelty or contaminants. Omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease, can be found in flaxseeds, canola oil, nuts, and avocados. Recipes for fabulous, healthy, and animal-friendly vegetarian dishes, including faux fish sticks and sushi, can be found at VegCooking.com.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

Pigs: Clean, Intelligent – and Tortured on Factory Farms

Here I am with Wilbur in the animated movie “Charlotte’s Web.” The movie had an all-star cast: Debbie Reynolds voicing Charlotte the spider, Paul Lynde as Templeton the rat, Henry Gibson as Wilbur the pig, and Agnes Moorehead as the Goose. Then there was me; I did the voice of Fern, the little farm girl who saves Wilbur from her father’s axe!

The reason why I love this film so much is that it’s really an animal rights film. “Charlotte’s Web” depicts all the animals as having unique personalities as well as having the capacity to feel pain, sadness, fear, joy, and happiness. If you’ve never seen it, watch the movie on Netflix and you’ll understand exactly what I’m saying!

The movie opens with me as Fern, eating breakfast and seeing my father carrying an axe out to the barn. “Where’s Papa going with the axe?” I ask my mother, and she tells me a litter of piglets were born the previous night and he was going to kill the “runt.” I race to my father in tears, hoping to stop him. In my most favorite line from the movie, I ask him, “If I had been born a runt, would you have killed me?” And so begins the film and Fern’s and Wilbur’s loving, compassionate relationship.

I didn’t know at the time how horribly pigs are treated then killed to produce pork, but I had an innate sense that animals should not be killed, exploited or abused for a human’s pleasure. As Plutarch aptly expressed it, “But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and the light, and that proportion of life and time it had been born into this world to enjoy.”

Activists give water to overheated, dehydrated pigs crammed into a transport truck.

There’s an animal rights group in Los Angeles that waits outside an enormous slaughter facility where truckloads of poor, suffering pigs are brought to be butchered. When the trucks stop at the entrance, activists offer water to the pigs they can reach. The pigs are completely dehydrated, their skin burned from the long, grueling trip, and packed in the trucks so tightly they can’t even turn around.

Did you know that pigs are highly intelligent animals? Not that that should matter, but they are. Some very ignorant people believe pigs are dirty, but this is not true. The reason pigs love to take mud baths is that their skin, which is very sensitive, has no sweat glands, so the only way they can cool down is to roll in the mud. Wouldn’t you roll in something cool if you were unable to sweat?

Pigs are clever animals, as well as friendly, loyal, and intelligent. They are naturally very clean and avoid soiling their living areas. When they are not confined on factory farms, pigs spend hours playing, lying in the sun, and exploring their surroundings with their powerful sense of smell. On modern factory farms, these outgoing, sensitive animals spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy warehouses under the constant stress of intense confinement, denied everything that is natural and important to them.

Piglets struggle to be fed by their mother behind bars in a factory farm.

Mother pigs – sows – spend most of their miserable lives in tiny gestation and farrowing crates so small that they can’t turn around. They are impregnated again and again until their bodies give out and are then sent to slaughter. Piglets are torn away from their distraught mothers just a few weeks after birth. With no painkillers to ease their suffering, their tails are chopped off, the ends of their teeth are snipped off with pliers, and the males are castrated. The young pigs then spend their short lives in cramped, crowded pens atop slabs of filthy concrete.

When the time comes for slaughter, pigs are forcibly herded onto transport trucks that often travel for many miles exposed to all manner of weather. Many pigs die from heat exhaustion in the summer or arrive frozen to the inside of the truck in the winter. According to industry reports, more than one million pigs die in transport each year, and at least 40,000 sustain injuries by the time they arrive at the slaughterhouse. There at the slaughterhouse, due to improper stunning methods, many pigs are still conscious when they are dumped into tanks of scalding-hot water, which is intended to remove their hair and soften their skin. For more information, please see PETA’s eye-opening article on factory farming pigs.

What can you do to help put an end to this cruelty? The best way is to switch to consuming vegan foods. Please consider ordering PETA’s free vegan starter kit, which contains great tips and free recipes to help you make the transition to animal-friendly eating.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

The Carriage Industry Is Taking You for a Ride

Pictured here are two scenes from the Walt Disney movie “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band.” In the first, I am riding in a horse-drawn wagon with my movie dad Buddy Ebsen and brother John Walmsley; in the other, I and all my movie siblings ride in a carriage with our grandpa, Walter Brennan.

In another essay on this site I posted a photo of me posed on a large horse when I was very young, and told you about the horrible cruelty of horse racing. Today I’d like to say a few words about the cruelty of horse-drawn carriages on our streets, like those in New York City.

I’ve always felt sad for the carriage horses, plodding along wearily on the streets as buses and cars go whizzing by, just inches away. Carriage horses are forced to pull heavy loads in extreme weather, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement day in and day out until they get old, injured, or sick, after which they’re sent to the slaughterhouse. These horses lead very sad lives. From constant walking and standing on hard streets, lameness and hoof deterioration are inevitable in carriage horses. Many develop respiratory ailments from breathing in exhaust fumes, and suffer debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. Weather conditions, too, can prove fatal for working horses. Carriage horses are exposed to long shifts in bitter cold and wet weather in the winter, and scorching heat and debilitating humidity in the summer. Many drop dead on the city streets from dehydration and heatstroke.

A carriage horse dies on the streets of New York.

In an audit of the New York carriage industry, the city’s comptroller found that horses on the street did not have ready access to water, had insufficient shade during hot weather, and that, because of poor street drainage, “the horses are left to stand in pools of dirty water.”

People around the world are increasingly recognizing that it’s the carriage industry – not just the horses – taking them for a ride. Please don’t patronize carriage rides, and explain to family and friends why they shouldn’t, either. If your city allows carriages on city streets, urge your legislators to propose legislation that will ban them.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

Racehorses Never Win

Here I am at the age of 4 or 5 up on a very large horse!! I might be smiling but, boy, was I scared. I didn’t have to be; horses, like many large mammals, are gentle giants. But maybe because I was so tiny, I felt really frightened. I was able to cover up my fear because at 6 I got a part where I rode one on an episode of “Branded,” starring Chuck Connors. I was around horses while filming the movie “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band,” as well as the Walt Disney TV movie, “Smoke,” starring Ronny Howard. When filming the series “Lassie,” I rode a horse regularly; by that time I was pretty much over my fear of riding.

As an adult, I completely overcame my fear of horses and learned a lot about them in the process. Horses are herd animals. They naturally want to be around other horses, graze in meadows, trot great distances, play and court, but they suffer greatly when used to pull carriages around busy city streets, as in New York, or are made to race around tracks.

Behind the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. Horses who weigh at least 1,000 pounds are supported by ankles the size of a human’s, and are forced to run around dirt tracks at speeds of more than 30 miles an hour while carrying a rider on their backs. Celebrated filly Eight Belles was euthanized on the track after breaking both front ankles during the 2008 Kentucky Derby; her poor ankles couldn’t sustain her running that fast. At another race, a horse named Appeal to the City hemorrhaged around her eye when jockey Jeremy Rose “engaged in extreme misuse of the whip.” In his Kentucky Derby win, American Pharaoh was struck with a whip at least 32 times by jockey Victor Espinoza. Pushed beyond their limits, most horses are subjected to cocktails of legal and illegal drugs intended to mask injuries and artificially enhance performance.

Racehorses are the victims of a multi-billion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and race fixing, and many horses’ careers end in slaughterhouses. Horses used for racing are forced to sprint — often under the threat of whips and even illegal electric-shocking devices — at speeds so fast that they frequently sustain injuries and even hemorrhage from the lungs. While spectators show off their fancy outfits and sip mint juleps, horses are running for their lives.
Coming up soon: me in another riding role and the horribly sad and lonely life of carriage horses. I hope all who read these posts learn something they didn’t know about animals, and share them with their friends and co-workers. We all need to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

Thinking About Adding a Friend to Your Household? Adopt and Save a Life!

Here I am, playing with my beloved Dalmatian, Tabathena, when she was a puppy. When I first got her, I didn’t know she was completely deaf. Unable to hear me, she always looked at me intensely and learned to know by the expression on my face what I wanted her to do. When we walked together, Tabathena would always look behind to see where I was and where I was going, and was so attentive that she didn’t even need a leash. Because of her behavior we finally figured out that she couldn’t hear, but that didn’t affect my affection for her, it actually only increased it.

I loved taking Tabathena on walks around the neighborhood. We lived in a very private and quiet neighborhood at the foot of the Hollywood Hills where there was practically no traffic. It was a part of the “Old Hollywood.” Famous directors and actors lived there before Beverly Hills became fashionable. I didn’t have many friends, so afternoons I wasn’t working, rehearsing, or going out on interviews, I would take Tabathena and walk around the neighborhood. I would pass by and sometimes even walk across the large estates in neighborhood, like that of legendary director Cecil B DeMille. Just a few months ago, Angelina Jolie bought the DeMille estate for 23 million dollars. Charlie Chaplin’s property was next to DeMille’s. Other actors who lived at one time in the neighborhood included Mary Pickford and Carole Lombard. I had a friend who lived in the house formerly owned by W. C. Fields; when she and her family moved away, they sold the house to Lily Tomlin.

When I was an adult I learned that Dalmatians are so inbred that many are deaf. Because the sound of sirens will make most dogs howl cringe in pain, Dalmatians, because of their deafness, made ideal mascots on fire engines. I got Tabathena from a litter from a dog owned by my sister Wendy’s friend. The friend’s family bred Dalmatians. Always feeling sorry for the smallest and weakest, I chose the runt of the litter. I didn’t realize at the time that one should never get their dogs, cats, puppies, or kittens from a breeder or pet shop. Besides the fact that purebreds have a lot of health issues, buying a companion animal from a breeder or pet shop takes away the chance to save a life of a wonderful animal who is desperately in need of a safe and loving home.

For years I have begged people who are looking to get a pet (companion animal) to do the ethical and compassionate thing and go directly to an animal shelter or a rescue and ADOPT their next best friend. If for some reason they want a purebred dog or cat, there are “breed rescues” as well as many purebred dogs and cats in shelters and at www.petfinders.com.

Did you know that animal shelters kill healthy, wonderful dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens? One reason is that too many people don’t spay/neuter their pets, and when those pets have litters, these babies end up in the “pound.” Another, as I said, is that when people buy instead of adopting, homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are left at shelters to die. I’ve seen with my own eyes dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds with a rope around their necks, tied to a shelter wall, waiting in line to be taken into the kill room; their little legs shaking. Some of them cry with fear and anxiety. It was witnessing that that gave me the impetus to try to educate the public to adopt companion animals and steer them away from breeders and pet shops.

For more information, please read my essay, “Your Animals are Cutered When They’re Neutered” on my website www.PamelynFerdin.com.

Thinking about adding a friend to your household? Adopt and save a life! Thank you.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

Adopt from a City or County Shelter or Rescue Organization and Save a Life!

When I was four years old I guest-starred on a television show called “The Littlest Hobo.” The Littlest Hobo was a homeless German Shepherd who wandered the Canadian countryside getting involved in all kind of adventures. I guess you could say the show was Canada’s answer to “Lassie.” I played a little girl who gets lost and is found by The Littlest Hobo and, thanks to his intelligence and determination, is reunited with her parents.

Even as a four-year-old, I had a very strong connection to animals. I instinctively knew that animals were smart, loving beings. In the show, there was a scene where I was supposed to have fallen halfway down a steep embankment and was clinging precariously to a bush above a rushing river. The scene called for the dog, whose real name was London, to rescue me by clenching my arm with his teeth and pulling me up the embankment to safety. The wardrobe gal wrapped my arm in a thick bandage, concealed under my clothing and a thick sweater. I wasn’t scared, I knew I had a job to do.

In rehearsing the scene, the director explained to me that I couldn’t “help” London by using my legs to push myself up the embankment, I had to act like a “rag doll” and let London do all the work. But poor London would not clench my arm in his teeth. I’m sure he was afraid he’d hurt me. It took some doing, but finally London’s trainer got him to grip my arm with his teeth and pull me up the embankment, upon which the director called out “Print!”

When my sweater and the wrapping were removed, I had teeth marks on my arm! But I knew that the only reason London gripped me so hard, was because the trainer had forced him and belittled him to do what he instinctively did not want to do; London was a gentle soul.

If you’re looking for a companion animal like London, please adopt from your city or county shelter or contact a rescue organization; never buy from a breeder or pet shop. Five million healthy, loving, darling cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens are killed in shelters (pounds) every year in America because not enough people adopt them. When you adopt, you truly are saving a life!

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

New York Joins L.A. in Banning the Use of Wild or Exotic Animals in Entertainment

 

I photographed these beautiful animals in their natural and rightful habitat on a trip to Africa.

VICTORY! Just two months after the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban the exploitation of wild or exotic animals for entertainment or amusement, the New York City Council made history on June 21, 2017, by voting 43-6 in favor of Intro 1233A, which prohibits circuses with wild animal acts from performing in New York City.

Animals aren’t actors, objects to be imprisoned and gawked at, or circus clowns. Yet thousands of these animals are forced to perform painful and confusing “tricks” by means of physical punishment, being beaten and stabbed with bullhooks or tormented with electrical prods. These poor animals are hauled across the country in cramped and airless railroad boxcars or tractor-trailer trucks, kept chained or caged in barren, mind-numbing, filthy enclosures, and separated from their families and friends, all for the sake of human “entertainment.” Most of these animals live shortened life spans; many die still in chains.

Now we can add New York City to the growing list of cities and counties that will not allow this abuse to continue. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several counties in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Idaho, and North Carolina have also said NO to wild animals in circuses. That’s a huge step in the right direction!

Hopefully NYC will now turn their attention to the plight of the city’s poor, sad carriage horses who suffer and routinely drop dead on the streets of our nation’s biggest metropolis.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

Los Angeles Bans the Use of Wild or Exotic Animals in Entertainment

Protesting in Los Angeles against the use of animals in entertainment.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on April 25, 2017 to ban the use of wild or exotic animals for entertainment or amusement, passing a motion by Council member David Ryu that affects circuses, other wild animal shows, displays in public areas such as sidewalks and parks, and rentals for parties or events. Los Angeles becomes the largest municipality in the United States to take such action.

I am so very thankful to the City Council for this ban! I can only hope all cities across the country – and the world – follow in Los Angeles’ footsteps.

Animals aren’t actors, spectacles to be imprisoned and gawked at, or circus clowns. Yet thousands of these animals are forced to perform confusing and silly tricks by using physical punishment such as hitting them with bull hooks or tormenting them with electrical prods. These poor animals are hauled across the country in cramped and airless railroad boxcars or tractor-trailer trucks, kept chained or caged in barren, mind-numbing, filthy enclosures, and separated from their families and friends, all for the sake of human “entertainment.” Most of these animals live shortened life spans; many die still in chains.

Now – at least in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several counties in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Idaho, and North Carolina – this sort of animal abuse won’t be allowed to continue. That’s a huge step in the right direction!

I would be grateful if all who read this post, even those who don’t live in L.A., could take a moment to email the members of the Los Angeles City Council to thank them for their vote and urge them to follow up by drafting the strongest possible ordinance. Feel free to copy mine, or use your own words. Email addresses are listed at the bottom of this post. Thank you!

Dear Council Member,

Thank you for your courage and compassion in voting in favor of the ban on using wild or exotic animals for entertainment in the City of Los Angeles. I urge you and the rest of the Council to draft and approve the strongest and most widely-reaching ordinance to effect this ban.

L.A. City Council members:

David Ryu:
councilmember.ryu@lacity.org

Nury Martinez:
councilmember.martinez@lacity.org

Paul Krekorian:
councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org

Bob Blumenfield:
councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org

Paul Koretz:
councilmember.koretz@lacity.org

Marqueece Harris-Dawson:
councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org

Curren D. Price, Jr.:
councilmember.price@lacity.org

Herb J. Wesson, Jr.:
councilmember.wesson@lacity.org

Mike Bonin:
councilmember.bonin@lacity.org

Mitchell Englander:
councilmember.englander@lacity.org

Mitch O’Farrell:
councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org

Jose Huizar:
councilmember.huizar@lacity.org

Joe Buscaino:
councilmember.buscaino@lacity.org

 

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

 

Say NO to Animal Testing!

Here I am holding a rabbit on an episode of “Space Academy.” I remember that rabbit because I could tell he was scared, so I picked him up and held him in my arms and he relaxed.

You know, I’m against vivisection, experimentation on animals. Did you know that product testing labs are STILL vivisecting thousands upon thousands of innocent animals?

Because they are mild-tempered and easy to handle, confine, and breed, rabbits are frequent victims of animal experimenters; more than 170,000 of them are abused in U.S. laboratories every year.

Despite the availability of more modern, humane, and effective alternatives, rabbits are still tormented in the notorious Draize eye irritancy test, in which cosmetics, dishwashing liquid, drain cleaner, and other substances are dripped into the animals’ eyes, often causing redness, swelling, discharge, ulceration, hemorrhaging, cloudiness, or blindness. After the experiments are over the rabbits are killed. In addition, even though internationally-accepted non-animal methods exist, rabbits’ backs are shaved and corrosive chemicals are applied to their raw skin in skin corrosion tests and left there for up to two weeks. These chemicals often burn the skin, leading to tissue damage. The victims of these tests are given no pain relief during this excruciatingly painful experience and, again, after the test is finished, they are killed.

Horrific experiments like those above are being done to cats, dogs, primates, and other animals by laboratories around the world. Please say NO to vivisection and boycott any products that have been tested on animals. Look for products packaged with the symbol that says, “NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS.”

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!