Monthly Archives: May 2015

Guest Blogger, Mitch Rand (AnActs)

This is a speech that Mitch Rand will be delivering to a group of online activists:

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

My name is Mitch Rand, and I am the founder of AnActs Animal Activism News. Throughout my life as an animal activist, I’ve seen a lot of things; some good, and a lot of bad, but over the years, one lesson has been taught to me time and time again –

And that is that sometimes it sucks to be an animal activist. It feels like everyone and everything is against you. From the moment you decide that you want to help animals, people begin to throw out insults, saying things like, “you’re weird,” or “you must be one of those tree hugging hippies I heard about!” Other times they take a more “scientific” approach and begin to degrade everything you believe in with a thousand illogical, unsupported “facts” and opinions that they found somewhere on Google, or, better yet, Facebook. It’s amazing how people can be so blind to the real world… It makes you just want to sock them in the face.

Er, forget I said that. As a matter of fact forget I said anything at all about… their intelligence level… And… and don’t sock them in the face… That’s… not a good idea.

I know… It’s hard to keep from lashing out at the opposition with equal anger and hatred, but I’m here tonight to explain that it’s simply the only logical, (and ethical) thing to do.

There will always be people who try to defend the oppression of animals, and they will use any means they can to try and bend you to their whims. From hacking your social media account to harassing and bullying you and others who are trying to make a change,nothing is below the opposition. Nothing, and no one. That should include you.

But many times we try to argue, and get revenge. We see someone causing trouble and want to be the morally upright “police” coming to the rescue. We even have our own judicial system set up in our minds…

We think “Oh this person hurt this animal. Hurt him in the same way and see how he likes it!”

Or, “Anyone who ever dares to harm or injure an animal activist should be arrested, or even killed, on the spot!”

Yeah. We say things like that. And we think they’ll make things better, but in reality, they’re making the situation a whole lot worse.

By stooping down to the level of our moral opponents, we’re only making it more difficult to achieve our goals. By returning fire, that is, throwing back insults, arguments, and threats, we’re  giving our opponents a treasure trove of examples that could easily be used to degrade our character, beliefs, and motives. And it doesn’t just reflect upon us as a single person. It affects all animal activists.

“One rotten apple can spoil the bunch,” and one wrong move can push a goal further out of reach, even to the point of impossibility.

All because of a trivial battle fought for the sake of our egos.

And in the end, animals, the very souls we are trying to save, suffer because of us.

Arguing takes the focus off of the more important issues at hand, and in turn wastes valuable time, money, opportunities, and, worst of all, lives.

Yes. Lives.

While we are busy having a verbal duel with someone on the Internet, or at a local gathering, we could instead be doing something constructive, like campaigning for a change, signing a petition, or, better yet, going out and helping an animal ourselves. Just because you don’t act doesn’t mean someone else will, or can. The very definition of activism, according to dictionary.com is “the practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, and so on.” In other words, activism is something you participate in by working for a positive change. Insulting and threatening those who do not comply surely doesn’t fit into that description.

The fact is that by verbally fighting others over the correctness of our viewpoints, we expose their flaws by showing hatred and closed-mindedness- which are the very things that we as animal activists claim to be fighting against! We fall into the trap of contradicting ourselves, and in the process we are helping no one but the very people we are trying to prove wrong- and even they don’t get much out of it!

In fact, the only thing anyone every gained from a angry argument is a bad attitude and a cynical outlook on the world, and everyone in it.

I’ll readily agree that the ignorance of the human race can be extremely frustrating, but just because you are surrounded by shadows doesn’t mean that you can’t shine on your own. Stand for your beliefs, but don’t stand above them. The true meaning of activism is in the idea of promoting your cause before you promote yourself, and compassion, understanding, and a willingness to turn the other cheek. The touchstone of any successful animal activist is the simple ability to be the bigger person.

I am not, however, saying that we shouldn’t fight for what we believe in. If there is no action behind our words and ideas, then there is no meaning to them, either. All I am saying is that we should work for change constructively rather than destructively.

Constructive actions, such as lobbying for a new animal protection law, or donating to your favorite animal charity, are excellent ways to help the animal activism movement and prove your merits as one who works as a voice for the voiceless.

Destructive actions, such as engaging in a comment battle, calling someone ignorant, calling for capital punishment, and so on, only hurt the animal activism movement as a whole, and cast your own personal merits in a negative light.

I am here tonight to ask you to try and always work constructively, and to do all you can to help the cause, rather than hurt it. If you have trouble, as we all do, I want to close with a phrase to help you remember to be the bigger person.

It may be difficult sometimes, but no matter what, Don’t argue! Just act!

– Mitch Rand

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Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org
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Guest Bloggger, Abhimanyu Jain (merrywag.com)

Stray Animals. Creatures who instead of being in lovable homes are generally seen to be in a perpetual struggle for survival in the streets of, what must be to them, nightmarish and unnatural concrete jungles. Some of them have been abandoned, many have been born on the streets and know no other life.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

In India, stray animals generally consist of dogs and cats, and in some cases cows and buffaloes which can be seen roaming the streets. I first became truly aware of their plight when I started volunteering at an animal shelter. I’m not quite sure what prompted me to do that, perhaps it was the fact that I had a pet dog, or maybe it was the endless stream of videos, pictures and articles that talked about the abuse of animals going on in India and around the world. Whatever it was, I became far more aware of animal rights than I had ever been; and I jumped in to do my bit.

I was not quite prepared for what I experienced at the animal shelter. It was intense. You could go from hoping against all odds to feeling completely and utterly hopeless in a second. Many abandoned pedigreed dogs came in, labradors, German Shepherds, pomeranians, etc. A lot of them were abandoned police dogs, which left me appalled. They had served their communities, and were nothing less than heroes, and here they were left to die alone in their old age. Many of the other pedigreed dogs were there either because their owners wouldn’t or couldn’t meet their expenses. Sometimes the reasons were more frivolous, some were abandoned because they had outgrown their cuteness, sometimes their caretakers had no idea what keeping a pet meant, sometimes they had to move and the pet was just an inconvenience to be rid of.

Even so, pedigreed dogs had a better chance than Indies (also called Pariah dogs, dogs which are native to India) at adoption. The great colonial hangover has ensured that pedigreed dogs are a status symbol in India, prized possessions which indicate social status and wealth. They had a decent chance at adoption, especially if they were young. But due to this colonial hangover, our own Indies have long been seen as second class. The vast majority of the population is extremely reluctant to adopt them. This is despite the fact that they are extremely well acclimated to the Indian climate, they do not fall ill easily, they are hardy and live long and almost never suffer from any genetic problems, which is sometimes seen in purebred dogs due to inbreeding.

In India, there are approximately 30 million stray dogs and cats. There is a big increase in the number of man-animal conflicts due to 1) the increase in stray animal population and 2) Increasing urbanization which leads to an extremely high density of human population in cities. Animal birth control has been haphazard and uneven, with municipal bodies  incapable and/or unwilling to take on large scale programmes to reduce population of animals. The shelter I worked at was compensated for every sterilization they successfully undertook, which at least ensured that the animals that came in were sterilized. Some cities have seen relative improvement. Chennai and Jaipur were the first cities to start sustained ABC-AR programmes.

But one of the major pain points is the lack of enthusiasm among people when it comes to adopting Indies as pets. This was the reason why I started Merrywag.com. I had seen the success of petfinder in USA, and I felt that something like that was sorely needed in India to give pet adoptions, and especially adoption of Indies, an impetus; a place where people could come and see them for the truly amazing and loyal companions that they are.

Currently we are working with 16 Animal shelters who list pets up for adoption/fostering on the site, and they can make requests for donations too. Individuals and volunteers are also allowed to make submissions to the site. We also list all the happy endings, where pets have found forever homes.

Check us out at www.merrywag.com

You can mail us at admin@merrywag.com

Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/merrywag

Follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/merrywag

 Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

 

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Guest Blogger, Kim Young (wolfhaven.org)

Wolf Haven International, a sanctuary for displaced wolves, is located in Tenino, WA (south of the state capitol of Olympia). The sanctuary was founded in 1982 by Steve & Linda Kuntz, then a young couple with a small child, a “pet” wolf, and a dream to establish a place for otherwise homeless, captive-born wolves.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

 

Like many before them (and unfortunately, to this day), Steve & Linda quickly realized that a cute, young wolf pup does not translate into a tractable, well-behaved domestic animal. In all too many sad cases (estimated at 70%), captive bred, born and sold wolves (and wolfdogs) are euthanized by their second or third birthday, when they reach the age of sexual maturity. Fortunately for the 180+ animals who have been rescued  and given a lifetime home at Wolf Haven since 1982, the Kuntz’s opted not to go that route. Instead they took on the vastly more challenging vision of establishing a lifelong home for these animals who were never suited to be someone’s pet.

The art of deception

Over 12,000 visitors come to Wolf Haven annually to see, hear and learn about wolves. One of the most frequently asked questions is “Where do these wolves come from?” The surprising answer is that most of them are rescued from private ownership (yes, it’s legal in some places in the U.S.; illegal in others). Who can deny that almost any animal is cute when it is a baby (including opossums)? That little bundle of wolf pup looks like & acts so much like a puppy, right? The catch is that it took thousands of years for mankind to successfully domesticate dogs so that they would have characteristics that we humans like in our pets: tractability, friendliness, loyalty, affection.

Wolves, on the other hand, tend to possess characteristics that we are not fond of in our domestic animals: independence, indifference to human approval, shyness. Add amazing escape artist abilities (wolves can jump, dig, climb, run), jaw strength of 1500 pounds per square inch (twice that of a German Shepherd), and natural instincts to cover territory and chase prey, and it’s easy to understand why wolves purchased as cute young pups typically end up euthanized or chained for life. Even those with the absolutely best intentions are usually  unable to cope with the physical, emotional and psychological demands of maintaining a wild animal in captivity.

What about a nice compromise?

Nope, sorry, but a wolfdog (a cross between a wolf and a domestic dog) is not the answer. Hundreds and hundreds of breeds exist, so there isn’t any need to create something that really is neither fish nor fowl. Dogs have been domesticated so that they yearn for human contact and approval. Wolves avoid human contact and have no need to please people. What happens when you mix these opposing traits together – unpredictability. Genetics is a messy business, and regardless of what you might hear, it is not scientifically possible to predict behavior with any reliability. The wolfdog may be tractable and may not be. The wolfdog may stay in the backyard and not roam, but may not. The wolfdog may not instinctively chase prey (anything running, including a child) but on the other hand, just might follow this instinct.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

 

At our sanctuary

Wolf Haven currently has a handful of wolfdogs. We could easily fill our sanctuary with them, if that was our intention and space was available. That is not our mission, however; we need to keep our focus on wolves and their welfare, both those born in captivity and those born in the wild. In an ideal world, there would be no need for a sanctuary for displaced, captive-born wolves. As long as people succumb to the desire to force a human relationship on wild animals, though, Wolf Haven and other sanctuaries will exist to take them when the animals outlive their usefulness. Here, the animal is placed in an enclosure with a companion animal of the opposite sex. They are given excellent medical attention, quality food, enrichment items to keep them stimulated and left alone to be what they want to be – themselves.

There are currently 51 animals living at Wolf Haven and the majority of them are not seen by the public nor even by non-animal care staff. Wolves prefer it this way, and we make all decisions based on what is in their best welfare. Sanctuary tours are available, however, for small groups of people, who follow guidelines and behave as guests in the wolves’ home. During a 50 minute tour, a visitor can usually see a gray wolf, wolfdog, coyote and two types of endangered wolf species, the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf. I say “usually” because the animals are free to place themselves wherever they want inside their enclosure, whether that is the back part or up close near the fence-line. The best times to come for a tour are in the morning, during winter, and in cool or inclement weather. The iffiest time to see a wolf is on a hot summer afternoon. Just like other mammals, on a hot day, a wolf is more likely to kick back and relax under a shady tree in the back.

Contact us & get involved

On June 1, 2015, Wolf Haven will begin offering our guests the ability to schedule a sanctuary visit through a reservation system. Guests will either log onto our website or make a simple phone call to reserve the date and time of their visit. This preregistration system will allow our guests, staff and volunteers to better plan and manage sanctuary visits. Not only will this ultimately be better for the wolves (who prefer predictability and routine), it will be more convenient for our guests as well.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

We love talking about wolves, whether it is on a tour of our sanctuary, in our education center or at an outreach event. In addition to western Washington, Wolf Haven has outreach educators at various times of the year located in Arizona, Portland, Oregon and Southern California. If you’d like to get more information about Wolf Haven, please visit our website at wolfhaven.org, or call us at 360.264.HOWL [4695].

Our education department can be reached at http://www.wolfhaven.org/educational-programs or 360.264.4695 x219.

And of course, we can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and Tumblr.

Regardless of whether you are able to visit Wolf Haven physically or have someone from Wolf Haven visit you, please get involved and stay involved in wolf issues.  Sign up for our wolf alerts, newsletters and other wolf news at http://bit.ly/1JVqBI1.

You just might make a difference in a wolf’s life.

– Kim Young
   Director of Communications
   Wolf Haven International

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

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Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

All sentient beings deserved kindness and compassion.   Today, and always, keep in mind the four-legged Moms that are not given the opportunity to have their young by their side, lose their life before their young are grown, have their freedom, receive compassion, and/or be provided the basic care and consideration that ALL living beings are entitled to.
Do what you can, when you can – it matters.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

Before I was a Mom –
I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed. I brushed my hair and my teeth every day.

Before I was a Mom 
I cleaned my house each day. I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn’t worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom –
I had never been puked on – Pooped on – Spit on – Chewed on, or Peed on. I had complete control of my mind and My thoughts. I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom –
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests…or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom –
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn’t want to put it down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn’t stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life
so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom –
I didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn’t know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn’t know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn’t know that something so small could make me feel so important.

Before I was a Mom –
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known the warmth, The joy, The love, The heartache, The wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.

– author unknown

Happy Mother’s Day to those incredible women who went from before they were a Mom, to well, being a Mom.
We wouldn’t be here without you. xo

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

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Guest Blogger, Casey Payne (gandhiearthkeepers.org)

Our species clings to the concept of ‘Human’ because it provides an easy, relaxing and affordable sensation of superiority over other sentient beings. But the schism between human and animal (we share 98% genetic similarity with chimpanzees) is not only artificial but dysfunctional. Calling a pig that has been kidnapped, tortured, slaughtered, packaged and consumed after being grilled over burning coals a “hot dog,” for instance, stems from the same ego driven attitude that produces racism, bigotry, classism, elitism and warfare. In order to treat a pig so miserably, it must be viewed as an inferior creature. Likewise, when soldiers torture, they often resort to pulling hoods over their victims’ heads, stripping their clothes off and stealing their nametags. All the assassin knows for sure about their victim is that they are expendable. The less they know about their true personhood the better.

Relating this ugly sociological fact to the incomprehensible plight of non-human animals, it is known that each and every day millions of cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and fish are murdered in dark, cold, sound-proofed death chambers in the name of political and cultural duty. Even the weapons used in so-called “factory” farming are eerily similar to the ones used in military combat. It seems at times the tactics and strategies employed in the slaughterhouses can be much more gruesome than the ones experienced on the battlefield. In both cases, the assassin does not want to know anything meaningful about their victim. They do not want to know their hopes and enjoyments. And they certainly do not want to know if they were loved. They need to not want anything of value from them at all. This is one of the hallmark signs of power: the ability to not care if or how someone dies. How many hunters and butchers stop to think about a pig’s family, consider its’ memories, or contemplate its’ favorite spot in the sty? How many employees in slaughterhouses think about the preferences of cows or try to ponder the intrinsic joy of being a sheep? Before the ax falls, the arrow flies, the needle plunges, and the stun gun fires its deadly shock, who stops to ask themselves if they would want this heinous act done to their mother, husband, best friend, or child? Perhaps Nietzsche was right when he said, “Man is the cruelest animal.”

And how do millions of consumers turn their moral attention away from the nameless creatures in those genocides that never make the evening news? As soldiers dehumanize their enemy by using derogatory names such as Jap, Kraut, Commie, Infidel, and Terrorist, consumers invent euphemisms such as ‘Big Mac’ and ‘ Sirloin,’ objectifications like “wings,” “thighs,” and ‘breasts,’ and even slurs like “Bessie,”  “hog,” ‘dumb ass,’ and “Billy Goat.” For without these linguistic acts of self-deception, it would be literally impossible to stomach the tragedy.

IMG_20150113_023125

George Payne is the founder and director of Gandhi Earth Keepers International in Rochester, NY.

Visit www.gandhiearthkeepers.org

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Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

 

 

 

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Guest Blogger, Orla Mannion

Preface:  just-do-something.org was introduced to Orla Mannion via LinkedIn, when someone else mentioned this particular Blog, below.  It touched me, as so many writings do, and I reached out to Orla asking if we could post her blog on our website.  

When I first created this blog, I had plenty of ideas in mind as to what I wanted to write about. Politics, current affairs, travelling, recipes, the environment, animals, magic – and these are all things I still want to write about. But what has really pushed me into finally writing something today, to reach out in some medium or form, is a picture I just saw on a social media site.

It’s a picture of two cows, comforting one another, before being put to slaughter.

It has moved me, shaken me, and sickened me to my core all at once. It has reminded me why I have given up eating meat, while in the recent past having considered myself to be something of a hefty carnivore.

While still what I’d call a fledgling vegetarian, and still relapsing occasionally by eating chicken or fish (although these occasions become evermore infrequent), I have not eaten beef or pork for at least the past five months.*(Quick edit: I am now a fully fledged vegetarian, working my way towards becoming a vegan, having almost totally cut down on dairy intake. Next step, eggs! And the whole thing is surprisingly easy!) And every time I want to revert, every time I begin to feel lazy with it, or begin to allow myself to normalise the idea of eating meat again, I am exposed to something that awakens inside me this horror, this absolute bone deep despair, this anger; something that brings it all home again. And this time, it was the picture of two cows looking deep into each others eyes, offering comfort to each other over something that we will never understand and will always be excluded to, showing in them a depth of emotion that we repeatedly fail to acknowledge.

Why are we so cruel? So shamelessly callous and purposefully oblivious to our obvious shortfalls, as human beings, where we allow ourselves to be surrounded and tainted by suffering. As human beings, we owe a duty of care to the animals we consume. Contrary to popular belief, the meat you buy in a supermarket does not arrive there straight from a factory, all cellophane wrapped and ready for easy consumption. That meat you’re eating was a someone, not a something. It had emotions, feelings, relationships with other animals, possibly people, given the opportunity. Cows are known to be highly sensitive and loving, with pigs being highly intelligent and clean and affectionate. I even learnt the other day that it’s possible to litter train pigs, just like cats.

We have this attitude concerning meat, this highly addicted and brainwashed attitude, that seems to create a guilt free pass to blissfully consume meat the way we do, to treat animals the way we do, that allows for them to arrive on our plate in a manner that doesn’t stimulate our thoughts to generate anything beyond what is right in front of us. Animals are given such little respect, treated so horribly, regarded as a product, rather than the living, sentient beings that they are.

People don’t like to look at the reality. But if you’re brave enough to open your eyes to understand fully the meat on your plate, and you decide to open your heart and begin to care, even a little, you’re more than likely going to end up having it broken. But the alternative is far worse, where you decide to be blind yourself and ignore the atrocities that are so commonplace around us, where the reality is that it continues and we all play a role in it. If everyone turns their back, or pretends not to see for the sake of protecting their sensibilities, nothing will ever change. I believe, that maybe in a 100 years time, people will look back and shake their heads in disbelief at how foolish, wasteful and cruel our generation has been. At least, I hope it does.

I have written this with tears of frustration. When I see photos like that, I feel like jumping up and down, like standing on some podium and shouting to the world to educate itself and change it’s ways, that we cannot sustain what we have abused for so long. And then I feel claustrophobic with horror, by the simple fact that so few people seem to care. I get this constant surge of emotion, where I want everyone to see and understand what is so relevant to all of us, what is so REAL. Just because they don’t have a voice, does not mean that we shouldn’t listen, or that we have the right to be complacent. Somewhere in the world, right now, there are new born baby calf’s being torn away from their mothers. Mothers taken immediately to give their baby’s milk to a machine. Bulls slaughtered. There are calf’ being locked in small dark spaces where they can’t move so their muscles are lean and soft (veal), there are pigs lying on dirty concrete floors giving birth to the next stock of meat, there are animals brought to slaughter houses, after leading horrendous lives; scared, afraid, distraught, lonely, and confused.

Maybe the worst thing about that photo for me was that the cows weren’t confused. They knew exactly what was going to happen, and had already quietly accepted that and were now awaiting their sentence, gently offering each other comfort in their final moments, as friends.

I just WISH the world would wake up. Realise what we are doing, and what we continue to fail in stopping. I just wish the world was a better place. Filled with people who cared more, who felt more, who saw more. People who would THINK more, and were just generally better human beings.

I just wish that more people we’re trying make a difference.

If anyone decides to read this and wants to see the photo, here it is:

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

 

– My name is Órla, I’m a nineteen year old student studying Economics, Politics and Law in DCU, a University in Dublin. I live in the countryside and have four rescue cats, a rescue dog and rescue chickens! 

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

Connect with Órla on Twitter! And follow her on her Blog

 

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.org

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