Monday, January 15, 2018

Give with one hand, take with the other

I know, I know.  We Americans eat weird things and undermine the planet’s health in our own unique ways.  Other people – and countries – no doubt have reason to look at us askance.

But to me, anyway, some offenses in this world are worse than others.  Like waiting till African elephants closed in on extinction before shutting down ivory-carving facilities and closing wholesale and retail stores to halt China’s ivory trade.  That was all very nice when it finally came, and it may help keep elephants extant, instead of being killed en masse for their tusks – to make trinkets.  

So, thanks, China, for what we can only hope won’t be “too little, too late” (especially with other Asian countries racing right in to the vacuum created by China’s belated reform).

However, as China’s ivory lust subsided, donkeys from Africa and beyond became China’s newest “must-haves” – to the tune of about 1.8 million of them now slaughtered each year. Why?  Because boiled donkey skins yield gelatin that goes into ejiao, a traditional medicine used for a range of ills from delaying aging to treating side effects of chemotherapy.

Then there are Korea’s thousands of dog meat farms, where dogs (and cats too, I’ve read) are raised for market-then-meals in barbaric conditions till their “nasty, brutish and short” lives end in slaughter.

Unthinkable?  To us, maybe, but not to the myriad Korean dog farmers who must be persuaded and supported, step by slow step, to do other things for a living – so dogs might live too.  Think about those dog meat farms during South Korea’s Winter Olympics next month.  All that idealism and sportsmanship – side by side with horrific animal abuse.

Nor are donkeys, dogs and cats the only current victims. Asian tastes for animals or animal parts also encompass:
·       crushed lion bones -- used in tonics like “Tiger wine,” which is seen (with no supporting scientific evidence) as a cure or aphrodisiac.
·       pangolins – now considered “the most trafficked mammal on earth.”  Their scales are believed to have medicinal properties, while and their meat is a delicacy.
·       shark fins – used in soups once they’re obtained in the cruelest imaginable way: cutting off the fins, leaving defenseless sharks to slowly sink and drown.
·       rhino horns and elephant tusks – the former are used in traditional Asian medicine, and we know all about the latter.   

What to say about all this grand-scale animal abuse, except the obvious: “There’s so much more to be done on behalf of animals around the world.”

Bring back Bijou’s Law

Ever stand in the cashier line of a big-box pet store and watch the pet groomers at work?  I have, and it’s an unsettling sight: dogs on platforms tied so they can’t escape what’s going on; silent groomers having their way with the tethered animals; no warmth in evidence. 

Worse by far is when a pet dies or sustains a serious injury as a result of that grooming visit -- as happened at least three times over the Christmas holidays at the same Pet Smart store in Hunterdon County.  A Jan. 14 Times of Trenton editorial says it’s “Time to ask pet groomers to get licenses,” which seems like the least that should be done.

“Bijou’s Law” never made it through the state legislature in 2014.  It would have required groomers to pass an exam and businesses to provide specified grooming conditions, maintain an incident file and report annually to the state.

For the sakes of both the animals being groomed and the owners who trust groomers to “do no harm,” bring back Bijou’s Law – and pass it.


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  1. Gelatin is in so many foods in the US it's obscene and unnecessary as there are many products exactly the same but made without gelatin eg yogurt, fruit snacks, jellybeans - and don't forget to check your vitamins! So many "soft gel" capsules made from cheap gelatin when gelatin free capsules are readily available!

  2. jelly beans!? oh, please: say it ain't so!

    by definition, does gelatin come only from animals?