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Let’s start the new year with …

Why we should never buy animals

By Dan Paden

For years, animal advocacy groups have encouraged, urged and begged consumers to shun pet stores and breeders and instead adopt animals from shelters and rescue groups. With a never-ending stream of homeless animals—and not just cats and dogs—pouring through the doors of animal shelters day after day, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would ever buy an animal from a pet store.

But if that’s not enough to sway you, consider this: Patronizing pet shops means supporting an industry that treats animals as disposable objects, not living, feeling beings. Every PETA investigation of the pet trade has revealed callous disregard for animals, appalling conditions and heartbreaking abuse, and our latest case is no exception.

PETA’s recent eyewitness investigation found thousands of animals languishing and dying in filthy conditions at a rodent-breeding operation and a pet store—both owned by the same couple—near Denver. Enclosures containing rats and mice, many of whom were destined to be fed to snakes and other reptiles kept as “pets,” were not cleaned for weeks, forcing the animals to eat and sleep amid feces-filled and urine-soaked bedding. Tubs containing rats and mice routinely flooded when water lines were chewed by rats or knocked loose by free-roaming cats. Hundreds of animals drowned.

Rats and mice were fed only once per month, and the food became moldy and covered with feces as the weeks passed. One owner admitted that some animals starved between feedings.

Others were violently torn apart by cats, whom the owners routinely allowed into their “factory.” Kittens were taken from the free-roaming cats and sold, but some were so sick that they died before ever reaching the couple’s pet store. PETA’s eyewitnesses never saw any animal receive adequate veterinary care at either facility.

Chronic severe crowding and a lack of food, water and other basic necessities created stress and fear among the animals and led to fighting. The eyewitnesses found one weak and thin rat with facial injuries so critical that her nose and upper jaw were missing. A gaping wound exposed what appeared to be her bone, cartilage and internal tissues. The rat was rushed to a veterinarian, who put her out of her misery.

Dead rats were often overlooked and left to rot in tubs along with live animals for days or even weeks on end. One dead rat apparently went unnoticed for so long that nothing more than a bloody skull remained.

At the pet store, ailing reptiles (whom the couple bred in their basement) were denied veterinary care and instead thrown into a freezer to die. Sick and injured rats and mice were crudely “whacked”—that is, swung by the tail and slammed against a hard surface in an attempt to kill them. Some were then wrapped in plastic bags, which a worker admitted caused them to suffocate.

A hedgehog at the pet store with an infected eye was neglected for so long that her eye shriveled up and lost all vision. But instead of providing adequate treatment, workers sprayed one or both of her eyes with diluted chlorhexidine, a product used to clean the cages and enclosures at the store.

Based on PETA’s evidence, the Thornton, Colo., Police Department executed a search warrant at the pet store that allowed them to rescue some of the mammals, reptiles and amphibians there. Despite having extensive evidence of persistent, widespread cruelty to animals for more than two months, the Adams County, Colo., Sheriff’s Office still has not seized or rendered aid to the thousands of animals kept at the breeding operation. PETA is now calling on the sheriff to seize all animals from that barn without further delay.

But such actions alone won’t stop the suffering in the pet trade. Animals will continue to languish and die in this greed-driven industry until consumers start doing two simple things: adopting animal companions from shelters and reputable rescue groups (instead of buying them from pet stores and breeders) and purchasing all their animals’ food, toys and other supplies from companies that don’t stock animals in their inventory.

No fur, no wool, no leather went into these gorgeous cruelty-free boots!

I try to buy cruelty-free stuff all the time.

CAM00240I bought these boots yesterday to skip through the snow when we get zonked with a bazillion snow flakes, each like no other!, and Worcester is slushilicious! These boots are quilted and cute … and cruelty-free. (the vintage-y kitchen  chair I found on the side of the road. To its right, you see my Bapy’s Victrola.)

If you like to buy your stuff on line, check out these great winter boots!

Buy a pair or two  today and support designers/companies that aren’t a part of the barbaric leather or fur industry, companies that don’t manhandle and bloody sheep, companies that don’t treat snakes and reptiles like factory parts. … You don’t have to wear tortured-to-death animals to look sexy/cool/pretty this winter!  Or any season! From PETA.ORG.

Click on the boots’ blue brand name to order! 

– Rosalie Tirella

11. ZooShoo Fallout Boot

ZooShoe fall out boot

What did I tell you about the quilted pattern? These bad boys aren’t messing around. “Hello, hi, yes, you want me.” It’s like they can hear our deepest thoughts.

12. ZooShoo Gracie Bootie

ZooShoe Gracie Boot

Whoa, Nelly. The Timberland boot just got a full-fledged makeover, and we’re not mad about it.

13. ZooShoo Reno Boot

ZooShoe Reno Boot

I can’t even—I really just can’t even. Holiday red, hand-stitched, cruelty-free cowboy boots? Cowgirl or not, these girls had you at hello.

To see more beautiful, cruelty-free boots, CLICK HERE! 

Please make a donation $ to REC today! Last day! … Go, REC, go!!!!!

Thank you for all you have helped accomplish this past year!

Together we worked with our neighbors to build new gardens, create meaningful jobs for young people, connect local farmers and urban consumers, and make our homes, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods healthier, more beautiful places to live, learn, work and play.  

In 2014, your gift made change possible:

You sent our Mobile Farmers Market vehicle to Worcester’s lowest-income and most food-insecure neighborhoods with healthy, affordable, and locally grown vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meat, with stops at 15 different locations around the city each and every week from June through October.

You helped the REC provide Community Farmers Markets in Worcester 6 days each week from June to November, serving more than 6,000 families.

You provided thousands of free organic vegetable seedlings, compost and technical support to our large and growing community and school gardens network-now totaling 62 gardens across Worcester! 

You helped organize our largest ever Annual REC Earth Day Cleanups since our first in 1989. More than 1,500 volunteers, friends, and neighbors came together to give our neighborhoods a wonderful spring cleaning, removing 50 tons of trash from 98 sites in Worcester. 

You helped build the next generation of environmental leaders, employing 34 young people from low-income families through our year-round summer and after-school YouthGROW program.

Together we have done so much. Together we can do so much more.Your annual gift at any level will continue to make change in 2015.

Make a gift before the end of the year!

Last day!

CLICK HERE to make a donation $!

New Year’s Eve finger foods, vegan style!

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The Old Injun Fighter doesn’t believe in decking his halls with boughs of holly for Christmas! But I’m certain he’ll be celebrating the hell out of  New Year’s Eve!  (Truth be told, he’s very sensitive about animals – doesn’t eat meat, only fish. And he will try vegan apps and entrees. Several years ago I dragged him to a vegan New Year’s Eve party. He had a good time, trying all the food and enjoying some very cool vegan Thai spring rolls!)    – R.T.

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From PETA.ORG

To ring in the new year, I will most likely be on a dance floor surrounded by friends and screaming out my countdown to midnight. But that will only be after I have an early evening cocktail party that focuses on finger foods. I have to do something somewhat sophisticated and adult-like before getting crazy later in the night.

A New Year’s Eve party is the perfect time to put out a spread of indulgent appetizers, mini entrées, and desserts all at once. There are no hard rules on the rights and wrongs of what to serve on this holiday, so get crazy with it!

Chow.com offers up ideas on creating a Japanese spread focused on mochi or starters such as curried carrot soup served in cute shot glasses. This is also the time to splurge on the bubbly and on specialty cocktails, such as Food Network’s champagne punch. You can try the Triple Threat Twinkies or Mushrooms Rockefeller below, or be creative and create your own finger foods.

The point is to be creative and celebrate the way you want. After an often stressful holiday season jammed full of traditions, it’s necessary to let your hair down, celebrate, eat, and drink your way.

Mushrooms Rockefeller

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced white onion
6 baby portobello or large button mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and minced
1/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsp. pimiento
Salt and pepper, to taste

•Lightly grease an 8×10-inch pan. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

•In a skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onion and mushrooms until soft. Add the spinach, lemon juice and zest, and pimiento and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

•Stuff the mushrooms with the spinach filling and bake for 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked.

Read more: http://www.peta.org/living/food/finger-foods-new-years-eve-bash/#ixzz3NODQz5OG

A long cold winter for many outdoor dogs

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The Jett-ster never stays outside alone, chained up … . Winter can kill a dog forced to live outdoors! Please call the City of Worcester animal control officers, who work out of the police department (  (508) 799-8606) or the Worcester Animal Rescue League  – (508) 853-0030 – if you see a “junkyard dog” forced to be outdoors hours at a time this winter or any other dog forced to live outdoors in the freezing cold. They’ll help the dog, remove the dog if necessary.  – R. T.

By Teresa Chagrin, PETA.ORG

It was 20 degrees outside. The tiny gray dog, tethered to a tree, had no shelter and no way to stay warm. Her hair was falling out in clumps because of a severe skin infection, leaving her shivering and on the brink of hypothermia. Thankfully, the little dog, now named Suzy, was rescued after a concerned passerby called PETA’s Emergency Response Team, which mobilized a compassionate local humane officer.

Many other dogs who are forced to face the winter on a chain or in a backyard pen aren’t as lucky.

A sweet pit bull named Daisy, alone in an Arkansas backyard, froze to death one subzero January night because the chain that she was attached to prevented her from reaching shelter. In North Carolina, PETA fieldworkers found three chained pit bulls—Mylie, Buck and Roscoe—dead inside their bare doghouses. They were just skeletons covered with skin and had no body fat to insulate them from the winter cold. Every bone in their bodies was visible.

Dozens of other dogs across the country die similar cold, painful deaths every year because their guardians—if they can even be called that—are ignorant of or indifferent to their needs.

Every dog longs and deserves to live indoors with a loving human “pack,” but dogs who are relegated to the backyard are often deprived of companionship, adequate shelter and other basic needs.

Overturned barrels or plywood lean-tos offer no protection from howling winds and freezing temperatures. Old rugs and blankets, which people sometimes toss to dogs for bedding, freeze after they get wet. A basic dry doghouse stuffed with straw and covered with a flap, while no substitute for a loving home, is a luxury compared to what most chained and penned dogs are given.

Dogs’ fur coats don’t provide adequate protection from the elements—especially when it comes to short-haired, small, young or elderly dogs.

Frostbitten ears, toes and tails, hypothermia and death are daily threats to dogs who are left outdoors in the winter.

Older dogs who have spent winter after bitter winter on the cold, hard ground endure the added misery of aching, arthritic joints.

While their families stay cozy and warm inside heated homes, many dogs who are left outdoors shiver themselves to sleep every night—if they can sleep at all.

The effort to stay warm burns extra calories, so dogs left outside often endure constant hunger or can even starve to death without an increase in calories.

Dogs have died of dehydration in the middle of winter simply because no one noticed that their water bucket had frozen solid.

Even if they survive the winter, chained dogs have little to look forward to. Summer brings sweltering temperatures, flea and tick infestations, flies—who are attracted to the animals’ waste and bite their ears bloody—and the torment of hearing and seeing people outdoors but being unable to run, play or interact with them.

In every season, the aching loneliness and crushing deprivation of solitary confinement remain.

If there are chained or penned dogs in your neighborhood, don’t let them suffer through another long, cold, lonely winter. Call the authorities if the dogs have no food, water or shelter or if their life appears to be in danger. Befriend their guardian, and offer to take them for walks. Take treats, food and toys along on your visits. Consider allowing them to sleep in your home on especially cold nights. Above all, urge their guardian to let them live indoors with the rest of the family—so that they will not only survive the winter but also have a life worth living.

This article was written by Teresa Chagrin, an animal care and control specialist in PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department.

Please visit and support the beautiful horses …

… at BLUE STAR EQUICULTURE.

Drove  down to Blue Star in Palmer today to see and touch the magnificent working horses at this special working horse sanctuary. The horses there sooth my soul … . Each horse (Blue Star has 32) so intelligent and sensitive, yet mysterious (to me). … Did you know horses’ lips are so sensitive they can pick up a single grain in a sandbox filled with sand? They get to know you when you offer them your hand to smell. They take in your scent … . Then they remember you forever!  They get jealous if their pals are getting all the attention and throw their massive heads up and shake them at you to protest. Stroking the neck of an almost 2,000 lb animal – one so beautiful and powerful! –  feels otherworldly.

Take the kids this school vacation to the country, to Blue Star … . Be mesmerized …

They are located at 3090 Palmer St., Palmer. Their phone number: (413) 289-9787

Here are some photos I took this afternoon.     – Rosalie Tirella

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Calling all farmers, people who don’t want inner-city farmers markets gentrified, folks who want to bring fresh local foods to city schools/low-income families!

It’s the POLLINATE CONFERENCE January 13  at Worcester State University!

Time is running out …

Registration closes on January 7th!

Reserve your spot today.

Join more 300 other enthusiastic farm to cafeteria advocates from the preschool, K-12, and college sectors for a full day of workshops, networking, cooking demonstrations, and fun. We will have over 20 different workshops including:

Farm to School Policy and Advocacy

Farm to School Curriculum Connections

Waste Reduction, Composting Organics, and School Gardens
Funding Farm to School Programs
On Campus Farming
Farm to Preschool 101
Farm Based Education Initiatives – Urban and Rural Farm Field Trips
Sea to School: Incorporating Local Seafood in School Meals

The conference will also include Farm to Cafeteria Regional Networking Sessions so that you can connect with others in your community who are involved in farm to cafeteria activities.

Learn from their best practices, share your own tips, and move forward together!

We will be holding a concurrent Buyer Tradeshow and Networking Session for Farmers and Distributors. This will be a great opportunity to make direct connections with farmers from your region and discuss local sourcing with distributors.

Registration

Registration closes on January 7th and is filling up quickly as we have a limit of 350 attendees. Discounts are available for students and conference presenters. Please contact us for more information.

Conference Sponsorship Opportunities

Opportunities still exist for conference sponsorship. This conference is made possible by generous support from businesses and organizations that share the values of the farm to cafeteria movement. We expect the conference to attract over 300 individuals from a variety of fields including school and college dining services, farmers, non-profit organization staff, state agency representatives, legislators, school educators and administrators.

We have a number of different conference sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in being a sponsor, please contact us.

For more information and to register, CLICK HERE!