Tag Archives: cruelty

Time to retire cruel, archaic monkey experiments!

By Justin Goodman
 
Most people are probably familiar with the infamous experiments conducted by Harry Harlow starting in the 1950s.

Harlow — whom author Laurel Braitman calls “a dark lord of monkey torture” in her new book, Animal Madness — tore newborn monkeys away from their mothers, gave some infants “surrogate mothers” made of wire and wood, and kept other traumatized babies in isolation in tiny metal boxes to cause them irreparable psychological damage.

They rocked incessantly, bit and clutched at themselves and ripped out their own hair. Some even died.
 
You’d be forgiven for thinking that these archaic experiments had already gone the way of transistor radios, Polaroid cameras, the Edsel and other ’50s-era relics, but similar experiments have continued for 30 years—and you’re still paying for them.

That’s what PETA discovered after obtaining more than 500 hours of videos, hundreds of photographs and many internal documents from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through a Freedom of Information Act request for which the agency unsuccessfully tried to charge PETA $100,000.
 
Terrorizing baby monkeys is archaic, morally reprehensible and completely irrelevant to our understanding and treatment of human mental illness, and it needs to stop.
 
Every year, dozens of monkeys are intentionally bred to be genetically predisposed to mental illness in the NIH laboratory of psychologist Steven Suomi, a Harlow protégé. Currently, some 200 monkeys of various ages are being used in these cruel and archaic studies.
 
Half of the monkeys born each year are separated from their mothers within hours of birth and never returned.

As in Harlow’s experiments, some are given only a fabric-covered bottle to cling to in place of their mother. They undergo years of terrifying and often painful experiments that are designed to cause them to suffer from severe anxiety, fear, depression and other physical and mental illnesses. A

As they age, some monkeys are forcibly addicted to alcohol, making their symptoms even worse. 
 
NIH videos obtained by PETA reveal that in recent experiments, newborn infants were restrained inside tiny cages and placed in isolation in “startle chambers.”

The experimenters terrified the babies with loud noises, causing them to cry out and try frantically to hide or escape.

In some trials, the experimenters released a realistic-looking electronic snake into the cage with the baby monkeys, who innately fear the reptiles.
 
In other experiments, infants were caged with their mothers, but the mothers were chemically sedated. The terrified babies screamed and cried, climbing onto and frantically shaking their unresponsive mothers.

In one case, experimenters can be heard laughing while a mother struggles to remain awake to comfort her distraught infant.
 
In a pathetic attempt to defend the barbaric project, NIH made the ludicrous statement that the laboratory is “not that different from a human nursery”! 
 
In the past seven years alone, these experiments have received $30 million in taxpayer money, even though they have never led to the development or improvement of treatments for human mental illness.

As far back as 1977, Suomi acknowledged, “Most monkey data that readily generalize to humans have not uncovered new facts about human behavior …” After four more decades of these useless experiments, nothing has changed. In a recent paper, Suomi and his colleagues wrote, “[T]his animal model of maternal separation has never been validated as a measure of drug efficacy in humans. … The only way to know definitively whether [anti-depressant drugs work] in humans would be to study our species.” 
 
Meanwhile, researchers who actually do study our species—conducting sophisticated brain imaging and other human-based research that actually benefits human health—struggle to find funding.
 
Respected researchers, mental health professionals and primate experts including Dr. Jane Goodall have joined PETA to urge NIH to end its maternal deprivation experiments on baby monkeys and modernize its research program.
 
Technology has changed since the 1950s, and so has science. Just as doctors would no longer dream of endorsing cigarettes and parents would no longer buy radioactive science kits for their kids, it’s time for NIH to stop conducting and funding equally indefensible and archaic experiments on monkeys.
 

Something to think about during this gift-giving season: Can angora production ever be ethical?

From The Guardian. Please, be kind to all animals! – R. T.

A shocking Peta video of a Chinese angora farm, showing live rabbits having their fur ripped off, has prompted retailers to halt orders of angora wool. So is it possible to farm these rabbits commercially and be kind to them?

Angora composite 

What price a fluffy sweater? Angora rabbits farmed in China are locked alone in filthy cages.

We’ll always have Paris, Texas. But now we’ve seen the video of a Chinese angora farm, will we ever look at Nastassja Kinski’s backless sweater in the same way again? A rabbit is screaming, as best it can, while chunks of its wonderful soft fur are ripped away to leave just a bald, raw and bleeding body. Rows and rows more rabbits are locked alone in filthy cages, waiting for their turn.

These, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), based on the 10 farms they visited, are standard conditions for angora rabbits in China, where around 90% of the world’s angora wool is now produced. Certainly there are no laws there to prevent people plucking rabbits, which yields longer hairs, and thus more valuable yarn, and is quicker to do. Topshop, H&M, Boden, Primark and dozens of other retailers have halted orders immediately.

To learn more and read the entire story, click here!

 

InCity Times’ circus Facebook page …

… has been fixed. We linked to the wrong page a few days ago! Visit our page now! CLICK ON LINK TO THE RIGHT on this website (under the poor, tied-up elephant)!

Three bullhooks are used simultaneously on one elephant.A baby elephant is tethered neck-to-neck with an anchor elephant.A baby elephant is being trained to perform a lie-down/sit-up.

… and PLEASE get involved! Make your voice heard! It’s the only way things are gonna change! The animals can’t speak for themselves!

Please tell our city councilors to VOTE YES to ban shows that showcase wild animals. We don’t want to see this kind of suffering in our city!

Thank YOU! – R. Tirella

Worcester City Council meets tomorrow (Tues.) evening, 7 p.m., City Hall, Main Street … and a song

It’s a good time to ask our city council members to think of the elephants and tigers and lions who come to town with the circus … think of their suffering and how unnatural it is for these magnificent animals to  “perform” – for anybody.

Ask the people we vote into office to represent US to KEEP Worcester free of shows that drag wild animals into our city …

I attended last week’s city council meeting to give out elephant and wild-animal information packets to every council member. I also attended the council subcommittee meeting to make our case. I found it a wee bit uncomfortable – so different from the paper! – BUT I DID IT! You can, too! Call the Mayor’s office to get on the city council agenda. Or visit his office in City Hall – 3rd floor. OR stop by tomorrow night’s city council meeting before 7 p.m. and ask to speak to this city issue. The circus will be in town in several days … we need to take our stand. NOW!

Click here for city council agenda! – R. Tirella

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Here’s a song from a great – and my fave – animal rights activist – Chrissie Hynde.

InCity Voices: No exotic animal acts, please!

By Marie Carbone

… I … oppose allowing any circus to come to Worcester that includes exotic animal acts.

… for the past 20 plus years I have read reviews and … The research consistently bears out the facts that these animals [elephants, chimps, tigers, lions] are more intelligent than we imagined. Surprisngly, in the case of elephants, we learn that they live in a community, care for each other and even grieve when one of them dies. How horrible to take them from that community and put them in a lonely, stressful environment where they are forced, sometimes cruelly, to perform unnatural acts for our entertainment.

The time has long past when the only glimpse people had of these wonderful exotic creations was when the circus came to town. Now elephants can be seen in many humane zoos and sanctuaries where we can appreciate their beauty in an environment as close to normal as we can provide.

The circus – minus exotic animals – will always have a place in providing entertainment. Who hasn’t laughed at the clowns and been awed by the acrobats and high wire artist? But that should be their total focus. There are circuses that have done this and have been eminently successful.

This is a chance for Worcester to take a stand, lead by example and hope in doing so that other communities will follow and eventually compel all circuses to exclude exotic animal acts from their performances.

Marie Carbone lives in Worcester County and is the loving owner of two very special parrots and two elegant cats.

Groundbreaking investigation reveals gruesome lobster slaughter in Maine!

By Dan Paden

If you’ve ever boiled lobsters alive in your kitchen, you’ve no doubt experienced that moment when, in the words of the late David Foster Wallace, “some uncomfortable things start to happen.” After the water heats up and you drop the lobster in the pot, the hapless animal may latch onto the rim for dear life. Once you finally get the lobster fully submerged, you’re confronted with the clanking of the lid as the lobster tries to push it off, followed by the deeply discomforting sound of the animal’s claws frantically scraping the sides of the pot. “The lobster, in other words, behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water …,” wrote Wallace.

No wonder many people opt for frozen instead. The “uncomfortable things” happen someplace else, and we don’t have to think about them as we drop the neat plastic packages of lobster meat into our shopping carts. But I urge you to think about them, at least for the next few minutes. You just might decide that the fleeting taste of a lobster’s flesh is not worth the violence that is routinely inflicted upon these animals.

Earlier this year, PETA captured video footage inside a Rockland, Maine, crustacean slaughterhouse that supplies retailers across the country. The footage shows live lobsters and crabs as they are being ripped apart and crabs being boiled alive. Workers tear off live lobsters’ claws before shoving the animals into a metal tool that punctures their shells. The lobsters’ heads are also ripped from their bodies, tossed onto a conveyor belt and dropped into bins-where their antennae continue to move long after their bodies have been mutilated.

Lobsters do not have a centralized nervous system but instead have ganglia, or masses of nervous tissue, spread throughout their bodies, so they do not die quickly even if their brains are destroyed. Studies have found that a lobster’s nervous system continues to function even after the animal is dismembered.

One worker said that the mutilated lobsters “don’t die right away. I mean, they’ll live for hours.”

PETA’s video also shows workers at this facility slam live crabs onto spikes to break off their top shells and shove the animals’ exposed organs and flesh against rapidly spinning brushes. The crabs-still alive-are then tossed onto a conveyor belt and dumped into boiling water.

These animals are not unfeeling automatons. Recent research has shown that crabs are capable of learning and remembering information, just like other animals. If left alone, lobsters can live to be more than 100 years old. They use complicated signals to establish social relationships and can recognize individuals.

Experiments on crabs and prawns conducted by Dr. Robert W. Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast, have demonstrated that crustaceans can feel pain. Similarly, in 2005, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that crustaceans are capable of experiencing pain and distress and recommended that steps be taken to lessen their suffering when possible.

We live in a changing world, one in which animals are afforded considerations that they might have been denied in the past. If we’re honest, we must admit that it matters little to the animals whether they are cruelly killed behind the closed doors of a commercial slaughterhouse or if we kill them ourselves, right there in our own kitchens. Lobsters and crabs can feel pain and they do not want to die. And the only way to make sure that we’re not contributing to their suffering is to stop eating them.

All about exotic animals forced to “perform” in circuses …

The Worcester City Council needs more info on exotic animals in circuses before they make a decision to ban exotic animal acts from Woo? Here ya go, kids!

Kudos to councilors Rivera, Germain, O’Brien and Lukes for caring about animals, for being humane. We hope the other councilors see the light and do the right thing. We also hope Mayor Joe Petty follows in the footsteps of former Mayor Joe O’Brien and refuses to get sucked into the cheap publicity stunt Ringling pulls each year: lining all the elephants up at City Hall and feeding them bread from local bakeries or American veggies from the super market. Ringling wants the mayor welcoming the elephants! Instant validation! We are talking WILD ANIMALS FROM AFRICA. THEY BELONG WILD, IN AFRICA.

– R. Tirella

Learn More About Ringling Bros. Cruelty

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is known for its long history of abusing animals. In 1929, John Ringling ordered the execution of a majestic bull elephant named Black Diamond after the elephant killed a woman who had been in the crowd as he was paraded through a Texas city. Twenty men took aim and pumped some 170 bullets into Black Diamond’s body, then chopped off his bullet-ridden head and mounted it for display in Houston, Texas. Ringling’s cruel treatment of animals continues today.

Elephants in Ringling’s possession are chained inside filthy, poorly ventilated boxcars for an average of more than 26 straight hours—and often 60 to 70 hours at a time—when the circus travels. Even former Ringling employees have reported that elephants are routinely abused and violently beaten with bullhooks (an elephant-training tool that resembles a fireplace poker), in order to force them to perform tricks.

Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Ringling numerous times for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), such as the following:

  • Improper handling of dangerous animals
  • Failure to provide adequate veterinary care to animals, including an elephant with a large swelling on her leg, a camel with bloody wounds, and a camel injured on train tracks
  • Causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, and unnecessary discomfort to two elephants who sustained injuries when they ran amok during a performance
  • Endangering tigers who were nearly baked alive in a boxcar because of poor maintenance of their enclosures
  • Failure to test elephants for tuberculosis
  • Unsanitary feeding practices

At least 30 elephants, including four babies, have died since 1992, including an 8-month-old baby elephant named Riccardo who was destroyed after he fractured his hind legs when he fell from a circus pedestal. Elephants are not the only animals with Ringling to suffer tragic deaths. In 2004, a 2-year-old lion died of apparent heatstroke while the circus train crossed the Mojave Desert.

To learn more about Ringling’s lengthy history of abusing animals and deceiving the public, read PETA’s Ringling Bros. factsheet (PDF).

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Meet the Elephants

Meet the Elephants

Animals used in circuses such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey live a dismal life in which they are dominated, confined, and violently trained. Workers routinely beat, shock, and whip them until they learn to perform ridiculous tricks that make no sense to them.

Most elephants used by circuses were captured in the wild. Once removed from their families and natural habitat, their lives consist of little more than chains and intimidation. Some baby elephants are born on breeding farms, where they are torn away from their mothers, tethered with ropes, and kept in isolation until they learn to fear their trainers. Throughout their lifetime, all that they will ever know is extreme loneliness and beatings with sharp bullhooks.

Starting with a 2009 investigation, PETA has documented cruelty to more than 20 elephants—ranging in age from just 2 years old to at least 54—who are on the road with Ringling. These sensitive and intelligent animals have spent an average of 30-plus years with the circus, and four elephants have each been in Ringling’s possession for 43 long years.

These are just a few of the elephants who have been forced to perform with the circus in recent years:

Barack is a 2-year-old elephant born at Ringling’s Florida breeding compound. He is forced to endure life on the road with his mother, Bonnie, whose lack of natural, maternal behavior toward Barack has alarmed elephant experts. In early 2010 and again in 2011, Barack was diagnosed with the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV), a common killer of young, captive-born Asian elephants. EEHV is associated with stress, and symptoms include a pale or bluish tongue, swelling of the head and neck, and lethargy. Death is caused by massive internal hemorrhaging and heart failure. Barack was pulled from the show after his second diagnosis, and Ringling has not spoken publicly of his fate since then.

Nicole is a 34-year-old elephant who looks and acts twice her age, according to experts. Her front legs turn out, her wrists bow, and she has abnormal, swollen lumps on both front legs. Problems with feet and nails are a leading reason for euthanasia of captive elephants; all of Nicole’s foot pads are overgrown and discolored, and she has evidence of abscesses on her nails. She has lameness consistent with arthritis, painful bone bruising, and ligament or tendon damage in her right knee, which manifests as instability on that limb. She grimaces in pain while walking and has difficulty exiting the train cars, scraping her back on the undersized doorway.

Sara is a 9-year-old survivor of the cruel training practices used by Ringling that were brought to light by whistleblower Sam Haddock. She is underweight, as is indicated by her very sunken face and prominent skull bones. Sara has suffered from chronic lameness since early 2009, but Ringling has not conducted adequate diagnostics, developed a treatment plan, or ensured that she receives prescribed treatments. Sara displays a high intensity and frequency of abnormal behaviors, including swaying and head-bobbing. She appears to be nervous around people and shows fear responses toward her trainer. She frequently thumps her trunk on the ground, an common indicator of anxiety, and she may walk with her mouth open, a sign of abdominal discomfort or thirst.

Karen is a 42-year-old elephant who was born in the wild in Asia. Experts have deemed her to be in such poor condition that the humane option would be to allow her to retire. Late in 2010, Karen was granted a reprieve and permitted to stop traveling, but as of March 2011, she is back with the Blue Unit. Karen is being forced to perform unnatural “tricks”—such as lifting a basket with a dog inside it with her mouth while standing on a rotating pedestal—despite needing veterinary care for dental problems and overgrown, inflexible foot pads, a condition that is painful and predisposes her to osteoarthritis.

Meet some of the elephants forced to travel with Ringling’s Red Unit:

Tonka was born in captivity and has been with Ringling since about 1989. PETA captured on video an incident in which the 28-year-old elephant was hooked behind the ear, causing her to scream and bleed, while the elephants were being walked from the arena to the train in Austin, Texas. Her brother, Kenny, suffered a worse fate. In 1998, 3-year-old Kenny, who had been bleeding from his rectum and was clearly very sick, died alone in a stall after being forced to perform despite being sick. As a result, Ringling was charged with violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and paid $20,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

Luna, an Asian elephant, is considered to be especially dangerous. Like Tonka, she and her siblings have also suffered horrible abuse at the hands of the circus industry. Luna’s brother Ned was found to be emaciated and was confiscated from circus trainer Lance Ramos-Kollmann in 2008. Ned was placed at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where he died on May 15, 2009. Luna’s brother Benjamin drowned on July 26, 1999, when he was only 4 years old, as he tried to move away from a trainer who was jabbing him with a bullhook while he was swimming in a pond.

Angelica, 14, has been held captive by Ringling since the day that she was born. In 1999, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report stated that there were large lesions on Angelica’s leg, and a Ringling employee said that the scars were caused by rope burns resulting from the violent and terrifying process of separating Angelica from her mother. In January 2006, the USDA cited Ringling for causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, and unnecessary discomfort to Angelica and another elephant who suffered injuries after the two elephants ran amok while performing in Puerto Rico.

AssanBanana, and Baby were born in the wild in Asia, and all three have been with Ringling since about 1968. A humane officer discovered lacerations consistent with bullhook wounds on Assan and Baby during an inspection in California. A former Ringling employee reported that the elderly Banana, who suffers from arthritis, was not being given medication to help alleviate the pain.

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Take Action to Help Ailing Elephants Now

Imagine if you had to walk to work every day while suffering from a debilitating medical condition that caused your joints to ache and your feet to throb. At work, you’d be kept on your feet constantly and forced to perform physical labor for long shifts. You’d be given no chance to recuperate (much less retire), and when you slowed down or balked, your boss would hit youwith something resembling a fireplace poker or would stick the pointy end of the instrument under your chin and drag you around. When you weren’t working, you would live in chains.
That’s pretty much what life is like for Karen and Nicole—two crippled elephants who are shunted from town to town by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has the ability and the responsibility to seize suffering animals, yet the agency allows them to travel up to 50 weeks a year in cramped and filthy boxcars and trailers, to be kept tightly chained by two legs (and sometimes all four), and to be beaten for even looking sideways at a trainer. PETA’s complaints against Ringling Bros.—persistently filed over several years—regarding beatings and the death of elephants, including one particular baby who succumbed during training, led to the largest fine in circus history.

But while fining Ringling Bros. is a step in the right direction, it is only the first step and does nothing to stop the horrors that elephants are enduring at this very moment. In July 2012, after a thorough inspection by an elephant expert, Nicole and Karen were found to be arthritic, crippled, and in chronic pain. Even though the expert notified the city of Los Angeles of their dire condition and recommended that the elephants sit out of the show, Karen and Nicole were forced to perform as usual. This is just one of the numerous examples of city officials ignoring compelling evidence and the opinions of independent experts. Since local jurisdictions have not acted on the clear evidence of abuse and neglect, it is up to the USDA to see to it that the federal laws designed to protect these animals are enforced.

Please take a minute of your time to weigh in regarding these suffering elephants and push for them to get the retirement that they deserve. Please use the form below to urge Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to confiscate all ailing animals from Ringling now. There are reputable sanctuaries that would gladly provide the elephants with a safe environment so that they can live out the rest of their years in peace.

 

 

Dear [Decision Maker],

 

 

 

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 

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Public joins Humane Society in urging Harvard University to prohibit severe animal suffering

More Than 26,000 People Call for New Lab Policy

(Dec. 7, 2011) — The Humane Society of the United States sent letters from 26,688 members of the public to Harvard University and 387 other federally-funded colleges and universities, urging the schools to adopt a formal policy that would protect animals in their laboratories from severe pain and distress. The signers of the letters oppose the use of tax dollars to support activities at the schools’ laboratories that cause severe animal suffering.

“Americans don’t want to pay for animal research that causes suffering,” said Kathleen Conlee, senior director for animal research issues for The HSUS. “Harvard, which receives public funding for its animal research, is well known as an elite educational institution—it’s time for the university to lead the way in its commitment to animal welfare.”

The schools receiving the request for the new policy receive an estimated $6 billion in federal funding per year to conduct animal research. In 2010 Harvard received over $370 million in federal funds for research that includes experiments involving more than 180,000 monkeys, farm animals, cats, dogs, rats, rabbits and other animals used each year at the university.

Federal laws do not prohibit laboratory research or conditions that cause severe pain and distress in animals, but more than 60 colleges and universities have adopted their own policies that do.

Methods to prevent severe pain and distress for animals in laboratories could include:

Using non-animal alternatives when possible.
Properly using anesthetics and painkillers.
Decreasing duration and intensity of stressors.
Determining the most humane time to end the experiment.
Preparing for emergency situations.

Background
Since 2008, The HSUS has asked Harvard four times to adopt a policy that would prevent severe pain or distress, however the university has yet to adopt such a policy.
#

Media Contact: Anna West, 301-258-1518, awest@humanesociety.org.
Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our “HumaneTV” app.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.
Severe Animal Suffering

More Than 26,000 People Call for New Lab Policy

(Dec. 7, 2011) — The Humane Society of the United States sent letters from 26,688 members of the public to Harvard University and 387 other federally-funded colleges and universities, urging the schools to adopt a formal policy that would protect animals in their laboratories from severe pain and distress. The signers of the letters oppose the use of tax dollars to support activities at the schools’ laboratories that cause severe animal suffering.

“Americans don’t want to pay for animal research that causes suffering,” said Kathleen Conlee, senior director for animal research issues for The HSUS. “Harvard, which receives public funding for its animal research, is well known as an elite educational institution—it’s time for the university to lead the way in its commitment to animal welfare.”

The schools receiving the request for the new policy receive an estimated $6 billion in federal funding per year to conduct animal research. In 2010 Harvard received over $370 million in federal funds for research that includes experiments involving more than 180,000 monkeys, farm animals, cats, dogs, rats, rabbits and other animals used each year at the university.

Federal laws do not prohibit laboratory research or conditions that cause severe pain and distress in animals, but more than 60 colleges and universities have adopted their own policies that do.

Methods to prevent severe pain and distress for animals in laboratories could include:
Using non-animal alternatives when possible.
Properly using anesthetics and painkillers.
Decreasing duration and intensity of stressors.
Determining the most humane time to end the experiment.
Preparing for emergency situations.

Background
Since 2008, The HSUS has asked Harvard four times to adopt a policy that would prevent severe pain or distress, however the university has yet to adopt such a policy.
#

Media Contact: Anna West, 301-258-1518, awest@humanesociety.org.
Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our “HumaneTV” app.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

Dogs and hot cars: a deadly combination

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

No one in their right mind would ever put a beloved animal companion in a hot oven, but every summer, people literally bake their dogs to death by leaving them in parked cars. Already this season, at least six dogs have suffered agonizing, panic-filled deaths inside hot vehicles. Many others have been rescued in the nick of time because a passerby cared enough to intervene.

In Ontario, Calif., a 19-year-old woman is facing cruelty charges for allegedly leaving her 1-year-old golden retriever in a hot car while she shopped at a mall. The dog was euthanized after veterinarians determined that she had sustained brain damage and heart and lung injuries. A Parma, Ohio, woman was recently sentenced to jail time after her dog was found suffering from heatstroke in a car in a bar parking lot. The temperature inside the car had reached 129 degrees. And in London, a police officer reportedly tried to commit suicide after two dogs whom he had left in the back of his patrol car died from the heat.

Each of these tragedies could have been avoided if the people responsible had simply left their dogs indoors with air conditioning or fans running. But every year, countless dogs pay the ultimate price because their guardians underestimate the danger of leaving a living being in a parked car. It doesn’t matter if it’s only slightly warm outside, if the windows are partially rolled down or if the vehicle is sitting in the shade: Parked cars are death traps for dogs.

A parked car can reach deadly temperature extremes faster than the time it takes to pick up a loaf of bread or dash into the bank to cash a check. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a shaded car is 90 degrees, and the inside of a car parked in the sun can reach 160 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Hot cars are especially dangerous for dogs because they cannot regulate their body temperature as efficiently as humans can. We can roll down the windows, blast the air conditioning, shed layers of clothing and sweat, but dogs can only cool themselves by panting and perspiring tiny amounts through their footpads.

With only hot air to breathe, panting doesn’t work, so panic sets in for many dogs. Their desperate attempts to escape the roasting-hot vehicle by clawing at the windows or digging at the floor or seats only makes the animals hotter. Collapse, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of consciousness soon occur as the dog’s organs begin to die. Some dogs have heart attacks. According to Plano, Texas, veterinarian Shawn Messonnier, “When you do an autopsy on a dog [who] died this way, the organs are soupy.”

Even if they survive close calls in hot cars, dogs may sustain severe organ damage, which requires extensive and costly veterinary treatment. And as shown by the three cases mentioned above, people who bake their dogs also have a price to pay—in criminal charges, jail time, fines and extreme guilt.

Please, when you’re out and about this summer, be on the lookout for dogs who are trapped in hot cars. If you see one, have the owner paged inside the store or call local animal control authorities or police immediately. Every second counts, and you are that dog’s only hope.

If a dog is showing signs of heatstroke—restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, dark tongue, vomiting or lack of appetite and coordination—get him or her into the shade immediately and call 911. Lower the animal’s body temperature gradually by providing water to drink; applying a cold towel or ice pack to the head, neck and chest; or immersing the dog in lukewarm (not ice-cold) water. Rush the dog to a veterinarian.

And whatever you do, don’t put your best friend through suffering that most people wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy. Leave animals at home, where they will be cool, safe and happy—and where they’ll be waiting for you when you return.

Lindsay Pollard-Post is a staff writer for The PETA Foundation.

More hell for the animals of Ringling Bros. Circus! Please, Mr. President, help them!

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

Britain’s last remaining “circus elephant,” Annie, recently packed her trunk and went to live her final years on hundreds of acres of rolling lawns on a country estate. Her retirement came after the release of undercover video footage showing that circus workers kicked and thrashed her and jabbed her in the face with a pitchfork. Annie is almost 60 years old and has spent her life in a circus, which, for elephants, means “in chains.” The look on her face as she was forced to pose with the circus owner is enough to break any kind person’s heart.

Meanwhile, Ringling Bros. is still dragging its “beast wagons” around the U.S.

Anyone who cares about animals should stay away from this, the “Saddest Show on Earth.”

Three elephants who are traveling with Ringling – Karen, Nicole and Sara – suffer from what veterinarians say is chronic lameness and other problems, including arthritis, cracked toenails, which make putting weight on their feet painful, and scarring on their chins, the result of being struck many times by bullhooks — weapons resembling fireplace pokers with a metal hook at one end. Forty-two-year-old Karen also has a type of tuberculosis that is communicable to humans. She was banned from entering Tennessee earlier this year, but other states have failed to take similar action, putting children at risk and surely exacerbating the stress on Karen’s immune system.

Pop star Pink has written to President Obama, urging him to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture to act to stop circus cruelty. She included with her letter a copy of the 16-page complaint that PETA has filed with the USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) detailing three cases of egregious animal abuse by Ringling.

The incidents are shocking.

Riccardo, an 8-month-old baby elephant, had to be euthanized after breaking both his legs while being put through a rigorous “training” regimen.

Clyde, a lion, baked to death in a boxcar when Ringling refused to stop the train — simply because it was running late — to cool him off and give him water during a long journey through the Mojave Desert.

Angelica, another elephant, was beaten by one of her handlers, despite the fact that she was chained and could not move.

These are all violations of federal law and need to be acted upon.

In 2006, the USDA assured then-Sen. Obama, who had contacted the agency on behalf of his constituents, that if violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) were found, prosecution would follow. The agency’s own investigators found AWA violations and recommended enforcement action, but nothing happened.

In the case of Riccardo, Ringling employees were quick to say that the baby pachyderm broke his legs while playing and that he hadn’t begun training, although it was later revealed in a lawsuit over beatings inflicted with bullhooks that Riccardo had in fact been undergoing a training program and had had ropes tied to his legs and trunk when he fell.

In the case of Clyde, a former Ringling lion handler described in an affidavit how Ringling tried to deceive the USDA by installing a sprinkler system inside the boxcar in which Clyde perished after the fact. According to USDA investigators, Ringling also refused to hand over crucial evidence, even after receiving a subpoena.

There is much more, but the key issue is whether our new OGC General Counsel Ramona E. Romero will do the right thing. As Pink points out, it is high time that the USDA made good on its promise to protect animals used and abused under the big top. Elephants may be the symbol of the Republican Party, but people of goodwill on both sides of the aisle should stick up for these sorely abused animals.

Ingrid E. Newkirk is the president and founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.