Category Archives: Animal Issues

Environmental awareness at Worcester State University

Bidder70Poster9.28.15 copy

350MA – Central Mass is co-hosting a free showing of Bidder 70 followed by a Q&A with Tim DeChrstopher – Bidder 70 himself!

Bidder 70 centers on an extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience demanding government and industry accountability.

In 2008, University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher committed an act which would redefine patriotism in our time, igniting a spirit of civil disobedience in the name of climate justice.

Follow Tim, Bidder 70, from college student to incarcerated felon.

Redefine justice for yourself. Choose your side.

Medical alert on petting animals at zoos/circuses

By Jennifer O’Connor
No one should underestimate the risks associated with petting zoos and hands-on animal displays, as the tragic death on Monday of a little boy in Maine shows.

The 21-month-old boy became sick with hemolytic uremic syndrome after contracting E. coli at a petting zoo.
Yes, those ag displays, tiger cub pens, pony rides and petting zoos can land you in the hospital or worse.

Multiple bacterial, viral and parasitic agents have been linked to contact with animals, including E. coli and salmonella bacteria and swine flu, West Nile and rabies viruses.
The most common victims of these outbreaks are youngsters. Hundreds of children around the country have become seriously ill after contracting E. coli at petting zoos.

Many have suffered catastrophic kidney failure, including some who required transplants.

E. coli outbreaks are as common as cotton candy and vary only in the number of people infected. A toddler was hospitalized with life-threatening kidney failure—and received dialysis and multiple blood transfusions—after she contracted E. coli at a Wisconsin fair in 2010.

North Carolina health officials documented 43 confirmed cases of E. coli and suspected at least 100 more in people who had visited a petting zoo at the 2004 state fair.
Infection can spread through direct contact with animals or simply by touching the surroundings near an animal exhibit. Hand sanitizer does nothing to prevent the spread of E. coli by inhalation, and the bacteria has been linked to sippy cups, pacifiers and even thumb-sucking.
E. coli and swine flu aren’t the only pathogens lurking at fairs and zoos. In 2010, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had to assess some 70 children suspected of having had contact with a rabid calf at a petting zoo.

The children’s petting zoo at the Toledo Zoo was closed indefinitely in 2005 after three animals tested positive for campylobacter, an infectious type of bacteria that causes gastrointestinal illness. A year earlier, a bird and a horse in the Phoenix Zoo’s petting area died of West Nile disease, even though the horse had been vaccinated.
These outbreaks are neither rare nor isolated, and safety guidelines appear to be making little difference. In a case dating back to the 1990s, at least 50 people were stricken with a particularly virulent type of salmonella after visiting a petting area at the Denver Zoo. Eight of the victims had to be hospitalized. A 5-year-old Michigan boy was hospitalized after becoming ill with a salmonella infection after visiting a petting zoo on a school field trip in 1999.

Seven other children also became infected. That same year, as many as 650 people were believed to have been exposed to rabies after having had contact with a bear cub at an Iowa petting zoo. Several had to undergo rabies vaccinations. The bear cub later died of the disease.
Is it any wonder that animals who are crammed into sweltering transport trucks and holding pens and hauled around the country are in ill health? Hiring a veterinarian to accompany them would reduce profits, so sick or injured animals often go untreated.
It’s impossible to know how many animals suffer and die on the fair circuit because exhibitors’ convoys are constantly on the move, and for the most part no one is watching. With fewer than 100 federal inspectors covering the country, it’s simply not possible to monitor exhibitors with any regularity.
But you can still enjoy a local fair without putting your children’s health at risk or supporting cruelty to animals. Simply walk on by the petting zoo, pony rides and any other displays that use animals as props.

The Worcester Animal Rescue League would never …

… abandon Worcester’s homeless cats and kittens!

Sure, pups like Lilac (below) are one in a million, and you can find the pup of your dreams at WARL …


But felines have an awesomeness all their own (see Rose’s April, below)!


The Worcester Animal Rescue League, located on Holden Street in Worcester, has kitties in need of loving forever homes. Adopt one (or two!) today!

CLICK HERE to see the WARL cats and to learn more!      – R.T.

A friend at the Worcester Animal Rescue League …

… says Lilac may have some collie in her because she has “a soft look … ” Perfect!

Morning, lil’ girl! Lilac – 9/25

The Worcester Animal Rescue League on Holden Street in Worcester has wonderful pups in need of loving homes!

CLICK HERE, to see them and learn more!

Adopt your next best buddy from WARL!      –  Rosalie Tirella

P.S. … a slight period of adjustment for April!


Just how humane is “humanely raised” meat?

By Dan Paden
If you’ve been to a natural foods store or upscale restaurant lately, you’ve likely seen signs proclaiming that at least some of the meat came from “humanely raised” animals. But what exactly does that mean? As a new PETA investigation has found, “humane meat” labels are often worth less than the recycled paper they’re printed on.
This summer, a PETA eyewitness worked at a Pennsylvania farm that claims to produce “humanely raised pork” and is a supplier to Whole Foods. The farm is certified as a “Step 2” pig farm by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a group spearheaded by Whole Foods with the goal of “improving animal welfare,” and is ranked higher and considered more animal-friendly than the majority of GAP-certified pig farms.
If you’re envisioning bucolic scenes with lush pastures, in which animals roam freely and breathe fresh air, think again.
Far from being free-roaming, the pigs on this farm spent almost all their time crammed into crowded sheds on concrete flooring. They never even touched the farm’s lush green grass, and the only time they were ever outside was when they were trucked from one shed to another, put on a scale to be weighed or sent to slaughter. Some pigs were kept in virtual darkness deep inside a barn.
Pigs had straw in the sheds, as required by GAP standards, but little other “enrichment.” Even though GAP requires that pigs’ “thermal comfort” be maintained at all times, on hot days, hundreds of pigs had access to a single water sprinkler.
On one day when the heat index exceeded 90°F, more than 20 pigs were tightly packed into a metal trailer more than 24 hours before they were hauled to slaughter—just because the manager didn’t want to wait another day to pull straw out of a pen. They had no choice but to stand or sit on top of each other for much of that time. On another day, several pigs were left on a trailer with no protection from heavy rain and approximately 60 mph winds.
Whole Foods’ standards require that sick or injured pigs be promptly euthanized if necessary, but PETA’s eyewitness saw obviously sick and injured pigs’ condition worsen for days or even weeks. If a veterinarian did provide these animals with care, the observer never saw it, despite more than two months of working full-time at the farm. One pig ran an intermittent fever for about a month before finally being shot in the head and killed. Another pig whose apparent neurological ailments caused her to go lame was left for eight days until she, too, was shot. Other pigs with grotesque rectal prolapses—as large as an orange and dripping with blood—were allowed to suffer in that condition without adequate care for up to 24 days.
The eyewitness documented the actions of a manager on the farm who grabbed and lifted pigs weighing over 70 pounds by their sensitive ears in order to vaccinate them. The manager also hit pigs being loaded for slaughter with a hard plastic board. Agitated, frustrated pigs bit each other’s tails, sometimes causing bloody wounds.
It’s understandable that consumers want to avoid supporting cruelty to animals when they shop, but it’s time for us to admit that “humane meat” is an oxymoron. Sparing animals some marginal cruelty in factory-farm practices is not the same thing as being “humane,” and it never will be. Even on farms that follow “humane”-certification standards to the letter, animals may still be castrated, branded and dehorned without painkillers; starve and become dehydrated because of lameness; be held in intensive confinement in unnatural conditions; and end up being scalded to death.
The only “humane meat” is vegan meat, which you can find in any well-stocked supermarket — including Whole Foods.

At Worcester State University! For all us animals …

Merchants of Doubt Poster

350MA – Central MA is co-hosting another Environmental Night at Worcester State University!

Tuesday, September 29

7 p.m.

Worcester State University

FREE public screening of Merchants of Doubt

Film Synopsis:

Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, MERCHANTS OF DOUBT takes audiences on a satirically comedic, yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin.

Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.

Hope to see you there!!!

Don’t force food fads on pets: Five things people should know

Rosalie’s Lilac out and about in Worcester yesterday – having so much crazy, exuberant puppy-fun! Unlike Jett, Lilac off lead stays pretty close by – she won’t run off to … Canada!!, like Jett would if he were off his leash. Which is why he’s usually on a lead when we’re outdoors in open space. Huskies are notorious roamers! They love to be foot loose and fancy free! (pic – R.T.)

It seems like we hear about a new diet every week that promises to help us lose weight, increase energy and promote better health.

But foisting the latest diet trends on pets can have serious consequences for their well-being, said Dr. Susan Wynn, a BluePearl Veterinary Partners  clinician who, after completing a residency in veterinary nutrition, devotes her practice to nutritional counseling and holistic medicine.

While humans may experiment with different fads – low-carb, gluten-free, paleo or  raw – changing your pet’s diet shouldn’t be done lightly. And there are a number of misconceptions surrounding the subject of pet nutrition these days, Wynn said.

Here are five of her recommendations:

Many people have been led to believe that “grain-free” food is better for pets and may help reduce allergies. But Wynn said she’s seen more pets who are allergic to meat than grain. “In healthy dogs, there’s no reason to avoid grains,” she said.

The idea of a “paleo” or low-carb diet for pets comes from the mistaken belief that dogs are carnivores and, because they evolved from wolves, are intended to eat an all-meat diet. But dogs are actually omnivores, Wynn said. And evolution’s original plan for dogs and wolves  – to reproduce frequently and live short lives – is actually the opposite of what we now want for our pets, she added.

For many of the same reasons,  some pet owners tout the benefits of a raw food diet. But according to the Pet Nutrition Alliance, studies have shown that homemade raw food diets can be unsafe because they may expose pets to dangerous bacteria and have the potential to cause serious illness.

Wary of the many recalls and health scares associated with commercial food, some people have started their making their own pet food. Wynn said a homemade diet can be very beneficial in many cases, but food alone typically won’t suffice – owners need to include dietary supplements  to provide a balanced diet. Check with a veterinarian or nutritionist for help determining what is necessary.

Be sure to see your family veterinarian every year to ensure your pet doesn’t have any health issues that would make certain types of diets off limits.

The good news is that people are becoming increasingly aware of the role proper nutrition plays in their pet’s health, Wynn said. Those interested in learning more should consult with their family veterinarian or a nutritionist, she said. 

Back to School: 10 animals your kids should copy off of this school year

Respect your fellow animals!! Jett, Lilac and April. (pic: R.T.)

By Michelle Kretzer
It’s time for students to heave a collective groan and start hitting the books again. While PETA doesn’t condone copycatting, there are many brainy animals who would be great cats to copy from if your kids found themselves seated next to one. As hundreds of studies have shown, other animals can understand cause-and-effect relationships, form abstract thoughts, solve problems, use language, make tools and more — just like us. 
For example, in algebra class, your kids should buddy up with a dolphin. These math-minded mammals rely on complex nonlinear mathematics to navigate the vast ocean and find food.
For help with sociology, hire a rat for tutoring. Empathetic rats will free their restrained cagemates, even if it means they will then have to share a mound of chocolate. So they’ll have no problem helping your kids learn about patterns of behavior in social groups.
Would-be broadcasters who sign up for speech classes will find a whale of a class partner in a sperm whale. These whales use different accents to identify members of their extended family and whales from other regions of the world.
Bees could be a huge help in political science. When a decision affects the whole hive, they put it to a vote. So no matter which side of the aisle students’ political beliefs fall on, bees can help them understand the democratic process.
In physical education, blackpoll warblers should always get picked first. Every fall, these tiny birds make the 1,700-mile trip from New England to the Caribbean without stopping. So if your children have to run laps, thinking about a blackpoll warbler’s grueling trek will make them feel a whole lot better about it.
College students struggling with engineering courses should try to sit next to a beaver. The dams these natural builders make increase water supplies for farms, help prevent erosion and improve fish and wildlife habitats. Scientists are even starting to turn to beavers for tips on dealing with climate change.
In psychology, students can never go wrong studying with an elephant. These highly intelligent animals have complex social structures and relationships so intimate that they flirt with one another and even argue about directions. Elephants will likely always be up for a rousing “Mars vs. Venus” debate.
For language arts classes, baboons are a student’s best bet. These clever monkeys can tell whether a group of letters is a real word or just gobbledygook—and they might even help out with that Grapes of Wrath paper that went awry.
For help studying for just about any other class, encourage your kids to get chummy with goldfish, who have longer sustained attention spans than we do. In a study done by Microsoft, goldfish were able to concentrate for nine seconds, while humans managed to do so for only eight.
And if your kids are looking to make some new friends this school year, help them get in good with crows. When a girl named Gabi started feeding crows in her garden, the birds recognized that they’d made a friend and started waiting for her to get off the bus. They also expressed their thanks by leaving her gifts, including a pearl-colored heart, an earring and a tiny piece of metal with the word “best” printed on it. The crows have even found and returned objects that Gabi’s family lost outside.
But perhaps the most important thing we can learn from other animals is compassion. Once we learn more about animals’ intelligence, needs and interests, we begin to recognize that it is our duty to treat them with respect for who they are — rather than what they can do for us.


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At Becker College! Learn, love, donate, ADOPT…

Schedule of events:

Emcee: Peter “Zip” Zipfel

12:15 p.m. Chuck and Mud

1 p.m. The Ed Sullivans

2 p.m. Roomful of Blues

3:30 p.m. Hero Awards presented

4 p.m. Just for Kicks

CLICK HERE to see their website and learn more about this GREAT FAMILY FESTIVAL – all for the love of animals!

Birds suffer – perpetrators get blanket immunity

By Jeffrey S. Kerr, Esq.

More than 500 birds die of starvation and parasites. Feral dogs attack and kill caged flamingos. Fifteen confined parrots perish in a fire. In every one of these cases, the federal authorities who are supposed to protect captive animals did absolutely nothing. How is this possible?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is charged with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the only federal law that explicitly protects animals used in entertainment. For years, it excluded birds from protection under the Act, but in 2002, Congress amended its definition of “animal” to include all birds except those “bred for use in research.” The USDA subsequently updated its regulations to make it clear that birds (other than the unfortunate ones used in experiments) would be protected.

But in the 13 years since, the agency has yet to bring a single enforcement action on behalf of birds and has declined to regulate their welfare, even though many are suffering greatly and many have died as a result of neglect. Dealers, breeders and roadside displays can starve birds, deny them water, jam them into barren cages and never take them to a veterinarian—all with impunity.

Last year, the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park posted disturbing photos on its Facebook page of two blue-and-yellow macaws and a Goffin’s cockatoo lying dead at the bottom of filthy cages. The photos show the birds surrounded by disintegrating newspapers and excrement, with no trace of food or water visible. The cockatoo had apparently plucked the feathers out of his chest—something that birds do when sick or distressed. They probably all suffered from neglect, trauma, stress, starvation and dehydration before they died. Yet the USDA insists that it won’t take any action in cases like this.

On the same day that the USDA announced that it would protect birds—other than those used in experiments—it also acknowledged that birds needed regulations specific to their complex needs. After issuing a notice of the proposed new rules, it received more than 7,000 comments about the issue, so it hired an avian health-and-welfare expert. Yet to this day, more than a decade later, the agency has not written, much less published or enforced, any bird-specific regulations.

In the meantime, the USDA is purposely disregarding the fundamental protections that all animals are already afforded in the AWA. Every animal, including birds, needs safe housing, wholesome food, fresh water and routine veterinary care. But the agency’s position is that if bird-specific standards don’t exist, then birds aren’t protected.

After PETA took the USDA to court over this issue, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that even though the agency had failed to enforce the AWA and failed to impose bird-specific standards, its lack of action was not “unlawfully withheld” and concluded that it could not force the USDA to take action.

How can this be? And how many more birds will suffer and die while the USDA continues to do nothing? Every taxpayer and everyone who cares about birds should be questioning this senseless decision.