Sunday, November 26, 2017

A holiday P.S., animal-friendly NJ legislation & more

One holiday dinner for turkeys rather than of turkeys doesn’t make a huge difference as far as the slaughter of purpose-bred animals goes.  But this 32nd annual dinner left me with a better taste in my mouth for Thanksgiving, now finally behind us for a while.  Here’s a happy story to bring to mind next time you think about this subject.  

Help for hot-car heroes

Remember last summer, when warnings and signs all over warned people not to leave pets in vehicles? Hot cars, the warnings went, heat up fatally fast, and animals left in them have no way to escape.  Occasional media stories about people who broke car windows to free heat-suffering pets led to an unhappy realization: New Jersey offers no protection for the good Samaritans who take such action to save trapped animals.

That was then.  Now, help is on the way for animal helpers, says Brian R. Hackett, NJ’s State Director, State Affairs, for the Humane Society of the US (HSUS).  He reports that legislation to protect those who rescue an animal from inhumane conditions (A3636) was passed overwhelmingly by the State Assembly, and Senator Ray Lesniak has agreed to post the bill for a committee hearing soon so it can get a Senate vote in December before the end of the session!

Passage would mean that next year those wanting to help animals trapped in hot cars can do so without looking over their shoulders and wondering what price they’ll pay.

Flee, flies!

“Trillions of Flies Can’t All Be Bad,” the headline read.  To which I replied, “Oh yes they can.” Yuk: flies. Where’s that fly-swatter?!

I find no redeeming social value in flies (or ticks or mosquitoes, for that matter), and I don’t care how well-written the story may be about the variety and fascination of these creatures. Thanks to long-time conditioning, when I think of flies, I think of public rest rooms in summer, greenhead flies on the beach and any kind of fly at any time in my kitchen. Where IS that fly-swatter?!  

But they’re animals, right?  And isn’t this blog about all animals?  Sure, but that doesn’t mean I have to like all animals or abandon my belief that “the only good fly is a dead fly.”

Elephants need much more

Protest was quick and loud recently when the Trump administration overturned a 2014 Obama ban on hunters bringing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia into the US. The government ruled that once again, elephant “trophies” – any part of the elephant, including tusks – could once more be brought back from the countries where people can shoot elephants for pleasure.  (Yes, there really are such people.)

Then, surprisingly, Trump rolled back the ruling. So, for now, the ban still holds, as does Obama’s near-total ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory.  But before we get all excited over this turn-about, it’s important to know that trade in ivory, not trophy hunting, “is driving the catastrophic declines that continue in most elephant populations in Africa,” according to Save the Elephants – the most trustworthy source I know for credible information about elephants.

The best fight to join is stopping the widespread poaching of elephants for their tusks, the crime that fuels the trafficking and trading in ivory around the world.  I hope that many others, who love elephants and don't want a world without these great animals living safely, will donate on Tuesday to Save the Elephants via Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) in San Francisco.  Donations will be matched up to $175,000. (


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Sunday, November 19, 2017

For animals, Thanksgiving’s no holiday

Thanksgiving may be a good day for people, but there’s no doubt it’s an awful one for animals.  Maybe what’s needed is a pretty fable about a happy animal get-together, with sharing and festivating and every one enjoying the normal, natural life each was intended for . . . before Dominionism entered the world – ironically, via a so-called holy book (“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle . . .”).

Instead, what we have is a mad celebration of giving thanks for our bounty by eating animals (apparently not seen as part of that bounty). What’s wrong with this picture?  tradition?  lifestyle?  How many turkeys will die and be eaten this week?  Not only those purchased for Thanksgiving dinner, but also those given away by supermarkets and myriad organizations. And – lest we forget -- those brutalized in slaughterhouses while on their way to death!

Ugh: what a huge, sickening example of Dominionism, with people mindlessly eating turkey on this holiday just because that’s what they’ve always done. And if they were forced to think  about it, they’d probably conclude that turkeys exist for the dining pleasure of humans.

Then there are those who serve both turkey and ham for the holiday for democracy in action: an equal opportunity for turkeys and pigs to die.

It’s all just too much, including any hope of making a significant dent in this practice. What would it take?  I wish I knew. 

Unable to stop the cave man-approach to Thanksgiving and too bummed to think more about it right now, I’ll change the subject to . . . butterflies! Last summer as I waxed rhapsodic about Monarchs and milkweed, one of the many things I didn’t witness and couldn’t imagine was, how do butterflies “hatch.”  Well, here’s how, with thanks to the Dodo (  It’s amazing.

Sticking with good news, how about California’s new law requiring pet stores to stock only animals from shelters or rescues?  Viva California, enlightened home state of Gov. Jerry Brown, “the California car,” the Paw Project ( and innumerable other ahead-of-its- country positions. What better way to end puppy mills and kitten factories?

Since we’re on a positive roll, the city of Denver also earns plaudits for its unanimous vote to ban the needless, cruel and outlawed-elsewhere practice of declawing cats.  Every Denver city council member deserves to feel a warm, virtuous glow after doing the right thing.  

If only veterinarian associations and feline-only organizations were just as emphatically against declawing – as they ought to be – so other cities and states might join the BANwagon.    

Finally, like it or not, here’s a column by a cat-hater, explaining why she’s adamantly against felines. It’s definitely a different, if not welcome, perspective. What do you think?
And on the subject of what you think, how about the last blog post here, which I thought would prompt an avalanche of comments – but didn’t. I hope you’ll re-read it and have a say.

Happy animal flesh-free Thanksgiving, everyone!


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Sunday, November 12, 2017

The question that won’t go away

My last post opened with “Remember the ladies,” a quote from an appeal for powerless women more than three centuries ago. Now I’m saying, “Join the ladies” -- or better yet, “Join the women who seem to significantly outnumber men in the animal advocacy field.”

Although a much longer sentence, it comes down to this: are men as scarce as they seem to be in animal welfare endeavors?  Oh sure, men head up both the national HSUS and ASPCA organizations, as well as NJ’s state chapter . . . .

But by and large in my experience and observation, women are the real doers at virtually all levels. Think Angi Metler and Janine Motta, executive director and programs director of the Animal Protection League of NJ, our Jersey-born statewide organization. Both undisputed leaders, they’re also down in the trenches, working every day for animals, and have been doing so for years.

Now think of rescue groups you know and count how many men are regularly involved, doing the scut work as well as the higher-profile stuff. 

Where are the men?  Why are they in the minority?  Why aren’t they equally involved in animal welfare -- doing the same thing, in numbers, that women all over seem to be doing : cleaning cages, transporting, fostering, writing letters, demonstrating . . . ?!

Years ago, the reason for their absence could have been that men work, supporting families, etc., but, hello! women also fill the workforce.  Could the reason be the old stereotype about women being more nurturing and more interested in relationships than in visibility and power (long assumed to be men’s goals)? 

Why are men in animal advocacy the exceptions, rather than the rule?

Could they feel that hands-on work for animals is a low-status role?  (Think too of home health-care aides.)  And/or, animal welfare can have to do with reading and expressing feelings, and downright dirty work -- cleaning cages comes to mind.  It has to do with building cooperative relationships, then nurturing them -- an area usually connected with women, although in this case, I think the stereotype is more correct than not.

Further, at least before they're career-secure, men seem to need to be competitive, to at least talk money and manipulation.  Of the few men I've encountered in the animal welfare field, most are mature men who have already proven themselves in the "real world" or they were anomalies in animal welfare who made early progress and achieved executive positions there.

Yes, I know there are other ways that men advocate for animals.  Just think: Peter Singer and the numerous writers since who have followed in his Animal Liberation footsteps.  Overall, men seem to publish more about animals in mainstream media than women do. They also seem to do more public speaking and be more often quoted on the subject too.

This issue calls for readers’ impressions and comments. Are men in fact the minority of those working on the front lines for animals? And if so, why? And longer range, should and can men be enlisted to join this cause?

Men, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably involved and fighting the good fight for animals. Why?  How did you get involved? And how can more men be recruited?

 (If you read my blog posts on ,you can comment right here.  If you subscribe to this blog, simply click where indicated at the bottom of this post and comment. “Anonymous” is an OK way to do it when you’re asked to ID yourself.  I’m after informative comments, not names!)

And this reminder

 November is adopt a senior cat month.  (But don’t stop there! Consider bringing a homeless animal home with you for the happy holiday season – and forever after.)


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Saturday, November 4, 2017

‘Remember the ladies’ . . . in animal advocacy!

NYC carriage horse  
The often-repeated quote “Remember the ladies” was part of a plea by Abigail Adams to her husband John, who later became the second president of the US.  She encouraged him to recognize women as more than property and protect them from the power men held over them.  That was in the late 18th century.

By a century later – while still lacking the right to vote -- Philadelphia women took the lead in establishing the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  (PSPCA).  Although brutally mistreated carriage horses were the initial targets for their compassion, abandoned dogs quickly became a focus of the women’s attention and initiatives.

They successfully petitioned for the founding of the Shelter for Dogs and Other Animals, aiming to reunite pets with their owners or find them new homes.  In effect, this was the start of an adoption program.

Other reforms followed: establishment of basic shelter standards, provision of drinking fountains around the city, programs for sick or injured cats, veterinary care for dogs and farm animals, and many more.

This whole story is detailed, inspiringly, in the summer ’17 issue of AnimalSheltering magazine. For far different reasons than Abigail's, remember these ladies too!

And recognize one contemporary woman whose efforts are directed at improving the lives (and
sometimes no doubt saving them as well) for shelter animals in this state:  NJ Senator Linda R. Greenstein (District 14).  Introduced last February, her bill (S3019) is “still an active bill—it hasn’t been heard in committee yet,” an aide reports.  She adds, “If the bill doesn’t get heard by the first week in January, it will be re-introduced with a new bill number after the second Tuesday of January 2018.”

This is an ideal time for all of us to react to the bill with suggestions and corrections that Greenstein’s staff can note for future use; watch for news of the bill’s resurfacing; and volunteer to help build support for its move through the legislature.   

and FORGET this lady

On Tuesday we will elect a new governor of NJ. It’s our chance to throw out the party and the people who permitted years of black bear hunts here, among other grievous instances of cruelty toward animals.  Here’s what the League of Humane Voters ( has to say about the incumbent and his would-be successors:
2014 anti-hunt demo 
Our wildlife has suffered enormously under Governor Chris Christie. The Christie Administration allowed the Fish and Game Council to brazenly breach New Jersey’s landmark law banning bone-crushing steel-jaw leghold traps. As a candidate, Chris Christie promised hunters a black bear hunt. Tragically, he delivered, each and every year. 

If possible, the bear hunt got even worse when the game council added terribly cruel bows and arrows to hunters’ arsenal. Under Governor Christie (and Democrat Senate President Stephen Sweeney), deregulation is rampant and wildlife protection bills are routinely blocked and denied committee and floor votes.

. . . be aware that Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno has frequently pledged her support for hunters and trappers. She has publicly pledged continued black bear hunts.

In contrast, Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy promises to end the bear hunt and to restore New Jersey’s law banning leghold traps. 

                                                                                               APLNJ image

Halt horrendous, horrific black bear hunts in NJ.  Vote (early and often) for Murphy!


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