Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rally for our bears & laud animal rescuers

             "I see almost all animals are struggling on Earth and I try to do
              something  for them as much as possible.” -- cyclist Ozgur Nevres **

“Rally,” “protest,” whatever you call it, it means a demonstration against New Jersey’s projected October and December bear hunts -- and Governor Phil Murphy’s broken promise to end these barbaric trophy-hunting charades.  

From noon-2 pm this coming Saturday, Sept. 22, is the day to tell governor Murphy that bear hunts must stop -- as candidate Murphy had promised would happen!  The summer demonstration in the governor’s home town of Middletown drew around 200 people to remind him of his promise.

But neither it nor billboards nor beach fly-overs persuaded him to honor his commitment.  So the protests continue, with this weekend’s event organized by the Animal Protection League of NJ (APLNJ.org).  

The hope is for people to come to Princeton to demonstrate at Drumthwacket, the governor’s official residence. They will rally near the mansion, on Rt. 206 (aka Stockton St.), protesting both bear hunts and Murphy’s unkept promise to end them.   

Activists’ signs and various other messages will aim to remind the governor -- as well as residents, drivers and pedestrians in the area -- of his broken promise, one he could still keep to protect our bears.

Attempting to please both activists and hunters, Governor Murphy’s banning of bear hunts only on state lands in no way suffices to save bears. They can still be baited (a horrible practice, illegal elsewhere), stalked and shot on private, county, municipal and federal land, where most bears have been killed.

And, despite what some of his people claim, the governor can stop them on all New Jersey lands -- if he chooses to.  For specifics, use this link, to APLNJ’s website.

Dogs , Cats & Hurricane Florence

Media stories have abounded about animals rescued from the ravages of Hurricane Florence. Certainly, people are much more into providing for and saving animals, including sheltering them, than was the case during Katrina. That’s good.

To make things even better, though, how about (1) hurricane warnings that automatically include reminders to prepare for animals too; evacuating with pets and assuring shelter for them; (2) moving horses and other livestock out of harm’s way when possible or at least moving them to higher ground, hopefully with shelter included?  

A wonderful photo on the front page of Monday’s Times of Trenton showed a North Carolina man being rescued from floodwaters.  Sitting on his shoulder: a dear little (all-wet) kitten, named “Survivor.”  Tear-inducing.

Guardians of Rescue (guardiansofrescue.org) posted images of their work to save animals, appealing for donations to fund continuing rescue work, and The Dodo posted a story about a truck driver who had converted a school bus into a kind of Noah’s Ark.  

                                                                                                                                                                          Tony Alsup pic
Before Hurricane Florence hit the South Carolina coast, Tony Alsup filled his bus-ark with shelter animals and drove them for care, sheltering and eventual adoption to southern Alabama. He’s been doing this since Hurricane Harvey, and plans to continue transporting animals who might otherwise be trapped.  

“I’m like, look, these are lives too. Animals -- especially shelter pets -- they always have to take the back seat of the bus. But I’ll give them their own bus.” --Tony Alsup   

Saluting these and all such heroes for animals!  


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Sunday, September 9, 2018

A leg up on a catch-up via a roundup

                                                                           APLNJ pic
“Unofficial-autumn” greetings!  (Does anyone else say “autumn” nowadays, instead of “fall”?!) And doesn’t this rainy and cool weather reinforce the “fall” feeling?

So, with the list of summer “to-do”s either satisfied or fudged; with back-to-school prep taken care of; with swimsuits (etc.!) stored away for next summer or a vacation in the sun. . . it’s time for an animal roundup.

We’ll start with New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy. As far as bear hunts are concerned, the man’s a “trimmer” -- an old word that came to mind and still manages to sound critical, which it is!  Pressured to honor his commitment to end bear hunts, the governor apparently tried to please both sides, with the usual result: he pleased no one.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines “trimmer” as "One who trims between opposing parties in politics, etc. hence, one who inclines to each of two opposing sides as interest dictates.”  And Thomas Hardy used the word this way in his Wessex Tales: "One of the trimmers who went to church and chapel both."  (My thanks to a daring and resourceful reference librarian!)

So, Gov. Murphy halted bear hunting on state land only, leaving bears on private land (the greater portion) as prey for trophy hunters. They want all the land to hunt, while animal advocates want all the land off-limits to hunters.
Also on the gubernatorial front, Gov. Murphy is being reminded of his agreement to ban leghold traps, the hideous devices that cause untold suffering for wild animals and pets alike.  Banned in New Jersey since 1984, they were brought back into use last year through a maneuver by Gov. Christie and his hunting cronies. With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Murphy can un-do that cruel and inhumane act.  

Help the animals who could be caught in these traps by (1) phoning the governor’s office (609-292-6000), asking him to sign an executive order invalidating the Fish & Game Council’s regulation allowing their use, and (2) asking your senator and assembly members to support  S179/A3110 (Senator Gopal and Assemblyman Benson) to ban the manufacture, sale, possession or use of body-gripping animal traps.
Wild animals break out

Years ago, people finally realized that if girls didn’t see women as doctors, executives, astronauts or race car drivers, they could assume such positions were closed to them -- and not  aspire to those careers.  Same with wild animals: if children usually saw them behind bars, they could conclude that wild animals belong in zoos.  

So, Nabisco’s recent announcement about re-design of its famous Animal Crackers box came as a happy surprise. Thanks to PETA-led lobbying, the new box shows animals in a savanna setting -- much more appropriate and accurate. Wild animals belong in the wild!

Wild animals finally free! 

Giraffes in jeopardy


With all the activism on behalf of elephants and other animals, who thinks of giraffes?  Humane Society International, that’s who.  And the news is not good: “Giraffes are facing a silent extinction,” the organization says. “New reports show giraffes have suffered a massive 40 percent decline in wild populations since 1985, but still have absolutely no international protections.”


“If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists them as Endangered, it would restrict trade in giraffes coming to the United States as hunting trophies and other products. It's an easy step we can take right now to help protect and restore giraffe populations.”  
Visit http://www.hsi.org/ to protect giraffes under the Endangered Species Act.

Nuff said
Humans kill approximately 100 million sharks a year, while unprovoked shark attacks killed just five people in 2017.  --from “How to Survive a Shark Attack,” in the NYTimes Magazine, 9-2-18, p. 23.


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Sunday, August 26, 2018

If I were ‘Queen for a Day’ in Hamilton Township

Hoo-boy!  Every animal advocate’s dream: being in charge, even if for only a day, in Hamilton Township.  There, the animal shelter -- significantly and expensively expanded and reportedly greatly improved a couple years ago -- is now the center of a firestorm over how animals  are treated -- or should I say “mistreated”? 

Yes, “mistreated.”  And that’s putting it mildly.  (Just review the deficiencies and malpractices detailed in the state inspectors’ report.)  As queen for a (work)day, with power to say how the shelter will be run, I would convene all shelter employees and volunteers and do the following:  
1 -- acquaint them with the “Five Freedoms”  -- which “speak to the fundamental needs of animals that remain constant regardless of setting,” according to the Assn. of Shelter Veterinarians.  Therefore, animal shelters are one setting where the Five Freedoms should be known and observed.

2 -- acquaint them with the state health department’s annual I & D (Intake and Disposition) survey, with specifics about animals entering a shelter and what happens to each one, provided by shelter reps.

It should be noted that in the 2014 edition of this survey, HTAS reported killing a horrifying number of animals, especially cats.  (While 52 dogs (14%) were killed that year, 302, or 42% of the 716 cats admitted to the shelter were killed during the same period.)  Apparently, today's numbers have not significantly dropped.  

The I & D survey lists all responding shelters by county, so it’s painfully easy to see how Hamilton Twp. figures compared with other county shelters -- and then to wonder how those sickening high numbers were reached.

Buster      (file pic) 
Were strays killed if not claimed and/or killed before the seven-day hold period ended?  Were feral, or community, cats killed because they were feral, or community, cats?  How about animals needing medical attention; were they killed instead? 

These days, more and more animal shelters concentrate on “live releases,” instead of animals euthanized, and subscribe to a no-kill philosophy. Has Hamilton Twp. heard of either concept?  And if Y, why do they seem to have been ignored?  Who took the animal shelter in a different -- cruel and inhumane -- direction? 

3 -- moderate a presentation on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) by the Animal Protection League of NJ (http://aplnj.org/feral-cat-advocacy/), the statewide organization that has advocated for animals for 35 years.  Its Project TNR is New Jersey’s central resource for information on community cats and Trap-Neuter-Return.

4 -- acquaint them with the detailed and definitive “Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters” produced in 2010 by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians for both shelter facilities and care of shelter animals.

5 -- plan for the immediate future: (a) assure that anyone in a supervisory position at HTAS has preparatory training for that role; (b) establish dates for training on evaluating staff and volunteer  job performance; (c) list short-  and longer-range changes to be made, with completion dates.  

                                   Catster pic
Everything outlined here so far is a new and apparently needed kind of “brainwashing” at HTAS.  What?  You say all this can’t be done in a day?   You’re right of course.  I can hope only that others, with their own strong commitment to the animals there, will pick up where I leave off after my day as Queen.  

I’ll be back after Labor Day weekend, but meanwhile, readers, please keep up with media coverage of the shelter, write letters to the editor and/or talk up the suggestions here.  Make sure the Hamilton Twp. council members who first voiced concern about the shelter know about these options and resources.


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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Hide & seek governor jeopardizes our black bears

                                                                                                       APLNJ pic
One thing’s sure: Governor Phil Murphy is not out on the hustings, meeting and greeting, at least as far as some people are concerned.  Those people would be the numerous animal activists and organizations after him to keep his campaign pledge to stop New Jersey’s bear hunts.  

But Governor Murphy can’t be pinned down -- he can’t even be seen!  Now that he’s in office, he’s been simply impossible to meet with to talk bear hunts.  On that subject, one advocate said awhile ago, “The silence is deafening.” 

That’s sad.  It raises serious questions about the governor's compassion -- and his credibility.  So on Saturday, Aug. 11, advocates of ending the bear hunts took the issue to Murphy’s home turf: Middletown, NJ.  Nearly 200 people came out to remind the governor of his promise to end the hunt.  They met near a new billboard the governor should see often:  “GOVERNOR MURPHY: PLEASE KEEP YOUR PROMISE -- STOP THE BEAR HUNT.”

                            Kehoe/APLNJ pic
That was the start of a media campaign designed to remind the governor of his promise and urge him to keep it.  “Aerial billboards,” a.k.a. planes with flyers, will repeat the message for three Wednesdays over beaches from Seaside to Cape May:  Gov. Murphy can stop the bear hunt. Call now 609-292-6000!”  (BTW, 3 different staffers in Murphy’s office have commented on the volume of calls.)

Here’s a look at TV coverage of the Middletown demonstration:

There’s no doubt that the governor can end the bear hunt -- just as earlier governors have done. The only question is, will he.  Has he the will to buck NJ’s tiny number of bear hunters and their powerful spokespersons? 

Phone 609-292-6000 every day, to let the governor know we want him to keep his promise. 

Fanfare for the UN-common . . .

The Animal Protection League of NJ (APLNJ -- www.aplnj.org) was one of many organizations  behind the Aug. 11 demonstration.  That’s not surprising. For 35 years, this statewide organization has advocated for animals in myriad positive and successful ways. 

But in marking its 35th anniversary this year, APLNJ has been too reserved, holding back on the fanfare it has earned.  Talk about hiding one’s light under a bushel!

So here’s a reminder that APLNJ is still at it in large and small ways, a strong and consistent voice for New Jersey’s animals, who can’t speak for themselves.  Let’s hear it for APLNJ -- in the form of donations that will help the organization keep fighting the good fight.

And now, those who donate to APLNJ can use the new mailing address and/or phone number:  
PO Box 186, Glen Gardner, NJ 08826; phone: 1-732-446-6808.

Please contribute!    

The sad story ends

Grieving for her baby who died soon after birth, the mother orca carried her for 17 days during what the media called a “grief tour” -- the longest lasting known to date.  One writer described her behavior as emblematic of what’s happening to others in the mother’s pod of about 75 orcas -- critically endangered by loss of their main food, salmon, in the Pacific Northwest.  

                                AP pic
Sympathizers watched as the mother covered an estimated 1,000 miles, balancing her baby on her head.  Then, finally, she was seen without her young one, “frolicking” with other orcas. This was regarded as a good omen because the mourning mother is still young enough to give birth again. 


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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

More on ‘local horror house’ shelter . . . & imperiled fish

                                                                      Mancuso image
Area papers recently reported on state health inspectors’ findings at the Hamilton Township animal shelter.  Shameful, cruel, horrific, inhumane -- just some of the words that begin to characterize conditions at that facility.  https://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2018/08/state_investigation_into_animal_shelter_reveals_im.html

Quoted in the stories and dismissive of the failures cited, Mayor Kelly Yaede’s reactions were once again . . . unbelievable, as well as indefensible.  You have to wonder how she treats people if the animal shelter conditions and practices don’t appall her enough to clean up what’s happening there.  If she has animals in her life, would she let them be grossly mistreated or killed, as Hamilton shelter animals have been (and probably still are)?  Does she have any clue about best practices in shelters? 

You could also wonder why the council members who first sounded the alarm are not practically rabid-with-rage now that the damning inspection results have been made public.  What are they waiting for?  Why aren’t they moving to close the place and bring in experts to make it a safe facility for innocent animals?

Can’t any of these people rise above politics to care about animal welfare? 

For a “read it and weep” look at details about this “horror house of a shelter,” whose staff and practices are inexplicably defended by the mayor and the local health officer, read the lengthy  
indictment below in the NJ Animal Observer.   Be careful: it will make your blood boil and prompt you to take serious action on behalf of any animals unlucky enough to be caught in Hamilton Township’s clutches.  

                                                                              ‘Go fish’!

Now back to life in the sea -- a huge part of our world, yet one whose living creatures may be treated with even less respect than terrestrial animals.  Bolstering its “Seakittens” campaign years ago, PETA expounded on the lives of fish.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was convincing. There’s no need to reinvent the arguments so I’m borrowing directly from the PETA mats here.  

Billions of fish are killed each year so people can eat their flesh, while millions more are ripped from their homes for “fun” by anglers. Consider the following:

·         Fish have nervous systems that register and respond to pain. Scientists tell us their brains closely resemble our own and fish are just as able to feel pain as cats or dogs.

·         Fish are intelligent animals who observe, learn, use tools, and form sophisticated social structures. They also have impressive long-term memories.

·         Fish talk to each other with squeaks, squeals, and other low-frequency sounds that humans can hear only with the help of special instruments.

When yanked from the water, fish begin to suffocate.  Their gills often collapse, and their swim bladders can rupture because of the sudden change in pressure. . . . “Sport” fishers are responsible for killing almost 25 percent of overfished saltwater species. . . . Many trout streams are so intensively fished that they require that all fish caught be released.

But “catch and release” doesn’t solve the problem because fish thrown back into the water are not the same fish. They were likely hurt in any of myriad ways, and made newly vulnerable. One study indicates that 43% of released fish die within six days. 

Besides the fish themselves, other victims of fishing include myriad animals (pelicans and other birds to manatees and dolphins). A major cause: discarded  monofilament and other fishing line.

Commercial fishing is cruelty to animals on a colossal scale, killing hundreds of billions of animals worldwide every year—far more than any other industry. 

Don’t ‘go fish’!


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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

‘Promises, promises’ -- this one needs keeping!

Yes, it’s deep summer and people are on vacation, or want to be.  Yes, it’s August, for Pete sake, and the place to be is the beach or the pool or the airport -- not waving signs or chanting about promises. So that settles that.

Or does it?  These facts may spur you to join the Summer Rally for the Bears in Middletown, NJ on Saturday, Aug 11, noon-1:30 pm.

·        Bear hunters represent less than .1 of 1 % of New Jersey’s population, or .08, to be exact.  Those who think hunters represent a huge majority of residents are simply wrong.  Fact is, wildlife watchers outnumber hunters 275:1!

·        During his election campaign, Governor Murphy pledged to end NJ’s bear hunts.  Now, he says it’s harder than he had thought to do so.

·       As one of the most powerful governors in the country, Governor Murphy could employ any of the myriad ways at his disposal to stop NJ’s bear hunt -- if he wanted to.

Now, with autumn (a.k.a. hunting season) approaching, it’s time for Gov. Murphy to deliver on the promise he made.  Come out to the governor’s home town this Saturday to help drive home the message.  

A new billboard (shown above) is slated to be in place, and from noon-1:30 pm, bear advocates will be right there to help remind the governor to keep his commitment to New Jersey’s black bears.  Exact locale: Woodland Drive & Route 35, Middletown, NJ 07748.  (BYO signs)

Besides The BEAR Group, part of the Animal Protection League of NJ (APLNJ), and the NJ Sierra Club, other organizations that share a determination to end the bear hunt will be there too, for a united front.  Guest speakers will include

*   Jeff Tittel, director, New Jersey Sierra Club

*   Dante DiPirro, former senior Deputy Attorney General 

*   Brian Hackett, state director, Humane Society of the United States

*   Melissa Jacobs, state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Here we have a new governor, who promised to end the bear hunt.  He can do that, notes Angi Metler, APLNJ’s executive director, “and he should!” 

Come out to remind Governor Murphy that literally, this is a life or death issue for New Jersey’s beloved black bears.  They can’t speak for themselves and they need our help: This Saturday, August 11, Middletown, NJ, Noon-1:30 pm.  

For the bears, please be there!


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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Ahoy! Ships’ cats merit a book on their life afloat

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by . . .” --John Masefield
“Cats at Sea” would be a shorter, but much less tantalizing book title than “Seafurrers: The Ships’ Cats Who Lapped and Mapped the World; An Incidental History,” the name of a new book I’ve just finished.  It’s fun reading, packed with photos, illustrations and shaded boxes in its 38 “incidents” or short chapters, about cats on ships, where they served as major pest-controllers (anti-rats!), pets and mascots, as well as occasional stowaways.   

Author Philippa Sandall shares the honors with able sea cat “Bart,” whose paw print authenticates the Preface he wrote and who enlisted both Sandall, to serve as the book’s scribe, and Ad Long, to handle its notable illustrations.  Bart must have motivated them well; they did a great job.

Start with the cover, featuring a grizzled seafarer -- cap atilt on his head and pipe in his mouth: a cat!  So make that a grizzled “Seafurrer,” please, while you wonder how long it took for one word to morph into the other.  That, “Whiskerpedia” and other such coined words lighten the text even more.

Stories about ships’ cats really couldn’t fill a book, but the related (well, mostly related) info -- about rats, flying fish, wreck rights, hardtack and designated divers -- rounds out the volume very nicely.  Together with nuggets of cat lore, painless chunks of maritime history are easy to assimilate.  Sandall did her homework, only occasionally including more than a reader could reasonably care to know.  (One example: specs on Churchill and Roosevelt’s 1941 Atlantic Charter)

Every incident tells about a ship’s cat, giving the vessel’s name, date of voyage and ID of any significant (human) crew members.  That’s Sandall’s part, followed each time by an “According to Bart” section, in which the cat may pooh-pooh the story, but always adds info.  Finally, there may be an “Incidentally” box, telling still more -- for instance, about the beginning of picture postcards, one of which featured “Thomas Whiskers, USN,” a hospital ship’s cat. 
Timing for release of “Seafurrers” suggests it’s a beach read, though ideally of course it would be a ship read.  But anywhere you decide to dive in, you’ll like it. 


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