Tag Archives: abuse

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.

I helped rescue a dolphin – which is why I don’t eat seafood!

By Bobbie Mullins

By now, most people have seen or heard about the viral video of two anglers freeing an endangered whale who was entangled in fishing gear, possibly sea-bass or lobster traps, off the Virginia coast. The whale-North Atlantic right whale No. 3123, one of fewer than 400 of her kind in existence-wasn’t the first marine mammal to have become entangled in fishing gear, and she certainly won’t be the last. In fact, such unintended victims of fishing nets, lines and traps-so-called “bycatch”-are one reason why I don’t eat seafood. I came face to face with one of those victims myself more than 15 years ago.

My husband and I were cruising on our 35-foot sailboat on the Intracoastal Waterway near Charleston, S.C., when we heard a call come over the radio about a distressed dolphin just ahead of us. We soon came upon the small dolphin, who was hopelessly entangled in what appeared to be a crab pot. The youngster was obviously exhausted and barely able to summon the strength to surface for air. We radioed the Coast Guard but were told it wouldn’t be able to get anybody out for a couple of hours. Looking at the young dolphin struggling to breathe, we feared that he wouldn’t be able to hang on for that long.

We set out an anchor, and my husband hung off the transom with a knife and began sawing away at one of the lines. It was extremely difficult work, since every time he picked up the line, which was wrapped around the dolphin’s tail, it forced the dolphin’s head underwater, and he thrashed in panic. Finally, the line broke, and the dolphin immediately sped forward-but he wasn’t free of all the lines and buoys yet. Right about then, some men in a small motorized skiff came along, and my husband “commandeered” it to pursue the dolphin and remove the rest of the lines. “The dolphin is free,” we later radioed, and cheers went up across the airwaves.

This dolphin and the rescued right whale are not anomalies. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 100,000 marine mammals and a staggering 1 million seabirds die every year because of ingestion of and entanglement in marine debris.

Commercial fishing practices are highly efficient-and highly destructive. Factory fishing trawlers use enormous nets that vacuum up everything in their path. Such nets are believed to be responsible for the deaths of nearly 1,000 marine mammals every single day.

Longline fishing for tuna and swordfish-in which dozens of miles of fishing line is barbed with thousands of hooks- “accidentally” kills hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and albatrosses every year.

Shrimp trawlers may throw up to 85 percent of their haul back into the sea, making shrimp perhaps the most lethal seafood that a person can eat.

Thanks to such rapacious overfishing, the population of the world’s large predatory fish, such as tuna, swordfish, flounder and cod, has been decimated by 90 percent since 1950. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, nearly 80 percent of the world’s fish stocks for which data are available are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted.

Personally, I cannot support such wholesale slaughter on the high seas. Fish are intelligent animals and have been documented using tools. Recent research indicates that dolphins come up with distinct names for each other. An all-you-can-eat meal at the seafood buffet is simply not worth snuffing out the life of one of the last few right whales or loggerhead sea turtles or causing a dolphin to drown in panic.

Think about cutting back on your meat consumption! Please! For the animals!

By Deb Young

The cruelties at processing plants defy belief!

Animals in slaughterhouses can smell, hear, and often see the slaughter of those before them.

As the animals struggle, they’re often abused by frustrated workers, who are under constant pressure to keep the lines moving at rapid speeds.

Workers are often seen kicking cows, ramming them with the blades of a forklift, jabbing them in the eyes, applying painful electrical shocks and even torturing them with a hose and water in attempts to force sick or injured animals to walk to slaughter.

Federal law requires mammals be stunned prior to slaughter .Typically, electric current is used to induce a heart attack and/or seizure; or a captive bolt gun is used to deliver a blow to the skull or shoot a rod into the animal’s brain.

It’s not uncommon for an animal to suffer one or two failed stuns. In the case of a failed electrical stun, an animal may be paralyzed without losing sensibility.Unconscious animals whose necks are not cut soon enough may regain their senses after being hung on the bleed rail. Hogs, unlike cattle, are dunked in tanks of hot water after they are stunned to soften the hides for skinning. As a result, a botched slaughter condemns some hogs to being scalded and drowned. Hogs will squeal and kick as they are being lowered into the water.

Video evidence obtained by one investigator shows slaughter plant workers displaying complete disregard for the pain and misery they inflicted as they repeatedly attempted to force “downed” animals onto their feet and into the human food chain.

Sounds like a good argument to want to cut back on meat to me, how about doing it for your health also!

Processed meat is high in calories, fat and sodium. The more bologna, ham, and sausage that you stuff inside your sub roll or pita will add up to more calories, more fat and more sodium. Too much salt in your body leads to water retention and bloating. Many of these processed meats are casually referred to as “luncheon meats” for good reason. They are easy to slap in between two pieces of bread for a mid-day meal.

Consider the burden you place on your body when you eat hot dogs or processed-meat subs. High levels of sodium weaken blood vessels. This leads to heart disease.

It’s a good bet that reducing meat consumption—particularly processed meat—is likely to score you an advantage. You’ll lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. You’ll consume less calories and fat.

It can be challenging to serve healthy meals on a budget, but with planning you can eat better for less. Many people save money by adding meatless meals to their weekly menus. Meatless meals are built around vegetables, beans and grains — instead of meat, which tends to be more expensive.

The health factor: A plant-based diet, which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. And people who eat only plant-based foods — aka vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less, and have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do.

Just eating less meat has a protective effect. A National Cancer Institute study of 500,000 people found that those who ate 4 ounces (113 grams) of red meat or more daily were 30 percent more likely to have died of any cause during a 10-year period than were those who consumed less. Sausage, luncheon meats and other processed meats also increased the risk. Those who ate mostly poultry or fish had a lower risk of death.

How much protein do you need? The fact is that most Americans get enough protein in their diets. Adults generally need 10 to 35 percent of their total daily calories to come from protein. Based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, this amounts to about 50 to 175 grams a day. Of course, you can get protein from sources other than meat.

In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing a variety of protein foods, including eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. The guidelines also suggest replacing protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories. The fats in meat, poultry and eggs are considered solid fats, while the fats in seafood, nuts and seeds are considered oils.

Just cutting back on meat will help yourself and the animals…Think about it!

No double standard for captive endangered animals

By Julia Gallucci

Those concerned about the present and future conditions of chimpanzees—humankind’s closest genetic relative—have been given reason to feel optimistic: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently proposed a rule that would, if adopted, finally close a loophole in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations that has allowed these intelligent and social primates to be bought, sold and traded, then harmed, harassed and wounded in captivity.

An immediate benefit of the rule change, if the ESA is properly enforced, would be that chimpanzees could no longer be torn away from their mothers as babies, physically abused and forced to “perform” in television shows, ads and movies.

On the same day that the FWS announced its proposal (and following a vigorous PETA campaign), authorities in Nye County, Nev., voted unanimously to deny notorious exhibitor Mike Casey a permit to keep four chimpanzees in their county when he is not renting them out for use in TV, films, ads and events. Casey has reportedly kicked and punched chimpanzees, struck them with wooden rods and doused them with hot water.

Undercover investigations have documented that the physical abuse of chimpanzee “actors” is a common practice behind the scenes. Systematic abuse causes animals to become perpetually anxious; indeed, the chimpanzee “grin” so often seen in movies and on television is actually a grimace of fear.

With equitable and meaningful ESA enforcement, chimpanzees would also be spared the pain and misery of being imprisoned in laboratories to endure invasive experiments that offer no benefit to their species—or to our own. As the Institute of Medicine (IOM) declared in 2011, “[M]ost current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary.”

Following the landmark IOM report, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) formed a committee to reassess its support for the use of chimpanzees in experiments. In addition to echoing the findings of the IOM regarding current experiments, it concluded overall that “research involving chimpanzees has rarely accelerated new discoveries or the advancement of human health for infectious diseases.” Last month, the NIH announced that it will cut funding for most invasive biomedical experiments on chimpanzees and grant sanctuary to at least 310 of the 360 federally owned chimpanzees currently imprisoned in laboratories.

In recent experiments funded and conducted by the NIH, chimpanzees were intentionally infected with malaria and fed upon by thousands of mosquitoes placed on their shaved skin. Baby chimpanzees were exposed to norovirus by injection or by forcing liquid filtered from human stool down their throats and then subjected to months of painful biopsies and other invasive procedures. Norovirus and malaria are two of the many disease areas in which the IOM and NIH have determined that the use of chimpanzees is unnecessary, but the experiments continued simply because they had easy access to them. That’s now going to change.

If the FWS rule is implemented and properly enforced, it would also offer vital leverage to efforts already underway to defend other endangered animals against harm and exploitation. It could herald an end to similarly unjustified exemptions from legal protections for other endangered animals held in captivity, including the improper exclusion of Lolita, the sole captive orca at the Miami Seaquarium, from the ESA listing of Southern Resident orcas. The FWS proposal reinforces the petition submitted by PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Orca Network to the National Marine Fisheries Service calling for Lolita to receive the same protections as the Southern Resident orca family that she was torn from more than 40 years ago. The unjust exclusion from the safeguards against harm and harassment afforded by the ESA has allowed the Miami Seaquarium to hold Lolita in the smallest orca tank in North America.

The ESA must protect all endangered animals equally—whether they are in captivity or their natural environments—and thankfully, the FWS is finally recognizing this.

Let’s get going, America!

From The Guardian. – R. T.

Circuses to be banned from using wild animals

Government publishes plans to ban use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England from 1 December 2015

  • A tiger leapes through a flaming ring of fire
Under the terms of the draft wild animals in circuses bill the ban will cover any creature not normally domesticated in Great Britain. Photograph: Washington Post/Getty Images

 Circuses will be banned from using wild animals in their shows under new government proposals that have been published after a long campaign.

Politicians and animal welfare groups have repeatedly called for the measure and in June 2011 MPs overwhelmingly supported a blanket ban, but ministers were initially reluctant to meet their demands due to fears over possible legal action from circus operators.

The government’s plan will make it an offence for any operator to use a wild animal in performance or exhibition in a travelling circus in England from 1 December 2015. …

Click here to read entire story!

In 2013, let’s remember: Kindness is not a finite commodity

By Alisa Mullins

The dog on the chain vibrated with excitement as the woman picked her way through the muddy, junk-strewn yard. She was only bringing a bale of straw to line the floor of the dog’s dilapidated doghouse, a small measure of comfort that would hopefully prevent the dog from freezing to death in the coming winter months. But for a dog who goes without human—or canine—contact for 23½ hours out of every 24, this was a thrilling event.

Such impoverished living conditions might find favor with South African President Jacob Zuma, who caused an international uproar recently when he told attendees of a rally that people who lavish their dogs with so-called extravagances, such as taking them to the veterinarian when they are sick, show a “lack of humanity.”

Zuma has it precisely backwards, of course. It has been demonstrated over and over again—so many times that you’d think that it wouldn’t bear repeating—that it is not the people who are kind to animals that we have to worry about. It is the people who are cruel.

That’s because cruel people are equal opportunity abusers. Men who beat their dogs often beat their wives and kids, too. In three separate studies, more than half of battered women reported that their abuser threatened or injured their animal companions. The same goes for negligent and abusive parents. Sixty percent of more than 50 New Jersey families being monitored because of incidents of child abuse also had animals in the home who had been abused. In Indiana, a couple faced felony charges after authorities reportedly discovered their two children and three dogs languishing in a trash- and feces-strewn home. In Illinois, authorities found 40 sick and emaciated dogs mired in 6 inches of feces on a filthy property that was also home to three children.

History is replete with serial and mass killers whose violent tendencies were first directed at animals, including the Boston Strangler, the Son of Sam and Jeffrey Dahmer, just to name a few. Not much is known yet about Adam Lanza, the disturbed young man who massacred more than two dozen first-graders and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the youngsters involved in previous school shootings at Columbine; Pearl, Mississippi; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and other places “practiced” their crimes on animals.

The FBI has found that a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the backgrounds of serial killers and rapists, and a police study in Australia revealed that “100 percent of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of animal cruelty.” President Zuma himself was charged with rape in 2006. He denied the charge, reportedly saying that he could tell the woman wanted sex because she was wearing a short skirt.

Contrary to the implication of Zuma’s dog-pampering comments, kindness is not something that gets used up. You don’t start out your day with a measure of kindness that you have to dole out sparingly, reserving it for the most “worthy” recipients. For example, the people whom a Clemson University student recently documented intentionally running over lifelike rubber turtles that he had placed in the road as part of an experiment weren’t saving up their kindness—if indeed they possessed any—for a little old lady crossing the street in the next block.

Scientists are planning to study Adam Lanza’s DNA in an effort to determine if there is some genetic marker or mutation that sets apart a mass killer. While they’re at it, maybe they should also study the DNA of people who intentionally mow down animals or chain up their dogs and leave them to rot in the backyard. They might be surprised by what they’d find.

The circus is coming to Worcester! Let’s stop it!

from the editor: Here’s a message from our animal rights pals. To learn everything you need to know about circuses and their cruelty to exotic animals (lions, tigers, elephants, etc), please go to: http://www.peta.org/features/circuses-hurt-animals.aspx:

 

 

We are organizing a demonstration at Ringling Bros.’ opening-night performance in Worcester on Wednesday, October 3.

We are currently planning to hold a daytime demonstration on October 3 from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition (MARC) and local animal rights activists are planning a daytime demonstration for Saturday, October 6.

We also need volunteers to leaflet at all of Ringling’s shows in Worcester (October 3 through October 8). Organizing a demonstration is easy, and I’ll help you every step of the way!

These are the dates and times of Ringling’s performances in Worcester (the dates and times of existing demonstrations are also noted):
Wednesday, October 3—There will be a PETA demonstration from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wednesday, October 3, 7 p.m. (opening-night performance)—We need an organizer.

Thursday, October 4, 7 p.m.—We need an organizer.

Friday, October 5, 7 p.m.—We need an organizer.

Saturday, October 6—There will be a MARC demonstration from 1 to 3:15 p.m.

Saturday, October 6, 7 p.m.—We need an organizer.

Sunday, October 7, 3 p.m.—We need an organizer.

Monday, October 8, 3 p.m.—We need an organizer.

Your presence will make a world of difference to frightened baby elephants who are cruelly bound with ropes and wrestled into confusing and physically difficult positions in order to teach them circus “tricks.” As they scream, cry, and struggle, they are stretched out, slammed to the ground, struck with bullhooks, and shocked with electric prods.

Please let me know if you can help, and I’ll be happy to send you free leaflets and/or signs so that you can get the news out to your community about the circus’s abuse. And feel free to forward this message to your friends and family!

You can contact me at AdamM@peta.org or 323-210-2210 or on Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks so much!

Animals in Labs, Part 2

Tax dollars thrown away on pointless animal experiments

By Alisa Mullins

A report issued a couple years ago by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., blasted 100 “questionable,” “mismanaged” and “poorly planned” stimulus-funded projects, including an especially pointless and cruel experiment that the report aptly called “Monkeys Getting High for Science.” The study in question was being conducted at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, a Winston Salem, N.C.–based facility that was awarded $71,623 in stimulus funds to feed cocaine to monkeys.

“I think all of [the projects] are waste,” McCain told ABC News. “[S]ome are more egregious than others but all of them are terrible.”

Hooking monkeys on coke definitely falls into the “more egregious” category. Unfortunately, this study is just a drop in the proverbial crack pipe. Wasteful and cruel addiction studies on animals are currently being conducted all over the country—and most are simply slight variations on experiments that have been conducted for years. Often the “results” have been known for years as well. For example, it has already been well established that smoking harms developing human fetuses. But that hasn’t stopped the federal government from funneling more than $10 million to Eliot Spindel of the Oregon National Primate Research Center. Spindel impregnates monkeys and then continuously injects them with nicotine to cause damage to their unborn babies’ lungs. The preterm babies are then cut from their mothers’ bodies and killed so that their organs can be cut out and dissected.

Other experiments on animals could easily be conducted on willing human volunteers.

At Yale University, experimenter Marina Picciotto has squandered nearly $10 million in taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health for nicotine, amphetamine and cocaine addiction experiments on monkeys, mice and rats. The stated goal of one such experiment was to determine how long one should wait after ingesting nicotine before brain imaging is done.

But rather than using actual human smokers who were enrolled in a clinical study, Picciotto isolated monkeys in cages and fed them nicotine-laced Kool-Aid for eight weeks. One monkey received a dose of nicotine each day that was equal to the amount of nicotine found in 17 packs of cigarettes (far more than even chain-smoking humans consume), and the monkeys had to suffer through the distress and discomfort of nicotine withdrawal.

Some addiction experiments appear to be almost sadistically pointless. At Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital, Jack Bergman has conducted federally funded experiments on squirrel monkeys in which they were isolated in steel cages, addicted to methamphetamines and cocaine, strapped in restraint chairs and given electric shocks.

Bergman also wanted to spend another $1.75 million of public money from NASA to blast squirrel monkeys with radiation and then cage them for the rest of their lives to see how it damages their brains and bodies—even though four decades of government-funded radiation experiments on primates have not produced any results that are relevant to humans. A NASA space station engineer who resigned in protest over the experiment says she believes that the agency’s resources would be better spent devising ways to prevent radiation from entering spaceships rather than trying to figure out what to do after it does.

While it is always unethical to confine, poison, mutilate and kill animals for experimentation, it is especially egregious that experimenters are trying to use animals to model addiction, which is in large part caused by social, psychological and even economic factors. Studies on animals can’t resolve these issues.

Furthermore, vast fundamental biological differences between humans and other animals make the results of such experiments difficult if not impossible to extrapolate to humans. Data from mice, rats and monkeys who are trapped in a laboratory and forced into an unnatural and involuntary addiction are of no relevance to humans suffering from drug addictions. Federal tax dollars would be much better spent funding cash-strapped addiction treatment centers and studying drug addictions in humans in a clinical setting rather than torturing animals.

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When ethics and science must not be divided

By Kathy Guillermo

The federal government’s decision late last year to suspend funding for new experiments on chimpanzees, and to re-evaluate all current studies, knocked out a big chunk of the wall that is the species barrier.

Chimpanzees used to be considered “others”—creatures who, despite their human-like qualities, were different enough for experimenters to use in violent and deadly crash tests, to infect with debilitating diseases, and, in a twisted attempt to make them more like us, teach them human sign language. Now the others are us.

The National Institutes of Health based its decision to halt funding for chimpanzee experiments on the conclusions of an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine whose express purpose was to examine the scientific validity of using chimpanzees. The committee was comprised primarily of scientists, including some animal experimenters, and determined that “most current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary.”

But make no mistake: The report and subsequent take-down of the chimpanzee grant gravy train has its roots in compassion.

The question of scientific validity was raised only after the massive outcry over NIH’s decision to return more than 200 retired chimpanzees, many of them elderly, from quasi-retirement in a facility in Alamogordo, N.M., back into prison-like conditions in laboratories for use in infectious disease studies. NIH said they weren’t really retired; they just hadn’t been used for more than 10 years. The contract for their care was nearing its end. Why not just stick them back in isolation cages, infect them with painful, debilitating conditions, stab them with needles, watch their demise and, essentially, use them up until they die?

Because it’s wrong, was the response from the public, animal groups, many scientists and some legislators. Why must these wonderful, sensitive individuals, who have already been subjected to more physical pain and emotional deprivation than any being of any species should have to endure, be returned to the hell they had already miraculously survived? Why must the United States be the only nation on the entire globe, with the exception of tiny Gabon, still to use chimpanzees as though nothing about them mattered but their perceived usefulness as tools?

Last New Year’s Eve, in the face of this outcry, NIH announced that it was suspending the transfer of the chimpanzees (though tragically, at least 14 had already been sent to a laboratory) and had asked the Institute of Medicine to investigate the importance or lack thereof of chimpanzees to research. The committee stated that it would not deal with the ethics of the issue.

But here’s the elephant in the living room: The question was only asked because so many people, indeed so many nations, believe it is unethical to experiment on chimpanzees.

While the committee found that nearly every use of chimpanzees in laboratories today is scientifically unjustifiable, the immorality of the practice was the subtext. At the briefing during which the Institute of Medicine announced its findings, the committee chair bioethicist Jeffrey Kahn of Johns Hopkins University, even stated, “We understand and feel compelled by the moral cost of using chimpanzees in research.”

Chimpanzees are so like us that most people cannot ignore their desire to be free from subjugation.

Like the Berlin Wall, the barriers that separate humans from all the other species, including those who don’t look like us at all, will crumble. Perhaps one day, and I hope not too far from now, the cages and other implements of animal experimentation will, like the Wall that once separated one group of nations from another, be found only in the Smithsonian and other museums.

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University laboratories failing the ‘3 R’s’

By Dr. Alka Chandna

Most of us find it uncomfortable to think about a defenseless animal imprisoned inside a laboratory cage and used in invasive and ultimately lethal experiments. We hope that laws will protect the animal and that the experimenters will take all measures to minimize the animal’s pain and distress.

But here’s the truth: There is only one law in the U.S.—the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—that provides protection for animals in laboratories. According to multiple federal audits, even this law, which deals mainly with caging and husbandry issues, is not being adequately enforced. Worse, the animals’ last line of defense—oversight committees at laboratories, called “Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees” (IACUCs)—are failing at their jobs as well.

The creation of IACUCs was Congress’ response to massive public outcry over abuse and neglect in laboratories exposed by PETA in the early ’80s. In 1985, Congress amended the AWA to require that every animal facility set up a committee to be responsible for ensuring that experimenters search for alternatives to the use of animals and consider alternatives to painful procedures; that discomfort, distress and pain to animals are avoided or minimized; and that experiments are not being unnecessarily duplicated. In essence, IACUCs must ensure that the “3 R’s” of animal experimentation—reduction of numbers of animals used, refinement of procedures to minimize or avoid pain, and replacement of animals with non-animal models—have been considered.

Animals in laboratories endure lives of deprivation, isolation, stress, trauma and depression even before they are used in any experiment. Implementing the 3 R’s is a minimal provision extended to animals, and IACUCs are legally mandated to ensure that this modicum of humane treatment is applied. But 49 years after the 3 R’s were first articulated in 1959 and 23 years after the implementation of IACUCs, animal experimenters and IACUCs are still failing to take the 3 R’s seriously. Consequently, countless animals have been subjected to unnecessary suffering.

In September 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published a scathing audit report describing a climate in which laboratories view fines for AWA violations as a “cost of conducting business.” The report notes that at almost one-third of facilities, IACUCs failed to ensure that experimenters considered alternatives to painful procedures. The report cites this failure on the part of IACUCs as being the most frequent AWA violation. The report further documents the failure of IACUCs to ensure that animals receive adequate veterinary care and to ensure that unnecessary or repetitive experiments are not performed on animals.

Inspection reports filed by USDA veterinarians and evidence gathered by PETA through whistleblowers and undercover investigations corroborate these concerns. At Columbia University, the IACUC’s failure to adequately review animal experimentation protocols meant that monkeys and dogs in scientifically questionable studies died slowly in their cages without veterinary care.

At Ohio State University, the failure of the IACUC to question the necessity of using dogs to test the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids means that dogs are forced to run on treadmills until they collapse. They are killed and dissected—even though the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for humans are already well documented.

At the University of Connecticut, the University of California at San Francisco, the University of Washington and dozens of other universities, experimenters implant coils in monkeys’ eyes and put metal cylinders into holes drilled into the monkeys’ skulls to determine which parts of the brain control eye movement—even though non-invasive techniques can be used on people to obtain human-relevant data.

Each time an IACUC allows a painful procedure when a less painful alternative is available or allows a redundant or useless experiment to proceed, it is not merely an administrative failure but a violation of federal law. Most importantly, these failings mean that animals suffer. There is no excuse for this.

Members of IACUCs should be carefully selected and properly trained to understand their responsibilities under the law and to understand all facets of the 3 R’s. If they don’t perform their responsibilities as they are mandated, they should be held accountable by government agencies and compliance officers at their universities and removed from their positions. Laziness and ignorance have been tolerated for far too long.

Racing to the death

By Paula Moore

Imagine if someone invaded your home, tore you away from your family, drove you hundreds of miles away and then let you go. You don’t know where you are, and you’re desperate to get back home. You’re surrounded by hundreds of strangers, all as confused as you are. You’re scared and hungry and must fight to stay alive through all weather extremes. Some of the others succumb to exhaustion or starvation. Some are killed by hunters or predators. It may sound like a plot twist from The Hunger Games, but it’s real.

This is the fate of birds who are forced to fly for their lives in the abusive and often illegal pastime known as pigeon racing. That the victims of this cruel sport are animals and not humans should not make their suffering any less appalling.

PETA recently completed a 15-month undercover investigation into some of the largest pigeon-racing operations in the U.S. PETA’s investigators documented massive casualties of birds during races and training, rampant “culling” (killing), abusive training and racing methods and illegal interstate gambling.

In many of the races—which can be up to 600 miles long—more than 60 percent of the birds become lost or die along the way. Because these birds were raised in captivity and cannot fend for themselves in the wild, those who don’t make it home will likely starve to death. Pigeon racers even have a name for races that are particularly lethal: “smash races.”

During one race in Queens, for example, only four out of 213 birds ever returned. Out of nearly 2,300 baby birds shipped to the Phoenix area for training for the 2011 American Racing Pigeon Union Convention Race, only 827 survived to race day. Of those, only 487 birds had completed the 325-mile race by nightfall.

Pigeons are among the most maligned urban wildlife, yet they are complex and fascinating birds. Their hearing and vision are both excellent and have been used to save lives in wartime and to help find sailors lost at sea.

A study released in December showed that pigeons can learn abstract numerical rules—something that until recently, we thought only humans and other primates could do.

They are also loyal mates and doting parents. Both parents share in the care and nurturing of their hatchlings. Pigeon racers exploit these qualities by separating birds from their mates and babies so that they will race their hearts out, frantic to get home. After the racing season is over, the babies—no longer of any use to the racers—are often killed.

One racer told PETA’s investigators that the “first thing you have to learn” in pigeon racing is “how to kill pigeons.” Another recommended killing these gentle birds by drowning them, pulling their heads off or squeezing their breasts so tightly that they suffocate. Any bird who isn’t considered fast enough or isn’t wanted for breeding is killed.

Like other forms of animal exploitation, pigeon racing is driven by money. PETA penetrated racing organizations in which a quarter of a million dollars is bet on a single race. Pigeon racing generates an estimated $15 million a year in illegal gambling proceeds and involves felony gambling, racketeering and tax evasion. Not surprisingly, the high stakes lead to cheating. Some racers administer performance-enhancing drugs—including steroids and morphine—to their birds. One racer even admitted that he kills hawks—federally protected birds—because they prey upon his pigeons and then disposes of their bodies.

Pigeons are rock doves, a symbol of peace, and they deserve to be left in peace. PETA is calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate and prosecute unlawful pigeon-racing operations. The rest of us should shun this cruel sport. Animals should not have to pay with their lives for someone’s sick idea of entertainment.

UN to investigate plight of US Native Americans for first time

Finally! Fantastic story in The New York Times! – R. T.
Many US Native Americans live in federally recognised tribal areas plagued with social problems

Many US Native Americans live in federally recognised tribal areas plagued with poverty, alcoholism other social problems. Photograph: Jennifer Brown/Corbis for The New York Times.

“The UN is to conduct an investigation into the plight of US Native Americans, the first such mission in its history. …

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/22/un-investigate-us-native-americans

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