Category Archives: Animal Issues

Keep your cat indoors on Halloween! … and all year round!

By Alisa Mullins
 
When my mom was a little girl, she had a favorite black cat named Midnight. He was one of more than a dozen former strays who had wandered into the family’s life, drawn by the abundance of cat food that was always set out on the front porch. Occasionally, one of the cats would mysteriously disappear, and my mom and her sister would comfort themselves with the unlikely scenario that the cat had “run away.”
 
But when Mom’s favorite, Midnight, went missing on Halloween, she knew in her bones that something terrible had happened to him. She searched for him for days, but it was no use—he was already dead. She finally found his body under the front porch. He had been tortured—probably by neighborhood boys up to “mischief”—and had dragged himself home to die. My mom learned a valuable lesson that day, and when she grew up, the handsome brown tabby our family adopted was kept indoors at all times.
 
Nowadays, most guardians know to keep their cats—especially black ones—inside on Halloween. Many animal shelters refuse to allow the adoption of black cats in the days preceding it, for fear that cruel people would acquire them with the intent to do them harm.
 
But the danger doesn’t pass once the last Twizzler has been handed out to the last Elsa or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
 
Cats who are allowed to roam outside unattended are in danger every day of the year. The threats range from speeding cars and spilled antifreeze to stray dogs and cruel people who don’t like cats digging in their gardens or sitting on their cars. Recently, a Mississippi woman posted a photo on her Facebook page of a cat she had allegedly burned, threatening to “burn them one by one if I have to.”
 
Even in this day and age, there are people who think killing cats is “fun.” They brag and even laugh about it. They use cats for target practice, shooting at free-roaming cats as if they were clay pigeons rather than living, feeling beings. Just a few recent cases include cats who were shot with guns or crossbows in Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. A cat in Massachusetts who was shot with a steel broadhead arrow (designed to inflict the maximum damage) was so badly injured that he had to be euthanized. He was just a year old.
 
In fact, the average lifespan of a cat who goes outside is just 2 to 5 years, a fraction of the 14-year average lifespan of an indoor cat.
 
Today’s concrete jungles are far too dangerous for such vulnerable little beings. Don’t learn a tragic lesson at your cat’s expense: Keep your cat indoors where it’s safe—on Halloween and every other day of the year.

Re: Southwick’s Wild Animal Farm in Mendon and other petting zoos …

Are petting zoos deadly?

By Jennifer O’Connor
 

Toddlers suffering from kidney failure. One-year-olds undergoing dialysis and transfusions. Parents burying a child. What is the common thread in all these tragedies? Petting zoos. Yes, petting zoos.
 
As the parents of Colton Guay would surely now attest, no one should underestimate the risks associated with petting zoos. Colton died earlier this month after falling ill with hemolytic uremic syndrome just days after visiting a petting zoo at a Maine fair. Shockingly, 21-month-old Colton wasn’t the first child to die after visiting one of these ubiquitous displays, and hundreds of others have suffered serious—sometimes life-changing—illnesses. Many have battled catastrophic kidney failure, including a 4-year-old who required a transplant..
 
Getting sick with E. coli is not like eating something that disagrees with you. Symptoms can include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, vomiting and fever, and in severe cases like Colton’s, it can even be fatal.
 
Children and adults alike have contracted E. coli after petting animals or simply touching the surroundings near a display. The bacteria have been found on railings, bleachers and even sawdust. Toddlers who get the germs on their fingers can transfer them onto their sippy cups or pacifiers or simply suck their thumbs. You can’t tell simply by looking whether an animal is “shedding” E. coli. And pathogens can remain in the environment for extended periods of time.
 
Getting children to wash their hands thoroughly or keep their fingers out of their mouths is something that few parents have succeeded at. And hand sanitizer does nothing to prevent the spread of E. coli via inhalation. Even vigilant parents can’t fight what they can’t see. A 2-year-old North Carolina boy died of an E. coli infection that he caught at a petting zoo, even though he was under his parents’ direct supervision the whole time.
 
Outbreaks are neither rare nor isolated, and hand-washing guidelines appear to be making little difference. Kids are still getting sick. After outbreaks in North Carolina, an editorial in the News & Observer concluded that petting zoos “have caused too much pain and sorrow for too many youngsters and their families in this state. Unless and until there’s a completely reliable method of assuring that no young child will contract E. coli-related illnesses at fairs’ petting zoos, the operations, popular as they are, should be prohibited.”
 
The potential consequences of getting such an infection are so serious that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that parents refrain from taking strollers, bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups or toys into animal areas. The agency also advises that children younger than 5 years old should avoid contact with animals in petting zoos altogether.
 
And let’s not forget the other victims of petting zoos: the animals who are hauled around and forced to interact with crowds of people all day long. Focused on running the display (and making money), operators can neglect even the most basic needs of the animals in their care, including food, water and rest.
 
There are plenty of ways to enjoy your local county fair or farmers’ market without putting your child’s health at risk or supporting cruelty to animals. Simply stay away from petting zoos, pony rides, animal photo ops or any other type of display that uses animals as props.

October is national Adopt A Shelter Dog month!

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Jett and Lilac, both shelter pups!

Jett and Rose’s two other dogs, the late-great Nova Scotia retriever Bailey and the elegant greyhound mix Grace were all adopted from the WORCESTER ANIMAL RESCUE LEAGUE ON HOLDEN STREET, Worcester.

WARL is open to the public 7 days a week, noon to 4 p.m. CLICK HERE to see their pups that are ready for adoption! 

What to ask when adopting a shelter dog

October is national Adopt A Shelter Dog month. Here are some tips to prospective pet parents as they take the big step of adding another member to the family.

Thousands of lovable dogs in shelters are eagerly waiting families to give them forever homes. But that does not mean every dog is a good fit.  So adopting families should ask as many questions as possible about a shelter dog’s history.

And don’t stop there. It’s just as important to ask some questions of yourself.

Ask:

Has the shelter done a behavioral assessment of the dog?

It’s standard procedure at many shelters, and can give you valuable insight into whether a certain dog is right for you, and whether you are right for that dog.

Ask for as much information as possible about the dog’s history.

Dogs grow up to be less anxious if they are exposed to a wide range of new and pleasant experiences before the age of 16 weeks, the puppy’s socialization window. Less anxious, less fearful dogs are not nearly as likely to become aggressive as adults.  Your shelter dog will likely be older than 16 weeks, and this is one reason you want to learn about the dog’s background.

You have to ask yourself:

What’s my home like?

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Rose had to teach Lilac to respect the Queen – April!

How will my other pets respond?

What are my needs?

What’s my time investment?

Prepare a list of questions about a potential pet. And then ask a lot of good questions about the dog’s history. Why was he surrendered? Was he found as a stray? Was he surrendered from another shelter? Any information that you have can help you better understand how well that animal will fit into your household.

Ask if you can spend a little time with the dog in the shelter.

Especially in a quiet setting, away from a noisy kennel.  If the dog is friendly and playful, that’s a great sign. If the dog is standoffish and nervous, that’s something to take into consideration. But remember that even wonderful shelters can be stressful environments for dogs. A dog’s behavior can change after getting to your home.

Consider your own family’s ability to care for a dog.

If you have small children, it might not be the best time to adopt a dog who tends to be nervous, aggressive or needs a lot of time-consuming training. On the other hand, if you’re single with time to devote to training, this might be a challenge you can take on.

Prepare your family for their new dog.

Children, with their rapid movement, high-pitched voices and a tendency to jab fingers anywhere, can be alarming to some dogs. This can sometimes cause dogs to become anxious and snap. So involve your children in the care of your dog – such as helping with the food or water, or having the kids train the dog in basic tasks such as sitting or lying down. But also teach children when to back off – not to hug dogs while they’re eating, for example.

Give the pooch a little space.

After bringing your dog home, you might keep them in a laundry room or a confined kitchen and not immediately throw them in with all your other pets, if you have other pets. Establish relationships and give them and other pets some time to acclimate.

What if in spite of everything, my dog acts aggressively to family members or neighbors?

Seek help from your family veterinarian, or a veterinarian who is trained in behavioral medicine.

Great news! Monday’s Ringling show at the DCU center was cancelled!

And crowds were not big for the cruelest show on earth on Sunday or Saturday! THANK YOU, WORCESTER COUNTY families! THANK YOU, WORCESTER CITY OFFICIALS FOR NOT ROLLING OUT THE RED CARPET FOR RINGLING!

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I predict: In 10 years or even sooner, circuses that showcase wild animals will be a thing of the past in America, like other American disasters: slavery, blood-letting, the Jim Crow South, women being denied the vote, the Salem witch trials, banning Henry Miller novels, circuses toting around people with special needs and calling it a FREAK SHOW…

America and Worcester move forward! Yay!!!!!!!!!

– Rosalie Tirella

Calves are born into a world of abuse

I’ve made some sections bold. -R.T.

By Dan Paden
 
Many consumers don’t realize (probably because they’ve never really thought about it) that cows produce milk for the same reason that human mothers do: to feed their babies.

Given the opportunity, cows are excellent mothers. They’re smart, sensitive animals, and their maternal instinct is just as strong as ours.
 
But on dairy farms, they are repeatedly impregnated and then forced to watch helplessly as their terrified babies — whom they carry for nine months, just like us — are torn away from them again and again.

In order to squeeze as much milk as possible out of them, dairy farms keep them almost constantly pregnant. They give birth to calf after calf, year in and year out.
 
This is just one reason why PETA urges consumers to ditch dairy products. Our latest eyewitness exposé of the dairy industry provides several more.
 
Daisy Farms, a Texas-based milk supplier to Daisy Brand sour cream and cottage cheese—which can be found in supermarkets all over the U.S.—claims that it has the “best cared-for cows on the planet.” It refers to them as “princesses,” “queens,” “our babies” and “our pets.” 
 
But after receiving a disturbing tip from a whistleblower who reported that many calves on this farm were visibly ill—coughing, trembling and/or unable to stand—we took a look ourselves and found that Daisy Farms is just a plain old, run-of-the-mill factory farm.
 
The cows are confined to massive sheds and some had no choice but to stand and lie down in their own waste.

PETA’s eyewitness saw workers put a rope around one cow’s head and pull her off a resting area. She slipped and fell on her udder on the slick feces-coated floor before being led away to be milked. 
 
Cows were kicked, whipped and jabbed with pens and a knife—even while they were in labor.

Workers twisted their tails, which can cause the animals severe pain and even break the bones inside.

Two cows with severe lacerations on their tails were not treated by a veterinarian, to the knowledge of PETA’s observer, including one whose wound was seen bleeding more than three weeks after her tail was severed.

Some sick cows were finally shot, while others were killed by injection to induce a heart attack—while they were fully conscious.
 
When cows at this farm had difficulty giving birth, workers used chains to drag their calves out of their wombs, causing them to cry out and defecate. The calves were not even allowed to nurse, because their mothers’ milk is sold
for human consumption. Instead, they are torn away from their mothers within hours of birth. Some are force-fed milk taken from another cow. Several newborn calves drowned when workers shoved tubes down their throats and milk was forced into their lungs instead of their stomachs.
 
Newborn calves also had holes punched into their ears and numbered tags clamped onto them, and their heads were smeared with a caustic paste to destroy their sensitive horn tissue—all without any painkillers. Nearly all cows born on dairy farms have tissue that will develop into horns if left alone, but most are cruelly “dehorned”—either via caustic paste, as in this case, or by other harsh methods such as gouging out the tissue with a sharp metal scoop as they struggle and cry out in pain.
 
When cows’ bodies wear out from constant pregnancy or lactation—after about five years—they are slaughtered.
PETA has said it before, but it’s worth repeating: The only way to ensure that no animals suffer for your sour cream, cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurt is to go vegan. By choosing kinder, plant-based options, like almond and soy milk, vegan cheese and sour cream, coconut-milk coffee creamer and cashew-milk ice cream, we can let animals live in peace.

Dad! I have a new toy box …

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… the living room window sill!

Chef Joey’s Vinny loves to carry his toys to one special spot!

Vinny also loves his daily walks in Worcester’s Hadwen Park, one of Worcester’s hidden jewels …

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Vinny was a rescue. So was his little sis, Abby. She was thrown out of a car window! Joey saved them both!

Cherish your pups – treasure ALL ANIMALS!

Photos by Chef Joey
text: R.T.

Environmental awareness at Worcester State University

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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.

www.bidder70film.com

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.