The Olympics Are Anything But Games to Abused Horses

The Olympic Games are allegedly about encouraging peace, mutual understanding, and respect through sporting competition. Sadly, this respect is not extended to the animal athletes. While humans like Simone Biles got lots of media coverage and sympathy for her emotional struggles, little attention was paid to horses being badly abused or, in one tragic instance, dying in competition.

Equestrian sport has a long history of callousness. Two years before the London 2012 Olympics, a video emerged of a training method – the rollkur technique – that even a leading dressage coach admitted was “vile” and “cruel.” It involves drawing the horse’s neck round in a deep curve so that its nose almost touches its chest. The video in question showed a rider warming up his horse for a sustained period of time in the position, with the horse’s tongue appearing to loll out and go blue. After debate about the issue at the time, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) condemned the practice.

In 2002, a report from the Daily Telegraph which detailed “frequent incidents of violence” against dressage horses at competitions, including attacks that left horses with “torn mouths and bloodied flanks”, plagued the industry for years, although issues on this scale haven’t been widely reported for some time. The attacks – which were unconnected to the Tokyo Olympics – included riders whipping, beating and kicking horses. Some used spurs to cut the skin of the horses or wrenched the bridle as punishment after the horse failed to trot in the way the rider wanted.

Equipment used in equestrian sport – such as nosebands, spurs and shock collars – are intended to cause horses pain and discomfort to horses and make them compliant. Training methods can also cause lameness and other long-term injury to their bodies and minds. Let’s be real: dressage is the equivalent of breaking a horse’s spirit to force it to perform unnatural tricks for humans.

When it comes to dressage in particular, people will tell you that horses cannot be forced to do things they don’t want to, that they’re too big and strong to be bullied. But circuses have shown us that even tigers, elephants and bears can be forced to do all sorts of things they hate or fear while appearing “happy” to audiences.

The world got a rare peek at the cruelty behind the equestrian competition at this year’s Olympic Games when German pentathlon team coach Kim Raisner was disqualified and sent home after she punched a frightened horse. The entire show jumping component of the women’s pentathlon was excruciating to watch. Terrified horses, nervous, emotional riders, and complete, utter disregard for animal welfare. Several riders fell, as horses refused jumps and bucked in protest.

It was the cross-country competition (part of the eventing discipline) that saw the most tragic outcome. A horse named Jet Set on the Swiss eventing team was killed after appearing lame at a fence in the middle of the course.

All riders know that of all the equestrian disciplines, eventing — in particular the cross-country component — is the most dangerous. Eventing has been labelled THE most dangerous sport in the Olympics, and that is not an exaggeration. In a short year and a half between 2007 and 2008, 12 riders died while competing in eventing. Between 1993 and 2019, 71 eventing riders died, 69 while competing, and 2 more while training or warming up for competition. Of the 69 riders that died competing, only three deaths were not at the jump. But riders choose to take these risks. Horses do not.

Jet Set, 2007-2021

Jet Set, the Swiss horse who was killed, is not the first competition fatality. In 2008, a 10-year-old mare Tsunami II died after she somersaulted over a hedge and broke her neck. Later that year, Olympic horse Call Again Cavalier broke his leg in competition and was killed. A year later, an American horse named Bailey Wick died after landing on his neck after a jump. In 2010, Porloe Alvin flipped over a jump and broke his back. He died, too. In 2012, a horse named Sugoi broke his neck and died.

The sport treats injuries and fatalities as a tragic but sometimes unavoidable outcome. Jet Set’s rider Robin Godel said on Instagram that the horse “passed while doing what he loved most: galloping and jumping obstacles.” Did he, or are humans just putting a sentimental spin on animal cruelty?

The latest Olympic Games had numerous lessons for those who care about animals. The biggest lesson of all is that it’s time for equestrian sports to be dropped from the Olympics.

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

To the Egg Industry, Billions of Lives Are “Worthless”

Vive le France! France has banned the mass slaughter of male chicks at egg farms and chick hatcheries. The barbaric practice of gassing, grinding, or suffocating day-old male chicks is business as usual in the egg industry. Male chicks don’t grow up to be egg-laying hens and are therefore considered “worthless.” France follows Germany in enacting the ban and is pushing for a similar ban across Europe.
Here in the U.S., however, politicians in the pocket of agribusiness refuse to consider a similar ban. According to Humane Facts, more than 260 million male chicks are killed each year in the U.S. by suffocation, gassing (carbon dioxide or argon), maceration (fully conscious chicks are dropped into high-speed grinders, or electrocution (a high-speed vacuum sucks chicks through a series of pipes to a kill plate). All mass producers of eggs in the U.S. cull (kill) male chicks or depend upon hatcheries that do so. Mass egg producers account for 95% of egg production, but the other 5% also tend to cull male chicks. Even organic or local farms have their individual practices of killing “worthless” male chicks or letting them die. Globally, some six billion newborn male chicks are killed every year.
United Egg Producers, representing 95% of the commercial egg producers in the U.S., agreed a few years ago to stop the practice by 2020, but seems to have changed their mind. Too expensive, they said, noting that adopting the technology that permits eggs to be sexed after being laid to separate male embryos from female would add two cents to the price of a dozen eggs. Americans, they believe, don’t care about animal cruelty and won’t pay two cents to stop it. Prove them wrong. Demand your legislators end the slaughter of living, breathing, feeling, male chicks now.
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

Prepare Your Animal Companions for Natural Disasters

Out west, wildfire season has come early, and in the eastern and Gulf states it’s already hurricane season. In many places, people will be evacuated, often with little or no advance notice. Now is the time to prepare your animal companions for natural disasters.

In a major disaster, local emergency workers may be stretched to the limit, and it can take days for additional help to arrive from outside your area. The bottom line is that you are the best—maybe even the only—chance your animal has for rescue. It’s really important that you have a plan.

Your plan should cover the different kinds of disasters likely to occur where you live. Do you have hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods? What about wildfires? Earthquakes? You’ll need a plan to evacuate if a fire or flood is headed your way.

Evacuating Your Home

Take your animals. If it’s not safe for you to stay, it isn’t safe for your animals either.

Have an animal disaster kit ready. Your kit should include carriers, leashes, a litter box, and bowls, as well as a three— to five-day supply of pet food, water, and litter. Don’t forget your animal companions’ medical records and medications. Include current photos of each animal, in case they get separated from you during the evacuation. A plastic storage bin is a great way to keep your kit portable and dry. Make sure you can get to your disaster kit quickly.

Prepare your animals early. It can be very hard to load a frightened cat into a carrier or to quickly find a dog who doesn’t always come when called. You may want to confine your animals in the house (or in their carriers) before the actual evacuation order comes. It’s also a good idea to practice evacuating the house with all your animals, in preparation for the day when a firefighter knocks on your door and says you have to be out in five minutes. Of course, your animals should be microchipped and wearing ID tags with your name and cell phone number.

Know where to go. Do you have friends or family nearby who can host you and your animals? Do you know which hotels take animals?  Consider including a list of hotels in your disaster kit.

Have an arrangement with a friend. What if you’re not home when your neighborhood is evacuated? A mutual aid agreement with a neighbor or friend will ensure that your animals get out in time.

Have rescue alert stickers in place. A sticker in windows on all four sides of your residence will alert fire or rescue workers to the fact that your animals may be trapped inside.

Sheltering at Home

Make sure you have plenty of supplies. Have a minimum of 10 days of food and supplies at home. It’s much less stressful for animals to stay in a familiar environment, but if you run out of supplies, you may have to evacuate with your animals to a shelter.

Have a battery-operated radio. If you are sheltering at home to avoid exposure to a toxic spill or a flu epidemic, you’ll need to know when the danger is over. Cell phones lose power and cell phone towers can be put out of commission. A radio (with lots of extra batteries!) will enable you to find out when the coast is clear.

Consider taking a dog and cat first-aid class. In an emergency, a veterinarian may not be immediately available. You might save your dog’s or cat’s life in a disaster by knowing how to stop bleeding or treat for shock. Even without a disaster, your knowledge of how to treat heat stroke or choking may save an animal’s life. To find an animal first-aid class, contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross, or check with your nearest animal shelter.

If you don’t already have an animal disaster kit, take a few minutes today to put a basic one together. Here’s some more information on disaster planning for your animals.

Be prepared, stay safe, and please take a moment to watch this video from an old friend of mine! 

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

Delicious, Cruelty-Free Vegan Pancakes

Who can resist a stack of hot, light, fluffy pancakes? Not me. Being vegan doesn’t stop me from enjoying pancakes, because the ones I make contain no eggs or dairy, meaning no animals are harmed or abused for what I put on my plate.

I don’t do a lot of cooking and I’m no world-class chef, but I can make pancakes and you can, too. So how do you make vegan pancakes without eggs or dairy? It’s simple; the process is pretty much the same as the traditional recipe. You’ll use flour, salt, baking powder, a little sugar, some canola or coconut oil, and your favorite non-dairy milk. I use almond milk, but if you like soy, oat, or any other kind of vegan milk, feel free to use it. You can substitute applesauce for the oil, if you wish, for a little added sweetness.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder (sounds like a lot, but the baking powder is what makes them fluffy)

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk

3 Tablespoons organic cane sugar

3 Tablespoons canola oil or coconut oil (or applesauce)

1/8 teaspoon salt

vegan buttery spread for griddle or skillet

Instructions

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add wet ingredients and let rise for about five minutes.

Melt a tablespoon of vegan buttery spread in a griddle or large skillet over medium heat.

Pour the batter onto the griddle into as many pancakes as you wish (this recipe makes about eight) and cook until you see the edges start to turn golden brown (about 5 minutes or so).

Flip the pancakes and continue to cook until done, about 3 more minutes.

Serve with vegan buttery spread and syrup, or your favorite fruit topping.

Enjoy these pancakes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are a delicious, cruelty-free way to start or end any day!

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

 

 

It’s Rabbit Awareness Week

In this scene from “Space Academy,” Ric Carrott and I are getting to know a tiny rabbit. I remember that scene very well. When the rabbit was brought onto the set, he was shaking badly, and I refused to shoot the scene with a frightened animal. While everyone waited, I picked up the rabbit and held him, stroking him and talking to him until he grew calm and relaxed. Only then could we get back to work and film that scene.

Did you know that July 15 – July 21 is Rabbit Awareness Week? Did you also know that, because of their gentle temperament and ease of confinement and breeding, more than 170,000 rabbits are killed or mutilated every year in U.S. product testing labs?

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

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

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

 

Keep Summer Safe for Your Animal Companions

Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is considered by many to be the official kickoff to summer fun and recreation. Pet lovers enjoy spending time outside with their animal companions, but here are a few things to remember to keep them safe.

Dogs, cats, and many other animals are less heat tolerant than humans. They don’t sweat to cool down the way humans do and generally have an insulating coat of fur. Panting is one of the main ways dogs and cats expel heat and excessive panting could be a sign of overheating. As a general rule, don’t take your pets for long walks when the temperatures start to rise above 80 degrees. When you do go for walks, make sure to provide plenty of fresh water and avoid black top which can burn the pads on their feet.

Make sure to talk with your veterinarian about flea and tick protection for your pet. Ticks can carry many diseases including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Tick season varies by location and your veterinarian is the best person to ask about the treatment period in your area and which specific preventative they recommend for your pet. Fleas are also a major vector for tape worms and can cause severe dermatitis and allergic problems in many pets. Flea and tick preventatives are generally very safe.

Make sure to keep your pet on year-round heartworm preventative. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and is fatal if left untreated. The treatment for heartworm disease is expensive and dangerous. Even some treated dogs won’t make it, so it is important to take prevention seriously. Heartworm preventatives also prevent intestinal parasites during the winter.

Watch out for summer-specific toxins. These include fireworks, tiki torch fluid, and some species of toads, snakes, and spiders. Research any plants you buy for the yard to ensure that they aren’t toxic. Keep dogs out of warm ponds as they may contain the highly toxic blue green algae. If your pet has exposure to something and you aren’t sure if it is toxic, please contact your veterinarian at once.

Be vigilant at the beach or around the pool. Not all dogs are swimmers. Most dogs will naturally “dog paddle” in water, but that doesn’t mean that they can keep it up for a long time. Many dogs become anxious in the water and could drown because they are scared or grow exhausted. Remember that even strong swimmers can drown if the current is strong. If you intend to do a lot of swimming you may want to consider investing in a life jacket for your dog as a precaution.

Finally, please, please never leave your animal companion in a parked car in the hot sun. If you absolutely must leave your pet alone for a moment, please remember to leave a window rolled down enough to allow fresh air in but not far enough for him or her to climb out and get lost or hurt.

Have a safe summer.

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

Sound Advice for Noisy Holidays

Next weekend is the Fourth of July, a day many pet owners, myself included, dread, because we know that holiday fireworks frighten and kill pets and wild animals. I know firsthand from my time as Director of Public Relations for New York City’s Center for Animal Care and Control that more dogs go missing on July 4 than any other day of the year. Some turn up at shelters while many more never make it home alive. Elsewhere, wild birds become disoriented and abandon their nests, leaving little ones to die, and other animals are poisoned by eating firework residue.
 Please don’t “celebrate” this holiday or any other by causing pain, fear, confusion, and death, and protect your companion animals from being frightened by the thoughtless “celebrations” of others. If fireworks are inevitable in your neighborhood, follow these six tips to make your dog feel safe:
 1. Keep your dog on a leash when in or out of the house to prevent bolting from unexpected noises or flashes of light.
2. Be sure your dog is wearing a visible, up-to-date ID tag on the collar. Be sure you have a current photo of your dog.
3. Take a long walk and make sure your dog’s bladder and bowels are empty before festivities begin.
4. Keep your dog in a crate or small room during festivities. Make sure favorite toys and foods are available. Swaddle with an anxiety wrap or thunder jacket, if needed.
5. To mask noises, play soft, gentle music in the room where your dog is staying. Close doors, windows, and shades to dampen loud noises and bright lights.
6. Stay calm yourself, and spray the room or crate pillow with a calming mist.
 Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

A Vegan Diet Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible brain disorder that leads to memory loss and a general decline in cognitive function. The disease is marked by an unnatural breakdown of connections between damaged brain cells and by eventual brain-cell death. Alzheimer’s disease kills nearly 54,000 people every year in the U.S. alone and affects millions more. It has affected my family directly and perhaps yours as well.

What is the cause of this deadly and frightening affliction? Recent research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease, like heart disease and strokes, is linked to the saturated fat, cholesterol, and toxins found in our diet. Studies have shown that people with diets full of meat and dairy products have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than do those whose diet is more generally plant based. The protective properties of chemicals commonly found in plants—such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals—have been shown to help substantially lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

It has long been established that saturated fats from animal products increase blood cholesterol levels. In a 21-year aging study, investigators examined the association of total cholesterol with brain plaques and tangles in deceased study participants. The investigators found a strong correlation between increased cholesterol levels and increases in the number of plaques and tangles in the brain. These plaques and tangles are the two main characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease. Lowering one’s cholesterol can help prevent and even reverse the buildup of deadly arterial plaques and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The bottom line is that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provides an abundance of antioxidants that can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. These antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and selenium, can counteract the damaging effects of free radicals in the brain and throughout the body as well as help lower your cholesterol.

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating not just to the sufferer but to entire families. Wouldn’t it be compassionate and wise to do all you can do to prevent it?

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

Seven Great Vegan Apps

Last weekend I posted about three great smartphone apps for cruelty-free shopping. This week I’ll tell you about some great apps for hungry vegans. Whether you’re a longtime vegan or just starting out, from restaurant finders to delicious recipes, these apps are hard to beat.

21-Day Vegan Kickstart

Aspiring and new vegans, this one is for you. Created by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, of which I was a longtime member, 21-Day Vegan Kickstart guides you through the transition into vegan eating. The tool not only includes an easy-to-follow menu, but tips and recipes from nutrition experts, too. For iPhone and Android; cost: free.

ShopWell

If you’re transitioning to a vegan or vegetarian diet, you likely spend a lot of time reading ingredient labels at the grocery store. However, with the ShopWell app, you can easily determine what’s in your food. First, you make a “Food Profile” with your dietary restrictions, allergies, and dislikes — then scan barcodes on products. The app will tell you how well the product suits your needs, along with potential alternatives. For iPhone and Android; cost: free.

Oh She Glows

Oh She Glows, created by bestselling cookbook author Angela Liddon, is known for its beautiful photos and delicious recipes. It’s no surprise, then, that Angela’s app is just as pleasant to look at as it is to use. It features a library of 160+ vegan recipes, allows you to filter recipes by dietary needs and create a favorites list. For iPhone and Android; cost: $1.99+.

Happy Cow

There’s nothing worse than finally getting to a restaurant you’ve been eager to try, only to find no vegan or vegetarian dishes on the menu. Instead of endlessly scrolling through online menus, use the Happy Cow app to find a vegan restaurant near you. With more than 7,300 listings in 100+ countries, this handy tool is especially perfect for road trips and vacations. For iPhone and Android; cost: $3.99.

BevVeg

Surprise – Alcohol isn’t always vegan- or vegetarian-friendly. Some wines are made with gelatin or animal proteins such as egg, while some brands of beers are filtered with fish bladders. Blecch! Use the BevVeg app to make sure your favorite libation is 100% cruelty-free. For iPhone and Android; cost: free.

Veggie Alternatives

With Veggie Alternatives, you can find vegan store-bought alternatives to practically any food. It’s especially useful if you’re new to plant-based eating, as it can help you discover new brands and products. The app also offers recipes to please your inner chef. For iPhone and Android; cost: free.

Food Monster

Food Monster was created by One Green Planet, and features more than 15,000 plant-based, gluten-free, vegan, and meatless recipes. There’s a monthly subscription fee, but if cooking is your thing, this app will pay for itself In culinary pleasure. For iPhone only; cost: free trial, $1.99/month subscription.

There will be more cruelty-free and vegan app recommendations to come, but these seven are available right now and well worth checking out. Start downloading!

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

Mobile Apps That Can Help You Shop Cruelty-Free

When I was growing up, all you could do with a telephone was make and receive calls. Today you can send text messages, check your email, surf the internet, and get where you’re going with GPS. And, of course, all those apps!

I’ve posted before about logos to look for when shopping for cruelty-free products. Now there are a variety of mobile apps that can assist you in shopping cruelty-free. I’m no techno-wiz, so you can believe me when I say that these three apps are easy to use and worth checking out.

 

 

CRUELTY-FREE

Since 1996, the Leaping Bunny Program, operated by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics in the US and Canada, has been connecting compassionate consumers to cruelty-free companies under its Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals. They have introduced the Cruelty-Free app, which is available for FREE for both Android and iPhone. The app lists over 200 U.S. and Canadian companies that are certified under the Leaping Bunny Program. You can also use the search bar at the top and type in a brand name. Another list on the app tells you where you can find cruelty-free brands within a product’s category like soap, eye makeup, tanning products, and more. Users can also scan a product’s barcode to instantly know whether the brand is certified by Leaping Bunny.

 

 

 

BUNNY FREE

The Bunny Free app uses data from PETA’s cruelty-free shopping guide and allows users to check to see if a company is cruelty-free by typing the company’s name in the search box, scanning a product’s barcode, or browsing an alphabetically ordered brand list. Bunny Free will also tell you which brands are NOT cruelty-free and should be avoided. There’s also a filter option to only show companies that are vegan! The app is FREE and available for both Android and iPhone. One drawback: The app doesn’t let you browse by product category. I’m hoping they add that very convenient feature soon.

 

CRUELTY-CUTTER

The Cruelty-Cutter app was developed by the Beagle Freedom Project, a non-profit organization engaged in rescuing animals used in experimental research.  Users can scan a product, search by a company’s name, and search by product category. As a bonus, each company’s information is provided along with direct links to their website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. This app will keep a log of all the products you’ve scanned in your personal “History” section and allows the user to create a list of “Favorites.” Cruelty-Cutter is not free, however, but can be downloaded for a donation of $2.99 to the Beagle Freedom Project. The app is available for both iPhone and Android users.

So, here you have three convenient tools to help you shop cruelty-free. Remember that what you buy does make a difference.

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