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!

How to Buy Cruelty-Free

One episode of “Space Academy” featured a rabbit named Jumping Jupiter. Did you know there are a pair of rabbits that can help you select cruelty-free products when you’re shopping?

In the animal rights movement, cruelty-free is a label for products or activities that do not harm or kill animals. Products tested on animals are not considered cruelty-free, since these tests are horribly painful and cause the suffering and death of millions of animals every year. Every product, every action, and every lifestyle decision can be a choice to stop the immense suffering and death of animals who can’t speak up for themselves.

Animals such as rabbits, rats, mice and guinea pigs are kept in tiny cages and forced to eat or inhale toxic substances, or have cosmetic ingredients rubbed onto their shaved skin, eyes, or ears every day for 28 or 90 days to see if they have an allergic reaction. After these gruesome and archaic tests, the animals are killed and thrown away like yesterday’s garbage. These tests are also done with pregnant animals who, after much suffering, are killed along with the fetus. In more prolonged carcinogen tests, rats are force-fed a cosmetic’s ingredient over two years, and then killed.

Typically, a little rabbit, or other small animal is tightly constrained in a box so that he is completely unable to move. Clips hold his eyelids open. A disgusting “tester” puts a concentrated substance to the outer layer of the eye and observes over a span of days or weeks for responses such as blindness, bleeding, hemorrhaging and ulceration. Because the poor animals are unable to move, they can’t even scratch their eyes or skin. They are kept from moving for days and even weeks. After the test, the animals are killed.

Primates, dogs such as the beagle, and cats are used for ghastly invasive experimentation as well. Many laboratories use these species to test drugs and chemicals old and new, and to study the effects of disease.

There are several organizations working hard to get outdated animal testing replaced with quicker, cheaper, and more accurate methods. Alternatives to animal testing have shown results that are far more accurate to humans. Remember, the reactions of rabbits, mice, etc. cannot be extrapolated to a human. However, using human tissue as well as computer modeling, researchers can legitimately test how humans will respond. For example, reconstructed human epidermis—which uses human skin donated from cosmetic surgery to replace the hideous rabbit Draize skin test—is more relevant to human reactions. Other methods replace the Draize eye test by using in vitro (test-tube) human tissue. Computer-based systems allow for isolation of a select tissue or organ to conduct tests in an extremely controlled environment. These tests not only save millions of animal lives, but are more precise and accurate at protecting humans from toxic substances.

Companies now offer a wide range of cruelty-free products such as cosmetics, personal-care products, household cleaners, clothing, shoes, and candles (which usually use paraffin or beeswax). Organizations such as PETA, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and its offshoot organization Cruelty Free International, have issued lists of cruelty-free products to buy and cruel products to boycott. There is also the “Leaping Bunny” symbol or the PETA “Cruelty Free Bunny” logo that identifies products not tested on animals and manufactured without animal ingredients. More and more companies are now identifying on the packaging products that are “not tested on animals and no animal ingredients were used in the manufacturing of this product,” making it easier than ever to buy “cruelty free!”

Please visit these sites to learn about the products you can use that do NOT test on animals. The animals thank you!!

https://www.navs.org/what-we…/promote-cruelty-free-shopping/

https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/why-we-do-it/alternatives-animal-testing

https://www.mediapeta.com/peta/PDF/companiesdonttest.pdf

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

The Cruelty Behind “Cruelty-Free” Laboratory Meat

In the very first episode of Blondie, Cookie won’t eat her eggs. Who can blame her? Eggs are the product of a cruel and deadly industry. I like to think Cookie grew up to be vegan, just as the girl who played her did.

Millions have gone vegan in response of the horrific suffering imposed on animals, as well as for health and environmental reasons. For that reason, the merciless meat and dairy industries are running scared. Now they’ve come up with laboratory-grown, or cultured, “meat” as a substitute for the flesh of cows. They’re trying to peddle this lab-grown meat as a “cruelty-free” alternative, and it’s not just “cultured” beef vying for space restaurant menus – they’re also attempting to clone chicken breasts and fish fillets.

What they don’t want you to know is that growing meat in a lab requires a product known as fetal bovine serum, or FBS. FBS, as the name implies, is a byproduct made from the blood of cow fetuses. Dairy cows, who are kept pregnant throughout their miserable lives to ensure constant milk production, are slaughtered when they’re no longer productive enough to justify their upkeep on factory dairy farms. To get this FBS, these cruel meat producers take pregnant dairy cows to slaughter and bleed them out. The fetus is removed and brought into a blood collection room. The fetus, which remains alive during the process to ensure blood quality, has a needle inserted into its heart, and the blood is drained until the fetus dies, a slow death that takes about five minutes. This blood is then refined, and the resulting extract is FBS. This is hardly the cruelty-free future meat producers want you to believe in.

The bottom line is, meat made in a lab still requires the slaughter of cows and the killing of and extracting blood from the cows’ fetuses. Add to that all the same health risks associated with consuming animal flesh: high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat that increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

If you want truly cruelty-free alternatives to eating animal flesh, don’t be duped by the monstrous meat and dairy industry and their lab-grown beef. There are hundreds of clean, healthy plant-based products on the market. Visit a Whole Foods or other full-range grocer and ask to be introduced to the wide selection of vegan burgers, vegan ground round (great for tacos!), Gardein vegan meatballs, and on and on. Sample the many delicious milk substitutes, vegan ice cream sandwiches, and even vegan apple pie!

Here’s a great site that will answer all your questions regarding healthy and delicious vegan alternatives. You’ll be surprised at how many there are and how much fun and easy – and tasty! – it is to go cruelty-free!

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

San Francisco Bans Fur Sales, Plus a Guest Essay by Priscilla Feral

A candid photo from 1975, taken on the steps of City Hall while shooting on location for the police drama The Streets of San Francisco. San Francisco is a beautiful city. I’ve been there many times. Soon the city will be even more beautiful when the ban on the sale of fur takes effect on January 1, 2019. San Francisco joins a growing list of cities across America that are banning the products of a cruel and bloodthirsty trade.

Priscilla Feral is a longtime friend and President of Friends of Animals. This past week, Priscilla published an op-ed piece in the New York Daily News calling on the nation’s fashion capital to join the ban. Priscilla and I agree it’s about time.

 

Torture goes out of fashion: Momentum builds for a ban on NYC fur sales

by Priscilla Feral

New York City prides itself on being a fashion capital, with designers who create the most innovative looks on the world’s stage. Now it’s time for the city to truly become fashion forward — to take its lead from powerhouse designers such as Stella McCartney and Michael Kors, and cities such as San Francisco, Berkeley, and West Hollywood, all of which are making the most important fashion statement of all by banning the sales of fur.

Furs is not fashion. Compassion is. More than 60% of Americans find killing animals for fur amounts to cruelty, according to an Angus Reid survey.

The signs that fur is over are everywhere.

Not only have McCartney and Kors shunned fur, as have Gucci and Versace, but so have New York City-based fashion houses Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss.

Manhattan’s fur district has steadily declined. Where 450 fur factories once operated, now just a handful do – evidence that society’s desire for a product that depends on the slaughter and suffering of 50 million animals a year has waned. It’s been six years since an essay about the district’s demise was headlined “Last of the Furriers.” That is nothing to lament.

Fur is not only cruel to animals, but its production is toxic. Each mink skinned by fur farmers produces about 44 pounds of feces, which adds up to 1 million pounds produced annually by mink farms. Fur farm byproducts can leach into waterways.

Meanwhile, vegan fashion is in vogue. Faux fur revenues reached $250 million in 2010, with a predicted growth rate of 30% a year. And buyers are turning to cruelty-free fashion with gusto.

Why then should the city continue to prop up a declining, polluting, cruel industry? Neither the federal government nor the state of New York has regulated the sale of fur products except for the sale of dog and cat fur, which is generally prohibited under federal law.

Until the federal or state government decides to regulate the sale of fur products from other animals commonly used in the fashion and apparel industries, New York City is free to limit the sale and distribution of these products.

Thus, we have proposed City Council legislation to amend the administrative code of the city of New York in order to prohibit the sale, offering for sale, display for sale, trade, gifting, donation, or other distribution of an animal fur product. We have already spoken to several Council members who are supportive and expect to introduce legislation this fall.

Critics might say New York City will lose money. But there are a variety of immoral ways to earn revenues – and we should always shun them.

As San Francisco noted in its fur ban legislation: “The sale of fur products in San Francisco is inconsistent with the City’s ethos of treating all living beings, humans and animals alike, with kindness.”

The New York City Economic Development Corp., in its Fashion NYC2020 study, called on the city to become a hub of fashion-industry innovation. A fur ban gives designers and retailers in the city this very opportunity to be leaders in vegan fashion, build a commitment to protecting the environment, and send a message that animal suffering and slaughter for the sake of expensive clothing – only affordable to the 1% percent anyway – is over.

 

Every Glass of Milk or Slice of Cheese Supports the Veal Industry

As a child actress and model, I was photographed in all sorts of poses, including a few like this one – eating a bowl of cereal and milk.  Of course, I had no idea then how cruel the dairy industry is or what goes on at dairy farms. Thank goodness I know now.

We’re so used to drinking cows’ milk we never think about what dairy cows and their offspring endure for people to pour milk on their cereal. Did you know that human animals are the only species on earth who drink the milk of another species? And did you know every animal in the animal kingdom stops drinking milk after they’re weened, except for – you got it – human animals.

Although the dairy industry would rather you didn’t know and tries to hide this fact, lactose intolerance is a natural and common condition among humane. Lactose intolerance affects approximately 95 percent of Asian-Americans, 74 percent of Native Americans, 70 percent of African Americans, 53 percent of Latin Americans, and 15 percent of Caucasians. Symptoms include gastrointestinal cramping, diarrhea, and flatulence, and occur because the lactose intolerant do not have the lactase enzyme to digest the lactose, the sugar naturally found in milk.

The dairy industry would like you to believe that dairy cows graze contentedly in green pastures before being led into a rustic red barn to be milked. Nothing could be further from the truth.   The reality in today’s world find thousands of cows packed tightly together in nightmarish factory farms, hooked up to painful and frightening machines.

Dairy cows are, of course, female, and, like all mammals, produce milk after giving birth to nourish their calves. To keep cows producing milk, it is necessary to force them to remain constantly pregnant. Dairy farmers achieve this by artificially impregnating their cows again and again on so-called “rape racks.”

A cow’s natural lifespan is about 20 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are typically killed after about five years because their bodies wear out from constantly being pregnant or lactating. A dairy industry study found that by the time they are killed, nearly 50 percent of cows have painful mastitis – grossly enlarged and misshapen udders – and are typically lame and infected from standing in intensive confinement on concrete floors and in filth.

If that weren’t cruel enough, do you know what happens to all those calves brought into the world in order to keep their mothers producing milk? First, calves are torn away from their mothers within 24 hours of their birth. This is traumatic for both mother and calf; mother cows can be heard crying out for their calves for days. Female calves will live short and cruel lives just as their mothers do, but a different fate waits in store for the males. Most male calves of dairy cows are shipped to barren feedlots where they will be fattened and slaughtered for beef. Those are the “lucky” ones.

A “city” of veal calves, each imprisoned in his own tiny crate at a factory farm.

Some male calves are turned over to the veal industry. These calves, beginning at a day or two old, are kept 24/7 in tiny crates, a chain around their neck to prevent them from moving about or even turning around. The muscles of calves who cannot move atrophy and remain tender. To make their flesh white, the calves are fed a diet lacking in iron and any real nutritional value. Veal calves typically suffer from anemia, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Frightened, sick, and isolated from other calves, these poor animals are slaughtered after a few short months, and their flesh stripped and sold. That tender, pale veal neatly packaged in the meat case of your local supermarket is the end product of a short, sad, and brutal life.

Those who refuse to eat veal because of the cruelty involved ought to be aware that drinking cows’ milk or buying dairy products – butter, cheese, ice cream etc. – are still supporting the veal industry with their wallets.

The good news is that removing dairy products from your diet is easier than ever. Today, there are many cruelty-free vegan alternatives at your supermarket, such as soy, rice, oat, almond, coconut, and pecan milks and ice creams, tasty vegetable-based spreads, and delicious cheeses for cooking and eating. Please try them – they’re great!

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

America’s Largest Wildlife Refuge is a Refuge No More

My character on “Lassie,” Lucy Baker, was introduced in a three-part story in the spring of 1972. Lucy Baker was a nature-loving deaf girl who befriends Lassie and the two have many adventures together. In one of those first episodes, titled “Paths of Courage, Part One,” Lucy has a beloved pet wolf named Mountie. A sadistic sheep herder shoots Mountie and I have a tearful scene as the wolf dies in my arms. It turned out to be one of the most memorable scenes of my acting career.

The wolf playing Mountie was tranquilized so that he would lay quietly in my arms, as seen in the accompanying photo. I felt horrible that this poor wolf was tranquilized for a scene, but that’s what happens to a lot of animals in TV and movies; they don’t ever get to live their lives the way nature intended. Luckily for Mountie, he had a goodhearted trainer in the person of Pat Derby. Pat Derby later became an outspoken advocate for animals, and I’ll tell you more about her in my forthcoming book. Anyway, my job was to kneel over Mountie and cry my eyes out. I was given very specific instructions not to put my face near his; a wild animal, especially when tranquilized, may react badly to his space being invaded. I heeded my instructions and was very, very cautious.

The director called for action, and I began to sob pitifully over my mortally wounded companion, all the while taking care to avoid putting my face near his. The wolf must not have been fully tranquilized because, as my tears fell he began to rouse. At first, I’m sure I was the only one to notice, but when he slowly lifted his head to look at me, I could sense a nervous stir among the crew.

The wolf began to lick the tears from my face. I was startled, but continued acting, unwilling –afraid, is the better word – to break the scene. It was so sweet – and so scary. The more I cried, the more the wolf licked my face. It dawned on me that this big, beautiful animal was trying to console a weeping little girl with kisses!

My instinct to carry on while the camera rolled proved a good one. The resulting footage of Lucy sobbing over her dying pet, with the wolf tenderly kissing his grieving companion goodbye, was nothing short of remarkable. Ever since then I’ve always had a special place in my heart for wolves.

Did you know that legislation was finally enacted a few years ago to stop the slaughter of wolves by cowardly humans using high-powered rifles from inside low-flying airplanes and helicopters? Did you also know that last year, with a stroke of his pen, the president rescinded the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule and opened the door for hunters to hunt and kill wolves, bears, and other animals within Alaska’s national wildlife refuges? Yes, both the House and Senate approved a measure to repeal existing legislation that protected Alaska’s most iconic animals on more than 76,000,000 acres, the largest land-based, federally-protected area in the United States.

Once again, the killing of wolves and hibernating bears and the slaughter of cubs and pups in their dens is permitted in one of America’s last great wildlife refuges. Legal again are hunters scouting, chasing, and and killing brown and black bears from airplanes and helicopters. Legal again are trapping methods like steel-jawed leg hold traps, wire snares, and the luring of scavenging bears with food so that they may be shot at point-blank range. Despite years of relentless work by over 70 groups, many of them made up of Alaskan citizens, the law that protected these majestic wild creatures on the people’s land – land specifically created to protect and conserve native American wildlife and habitats in their natural diversity – has been senselessly and tragically wiped from the books.

Steel jaw traps are banned or heavily restricted in many US states. Such traps inflict excruciating pain not only on the targeted animals, but also on any other animal that unknowingly sets off the trap, for these traps do not kill on impact, they snap shut on the leg or other body part when the victim steps on it. The trap inflicts deep puncture wounds to prevent the animal from writhing around and pulling itself free. Imagine slamming your hand in a car door with teeth and waiting in excruciating pain to die of shock, exposure, dehydration, starvation, or infection.

Leg hold traps, also banned in many countries around the world, are used primarily for foxes, coyotes, wolves, and lynx. These traps, which consist of a metal footplate with curved jaws and powered springs, break and crush the animal’s limb. Immobilized, the animal is trapped where they are, easy prey for predators, and without shelter from harsh weather conditions. Many become so desperate to escape they attempt to chew or wring off their trapped limb, breaking their teeth or bones in the process. When they don’t return to their den, their babies are left alone, unable to fend for themselves, and they die, too.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, spoke of the legislative surrender to special interests, saying, “What the Senate did should outrage the conscience of every animal lover in America,” adding, “The passage of this bill means that we’ll see wolf families killed at their dens, bears chased down by planes or suffering for hours in barbaric steel-jawed traps or snares.”

Although the repeal of the law was signed by the president, there are still ways to reduce the suffering for these animals. The main way is to stop buying fur products and to encourage others to do the same. Many animals are hunted for their pelts, and if there is no demand for them, there will be less reason for hunters to trap them. We can also spread awareness about this heinous slaughter, send letters to our representatives in Congress, and sign petitions to end the horrific torture caused by these practices.

Many animal rights groups are calling for a ban on inhumane traps. Although the situation is sickening for animal lovers, there is hope. More than 100 countries have banned leg hold traps while 85 nations have banned steel jaw traps; let’s add the United States to those lists!

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

 

Adopt a Shelter Animal

Here I am with my cat Tigger’s litter of kittens. I watched them being born. I didn’t realize when I was young how vitally important it is to spay/neuter your companion animals. I certainly do now!

Every time someone buys their new best friend from a breeder or pet store, or allows their companion animal to have a litter, other dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens are killed in animal shelters. As I’ve described for you before, I have seen with my own eyes doggies (and cats, too) lined up, their little legs quaking, and forced into the “kill room,” where they are held down as they struggle to get free and given a lethal injection. Their poor, pitiful bodies, sometimes still alive, are then thrown into a freezer. When the corpses pile up, garbage trucks come and take them to a processing plant where they are fed into an enormous grinder to be ground into pet food or sold as fish food in Pacific Rim markets.

If everyone who wants to share his or her home with a dog or cat would adopt from an animal shelter or rescue organization, we wouldn’t be killing upwards of five million healthy, happy dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens in US shelters every year. Most animal shelters in the US are merely death camps for companion animals. Animals in shelters are waiting desperately to be taken home by someone who will give them love and affection. Did you realize that chickens, pigs, hamsters, and all kinds of animals – each one hoping for a safe and loving home – can be adopted from your local shelter?

A friend of mine wrote a story about her experience with adopting cats from a shelter. I’d like to share her story with you now.

Shawna wrote:

“Why should you adopt your cat or any other animal companion from an animal shelter? Because regardless of the type of animal companion you are ready and willing to take care of for the rest of his or her life, you’ll be able to find him or her at an animal shelter in your area.

“I decided that I was ready to adopt an animal companion while I was living in a Chicago studio apartment. I had just graduated from college, and at the time, I knew that I had the space and resources to open my home to two cats.

“Once I decided that I could provide a pair of cats with their forever home, I diligently researched each animal shelter in my area until I found one that I wanted to adopt from, and just in case I needed to make an appointment, I called ahead.

“Turns out that most animal shelters are so eager to find happy homes for their animals that appointments aren’t necessary. I arrived at the animal shelter on a busy Saturday and was shocked by the number of kittens who needed homes. It was early summer, and many of the cats were only a few weeks old. They had been abandoned at the animal shelter by people who hadn’t bothered to spay or neuter their own feline companions, and after the cats became pregnant, their human guardians were unable to take care of the babies or find homes for them.

“After telling an employee of the animal shelter that I was looking to adopt two cats, she walked me over to a cage where two black kittens were nestled against each other. One of the cats was male, and the other was female. The male had been the biggest cat in his litter, and long after the rest of his brothers and sisters were adopted, he’d been left behind.

“The female was a recent arrival to the animal shelter; she had been found in an alley behind someone’s home. Initially I thought that I was going to be bringing home two adult cats who were already set in their ways – I wanted to know right off the bat what I was getting myself into! But after spending a bit of time with the young pair at the animal shelter, I knew that I was taking them both home with me.

“Over the past six years, the female, Twila, has grown into a mischievous cat who gets into everything. She jumps onto shelf tops and walks around glass figurines as if she’s a tightrope walker. She climbs into open draws just to see what’s inside them. The male, Bulldozer, prefers to curl up in bed next to me as I read. But he can be feisty, too. If he thinks that it’s time for you to pet him and you ignore his coy advances, he isn’t shy about using his teeth to nip lightly and let you know that he’s craving attention.”

I hope that you’ll remember that it doesn’t matter if you are longing for a loving pair of animals, a gentle friend who has been waiting in a cage, or a pair of kittens you are ready to grow old with, the best place to find a loving, caring companion year-round is your local animal shelter.

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

 

England and Scotland Join the Ban on Circus Animals

More victories for the animals! England and Scotland have passed legislation banning wild animals in circuses effective 2020. They join more than 40 other countries, including most of Europe, Latin America and several Asian nations, in banning the exploitation of animals for entertainment. The legislation followed a study that showed 94.5% of Britons and Scots favored such a ban.

 

It’s time for America to catch up with the rest of the world. New York City recently joined Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boulder, Colorado, Jersey City and Passaic, New Jersey, and counties in Massachusetts, Idaho, and North Carolina in saying NO to wild animals in circuses. That’s a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.

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.

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

 

The Not-So-Sweet Story of Honey

Here’s a photo of me at seven with an armload of sweet tangerines picked from a tree in our backyard. We always had a nice crop of tangerines to enjoy, but there wouldn’t be fruit, flowers, or other plants without bees to pollinate them. Without plants to eat and refresh the earth’s oxygen supply, humans would perish. We owe our very survival to bees.

I’m often asked if vegans eat honey. The answer is no. Honey, like other animal products, is derived from exploitation and suffering.

A honeybee hive consists of tens of thousands of bees, each with his or her own mission that is determined by the bee’s sex and age as well as by the time of year. Each hive usually has one queen, hundreds of drones, and thousands of workers. Queens can live as long as seven years, while other bees have life spans ranging from a few weeks to six months.

Drones serve the queen, who is responsible for reproduction. She lays about 250,000 eggs each year, as many as one million over the course of her lifetime. Worker bees are responsible for feeding the brood, caring for the queen, building comb, foraging for nectar and pollen, and cleaning, ventilating, and guarding the hive. As the temperature drops in the winter, the bees cluster around the queen and her young, using their body heat to keep the temperature inside the hive steady at around 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

A Language All Their Own
Bees have a unique and complex form of communication based on sight, motion, and scent that scientists and scholars still don’t fully understand. Bees alert other members of their hive to food, new hive locations, and conditions (such as nectar supply) within their hive through intricate “dance” movements.

Studies have shown that bees are capable of abstract thinking as well as distinguishing their family members from other bees, using visual cues to map their travels, and locating previously used food sources even if their home has been moved. And, similar to the way smells can invoke powerful memories in for humans, they also trigger memories in bees, such as where the best food can be found.

Manipulating Nature
Profiting from honey requires human manipulation and exploitation of the insects’ desire to live and protect their hive. Humans have been consuming honey since about 15,000 B.C., but it wasn’t until very recently in human history that people have turned bees into factory-farmed animals. Like other factory-farmed animals, honeybees are victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation.

The familiar white box beehive has been around since the mid-1850s and was created so that beekeepers could move hives from place to place. As The New York Times describes it, bees have been “moved from shapes that accommodated their own geometry to flat-topped tenements, sentenced to life in file cabinets.”

Even though bees may prefer the nectar of one or more flowers or plants, it’s common beekeeping practice to place the artificial hives in fields where only one type of plant is available, leaving the bees no options in nectar gathering. In addition, when beekeepers drain hives of the honey the bees have made to feed themselves to sell it to humans, they give the hungry bees sugary syrups, like high-fructose corn syrup, to eat instead. Scientists have confirmed that this practice is causing bees to suffer from malnutrition.

When a new queen is about to be born, the old queen and half the hive leave their home and set up in a new place found by scouting worker bees. This “swarming,” as it’s known, can cause a decline in honey production. Beekeepers do inhumane things to prevent swarming, including clipping the wings of a new queen, killing and replacing an older queen after just one or two years, and confining a queen who is ready to initiate a swarm.

Queens are often forcibly taken from hives and artificially inseminated using drones, who are killed in the process. When beekeepers decide to move a queen to another colony, she is transported along with “bodyguard” bees, all of whom, if they survive the move, will be killed by bees in the new colony. Many bees are killed or have their wings and legs torn off by haphazard handling by beekeepers.

What You Can Do
Avoid honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, and other products that come from the exploitation of bees. Vegan lip balms and candles are readily available. Agave nectar, rice syrup, molasses, sorghum, barley malt, maple syrup, and dried fruit or fruit concentrates can be used to replace honey in recipes. Sweet, delicious, and healthy meals and desserts can be enjoyed without the suffering of vitally important bees.

Peace for ALL the animals who share the planet!