Hunting Is Not a Sport

I grew up in a city where millions of people follow sports, watch their favorite teams on TV or in packed stadiums, and participate in recreational sports like golf, swimming, surfing, running, and hiking. During my acting career I had little time for recreation, but I did enjoy playing tennis and even made my high school tennis team.
Sports can be fun and exercise, of course, is good for you. Do you what is not a sport? Hunting. Where is the sport in pursuing an innocent animal then firing a bullet through it from a high-powered rifle or taking it down with a bow and arrow? Real sports involve competition between consenting parties and don’t end with the slaughter of an unwilling participant. Hunting is not a sport, and people who enjoy killing are not sportsmen or sportswomen. The same goes for fishing.

There’s no need in a civilized society for people to hunt. Whether it’s in the mountains and forests of California or on the Serengeti plains, killing for pleasure is evil. The thrill hunters get from murdering innocent animals is utterly beyond my comprehension.

Hunters have invented all sorts of excuses to rationalize their bloody hobby. Spare us the effort  – 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 animal populations are self-regulating – when food is scarce, those animals don’t reproduce. 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 their species’ 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.”

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. Forty percent 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. People who care about animals shouldn’t give a dime to organizations who see nothing wrong in killing them.
Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

Make Your Super Bowl Party Animal Friendly!

Growing up, I wasn’t a big football fan, but in 1969 I got to visit the Los Angeles Rams training camp for a photo shoot to promote the movie, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.” We recreated Lucy’s favorite gag – holding the ball for Charlie Brown to kick then pulling it away at the last moment. Rams kicker Bruce Gossett, filling in for Charlie Brown, was a good sport, and we had fun.

This weekend is the Super Bowl, and football fans everywhere will be gathering to watch the game and devour untold tons of snacks at Super Bowl parties. My heart breaks when I think of all those chicken wings and other animal products laid out on snack tables. Every wing, sausage, and cold cut reminds me of the innocent lives who suffered and were slaughtered to become snacks. It’s heartbreaking.

There are many mouth-watering vegan alternatives that can make your Super Bowl party 100% cruelty-free. Have you tried Beyond Sausages from the Beyond Meat company? They’re juicy and delicious, and they smell and cook great on the grill. There are plant-based Buffalo- and barbecue-style “chicken” wings that your guests will tear into and ask for more of.

Like coleslaw and potato salad? Make it with dairy- and egg-free Veganaise. I enjoy it on sandwiches, and it’s so much healthier for you.

Offer your guests a beautiful and delicious cheese plate using vegan cheeses. I like the ones made by Daiya, but there are many others. Treeline has a scallion soft spread cheese that is delicious, and Myokos has a good smokey-flavored hard cheese. Supplement your cheese plate with fruits, nuts, and crunchy vegetables. Vegan queso is great, there’s guacamole, and coconut yogurt makes a great base for all kinds of dips. Vegan cheeses are great on pizza, too!

There are vegan meatballs and vegan burgers. I like a hearty vegan chili. Recently I had a great Kung Pao cauliflower. Be creative!

You can find some great recipes for vegan appetizers, dips, and other snacks here.

A lot of people think eating vegan means a steady diet of salads and raw carrots. Get over it! In the 21st century, an amazing and delicious variety of vegan foods are available everywhere. Make your Super Bowl party truly super and 100% cruelty-free.

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

 

“Game Changers” – A Must-See Movie

Happy Holidays to all my fans! Looking for a great movie to watch before shopping for the big holiday dinner? I’m really excited about the Netflix documentary “Game Changers” and a recent USA Today article that are both changing the public face of veganism. Now that elite athletes are “going vegan,” people are realizing just how important eating a plan- based diet is for health, stamina and recovery from injuries and inflammation. “Game Changers” is produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, Chris Paul, Joseph Pace, and James Wilks.

You won’t believe all the  professional athletes who have adopted a vegan diet, including the NFL legend quarterback Tom Brady, NBA stars Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul, ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, silver medal-winning Olympic cyclist Dotsie Bausch, and tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams. Arnold Schwarzenegger is vegan, and the strongest man on earth, Patrik Baboumian, is, too. Watch Baboumian flip a car over in “Game Changers” and do a yoke-walk carrying 1,200 pounds. As his t-shirt says, he’s a “Vegan Badass!” They’ve all switched to a plant-based diet to put them at the top of their game. “Game Changers” also features interviews with elite athletes, sports doctors, cardiologists, and even a urologist who proves by clinical trial that a vegan diet has a very positive effect on men’s “manhood.” 

I’ve been vegan for almost 30 years.  While I enjoy the health benefits, my motivation was to do what I could to put a stop to the cruelty, suffering and killing of animals. I’ve witnessed firsthand the shocking things done to animals on factory farms and smaller independent farms.  I’ve seen the chickens with their beaks sheared off so they won’t peck each other in crowded, stressful living conditions. I’ve seen the poor suffering dairy cows artificially inseminated in what the dairy industry calls “rape racks” to keep them pregnant and lactating their sad miserable lives. They’re then killed when their productivity declines. I’ve seen three-day-old male baby calves torn from their mothers’ sides to be shipped to veal farms where they are put into cages so small they can’t even turn around, then fed an iron-deficient diet to keep their flesh pale and tender. These and other horrors I’ve seen with my own eyes are why I try so hard to inform and educate others with my Saturday Facebook essays.   

Whether you’re interested in helping putting an end to cruel suffering and death of animals or simply interested in improving your health and vitality, “Game Changers” is the must-see movie of the season. 

Here is the USA Today article, which underscores the revelations in “Game Changers:”

ATHLETES TURN TO PLANT-BASED AND VEGAN DIETS TO GAIN EDGE IN A GROWING SPORTS WORLD TREND

Alex Morgan remembers athletes sporting milk mustaches in ads when she was a kid, reinforcing the idea that she needed protein from animal and dairy products to be strong. “I never thought it was possible I could be playing at an elite level as a professional athlete with a plant-based diet,” the U.S. women’s soccer star told USA TODAY Sports. “Then I realized it wasn’t detrimental at all. What I learned growing up just wasn’t true.”

When Morgan’s Orlando Pride teammates and the MLS teammates of her husband, Servando Carrasco, showed they could thrive while eating vegan, the stigma was erased and Morgan was ready to try a new diet. She became vegetarian in August 2017 and then took on a vegan lifestyle at the beginning of 2018.

NEW TREND IN SPORTS WORLD

What Alex Morgan and Chris Paul eat everyday is entirely  plant based.  “If anything, it makes me stronger and helps with fatigue and recovery,” said Morgan, who had the U.S. women team’s chef, Teren Green, prepare vegan meals during the World Cup, prompting several of her teammates to give it a try. 

Veganism is on the rise in the United States — the plant-based market increased 17% in dollar sales this last year, according to The Good Food Institute — and more athletes are turning to the diet, particularly at the peak and latter stages of their careers. 

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the most prominent football player to embrace veganism, crediting his plant-based diet for allowing him to play at an MVP level into his 40s. He made the change starting in 2014, and detailed his approach in his 2017 book, “The TB12 Method.”

Athletes have been exposed to plant-based diets for a variety of reasons. NBA guard Chris Paul said his children’s nanny was vegan. 

Recovering from a shoulder injury, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said in April he’s gone vegan to aid his stamina and rehabilitation. 

Tennis star Venus Williams adopted a vegan diet in 2011 after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. 

A gluten allergy led Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic to go plant-based, and in 2016 he opened up a Monte Carlo vegan restaurant. 

While most nutrition experts are in agreement that veganism aids recovery and promotes good health, others raise questions about its effectiveness.  Yet athletes are among the biggest advocates for veganism. 

Morgan and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving were named “Most Beautiful Vegan Celebrities” by PETA this year. “The rules aren’t as strict as everyone thinks,” Irving told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m an example of someone who ate really unhealthy — fast food or a quick TV dinner in the microwave — without educating myself on what I was putting into my body. Now I feel like I understand the truth — how certain chemicals in meat and dairy affect your body, and that now there are alternatives bridging the gap available.”

Those alternatives start with plant-based meat companies such as Beyond Meat, which has attracted Paul, Irving and Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins as investors. You’ve got to be open-minded,” Paul said. “I was someone who was like, ‘I don’t want that fake chicken or fake burger.’ But it tastes similar and it really makes a huge difference in how I feel.”

James Loomis, who practices internal medicine at Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said he believes a vegan diet is a natural fit for athletes: “It leads to quicker recovery from workouts and better injury prevention. The food pyramid is misleading and that’s stayed with us from a young age. The standard American diet leads to low-grade inflammation so when athletes are exercising it’s like putting Diesel fuel into a regular car.” 

Cate Shanahan, a nutrition consultant says “The healthiest diet comes from four natural pillars — fresh food, fermented and sprouted food, meat cooked on the bone, and organ meats.”

Loomis disagrees, and has data to prove it. He collaborated with experts for a 2019 study that outlined evidence of plant-based diets benefiting endurance athletes in heart health, overall performance and recovery. 

“It’s a factual myth that we have to have animal protein to perform at a high level,” he said. “With a plant based diet, food becomes more like medicine.” 

Loomis is one of the doctors featured on “Game Changers,” a documentary that debuted in September that features MMA fighter James Wilks exploring the differences between protein from plant-based and meat-based diets.

“If you go into locker rooms and look at the pre-game meal, it’s usually steak or chicken or pasta, and there’s lots of Whey Protein powder,” said Loomis, the former team internist for the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals. “That’s then amplified commercially with marketing, basically saying, ‘You’re not a man unless you eat meat.’”

Times are changing. Brady appeared in a 2002 Got Milk? ad. Nowadays he’s promoting his own plant-based protein shakes. 

Silver medal-winning Olympic cyclist Dotsie Bausch became vegan in her mid-30s — three years before the 2012 London Games — and appeared in an anti-milk commercial for her non-profit, Switch4Good, during the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

“Most people have meat and dairy because the next person does it,” Bausch said. “The truth is milk doesn’t make you grow big and strong.” 

Chris Paul’s personal chef, Seong Hwang, prepared a post-game meal for the Houston Rockets last season. He didn’t tell players until afterwards that it was made with Beyond Meat.

“The players, the staff, they all loved it solely based on the taste,” Seong said. “No one wants to give up taste. Chris is a big foodie. If what I was making him didn’t taste good, he wouldn’t stick with it. Whenever you hear veganism, you think you have to give up something or eat tofu to survive. That’s really not the case.”

The vegan perception can be damning, though. According to a 2017 report by NBC Sports Bay Area, NFL teams were dissuaded by Colin Kaepernick’s vegan diet, calling it a red flag when considering signing the free agent quarterback.

“There’s a weird connotation that comes with veganism,” said Loomis, who moved his practice to Washington, D.C., from the St. Louis area because colleagues in the Midwest thought his approach was “crazy.”

Morgan says the stigma can go both ways.

“It took me a while to feel comfortable with my lifestyle,” said Morgan, who also supports veganism because of ethical concerns around animal rights. “The vegan community can be very unforgiving at times, and I don’t want to sit here and say I’ve never eaten dairy or worn leather. But I haven’t eaten meat or dairy in two years and do the best I can.”

“I just want to feel good about why I’m doing this. I don’t think our country is there yet, in terms of being able to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle, but we’re getting there.” 

When It Comes to Horse Racing, No Horse Is a Winner

Here I am at the age of 4 or 5 up on a very large horse!! I might be smiling but, boy, was I scared. I didn’t have to be; horses, like many large mammals, are gentle giants. But maybe because I was so tiny, I felt really frightened. I was able to cover up my fear because at 6 I got a part where I rode one on an episode of “Branded,” starring Chuck Connors. I was around horses while filming the movie “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band,” as well as the Walt Disney TV movie, “Smoke,” starring Ronny Howard. When filming the series “Lassie,” I rode a horse regularly; by that time I was pretty much over my fear of riding.

As an adult, I completely overcame my fear of horses and learned a lot about them in the process. Horses are herd animals. They naturally want to be around other horses, graze in meadows, trot great distances, play and court, but they suffer greatly when used to pull carriages around busy city streets, as in New York, or are made to race around tracks.

Behind the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. Horses who weigh at least 1,000 pounds are supported by ankles the size of a human’s, and are forced to run around dirt tracks at speeds of more than 30 miles an hour while carrying a rider on their backs. Celebrated filly Eight Belles was euthanized on the track after breaking both front ankles during the 2008 Kentucky Derby; her poor ankles couldn’t sustain her running that fast. At another race, a horse named Appeal to the City hemorrhaged around her eye when jockey Jeremy Rose “engaged in extreme misuse of the whip.” In his Kentucky Derby win, American Pharaoh was struck with a whip at least 32 times by jockey Victor Espinoza. Pushed beyond their limits, most horses are subjected to cocktails of legal and illegal drugs intended to mask injuries and artificially enhance performance.

Racehorses are the victims of a multi-billion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and race fixing, and many horses’ careers end in slaughterhouses. Horses used for racing are forced to sprint — often under the threat of whips and even illegal electric-shocking devices — at speeds so fast that they frequently sustain injuries and even hemorrhage from the lungs. While spectators show off their fancy outfits and sip mint juleps, horses are running for their lives.

I hope all who read these posts learn something they didn’t know about animals and share them with their friends and co-workers. We all need to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless.

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.

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 Horse Racing, the Horse Always Loses

In a 1974 episode of “Shazam,” I played a girl determined to save the life of a horse sentenced to die by an evil and heartless man. The lesson of the story was that all life has meaning and that living beings are entitled to justice and mercy. Between shows like “Shazam” and all those westerns, I worked with a lot of horses. I know them to be beautiful, gentle, and intelligent animals, which is why horse racing makes me both sad and angry, and why I’ve written this brief essay.

 

They perform for our entertainment behind a glamorous façade of fancy dress, cocktails, floral wreaths, and glittering trophies. At weights greater than 1,000 pounds, they are supported by ankles no bigger than those of a human. Carrying 126 pounds of jockey and tack on their slender backs, they are whipped and forced to race with blinkered vision at speeds over 30 miles an hour on tracks of cement-hard dirt, slippery turf, or sometimes thick, spattering mud. They are the victims of a multi-billion-dollar industry rife with drug abuse, catastrophic injuries, and race fixing, and many will end their days at the slaughterhouse. They are racehorses.

 

Today is the running of the 142nd Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the celebrated Triple Crown of horse racing. Millions of dollars will change hands at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, where this week a two-year-old horse was killed after breaking his leg in a race, marking the second time in three years a horse was killed on the track at Pimlico during Preakness week.

 

On one recent Preakness Day, five horses took to starting gates across the United States for their final races. One died of a heart attack, while three others were killed after fracturing legs; another suffered a fatal injury falling over a jump in a steeplechase race. In 2015, 953 horses lost their lives on racetracks across the United States, meaning every day of the year we are killing two or three horses for two-dollar bets.

 

Many racehorses are doped and drugged. Trainers and veterinarians keep injured horses racing when they should be healing by giving them a variety of legal drugs to mask pain and control inflammation. Running with pain dulled by drugs leads to breakdowns, further injuries, and often death.

 

Not all drugs used are legal. “There are trainers pumping horses full of illegal drugs every day,” says a former Churchill Downs public relations director. “With so much money on the line, people will do anything to make their horses run faster.” One trainer was suspended for “treating” five horses with a drug similar to Ecstasy, and another was banned from racetracks for using the stimulant clenbuterol.

 

Few injured or aged horses or those not fast enough to finish “in the money” are retired to pasture, because owners don’t want to feed and stable a horse who doesn’t pay for his or her upkeep. Many of those horses are sold to slaughterhouses in Canada, Mexico, or Japan, where they are killed and processed into dog food and glue. Their flesh is also exported to countries such as France and Japan, where horse meat is considered a delicacy. Horses sent to slaughter spend their last days in cramped trailers with no access to food or water. Injuries during transport are common. Upon arrival they are herded into corrals where they thrash about in fear and panic to avoid the shot of the captive-bolt gun intended to render them unconscious before their throats are cut. It’s a sad and horrifying end to the life of such a beautiful and majestic animal.

 

Please join me in opposition to horse racing by refusing to attend or bet on races and by lobbying against the construction of new racetracks.

 

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

 

Racehorses Never Win

Here I am at the age of 4 or 5 up on a very large horse!! I might be smiling but, boy, was I scared. I didn’t have to be; horses, like many large mammals, are gentle giants. But maybe because I was so tiny, I felt really frightened. I was able to cover up my fear because at 6 I got a part where I rode one on an episode of “Branded,” starring Chuck Connors. I was around horses while filming the movie “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band,” as well as the Walt Disney TV movie, “Smoke,” starring Ronny Howard. When filming the series “Lassie,” I rode a horse regularly; by that time I was pretty much over my fear of riding.

As an adult, I completely overcame my fear of horses and learned a lot about them in the process. Horses are herd animals. They naturally want to be around other horses, graze in meadows, trot great distances, play and court, but they suffer greatly when used to pull carriages around busy city streets, as in New York, or are made to race around tracks.

Behind the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. Horses who weigh at least 1,000 pounds are supported by ankles the size of a human’s, and are forced to run around dirt tracks at speeds of more than 30 miles an hour while carrying a rider on their backs. Celebrated filly Eight Belles was euthanized on the track after breaking both front ankles during the 2008 Kentucky Derby; her poor ankles couldn’t sustain her running that fast. At another race, a horse named Appeal to the City hemorrhaged around her eye when jockey Jeremy Rose “engaged in extreme misuse of the whip.” In his Kentucky Derby win, American Pharaoh was struck with a whip at least 32 times by jockey Victor Espinoza. Pushed beyond their limits, most horses are subjected to cocktails of legal and illegal drugs intended to mask injuries and artificially enhance performance.

Racehorses are the victims of a multi-billion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and race fixing, and many horses’ careers end in slaughterhouses. Horses used for racing are forced to sprint — often under the threat of whips and even illegal electric-shocking devices — at speeds so fast that they frequently sustain injuries and even hemorrhage from the lungs. While spectators show off their fancy outfits and sip mint juleps, horses are running for their lives.
Coming up soon: me in another riding role and the horribly sad and lonely life of carriage horses. I hope all who read these posts learn something they didn’t know about animals, and share them with their friends and co-workers. We all need to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless.

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