|FFA Parade Float
The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (Section 30-4-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws) clearly states in part in their preamble that:
"..it is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner …"
But, despite the importance of an open government, a new law passed in June 2012 known as the Farm Animal and Research Protection Act gives the State Veterinarian complete control to exempt all records in their possession from public view.
The Farm Animal and Research Protection Act, which was introduced by Senator Daniel Verdin, states that all information prepared or in possession of the State Veterinarian is exempt from disclosure unless disclosure is necessary to prevent the spread of animal disease or to protect public health.
I wondered if protecting State Veterinarian records was an industry standard or perhaps South Carolina was just now catching up. But, after researching every state's guidelines, I discovered there are only eight states that have similar exemptions.
Who is this Senator Verdin and why does he care so much about keeping State Veterinarian records a secret? Does his background give insight into his bill proposals and voting habits? Senator Verdin is the son of a veterinarian and the owner of Verdin's Farm and Garden Center. He was named Legislator of the year by the SC Veterinarian Association in 2006 and by the SC Farm Bureau in 2007, and served as the Agriculture and Natural Resources Adviser in 87-80 and currently serves as the Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. He was also awarded the highest and most prestigious award from the Future Farmers of America—the "Honorary American FFA degree".
Other laws or amendments the Senator is sponsoring or has sponsored include making sure the South Carolina SPCA or any other organization organized for the same purpose has no arrest powers under the state's Animal Cruelty Act; making the agritourism business completely free of liability for any injuries or death by participants and amending the Livestock and Poultry Regulations to prohibit local governments from passing laws to protect poultry. You can search Senator Verdin's sponsored bills and voting record online.
Laws such as the Farm Animal and Research Protection Act do little to protect animals. Denying access to the public records only furthers the potential for abuse to the animals as there is no way to know what is happening to the monkeys that are coming into the state. Are they going to zoos, being sold to the public or perhaps being sent to research labs? Right now, we just don't know and it does not appear that we will know anything in the foreseeable future.
Who wears fur anymore? It is an unquestionably cruel luxury that only the most callous would put on their shopping list. Plus, with recent federal legislation on fur labeling and the ubiquity of faux trims and linings it seems like real fur is becoming a thing of the past. Sadly, that isn't the case and there may be many consumers wearing real fur who don't even realize it.
Earlier this month, the Humane Society of the United States released the details of an undercover investigation into the use and labeling of fur in the fashion industry. The investigation revealed that some of the fur used on designer jackets and sweaters was not identified by its labeling at all. Worse still, the investigation found several Marc Jacobs jackets, sold on-line by retailer Century 21, that were labeled "faux fur" but were in fact made from the hair of Chinese raccoon dogs. The raccoon dog is a wild member of the canine family, often raised in deplorable conditions on Chinese fur farms and then skinned alive. Their pelts are used to manufacture garments because they are frequently cheaper than fake fur.
Consumers who purchased these items believing that they were constructed from synthetic materials are likely outraged, and rightly so. Despite federal law that requires the name and county of origin of fur to appear on a garment's label and their own best efforts to avoid products that cause animal suffering, these consumers were duped. They trusted the store and the designer's advertisement and ended up with a product they found objectionable. This highlights the most upsetting part of this story in my opinion, the failure of the fashion industry to take responsibility for providing consumers with accurate information.
Marc Jacobs has yet to comment on the investigation and Century 21 posted on its Facebook page in an attempt to shift the blame to garment manufacturers. Jacobs and Century 21 should be telling the public how they plan to change their practices. They should be responding to this investigation with efforts to ensure that the items they sell are what they claim to be. Instead they are trying to pass the buck to factories in China. Consumers deserve to be able to make animal friendly decisions. Having accurate information is a prerequisite to doing so. Retail stores and designers should be the leading voices for truthful information about their products. Instead their excuses for why mislabeling is not their fault make this situation even more offensive.
For "sled dogs," animal cruelty has become a corporate-sponsored industry. Beginning on March 2, 2013 Alaska will hold the annual "Iditarod"—in which teams of dogs are forced to pull a sled over 1,100 miles across the Alaska wilderness, often running at a grueling pace of over 100 miles per day for ten straight days. The race has become a huge money maker for corporate sponsors.
According to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, since the race began in 1973, over 140 dogs have died during the event. Dogs suffer heart attacks, pneumonia, muscle deterioration, dehydration, diarrhea, and spine injuries. They are impaled on sleds, drowned, or accidentally strangled. During the off-season the dogs are crowded into small kennels with no state management or oversight. Many are tethered on short chains at all times, unable to play, forced to sit, stand, and lie in the same small area in which they eat and defecate—conditions that cause untold emotional and physical stress. When these "money-makers" are no longer profitable, they are destroyed, as are the puppies who aren’t qualified to race. The Sled Dog Action Coalition notes that the dogs often aren’t even humanely euthanized, but merely shot in the head.
What does the law have to say? In some states, dog sledding conditions might be considered criminally cruel. California’s cruelty law, for example, makes it a crime to deprive any animal of proper food, water, or shelter, or to inflict "needless suffering" or "unnecessary cruelty" upon an animal, particularly for overloading or overworking any animal. Violations can result in up to three years in prison and fines of up to $20,000 under California Penal Code section 597(b). However, Alaska’s cruelty law conveniently does not protect animals from such overwork. Alaska Stat. § 11.61.140(e) states that the crime of animal cruelty "does not apply to generally accepted dog mushing or pulling contests or practices." So the event continues, with the industry defining "generally accepted" practices, shielding themselves from meaningful scrutiny.
Cloaked in claims that dogs have "fun" in this traditional event, the truth is that this event is nothing more than corporate-sponsored cruelty. Please take action to help ALDF speak out for sled dogs by asking the corporate sponsors of events like the Iditarod to withdraw their support.
Thank you for taking action to help these sled dogs! By emailing the major corporate sponsors of the event you send a clear message that using dogs in this way is not acceptable. Want to do more?
Unfortunately for the dogs, this race has many more sponsors. By sending an additional personalized email, or making a phone call, you make a larger impact and send a clear signal to all sponsors of the race that you do not support this type of corporate-sponsored cruelty. You can find a full list of contacts for all of the sponsors of the Iditarod on the Sled Dog Action Coalition's website.
If you are in Canada please take a moment to contact your Legislative Assembly and demand they put a stop to the savage cruelty of the dog sledding industry. Find your MLA here. For more background on the issue please visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website.
Share This Action
Help us get the word out about this action to help dogs used for the Iditarod. Share this action with a friend over email or your social networks.
|(Photo by Ebb and Flow Photography)|
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been nominated for three awards:
- BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
- BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
- BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
As the end-credits roll, the familiar disclaimer appears, "No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Film." But 27 animals were killed in the making of this film. As the Associated Press reported, three horses, six goats, six sheep, and a dozen chickens died at the New Zealand ranch, where they were housed while production continued. Yet, the American Humane Association (AHA)—the only industry body that certifies the humane care of animals in Screen Actors Guild films—gave its approval.
The deaths were attributed to dangerous conditions such as "bluffs, sinkholes and jagged fencing," according to wranglers at the ranch. A mini pony named Rainbow broke his back and suffered overnight before being found and euthanized. A horse named Claire fell off a bluff, and chickens were torn apart by dogs, say the wranglers. Other horses were injured by fencing. The wranglers say they repeatedly alerted the production company to alert them to the abuse. But media reports suggest that while film executives admit two horses died preventable deaths, they say there was no wrongdoing, and instead questioned the credibility of the wranglers, who were dismissed after reporting the animal abuse.
|(Photo by Nico Deaux)
How would audiences feel if, at the end of a film like The Hobbit, AHA's end-statement said: "no animals were documented as being harmed on the set, to our knowledge, but many were killed off the set..."? Perhaps far greater care would be afforded to protect animals during filming; perhaps the use of live animals would be replaced with CGI. Perhaps films that kill dozens of animals wouldn't receive acclaim from the academy. Perhaps audiences would be outraged.
Enormous amounts of money are invested in getting shots right, and the pressure for animals to perform on cue is high. The Hobbit, for example, is the first in a $500 million dollar trilogy. Are we to trust that filmmakers properly care for their money-makers under these conditions? Some media sources report that Peter Jackson, director of The Hobbit, who has denied that animals were mistreated during the production of his film, called an animal protection organization "pretty pathetic" for its concern with the deaths of animals in this film.
If we can't trust filmmakers, can we rely upon the American Humane Association? As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the AHA has called the cruelty behind the scenes of The Hobbit "unacceptable." In its own guidelines the AHA announces it is the only group "able to document a production's humane care of animals." The problem is: how much do they document if they can't supervise off-set care?
|This award is given to people who fight animal cruelty, click on the image to learn more.
The animal cruelty behind the scenes of The Hobbit is by no means an anomaly in the film world. Countless animals are harmed in the making of many films. And Buzkashi Boys—a movie that features the Afghani national sport of Buzkashi, a brutal game of horse polo played by dragging about a dead goat, is up for an Oscar for best short film.
Where do we draw the line between telling masterful cinematic stories—and exploiting animals for our own amusement? "No animals were harmed" must mean exactly that.
Animals don't deserve to die for our entertainment.
Today’s daily action for National Justice for Animals Week is: Fight animal abuse from your home computer.
|(Photo by Giacomo Bucci)|
Fight animal abuse and honor animal victims from your home computer. Join the hundreds of thousands across the nation who have already taken action online to support critical ALDF campaigns, which are designed to have the maximum impact for animals. A better world for animals is at your fingertips!
Animal Bill of Rights
If you haven’t yet joined the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have signed the Animal Bill of Rights—take action now! Let Congress and all of our elected officials know that the law should protect the basic needs of all animals—and should provide justice for those who are abused and exploited.
Expose Animal Abusers
Communities have good reason to be concerned about the whereabouts of animal abusers. In story after heartbreaking story, abusers repeat their violent crimes against helpless animals, and often go on to victimize people as well. Keep your animals and your families safe. Visit ExposeAnimalAbusers.org to contact your local legislators in a single click and ask for an animal abuser registry where you live.
First Strike and You're Out
Currently, most states have no mandatory requirements keeping those who are convicted of animal abuse crimes away from animals following their convictions. ALDF’s model "First Strike and You're Out" law will help in the fight against animal neglect and cruelty by keeping offenders away from potential new animal victims and will also help reduce the huge economic toll which repeat offenders impose on their communities.
Contact your state legislators today and ask them to support a "First Strike and You're Out" law for those who are convicted of animal neglect or cruelty.