The USDA last week removed from its website much of the information it used to make publicly available regarding animal welfare, including inspection records for zoos, laboratories and commercial breeders.
The agency said it’s the result of a year-long review and that the action was intended to protect certain personal information, according to the Huffington Post.
“Going forward, APHIS [the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] will remove from its website inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication,” it said.
It’s as though the USDA forgot that it operates in a democracy that’s upheld by transparency and public records.
Here’s a list of things you can do personally to help protect animals in the wake of this decision. It’s particularly important to let legislators know that the USDA’s action needs to be reversed.
Here are a few numbers I’ve kept handy lately:
Sen. Patty Murray: 202-224-2621
Sen. Maria Cantwell: 202-224-3441
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (for Seattle): 202-225-3106
When dolphin hunters in Taiji, Japan, last week captured a pod of hundreds of bottlenose dolphins and separated about 80 young ones from their mothers, one mother fought frantically to stay with her baby in a video that made news around the world.
While some dolphins are caught for meat — the modern-day version of a whale-hunting tradition in Taiji — that is not where the big money is. The non-traditional driver of the hunt is dolphins sold for “entertainment.”
A dolphin sold for meat brings in hundreds of dollars. Untrained dolphins sold to marine parks garner $10,000 each, according to The Dodo. By that math, Taiji made at least $3 million from about 300 dolphins it sold alive in the late 2010 to early 2011 hunting season, and maybe $1 million on the nearly 2,000 dolphins it sold for meat.
To its huge credit, the Japanese Assocation of Zoos and Aquariums banned the buying and selling of dolphins from the Taiji hunt in 2015. It was a brave move, made under threat of expulsion from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, National Geographic reported.
However, that does not mean the end of suffering for dolphins, even in Japan. The marine parks could breed dolphins, like their counterparts in the United States have bred orcas and other animals. Taiji’s mayor has also said that, if hunting is banned, the city may rope off its infamous cove (site of the Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove”) and breed dolphins there.
The only real way to make headway against the dolphin hunt — and captive breeding — is to stop visiting marine parks. If people are forced to look at how their own behavior leads directly to suffering, that will do more to save these beautiful, brilliant, compassionate animals than any amount of shaming of Japan.
How much will it cost this time? SNBL USA has been slapped on the wrist for primate mistreatment before, in 2006 for a paltry $36,852 and in 2009 for an even more paltry $12,937.
Now the USDA has filed a nine-page complaint detailing the deaths of 38 primates in the company’s lab and breeding facility in Everett, north of Seattle, The Seattle Times reports. The “gravity of the violations… is great,” according to the complaint.
That list of horrors highlights the importance of stopping research on primates and other animals, whose torment frequently produces no more useful medical information than tests that do not involve animals.
It also calls to mind the expanded animal research capabilities of the University of Washington’s new underground research lab, currently under construction.
And just to put icing on that nightmare cake, check out the photo the paper ran below the primate death story. Zoos and animal testing: Really, really outdated and cruel.
The Seattle City Council’s final Budget Meeting is tomorrow. Please come to speak out against funding the confinement of suffering animals. Ask the City Council to put the money toward parks programs, off-leash parks and under-served communities rather than more money for the zoo.
Also, please write an email with NO more money for the zoo in the subject line to: Council@seattle.gov
The City has a contract with the Woodland Park Zoo which mandates over $7 million dollars in annual payments. (King County pays the zoo $4.2 million annually). The 2017 budget includes an additional $1.8 million dollars to the Zoo through the Seattle Parks District. The City Council makes the Seattle Parks District’s funding decisions. This $1.8 million dollars is DISCRETIONARY and must be stopped.
The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and all in-person 2 minute (or less) comments will be heard. Sign-up sheets will be provided outside the entrance of the City Council Chambers. If you wish to speak, please sign up at 4:15.
What: Seattle City Council BUDGET meeting.
When: Tuesday, October 25 at 5:30pm
Public comment: Sign up at 4:15pm
Where: Seattle City Hall at 600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104. City Hall chambers on the second floor.
We join the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants in calling on the Oklahoma City Zoo to have compassion for Bamboo, our beloved elephant, and retire her to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.
This call follows a new report in The Seattle Times saying Bamboo has been attacked in her new home in Oklahoma City and her tail bitten so severely that it was called an “amputation.” (Thank you to the paper and to reporter Sandi Doughton for the continued coverage.)
“Our hearts go out to Bamboo who is experiencing attacks from one or more of the elephants at the Oklahoma Zoo. In a tiny zoo yard, there is no space to flee and escape from an attack. Bamboo is also suffering from serious, captivity-related foot problems and colic. Bamboo has frequently been isolated as a result of these attacks,” the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants wrote.
Here is contact information for officials at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Please remember that they did not make the decision to keep Bamboo and Chai out of a sanctuary, but they can make the decision now to send Bamboo to one.
Cindy Batt, Chairperson — She works in the private bank division of Bank of Oklahoma. Its phone number is (405) 936-3900.
Don Kaspereit, Vice Chairperson — 12308 Kingsbrook Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73142
Sample message for phone or mail:
Hello Ms. Batt/Mr. Kaspereit, I’m calling/writing from Seattle to ask that you send Bamboo to a sanctuary now that it’s clear she is not doing well in Oklahoma City. We know that you’ve done your best to care for her, but the compassionate thing to do at this point is to send her to a sanctuary. Zoo managers have a hard time making that decision themselves, because of the politics within the zoo industry (cite Seattle Times story from a few years ago if necessary), but you as chairperson/vice chairperson of the board can make a difference for this elephant without risking your career. I hope you will consider doing that. Bamboo has suffered enough. Thank you.
We’re reposting this great article with permission from Ducks and Clucks:
The backlash continues to grow against the urban farming trend when it comes to backyard flocks. In recent years, cities across the US have revised land use codes to permit backyard flocks. But now those same cities are seeing an increase in neighbor complaints, dumped and surrendered chickens and even rat infestations.
It’s a complex issue with emotional and political implications including social justice, personal freedom and self-sufficiency. But animal shelters and rescue groups will tell you it’s just gotten out of hand.
I have been rescuing and rehabilitating ducks and clucks for over nine years now. There hasn’t been a single day in that time when I am not at or beyond capacity. I don’t know of any reputable, safe sanctuary in the entire NW that isn’t also at capacity and constantly seeking safe homes for dumped poultry. Not one. It’s becoming a crisis and the animals are suffering.
One of the biggest problems we see when people decide to get backyard chickens is the information available is almost entirely skewed towards the positive aspects of urban flock keeping. Just look at this beautiful spread of chicken coops and accessories by Williams Sonoma:
You know what’s missing from those professionally-photographed and beautifully-styled yuppy urban farms? A LOT. A WHOLE LOT.
Here’s our collage of the reality of many backyard flocks. This is just a few snapshots of what happens every day with backyard flocks. Not quite as romantic and beautiful as the Williams Sonoma catalog, is it?
This collage includes aggressive ducks or roosters that bite children, infected wounds from dumped geese attacked by dogs, chicken $#!t covered in flies, an injured rescued rooster covered in lice, a raccoon bite down to the vertebrae, raccoons, bloody wing from raccoon attack, hawks, $#!t-covered deck and porch, and rats… lots of rats.
So obviously we discourage backyard flocks. You don’t rescue over 100 birds in 9 years and come out thinking backyard flocks are an awesome idea. This isn’t to say that everyone is doing it wrong. But enough people are regretting their choice to get flocks that it’s causing a big problem for shelters and sanctuaries, and way too much unnecessary suffering for the animals caught in the middle.
So here’s our list of tips to seriously consider before ever taking on the commitment of a backyard flock. But honestly? Just don’t do it.
Tip #1: Protecting urban chickens is costly but required. Chicken wire is not predator proof. Hens are extremely vulnerable to predators like hawks, eagles, raccoons and dogs. Raccoons can reach right through chicken wire to eat hens through the wire, and often work in groups. Eagles and hawks don’t pick up hens and fly away with them, they just take a piece. Roomy coops with hardware cloth on all sides, top and bottom can provide safety for urban hens.
Tip #2: Roosters may be illegal where you live. When hatching chicks, what will you do with all the male chicks? There is no local or state agency to help with animal control issues for urban flocks. Resources at local shelters are very slim and most aren’t well-equipped to house poultry or other farm animals. Two roosters will fight and injure each other. Factory farms and hatcheries routinely grind up male baby chicks while they’re still alive. It is difficult to acquire hens without taking part in the cruelty that male chicks face. Ask before you buy, “What happens to the male chicks?”
Tip #3: Hens get sick. What will you do? When a hen is sick, do you know where to go for urgent treatment? It is important to ensure that even backyard hens are free from suffering and neglect. Basic veterinary care for infections, parasites or injuries can start at $80 and run into the hundreds of dollars. Birds are much better than dogs or cats at hiding illness, so it is critical to get them care quickly. Are you prepared to ensure your birds don’t suffer?
Tip #4: Chicken feed attracts rats and chicken droppings attract flies. Cleaning and maintaining urban coops on smaller lots can be difficult and time consuming. Flies and rats bring parasites and illnesses with them that can infect hens and other household pets. Rat populations can easily get out of control and often damage homes.
Tip #5: Hens don’t lay eggs every day. Many urban farmers get hens to ensure their families have humanely-raised, fresh eggs to eat. But hens have natural cycles that change as the seasons change, and sometimes they don’t lay eggs. Laying an egg every day takes a lot of nutrients, especially calcium. Poor nutrition or poor breeding can cause many hens to be prone to reproductive cancers and other maladies like prolapse and egg binding. First-time farmers often need to be reminded that hens are not egg-laying machines and each hen is an individual. Egg-laying hens reach their peak at 18-months but can live more than 10-years.
Tip #6: Hens crow too. While generally not as loud as roosters, hens crow too. Hens cluck in the morning quite early to be let out of their predator-proof nesting areas. In the summer when days are long, the hen crows can begin at 4:15am. Neighbors will tend to think you are illegally keeping roosters if they hear crowing, and may complain. Also, some hens cluck loudly when they lay eggs. It is important to keep in mind if you have close neighbors.
Tip #7: Each hen has a unique personality. While some breeds have specific characteristics, every hen is her own chicken. While they can be charismatic, emotional and interactive, some hens will attack and injure less dominant hens, especially if space or food is limited. Other hens will eat their own eggs. Some will chase other household pets or pluck out their own feathers. They are unique individuals and don’t always get along.
In summary, because hens are easy to hatch and cheap to buy, they are often treated as disposable animals. And hens that no longer lay eggs are considered useless. But when it comes to suffering, all animals are created equal. With proper care and attention, hens can live up to 10+ years. Before becoming responsible for the care and happiness of any living being, do all the research you can, and be wary of anyone who makes urban chicken coops seem simple and easy. It is a years-long commitment with daily, required care.
P.S. If you still still STILL think a backyard flock is for you, ADOPT! Please adopt. Do not buy or hatch while so many healthy, beautiful, loving, friendly birds languish in shelters.
Can you believe that the University of Washington uses live pigs in their paramedic training? This cruel and barbaric practice needs to stop.
How to help:
1 – Complete the online form here addressed to William S. Ayer – Chair, University of Washington Board of Regents.
2 – Write to the Chair and Please ask the Board of Regents to replace the use of live pigs in the school’s paramedic training program with validated human-relevant methods.
William S. Ayer, Chair
University of Washington Board of Regents
139 Gerberding Hall
Seattle, WA 98195-1264
phone (206) 543-1633
fax (206) 543-6110
You can see the sample letter and more details at all-creatures.org.
The permission that Washington, Oregon and Idaho received to kill sea lions expires on June 30, and they’ve requested a five-year extention.
Fewer than 20 comments have been made so far. One is from Duane
“Boomer” Wright, general manager of the Sea Lion Caves near Florence, OR. He says it looks like there isn’t enough food for the Steller and California sea lions, and points to the extinction of the Japanese sea lion.
Japan’s fishing industry once blamed sea lions for their low catches; now they’re trying to reintroduce sea lions to reestablish the ecosystem, he wrote.
“I think we should take that as evidence that killing sea lions will not increase the salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia. The solution to this problem is to increase the population of the salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and all rivers and tributaries along the Oregon Coast. Sea lions, whether California or Steller should not be used as a scapegoat for our misuse of our natural resources,” Wright wrote.
Please add your voice here. The deadline is April 27.
The event is canceled! Thank you for being a voice for animals.
Please thank pastors Dr. John Paisley and Ken Griffin for doing the right thing (emails below).
On Sunday, April 3rd, Riverview Baptist Church in Pasco, Washington, is planning a “Chicken Chase.”
The event is as cruel as it sounds. Chickens will be released into an arena so children can chase them, catch them, and “win” the chickens. Chickens are delicate, and this terrifying event will no doubt cause injury and stress to the poor animals. And when caught, how do kids properly care for them? This event fails to help kids learn to respect animals and reinforces the idea that they are simply toys and here for our entertainment.
Please ask Riverview Baptist Church to do the right thing and host an alternative event instead (an event in which all the participants are there of their own free will).
You can send polite comments to:
Dr. John Paisley, Senior Pastor
Click here to send an email
Ken Griffin, Co-Pastor
Click here to send an email
Riverview Baptist Church
4921 W. Wernett
Pasco, WA 99301
A recent PETA undercover investigation has revealed horrific suffering of animals in warehouses at an animal supplier.
Reptiles by Mack supplies tens of thousands of frogs, lizards, turtles, snakes, bearded dragons, and other reptiles to PetSmart and other retail stores. The animals are confined in filthy, crowded plastic tubs and deprived of necessities like food and water, heat and UV lamps, and veterinary attention. Many emaciated animals had already died or were killed in lieu or veterinary care.
Severely crowded bearded dragons fought over food, leading to mangled limbs, some just left by workers to rot off. One worker said that he had cut off a bearded dragon’s leg with wire cutters and “snap[ped]” off their tails with his fingers.
Tragic video footage shows thirsty animals drinking frantically for up to four minutes when an eyewitness provided them with water.
Please tell officials that you will never buy anything from their stores as long as they continue to sell animals.
Erin Gray 623-516-3908
BC Partners Group (who own PetSmart)
If you about animals from PetSmart based on their claims of humane treatment or know anyone else who has, please contact CIDInfo@peta.org.
You can find companion-animal supplies at businesses that don’t sell animals, including small, local shops, Target, Walgreens, and online retailers.
And if you are ready to add an animal to your family, please adopt from a local animal shelter or rescue organization—never buy from a store or breeder.