There have been some very exciting updates in the Free Baby Mendes campaign - Willie Nelson has decided that as a cowboy he must stand up for cows and has signed on to our campaign! He has already written letters to Land O' Lakes and Challenge Dairy urging them to stop using milk products that come from the confined calves at Mendes Calf Ranch.
Check out the awesome coverage Animal Legal Defense Fund and Willie received on the celeb news site - www.TMZ.com!
Since Willie signed on to the campaign, our signature counter on the Free Baby Mendes site has been non-stop! Each and every minute more concerned individuals are signing the petition and helping ALDF to put an end to the cruelty at Mendes Calf Ranch. Please urge your friends and family to sign the petition today!
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and Willie Nelson thank you for all you do for animals!
As we reported earlier this month, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, East Bay Animal Advocates, and three Bay Area consumers recently dismissed their lawsuit against a cruel and inhumane pig breeding facility in Corcoran, California operated by Corcpork, Inc. We dismissed the suit after learning that Corcpork and its parent company Hormel Foods are eliminating their breeding operation at the Corcoran facility.
Corcpork’s breeding operation confined approximately 9,000 pigs in crates so small they could not turn around, scratch, or stretch their limbs. Like all factory farm breeding programs, Corcpork’s operation in essence commandeered female pigs’ reproductive systems, exploiting their maternal biology to produce an endless supply of piglets whose bodies were then fattened, slaughtered, and butchered for pork. Each one of these female breeding pigs was trapped in a cycle of reproduction, placed in one cramped stall after another. While she was pregnant, Corcpork confined her in a gestation crate like these ones, which are only two feet wide (less than half the length of the desk on which I’m typing). She was kept in that cramped pen for almost four months, until she gave birth. Afterwards, Corcpork moved her into a farrowing crate like this one, which was only slightly larger than the gestation crate from which she had been removed. In the farrowing crate, she was immobilized in a way that prevented her piglets from having any access to their mother aside from their ability to nurse. Once the piglets were weaned, Corcpork had her re-impregnated, then put her right back in the gestation crate to start over again. This cycle continued until she was worn out, at which point she was shipped off for slaughter.
This disgraceful appropriation of maternity for profit will thankfully come to an end at the Corcoran facility. Corcpork has stated, in a binding legal document, that it will end "its breeding operations entirely and [will] not, therefore, house breeding sows in gestation stalls... The purpose of this change is to eliminate breeding operations at the Corcoran [factory] farm, and the breeding operations that previously existed at the Corcoran [factory] farm have not been relocated to another operation."
Corcpork’s announcement is more evidence that the tide is turning against exploitative animal agriculture. Voters in Florida and Arizona have already rejected the cruelty inherent in gestation crates, and California voters will get the opportunity to do so this November. The Oregon legislature has banned gestation crates, and Colorado lawmakers are looking at doing the same. Smithfield Foods and Maple Leaf Foods, the largest pork producers in the United States and Canada, respectively, have committed to phasing out gestation crates.
Corcpork and Clougherty’s parent company is Hormel Foods, one of the largest pork producers in North America. When Hormel acquired Clougherty in 2004, it more than doubled the number of sows it uses in its operations. On its website, Hormel claims, "We take our zero tolerance policy for the inhumane treatment of animals very seriously." If that’s true, Hormel should follow Smithfield and Maple Leaf’s lead and ban cruel gestation and farrowing crates in its breeding operations throughout the country, not just in California.
Of course, even in the absence of cruel intensive confinement, animals raised for food suffer immensely, be it through husbandry, transportation, or slaughter. The best thing each of us can do to respect and protect animals is to refuse to dine on their bodies.
Animal Legal Defense Fund member, Daina, took this picture of her rescued cat, "The Cookie Man," perched in his favorite spot next to their ALDF sticker.
"His name is "The Cookie Man." He came into our emergency hospital after a brief run in with the police at a 24 hour Stop & Shop super market. The authorities were called, for a feral cat had made his way into the store and was tearing the place apart desperately trying to not get caught. He sought refuge in the cookie aisle among the "Nilla Wafers" where they were finally able to apprehend and arrest him. Due to this valiant stand against the man -the pads of his feet were terribly abraded- the officer brought him directly to us for treatment. Being about 9 months old and feral, we were unsure if he would let us even touch him. After 2 days he came to the realization that we meant to help and care for him, giving us his trust and affection. After 3 days I came to my own realization: any cat that gives people a run for their money and escapes into cookies, shouldn't go home with anyone but me. Plus a shelter is no place for a renegade!"
Do you have a photo of your companion animal next to an ALDF sticker, wearing ALDF merchandise or showing their ALDF spirit another way? How about a story? Send them to us at email@example.com for a chance to be featured on our website and eNewsletter.
Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin’ down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppin’ Easter’s on its way
― Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins
Yes, Easter is just around the corner, bringing with it all the colors and pomp that thousands of years bestow upon cultural traditions. I enjoy Easter as much as the next guy: I appreciate its religious significance (both pagan and Christian), I’m particularly fond of vegan chocolate and jelly beans, and just try to find a lily I won’t admire. What I do not abide is animal cruelty, and that is sadly associated with this otherwise joyous holiday.
This month, countless parents across the country will decide, usually with little thought or research, that a baby rabbit is a wonderful way to help their child celebrate Easter. "Oh, aren’t bunnies adorable?" they’ll sigh. "Won’t little Dylan and Dakota be thrilled?" they’ll muse. "Isn’t a bunny the perfect pet for any child?" they’ll reason. My response: "Yes," "Probably at first," and "Absolutely not."
It is true that rabbits are enormously appealing in many ways. Humans who live with them are usually amazed by the rabbit’s intelligence, beguiled by their gentle natures, and captivated by their lively personalities. Rabbits make wonderful companions who bond for life with their guardians, know their names, and play with toys. I share my home with five rabbits, and they never fail to delight me, no matter how rough a day I’ve had.
But all too often people give little thought before bringing home a rabbit, impulsively buying them at pet stores and then, when the novelty has worn off, discarding the bunnies at already crowded shelters, where they may never find a real home -- rabbits are the third most euthanized animals in the country. Other disenchanted parents will dump an unwanted rabbit in the park, where the helpless domestic bunny will quickly be eaten by predators, get run over by a car, become ill, or starve.
Keenly aware of the Easter Bunny’s popularity in song and myth, some pet stores will be actively promoting rabbits as wonderful starter animals. This is simply not true. To begin with, while children want an animal they can hold, most rabbits detest being picked up, much to the bewilderment and disappointment of uninformed rabbit guardians. Remember, rabbits are prey animals -- to them, being lifted off the ground means they’re becoming someone’s dinner. Rabbits are social and do love attention, but gingerly and on terra firma. They are also very sensitive animals who don’t tolerate the lively natures of young children.
Moreover, rabbits are not low-maintenance companions; they require unlimited hay, fresh greens, daily water changes, weekly combing, monthly nail trimming, and annual exams with a bunny-savvy vet. They should also be spayed or neutered, which will benefit their health, reduce territory marking, and of course prevent the creation of more rabbits (it’s not by accident they are symbols of fertility). Rabbits will also use a litterbox, which needs frequent cleaning. Oh, and did I mention the chewing? Any rooms the rabbit will have access to need to be bunny-proofed, since rabbits, who are burrowing animals, have a strong biting instinct and will chew on your baseboard or nip through telephone cords.
Although many people still believe rabbits are fine in an outdoor hutch, consigning them to the backyard constrains their natural behaviors, subjects them to the danger of predators and inclement weather, and denies you the pleasure of their company. Rabbits flourish indoors, where they can run, dance, and play in safety.
If, after doing some homework, you decide a rabbit is right for your family, please do not buy from a pet store. "I encourage all parents to teach their kids the lesson of love and compassion by adopting from their local shelter or rescue group, or even volunteering," says Marcy Schaaf, founder of SaveABunny, a nonprofit rabbit-rescue organization. Marcy reminds potential guardians that keeping a rabbit means making a seven- to 10-year emotional, financial, and physical commitment.
Unless you are truly prepared to take in a rabbit this Easter, please give your child a stuffed animal or animal book instead. You might also consider sponsoring a rabbit at organizations like SaveABunny, Animal Place, or the House Rabbit Society. In the long run, you’ll be making a happier holiday for everyone.
Mark Hawthorne is the author of Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism.
The other day, my mother called me in need of some advice. Some friends of hers had just adopted a 3-year old dog named Toby from their local animal shelter, and they were having some problems with him urinating in the house. I told her they should call their veterinarian in case there was a medical problem, and also call the shelter where they adopted him for some housetraining tips. I also said I would email her some links to dog behavior handouts that she could give them. (The Denver Dumb Friends League has a great resource on their website that many animal shelters around the country use for canine behavior issues, from house soiling to barking to aggression.)
My mom then got off the phone so she could bring them a dog crate to try. A few days later, she emailed me, despondent. Apparently, her friends didn’t want to put forth the effort to housetrain him, so they gave poor Toby back to the shelter.
I must admit that I wasn’t surprised. This scenario is all too familiar to me, having once worked in the animal sheltering world and having had too many encounters with people who want a ready-made, perfect animal. The sad fact is that there are people out there who aren’t willing to take a little bit of extra time to work with a common, minor issue such as housetraining.
What is especially disheartening about this selfish desire for perfection is that it is in sharp contrast to the extreme self-sacrifice that one of my coworkers is demonstrating with her dog’s much more serious situation. My coworker Nicole is the proud mom of a 7-year-old rescued German Shepherd named Alec (aka Ali). One day over a month ago, Ali came home limping after a trip to the park. By the time she got him to the vet (within an hour), he was no longer able to use his back legs. Nicole did everything the vet recommended, including surgery, to fix a ruptured disk. Just a few days after the first surgery, the same disk ruptured a second time, so it was back to the operating room again. He came through the second surgery okay and is now out of the vet hospital and with Nicole. He has not yet regained feeling in his back legs, and she faces the possibility that this may be a permanent situation.
Now he has several weeks of cage rest ahead of him. He cannot go up any stairs, so she has dramatically rearranged her living situation and found temporary housing on the ground floor. She also must express his bladder several times a day. This is a difficult procedure to learn, to say the least. In the beginning, she had to pay a vet tech to come by every day and make sure the bladder was getting completely emptied so he didn't develop an infection. Due to her determination, however, in a very short amount of time she has become very good at it, and she has the vet come by every few days to check his bladder.
She has to be very careful so that the disk won’t rupture again, and he mostly must rest and stay calm, but she can sometimes take him outside in a wagon for some fresh air. At her veterinarian’s recommendation, she is already doing some physical therapy with Ali while he is recovering, and she will schedule sessions with a physical therapist after his recovery. After his healing period, she will spend even more money to buy him a cart (doggie wheelchair). Dogs like him do well with the carts, and we all look forward to the day when Ali can once again join our staff dogs on a dog walk. I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll love being the fastest one with his new set of wheels.
I am happy to report that his spirits are up, he quietly plays with his toys and he is eating just fine. He especially enjoys kongs filled with peanut butter.
I am deeply humbled by Nicole’s dedication and intense drive to do anything for Ali, no matter what sacrifices she has to make. And there are many sacrifices that this situation is asking of her. If he doesn’t regain the use of his back legs, she will have to express his bladder every day for the rest of his life. She plans to permanently move from her upstairs apartment in a city that she loves, away from many of her friends, so that Ali can live in a ground floor dwelling. She won’t be able to leave him with just anyone when she travels for work.
The amazing thing is that Nicole doesn’t dwell on these negatives, but instead is overwhelmed with gratitude that Ali is still alive and with her, and doing so well.
Many people would not do what Nicole is doing, even if they had the financial and physical means to do so. Her self-denial and sheer determination to make Ali’s life comfortable, healthy and happy is truly awe-inspiring. If she can do all this with little help or resources, and with a smile on her face, it should give us all pause.
So maybe my mom’s friends didn't work out for Toby, but maybe there is someone out there with even 10% of Nicole's love and dedication, who will gladly take him and his extremely minor, fixable housetraining issue. I sure hope so.
My wish is that all of the Toby’s in the world will someday have devoted parents like Nicole to love and care for them. I think Ali would wholeheartedly agree.