Category Archives: Animal Issues

I visited the Worcester Animal Rescue League …

… at 139 Holden St. (Worcester), yesterday afternoon. They have so many adorable KITTENS looking for LOVING FOREVER HOMES! I had to snap some pics!

Stop by WARL today and cuddle these beauties!  Maybe take one home with you … .WARL is open to the public SEVEN days a week! – noon to 4 p.m. All cats (and dogs) up for adoption are spayed/neutered and vaccinated!

pics + text – R. Tirella







Yay, CNN!!!!!

We think it’s so important that mainstream media expose the REAL AMERICAN farming industry! American farms are not some bucolic fantasy! More American papers and tv news shows need to run reports like CNN’s (see below) so ALL Americans see what really goes on at these agri-complexes. Even family farms send their livestock to slaughterhouses. … Americans are good people and will demand changes, humane treatment of cows, chickens, pigs, lambs … . State houses to the White House – let’s bombard these American institutions with the truth! They MUST REPRESENT us, WE THE PEOPLE, and we the people DEMAND a new day dawn on factory farms. – R. Tirella


CNN investigative correspondent Chris Frates is being awarded the Ann Cottrell Free Animal Reporting Award by the National Press Club for his work to expose animal abuse in the meat industry.

Frates’ series gave audiences an eye-opening look at the pervasive abuse and neglect that animals endure on farms. One of his reports broke PETA’s investigation of a worldwide leader in pig production, which revealed that pigs who were severely sick or injured were commonly left to suffer for days before finally dying or being hauled to slaughter.

CLICK HERE to watch the video.

It’s time for laboratories to get out of the monkey business

By Dr. Alka Chandna

In 2013, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made the historic decision to retire the majority of federally owned chimpanzees from use in experiments. While this was a monumental victory for chimpanzees, there are still 110,000 monkeys and other primates imprisoned in U.S. laboratories.

A new PETA eyewitness investigation at a company in Florida that sells monkeys to laboratories is shining a spotlight on the need for urgent action for these animals as well.

For eight months, a witness worked at Florida-based Primate Products, Inc. (PPI), a notorious primate dealer that imports hundreds of monkeys each year and warehouses and then sells them to laboratories. PPI has been awarded federal contracts worth more than $13 million—including by NIH, the Army and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PPI also sends monkeys to universities and contract testing conglomerates across the country

The witness documented that some monkeys with painful injuries, including exposed bones, were left to suffer without adequate veterinary care for days. One monkey was denied adequate medical treatment for an exposed vertebra in her tail for at least a week, despite the fact that the witness had notified a supervisor, a PPI manager and another worker repeatedly about the injury.

Many monkeys were confined to virtually barren concrete pens littered with feces and old food with other stressed and apparently incompatible monkeys, sometimes for months at a time. While monkeys, like humans, are highly social animals, the severe psychological stress of being imprisoned in a small space with strangers and given virtually nothing to do probably contributed to fights among the animals. With no escape, subordinate monkeys lived in constant fear of attack by aggressive monkeys as well as by their human captors.

One monkey, named Loretta by the witness, was left penned with the very monkeys who had injured and apparently terrified her for more than 22 weeks, despite at least 23 written and verbal reports to PPI staff that she was being attacked and appeared to be afraid of the other monkeys. Loretta’s face was frequently lacerated, and she had extensive hair loss. Another monkey, whom the witness named Sweet P, was forced to live for more than two weeks with monkeys who had attacked her. She was finally moved but was then kept isolated in a barren metal cage for 20 days—during which time PPI’s behaviorist admitted to having forgotten about her.

Monkeys were also terrorized by PPI workers who chased them and grabbed them by their sensitive tails. Workers aggressively swung nets at them, yanked them off the fences that they desperately clung to and even hurled them into nets.

Other monkeys were confined all alone to tiny, bleak metal cages. Locked in isolation and denied suitable companionship, which is crucial to their mental and physical health—just as it is to ours—some of these psychologically distressed monkeys rocked back and forth and paced in circles, likely signs of intense boredom and distress.

Though temperatures dipped to as low as 35°F, most monkeys kept outside were denied heat throughout the winter, leading to frostbite and apparently even the death of at least one monkey in an outdoor enclosure.

In 2014 alone, PPI imported 1,000 monkeys from Asia and Africa—63 percent of whom, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documents, were taken from their families and homes in the wild.

These animals are eventually trucked to government agencies, universities and contract testing laboratories, including facilities that blast monkeys with radiation, drill into their skulls, test sexual lubricants on their rectums and intentionally infect them with an HIV-like virus that causes crippling AIDS-like symptoms, even though every single HIV vaccine developed using monkeys has failed in humans.

Recognizing this chain of abuse, nearly every major airline in the world now refuses to transport monkeys to PPI or any other laboratory or dealer.

PETA is working toward a day when every cage in every laboratory is empty. Readers can make a difference by urging their members of Congress to push the National Institutes of Health to fund more modern and superior non-animal research instead of cruel and ineffective experiments on monkeys and other animals.

Try some delicious vegan ice cream this summer!

Love a dairy cow! Lick the non-dairy treats! From PETA.ORG:

So Delicious!

This brand offers Pomegranate Chip, Mint Marble Fudge, Neapolitan, Snickerdoodle, Salted Caramel Cluster, Cookies and Cream, German Chocolate, and more—and the company uses soy, almond, coconut, and cashew milks as the base of the various dairy-free flavors!

So Delicious also offers ice cream bars and sandwiches. (Find these products.)

Blue Bunny

This brand offers Vegan Mocha Fudge, Mint Chocolate Chip, Vanilla, and Chocolate flavors of ice cream, all with an almond-milk base.

It also carries vegan FrozFruit bars. (Find these products.)


Check out the Tofutti Cuties line of ice cream sandwiches (available in Key Lime, Peanut Butter, Wild Berry, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate!).

In addition, the Tofutti brand offers Yours Truly Cones and pints of Vanilla Almond Bark, “Better” Pecan, and Chocolate Cookie Crunch vegan ice cream, among others. (Find these products.)

Almond Dream, Rice Dream, Coconut Dream, and Soy Dream

Rice Dream

The dairy-free ice creams in these lines come in flavors such as Cappuccino Swirl, Praline Crunch, Cookies and Dream, Orange Vanilla Swirl, Strawberry, and more. You can also find Rice Dream ice cream bars and Frozen Dessert Bites,and Coconut Dream Frozen Dessert Bites(Find these products.)


Pets and summertime


Deb and her little Juno are ready for summer!

Check your dogs for ticks! They can get Lyme disease, too!

It’s the height of tick season, which means people should take extra care to prevent the spread of Lyme disease – not just to people, but also to their dogs.

Lyme disease, as well as another tick-borne ailment called anaplasmosis, can be just as harmful to dogs as to humans. Symptoms can include fever, joint pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, neurologic disorders and difficulty walking. Lyme disease may also cause kidney damage and can be fatal if left untreated.

Dog owners should be especially watchful if their pets become feverish or start to limp, especially if they limp on different legs at different times. A dog with those symptoms should be taken to the family veterinarian or to an emergency veterinarian.

Any dog who has fever and is limping should be evaluated.

One of the best things dog owners can do is to give their dogs anti-tick medicine, not just in the summer but year-round. The medicines are available over the counter and from veterinarians.

It’s probably not realistic to keep dogs inside throughout tick season. Dogs will be dogs, they love hiking, they love the woods. So after dogs go outside, make sure to check them carefully for ticks.

Here are some more tips for making sure dogs are protected:

Talk with your family veterinarian about vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease.

Talk with your veterinarian about the best way to prevent fleas and ticks from latching on to your pet.

Your veterinarian may suggest an oral medication so that your pet is simply given a pill once a month. Or the vet may encourage spot-on medications, medicated shampoos, powders or tick collars.

Consider having your yard and home treated for ticks.

Inspect your dogs for ticks if they have been outside near wooded areas.

If you find a tick, take tweezers and remove the tick as close to the body of the pet as possible, trying to get the head of the tick out.

Watch your pet carefully over time and look out for any changes in behavior.
If your pet is not acting right, take him or her to your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Traveling with pets 

Travel can be stressful for both pets and people. These tips will make your trip a more enjoyable experience for everyone, whether they have two legs or four:

Never leave your pet unattended in a car, even with the windows cracked. If it’s 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can rocket to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always make sure you have plenty of your pet’s medication packed. Take extra to be on the safe side.

Pack a first aid kit for your pet: tweezers to remove ticks, bandaging material for any cuts, hydrogen peroxide, etc.

If your pets have any ongoing medical conditions, take a copy of their medical records with you.

Identify the nearest animal emergency hospital to where you are staying and have the phone number handy.

Make sure your pet’s heartworm and flea prevention medications are current.

Don’t feed a large meal before leaving; simply allow periodic snacking.

Carry collapsible bowls for food and water.

Make sure that dog tags are clearly visible because people are more likely to catch pets if they can return them to the owner. Having your pet get a microchip for identification is a good step, too.

If your pet has implants (e.g. plates or screws from orthopedic surgery), and he or she will be flying, you should bring a note from your veterinarian.

When flying, be sure to have wheels for your carrier. Even a 10-pound animal can get heavy when carried in a shoulder carrier walking through a long airport terminal.

If your dog is one of the 17 percent who get sick when traveling, ask your veterinarian about an anti-vomiting medication. Dogs get motion sickness either because they are anxious while traveling or because their balance is affected by movement.

Special considerations for kitty:


Rosalie’s April on Independence Day!

Cats can be particularly sensitive to traveling. Here are tips for keeping your cat calm:

Try placing some catnip in the carrier 30 minutes before your trip; this may have a calming effect.

Don’t use tranquilizers or sedatives in cats for travel due to potential complications such as hypotension or paradoxical hyper-excitability.

Always keep your cat confined in a carrier while traveling. A frightened feline can easily escape through an open car window or door without anyone noticing.

Be sure to carry some moistened and dry paper towels and plastic bags for potential carrier accidents.

Have a safe and fun summer with your companion animal!

Fashion shouldn’t really be ‘to die for’

Editor’s note: I’ve made some sentences bold.   – R.T.

By Paula Moore

It seems ridiculous to have to point this out, but animals are not just fashion accessories. Yet so often, that seems to be how they are viewed by the industries that make money off their fur or skins.

Rabbits on angora farms in China scream and writhe in pain as workers tear the fur right out of their skin.

Sheep used for wool are left battered and bloody as workers in shearing sheds punch and kick them and cut off wide strips of flesh, causing gaping wounds.

And cows are often skinned alive for leather, kicking and crying out in terror, because slaughter lines move so fast.

It’s tempting to blame such cruelty on consumers’ apparently insatiable demand for “fast fashion,” which forces suppliers to produce the greatest volume of fur and skins in the cheapest way possible.

But as a new PETA eyewitness investigation reveals, even on the other end of the fashion spectrum—the so-called “luxury” market, in which handbags sell for tens of thousands of dollars each—animals are treated as nothing more than commodities, forced to live in filth and senselessly killed.

PETA investigators in Texas and Zimbabwe documented the appalling conditions in which animals are raised and killed for “luxury” bags, belts and watchbands.

In Winnie, Texas, there’s an alligator factory that sends skins to a tannery owned by Hermès, which makes the famous Birkin bags. PETA’s investigator found alligators there kept in fetid water and dank, dark sheds without sunshine, fresh air or even basic medical care. At just a year old, they’re killed and their skins are sent to France and made into “luxury” items such as watchbands.

As PETA’s investigator documented, sometimes the slaughter process was badly botched. Workers  repeatedly shot alligators in the head with a captive-bolt gun and stabbed conscious alligators to try to dislocate their vertebrae—even though a manager had admitted that “reptiles will continue to live” through that.

Some animals were still conscious, kicking and flailing, even minutes after workers tried to kill them.

After they were cut into, the alligators were briefly bled and then dropped into a bin of ice water. But because some alligators had survived the attempts to slaughter them, they may have instead drowned or died of hypothermia in these bins.

In Zimbabwe, at the facility of one of the world’s largest exporters of Nile crocodile skins, tens of thousands of crocodiles are confined to concrete pits from birth to slaughter. They are never given the opportunity to engage in natural behavior, such as digging tunnels, protecting their young or searching for food as they would do in the wild.

They are stunned and then killed by having their necks cut, a wire rammed down their spines and their brains scrambled with a metal rod.

If left alone, not killed for fashion, Nile crocodiles can live to be up to 80 years old. But at this facility, they are slaughtered when they’re only about 3. That’s when their belly skins are the optimal size to be used for handbags.

It takes two to three crocodiles to make just one bag.

Most of us will never buy a $50,000 Birkin bag or even a $2,000 watch. But whenever we choose any fashions made of skins, fur or wool, animals are the ones who pay the price. The only way to ensure that we’re not buying into cruelty is to leave all animal skins out of our wardrobes and choose animal-friendly vegan fashions instead.

Don’t let the Fourth of July be a dangerous day for pets!


Patriotic Pup #2. Jett!!!!! July 1, 2015

The July 4 holiday can be thrilling for humans, but it’s actually a dangerous time for pets — and one of the busiest days of the year in animal emergency hospitals.

Exploding firecrackers can be just as hazardous for pets as for humans, but that’s not where the danger ends. The loud noise, and even the food and family gatherings, all pose hazards to dogs, cats, birds and other pets.

It’s common for emergency animal hospitals to see 25 percent or more patients than normal on Independence Day.

The noise of fireworks – including that string of firecrackers set off by your neighbor– sometimes causes panic in pets. Scared dogs have been known to charge into glass doors or bolt outside into traffic.

Outdoor grilling is a must for many people, but some human food that gets spilled to the ground or pilfered from an unwatched picnic table can make animals sick. Foods that can upset your pet’s digestive tract include onions, garlic, avocados, grapes, raisins and chocolate.

And staying out in the sun can cause heatstroke — not just for people, but also for fur-covered members of the family.

Fortunately, a little planning and care can help your pets stay safe and comfortable as you enjoy the festivities.

Here are a few tips:

During fireworks, make sure your dogs or cats are in safe, indoor places where they cannot escape or get hurt. Turn on music or television for comforting background noise. You also can play a game with them or give them a favorite toy.

If your pets are especially nervous about fireworks you may want to buy a specially designed, snug-fitting jacket which comforts dogs by applying pressure around their bodies.

After the family barbecue, don’t treat your dogs to leftover bones from steak, ribs, chicken or other human food. The bones often splinter and may become a choking hazard.

The safest policy is to avoid giving human food to pets because so much of it can be harmful to them. If you want your pets to celebrate along with you, buy them a few extra pet treats while stocking up on your own groceries.

Don’t let your pets stay outside in the heat for long periods of time, especially if they’re not used to it. If pets do get overheated, spray them down with water that is cool or room temperature – but never ice water, which causes a decrease in blood flow to the skin and makes things even worse.

Remember, regular visits to your family veterinarian are the best way to keep your pets healthy.  But if an accident does occur over the holidays, don’t hesitate to bring your pet to an emergency veterinarian right away.

Horse deaths at race tracks should be as rare as Triple Crown Winners

By Kathy Guillermo

Seeing the video of the fourth race on Belmont Stakes day, when a horse named Helwan broke his leg and was euthanized, reminded me of the very first time I saw a horse break down during a race. It was many years ago, and I thought it would be the only time. I thought that a death on the track was as rare as a Triple Crown winner.

What seemed to me then to be shocking and unusual is actually so routine today that numbers are reported in a detached way, as though they were simply statistics from less deadly sports—more than three horses a day die on tracks, which is 24 a week and 1,000 a year. These stats don’t convey the horror of the loud crack of a bone and the horse crashing to the ground while running at top speed.

But what’s even more astounding is that the racing industry could stop many of these deaths right now if it wanted to. Some good people in racing, some members of Congress, outside experts and PETA have been saying it for years: Get rid of the medication. Stop drugging horses to keep them running when they should be resting. Eliminate the use of the debilitating diuretic Lasix on race day.

The drugs are leading to the breakdowns, and all medications should be prohibited in the week before a race. If a horse actually requires medication, that horse should not be racing.

Instead, not a day passes without the death of a Thoroughbred or Standardbred or Quarter Horse somewhere on a U.S. track. On June 14, Danzig Moon, who finished fifth in this year’s Kentucky Derby and ran in the Preakness, broke a hind leg and was euthanized at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. On June 15, when only six Thoroughbred tracks in the U.S. were open, four horses broke down.

Drug use is pervasive even at the top levels. Veterinary records released by New York State reveal that all eight horses who ran in the Belmont Stakes were given the powerful painkiller and anti-inflammatory medication phenylbutazone on June 4, just two days before the race. Is it coincidental that every horse was suffering from “inflammation”?

The French horse Helwan, who died on the day that American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, had a winning career in Europe and had never raced on Lasix. But racing for the first time in the U.S., where nearly every horse is given this drug, Helwan was given Lasix, which can cause dehydration and the loss of a hundred pounds in a single day.

It is inexplicable that racing without drugs should panic so many trainers and owners. It is inexcusable that the racing industry doesn’t stop its ceaseless bickering and clean up this mess immediately. Some members of Congress agree. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania have introduced a bill that would repeal the Interstate Horseracing Act, which allows betting across state lines, by phone and on the Internet. Ninety percent of the $11 billion wagered annually on horses comes from this form of betting, and without it, the racing industry would collapse.

Pitts, along with Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, has also reintroduced legislation to end drugging in racing and ban violators. Both these bills would improve the chances for horses’ survival, and clearly, federal oversight is essential. The racing industry won’t do this itself. That much is clear.

Rosalie’s kitty, April, has diabetes. Does your companion animal have this “tricky” disease? Know the symptoms!

CAM00065-1April, a few days ago … .
Rosalie figured April might have diabetes when she saw April’s cat litter boxed SOAKED with urine.
Rose took April to the veterinarian’s; the vet did a”senior panel” on the 13 1/2 year old cat (blood work) and determined that April’s glucose level was high. Now on insulin 2x daily, April is her old self! Affectionate, strong willed …
Thank goodness for Wal-Mart – the syringes and insulin (for humans – cats can metabolize their food with human insulin) they sell at their pharmacy is so INEXPENSIVE! A third of what you’d pay at the vet’s! If your pet has the disease and money’s an issue, ask your vet for a prescription and head to the Wal-Mart pharmacy! It’s right in the store! Fast and easy! The pharmacists are helpful and empathetic!         -R.T.

Could Your Cat or Dog Have Diabetes?

Written by Danny Prater | June 18, 2015

I have been living with type 1 diabetes since I was 13 years old. The last time I visited my home state, Ohio (GO BUCKS), I had a chance to meet the only other member of

Just like humans, dogs and cats can also have diabetes. From personal experience, I know that it can be a tough disease, sometimes tricky to manage. This really got me to thinking about what it must be like for a cat or dog living with diabetes. Without any way to tell us directly how they are feeling, companion animals rely on their human guardians to notice when something is off.

But what does diabetes “look” like? While it’s true that you can’t see it, you can certainly see the symptoms if you pay attention to your cat or dog.

Change in Appetite

Baxter the Chihuahua Dog Eating a Treat

Is your dog suddenly eating much more than before? Is your cat leaving a lot of food untouched? An increased or decreased appetite may be a sign of not feeling well.

Weight Loss

When the body is deprived of insulin, which is needed to carry blood sugar to the cells for energy, it will begin burning fat. If your four-legged friend begins rapidly losing weight, especially if coupled with other symptoms on this list, you should schedule a vet appointment ASAP.

Here’s an easy way to tell that something may be amiss: Your animal is eating more than before but still losing weight.

Frequent Urination

For cats, this may take the form of urinating outside the litterbox or frequent urinary tract infections; for dogs, you may notice a sudden jump in requests to go outside. This is because some of the toxins that build up when blood sugar levels go unmanaged are expelled through the urine. Your animal’s body is saying something here—make sure you listen!

Excessive Thirst

This one is actually how I first realized that something was wrong with me. Because of the increase in urination, your dog or cat will be excessively thirsty, attempting to replace those lost fluids. These two symptoms, excessive thirst and urination, will likely go together, so pay attention.

Note: When cats and dogs continue this cycle of frequent urination and excessive thirst, they can become dehydrated. How do you know if a thirsty animal is dehydrated? One quick way to check is by gently pinching up some of the skin and fur on the back and then letting it fall back into place. A well-hydrated animal’s skin will quickly snap back, while a dehydrated animal’s skin will slowly collapse back down.

Sweet-Smelling Breath

When a body deprived of insulin begins burning its own fat stores to supply energy, compounds called ketones are released into the blood stream. Acetone, a type of ketone, is typically expelled from the body through the breath, which will smell unusually fruity or sweet (in stark contrast to most dog and cat foods), so this is an easy way to tell if something is wrong the next time you’re snuggling.


Amsterdam the Dog sleepy© Sean Noronha

When too many ketones enter the bloodstream, the body itself can become acidic. Trust me when I tell you, this feels awful. If your animal companion can’t keep his or her head up for more than a few minutes or has experienced a sudden decrease in energy levels, be sure to get to your vet as soon as possible!


Just like with the toxins pushed out through the breath and urine, this is one of the body’s ways of telling you that it wants something that is currently inside it OUT.

Unkempt Coat/Chronic Skin Infections

Is your cat’s coat losing its shine? You may even notice flakes of dried skin. Has your dog been diagnosed with multiple skin infections? These are signs that your kitty or pooch may be suffering from untreated diabetes.

Cataract Formation/Change in Vision

Extended periods of elevated blood glucose levels can lead to the development of cataracts and, just like in humans, blindness. It’s important to get your animal checked out before symptoms progress too far.

I’m not a doctor, for humans or for animals. If you suspect something is off with your best (non-human) friend after reading this, consult a professional! Always keep an eye—and a hand—on your companion animals. They rely on you to know when something is wrong, so you have to be sure that you know what “normal” looks and feels like for them. Because animals typically consume significantly fewer sugars and carbs than humans do, the signs of untreated diabetes may build up slowly over time. Your veterinarian can perform necessary blood tests to find out what’s going on and get you all set up to take proper care of your cat or dog if diabetes turns out to be an issue.

This summer don’t buy those leather sandals! Get “pleather”! Stop human and animal suffering!

By Paula Moore

When a multistory building that housed several clothing factories collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013, killing more than 1,100 garment workers, the world got a rude awakening: Our cheap clothes come at a high cost to others. This issue is back in the news now that police in Bangladesh have filed formal murder charges against dozens of people for their alleged roles in the tragedy. A hearing is scheduled for June 28.

Most of us would surely agree that no one should be forced to work in a deathtrap just so that those of us in the West can have cheap shirts and sandals. But how can we ensure that the clothes in our closets haven’t caused others to suffer needlessly?

The simplest way is to stop buying leather.

Just as the manufacture of other types of clothing has been outsourced to countries such as Bangladesh and China, where wages are low and unsafe working conditions are common, so has the production of leather goods.

PETA’s affiliate PETA Germany investigated the growing leather trade in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Witnesses visited the poor residential district of Hazaribagh in Dhaka, where 15,000 laborers, some as young as 10, toil in more than 200 tanneries.

Workers stand barefoot in toxic chromium effluent and handle acids and bleaches that can cause chronic skin diseases and even cancer. Even if workers are given cheap rubber boots to wear, they’re often not equipped with face masks or safety goggles to protect against the fumes that can cause severe respiratory problems. A full 90 percent of tannery workers there die before the age of 50.

Studies in India, too, have shown that tannery workers face a high mortality rate, mostly from respiratory diseases resulting from chromium exposure. Chromium, one of the most widely used—and dangerous—chemicals in the tanning process, produces the toxic chemical byproduct hexavalent chromium, or chromium VI, which is a known human carcinogen. Several studies have established links between the chromium used in tanning and cancer of the sinuses and lungs.

These chemicals endanger not only tannery workers but also those who live nearby. Mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, cyanide-based dyes and other dangerous substances are routinely used during tanning, and they are often simply dumped into rivers or on riverbanks.

A study conducted by India’s National Cancer Registry Programme found that people living along the banks of the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Bihar are more prone to developing cancer than people living anywhere else in the country. In Kanpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh, alone, there are about 400 tanneries on the banks of the Ganges.

And of course, animals suffer, too. Animals killed for their skins are some of the most abused beings on the planet. Because skin is the most economically important coproduct of the meat industry, buying leather supports factory farms, where animals are warehoused in dark, crowded sheds, and slaughterhouses. Farmed animals’ eyes and lungs burn from the stench of ammonia, and they are castrated and dehorned without the benefit of any painkillers. At the slaughterhouse, as the terrified animals are prodded and kicked along to their death, they can smell, hear and see what is happening to those in front of them in the slaughter line.

The good news is that it’s easy to get the look of leather—if that’s what you want—without contributing to such suffering. A growing number of retailers now offer shoes, jackets, handbags, wallets and other items made from cork, bark, vegan Ultrasuede derived from post-industrial polyester, microfibers made from recycled plastic bottles and other high-quality materials that are less harmful than leather—for both humans and animals.