Tuesday, September 29, 2020

ACTIVISM

TAKE ACTION is GlobalAnimal.org's animal rights and activism section. Find ways to rescue pets, save farm animals and help endangered species, Plus, get the news on animal welfare laws and legislation and take part in petitions, if you like. Since animals do not have voices, people are roaring in their defense – and more and more, it's working.

‘Not Good Enough:’ USDA Backpedals Amid Legal Backlash

(ANIMAL NEWS/ANIMAL WELFARE) Earlier this month, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suddenly removed all animal welfare data from its website. The records document tens of thousands of animal welfare violations at an estimated 9,000 taxpayer-funded research labs, dog breeding operations, zoos, circuses, theme parks like SeaWorld, and other facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Several animal rights groups--which rely on the data for campaigning against animal testing, puppy mills, traveling animal shows, and other businesses--have protested the move, claiming it severely limits government transparency. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) have gone so far as filing lawsuits against the USDA over the data purge, alleging the organization's actions violate both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Now, after weeks of fierce criticism from lawmakers, activists, and the public, the agency has restored a minuscule fraction of the 17-year database, but several groups say the small reversal simply doesn't go far enough. Read on to learn more about the USDA's re-release of information and the related lawsuits. -- Global Animal

How Trump’s USDA Protects Animal Abusers

(ANIMAL NEWS/ANIMAL WELFARE) During last year's presidential election, the Humane Society Legislative Fund warned Donald Trump would be “a threat to animals everywhere.” Now, just weeks into his presidency, their warning appears to be coming true. On February 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quietly removed all animal welfare data from its website. This includes tens of thousands of inspection reports and enforcement records regarding the treatment of animals at an estimated 9,000 taxpayer-funded research laboratories, dog breeding operations/puppy mills, zoos, circuses, theme parks like SeaWorld, and other facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). These previously available records were frequently used by members of the public to monitor government regulation of animal welfare (i.e. to look up information regarding pet store or dog breeder violations, or expose animal cruelty violations at universities). While the government agency claims it revoked public access to the reports “based on our commitment to being transparent…and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals,” the move has drawn a significant amount of criticism from animal welfare and transparency activists who insist the public has the right to know how their tax dollars are spent. Although records will still be available through freedom-of-information requests, the HSUS maintains, “This action benefits no one, except facilities who have harmed animals and don’t want anyone to know.” Read on to learn how the HSUS is challenging the USDA's mass removal of animal welfare records, and sign the petition urging the agency to stop protecting animal abusers. -- Global Animal

SeaWorld’s Tilikum, Killer Whale From ‘Blackfish,’ Dies After Three Decades Of Misery

(ANIMAL NEWS/SEAWORLD) SeaWorld's main breeding whale, Tilikum, has sadly passed away at 36 years old after suffering from an ongoing bacterial lung infection. While male orcas have an average life span of 50 to 60 years in the wild, Tili's lifespan was cut nearly in half. After being involved in the deaths of three people (two trainers and one trespasser) at SeaWorld--including Dawn Brancheau in 2010, Tilly became the subject of the influential documentary Blackfish, rendering him the most (in)famous orca in the world. A prolific breeder, he sired more than 20 calves and was at the center of a controversial orca breeding program, which SeaWorld ended last year after receiving immense public backlash over Tilly's story. Tim Zimmerman, a producer of Blackfish, sums it up perfectly: "I think that's the most amazing thing that comes out of Tilikum's story...He killed three human beings. And yet when you learn about his life story, he does become the victim and you do sympathize with him." SeaWorld now has 22 orcas reamining at its three facilities--making this the last generation of killer whales held in captivity at its parks. However, many activivists believe the fight isn't over yet, and are urging SeaWorld to open their tanks to ocean sanctuaries. Continue reading for more on the circumstances of Tilikum's death, and learn how his story has forever changed the narrative surrounding aggressive behavior by captive orcas. -- Global Animal

Polarizing Views On Climate Change Pave Polar Bears’ Path To Decline

(POLAR BEARS/WILDLIFE CONSERVATION) While the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the Earth, polar ice caps are melting at a startling pace--which, as you can imagine, does not bode well for the world's polar bear populations. In fact, a 2015 assessment predicted a 30 percent decrease in the number of polar bears by 2050. But numbers aside, scientists are noticing other, more subtle indications that polar bears are at an increasing risk, including changes in their physical condition, size, reproduction, and survival rates. As the Arctic ice continues to shrink and the number of ice-free days increases, bears are also entering nearby villages, and interactions between bears and humans are becoming more common--putting both the bears and people at risk. There's no doubt the loss of sea ice is linked to the unregulated release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, yet climate change denialists claim the loss of ice does not pose a threat to the polar bears' survival. Read on to learn more about the plight of this endangered species, and click here for everyday ways to save polar bears from extinction. -- Global Animal

How Big Banks Are Making Rain Forests Pay The Price

(ENVIRONMENT/WILDLIFE CONSERVATION) With big banks like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs under fire for funding the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline project, many are becoming more aware of how major financial institutions influence habitat destruction, animal welfare, and climate change. Believe it or not, some of the world's largest banks have distributed more than $43 billion towards the expansion of palm oil plantation empires in Southeast Asia alone. Not to mention, more than a third of that sum results from American, European, and Japanese banks--with a number violating their own sustainability policies that specifically address deforestation. While there's a growing movement among financial institutions to move away from the fossil fuel industry, sadly a departure from deforestation is slower to catch on. Not only does deforestation displace indigenous communities and destroy ecosystems (the Bornean orangutan population has dropped a whopping 60 percent since 1950), it is also one of the biggest single contributors to global warming. And with palm oil now present in more than half of consumer packaged goods found in grocery stores, the market's increasing demand is threatening the existence of rain forests all around the world. Continue reading to learn more about how big banks are contributing to rain forest destruction, and learn how activists are working to save Indonesia's orangutan population. While you're at it, click here to see five ways you can help stop food companies from profiting off this devastating ingredient. -- Global Animal

Cruelty Comes At A Cost: New Cash In The UK Contains Surprise Animal Ingredient

(ANIMAL NEWS/VEGANISM) Vegans and vegetarians are voicing outrage after the Bank of England confirmed that the new 5 pound notes are made with tallow, a substance derived from animal fat. While thousands of products contain tallow (i.e. it's also used in candles and soaps), the widespread ingredient has many plant-based alternatives. A petition has been launched to remove the new note from circulation, and has already been signed by nearly 120,000 supporters. Read on to learn more about the public's response to the news, and sign the petition urging the Bank of England to cease their use of animal products in currency. -- Global Animal

Vet Travels 900 Miles To Help Horses At Standing Rock

(HORSES/ANIMAL ACTIVISM) The controversial multi-billion-dollar Dakota Access Pipeline project continues to make headlines as an estimated 10,000 protesters remain on prairie land, despite growing calls for them to move elsewhere. While danger to both protesters and law enforcement is ongoing, one veterinarian is providing help to the Sioux and their horses amid the chaos. After receiving a phone call from a horse caretaker at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, Charmian Wright, DVM, owner and operator of Mountain Horse Medical, raised funds for medical supplies via GoFundMe, and proceeded to drive the 900 miles from Park City, Utah, to Standing Rock, North Dakota. Given that all of the Sioux horses are well cared for, and none have been killed, Dr. Wright's main incentive was to teach horse caretakers and riders how to treat emergency injuries and assess potential illnesses. She has since returned home, but continues to raise funds for the Sioux. Read on to learn more about Dr. Wright's trip, and click here to donate to help Native Americans and their horses on the Sioux Reservation. -- Global Animal

Cruelty Isn’t Amusement: Six Flags Finally Faces The Elephant In The Room

(ELEPHANT RIDES/ANIMAL ATTRACTIONS) In another grand victory for elephants in California, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo--the last zoo in the U.S. to still offer elephant rides--has cut ties with abusive elephant company Have Trunk Will Travel, and will no longer force elephants to give rides to park visitors. The decision comes just weeks after TripAdvisor announced they will no longer sell tickets to cruel animal attractions like elephant rides, swimming with dolphins, etc., and Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that prohibits the use of abusive bullhooks to train elephants. In 2011, Animal Defenders International (ADI) caught Have Trunk Will Travel handlers on tape beating elephants into submission with bullhooks--weapons that resemble fireplace pokers with a sharp metal hook on one end--and shocking them with electric prods. After the investigation, ADI presented the footage to Six Flags in an attempt to urge them to cancel elephant rides along with their other exotic animal attractions, and luckily the years of pressure have finally paid off. Continue reading for more on Six Flags' decision, as well as Have Trunk Will Travel's lengthy history of animal abuse. While you're at it, click here to urge travel companies to stop promoting cruel elephant rides. -- Global Animal
Adoption helps save the lives of animals in need. Photo Credit: OlgaKay

Give Thanks For Animals: Fostering Pets

(ANIMAL SHELTERS/RESCUE PETS) Becoming a pet foster parent is a great way to help animals. It saves animals from overcrowded shelters, and allows the foster families the joy of caring for pets without the long-term commitment. Read on for a first hand account about fostering pets, and for a beginner's guide to animal fostering. — Global Animal

A Nightmare For Dolphins Shipped To The Desert For New Tourist Attraction

(MARINE PARKS/DOLPHINS IN CAPTIVITY) Despite growing public opposition to places like SeaWorld and Marineland, Dolphinaris Arizona--a new $20 million dolphin park near Scottsdale, Arizona--officially opened it doors on October 15. The tourist attraction currently features three captive dolphins and provides customers with the opportunity to pay hundreds of dollars for "interactive experiences" like swimming with the dolphins. Critics are concerned about the effect the desert climate will have on the animals, as it poses great risks to dolphins including respiratory infections due to excessive heat. And although the aquarium is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture, it will not be held to state-level regulations. While places like the National Aquarium in Baltimore are retiring their captive dolphins to a sea pen sanctuary, this new tourist attraction is a huge step backwards for marine animal welfare. Activists are particularly upset after the three live dolphins were recently shipped via FedEx from Hawaii to Arizona, yet Dolphin Quest maintains that it was perfectly safe and legal to do so. However, flying marine mammals in a jet across the ocean is potentially harmful to the animals. And sadly, this is how all captive dolphins are transported from one marine park to another. There's no denying captive dolphin programs take an immense toll on the health and well-being of the animals involved. As a result, dolphins in captivity often die well before their life expectancy in the wild. Read on to learn more about the Mexico-based Dolphinaris, and pledge to boycott all marine parks and swim-with-dolphins programs. -- Global Animal
Adoption helps save the lives of animals in need. Photo Credit: OlgaKay

October Is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month! Howl To Help Homeless Pets

(SHELTER PETS/ANIMAL ADOPTION) There's much more to celebrate this month than Halloween. October is designated as National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. During this month, the ASPCA hopes to raise awareness about shelter animals and promote involvement within the community—whether it's simply spreading the word or bringing a lovable dog into your home. To kick off the initiative, the ASPCA has launched #31DaysOfRescueDogs, a social media campaign to raise funds for homeless pets. By sharing photos of their shelter dogs at www.aspca.org/MyRescueDog, pet parents will enter for the chance to win prizes and have their photo featured on Animal Planet's Pit Bulls and Parolees. Participants must post one photo of their favorite rescue pet every day, and each post will encourage their friends to donate $1 a day. Users can visit www.aspca.org/31days to learn more and sign up. Read on to learn more about this month-long event and see how you can participate. — Global Animal

Heroes Of The Flood: How Two Vets Saved 33 Dogs In Louisiana

(ANIMAL RESCUE/NATURAL DISASTER RELIEF) Animal rescue efforts are still underway following the Great Flood of 2016. The Humane Society of Louisiana put out a call for help after the Louisiana floods devastated the Livingston Parish region. Dogs were found stranded on the roof of the flooded Denham Springs Animal Shelter, but luckily Dr. Liza Ledet and Ashley Geoghegan, two veterinarians from the Mandeville Animal Hospital, came to the rescue. The two vets and their staff members are being credited with saving the lives of more than 30 dogs rescued from the Louisiana floodwaters. This week, Jeff Dorson of the Humane Society of Louisiana thanked the dedicated vets by presenting them each with a special "Heroes of the Flood" award for their noble efforts. Not only did they save 33 animal lives, but they are also committed to caring for the animals--out-of-pocket---until they're adopted. "We had 17 dogs that were just rescued from the flood that needed immediate help, and who could help us,"Jeff Dorson said. "Their answers were, 'We can. Just bring them in and we'll figure it out.'" Thanks to Global Animal donors like you, so far we've distributed over $2,200 to help animals affected by the floods. Funds are being dispersed between the Humane Society of Louisiana (HSL) and Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge (CAABR) to assist with field rescue operations and sheltering services. Learn more about the Humane Society of Louisiana and the Mandeville Animal Hospital's flood relief efforts in the article and video clip below. -- Global Animal

Montreal’s New Breed-Specific Law Serves Death Sentence To Pit Bulls

(ANIMAL NEWS/PIT BULLS) CANADA -- This week, Montreal made the decision to ban the new ownership of pit bulls and similar dog breeds, which will go into effect across all 19 boroughs beginning October 3, 2016. The new breed-specific legislation outlaws any dog who resembles a pit bull--including American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and Staffordshire bull terriers--unless residents meet a strict set of guidelines. What's more, no dog who is considered a pit bull can be adopted from Montreal shelters either. Animal rescue groups have been working against the clock to find new homes for pit bull-type dogs currently in city shelters, focusing their search in western provinces that don't have such bans in place. But many question whether the city will be able to enforce the new law, claiming it may create a bigger problem than a solution as it will force residents to illegally hold dogs in violation of the ban. Support for these laws is based on the misconception that pit bulls are more aggressive than other dog breeds, but the truth is any dog breed can become dangerous when they're raised to be aggressive. Read on to learn more about how the public is responding to the ban, and see how you can take action at the links below. -- Global Animal

Flood Relief Donations: Helping Louisiana Out Of The Mud

(ANIMAL RESCUE/ACTIVISM) Last month, the United States witnessed the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy when prolonged rainfall and catastrophic flooding devastated parts of southern Louisiana. The historic and unprecedented event was quickly declared a state of emergency as it submerged thousands of homes and businesses, displacing thousands of residents and their pets. Fortunately, rescue organizations--both local and national--have banded together to help animals in need following the disaster. The Global Animal Foundation quickly distributed an initial $1,200 to aid first responders on the ground helping animals affected by the floods. Thanks to generous donors like you, we are thrilled to announce that we've sent another $1,000 from the Louisiana Flooding Relief Fund. -- Global Animal

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