Caution – Rant Ahead

Do any of you remember when I wrote about Marius, the giraffe in the Copenhagen Zoo that was killed when he was only 2 years old because he was deemed to be “surplus” If not, I urge you to click on this link for a refresher. If you don’t have the time to read the full article, here’s the short and sweet version: The Copenhagen Zoo encouraged their giraffes to breed…lo and behold Marius was brought into the world. However, after zoo doctors found Marius’ genes to be too common (common, not inbred) for breeding, they shot him in the head, dissected him in front of a crowd (of mostly children) and fed his meat to lions. Who cares that nearby wildlife parks offered to take him off their hands? Who cares that there was a public outcry? Who cares that it seems hypocritical that a breeding program would decrease the population of a species it is trying to save? And what about the four lions who ended up feasting on Marius’ remains — which included two young cubs — this same zoo killed them not long after they offed Marius, because they had to make room for just one incoming alpha male?

Who cares about those trivial little questions? Well, let’s just move on to what’s going on at the Copenhagen Zoo NOW, shall we? Oh look, a brand new baby giraffe was just born there (in September 2016). Yes, you read that correctly. A mere two years after one giraffe was killed because he was a “surplus animal” the zoo breeds another of the exact same animal. You’d think this means that they have their surplus problem all figured out and this latest birth is guaranteed a long, healthy life. You would think that, but you’d be wrong. As a spokesman for the zoo states, there’s no guarantee that this new baby giraffe won’t end up with the same fate as Marius. They’re admitting that, yeah, they might kill this one off as well if things don’t work out the way they want them to.

But that may not happen. This giraffe might make it to the ripe old age or 3, 4, maybe even 5! It just won’t be at the Copenhagen Zoo. When the little guy hits 2 years old he might get shipped off to another zoo like a product ordered off Amazon. Although that’s not a guarantee.

Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that there are some zoos that do a great job at saving endangered animals, but it’s a Catch-22 because most zoos, as they are now, are simply not great for the animals. They’re having success in breeding, but look at what the animals are being bred into. They’re pretty much led straight from the womb to a guillotine. You might say this cycle of systematic culling is simply a European practice I cannot abide, but it’s not. Zoos right here in the US regularly sell surplus animals or euthanize them. Which begs the important question, why? Why breed so-called surplus animals in the first place?

Okay, yes, strides for bettering the treatment of animals are being made. Take circuses for examples. Their animal acts, if not wholly banned, are much more tightly regulated now than in the past. However, Barnum & Bailey just sent their elephants to a “sanctuary” that also happens to run experiments on the animals in the name of science (cancer research). So, while they’re not chained to posts or crammed into claustrophobic train cars or forced to do stupid acts for a crowd, did they really win? Who knows the extent of the research they are subjected to. All I know is that the phrase “testing on animals” rarely means something good is going on. While perhaps the research facility may not be a house of horrors, I can’t imagine it’s as good as living on an actual sanctuary where they have nothing to do but eat, sleep, and be all elephant-y.

Barnum & Bailey got rid of their big cat act, too. Don’t applaud just yet. In an effort to make a final buck on these animals, they’ve been sold to other circuses and events who DO still perform animal acts. God knows what their living conditions will be. So, it’s really just trading one set of terrible owners for another. What gets me is that with all the millions of dollars Barnum & Bailey have made off these animals, they could at least have given them a proper retirement. It’d be a nice way to say, “thanks for making it through the years of abuse.”  But no. Instead, the circus, yet another greedy corporation, milked every last penny they could out of their elephants and tigers, their well-being be damned.

Say what you will about their diet and environments, but animals in captivity are just that, captive prisoners. When humans decide to interfere with wildlife to such a degree that the animals are entirely dependent, with their very existence depending on the whims of bureaucratic policy, whether it’s a circus or a zoo, then those humans have a solemn responsibility to those animals – their lives should not come down to being deliberately bred into “surplus” only to be cut short or being exploited for a lifetime only to be sold into yet another version of servitude.

At what point are they allowed to simply be a lion, a giraffe, an elephant? By the looks of it, in many cases, the answer is never. To me, that is just an unacceptable answer.

So You Got a Dog

Okay, so you guys have had a free pass from my rants for far too long. Brace yourselves. What brings this one on, you ask?  Well, long story short – dogs.

I saw an ad for a dog someone is trying to rehome for $100. The dog has been with the family for a little over a year. Supposedly he came to them neglected and abused and they had wanted to provide him a forever home. But, BUT, now he’s just too much. Too active for their busy schedules. You know how things go. Oh, he’s a great dog.  Doesn’t mess in the house, doesn’t need to be crated any more, excellent with kids, presumably up to date on his shots, etc. Great dog. Simply a great dog. It’s just he no longer fits into the scheme of things for their family. You know how things go. Shit happens.

So after writing this wonderful ad for him online and posting it on several different boards along with the requisite adorable (and he is adorable) photos and receiving numerous comments of “Oh he’s wonderful…” and “I’d like to have him, but…” and “Check out this rescue if you can’t find a home…” and “I’d like to visit him…” and “I would love to have him…” and the like, the owner responds somewhere in-between: “He’s such a sweetheart. I don’t know. Going back and forth on whether or not to just keep him. I can always just get rid of him later if it still doesn’t work out.” With a cute little smiley face emoticon and everything. Seriously, what the hell?

Either you want the dog or not. I mean for God’s sake. Is he a family member or not? Is he too much? Or is he great? Does he fit into your schedule or can you make time?  Yes, yes, it’s a big decision, I know, I know. But for fuck’s sake, MAKE IT. Make the decision instead of leaving this dog’s life in limbo, because sure as anything if you decide he’s great now you’ll keep him, and next week he’ll suddenly be “too much” again, and here we go, back up on the online local town boards.

And this, folks, these people who can’t figure out that an animal is a sentient being, a pet that should be a family member, this is what drove me to advocacy. Sure, the dog’s not being abused, but how much do you want to bet she does a home check on the next new family?  I wouldn’t take that bet.  So who knows where he’ll end up?

Things change and life happens and sometimes you have to rehome a pet. I try not to judge. But what I AM judging is the flippant attitude of “do I want him or don’t I?”  I mean, she might as well flip a coin at the rate she’s going. At least then the dog would have a chance.

Complimentary Insults

Are you familiar with “blocking” on Facebook? It’s a special filter you can set up on your profile that can, as Facebook works it, “prevent them [certain people you choose] from seeing things you post on your profile, starting conversations with you or adding you as a friend.” Normally, blocking happens when someone gets super pissed off at someone else. It’s a pretty severe move.

I can count on two fingers just how many times I’ve been blocked on Facebook, which I do like to pat myself on the back for just a little. It means I’m “playing nice” for the most part, or at least not angering others enough that they starting trying to do social media’s version of Eternal Sunshine. Overall, it’s an indicator that you like me, you really, really like me…sorry, channeling a little Sally Field there a minute. At any rate, just so you know, I can play well with others (gasp! It’s a shock, I know.) and generally endeavor to do just that.

I found out that blocking isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, though. The first person who ever blocked me was a now ex-in-law who was really better off blocked anyway. That particular instance of childlike behavior (and not on my part) made for a very welcome respite in my life that I have enjoyed ever since.

But recently, I got blocked a second time and this one isn’t going down so smoothly. Oh, I won’t dwell on it for long and the so-called punishment is not likely to change my behavior. However, it did have me shaking my head.

The person who blocked me is someone I thought I knew well – as well as you can know someone you’re only friends with online (and yes, online friends are still friends). We were more than just casual acquaintances even if our conversations were limited to text and emails. In fact, I had supported her through numerous “life is crazier than fiction” issues over the past two years.  I was there for her through a neighborhood bullying problem that got so bad she had to move out of the home she had just moved into only a few months before. I gave her a shoulder to lean on when her pets died. More importantly I stayed true to her when she was blindsided with a completely unexpected divorce.

After being there for her through all that—personal turmoil, death, the disintegration of a marriage—this person blocked me on Facebook. Do you want to know why? The reason she blocked me was over…wait for it…rehoming fees for pets.

You heard me right. Rehoming fees. I’m not using slang that you’ve never heard of. I’m talking about rehoming fees as in “an amount asked for by a pet owner or rescuer when they are adopting or readopting a pet to a home.”

Before going any further, let me say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it’s what makes the world go round. But, is it too much to ask that opinions are formed after doing a decent amount of research and communicating with experts who have been in rescue or in the field doing investigations? I’m sorry but if you’re not going to put in the effort to understand why you have a certain stance, if you’re basing your opinion on nothing more than air, you put animals at risk and that frankly, is unacceptable. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Well, you would be wrong.

You might think that because I am a) pretty passionate about animal welfare and b) able to be a teensy bit hot-headed when I’m on a good rant, that I was rude or sarcastic when arguing my case to this former friend. Fair enough. But you’ll be happy to know that that wasn’t the case in this instance.

I coolly and calmly provided my friend with verified information, links, research, and encouraged the person to write her paper — which was her intent for this whole mess — on the truth, rather than simply stick to her baseless opinion out of stubbornness. I won’t even get into the fact that she started claiming industry experts were of the same opinion as her (not saying I’m always right, but…) which was purely and simply a falsehood.  I gave her a good out, but she didn’t take it. Instead, she labeled me an “activist” of the wood boring variety (because I came out of the woodwork just to argue – ha!)  and summarily blocked me, giving me no chance to respond to her ridiculous claims. Isn’t that always the way?

And you know what, I’m okay with that. Oh, I’m not an activist.  But I don’t necessarily consider it the horrendous and belittling insult she meant it as either.  What I am is an advocate.  Hell, I’m proud to be an advocate. Her attitude towards me doesn’t change the truth or skew any of the concrete facts. She can keep her faulty beliefs and maybe one day she’ll be unable to avoid the fact that she’s telling a lie. God help the animals who get hurt in the process though.

And seriously, in hindsight, maybe this whole “being nice” thing is just too damn overrated.

 

common sense

Idiot Hunter (No, Not That One)

I know I rant a lot about trophy hunters, but the subject fires me up, so bear (pun!) with me because my blood is boiling yet again from the actions of another bloodthirsty member of the human race.

By now I think we’ve all heard about the killing of Cecil the lion by the fearsome loathsome Minnesota dentist who lured the lion out of his protected area so he could be slaughtered. I’m not going into that. I have someone else I want to talk about.

If you haven’t heard of Sabrina Corgatelli, well, she’s a piece of work. Her hunting philosophy is so riddled with holes you’d think that she hunted it herself.  She’s been jumped on by quite a few people due to her outrageous activities, so she felt the need to defend herself. The article about her “defense” can be found here and, wow, is she delusional. So delusional in fact I don’t even know if she is of sound enough mind to even own a firearm.

Let’s go through my top three complaints with her hunting philosophy:

1) As she says, “…giraffes are very dangerous animals. They could hurt you seriously very quickly.” Yup, that’s always been something that’s kept me up at night. How many kids in Africa are killed each year on their way to school because a horde of maniacal giraffes decided to go on yet another one of their notorious murderous rampages? Sharks, velociraptors, king cobras. They’re child’s play compared to what we all know about giraffes. I guess that’s why they have such thick glass at the zoos we all visit. These homicidal beasts that attack without provocation must be eliminated before they can cause more harm to the human race! Please, Sabrina, end their tyranny over the African savannah once and for all. What a load of BS. I’m sure they could hurt you. Hell, most anything could hurt you. But outside of leaves on tall trees, I’ve never heard of anything being terrified of a giraffe.

2) Quoting the Bible was one of her go-tos. Now, I’m not anti-religion at all. Please don’t think I’m speaking down at the Bible. I’m just not so sure that a passage from Genesis should be taken so literally. Besides, even if it is taken literally, it doesn’t even say that we should be hunting for fun. In fact, it very clearly states that hunting should only be used for survival purposes. “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” “…go out to the field and hunt game for me.” I have a tough time believing that it was hunger that drove Sabrina to kill a giraffe, an impala, and a wildebeest. She’s never heard of Safeway? Until I see photographs of her eating every last morsel of meat off that giraffe I’m calling B.S. on her Bible excuse.

3) Last but not least, check out the caption for her one photo: “My Impala I got today!! What a beautiful animal!” So beautiful that it’s gotta be removed from the planet!? How does this make sense? Does her brain seriously work in a way where when she sees something “beautiful” the first thought that follows is how great it would be to erase it from existence? That’s like finding a never before seen Monet painting and immediately burning it. Why? Because it’s beautiful! Was the impala butt ugly when it was alive and only death released its beauty? I simply don’t understand how beauty and death go hand in hand. Or more importantly, how beauty and life DON’T go hand in hand for her.

She also claims that she respects the animals she kills. What the hell? I respect a great deal of people. I don’t think I’ll be killing any of them. In my mind killing is the ultimate form of disrespect you can perpetrate on another living being, animals included. How exactly is killing something showing respect? Exactly how does that make sense? Go into work tomorrow and tell your boss, “Why yes, I have the utmost respect for you sir, so I’ll be shooting you with a high-powered rifle while you enjoy your lunch today. Because I respect you so much. Oh, and you’re beautiful. You’re just so beautiful and I respect you. So you must die.”  Why not just be honest with yourself and say you enjoy killing for killing’s sake? Which is what it all boils down to…

Long story short, Sabrina is an idiot. Why? Besides what I already wrote above, this quote from Sir Roger Moore (a man whom I respect, but will not attempt to kill) says it best:

“In a world with boundless opportunities for amusement, it’s detestable that anyone would choose to get thrills from killing others who ask for nothing from life but the chance to remain alive.”

If only everyone shared this view.

Of Haunting Images and Hope

Okay, so time for a more serious post.  I hope you’ll stick with me long enough to read this one through.

I’m sure everyone has seen those horrific photos on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet. The ones that show an animal starving or abused or neglected.  They’re horrendous and just who the hell wants to see them anyway?  Ye Gads, once they’re seen it’s difficult if not impossible to un-see them.  It just ruins a person’s day (I had someone tell me that once).  Honestly, I understand just where those people are coming from.  I hate the photos for the very same reasons.  I’ve always had a problem with getting images out of my head.  Some people can’t stand to see horrible things, but I take it further in that once I see something horrific or disturbing, I can’t seem to get rid of the image…ever.  It stays with me, in my head, and pops back up at the oddest and most inopportune times.   Of course, it’s the emotion that is behind the image that stays with me….but it is the visual that truly haunts me. Forever. It’s like a kind of demented eidetic memory.

But you know what?  These photos are necessary.  It’s easy to say “I know what happens; I don’t need to see it.”  That really isn’t true though is it?  I mean, being told “that dog was starved to death,” isn’t nearly as moving as seeing a dog that had been starved to death. Sometimes words just aren’t enough.  And of course that’s what makes people so angry….the photos hurt their heart.

I support the fight against animal cruelty in all forms but I especially work towards ending horse slaughter.  It’s such a needless and inhumane business.  And I know that by supporting animal advocacy groups I’m helping to keep animals from being exploited and slaughtered and I realize that raising awareness is the key to change.  But I’ve often wondered if I can continue to deal with the constant horrific images floating around in my head and in my heart.

I had a revelation one night and it came, as they usually do I guess, through a dream. I dreamed of watching a horse slaughter transport truck go down the highway from a spot high above on a rocky hill, and seeing a horse, a splendid fawn colored, spotted horse, falling out of the truck thru a gap at the top of the side wall.  In real life, this would of course be physically impossible…but then…this was a dream.  And in my dream, the truck was so completely overloaded that it caused her to fall out, to basically be forcibly shoved out through a small gap in the sidewall of the truck.  In my dream I sat there gasping in horror as the horse fell completely out of the truck. I was just sure it was dead because there was no way it could survive the fall, let alone make it off the busy highway without being hit. Instead, to my absolute delight, it ran across the highway and up the hill where I was sitting. It came to my vehicle and leaned down to look in the open window as if to talk to me. I looked into its sensitive eyes and face, knowing that it was free of the horrors that had awaited it, that it had escaped, and I was inspired by the hope I saw there. I awoke with this amazingly beautiful image in my mind.

And that, people, is the image that will be sticking with me from now on, regardless of anything else that I might see. That horse, that one magnificent horse, can turn into hundreds and into thousands and then tens of thousands of horses that are saved from future slaughter, from future horrors that they do not deserve. That image of hope in her soulful eyes, of future, and of survival moved me far more than the horrific pictures I’ve seen.

It moved me more because that horse represents everything animal advocates, myself included, work towards.  Her heroic escape from an overloaded truck headed for a slaughter-house, gallant run to safety, and entrance into freedom represents a journey.  It is a journey that we must all take to stand up for the rights of animals who cannot stand up for themselves.  It is a journey that requires facing our fears and standing up to evil itself.  It is a journey of hope and hope is what gives us all the strength to fight animal cruelty every day.  Hope is so much stronger than evil.  Hope can move mountains and save horses.

 

 

Because Animals Matter

‘Tis the season for giving, sharing, and spreading goodwill to your fellow Man. There’s so much that you can do. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Give old clothes to the Salvation Army. Work a phone for a telethon. Heck, even dropping a little extra change into a homeless person’s cup makes a difference. The options for how you choose to make the world better are endless. You can donate to leukemia research, drive recovering addicts to their AA meetings, and on and on and on.

I commend and applaud you on whatever avenue of compassion you go down and hope that it fills your heart with joy, but I am also begging and pleading that you please not forget the abused and downtrodden animals in the world.

You could be asking yourself, why should I care about dogs and cats and horses and cows when there are so many humans out there in need? That’s a more than fair question. I can only really tell you from my own personal experience what giving to the world of animal advocacy has done. I care deeply and intensely about animals (anyone who’s even semi-regular to this blog just gave their computer screen a “no duh” look).  Animal cruelty is something I will fight against until my last breath — because for as many people as there are who treat animals humanely, there are an equal number of people (if not more) out there who have no qualms about spreading cruelty and pain.

I feel that to be able to call our society civilized, modern, and advanced, we should try to put a stop to all forms of barbarism to the beautiful and unique creatures we share a home with. Dog fighting, trophy hunting, safari adventures with tranquilized or tamed prey, fur farms, unregulated factory farming, canned hunting, etc., etc. I have to say, the list of ways man has invented to destroy other living beings just speaks volumes about how positively sophisticated our species has become, don’t you think? By allowing these forms of torture, we are teaching our children a gravely flawed principle that we, as humans, own the earth and everything on it, which is simply not true. We share this planet and should take a stand to stop those who are all too willing to simply exterminate anything and everything in order to assert this premise.

I already know what some of you are thinking. You may think it’s stupid to care about animals when we have other issues such as wars and murder that are depleting the numbers of our own species. You could be thinking my priorities are way out of line because I’m advocating for wild horses rather than abolishing the lethal injection. And that’s fine. You have your priorities and I have mine.  I actually have several varying priorities and opinions in fact, on a number of issues, like many people. Not all of them are always addressed here. But there’s no harm in using my blog to perhaps raise a little awareness in some of the things I find to be important, right?   

My feeling, as for so many advocates, is: if we don’t speak out for these creatures, who will? They have no voice of their own. Someone must speak out on their behalf. Someone must take a stand and say enough!

You don’t have to care about a wild horse or a deer as much as I do. You don’t have to denounce your own equally valid agenda in order to save an owl’s forest. Sadly, cruelty and injustice come in so many forms, be it directed at other people or animals. Unfortunately there’s more than enough to go around. How you choose to combat the evil is up to you, so long as you do something that says, “Hey, let’s try and not make things any worse, okay?”

MLK Animal Quote

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ghandi animal quote

Mahatma Gandhi

Horse Rescuers — the Oft Lonely Advocates

I love, love, love to see advocates share the love like this writer! I know…that’s a lot of “loves.” But, too often there is divisive behavior that hurts the cause and ultimately hurts the animals. I think it’s great when people can be a voice for a cause — whether they’re at an event in person or just in spirit. We ALL count, we ALL matter and we ALL make a difference. So I say thank you to every advocate out there. You’re all doing a bang-up job!!

Equine Preservation of North America -EPONA

Many devoted animal advocates often attend events and demonstrations that support the cause we’re all backing and we cannot thank you enough! It may be as a part of a strong picket line or a peaceful protest outside a political office, or the storefront of a place that supports inhumane treatment of animals. These activists have the amazingly powerful ability to get together, swap stories, meet each other, and engage earnestly with other members of their like-minded community. They give much needed support to each other and are alleviated of any fear of isolation by being reassured that there are many others who feel just as strongly about the cause as they do. There is a group all too often unable to attend such events but who nonetheless are just as adamant in their stance for animal rights. Of course we’re talking about horse rescues.

become a gift to others and you will always be well received

The people who run horse…

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