Category Archives: Animal Issues

Hunting and the big myth: Why you can’t ‘conserve’ species by killing them

By Michelle Kretzer

Hunters cause much suffering and do nothing positive to regulate deer, duck, geese, wolf or bear populations (as they claim). Also: for every animal they kill, one gets away, wounded … the end is bloody and horrific.

Even though less than 4% of the U.S. population hunts, most of us have heard the familiar lines that hunters recite to make their bloody pastime sound more palatable. Their stories have more holes in them than their victims do. Despite hunters’ assertions that their gory hobby reduces “overpopulation” and “starvation,” research shows that they actually cause both.

Take the case of deer, the most commonly hunted animal in North America, for instance. Deer reproduce based on food and habitat availability, so when both are plentiful, reproduction increases and deer have more twins. This is what happens when hunters snuff out a significant number of them — food and habitat are in greater supply, meaning … more deer.

Adding to the notion of “overpopulation” are wildlife management agencies, which are partially funded by hunting fees and have a financial interest in keeping the 4% happy.

Nature regulates itself …

Officials routinely kill natural predators, including wolves, bears and coyotes, in order to ensure that there will be plenty of targets. Just look at the war on wolves playing out across the country. In the latest chapter, 20 of Yellowstone’s iconic gray wolves were shot after venturing just beyond its protected borders, as reported by the Associated Press. Park officials told the AP they were concerned about wolves being lured out with bait — and that the death toll would rise. Only about 94 wolves remain. It’s a devastating blow to animals who mate for life and live in close-knit families.

Gray wolves

Unlike natural predators, who keep populations healthy by preying on the sickest and weakest, hunters go after the largest animals — the ones they want to brag about shooting. After these strong, healthy members of the herd have been killed, animals who depended on them for survival often have difficulty finding food and putting on enough weight to make it through winter.

Bear cub

Hunters also use chronic wasting disease (CWD) — which afflicts deer and elk and is similar to mad cow — as an excuse for eradicating these species. However, disease-tracking data show that CWD is often spread when captive-bred animals are shuffled from state to state to become hunting targets. A recent Penn State study also found that hunters were likely spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to deer, potentially creating a reservoir for the disease to mutate. Of the white-tailed deer they examined in Iowa, 80% tested positive.

One topic you won’t hear hunters discussing is how many animals they injure but fail to kill.

Estimates by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, members of the Maine BowHunters Alliance and other groups put the “wound rate” for bowhunting at an astounding 50%.

An article in Bowhunter Magazine admitted, “It is disquieting to know that we probably wound one deer for every animal harvested.” A piece in Western Bowhunter admonished, “Don’t talk to anyone about wounding animals, especially in public places or among non-hunters.”

So how do hunters “conserve” wildlife? It seems even they have trouble answering that question. Hunter Tess Talley, under fire for killing a rare black giraffe in South Africa, appeared on CBS This Morning to defend “conservation hunting.” Host Tony Dokoupil asked, “The money from ‘conservation hunting,’ as you describe it, is a paltry sum compared to wildlife tourism. So the argument isn’t the strongest. … The conservation part doesn’t add up.” Struggling, Talley finally responded, “It’s tough, it’s a science, it’s really hard. I’m not a conservationist — I’m a hunter.”

This seasoned hunter, given a national platform and plenty of time to prepare, couldn’t offer one rational defense of hunting as “conservation.” Because there isn’t one.

Resolving to get healthy in 2022? Include your pets, too!

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Jett. He’s 15 but gets his fun runs in daily. When it’s very cold out (below freezing, like today), because he’s geriatric, outdoor time is brief. photo: R.T.

Getting healthy and fit in the new year is an admirable resolution. But while we’re doing downward dogs and cat stretches, what are our dogs and cats doing? More than likely, they’re just waiting — staring at the wall and wishing they could enjoy a little exercise, too.

Staying active is just as important for our animal companions as it is for us, but they don’t have the luxury of going to the gym or out for a walk or run when they feel like it. They depend on us to give them opportunities and encouragement to get moving.

Letting animals become “chonky” isn’t cute or kind. Obesity reduces the length and quality of their lives: Obese cats are at least three times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and obese cats and dogs face increased risks of kidney and heart disease, osteoarthritis and many types of cancer, among other serious health problems.

If you have an animal friend who could stand to shed a few pounds, work with your veterinarian to rule out health conditions that may cause weight gain and to create a safe weight-loss plan. This is especially important for cats, who can suffer a life-threatening liver condition called hepatic lipidosis if their calorie intake is reduced too drastically.

If your animals’ current “workout” consists of walking from the couch to the food bowl, it’s time to step it up. For dogs, daily walks are a must. Jaunts around the neighborhood or park are excellent exercise (for the one holding the leash, too!), and they provide pups with much-needed mental stimulation and social outlets. Sniffing the “news” on trees and hydrants and greeting other friendly dogs and humans along the way might be the highlight of their day.

And it’s their walk, so let dogs set the pace (and choose the route, when possible). Be patient while they sniff to their heart’s content, and always use a comfortable nylon harness—not a painful choke or prong collar, which can injure a dog’s necks.

Get your pup’s heart pumping with other fun activities, too, like chasing Frisbees or balls in a fenced area, romping at a dog park or swimming (under your constant supervision). Never confine your dog to a crate, which is terribly cruel psychologically and can cause their muscles to atrophy. If you have to go out to work, give them a good walk (30 minutes or so) before you leave, and let them have the run of the house while you’re away. Puppy-proof if you have mischievous dogs (put fragile or dangerous items out of reach). Leave them plenty of chew toys and arrange for a trusted person to take them for a mid-day walk if you can’t come home on your lunch break.

Getting cats active may take a bit more creativity, but it’s well worth the effort. As PETA president Ingrid Newkirk observes in her new book, 250 Vital Things Your Cat Wants You to Know, “Cats are thoughtful, clever, and innovative. … They need things to play with, to figure out, and to think about, or they will go quietly nuts, just as you would.”

Interactive wand-type toys that you dangle and drag along the floor or furniture are a great way to ensure that kitties get their cardio, as are motorized balls, remote-controlled mice and laser pointers. Paper bags (with the handles removed), cardboard boxes, packing paper and rolled-up balls of foil can also provide hours of free fun and exercise for cats. Aim for at least two 10- to 15-minute play sessions daily, preferably at dawn and dusk, when cats are most active. Keep things interesting by rotating toys weekly and sprinkling them with catnip.

Keeping cats indoors is vital to protecting them from contagious diseases, speeding cars, predators on four legs and two, poisons and countless other dangers. So make your kitties’ home their castle and encourage them to jump, climb, stretch and explore with multistory cat trees, scratching posts, perches and tunnels. They can also enjoy fresh air and outdoor exercise in a securely enclosed “catio” or on a leash with a form-fitting harness, under your watchful eye.

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2022 — for you and your animal companions.



New year, new vegan: Let’s confront the ‘meat paradox’ in 2022

By Rebecca Libauskas

Do you shout, “Cows!” when driving past a field of grazing cows? It’s hard not to smile at the sight of a grassy pasture dotted with bovines. But most of those cows don’t have joyful lives, and none of them are killed “humanely.”

Let’s not kid ourselves … Photos: PETA

There have even been recorded cases of cows crying — letting out high-pitched moos and shedding tears — before slaughter.

No compassionate person wants to think of these animals being shot in the head, hung upside down and bled out just to be chopped up and eaten on a bun. But it’s important to acknowledge reality and explore our uncomfortable feelings about eating animals. Feelings are like a lighthouse in the fog: They can lead us to the solid ground of truth. So as we enter 2022, let’s look in the mirror and confront the “meat paradox.”

The meat paradox is an internal struggle: People care about animals, yet they pay the meat industry to abuse and kill them. Illustrating this disconnect, a Gallup poll found that about one in three Americans believed animals should be given the same rights as humans. But over 90% of people eat animals. And Americans, in particular, eat more meat per capita than any other country, according to the World Economic Forum.

A recent review paper published in the Social Psychological Bulletin uncovered the mental gymnastics that some meat-eaters perform in order to deal with their cognitive dissonance. The review looked at self-soothing strategies that people use to respond to triggers — things that bring to mind the contradiction of eating meat while caring about animals.

One way they dull their guilty feelings is to pretend that the animals they admire grazing in the field don’t end up on their plates. Processed meat makes it somewhat easier to keep compassion and disgust at bay. Words matter, too: Calling meat “steak” instead of “dead slab of cow” makes it easier to swallow. Someone I know posted on social media that it was hard for her to take the pig she raised from a piglet to be “processed.” She was distancing herself from the truth and shielded her heart from guilt by using the word “processed” instead of calling the procedure what it really is: slaughter.

To appease our consciences, many meat companies falsely label their products “humane.” But no matter how pleasant the packaging may appear, everything taken from animals is a result of cruel exploitation. Most animal-derived foods — including “humane” meat, eggs, milk and cheese — come from farms at which vast numbers of animals are crammed into tightly packed sheds or feedlots to maximize profit. In 2021, a PETA investigator recorded workers punching, throwing and stomping on turkeys at a so-called “humane” farm.

Inhumane …

Another way we soothe ourselves is to deny that animals feel pain and understand what is happening to them. But animals do feel pain and are aware of what is happening to them. Pigs, for example, are brilliant, sensitive beings who want to live free from suffering. They are terrified by the sights and smells of the slaughterhouse and will scream and fight to save their own lives.

Pig, abused, dead, at an American factory farm.

Just as mirrors shatter, the illusion can, too, at any time. It only takes a child asking, “Where do chicken nuggets come from?” to make us confront the violent origins of our food. We can learn from children’s innate empathy for animals: In a new study, 70% of children said that it wasn’t OK to eat pigs and cows.

Our “aha” moment can also come from looking into the eyes of the cats or dogs who share our hearts and homes. We know our animal companions are intelligent and have unique personalities and the desire to live. So how can we love and care for one species but kill another? How do we resolve the meat paradox? The answer is clear: Go vegan.

Not only does every vegan spare nearly 200 animals a year, ditching animal-derived “products” also helps mitigate the climate crisis and improves our health. According to the United Nations, a global shift toward vegan eating is necessary to combat the worst effects of the climate crisis. And vegan foods support a healthy body and offer protection against many diseases.

As we begin this new year, let’s all lean into those gut feelings and make a change that will save animals — as well as the planet, our health and our conscience. Let’s align our hearts and minds and go vegan. Are you in?

I left out a glass of oat milk for Santa this Christmas (and vegan cookies, too!)

By Heather Moore

Drink and cook with oat, almond or soy milk – vegan milks – so cows don’t suffer on factory farms! Especially good if you’re lactose-intolerant!

I didn’t want coal in my Christmas stocking, so this Christmas I offered Santa vegan milk — never cow’s milk!

Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do — to feed their babies. Cows naturally produce only enough milk to meet the needs of their calves, but genetic manipulation and, in some cases, antibiotics and hormones are used to force each cow to make more than 22,000 pounds of milk a year.

On dairy farms, both organic and conventional, female cows are forcibly impregnated every year so that they’ll produce a steady supply of milk for humans. The calves are torn away from their mothers soon after they’re born, which causes both mother and baby extreme distress. Mother cows bellow for their babies for days.


Most male calves end up in barren feedlots, where they’re fattened and then killed for beef — meat from cows on dairy farms makes up about 20% of the U.S. ground beef market. The calves raised for veal are chained up in small crates and fed a formula that’s low in iron so that they’ll become anemic and their flesh will stay pale. They’re sent to slaughter when they’re only 3 to 18 weeks old.

Female calves are treated as milk machines, like their mothers. Some are forced to spend their lives standing on concrete, and others are confined to crowded lots, where they must live amid their own feces. When they’re too sick or worn out to produce much milk — usually when they’re around 4 or 5 years old — they, too, end up at the slaughterhouse, bloodied and dangling by a hind leg with their throats cut.

Even the Grinch wouldn’t support such cruelty to animals!

Most coffee shops offer vegan milks for your java!

Vegan milk is delicious, healthy, humane and environmentally friendly, which is important if you’re dreaming of a green holiday season. University of Oxford researchers found that producing a glass of dairy milk results in about three times more greenhouse-gas emissions than vegan milk and consumes nine times as much land. That land is used for pasture and to grow the animals’ feed, which causes them to belch out massive amounts of methane.

If you want to get on Santa’s “nice” list for next year, take it from me: Drink vegan milk! Cook with it, too! As the researchers pointed out, choosing plant milk over cow’s milk is much better for the planet, not to mention for animals – and you! Happy New Year!


Substitute vegan options for milk, eggs, butter this holiday season!


The first holiday season with a new dog doesn’t have to be ruff!🐕🐶🐕

By Michelle Kretzer

This autumn: Lilac at the dog park. Dogs love to have fun and roll in dessicated stuff! pics: R.T.

Last Christmas was our first with our rescued pup, Capone. He looked dashing in a candy cane–striped collar as we took videos of him tearing into wrapping paper, sticking his head into gift bags, fervently attacking his new plush sheep toy and testing the limits on the number of cookies he could persuade us to give him in one sitting.

The celebration was even more special because it was his first Christmas indoors — a far cry from the filthy porch he’d been tied up on for two years before he was rescued by PETA fieldworkers. But there was another reason our holiday was so relaxed, worry-free and joyful: Capone had already been with us for almost a year. He had settled in and felt comfortable with us. He was housetrained, and he was familiar enough with life at our house to take the added excitement of the holidays in stride.

Pet stores pull out all the stops to sell animals as “presents” during the holidays, and they bank on families falling for the picture-perfect appeal of a puppy or kitten under the tree. Unfortunately, even well-intentioned people get suckered in, forgetting their misgivings about supporting greedy breeders that supply pet stores with animals. They often find themselves underprepared and overwhelmed when holiday pandemonium and the new-animal adjustment period collide.

Jett enjoying the great outdoors!

When Capone first joined our family, he couldn’t resist gleefully destroying slippers, shoes, washcloths and T-shirts. He loved marking the furniture legs in our guest room. And we were exhausted from the midnight walkies he required so he could relieve himself. I can’t imagine also having to prepare a giant holiday meal and host guests in the midst of handling all these new-dog challenges.

Travel, visitors, parties, shopping, cooking and the other hectic hallmarks of the season make it tough to provide the time, attention, patience and money that an animal — especially a puppy or kitten — requires. Without a calm atmosphere and a consistent routine to help

Without a calm atmosphere and a consistent routine to help them figure out the “do’s” and “don’ts,” animals are bound to make mistakes and may even be unfairly punished for it. Many are surrendered to a shelter, imprisoned for hours on end in a crate or banished from the house altogether and sentenced to a lonely life at the end of a chain — like Capone had been.

When I worked in an animal shelter, I also saw countless animals given up because caring for them cost more than had been anticipated. Giving a dog or cat as a gift is akin to handing your loved one a bill for tens of thousands of dollars, due in mandatory monthly installments for the next 10 to 20 years. As reported by CNBC, the lifetime cost of caring for a cat ranges from $21,917 to $30,942. A dog will run you between $27,074 and $42,545. When Capone was trying to get the hang of playing on our slick floors, he crashed into the baseboard and broke off a nail. Thankfully, we didn’t have a crowd of holiday guests to apologize to as we grabbed Capone and ran out of our blood-spattered living room. But our mad dash to the emergency vet came with a hefty bill.

If you are certain that your loved one is ready to give a dog or cat a lifetime of care, saving a life is the best present. Buy a soft bed and fill it with toys, treats and a stuffed animal — complete with a big red bow. Include a gift certificate to the local shelter to cover the cost of adoption so that your recipient can find the perfect new family member after the holiday whirlwind dies down.

Today, we’re excitedly gearing up for another fun Christmas full of shareable Capone videos. And his grandma has already bought him a festive new holiday collar.

Jett, like all dogs, is so … life-affirming!

Forget COVID — Fear the Reindeer!

By Jennifer O’Connor

While the pandemic may have triggered the inexorable shift of most shoppers to online purchasing, many see Christmas as an excuse to head back to the mall. All the old standbys are waiting, and regrettably, that includes promotions involving live animals, such as reindeer displays and horse-drawn carriages.

The Worcester Common all dressed up for the holidays! pics:Rose T.

Dasher and Dancer are beloved movie characters, but real reindeer want nothing to do with humans!

In nature, these social animals are constantly on the move, migrating over vast distances of tundra and even using their hooves as paddles to traverse rivers and lakes. Their noses may not turn red, but depending on the season, their eyes change color to account for the differing levels of light.

Reindeer don’t want to be petted or harnessed to sleighs. When held in captivity, these large, strong animals retain their instincts to roam free, and being loaded on and off trucks, subjected to exhausting journeys and corralled at noisy events is frightening and confusing to them. Being in close contact with shoppers, bright lights and excited children is an entirely inappropriate environment for a reindeer or any other animal. A few years ago, a reindeer being used as a Christmas prop at a Colorado mall made a break for it and went on the run, and in the U.K., a reindeer used at a holiday event took off at full gallop down the street after being startled by a car horn. Grandma really might get run over by a reindeer.

St. John’s Church on Temple Street, Worcester, has Christmas Masses that draw thousands of people! Please, don’t make animals that belong in the wild – like reindeers – a part of your Christmas! Be kind and humane this Christmas season!

Reindeer pose other risks that might necessitate a trip to the ER: They can harbor tetanus, leptospirosis, Lyme disease and salmonellosis — all of which are transmissible to humans.

Crowded mall parking lots are no place for other animals, either, yet horses pulling carriages are dodging impatient drivers all over the country. The season for carriage operators to make a buck lasts only a matter of weeks, so horses are given few breaks to rest or catch their breath. Hauling load after heavy load through ice and slush is exhausting. And when tack rubs against their skin for hours on end, it can cause sores and abrasions that may not be visible when covered by a harness.

Horses are extremely sensitive to loud noises and unexpected sounds — like the blaring horn of someone trying to commandeer a parking space. Horses (along with humans) can be seriously hurt — some have even died — when they’ve spooked and run amok or when reckless drivers have run into them.

City and towns often have holiday light celebrations at this time of year. Tell your hometown: NO ANIMALS FOR ENTERTAINMENT, HAULING OR PETTING, PLEASE!

No one in authority ensures that these animals are being provided with food, water and proper care.

Understaffed and overburdened animal control departments don’t have the resources to monitor holiday displays and enforce compliance with anti-cruelty laws.

The exhibitors who display the animals consider this their high season, so profits typically trump animal welfare.

This holiday season, extend peace and goodwill to all by refusing to support these exploitative displays – and spreading the word!

50 Years and No Cure: How We Can Finally Win the “War on Cancer”

By Emily R. Trunnell

Ingrid’s book on animals: perfect holiday gift!💚🎄🎁🎅

In 1971, when then-President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act and launched the “war on cancer,” taxpayer dollars were poured into the search for a cure for a disease that was, at the time, the second-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Today, 50 years and approximately $140 billion dollars later, cancer is still the second-leading cause of death in the U.S.

How could five decades of nearly unwavering focus from the purportedly sharpest scientific minds in the world fail so spectacularly?

The answer lies in the terminally flawed animal experimentation model, upon which an alarming amount of cancer research is based. The fundamental biological differences between humans and other animals lead, unsurprisingly, to different results. Other animals, quite simply, are a poor experimental model for humans.

No matter what type of experiment it is, how intricately it is designed or how much it costs, experimenters have been unable to surmount the biological, immunological and genetic differences between species. This has even led a former director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) — the agency leading the war on cancer — to wave a white flag.

“The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse,” former NCI director Dr. Richard Klausner said. “We have cured mice of cancer for decades — and it simply didn’t work in humans.”

This is what 50 years of animal experimentation has achieved:

· Officials estimate that cancer killed 598,932 Americans in 2020.

· About 39% of people in the U.S. can expect a cancer diagnosis at some point during their lives, and despite significant investment in research for cancer therapies, only 67.7% of them will survive for longer than five years after that diagnosis.

· Cancer drugs developed through animal experimentation fail to get approved 96.6% of the time.

The most significant battles being won in the war on cancer do not come from grafting tumors onto mice. They come from quitting smoking, ditching red and processed meat in favor of a vegan diet and having regular check-ups to screen for indicators before symptoms present. These personal preventive measures have brought cancer rates down 27% over the past two decades.

Yet in 2019, almost 70% of the NCI’s budget was dedicated not to prevention but to experiments involving such practices as genetically engineering irradiated mice. In fact, the percentage of NCI funds invested in cancer prevention and control has changed little over the past several years.

To wage a successful war on cancer, we must increase resources for cancer prevention, eliminate animal experimentation and invest in cutting-edge, human-relevant tools that have far greater potential for generating treatments and cures in humans.

Tools such as in vitro experiments, human-relevant computational models, human-based tissue engineering, cancer organoids and epidemiology studies are much more relevant and reliable than animal experiments and hold the promise of actually winning the war on cancer.

To learn more and take action, readers can visit


– Rose


Why many Americans will celebrate ThanksVegan this year

By Heather Mooreturkey-less-stuffed-roast-gravy-label-602x350-1447097445
TRADER JOE’S Veggie holiday roll …TRY IT THIS THANKSGIVING! There’s a TJ’s in Shrewsbury!

At least 47% of Americans are likely to eat more vegan foods this Thanksgiving, according to food industry analysts. The forecast sounds pretty accurate, considering that turkey prices are expected to hit record highs this year, and more and more people are becoming increasingly concerned about human health and environmental and animal welfare issues.

Rather than putting a turkey’s carcass on the table, many people will be celebrating ThanksVegan — a fresh new take on the Thanksgiving holiday — and gorging on tasty vegan versions of traditional favorites, including stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Both seasoned and aspiring vegans can also enjoy a savory vegan roast, stuffed squash or other vegan main dish.

ThanksVegan meals reflect mercy and kindness, not suffering and death. Turkeys are friendly, inquisitive birds who like gobbling along to music, having their feathers stroked and spending time with kindhearted humans. At some sanctuaries, turkeys greet guests, eager for treats and affection. They’ve even been known to fall asleep in visitors’ laps while being petted.

Inhumane …

Rescued turkeys are treated radically different from those who are killed for food. According to the USDA, about 46 million turkeys are slaughtered for Thanksgiving each year. Most are raised in dark, filthy, cramped sheds. They’re unable to run, build nests, raise their young or do anything else that’s natural and important to them.

Many are fed antibiotics in order to stimulate growth and keep them alive in the sickening living conditions, at least long enough for them to be killed when they’re between just 3 and 5 months old. Because of the antibiotics, turkeys grow so big that they can barely walk, let alone mate. That’s why turkeys are typically bred through artificial insemination.

Part of the birds’ beaks are cut off with a hot blade to keep them from pecking one another out of stress and frustration. Males’ snoods (the fleshy appendage that hangs down from their beaks) are chopped off, too. These procedures are performed without pain relievers, even though they cause excruciating acute and lasting pain.

Even birds at self-professed “humane” farms are grotesquely abused. Over the summer, a PETA investigator saw workers at “certified humane” farms in Pennsylvania kick, choke, stomp on and throw birds around. They also hit them with an iron bar and used them to mimic sex acts.

One crew position was even called the “kick,” because kicking was that person’s role in loading the birds onto trucks.

The stress of being crammed into tiny cages, thirst, terror all combine to create situations where turkeys self-mutilate and pluck each other’s feathers.

After they arrive at the slaughterhouse, turkeys are often scalded to death in the tanks of water used for feather removal.

There’s nothing “humane” about killing turkeys or any other animals for food. Thankfully, most stores now carry plenty of vegan options, which are truly humane, healthy and in keeping with the seasonal spirit of gratitude. They’re also environmentally friendly. Researchers have found that animal-based foods account for a whopping 83.5% of food-related greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S.

So, be grateful that there are so many plant foods available, and have a happy and humane ThanksVegan!


💚Vegan Cooking Cheat Sheet💚:



By Rosalie Tirella

I found this National Geographic issue in the seconds bin. …

Jane Goodall … so young and gifted

Was planning to peruse at the dog park today, but we had to leave a bit early.

Jett and Lilac at the dog park

… Baby Boomer gals, remember when we all wanted to be Jane Goodall? Young, beautiful and intelligent … sleeping beneath the fine fine mesh of mosquito netting deep in the jungle, washing our long hair in pristine streams, communicating with wild animals, the chimpanzees, getting to know each one’s personality … Magical. Jane watched her chimps with obsessive love. We were 8 and 9 years old and obsessed with Jane’s adventure. She was soft spoken and gentle with her chimps yet determined, strong in her scientific quest. Terrific role model.

Romantic and scientific

I met Jane Goodall after a lecture she gave at Mechanics Hall in downtown Worcester about 25 years ago. She was older but still beautiful. We smiled and said hello. My friend who came along was a bit more confident. In the receiving line she decided to glom on to Goodall. No, a handshake or autograph was not good enough for Sue. She was an observer of animals, too. She told Goodall she could relate to her! Knew exactly how she felt in the African jungle for she too watched – watched her cats – interact outside her farm house – and THEY FASCINATED HER! She began a one-sided conversation with Jane Goodall, much to my embarrassment …with 100 or so people behind us in line waiting to meet Jane, too!

My friend, good natured and a true animal lover, could not leave Jane’s side. I watched terrified. WOW. My friend was hogging Jane Goodall all to herself! How bal*sy! Two feet away from me! Goodall was so gracious … A night to remember.

We Baby Boomer kids were fed a steady TV-show diet of animal shows: Dak Tari, Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom, National Geographic specials, Born Free movies, Flipper. I watched them all, falling in love with all animals … I pressured my sweet mom into filling our Lafayette Street apartment with critters from Woolworths pet section: newts, turtles, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice… eventually cats, dogs … all mine. My sisters weren’t animal curious. They stayed away from the little turtles I let run wild on our linoleum kitchen floor. My mom shuddered every time I walked around our flat with my pet mouse Gigi tucked inside my shirt pocket.

Here it is a half century later and I want another dog or two, large, big boned, wolf-like. Lately, my best moments, are in nature: quiet and deeply personal, with my dogs … Drinking a cup of McDonald’s coffee, early in the morning, walking at Butler Farm to the dog park, the grass sopping with dew, my shoes soaked in five minutes … quietly the day begins, the sunlight looks pale, tentative … the birds are noisy in the intense, enveloping silence of a new day. Mystery achievement.
At the dog park …

By appointing a visionary leader, President Biden could seal his legacy as a champion of Americans’ health

By Katherine Roe

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Biden administration’s upcoming selection of director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), following the resignation of Francis Collins.

This is no perfunctory appointment — or at least it shouldn’t be. This is an opportunity to chart an entirely new course in scientific research.

It is a rare opportunity to create a research agency that will be envied the world over, an agency on the cutting edge of the development of 21st century solutions to human maladies, and an agency that can swiftly address new, uncertain developments, such as the next pandemic.

To do this, NIH needs a leader who can face facts: The era of animal experimentation is over. NIH has mindlessly clung to a failed research model based on animal experimentation that continues to fail spectacularly, wasting time, money and lives.

Stop the needless torture of monkeys and other animals sentenced to years of fear and trauma and loneliness in American labs. Many “scientific” experiments on animals are pointless … Many experiment findings are not even applicable to humans!

Social, physically active, intelligent animals … Why conduct redundant tests, useless tests on them?

For instance:

· 95% of new drugs deemed safe and effective in tests on animals are found to be unsafe or ineffective in humans.

· 81% of the time, animal tests fail to detect the potential side effects of drugs in humans.

· 90% of basic research — most of which involves experiments on animals — has failed to lead to any human therapies.

· 89% of experiments cannot even be reproduced, resulting in the waste of $28 billion annually on research that may be inaccurate or misleading.

The failure rates for specific diseases are no less alarming:

· 100% of treatments for stroke and sepsis tested in animals have failed in humans.

· 99.6% of Alzheimer’s disease treatments developed in animals have failed in humans.

· Only 3.4% of oncology drugs tested on animals have succeeded in humans.

· Zero vaccines for HIV have been developed, despite decades of experiments in which chimpanzees, monkeys and other animals were infected with similar viruses.

· There has been no cure nor treatment for most cancers — despite a 50-year “war on cancer,” the disease is still the #2 killer of Americans, just as it was in 1971.

Courage and transparency are paramount in righting a ship that has run aground. While Collins fully understood that sepsis experiments in mice were disastrously ineffective for humans, he stood by as nearly 100 million tax dollars continued flowing into these same experiments. PETA has filed a lawsuit against NIH over this.

NIH is a $42 billion agency that annually wastes at least $19.5 billion experimenting on animals, effectively probing apples for information on oranges. It must divert that money into human-relevant research:

epidemiological studies, in vitro work using human cells, integrative modeling and molecular simulations, three-dimensional printed human tissues, cell-based assays and organs-on-a-chip. These methods are more accurate and directly relevant, since no animals are acting as stand-ins for humans. The results are directly applicable.

To help in this process, PETA scientists have developed the Research Modernization Deal, which outlines the failure of the current paradigm and offers a roadmap for moving forward. Members of the European Parliament reviewed this strategy and last month voted to develop a plan to phase out animal testing.

We need leaders who are unafraid to chart new courses, leaders who learn from the past, rather than just repeating it. It is our choices that define who we are. Let’s urge President Biden to choose well.