Los Angeles Is Now a No-Kill City

Hooray for the big news out of Los Angeles!

When I was 13, I collected money on the set of “The Paul Lynde Show” to help save shelter animals. More than 30 years later, demonstrators including my husband and myself were routinely arrested in an attempt by city officials to hide the wholesale slaughter of animals in L.A.’s municipal shelters. Now, after years of demonstrations, false promises by politicians, and the cruel murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent animals, Los Angeles has at last become a no-kill city. Thanks to the efforts of a coalition of animal rights organizations and a community that put their voices behind protecting animals, countless lives will now be spared.

For those who don’t know, a no-kill shelter is one that doesn’t kill healthy or treatable animals regardless of how full the shelter may be. No-kill shelters are about saving lives, not taking them, and employ creative methods to encourage people to adopt. While traditional shelters routinely kill puppies and kittens who are too young to be adopted, at no-kill shelters the littlest ones are placed into foster care until they are old enough to find a home. Feral cats, too, typically killed at traditional shelters, are sterilized at no-kill shelters and released back to their habitats. No-kill shelters offer lifesaving alternatives to the usual mass killing of abandoned animals.

Los Angeles is now the largest of more than 5,500 no-kill cities and counties in the United States; Delaware remains the only no-kill state. Formerly, Los Angeles was putting 75-90% of shelter animals – some 40-50,000 every year – to death. Thanks to the city’s adoption of no-kill policies, the save rate is now better than 90%.

Congratulations, L.A.! This is proof that civil action can bring about positive change and save countless lives.




“Seaspiracy” Is a Must-See Documentary

There’s a new documentary out that I urge you all to see. It’s called Seaspiracy, and it’s streaming now on Netflix.

Seaspiracy uncovers the ways in which humans are exploiting the Earth’s oceans, wiping out marine life, and depleting the planet’s largest source of breathable oxygen. It turns a sharp eye on the practices of hunting and killing the largest and smallest creatures in the sea, asking how, if at all, they can endure into the future, or if we’re doomed to wipe out an entire ecosystem by the middle of this century.

Scenes of “sustainable” whaling practices, in which fishermen reduce a pod of pilot whales to beached mounds of flesh, follow shots of “sustainably” farmed fish packed into floating cages being eaten alive by insects before they show up in your supermarket’s meat case. So, too, we see the waters of Japan’s infamous Taiji Cove churn red with the blood of the 23,000 dolphins and porpoises slaughtered there each year by hook- and club-wielding fishermen.

Check out the movie trailer here, then please go to Netflix to see Seaspiracy.

Animal Abuse Is No Way to Celebrate Easter

Here is a photo of me and Christmas, a chicken rescued from an egg farm in Connecticut at Christmas 1996. Christmas had been badly abused and was in terrible shape, but we nursed her back to health, and she was a beloved family member for many years. Christmas loved to fly up onto the couch and snuggle when I was watching TV. She would softly purr and often fell asleep tucked under my arm.

Now another holiday is approaching. For many, Easter is a celebration, but for animals abused in the name of holiday gift-giving, there is nothing to celebrate.
In this shocking video , you can witness chicks being dyed to be given as Easter “gifts.” They are dumped into plastic bins, drenched in dye, and tossed the way one would toss a salad. No doubt some of these tiny, delicate birds sustained injuries, and all were surely frightened. Dyeing animals is illegal in half our states; unfortunately, that means it’s still legal in the others.
And when Easter has passed? Received as gifts, these unnaturally-colored chicks are more likely to be viewed as “toys” than living things to be cared for. Children should never be taught to view animals as playthings but instead to respect the lives and rights of all living beings. Chicks given as novelty gifts are often abandoned as their colors fade.
Chicks require special care that many families aren’t prepared to give, but it’s not just chicks who suffer from holiday novelty gift-giving. Nationwide, rabbits rank third among animals turned in at shelters, many surrendered by people who were not prepared to give longtime care to the cute bunny they took home for Easter.
If you were thinking of buying a chick, a bunny, or any other animal to give as a present this Easter, don’t do it! Instead, give a child an actual toy—the kind that’s stuffed with cotton and does not require food, water, veterinary visits, hours of love and attention every day, and years of commitment.
If you and your family are ready to provide a loving, permanent home for a chicken, a bunny, or other animal, please adopt from a shelter or rescue group after giving the decision a lot of thought and thoroughly researching how to care properly for these sensitive, complex animals.
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet



The Myth of Cage-Free and Free-Range Eggs

Every time you buy a carton of eggs – conventional, free-range, cage-free, organic, “certified humanely raised,” or whatever label is put on them – you are paying for the murder of hundreds of millions of baby chicks, 200 million each year in the United States alone. They are thrown in a dumpster and left to die, tossed in garbage bags and suffocated, or more commonly, ground up alive in industrial meat grinders. Why does this happen, you ask?  Wouldn’t it be more profitable to let them grow up and kill them for meat?

Actually, no. It takes a lot of food, shelter and water to raise a chick into a full-grown chicken. Male chickens simply will not grow as big or as fast as female chickens. They also don’t lay eggs. To egg farmers, male chickens are a liability that eat into profits, so they cut their losses early and “humanely euthanize” (i.e. grind up) baby chicks that are only a day old.

Though the males die a relatively quick death, the females will live their entire lives crammed six to a cage so small they can’t stand up or turn around. Chickens are treated as egg-laying machines with no regard for their basic biological and behavioral needs. They are “debeaked,” meaning their beaks are nearly cut off so they can’t peck at each other. Many are put through periods of starvation to force them to molt, which will boost their egg-laying productivity. These hens’ natural life span of 15-20 years is cut drastically short, living only one to two years before they are slaughtered when their productivity declines. Their bodies are so wasted and emaciated that their meat is only able to be used in soups and pet food.

Do you see the phrase “cage-free eggs” and imagine they come from hens wandering free in a sunny barnyard? Think again. “Cage-free” chickens are kept not six to a small cage but packed in giant warehouses. They are still debeaked and still sent to the slaughterhouse when their egg-laying productivity declines.

The label “free-range eggs” sounds much better, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s simply another marketing ploy. In the words of the USDA, “free-range” birds are “raised in heated and air-cooled growing houses with access to the outdoors.” That “outdoor area” is typically a small covered porch or patio with a cement floor, accessed through a small, hard-to-find door. There is nothing “cruelty-free” about getting to spend a few minutes a day on a crowded cement patio where the sunlight never reaches. Once again, the chickens are debeaked, forced to live in their own waste, fed the same antibiotic and arsenic-laden feed that other chickens eat, and are still slaughtered in ways that will make your blood turn cold. Remember: free-range chickens are far from free, and they don’t live on a range.

Organic eggs come from chickens that are fed a certified organic, vegetarian diet (though chickens’ natural diet is not strictly vegetarian). There is still no barnyard or pasture, no space to roam free, and often no sunlight, and the living conditions are still far from cruelty-free. USDA regulations permit egg farmers to confine their hens 24 hours a day if they feel that the weather is too harsh, that there may be a disease outbreak, or to protect soil and water from being contaminated by all of the waste inherent in the keeping of thousands of chickens. There are no clear regulations on any of these factors, and because they are left completely to the farmer’s discretion, are almost never regulated or enforced in any way.

“Certified organic,” “free-range,” “cage-free,” “hormone-free,” “all natural,” “humanely raised and handled” — all of these labels are cynically designed to make consumers feel less guilty about buying a product that is always cruel. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by meaningless labels, and stop paying for the suffering and slaughter of innocent animals.

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

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 today 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.

Every year, eight million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently pollute our marine environments. Discarded plastic bags, bottles, plates, straws, utensils, and other dumped in gutters, lakes, and rivers, and large amounts of mismanaged plastic waste streaming from rapidly growing economies, are finding their way into our oceans at the rate of one New York City garbage truck full of plastic every minute of every day for an entire year! And all that plastic is killing sea animals by the millions.

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. At our current rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean, by weight, than there are fish.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. Recently 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 this planet!



The Iditarod: Annual Frozen Death Race

The annual Iditarod death race kicks off today in Wasilla, Alaska. Up to half the dogs who start the race won’t finish it. Dogs are forced to run tethered together and pulling heavy sleds and a human “musher” over hundreds of miles of frozen terrain through biting winds, and subzero temperatures. Teams often race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach −100 °F (−73 °C). Dogs suffer exhaustion, exposure, illness, and injury. If you love dogs – or honorable sports – the Iditarod is an ignominious disgrace.

During the 2020 race, more than 220 dogs did not make it to the finish line. One musher forced his dogs to continue the race even after all of them reportedly vomited, one was injured in a fight with another dog, and three got frostbite. He finally stopped racing at mile 852 when his dogs simply couldn’t run any farther. Another musher, already the subject of a recent investigation that found that dogs were chained up, denied veterinary care, and even killed during training, reportedly threw a dog down and pinned her muzzle to the ground while on the race’s livestream. He previously admitted to beating, depriving, and neglecting dogs. Still another, who chains his dogs to wooden boxes in the snow at his kennel (a common practice for mushers), left behind four dogs he pushed beyond the breaking point during the race.

Of the 150 dogs who have died in the Iditarod since it began in 1973, most died of aspiration pneumonia, caused by inhaling their own vomit. Many more have died during the off-season while chained up outside in subzero temperatures or were killed because they weren’t considered fast enough.

In response to growing awareness among consumers of the race’s record of cruelty and abuse, many major companies, including ExxonMobil, Chrysler, Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola, Jack Daniel’s, State Farm, and Wells Fargo, have dropped their sponsorships of the race.

If you’re planning a trip or cruise to Alaska, please don’t buy any packages or excursions that include dog-sled rides or visits to dog kennels. Ask your friends and family not to, either.

Learn more about the abuse of dogs in the Iditarod by watching the outstanding documentary film, Sled Dogs, which shines a spotlight on the dogs who are forced to run until their bodies break down or are killed if they don’t measure up. Sled Dogs is available now on Prime Video and Plex.

A Ban on Shipping Baby Chicks Through the Mail

The New York Legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit shipping of baby chicks and other small animals within the state through the U.S. Postal Service. It’s about time! How about a national ban?
Baby chicks and other small animals shipped through the Postal Service as “perishable matter” frequently go without food and water for two or more days due to transit delays, long hauls and other situations. They are shipped, not like a dog or a cat whose transit is paid for by a caring owner, but cheaply, like ordinary parcels, without proper temperature, ventilation, handling and care for these fragile creatures.
The business of shipping live birds, primarily baby chickens and ducks, is huge and lucrative, but a terribly cruel and inhumane practice even when nothing goes “wrong.”
An example of what can go utterly wrong occurred on October 8, 2020, when 23,000 abandoned baby chicks died at the Madrid airport. Those still alive were suffering from hypothermia and trying to survive by eating the remains of their dead neighbors, said the police. The neglected chicks were left behind because the cardboard boxes they were shipped in got wet and broke, and they could no longer be transported. The company that runs the airport contacted the shipping company, which chose to do nothing about the dying chicks.
Recent news relating to the United States Postal Service has revealed the suffering and death of thousands of newborn chicks in delivery boxes in Maine, Ohio, and other states as a result of mail backups and other issues currently affecting the USPS.
Current law permits baby chicks to be shipped through the USPS as long as they are delivered within 72 hours, but 72 hours from when? When they’re delivered to the post office or when they’re loaded onto a truck? The law does not say.
Crammed together in cardboard boxes with no food or water and only tiny holes to get air, the baby chicks are tossed into trucks, loaded into airplane cargo holds, and piled up in postal distribution facilities and local post offices. Boxes may be exposed to bad weather and extreme temperatures, get damaged when dropped, or even crushed. Even under the “best” conditions, it is normal for many chicks to die of exposure, physical trauma, or asphyxiation before they reach their final destination.
Shipments of chickens, ducks and other small animals through the mail have been identified for decades with the suffering and death of these animals. Chicks are living, feeling creatures — not objects to be stuffed into boxes and dropped off at the post office. Shipping live animals through the Postal Service should be prohibited.
If you live in New York, please contact your state legislators, Assembly and Senate, to support NYS Assembly Bill A4611, which bans “the shipment of certain live animals by postal mail into, within, or to points outside of the state of New York.” Those in other states can contact their legislators to encourage them to introduce a similar bill where you live. Please urge the United States Postal Service*, too, to institute a nationwide ban on shipping live birds and other small animals as “perishable matter” to customers. Please do what you can to educate people about the cruelty and suffering inflicted on fragile birds and others in being shipped as ground mail and airmail. Thank you.
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.
*The Honorable Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza West, SW
Washington, DC 20260

The Painfully Slow Ban on Bullhooks

In 1999, I was arrested for bringing a bullhook to a circus protest. Bullhooks resemble a fireplace poker, with a long rod, sharp metal hook and spiked tip. When used on animals, they inflict terrible physical injuries, including lacerations, puncture wounds and abcesses. The cruelty also leads to long-term trauma, emotional distress and suffering for the animals. I brought the bullhook along with pictures of its use on circus animals as a visual aid to educate others. A circus employee, using a bullhook to torture an elephant just a few feet away, was ignored by the police.

I was convicted of violating an obscure L.A. law created during the civil rights era that gave the authorities the right to arrest peaceful protestors by making it illegal to carry wooden sticks (i.e. picket signs) at a demonstration. I lost again on appeal and was sentenced to 30 days in prison. I served my sentence in L.A. County’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility.

For the public attention my arrest and conviction drew to the bullhook, going to jail was well worth it. Growing public condemnation led to a ban on the use of bullhooks in Los Angeles, followed by Oakland, Austin, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and Spokane. In 2016, Rhode Island became the first state to ban the instrument of torture and California became the second. In 2019 the Association of Zoos and Aquariums voted to “phase out” the bullhook’s use by the start of 2021. It also approved a statement of intent to completely end the use of bullhooks by 2023.

While I will be glad to see the end of bullhooks, why, I wonder, when something is finally conceded to be dangerous and wrong, does it require additional years of pain and suffering before a full ban takes effect? We’re not talking about time needed to retool factories to manufacture new products or creating infrastructure for new sources of energy. Just throw away the bullhooks now and end the abuse once and for all.

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

Valentine’s Day Is About Love. So Is Being Vegan.

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love: love of a spouse or significant other, love of a parent or child, love of friends. There are all kinds of love.

There are few among us who haven’t loved an animal. Maybe it was a dog or a cat a rabbit or a bird, and no doubt you believed your animal companion loved you, too. But do animals really love?

Of course they do. It’s a scientific fact – go ahead, look it up. When it comes to the ability to feel emotion, non-human animals are no different than human animals. We all experience happiness, sadness, fear, loneliness, grief, anger, and the bonds of companionship otherwise known as love. It is arrogance to suggest that human love is different, or better, or more “real,” than the love animals feel. Whether you’re a human, a monkey, a whale, or a penguin, love is love.

I’ve had many animal companions and I loved them all. They demonstrated love for me in return. Never could I have eaten or hurt or exploited them in any way. How, then, could I eat, hurt, or exploit other animals who share the same feelings and emotions I do? That’s why I am vegan. I cannot be complicit in the suffering, torture and abuse of non-human animals. It’s a matter of compassion, and of love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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





Your House Is Clean, But Are Your Pets Safe?

In these troubled times, keeping your home clean and safe is more important than ever. But are you making your house safer or more dangerous for your animal companions?

Many cleaning products are safe for humans to use but will cause discomfort, injury, or even death to pets. Your animals may be curious about the smell or taste of these products, so be extra careful when using them. The following is a list of common household cleaners and the dangers they can pose to your animal companions.

Bleach:  Small exposures to regular strength household bleach, such as a pet walking through a puddle on the floor, may result in irritation to the skin and bleached/damaged fur. Thorough rinsing of the feet is important to remove any bleach trapped in the toe webs or between the foot pads. Bleach on the skin or fur often leads to ingestion because animals will self-groom and lick the bleach off. Ingestion can lead to vomiting and stomach irritation which, depending on the amount ingested, may need veterinary treatment. If bleach gets in the eye, this can be an emergency. Immediate flushing of the eye may be needed to slow damage to the cornea. Any animal whose eyes have been exposed to bleach should be examined by a veterinarian. He or she may apply a stain to the surface of the eye that binds to damaged cells and make them visible. If damage has occurred, treatment is likely needed. Concentrated or “ultra” bleaches can cause chemical burns, so extra caution needs to be taken when using those products. Never mix bleach with other chemicals. Mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia, for example, produces toxic chloramine gas which is corrosive to the lungs.

Isopropyl Alcohol:  Ingesting isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers) can poison animals, resulting in symptoms such as drunkenness, low blood sugar (especially in small and young pets), stomach upset, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, acid/base disturbances in the blood, and difficulty breathing. Isopropyl alcohol is twice as toxic as ethanol (the alcohol in beer and wine) to dogs.

Hydrogen Peroxide:  Often found in cleaning and disinfecting products, exposure to hydrogen peroxide can result in skin and eye irritation/damage, vomiting, damage to the stomach lining, and sometimes potentially deadly air bubbles in the blood. The common 3% household strength concentration is occasionally used to induce vomiting in dogs but is only safe at correct doses and only in specific cases. Do not give hydrogen peroxide to a dog without consulting your vet. Never use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats as it can be deadly. Concentrations greater than 3% can be corrosive to all tissues.

Quaternary ammonium compounds:  Found in some disinfecting wipes and sprays, quaternary ammonium compounds can cause corrosive injury to any tissue they contact. Cats are especially sensitive to these compounds, even at very low concentrations.

Phenols:  Found in everything from toilet bowl cleaners to all-purpose cleaning sprays, these products can be corrosive if they contact the skin and eyes or if they are swallowed.  They can also cause corrosive injury to the lungs if inhaled.

Keep your pets out of the room when cleaning, especially if using an open mop bucket. Discard paper towels that are wet with cleaner or sanitizing wipes in covered trash cans. When cleaning the bathroom, keep the doors closed and windows open. In case of spills, quickly remove pets to a safe part of the house or secure the area to avoid accidental exposure.

Remember that pets are more sensitive to household cleaning products than most humans are. In case of exposure, contact your vet immediately or call the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

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