Sunday, August 13, 2017

‘Dominionism’ causes worldwide animal suffering & death

How many cows in Macy’s alone?  How many vast acres would those cows fill, grazing contentedly?  How would they spend their days with other cows?

The cows at Macy’s probably outnumber those at Saks Fifth Avenue, where they’re more spread out on display and typically cost more. 

In both stores, the cows come in myriad designs, colors and prices. They may not even be native American cows; some are described as “fine Italian . . .” while others, as “designer . . . ”  

What began as a day trip to NYC for art exhibitions wound up with my wondering about cows. Except that they were described as handbags, backpacks, purses, wallets, pocketbooks . . . .

How many cows does it take to stock Macy’s and Saks, even for a day?  What about a season, or a year?  Multiply that number by all the stores that sell cows (in their many guises) the world over.  An unimaginable, probably incalculable, number.  

And just as slaughterhouses exist to kill animals that people eat, there probably are also “purpose-bred” cattle facilities set up to produce “leather” for people to lug their belongings around in. 
And that’s just carriers of various kinds. There are also cow belts, cow shoes and cow clothes, as well as cow furniture and cow car upholstery. (What am I forgetting?)

All this is a universal case of “Dominionism” -- the worldview or belief held by one species that it has a divine right to use animals and everything else in the living world for its own benefit.

 “ . . .Then they came for the [pigs]”  

You may have thought it couldn’t get worse for pigs – the animals people love to eat. (See
Well, you were wrong.  Dominionism once again rears its ugly head, folks. 

The newest goal for how pigs might serve humans is “donating” their organs for human transplants. It’s been talked about for years, but only now is it becoming a real possibility. Isn’t that great?

“Editing” pigs’ genes may be the step that makes the difference.  If pigs’ genes can be “cleansed” to rid them of retroviruses that could cause disease in humans, a newspaper story reports, “that could be a real game changer,” making it “possible one day to transplant livers, hearts and other organs from pigs into humans.”

Piglets whose genes were edited                                                    NYTimes
Hoopla!  Hey, you lucky pigs: there may be even more you can give your lives for: You could fill the gap between organ supply and demand!  

But, the story mentions, “the prospect also raises thorny questions about animal exploitation and welfare. Already an estimated 100 million pigs are killed in the US each year for food.”  (Animal welfare be damned!)

However, “To some, the idea of growing pigs to create organs is distasteful.” And why is that? Not, alas, because more pigs would then be purpose-bred and killed to serve human needs, but because “Many patients may prefer a human organ.” 

Given the chance, pigs would agree.

Dogs catch a break

A writer recently asked New York Times readers, “Is there nothing nice you can say about the man who, after all, is our president?”  The best response had to be, “He doesn’t have a dog, which is a service to all dogs.”


Thursday, August 17 is Black Cat Appreciation Day. 


If you subscribe to this blog and want to comment, please click here: 

Monday, August 7, 2017

If our pets survive us, then what happens?

Might as well think of such things in the bright light of summer (if this rainy season will ever include such a thing), instead of tackling the subject during dreary winter. OK, here goes: we should assure our pets’ futures in case we check out before they do or in case we become unable to care for them. It’s only right and we should do it. Period.

Here are some thoughts and specifics on this un-fun and painful, but necessary subject. We owe it to our pets to plan for their futures if, as the saying goes, “something happens to us.”  Well, something’s definitely going it happen – the only question is when. And our pets need to be protected.

So if or when we’re not there for them, who will be? Read on for a few possible answers to the question, “If you’re not there, who will care?”

1-- a trusted friend or relative, preferably one who knows the pet(s) and definitely one who understands what we want for them (e.g., a home setting; assured regular vetting).  It’s not enough to say “take care of them” and assume everyone’s on the same page. I once read about a “friend” who took care of them – by having them euthanized!

2 – a provision in a will or a trust for pets. Both options probably require a lawyer’s involvement.

3 –accommodation for the pets at a “sanctuary” or a “pet retirement home” -- a trusted place where, for a fee, the pets will live out their lives in comfort or in some cases, be re-homed. The Guardian Angel program at Tabby’s Place, a cat sanctuary in Ringoes, is one example of such a facility. (

4 – a veterinarian or other “animal practitioner,” preferably one who knows the pet(s) and whose facility includes space where they can live and be cared for. By that, I do not mean cages – pets who have the run of the house with us should never wind up in cages when they’re without us.  This is another occasion when making expectations crystal clear is absolutely vital for our pets’ futures.
Besides books on this subject, there’s also excellent advice online. The Petfinder site incorporates some basics from the Humane Society of the US, while HSUS material includes a printable PDF detailing the whole concept of planning for our pets’ futures.  Here’s a link to Petfinder:

As with preparing a disaster kit for our pets as well as for ourselves (a topic I’ve researched and written about, and teamed up to do), planning for our pets’ futures can seem like an overwhelming job. But if you break it down into steps or sections and schedule time to do it piecemeal, it can be done – and you’ll be a happy pet parent.

For a future-planning finale that’s either macabre or comforting, we may soon have the option of joint interment with our pets -- something that’s now legal in New York State.

Rest in peaceful togetherness.


If you subscribe to this blog and want to comment, please click here:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

On tunnel vision, ‘wildlife’ in zoos & recurring Qs

It shouldn’t happen – but it did. Eager to promote the Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ) in my last post, I neglected to describe it as a grassroots group, one “made in New Jersey” 34 years ago. It deserves admiration and support for that reason alone, besides its initiatives and successes ever since.

Worse yet, I didn’t mention any of the other organizations that also work diligently for animal welfare here, often in tandem with APL.  (It does take a village – or in this case, a statewide coalition of groups with similar goals -- to assure that positive change happens for animals.)

Now, to finish putting my case of tunnel vision to rest: as a Humane Society of the US member, regular donor and freelancer, I want to give a shout-out for HSUS-NJ.  Focused exclusively on animals in New Jersey, this is a group you can’t go far without hearing good things about.

The efforts of Brian R. Hackett, HSUS state director since April ’16, include (“but are not limited to”!) lobbying for better legislation on the local, county and state levels; building the  grassroots supporter and volunteer network; working with various animal-protection organizations to build coalitions supporting key priorities; sharing resources with animal shelters and rescue groups.
As one specific there: HSUS-NJ sponsored Lobby Day in Trenton this past March. If you attended the annual event, you had to appreciate the colossal organizing effort behind it, as well as the noble goal of bringing activists and legislators together.

Unnatural “wild” animals

Those who believe a zoo is the place to see and learn about the world’s wild animals are, for countless reasons, so very wrong. One reason is this startling fact -- “Close to 90 percent of the animals now in large modern zoos are not snatched from their native habitat; they are the offspring of other zoo animals.” – from a recent book review of  THE ZOO: The Wild and Wonderful Tale of the Founding of the London Zoo: 1826-1851, by Isobel Charman.

Think about that: most zoo animals don’t know how to behave naturally as what they are; they’ve never lived where or how others of their kind live. Being a zoo animal is all they know. The review goes on to say what is the bottom-line worst part of animals in zoos: “They get excellent medical care and the right diet, but still what they experience is incarceration.” 

Questions that won’t go away

Why, I often wonder, do some animal advocates try to save the animals they want to help on the backs of other animals? A current for-instance: the NJ veterinarians’ group offering a fund-raising “day of fun” at Monmouth racetrack. They boost horse racing – a “sport” known for doping, soring, needless injuries and deaths, and sending retired racers to auction for eventual slaughter – to raise money for their own cause. What’s wrong with this picture?

Another case: A “service dog” – in this case, a dog serving involuntarily (as always) with the Marines – given recognition and an elaborate funeral after he died.  His human “partner,” who had enlisted voluntarily, cited the dog’s heroism.

Excuse me, but given his druthers, would that dog have volunteered for the Marines? Is that why he existed, to sniff out bombs, and die, for humans? And there are thousands of such dogs “on duty,” with military funerals and platitudes about “partners” at the end.

Dominionism is the worldview or belief held by one species that it has a divine right
to use animals and everything else in the living world for its own benefit. –Jim Mason


If you subscribe to this blog and want to comment, please click here:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Join the statewide winning team for the animals

Black bears, beavers, feral (a.k.a. community) cats, deer, Canada geese . . . Which national animal welfare group has led and carried out extensive efforts on behalf of all these New Jersey animals, and still others? 

None of them.

National groups work for the benefit of animals all over the world. Sometimes that includes NJ animals, but then only for limited numbers of them, for limited time. They do not (and by definition and name, can not) focus exclusively on the needs of animals here.

Just one organization has done that since 1983: the Animal Protection League of New Jersey – the only statewide organization that speaks for all animals, large and small, domestic and wild. And “APL” is still going strong – anticipating next year’s 35th anniversary of untiring, and effective, activism for animals.
APL’s earlier successes have included stopping the cruel diving “horses” (actually mules) act in
Atlantic City; helping pass NJ’s landmark dissection-choice legislation; stopping eight bear hunts (pre-Christie); and working with towns and caregivers around the state to implement Trap-Neuter-Return for community cats. 

More recently, APL members worked for termination of a contract to gas Canada geese, thus saving Edgewater’s geese from that fate.  Earlier campaigns have dealt with factory farming and animals in laboratories and fur farms, while a major push is underway now to convince counties and municipalities to ban wild animals in circuses.

The organization’s mode of operation is one reason for APL’s wide credibility and support --100% of its income comes from donations and fundraisers, by the way. This is not an “in your face” operation; it’s not big on protests, demonstrations or gruesome images. APL is all about public education, persistence and persuasion. Its website ( offers detailed looks at APL programs, campaigns – and successes.  

This has been a look at some of the animals and issues APLNJ works for in our state.  If you like what you’ve read, why not donate to New Jersey’s only statewide organization for animals? Join the move to change minds and laws to end institutionalized and legalized animal abuse. You can help hasten the day when all animals here are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

The website spells out a variety of options for donating. ( You can do so online (with a one-time or membership donation, or with a monthly donation of an amount you choose) by mail (send your check or money order to APLNJ, PO Box 174, Englishtown, NJ 07726) or by phone (call us at 732-446-6808, x 101, and a rep will take your donation amount and credit card number).    

Regardless of what you give or how often, your donation will make a positive difference for the animals. Thank you!  


If you subscribe to this blog and want to comment, please click here:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A mixed 'bag o’ briefs' about animals

    If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian
--Paul McCartney, singer-songwriter, composer, poet, and activist (1942- )  

Helping injured wildlife

If some evening you spot a squirrel who looks hurt . . . or if some other small wild animal appears to be injured, you can help.  The Mercer County Wildlife Center is open 365 days a year, and its hours for receiving patients vary: summer, 9 am-6 pm; winter, 9 am-4 pm daily.

If you miss those hours, (1) use gloves to place the animal in a box in a warm, quiet place away from pets and children, (2) don’t handle the animal, and (3) don’t try to feed or force water. 

The center’s phone number is 609-303-0552, and it’s at 1748 River Road, Hopewell Township (mailing address = Lambertville).  The Wildlife Center is the last item under “Facilities” at   

Changing times & dog houses

When two “women of a certain age” recently talked about pet dogs when they were growing up, one remembered only dogs who lived outside, in dog houses. That was the norm.

These days, the notion of “dog houses” is archaic, even cruel. Today’s dogs typically live in the home, often sleeping on their people’s beds. And still other “luxuries” abound.

No wonder then, that a Dodo story about a rescued puppy in Brazil who shared her cozy blanket with a stray dog, drew numereous comments – not about the pup’s generous act, but the fact that Lana lives outside her adoptive family’s home, in a dog house.   

Not the “cat’s meow,” but “the cat’s whiskers”  

The story appeared in the “Wellness” section of the NYTimes, which sometimes features news and views about pets as well as people. It easily caught my attention because of the cat connection – then the concern about cats’ whiskers that has led to new food bowl designs.

Pretend you have sensitive whiskers that stick out from your face three or more inches in each direction. Then imagine having to eat by sticking your face into a narrow, deep bowl with sides that would rub against those whiskers. Finally, picture yourself reaching into the bowl to pull out food instead, or getting grouchy or just giving up.

That’s called “whisker fatigue,” the dilemma some cats are thought to face when their info-gathering whiskers are tampered with by . . . a bowl!  The solution: bowls designed with whiskers in mind: shallow, with no rim or sides to brush against whiskers. Mealtime becomes happy time again.

(Note to readers who may have or know a cat with food issues that suggest whisker fatigue: I have two of the "Dr. Catsby” bowls described in the article. They’re free to the first two responders here.) 

Deep in dog days 
Does anyone doubt we’re deep in the dog days of summer right now? Think hot, sultry, fevered kind of weather that promotes lethargy – a good reason for those dreamy images of lounging under a tree, reading. 

The name “Dog days” alludes to the “dog star” Sirius, part of the Canis Major, or Large Dog constellation, which at this time of year rises near the same time as the sun in this hemisphere.  Depending on your info source, dog days run from July 3-August 11 or July 24-August 24.  We’ll soon find out.

Today’s word 

abattoir (AHB-a-twar)  From French.  Slaughterhouse; butchery.  A place where animals are killed for their meat.



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hot cars are death traps for kids & animals alike

A living animal or creature [cannot be] unattended in a vehicle under inhumane conditions 
     adverse to the health or welfare of the living animal or creature.”  (N.J.S.A. 4:22-26c)

Sunscreen available from 
While some deaths are unavoidable, others are 100% avoidable, and they’re the worst kind – the most hurtful to survivors and maybe guilt-inducing too. This is the season when “hot cars” can make news no one wants to read.  

“Kids locked in hot cars can die in minutes,” the headline read. And they do – 12 have died this year alone, and since 1990, there have been 793 documented vehicular heat stroke deaths in the US (many of them accidental), according to the Miami Herald. “The interior of cars left in the hot sun can reach 125 degrees in just minutes, even if the windows are cracked (which has no effect on the heating process),” the paper continued. 

Hot cars hold the same hazard for animals, especially dogs, as they do for kids.  It hasn’t happened yet this summer, but you can be sure it will, as it does every year: the media will report the death of a police dog in an overheated car.

Of course the dead dog’s human partner will reportedly be sad and sorry. And of course s/he will also be derelict, irresponsible, shamefully cruel. Of all people to let this happen – the very ones who should model correct behavior toward dogs in hot cars are too often the killers.


Beyond police officers come the countless, clueless others who leave their pets in cars “just for a minute,” that grows ever longer until . . . the worst.          

“The law protects Good Samaritans from civil liability,” the Miami Herald story said, of people who saved a child from a hot car, breaking a window if necessary after calling 911. But what about those who save animals from the same death trap? What are the legalities of helping an animal in jeopardy in a hot car?  

Providing a run-down on “hot car” laws across the country, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) indicates that some state laws are limited to specified animals and some laws allow only specified public officials to break into the vehicle to rescue the animal. Still other states have “Good Samaritan” hot car laws allowing private citizens to take matters into their own hands.

In just two states – New Jersey and West Virginia – “although it’s illegal to leave an animal trapped in a hot car, no one is granted authority to break into the vehicle to save the animal, not even law enforcement.”

You read it right. New Jersey brings up the rear in supporting would-be rescuers of animals trapped in hot cars. That hurts, even though ALDF points out that “prosecutors may be reluctant to bring charges against rescuers, given the public relations nightmare and scant chance of a conviction.”

No matter what state you may be in, here are the recommended steps to follow if you want to help an animal locked in a hot car:

1 – Be sure the vehicle is locked and forcible entry is the only way to free the animal.

2 – Try to locate the pet parent and politely inform him/her of the danger.  (I think this step wastes valuable time.)

3 – Call 911 or local enforcement.

4 – If necessary, take action yourself to free the animal.

Thank you for caring!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

'1 more once': back to vegans & veganism

Hoping to help save pets from the upset of fireworks (last post), I allowed very little time for the the post before it, on vegans and veganism, to be seen -- even though, ultimately, it's a subject of far greater importance to animals.  For that reason, and because I still hope for lots of comments on the subject, I invite you to return to "the vegan post," which I've pasted below.  Please take another look (and another think), and possibly contribute a comment while you're there.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Saluting vegans: major animal lifesavers

"There is no meaningful distinction between eating flesh and eating dairy or other animal products. Animals exploited in the dairy industry live longer than those used for meat, but they are treated worse during their lives, and they end up in the same slaughterhouse after which we consume their flesh anyway. There is probably more suffering in a glass of milk or an ice cream cone than there is in a steak." —  Gary L. Francione, vegan American legal scholar and animal rights advocate  

Brussels sprouts fried rice                           
With that, I’ve learned the truth of the familiar expression: “Pride goeth before a fall” – now amended to “Pride goeth before realizing how many ways (of which meat-avoidance is only one) vegans 
change their lives, for animals’ sakes.”

In other words, I’m a bare beginner, a raw recruit and hardly a hero at trying to save animals’ lives. Vegans are the ones I admire. Their route is truly tough. But lessening animal suffering and helping animals stay alive are what it’s all about.

Veganism is easier than vegetarianism to understand -- if not to live. Meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, and all other animal-based products, like honey, are entirely given up. Any food or product that makes use of animals is rejected.

This often extends to clothing, medicines, and anything else in which animals or animal products are used. For example, vegans wouldn’t use leather handbags, shoes or belts; cosmetics tested on animals; down comforters; medicine capsules or candy (goodbye, “regular” marshmallows) containing gelatin; silk or woolen clothing or that made with dyes made from insects; or fur coats, of course. 
 Seitan pizza               Wikipedia

One info source had it that vegetarianism is usually a diet, while veganism is a lifestyle. Considering all that the typical vegan does without – animal flesh as well as products tested on or derived from animals -- “lifestyle” seems correct, of necessity. Here’s a simple and welcome summary: Vegans just leave animals alone and let them live their lives, period.

So, I get the why of becoming a vegan, but I wonder about the how of it. Does it happen in “one swell foop”?  Or is it more often a gradual process?  

Indicating that some 16 million people are veggie or vegan, one source reports that “69% said they chose to eat a vegan diet to support the ethical treatment of animals. Forty-five percent say they transitioned into veganism over time.”

If that sounded like a cue, it was!  Time to remind readers about the “Food for Life” starter kit, the free aid available on request from Animal Protection League of NJ.  Just visit the website ( and under the APLNJ logo near the top right, enter your email and click on “Request the Kit” -- then watch for the mail.  

(Note to vegan readers: You could help wannabe vegans by commenting here. How about telling us how you got started, what foods you enjoy – tips and recipes welcome-- and how you feel about veganism.)