For Turkeys and Those Who Care, Thanks-Grieving Day Nears

For me and others who care about animals, and for millions of turkeys, Thanksgiving Day is Thanks-GRIEVING Day.

When I was little, I, too, ate a turkey dinner at Thanksgiving. But I couldn’t bear to watch my mother prepare it. I recognized the turkey as a dead bird, and the sight of tits pale, cold skin with little pimples where the feathers had been made me cringe and seeing my mother stuff its bloody organs along with breadcrumbs into the gaping hole where its head used to be made me feel ill. It saddens me that when the turkey came out of the oven, I was able to put those images out of my mind and eat it along with the rest of the family. I was a child then, but as an adult I know better.

This Thanksgiving, around 46 million turkeys will be murdered and eaten. A month later millions more will be slaughtered to celebrate a season dedicated to peace and good will. How sad and ironic.

Turkeys are beautiful, intelligent, and sensitive birds. Under natural conditions, turkey hens are devoted mothers who care diligently for their babies. Mother turkeys are fiercely protective of their young and will risk their lives to save their babies.

When trust has been established between a human and a turkey, they love to be petted for long periods of time. When receiving such affection, many turkeys make a sound that can only be described as “purring.” Turkeys rescued by sanctuaries, even those who have known great cruelty at human hands, will happily sit for hours having their tummy rubbed.

Male turkeys, called toms, love to feel noticed and admired. Toms at sanctuaries are known to follow busy human caretakers from chore to chore, standing off to the side, puffing out their exquisite feathers in a blast of scalloped ruffles, quietly and patiently anticipating the prospect for attention.

But few turkeys enjoy such loving, caring treatment, for most live excruciatingly painful lives at factory farms or on oxymoronically-named “humanely-raised” farms. On these farms, turkeys are artificially inseminated, the industry euphemism for being held upside down, struggling, while a syringe of semen is pushed into their vaginas. They and their offspring have been bred to grow so unnaturally fast and heavy that their bones are too weak to support their weight. They suffer from leg deformities, arthritis and joint pain almost from birth, resulting in lameness so severe that they are sometimes forced to walk on their wings to reach food and water.

Turkeys are packed by the thousands into long, windowless buildings, where they breathe ammonia fumes and irritating dust that lead them to develop respiratory diseases. Forced to live in their own urine and excrement, they develop grossly ulcerated feet, blistered breasts, and ammonia-burned eyes and throats.

Although turkeys have claws, under natural conditions and with proper living space, they will not use their claws against others, but subjected to overcrowding and brutal handling at turkey farms, stressed turkeys use their thick nails to defend themselves. Because of this, turkey farmers use shears to cut off – without anesthesia – not just the nails, but the first and second digits of the turkey’s toes so they will not grow back. Disregard what you may believe about “humane” farms or “free-range” turkeys; the same painful brutality is performed on those birds. The open wounds often get infected and swell, making it incredibly painful for the turkeys to walk. I’ve visited rescued turkeys at sanctuaries and seen for myself their terribly deformed feet and the swollen stumps of what used to be their toes.

The cruel practice of debeaking – done also on chicken farms – is performed while the turkeys are still chicks. Debeaking is done using sharp shears, a heated blade, or a high-voltage electrical current. Turkeys’ beaks are loaded with sensory receptors, much like human fingertips, and this painful procedure severs and exposes nerves. Some turkeys starve to death before they are able to eat again; others die of shock during the procedure. Not only are debeaked turkeys painfully mutilated, but as birds who use their beaks to preen, groom, peck and eat, those who survive the procedure suffer tremendously for being unable to do these natural activities.

Before a turkey arrives in your grocer’s freezer case, they are forced through several stations along a gruesome assembly line at the slaughterhouse. The process begins by shackling the birds by their feet before dragging them upside down through an electrified water bath designed to stun them. From there their throats are cut by an automated blade. But this assembly line of death moves so quickly that many of the turkeys are not properly stunned. Still flapping and writhing, they miss the blade, and remain alive as they and those before them are dropped into the scalding tank, designed to loosen their feathers for easy removal. Any turkeys still living are boiled alive.

None of this is at all festive, and none of it bespeaks thankfulness, home, or family. As compassionate people, can’t we reevaluate the systematic suffering and merciless killing of billions of animals in the name of tradition?

Now that you know the truth behind a Thanks-Grieving dinner, here’s a short, uplifting video about Hildy, a turkey rescued from a commercial farm who was lucky enough to live out her life with people who loved her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSDCrL6eSvY&sns=em

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

November Is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Sure you can, but really, why would you want to? Old dogs (and cats) are perfect just the way they are.

November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. It’s a sad fact that older animals have the hardest time finding homes and are often the first to be killed at city and county shelters. But there are so many reasons that older animals make ideal companions. Here are just a few:

Older pets are typically calmer than curious puppies and kittens and are quite content with a more relaxing day-to to-day routine. The mellow nature of older pets makes them a great fit for households with children too. Before ending up in shelters, senior pets often come from some sort of family life which makes adjusting to a new home environment much easier than it could be for puppies or kittens.

Senior dogs and cats are often already trained (and potty trained) and may even be pros at performing basic commands. The great news is that even if they’re not, they are much easier to train than younger animals. Their experience around humans, along with more established physical and mental abilities, allow them to better understand the requested commands and pick up new tasks much faster than puppies or kittens.

Senior animals don’t require the constant attention required young ones. Of course, they still love to play and go for walks, they just don’t require as much of your focus and energy. All they really want is a warm and comfortable place to sleep, fresh food and water, and a companion to love and one who will love them back. If you want an animal friend who can fit right in the moment he or she comes home, a senior dog or cat might be just what you’re looking for.

Last, but far from least, by adopting a senior pet or any animal – you are giving the gift of life. Animals, old and young, are dumped at city and county shelters every day, and, sadly, many will never leave alive. Doesn’t every animal deserve a chance at a loving and caring home?

Thinking about adding an animal companion to your household? Adopt and save a life – and why not adopt a grateful and loving older animal?

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

Drowning in an Ocean of Plastic

Here I am at the age of seven modeling for a soft drink ad. I can’t help but have mixed feelings about this image. On the one hand, my picture was being used to encourage people to buy sugary soft drinks, something I would never do today, but on the other hand, at least I’m not using a plastic straw. Today we understand that disposable plastic straws and other plastic waste have contributed to the pollution of the Earth’s oceans and the deaths of millions of sea animals.

A massive tangle of human-generated plastic waste called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, twice the size of the state of Texas, floats in the ocean between California and Hawaii. Similar patches cover other parts of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, and the Caribbean Sea. These enormous islands of plastic trash cover an increasingly large portion of the earth’s ocean surface.

Maybe you’ve seen the photos of sea turtles grown deformed, stuck in the plastic rings from a six-pack of beer, or dead fish washing up on beaches, their digestive systems clogged with plastic microfibers. Perhaps you’ve seen dolphins tangled in discarded plastic commercial fishing lines, or pelicans, their crops full of plastic bottles and bags.

Fish, turtles, mammals, and seabirds suffer pain and illness from ingesting plastic. Plastic ingestion also reduces the storage volume of their stomachs, causing starvation. It’s estimated that 60% of all seabird species have eaten pieces of plastic, with that number predicted to increase to 99% by 2050. 100% of sea turtles have plastic in their digestive systems. Marine mammals also ingest and get tangled up in plastic, leading to the decline of already endangered species like monk seals and stellar sea lions. Dead whales have been found with bellies full of plastic.

The following facts shed more light on how plastic waste is killing wildlife all over the world:

  1. Of the eight million metric tons of plastic dumped every year into the Earth’s oceans, 236,000 tons are microfibers, tiny pieces of plastic smaller than your little fingernail.
  2. The amount of plastic in the oceans, if unchecked, will increase tenfold by 2020.
  3. At our current rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean, by weight, than there are fish.
  4. The likelihood of coral becoming diseased increases from 4% to 89% after coming in contact with marine plastic. It also damages the skin of coral, allowing infection. Coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life.
  5. Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet. They carry about 50% of global production of photosynthesis and support the greatest biodiversity on Earth. They are the “lungs of the planet.” Islands of plastic stretch deep beneath the ocean’s surface, blocking sunlight to where it’s needed by sea plants necessary to replenish the water with oxygen. All animals, even those living in the sea, need oxygen to survive.

Cities, counties, and states from coast to coast have begun to join the world’s nations in banning single-use plastic goods to curb the rate at which we are poisoning our oceans. This summer Stafford Township, New Jersey, and Santa Barbara, California, joined others in banning plastic bags, wrappers and drinking straws. Recycling hasn’t helped; most of these items are discarded by thoughtless consumers rather than recycled.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 33 million tons of plastic, most of which was not recycled, was thrown away last year by Americans. Worldwide the amount is staggering: 6.9 billion tons of plastic became trash last year, with 6.3 billion tons not recycled. The numbers are staggering and appalling.

It’s not hard to avoid or cut down on using disposable plastic. Instead of buying juice in a plastic bottle, buy it in a cardboard container. Instead of using plastic utensils when you eat at a fast food restaurant, bring your own washable, reusable utensils. How about using wooden chopsticks? Keep a few biodegradable straws in your car; paper, bamboo, and reusable straws are readily available in many places, including on Amazon. Become more aware of all the plastic you use and look into environmentally-friendly alternatives. Let’s take back our oceans from thoughtless individuals and profit-hungry corporations who don’t care about the destruction of life on our planet.

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

 

 

Tips for an Animal-Friendly Halloween

Just before Halloween in 1969, “Peanuts” director Bill Melendez accompanied me and a photographer to a pumpkin stand on Pico Boulevard. “Let’s see a beautiful smile, my Lucy,” Melendez said, “for the Great Pumpkin.” The photo was used to promote the upcoming release of the movie “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”

TIPS FOR AN ANIMAL-FRIENDLY HALLOWEEN

Halloween can be a treat but keeping animals safe doesn’t have to be tricky. Here are some tips for making your Halloween fun and animal-friendly.

Keep candy out of reach of animals

The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not animals. Lots of common Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats, and sugar-free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol can cause serious problems in pets. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian immediately.

Better yet, have a vegan Halloween

Vegan Halloween treats aren’t hard to come by. There are plenty of plant-based, cruelty-free options available right in the middle of the candy aisle of your local supermarket. The following candy brands are all vegan and widely available in grocery or convenience stores, making them ideal for hungry trick-or-treaters. While these brands are vegan, be sure to double check the ingredients before purchasing. Do the same with any special Halloween versions of these products, as this sometimes means a change in the standard recipe.

Vegan candies: Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers, Cracker Jack, Gummi Bears, Swedish Fish, Skittles, Mamba Fruit Chews, Sour Patch Kids, Dots, Smarties, Sweet Tarts.

When shopping for vegan Halloween candy, avoid the following ingredients associated with animal cruelty:

Dairy: Found mostly in chocolate and caramel products, this can also be described as milkfat, whey, or caesin.

Gelatin: A common ingredient in gummy candies, gelatin is made from animal tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Shellac: Also known as “confectioner’s glaze,” this glossy product is created using the excretions of certain insects.

Carmine: Usually found in bright red products, carmine is a pigment made by crushing the shell of a female cochineal insect.

Eggs: Obviously not plant-based!

Of course, an even healthier alternative would be sweet and delicious dried fruits, like raisins, berries, and plantain chips, also readily available in every supermarket.

Watch the decorations and keep wires out of reach

While a carved jack-o-lantern may be festive, pets can accidentally knock over a lit pumpkin and start a fire. Curious puppies and kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or singed by candle flame. Decorative Halloween plants like gourds and multi-colored corn are considered relatively nontoxic but can produce stomach discomfort in your animal companions who nibble on them.

Skip the costumes for your animal companions

For many dogs and cats, wearing a costume can cause undue stress and discomfort. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume; consider limiting his or her “costume” to a safely-tied, colorful bandana. If you insist on dressing an animal for Halloween, make sure the costume does not restrict his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Know, too, that ill-fitting outfits can get caught on things, leading to injury.

Keep pets calm and easily identifiable

Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and too many strangers can often be scary and stressful for your pets. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog or cat doesn’t dart outside. And always make sure he or she is wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost animal friend. Make sure the collar is fitted properly, too. Too tight, and breathing is restricted; too loose, and curious animals who explore tight places head-first can get caught and strangle. If you can slip two fingers easily between the collar and your pet’s neck, that’s just right.

Recycle your pumpkins for homeless animals

Stop! Don’t throw away that carved pumpkin when Halloween is over! Hollowed-out pumpkins make safe, warm, and edible housing for small animals. I leave mine in the woods. Check back days later, and you’ll often find a chipmunk or other small animal has moved in. Squirrels, rabbits, and other animals may make a holiday feast of your discarded pumpkin, too.

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

 

Raced to Death: The Savage “Sport” of Greyhound Racing Must End

A possum, alive and struggling, her baby still clinging to her back, is tied to the lure arm along the rail. Behind the starting gate a dozen or so greyhounds wait, their eyes fixed straight ahead, their lean and muscular bodies taut with anticipation. The lure arm begins to move along the rail. As it passes the gate, a buzzer sounds. The gate doors fly open and the dogs explode onto the track at breakneck speed. After several laps, the lure arm slows to a halt. The baby possum is nowhere to be seen, having been hurled off somewhere along the track, her brains dashed out on the hard earth or perhaps trampled to death. The mother possum is still alive but limp; her spinal cord has been snapped in half. She squeals. “It’s crying,” someone says. “It’s lost its baby.” The track owner chuckles and removes the dying animal from the armature.

A piglet used as live bait in training racing greyhounds. Before the race is over, he will die.

This grisly scene is from a segment on the current affairs program, Four Corners, which aired not long ago on Australian television. The program included graphic footage, including the scene above, filmed secretly by animal activists that revealed the use of live animals including possums, rabbits, piglets, and kittens, in training racing greyhounds in three Australian states, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. The practice is called live baiting, and it is not only bloodthirsty, it is illegal. The program included interviews with a number of leading greyhound trainers and track owners who denied the existence of live baiting, but there it was on film, and many of those doing the denying were shown to be involved in the bloody practice.

The public and political reaction to the revelations was swift and widespread. At least one major corporate sponsor has withdrawn its support of greyhound racing in Australia. In Queensland, 13 trainers are under investigation. In New South Wales, the board of Greyhound Racing and a former Justice of the High Court of Australia was appointed to lead a review of the greyhound racing industry in that state. Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, have launched inquiries of their own. Incredibly, at least one prominent politician has directed his criticism not at the trainers but at the activists who trespassed to record the damning footage.

This heinous practice of live baiting is illegal in the United States, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening right here at home. In 2002, one Arizona greyhound breeder lost his state license when racing commission officials found 180 rabbits on his property. A Texas breeder had his license revoked when authorities came into possession of video showing him baiting greyhounds with live rabbits on his farm. The breeder was initially charged with cruelty to animals, but his case was dismissed by a judicial system that typically protects those who profit from animal cruelty. It’s an outrage.

A 2011 FBI investigation into live baiting at a major breeding farm in West Virginia was not pursued to completion. Instead, the man who recorded video exposing the live baiting and other abuses at the farm was sentenced to six months in prison. The sadistic criminals involved in this terrible cruelty will do everything in their power to cover up these horrific crimes.

“Bait” animals are not the only victims of the dog racing industry. Greyhounds themselves — naturally gentle dogs — are often kept in brutal and deplorable living conditions. Live baiters taunt and incite their dogs to chase, attack, and ultimately kill small animals. When the tired and used up greyhounds can no longer run fast, they’re killed.

There has been some progress. In 40 states, commercial dog racing is now illegal. But in seven states – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas, and West Virginia – greyhound racing remains legal and operational. And for the poor animals forced to run, deadly.

In February 2015, the greyhound advocacy group GREY2K USA and the ASPCA released the first-ever national report on greyhound racing in the United States. The detailed report chronicles thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths of greyhounds in those seven states. The report was mailed to state lawmakers and opinion leaders to urge them to bring an end to this inherently cruel “sport.” The report revealed that greyhounds injured while racing between 2008 and 2014 numbered close to 12,000. Injuries included severed toes, broken legs, spinal cord paralysis, broken necks, heatstroke, electrocution, and cardiac arrest. Additionally, 16 racing greyhounds in Alabama and Florida tested positive for cocaine in their bloodstream.

There is hope for greyhounds. Since 1991, 41 dog tracks have closed or discontinued live racing, and the greyhound racing industry has seen a sharp financial decline. Over the past decade, gambling on dog racing has dropped 66%. But we cannot afford to wait – in the first half of 2018, 163 greyhounds were injured on American dog tracks and 53 were killed during a race.

Let us work together to put an end to greyhound racing in the United States. Here’s how you can help:

  • Do not patronize greyhound races, bet on greyhound races, or support those states that host greyhound racing.
  • If you live in one the seven states where greyhound racing is still in operation contact your state legislators and insist they act now to put an end to this cruel competition. If you live in the Sunshine State, know that 12 of the 18 dog tracks still in operation in the United States are located in Florida.
  • Join with the fine organizations who are already working to end greyhound racing by educating the public and pressing for legislation. GREY2K USA is devoted to this cause.

At individual tracks all over the country, the moment that racing season is over, hundreds of dogs are immediately in need of placement. Thankfully, there are greyhound rescue groups that go to the tracks and rescue as many as possible. Several rescue organizations even fly their own planes around the country and to Mexico to save greyhounds from being killed. Until greyhound racing is banned altogether, at least we can insure that fewer retired greyhounds will be put to death by finding good homes for these gentle, low-maintenance, family-friendly animals.

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

In loving memory of Chester Riis, retired racer and gentle soul.

California Bans Cosmetics Tested on Animals

Thanks to SB 1249, the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, just signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, cosmetics tested on animals will no longer be allowed to be sold in California. Beginning in January 2020 (why not 2019?), to do business in the world’s fifth-largest economy, cosmetics manufacturers will have to stop subjecting animals to unspeakable cruelty and death in testing their products and their ingredients. This is not only good news for animals and those who care about animals, but for consumers as well. Using animals to conduct safety testing is flawed science, because differences between species, and even between animals in the same species, are subject to variances in absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of chemicals, and lead to flawed and generally useless results regarding humans.

Even though animal testing is NOT required by law, companies still choose to torture, maim, and kill animals by the hundreds of thousands each year in the United States, even though there are much better alternatives to animal testing.  The animals most frequently used for these horribly cruel tests are mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, monkeys and beagles. Yes, because of their docile nature, beagles, like my friend Snoopy, are also often used for testing. In tests of cosmetic products and ingredients, animals suffer through painful and often bizarre tests for skin irritation, eye irritation and any kind of toxicity. In these tests, the animals have chemicals forced down their throats, into their eyes and onto their shaved skin to document their reaction. Lethal dose tests, in which large amounts of a test chemical are forced through a tube down the throats of animals are conducted to see how much and long it takes for the animal to die. These animal tests result in immense pain, distress, blindness, swollen eyes, sore and bleeding skin, internal bleeding, organ damage, birth defects, convulsions and death. In a barbaric procedure called the Draize test, a solution of products is continuously dripped into the eyes of rabbits. The rabbit’s head is held in a restraining stock and clips placed on the poor animal’s eyelids to hold them open during the test period, which can last several days. The results are typically intense burning, itching, pain, and often blindness. The animals can’t do anything to stop their suffering because they can’t free themselves from the gruesome restraining stocks. In a Draize test for skin irritancy, the test substances are applied to the animal’s skin after it has been shaved and scraped raw. The suffering these animals are put through is too ghastly to comprehend. Animals that survive such tests are killed when the tests are done, their destroyed bodies thrown in the trash. Laboratory animals are not protected under the Animal Welfare Act.

Alternatives to using animals in testing include:

  • in vitro (test tube) test methods and models based on human cell and tissue cultures
  • computer models and simulations
  • stem cell testing methods
  •  the use of cornea-like 3D structures, which are produced from human cells. These human skin cultures can be grown specifically for cosmetic testing. This is a much more accurate alternative to pouring caustic chemicals into the eyes of terrified and suffering animals.

For more alternatives to animal testing go to https://www.neavs.org/alternatives/in-testing

California is not the first to ban the use of animals in cosmetics testing – animal testing has been banned in the European Union, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey. How sad that the United States has not seen fit to end the suffering and torment of testing on animals. Let’s hope California’s compassionate choice will lead the rest of the nation to put a stop to the horrific violence done in the name of human vanity. Please take a moment to let decision-makers know that no cosmetics product or ingredient is worth inflicting suffering on animals. Act now to stop cruel cosmetic tests on animals in the U.S. by going to this web site (https://support.peta.org/page/1879/action/1)  and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Presented below are two links that offer a list of companies who test on animals and those who don’t. But to ensure an absolute cruelty-free cosmetics collection, always look for the signature “cruelty-free” bunny logo.

Companies that DO:  https://www.peta.org/living/personal-care-fashion/beauty-brands-that-you-thought-were-cruelty-free-but-arent/

Companies that DO NOT: http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/cruelty_free_companies_search.aspx?Donottest=8

To learn more about California Bill SB1249 watch this video, produced by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfAdPJMvMdk&feature=youtu.be

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

Stop the Slaughter of Baby Seals

In 1963 I traveled to Canada to act in my first television role. I played Cindy, a little girl who climbs out of the back of her parents’ station wagon to retrieve the teddy bear she dropped. Her parents, unaware she’s missing, drive off leaving Cindy alone in the woods. The tiny girl is ultimately rescued and reunited with her parents thanks to a very special German Shepherd. The show was called The Littlest Hobo, and it was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Canada is a beautiful country, and home to extraordinary animals like grizzly bears, caribou, bison, and humpback whales. But Canada is also home to the shameful, brutal murder of hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals. It’s the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals in the world.

Every spring, soon after the babies are born, seal “hunters” go out onto the ice floes in the waters off Eastern Canada, and bludgeon and hack seal pups to death for their skins. They crack open their tiny skulls with heavy clubs and hack them to death with a type of pickaxe called a hakapik. There is nowhere for the pups to hide and no means of escape. The ice is stained red with the pups’ blood as their mothers bellow and moan pitifully for their slaughtered babies. Not only is the killing savagely brutal, post-mortem surveys show that more than 40% of these helpless white balls of fluff are skinned while they are still alive.

The Canadian government refuses to acknowledge their part in the savage killing, but it is the Canadian Coast Guard that relay the seals’ locations to the killers, and Canadian Coast Guard cutters that break through the ice to lead the killers to their innocent prey.

Activists like Paul Watson and his organization, Sea Shepherd, have led the fight against the Canadian seal kill. To thwart the killers and make the seal pups’ fur undesirable to them, they stain the pups with henna dye, painting a red stripe down their backs. A dyed baby seal is a seal who will live to grow up.

To hide Canada’s complicity in the slaughter from the rest of the world, the Canadian government has gone so far as to pass a law called, with colossal irony, the “Seal Protection Act,” which does nothing to protect seals and makes witnessing the seal kill by civilians a criminal offense. Taking photos or videotaping the seal killers as they club and hack baby seals to death will land you in jail.

Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd are not deterred, and risk prison to record the brutal killing and share the images they capture with the world. As a direct result, the United States, Mexico, India, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Switzerland, and the 27 nations of the European Union have banned trade in seal products. Thanks to the activists’ bravery and leadership, the worldwide market for seal products is fast collapsing.

Yet, Canada is not the only nation still engaged in the slaughter of baby seals for their skins. Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, and Namibia are, too. Please urge them to stop the slaughter by leaving a message at the Facebook pages for all those nations’ American embassies and consulates.

Canada: https://www.facebook.com/CanadaNY/

Russia: https://www.facebook.com/RusEmbUSA/

Norway: https://www.facebook.com/NorwegianEmbassyinWashington/

Finland: https://www.facebook.com/FinnEmbassyDC/

Iceland: https://www.facebook.com/swedeninusa/

Greenland (autonomous region of Denmark): https://www.facebook.com/DenmarkinUSA/

Sweden’s and Namibia’s embassies have no Facebook page, but you can contact them by email at:

ambassaden.washington@foreign.ministry.se

info@namibianembassyusa.org

 

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

California Hospitals and Prisons Now Offer Vegan Options

Dining out recently with my manager and co-author of my forthcoming memoirs, I had to have him take my picture with this great “Star Trek” poster. I love the message – Vulcans respected all forms of life, as should we all.

I am so pleased that California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a landmark bill that guarantees the state’s hospital patients and prison population a vegan option at every meal. “Whether to protect animals, our climate, or our health, those of us who choose to eat a vegan diet can celebrate today with Gov. Brown’s signing of SB 1138,” says State Senator Nancy Skinner, sponsor of the bill. “SB 1138 ensures that people in hospitals, healthcare facilities, or prison have access to plant-based meals.” Co-sponsoring the bill was the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation. State law will now require licensed California health care facilities and state prisons to make vegan meal options containing no animal products or by-products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, or eggs.

A vegan diet not only saves the lives of animals but promotes better health. I became vegan over twenty-five years ago after reading the books The Case for Animal Rights by Dr. Tom Regan and Diet for A New America by John Robbins, and by watching videos showing animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses. So gruesome were the images I saw, I could barely keep watching, but I had to know the truth behind what we eat. Everything I read and saw not only confirmed to me that all animals have the capacity to suffer, and they do – horribly, but also that animals have complex emotions and are much smarter than most people realize. I decided I simply couldn’t continue to participate in something that inflicts such fear, pain and suffering upon poor, innocent animals.

Pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and other animals raised for human consumption are horribly abused in factory farms and slaughterhouses, their throats cut, and their still living bodies hung upside down to bleed out, after which their corpses are cut up and delivered to meat packing plants. Fish are pulled from oceans and lakes and cut apart or left to die of suffocation on the bloody decks of fishing trawlers. Dairy cows are artificially inseminated by a machine known in the industry as a “rape rack,” and kept pregnant their whole miserable lives, pumped constantly for the milk created for their babies until they collapse from brittle, calcium-depleted bones. When their milk production declines, the poor cows, crying for their babies, are shipped in hot, crowded trucks and boxcars to the slaughterhouse. The cow’s female babies are destined for the “rape rack” just like their mothers, but her male babies are taken away, umbilical cord still hanging, and shipped off to veal farms. There they are chained by the neck so they can’t move and fed an anemic diet, so that their flesh is tender and white when they are slaughtered, still in infancy, to be processed as veal.

Dairy is an extremely cruel industry. I drink almond or soy milk and enjoy vegan cream cheese, vegan mayonnaise, and other vegan cheeses. I could go on and on. Google vegan substitutes for ANY animal product and you will find awesome alternatives. To learn more about opposing animal cruelty and choosing compassion (and better health, as well), please visit adaptt.org and get the brochure “Why Vegan” from veganoutreach.com

If you’re interested in watching some awesome documentaries about how to start the process towards veganism, see “Cowspiracy,” “Forks Over Knives,” and “What the Health.” For an even larger selection, go to https://nutriciously.com/best-vegan-documentaries/

A well-balanced vegan diet can easily provide all the nutrients we need to thrive. Government health experts worldwide are finally catching up with the large body of scientific evidence demonstrating that a vegan diet is not only a viable option for people of any age, but that eating plant foods instead of animal-based foods can confer significant health benefits, including reduction in incidence of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, and cancer.

Taxpayers benefit from the new law (studies show vegan meals cost about 50% less than meat entrees), patients and prisoners benefit, and most importantly, millions of animals’ lives will be saved.

Let’s urge every state to follow California’s lead and offer vegan meal options in every hospital and prison. In fact, let’s broaden the law. With childhood obesity a major issue in America today, isn’t it time schools were required to offer a vegan option, too?

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

Hunting Is Not a “Sport”

For several years I lived in Connecticut, where this photo was taken. It was there I was walking through the woods one winter’s day, appreciating the quiet and enjoying seeing the occasional animal leaving tracks in the snow as they scurried about looking for food. On my walk I encountered a hunter intent on “bagging” a deer, and though I begged him not to, he wasn’t interested in anything but bringing down a big deer just for the fun of it

As we spoke a beautiful red-tailed deer and her tiny faun stepped from behind some bushes. What a perfect picture of nature – a mama deer and her baby walking together through the snowy woods. The hunter raised his rifle and shot her through the neck. The shot reverberated through the woods, sending flocks of birds into the air and the baby deer running back into the bushes.

I wept for the deer and screamed at the hunter, asking how he could cold-bloodedly kill an innocent being who was simply taking care of her baby. As I sobbed, the hunter dragged the dead deer by her legs up the hill to the road leaving a trail of bright red blood in the snow. The little faun crept back out from the bushes and sniffed at the blood in the snow as she followed her dead mother. The hunter tried to scare the baby away by shouting and throwing things at her. But the little baby wouldn’t leave her mother even as her corpse was loaded into the back of a pickup truck. After the hunter drove away with his kill, the baby ran back into the woods. Too young to feed herself or keep herself warm, there’s no question she soon died, too. With one bullet, the hunter had killed two gentle souls.

For what? There’s no need for people in a civilized society to hunt anymore. Whether it’s in the woods of Connecticut or on the Serengeti plains, killing for pleasure as a “sport” or as a hobby is pure evil. The thrill hunters get from killing deer, bears, coyotes, wolves, lions, or elephants eludes me.

Hunters have invented all sorts of excuses to rationalize their murderous recreation.  Save the excuses – killing has no justification. Hunting has nothing to do with “conservation” or “population control;” nature has handled those matters quite well for millions of years without the “help” of humans. In nature, most animals self-regulate; at times of food scarcity, those animals cease to bear young. Left alone by humans, the delicate balance of nature’s ecosystems ensures the survival of most species.

Few things are uglier than the head or other body parts of a noble animal hacked off and hung on a wall or over a mantel. For their “trophies,” hunters typically seek out the largest, most robust animals, those needed to keep the gene pool strong. “Trophy hunting” weakens the rest of the species’ population. Elephant poaching is believed to have increased the number of tuskless animals in Africa, while in Canada, hunting has caused the horn size of the bighorn sheep to fall by 25% over the last 40 years. Nature magazine reports “the effect on the populations’ genetics is probably deeper.”

Hunting is not a “sport.” Real sports involve competition between consenting parties and don’t end with the slaughter of an unwilling participant.

Quick kills are rare in hunting, and many animals suffer prolonged, painful deaths when hunters severely injure but fail to kill them. Hunting also disrupts migration and hibernation patterns and destroys families. For animals such as wolves and geese, who mate for life and live in close-knit family units, hunting can devastate entire communities.

The fear and the inescapable, earsplitting noises from gunfire and other commotion that hunters create cause hunted animals to suffer tremendous stress. This severely compromises their routine and their eating habits, making it hard for them to store the fat and energy that they need to survive the winter. Loud noises can also disrupt mating rituals and can cause parent animals to flee their dens and nests, leaving their young vulnerable to natural predators. When animals are killed, families are broken up, leaving the young to perish of starvation, exposure, or attacks by other animals.

Hunters likewise often accidentally injure and kill animals other those they’re hunting, including horses, cows, dogs, and cats.  Dogs used for hunting are often kept chained or penned up when they’re not hunting, and much their lives are spent in miserable conditions.

Those who wish only to enjoy our country’s vanishing wilderness and the beauty of nature are often forced to share wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks, and other public lands with armed individuals on the hunt for animals to kill. Close to 40% of hunting in the United States is conducted on public lands, at the cost of millions of dead animals every year. Most federal and state agencies charged with managing wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks, and other public lands are funded in part by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and hunting tourism, and agencies now go out of their way to encourage these activities rather than regulate or police them. In fact, wildlife departments often kill majestic predators, such as wolves, bears, and coyotes, to increase the elk, caribou, and deer population in certain areas so hunters will have more of those animals to gun down. Talk about upsetting the balance of nature.

Before you support a “wildlife” or “conservation” group, ask first about its position on hunting. Some groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Izaak Walton League, the Wilderness Society, and the World Wildlife Fund are either in favor of “sport” hunting or make no effort to oppose it.

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

In Times of Natural Disaster, Animals Need Help, Too

Once again, major wildfires in California are wreaking havoc on both wild and domestic animals. Some fires are moving at the rate of 50 miles per hour, 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.

During the wildfires last December, I volunteered at the Last Call animal shelters, trying to reunite lost cats and dogs with their owners. I also helped dozens of volunteers wash animals being brought in completely covered with ash. We flushed out their eyes with warm water since animals are incapable of doing that for themselves. The animals were crying and shaking; it was so very sad. We did what we could 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.

Lost homes can be rebuilt but lives lost are gone forever. As you read this, 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, protect them, adopt them, and NOT to eat them.

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