On the way to one of Seattle Farmed Animal Save‘s monthly demostrations last year, I started driving by row after row of plastic huts by the side of the road. I suspected they were veal crates but, despite having gone vegan largely because of the horrors of the dairy industry (dairy pizza was the last thing I gave up), I didn’t want to believe I was driving right by so many isolated, suffering calves.
As I drove, I started looking more closely at the farms where the plastic huts were located and, sure enough, they were dairies. I decided to pull over and look inside a hut. What — who — I saw was heart-wrenching.
(Just look at his eyelashes!)
As I peeked into a crate, the calf inside stood up on wobbly legs, his ear tags showing his recent birthdate. Across the top of the veal crates, I could see the calves’ mothers standing nearby. They were so close.
Many accounts and videos attest to the love cows have for their babies. Like any mother, they want to protect and feed their young. Instead, they are separated soon (sometimes minutes) after birth — even on small dairy farms like this — and their milk is taken for humans. Their daughters become dairy cows and, when their bodies give out, they, like their mothers, are killed for hamburger or pet food.
Their sons become veal.
If you eat cheese, you are directly funding the veal industry.
Mother cows live in a Groundhog Day of unbearable grief. They are forcibly impregnated on something farmers call a “rape rack,” then have their babies taken from them over and over again.
As a recent Mercy for Animals undercover investigation found, the misery does not end there — although the veal aspect alone is a far cry from the picture we paint of small dairies in childrens’ books, on “happy cow” milk cartons and in our own minds (before we learn the truth).
There’s video of workers shoving, dragging, and tossing baby calves; cows suffering from diarrhea and breathing difficulties without proper veterinary care; and cows being kicked and hit. Personally, my heart goes out to anyone who works with the animals in the meat, egg or dairy industries, because of the desensitization that must take place in their hearts so they can make a living there.
My personal belief is that there’s a continuum of suffering and abuse in animal agriculture and that factory farms are worse than smaller and organic farms. But the calves I saw — who were killed as someone’s meal without ever having known other cows, including their mothers — lived at the “better” end of that spectrum. For what? So we can eat pizza and ice cream that has their mothers’ milk in it?
When I went vegan, the way I turned away from my pizza (and ice cream) habit was to think of the suffering of nearby cows. Now I can add veal calves to that mental picture, although there are so many tastier alternatives that I’m no longer tempted. Eating dairy was a habit, and now it’s not.
I wish everyone could see what I saw that day, make the connection and make a change that would greatly reduce the suffering humans cause in this world.
A comment period is now open on a U.S. Interior Department plan to allow hunters in Alaska to:
Among other things, the Associated Press and others report. It’s hard to believe these things were ever legal on wildlife preserves, but they were until 2015 — and will be again unless the Interior Department reverses course.
Alaska’s Division of Wildlife Conservation is on board, saying this would align regulations on almost 37,000 square miles of national preserves with state rules — although the Fairbanks Daily News Miner reports that the latter three practices (hunting bears with dogs, killing wolves in their dens, and shooting caribou from boats) are legal in only a small part of Alaska. If all of this rings a bell, it may be because Congress and Donald Trump last year enacted a law allowing unsportsmanlike hunting on wildlife refuges, including shooting bears and wolves from airplanes.
Here’s the link for making a comment the latest measure. Please leave at least a short one. Silence is dangerous.
The Seattle Times reports that wolf researcher Robert Wielgus has accepted a $300,000 settlement from Washington State University and has left the school.
“Wielgus tracked the behavior of wolves and cattle and learned that the state’s policy of killing wolves that had preyed on cattle was likely to lead to more cattle predation, not less, because it destabilized the structure of wolf packs,” reporter Lynda Mapes wrote.
“The research was unpopular with ranchers, who complained to lawmakers in the Washington State Legislature, who, in turn, cut Wielgus’ funding and removed him as principal investigator on his ongoing work, passing the funds through another researcher. It was a highly unusual move that eliminated Wielgus’ money for travel, speaking at conferences or for research in the summer, the peak field months for his work.”
Carolita McGee, who is advocating for the animals at Olympic Game Farm in western Washington to be sent to sanctuaries, has created a second petition focused on an ailing tiger, Amadeus, who was still on display while suffering and under veterinary care.
Here’s the petition related to Amadeus.
Here’s McGee’s original petition.
We’re thrilled that NARN was chosen by CommonWealth Partners as one of the nonprofits to table for Earth Day last week in the lobby of its building at 1301 2nd Ave., headquarters to Zillow, Russell Investments and others, in downtown Seattle.
Special thanks to Lily, the volunteer who talked to workers about veganism! She held her own against the huge drawing power of Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, which brought a bald eagle, a turkey vulture and a falcon into the lobby to teach people about its work.
Here are a couple photos of Lily that day:
When Carolita McGee was seven, her father moved their family to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
“Right away, I was drawn in by the forested backyards we had. Even though I enjoyed having friends, nothing compared to the calming & blissful feeling I would get when I was immersed by nature & her Crtrs (critters ;-)),” Carolita wrote in an email discussing her recent petition against the Olympic Game Farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “It was around 10 years old that I promised nature I would take care of her & that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Formerly a pet sitter, veterinarian assistant and a worker in the pet shop industry — which she no longer supports, she now helps animals of all kinds, wild and domestic, as a volunteer. She works with local animal control officers and sometimes asks PETA for help when other avenues are exhausted.
As a pet sitter in Los Angeles, Carolita specialized in reptile care and provided basic grooming, including baths & mani/pedis for animals with feathers, scales and fur.
She adopted pets that were no longer wanted or near death, which resulted in having 31 Crtrs at one time in a large apartment with no furniture except a TV on the floor. “I slept on the floor for many years so that my pets could have the best set-up I could give them,” she wrote. They included iguanas, snakes, rodents, a rabbit, fish and a parrot she still has.
“People don’t want to be preached to, so I’m using a different twist to get the message across,” she wrote. “My morning ritual includes signing petitions, writing letters to our government, using social media to share and raise awareness on animal advocacy.”
She continues to work with animal control on local matters and recently started a petition against Olympic Game Farm.
How did you become aware of the Olympic Game Farm?
My husband, Scott, and I visited the farm per a referral from one of the bed and breakfast places we were staying at nearby. We told her about our love for animals and nature, so we were very excited about this “sanctuary” she was raving about!
What kinds of animals live there, and how do do visitors see or interact with them?
We saw farm animals, camel, llama, ponies, bears, wolves, elk, zebra, bison, etc. You pay extra to pet the farm animals, and there are usually kids who enjoy that section. You can pay a dollar or two to buy a loaf of wheat bread to feed the safari animals.
You drive your car on this road that takes you to an open field of wild animals that stick their heads in your window for bread. I didn’t notice a single employee around to make sure no human or animal gets hurt.
We would often get so nervous thinking we were going to run over an animal because they have absolutely no fear of cars. Why would they? Each car is filled with junk food!
We noticed a reptile house and an above-ground pool labeled “aquarium” that cost extra. We regret not checking these out, but we were already so overwhelmed with sadness and disgust about how these poor animals are exploited, we couldn’t stomach it anymore.
What are the animals’ living quarters like?
The animals in the open field have little shelter — just a few wooden beams and a roof scattered here and there. We saw two Kodiak bears in their own open area with just a metal half dome for shelter. There were no pools, nothing to climb around on, but plenty of bread being tossed at them.
A solo black bear and three wolves were housed together in a small, wire enclosure with very little to provide enrichment. These animals were pacing back and forth, showing obvious signs of boredom and frustration. This is the last section we saw before rushing out of there. Unfortunately, I became too overwhelmed.
What are they eating?
The owner said in one article that they are fed fruits, veggies, meat, grains etc. and that the bread is merely a treat, but if you’re open to the public 8+ hours, 7 days a week, offering loaves of bread to every visitor, this bread becomes their staple diet. Even as a treat, it provides no nourishment and can be harmful to these animals. Even the USDA doesn’t approve of this, but they haven’t pushed the owner to stop, which boggles my mind. (I will be posting copies of the USDA reports soon.)
What else are the animals experiencing?
Scott and I mostly witnessed much sadness with many of the animals there. In addition to the pacing, there were animals just still, staring into space. Words are not enough to describe just how absolutely sad they were. It’s gut wrenching. One bear wouldn’t take the bread being tossed at him/her, yet people wouldn’t stop tossing them as they hit his/her body.
Does the game farm charge to visit?
Yes. $14 per person.
Who owns the farm, and how have they responded to your efforts?
Robert Beebe owns the farm. I’ve written a letter to him which he never responded to.
What can I do to help?
Thanks much for asking.
A word of encouragement for all of us
I’m sure you know this already, but with the animal welfare laws being so weak, being an animal advocate can often times feel like we’re running in place to never reach the finish line. This can be quite frustrating and exhausting, but laws change due to persistence and continued courage. Every day I’m learning to be strong for these wonderful non-human beings. Each and every one of them are worth the pain that comes with the fight. I strive to live to see the day animals & their habitats are no longer slaves & exploited for human benefit. That they live to be, at the very least, respected, living wild and free.
Photos used with permission of Carolita McGee.
Bonnie Anderson and Diane Weinstein will never forget the day they found a little American coot being strangled by fishing line off a dock on a small lake in their community. One end of the line was caught under the dock and the other end was around the bird’s neck so that it could not swim away.
There have been other incidents — a grebe tangled in fishing line found along a major road, a female mallard dangling by a wing that was caught in fishing line from a tree. “We were finally able to cut the line, but she went underwater and never came up. We think she became further entangled under the water,” Bonnie said.
They’re heartbreaking stories from one community — and they are, unfortunately, not alone.
With spring comes fishing season, and that means more wildlife and pets can be entangled in fishing line.
Dr. John Huckabee, a veterinarian at PAWS in Lynnwood, treats animals hurt by the fishing line around Green Lake and elsewhere — even from people’s yards, where they sometimes hang ornaments with the line. Songbirds and owls get them wrapped around their necks.
“All too frequently, it causes a tourniquet effect around a leg, a toe, a foot, sometimes around wings,” Dr. Huckabee said. “The line is very strong and when, say, a gull gets it wrapped around a wing, it can cut through skin of the wing and render them flightless. They can experience tourniquet necrosis and amputation of the limb.”
He testified last year in Olympia on behalf of legislation that Bonnie and Diane spearheaded — an effort to establish a statewide monofilament fishing line recovery and recycling program.
A story that came up during testimony was of a harbor seal pup whom PAWS had rehabilitated and released with a flipper tag and a satellite transmitter to track her location. The transmitter signal disappeared following several weeks of movement throughout Puget Sound, and the pup’s whereabouts were a mystery — until a diver found the seal entangled in fishing line and drowned under the Edmonds fishing pier.
The line is transparent in water and ensnares birds, mammals, fish and reptiles. Even pets are affected, with vets having to retrieve fishing line and hooks from their stomachs.
“Carelessly discarded monofilament fishing line takes a terrible toll on wildlife,” Bonnie said. “They suffer prolonged and painful deaths when their bodies or extremities become entangled. This often results in slow strangulation, starvation, loss of limbs or infections.
She and Diane began their project four years ago in a presentation to their homeowners association’s board of directors. They agreed to place a fishing line collection bin on the dock where the little American coot had struggled. A sign explains the need to protect wildlife and properly dispose of fishing line.
Their next step was reaching out to state officials. State Sen. Mark Mullett was interested, and they worked with him to draft the bill for which Dr. Huckabee testified. The bill didn’t make it to a vote, but Sen. Mullett got funding for the program. At the same time Bonnie and Diane found success at city and county levels. The Department of Natural Resources also has been very helpful, they said.
By the end of 2017, fishing line collection bins were installed at 93 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) water access locations, 18 piers and ports, 25 state parks, 42 city and county parks, including 19 King County locations. Approximately 42,000 feet of monofilament fishing line has been removed from bins at the WDFW locations.
Bonnie said the state of Florida pioneered this type of program, which also is in effect in 38 states.
The city of Edmonds in Washington recently installed five boxes on its deep-water fishing pier.
“We wanted to find a way to highlight the problem, and when Bonnie approached us and then provided all the plans for how to make the bins, it made it really easy for us to call attention to the fact that these plastic products people use for fishing really need to be kept out of the marine ecosystem,” said Jennifer Leach, who runs the Edmonds Beach Ranger Program.
People are putting their fishing line in the bins — along with coffee cups and Coke bottles and cigarette butts, she said.
As vegans, we don’t fish and so are not leaving fishing line in the water. But we can help by contacting our communities’ parks, piers and recreation centers to ask them to install recycling bins for fishing line. In the interim, those organizations can ask people to pick up line and put it in covered receptacles. It’s important that they be covered, so that birds will not try to use the line for nesting material.
“It has to be recycled,” Bonnie said. “If it’s put in the trash, before it is covered at landfills wildlife can become entangled and birds can carry it off.
Bonnie designed decals explaining that putting the line in the trash isn’t the best solution.
She has requested the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to post the fishing line recycling program and bin locations on their website. This will help to promote the program and responsible disposal of fishing line.
Three bills in Congress would force states and localities to allow the sale of dangerous and inhumanely produced products, Compassion Over Killing pointed out.
The most effective action would be quick, polite calls to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121. A sample message: “I live and vote in your district/state and ask that you vocally oppose Rep. Steve King’s HR 4879 and HR 3599 and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s HR 2887. They are dangerous attacks on state and local laws that protect animals and consumers.”
There’s a hearing in Olympia today!
We’re reminded of the importance of Washington Senate Bill 6196 by Pasado’s Safe Haven: “New and exciting legislation has been introduced that would help both low income Washington residents and their pets. Currently, there are restrictions in place for the veterinary procedures that agencies are able to provide in Washington but SB 6196 would remove these limitations. Passing SB 6196 would allow local animal care agencies, animal control, and humane societies to provide valuable veterinary services to our state’s low income pet owners.”
Please take a couple minutes to help today!
The nonprofit grocery chain PCC Community Markets, which often does a thorough job reporting on the food industry, recently published an article about food and climate change and failed to mention the role of animal agriculture.
Animals raised for food account for 39 percent of total agricultural emissions — a major contributor to greenhouse gases. Animal agriculture is also a major source of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
PCC has an online customer comment form: https://www.pccmarkets.com/contact-us/
You also can send a message to PCC’s entire board using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.