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.

New California Law Takes Aim at Breeding Mills

Here’s a photo of me and Muttley, rescued from a municipal shelter in the nick of time, and a member of my family for ten years.

On January 1, 2019, California became the first state to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs, cats, and other mammals unless they were acquired from a shelter, rescue group, or public animal control agency. Under the new California law, pet store operators must be able to prove the origin for animals in their store or be fined $500 per animal.

Most animals sold in pet stores come from mass-breeding facilities that churn out hundreds of thousands of animals every year in deplorable conditions. At these “puppy mills,” “breeding stock” are artificially inseminated again and again to keep them permanently pregnant or nursing. Due to stress and physical exertion, their lives are often short. Their young are typically taken away at a very early age, packed into crates, and trucked or flown hundreds of miles – often without adequate food, water, or ventilation – to brokers, who then sell them to stores. Some of the animals don’t survive the grueling journey.

This is a serious and long overdue blow to those evil breeding mills. Animal advocacy groups have fought and uncovered horrific conditions at breeding mills for years, including those at Holmes Farm, a huge Pennsylvania animal mill that supplied PetSmart, Petco, and others. Undercover video taken there documented that animals were kept in stacked plastic bins, denied veterinary care, and routinely frozen alive and gassed by the dozens. Holmes Farm was raided by agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is now under federal investigation.

Another good reason to put these breeders out of business? Purebred dogs and cats suffer from significantly higher rates of physical abnormalities and congenital defects. Over-breeding has saturated gene pools with those for deafness, heart ailments, and other physical disorders. The healthiest and most robust dogs and cats are mixed-breeds, or mutts, and they’re oh so cute besides. Every animal is beautiful in his or her own right, not just those with AKC-certified bloodlines!

California is the first to have such a law enacted statewide, but there are similar laws restricting pet store sales in towns and cities across the country. If where you live isn’t on the list, I urge you to contact your state and local legislators to push for similar legislation.

As good news as the California law is for putting an end to breeding mills, it’s still not cause for celebration. Don’t forget that every time someone buys an animal from a pet store, they are condemning another in a shelter, waiting to be loved, to death. Pet store animals will be there until someone buys them, but shelter animals are given a only a brief window of opportunity to be adopted; those that aren’t are put to death. As Public Relations Director for New York’s Center for Animal Care and Control I witnessed beautiful, healthy dogs and cats held down, injected with an asphyxiating drug, and tossed into a refrigerated room to be taken away by garbage trucks. It’s heartbreaking and sickening. Make shelter animals your first choice in adoption, and, remember, always have your animal companions spayed or neutered.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the Year of the Dog – And Your Pets Are “Cutered” When They’re Neutered

Happy New Year! According to the Chinese lunar calendar, it’s now the Year of the Dog. Here are some photos of me and some of the great dogs I worked with in my acting career. Each one of them was a beautiful, intelligent, loving animal, and every one of them was brought to the set in a cage and returned to their cages when their work was done. This made me sad and angry. I enjoyed the companionship of several beloved dogs of my own growing up; I still do. Who doesn’t love dogs – and cats, too? So why do we allow millions of them to be killed each year in animal shelters?

About ten million healthy cats, dogs, puppies and kittens are killed each year in animal shelters across the United States. The numbers overwhelm us and, in an important sense, that number diminishes the true horror of the situation, reducing the impact to a confused statistical jumble.

Ten million individual lives. Who can understand a number that big? To appreciate the magnitude of this crisis, one must look into the eyes of the individual dogs and cats waiting to be killed in our animal shelters. I have seen them myself, with ropes around their necks, their legs literally shaking. They looked up to me as if to say, “I just want to be loved. Please help me, I don’t want to die.” They watch as the others who go before them are slapped on a stainless-steel table, a needle filled with poison thrust into their beating hearts and then, sometimes while they are still breathing, dumped onto a cement floor like so much garbage.

Who is responsible? Why DO animals die? The responsibility for the mass execution of animals in our shelters each year is shared by us all. It is the fault of one uniquely powerful, incredibly myopic and self-centered species, the human. Many of us treat animals like a cheap commodity and take them for granted. They are not accorded the intrinsic value they deserve; the value that a caring, compassionate person may begin to understand if you look into the eyes of all animals. But there are three things that you can do to prevent these unnecessary deaths.

First, we must all be aware that breeding equals killing. There is no adequate justification for the purposeful or accidental breeding of any owned companion animal no matter what the commercial value. Spaying and Neutering is a responsible step to prevent companion animals from giving birth to more and more puppies and kittens. It’s not only healthier for the individual animal, but it will help stop the killing of those in the shelters. There are low-cost spay/neuter facilities if a person can’t afford to pay the usual $80.00 it costs to spay or neuter a companion animal. Also, most shelters will spay and neuter the adopted dog or cat before they are taken home by their new family. With the advent of “early spay/neuter programs” a puppy or kitten can be neutered starting as early as eight weeks of age.

Secondly, only go to an animal shelter or rescue to adopt your next best friend, NOT to a pet store or breeder. Behind the facade of the pet store window is hidden the gruesome puppy mill industry. Within these breeding farms, puppies endure extreme deprivation during their first weeks of life. At six to eight weeks of age, puppies are crammed two to a crate and shipped to any of the thousands of pet shops across the country. These puppies, jostled from truck to truck and finally to air cargo bays, may endure days in transit. The adult dogs who are used to produce the “cash-crop” of puppies are forced to spend their entire lives in cramped cages or pens. And because profit is the ultimate goal of the puppy mill owner, these poor breeding dogs are kept in conditions that will barely keep them alive and producing. When the adult females are so worn out from giving birth to litter after litter, she is killed because she is no longer profitable to the puppy mill owner.

Even AKC breeders who let you see their facilities are in fact putting a price on the heads of animals who look a certain way and have a certain bloodline. But how can a person base a dog’s or cat’s worth by these criteria? That’s what the Nazis did in Germany. They placed a high value on an individual only if they had blond hair and blue eyes and were of the “correct” bloodline; all other individuals were “worthless.” A dog or cat’s value is NOT in what their AKC papers say; each dog or cat is a unique individual. And those dogs and cats, puppies and kittens who are waiting at your local shelter to be rescued and given a chance at life will be killed if people continue to frequent pet stores and breeders.

Last but certainly not least, the hope for the animals is to be found in a human culture which learns to feel beyond itself. We must learn empathy; we must learn to see into the eyes of an animal and feel that it’s life has value. Nothing less will do.

For more information, please visit:

friendsofanimals.org/program/dont-delay-neuter-or-spay/

www.peta.org/…/companion-animal…/overpopulation/spay-neuter/

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Pets are “Cutered” When They’re Neutered!

About ten million healthy cats, dogs, puppies and kittens are killed each year in animal shelters across the United States. The numbers overwhelm us and, in an important sense, that number diminishes the true horror of the situation, reducing the impact to a confused statistical jumble.

Ten million individual lives. Who can understand a number that big? To appreciate the magnitude of this crisis, one must look into the eyes of the individual dogs and cats waiting to be killed in our animal shelters. I have seen them myself, with ropes around their necks, their legs literally shaking. They looked up to me as if to say, “I just want to be loved. Please help me, I don’t want to die.” They watch as the others who go before them are slapped on a stainless-steel table, a needle filled with poison thrust into their beating hearts and then, sometimes while they are still breathing, dumped onto a cement floor like so much garbage.

Who is responsible? Why DO animals die? The  responsibility for the mass execution of animals in our shelters each year is shared by us all. It is the fault of one uniquely powerful, incredibly myopic and self-centered species, the human. Many of us treat animals like a cheap commodity and take them for granted. They are not accorded the intrinsic value they deserve; the value that a caring, compassionate person may begin to understand if you look into the eyes of all animals. But there are three things that you can do to prevent these unnecessary deaths.

First, we must all be aware that breeding equals killing. There is no adequate justification for the purposeful or accidental breeding of any owned companion animal no matter what the commercial value. Spaying and neutering is a responsible step to prevent companion animals from giving birth to more and more puppies and kittens. It’s not only healthier for the  individual animal, but it will help stop the killing of those in the shelters. There are low-cost spay/neuter facilities if a person can’t afford to pay the usual $80.00 it costs to spay or neuter a companion animal. Also, most shelters will spay and  neuter the adopted dog or cat before they are taken home by their new family. With the advent of “early spay/neuter programs” a puppy or kitten can be neutered  starting as early as eight weeks of age.

Secondly, only go to an animal shelter or rescue to adopt your next best friend, NOT to a pet store or breeder. Behind the facade of the pet store window is hidden the gruesome puppy mill industry. Within these breeding farms, puppies endure extreme deprivation during their first weeks of life. At six to eight weeks of age, puppies are crammed two to a crate and shipped to any of the thousands of pet shops across the country. These puppies, jostled from truck to truck and finally to air cargo bays, may endure days in transit. The adult dogs who are used to produce the “cash-crop” of puppies are forced to spend their entire lives in cramped cages or pens. And because profit is the ultimate goal of the puppy mill owner, these poor breeding dogs are kept in conditions that will barely keep them alive and producing. When the adult females are so worn out from giving birth to litter after litter, she is killed because she is no longer profitable to the puppy mill owner.

Even AKC breeders who let you see their facilities are in fact putting a price on the heads of animals who look a certain way and have a certain bloodline. But how can a person base a dog’s or cat’s worth by these criteria? That’s what the Nazis did in Germany. They placed a high value on an individual only if they had blond hair and blue eyes and were of the “correct” bloodline; all other individuals were “worthless.” A dog or cat’s value is NOT in what their AKC papers say; each dog or cat is a unique individual. And those dogs and cats, puppies and kittens who are waiting at your local shelter to be rescued and given a chance at life will be killed if  people continue to frequent pet stores and breeders.

Last but certainly not least, the hope for the animals is to be found in a human culture which learns to feel   beyond itself. We must learn empathy, we must learn to see into the eyes of an animal and feel that it’s life has value. Nothing less will do.

For more information, please visit:

friendsofanimals.org/program/dont-delay-neuter-or-spay/

www.peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/overpopulation/spay-neuter/

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