Compassionate Vegan Choices
Ⓥ FOR THE EARTH | FOR THE ANIMALS | FOR YOUR HEALTH
 

Compassionate Vegan Choices

"Compassionate living" is a concept based on the belief that humans have a moral responsibility to treat animals with respect, and that the interests of humans and animals should be considered equally. This means that in any decision that could potentially affect the life of an animal, that particular animal's interests should not be dismissed simply because it is inconvenient for us to consider them. Although it may not always be easy to determine accurately the best interests of an animal, we can safely assume that animals generally prefer to live, to be free from pain and to express their natural behaviors.

The failure of humans to consider an animal's needs/interests as equal to those of humans is an expression of prejudice called speciesism. Defenders of speciesism often argue that humans are superior to other species because of their greater intelligence. Taken to its logical extreme, this argument would imply that humans with higher I.Q. scores should have more rights than humans with lower I.Q. scores. However, we have developed the sensitivity to extend basic human rights to all humans, whether or not they meet any criteria for intelligence, capacity or potential. But animals are commonly experimented on without their consent, and even killed, if it suits human purposes. This gross inequality is what we are trying to address with the concept of "animal rights".

Another common assertion is that humans are superior to animals because we possess the capacity to understand morality, as well as the ability to determine right from wrong. Since some animals may lack these same abilities, it is argued that humans are not obligated to treat them in any particular way. However, if only those who are capable of making and understanding moral judgments were to be accorded basic human rights, than infants, young children, and the severely ill or mentally challenged would be excluded. It is equally logical to affirm that, since humans are the only ones who can make moral judgments, that it is our responsibility to do so on behalf of the animals.

All animals, including humans, have the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Unfortunately, humans have tended to inflict tremendous amounts of pain and suffering on animals without any consideration of how this affects the animals themselves. By making compassionate daily choices, you can help end widespread animal abuse and exploitation.

WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO WEAR

Fur

Each year more than 40 million animals are senselessly tortured and killed to satisfy the dictates of fashion. Wild-caught fur is obtained by setting traps or snares to capture fur-bearing animals. Once an animal is caught it may remain in the trap or snare for several days starving or slowly strangling. Farm-raised fur comes from animals kept in tiny, filthy cages, deprived of adequate protection from the elements. As a result, animals develop stereotypical behavior, including pacing, head bobbing, and self-mutilation. The techniques used to kill animals on fur farms include neck snapping or "popping", electrocution with a rod shoved into the anus and gassing or smothering.

Wool

Sheep raised for wool are subjected to a lifetime of cruel treatment. Lambs' tails are chopped off and males are castrated without anesthetic. In Australia, where 80% of all wool comes from, ranchers perform an operation called "mulesing" where huge strips of skin are carved off the backs of lambs' legs. This procedure is performed to produce scarred skin that won't harbor fly larvae, so that the rancher can spend less time caring for the sheep. The shearing of sheep can be a brutal, as workers are encouraged to shear as quickly as possible. As a result, an estimated one million Australian sheep die every year from exposure. Sheep that are no longer useful for their wool are sent to crowded feedlots and then transported to the slaughterhouse.

Leather

By-products of the beef industry are defined by the parts of the cow that are not consumed by humans. These include hooves, some organs, bones, and skin. Skin (leather) accounts for about half of the by-product of the beef industry. Like meat, leather is a product made from animals that experienced the horrors of factory farming, transport and slaughter. The leather industry uses some of the most dangerous substances to prepare leather, including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, various oils and some cyanide-based dyes.

WHAT YOU CHOOSE FOR ENTERTAINMENT

Circus

Animals used in the circus spend the majority of the year imprisoned in small cages or on chains, traveling from show to show. The training endured by circus animals is almost always based on intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of the animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for several days while being trained to perform, and tigers are chained to their pedestals with ropes around their necks to choke them down.

Rodeo

Horses and cows used in rodeos are abused with electrical prods, sharp spurs and "bucking straps" that pinch their sensitive flank area. During bucking events, horses and bulls may suffer broken legs or run into the sides of the arena causing serious injury and even death. During calf-roping events, a calf may reach a running speed of 27 miles per hour before being jerked by the neck to an abrupt stop by a lasso. This event has resulted in animals' punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, paralysis and broken necks.

Greyhound and Horse Racing

Once greyhounds begin their racing careers, they are kept in cages for about 22-1/2 hours a day. The cages are made of wire and are barely big enough for dogs to turn around. Dogs considered too slow to race are sold to research facilities or killed (20,000-25,000 each year) - very few are adopted. More racehorses are bred than can prove profitable on the racetrack. As a result, hundreds are sent to slaughter every year.

Zoos and Aquariums

While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented, most are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. Many animals in zoos and aquariums exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social structures. Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection. The vast majority of captive-bred animals will never be returned to the wild. When the facility breeds too many animals they become "surplus" and often are sold to laboratories, traveling shows, shooting ranches, or to private individuals unqualified to care for them.

WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO EAT

Every year billions of animals are raised and killed for human consumption. Unlike the family farms of the past, today's factory farms are high-revenue, high-production entities. On a factory farm, animals are confined to extremely small spaces, which allows farmers to concentrate on maximizing production. Because this type of overcrowding breeds disease, animals are routinely fed antibiotics and sprayed with pesticides. They are also fed growth hormones to enhance productivity. These chemicals, antibiotics and hormones are passed on to the environment, as well as to consumers of meat and dairy products.

Pork

In the United States each year more than 115 million pigs are raised on factory farms and slaughtered for human consumption. Factory-farmed pigs are raised in crowded pens which are enclosed inside huge barns. The air in these barns is filled with eye and lung burning ammonia created by urine and fecal waste collected below the floors. Breeding sows (or "animal production units") spend their lives in metal crates so small that they cannot turn around. Denied adequate space and freedom of movement, these sows often develop stereotypical behavior, repetitive movement such as head bobbing, jaw smacking, and rail biting. At the slaughterhouse, pigs are stunned (often inadequately), hung upside down before their throats are cut, and then bled to death. If workers fail to kill a pig with the knife, that pig is carried on the conveyer belt to the next station, the scalding tank, where he or she may be boiled alive.

Chicken

Every year approximately 8.785 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered for human consumption in the United States, most on factory farms. Crowded and unable to express natural behavior, chickens begin to peck excessively at each other. Rather than solve this problem by providing adequate space for the chickens, factory farmers "debeak" them, a painful procedure where the bird's sensitive upper beak is sliced off with a hot metal blade. Chickens raised for consumption have been genetically altered to grow abnormally large. As a result, many broiler chickens' bones are unable to support the weight of their muscle tissue, which causes them to hobble in pain or become crippled. At the slaughterhouse, chickens while still fully conscious are hung upside down by their feet and attached to a moving rail. Birds missed by the mechanical neck-slicing blade and boiled alive are called "redskins".

Eggs

There are more than 459 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. Of these, 97% are confined to "battery" cages - tiny wire boxes roughly 16 by 18 inches wide. Five or six birds are crammed into each cage. Battery hens are forced to produce 10 times more eggs than they would naturally. When egg production slows, factory farmers use a method called "forced molting" to shock the hens into losing their feathers, which causes them to begin a premature laying cycle. "Forced molting" involves starving the hens and denying them water for several days' time, during which many hens die. To keep hens from pecking each other in their crowded cages, factory farmers "debeak" them. Male chicks, considered by-products of laying hen production, are either tossed into plastic bags to suffocate slowly, or ground into animal feed while still alive.

Beef

About 41.8 million beef cattle are slaughtered annually in the United States. For identification purposes, cattle are either branded with hot irons or "wattled," a process in which a chunk of flesh from under the cow's neck is cut out. Raised on the range or in feed lots, cattle when large enough are crammed into metal trucks and taken to slaughter. On the way to slaughter, these cattle may travel for hours in sweltering temperatures with no access to water. Animals unable to stand due to broken legs or illness are called "downers" by the meat industry. Downers are electrically prodded or dragged with chains to the slaughterhouse, or left outside, without food or water, to die.

Milk

About half of the 10 million milking cows in the U.S. are kept in confinement on factory farms. Dairy cows are forced to produce 10-20 times the amount of milk they would naturally need for their calves. This intensive production of milk is extremely stressful, and as a result many dairy cattle "burn out" at a much younger age than their normal life expectancy, and up to 33% suffer painful udder infections. To continue milk production, a cow must bear a calf each year. Although calves elsewhere stay with their mothers for a year or more, on the dairy factory farm they are immediately removed from their mothers so that milk can be sold for human consumption. Calves are sold to the beef or veal industry or become replacements for "burned out" dairy cows.


WHAT PRODUCTS YOU CHOOSE

Despite the modern alternatives to animal testing, millions of animals suffer and die each year for the "good" of cosmetics and household products. No law in the U.S. requires cosmetic, household product, or office supply companies to test on animals, but many companies do so to protect themselves against liability. However, animal testing does not necessarily make a product safe for humans. Most animal tests were developed over 50 years ago and are significantly flawed and inferior to modern alternatives. Use your dollars to send a strong message that animal testing is outdated and unnecessary. Support only companies committed against animal testing.

Shop For Cruelty Free Products

It is unethical and absolutely unnecessary to submit animals to testing for the development of cosmetics or other household products. If you want to help animals, you have the power as a consumer to do so with your buying choices. 

Using animals during product development and testing is largely a consumer issue. It is not going to stop unless caring consumers stand up for animal rights and leverage their purchasing power. It is possible to stop the unnecessary suffering of millions of animals every year by putting an end to animal product testing through the adoption of informed, humane practices. 

If you are against animal testing, you can make a substantial difference by boycotting companies that engage in animal testing. Opting to use cruelty-free products instead is a means of putting pressure on the marketplace itself, besides an ethical choice. If more and more people stop buying the products of companies that support animal testing, we substantially hurt their sales, and therefore it’s more likely that those companies will reconsider their practices.

Cruelty-free shopping is about buying products that have not been used on animals for testing purposes, and products that do not contain animal byproducts. But this process doesn’t come without challenges, and the biggest challenge is how to distinguish such products. Luckily, considerable work has been done by animal rights groups who have compiled lists of companies outlining their animal testing practices. Moreover, they provide logos for companies to use in order to certify that their products are cruelty-free so customers can identify them more easily. 

If you wish to buy such products that conform to a higher standard, you can keep an eye out for such cruelty-free logos. The most trusted of these is the Leaping Bunny. For a product to hold this logo, a number of rigid requirements and standards must be met as defined by CCIC, the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. This organization acts as a federation of multiple animal rights groups. 

To earn the CCIC certification, a company must conform to the following: 
  • It doesn’t do animal testing on any of its products.
  • It doesn’t use ingredients that underwent animal testing after the date of CCIC certification. 
  • It abstains from selling their products to countries that require testing on animals. 
  • Their entire supplier chain, ranging from producers of ingredients to those of finished products, declare in writing that they don’t test their products on animals. 
  • A CCIC-appointed firm conducts independent auditing of the company to ensure that all suppliers conform to their statement.

The Leaping Bunny logo appears on certified companies’ products and is an internationally respected sign of reliable, animal-friendly products. 

The Leaping Bunny Logo is just one way to distinguish animal-friendly products. There are also online registries of all the animal-friendly certified companies. To view these lists, you can visit their website at leapingbunny.org. 

These registries are particularly useful when you are doing online shopping of personal care products. If you are not sure about a company, you can cross-check with the Leaping Bunny Approved Brands lists and validate them.

Some companies haven't acquired a license for the logo, but you still can do a quick online background check on companies lacking the logo. The Leaping Bunny program offers a relevant app, and you can also get a wallet-sized guide in the mail for free. You can even download the guide and print it, or keep it in your smartphone in digital form. 

You can also support the animal-friendly notion by making your own cleaning and personal care products. By doing so, you have the highest assurance that no animal testing was conducted, as well as assuring that your products contain no toxic chemicals. A wide variety of products can be made at home using natural substances: shower gel, shampoo, lotion, conditioner, toothpaste, bathroom cleaner, window cleaner, and much more. Chances are that you already have most of the ingredients you’ll need. Additionally, many of the products you make at home have multiple uses. You can learn how to make homemade natural products for cleaning and personal care on the Internet. 

By adopting animal-friendly consuming habits, you both support companies that adhere to ethical practices and apply pressure to other companies to do the same. If you prefer to make your own products, you not only help animals but also the environment. Simple lifestyle choices, activism, and animal-friendly shopping can positively affect the lives of animals worldwide.

Shop For Vegan & Eco-Friendly Clothes

Vegan clothes consist of clothing and shoes that are constructed without using animal products. By choosing vegan clothing, you ensure that no animals suffered or died to produce them. You also help protect the environment and wildlife from the devastating effects of animal agriculture. Although there are specialty stores that only sell vegan clothing lines, it is possible to buy vegan apparel from any retail shop. To do so, you need to know how to distinguish the vegan and non-vegan items and materials described in clothing labels.

Faux Fur

Choose fake or faux fur in place of authentic fur. Pelts and fur are non-vegan since they are the skins and fur taken from animals trapped or raised specifically for that purpose; minks, foxes, rabbits, chinchillas, lynxes, dogs, and many more. Search the clothing label for faux fur, acrylic, polyester, or mod-acrylic.

Pleather

Purchase imitation-leather in place of real, authentic leather or suede. Leather is non-vegan because it comes from animal hides and skin. Look at the clothing labels to discover alternative clothing that resembles leather, such as synthetic leather, pleather, man-made leather, imitation-leather, and waxed-cotton. Apparel that is made from leather-like materials are typically much cheaper than authentic leather or suede products. 

Imitation Silk

Avoid fabric or apparel that is silk-made. Silk worms may produce silk naturally, however, in order to get the silk producers boil them alive. Go for materials that resemble and imitate silk instead, like nylon, polyester, rayon, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments, milkweed seed-pod fibers, and the wood pulp-made fabric called tencel. 

Down Substitutes

Avoid buying clothes made with down feathers. These are non-vegan products because they are either plucked from living animals, or animals are killed specifically for this reason. Consult the clothing labels to discover down substitutes, like synthetic down, polyester fill, hypo-allergenic synthetic down, and down-alternative. 

Wool Alternatives

Finally, stop buying any type of woolen fabric or clothing. Wool comes from sheep, goats, rabbits and camels who are exploited for their hair. Particular products made from wool that you should avoid include cashmere, angora, mohair, pashmina, shearling, and camel hair. Opt for alternative wool materials instead, such as cotton flannel, polyester fleece, orlon, acrylic, synthetic fleece, synthetic wool, or any other wool fabric characterized as "synthetic." There are synthetically made products that are just as good as wool. Some man-made products exist that rival wool in terms of thickness, providing warmth, and can pull away moisture from the skin. Recycled plastic bottles are typically used to make these products, which you can usually find in outdoors clothing featured in specialty stores.

Taking It A Step Further

Avoiding clothing made from animal-derived products helps to save animals and reduce animal cruelty, but truly ethical clothing decisions also factors in environmental concerns. Clothing choices that contribute to environmental damage affects wildlife in detrimental ways. When shopping for animal-friendly clothes, also consider eco-friendly alternatives.

You can easily make vegan and environmentally friendly clothing choices by choosing clothes made from natural, plant-based materials. You can opt-out of buying faux animal clothing products. Do you really need that faux leather jacket, fake fur coat and imitation silk shirt? There are lots of alternatives that are just as stylish, while not hurting animals or their ecosystems.

Organic Cotton

Over 25 percent of the planet’s pesticides can be attributed to conventional cotton production. Organic cotton production does not use chemicals. Choose organic cotton clothing made with natural dyes or colored cotton.

Bamboo Clothing

Bamboo clothing is all the rage, and for good reason. Bamboo is a fast growing, highly renewable grass usually grown without chemicals. It breathes well, is biodegradable and has natural antibacterial properties. Avoid “bamboo-based rayon” which involves toxic chemicals in its processing.

Hemp Clothing

Hemp is fast growing and highly sustainable like bamboo. It needs little or no pesticides or fertilizers, and it does not deplete soil nutrients. 

Recycled Polyester

Recycled polyester is created from cast-off polyester fabric and soda bottles. It's carbon footprint is an impressive 75 percent lower than virgin polyester.

Soy Silk & Soy Cashmere

Soy cashmere and soy silk are created from soy protein fibers left over from soybean food processing. Look for clothing that is not made from genetically engineered soy.

Tencel Clothing

Tencel is created from natural cellulose wood pulp. It is fully biodegradable and is made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood pulp and less-toxic chemicals.

Clothing production in general has a big environmental impact. It uses a lot of land, energy, water – and often chemicals. Purchasing quality made products, and wearing them for as long as possible, is one of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of clothing. You can also purchase used clothing and repair damaged clothes to extend their use. Above all else, don't get caught up in the trap of “trendy styles” and “Fast Fashion” that promotes clothing as being disposable. With a ridiculous 52 “micro-seasons” per year, and new trends coming out every week, it's impossible to keep up anyway. Don't try. Be responsible and help the Earth and its animals – don't buy animal-derived clothing and do buy clothes that are as environmentally-friendly as possible.

Veganism: Beyond The Dinner Plate

Being vegan does not stop at what you put in your body. What you put on your body needs a bit of thought too, as animal products seem to find their way into the most unlikely places. Vegans also attempt to refrain from purchasing household products made or tested on animals, and from exploiting animals by boycotting animal entertainment. With so many humane alternatives, why not choose vegan options?

MAKE-UP & TOILETRIES

Many cosmetics and toiletries have been needlessly tested on animals and often contain ingredients like beeswax, lanolin (from wool), silk, animal fat or slaughterhouse by-products. Most health food stores sell vegan toiletries.

Every year, millions of animals are subjected to the most horrifically painful experiments just so people can have a new brand of shampoo or a differently scented perfume. Eye irritancy tests - commonly called the Draize test, involve a substance applied to the eye of a rabbit to see if irritation or damage ensues. During the test, the animals are given no pain relief, they are held in stocks to prevent them from touching their eyes and the test may last for several days causing great pain and suffering. Rabbits are used because they have very poor tear ducts in their eyes so they cannot wash away the substance.

Skin irritancy test involves shaving the fur off an animal and applying the test substance to their skin. The skin is then observed for signs of irritation e.g. swelling, reddening, bleeding, cracking or ulceration.

Toxicity tests - such as the LD-50 (Lethal Dose 50%) involves substances fed to the animal and they are observed for signs of poisoning e.g. tremors, bleeding, vomiting or loss of balance. The test may last for several days causing great suffering. Those animals that do not die during the experiment are killed at the end for autopsy.

Animal testing of cosmetics is entirely unnecessary. Over 8,000 ingredients have already been established as safe and there is no reason why manufacturers need to use any new substances. Where new ingredients are used, the law requires them to be safety tested - this need not involve animal testing. Cruelty-free alternatives such as testing on reconstructed human skin, using computer modelling and enlisting human volunteers are often more reliable than using a different species, with a different biology to test products for human use.

CLOTHES & SHOES

Many shoes, jackets, belts and bags are made from leather, suede or silk. Happily for us - as well as for the animals - there are cruelty-free options.

Each year more than 40 million animals are senselessly tortured and killed to satisfy the dictates of fashion. Wild-caught fur is obtained by setting traps or snares to capture fur-bearing animals. Once an animal is caught it may remain in the trap or snare for several days starving or slowly strangling. Farm-raised fur comes from animals kept in tiny, filthy cages, deprived of adequate protection from the elements. As a result, animals develop stereotypical behavior, including pacing, head bobbing, and self-mutilation. The techniques used to kill animals on fur farms vary. Small animals such as mink are killed by neck snapping or "popping." Larger animals such as foxes are electrocuted by placing a metal clamp on the snout and forcing a rod into the anus, and then connecting the metal to a power source. Some animals are forced into bags or boxes and gassed with carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide.

Sheep raised for wool are subjected to a lifetime of cruel treatment. Lambs' tails are chopped off and males are castrated without anesthetic.  In Australia, where 80% of all wool comes from, ranchers perform an operation called "mulesing" where huge strips of skin are carved off the backs of lambs' legs. This procedure is performed to produce scarred skin that won't harbor fly larvae, so that the rancher can spend less time caring for the sheep.  The shearing of sheep at most wool ranches can be a brutal procedure, as workers are encouraged to shear as quickly as possible. As a result, an estimated one million Australian sheep die every year from exposure.  Sheep that are no longer useful for their wool are sent to crowded feedlots and then transported to the slaughterhouse. 

By-products of the beef industry are defined by the parts of the cow that are not consumed by humans. These include hooves, some organs, bones, and skin. Skin (leather) accounts for about half of the by-product value of the beef industry. Like meat, leather is a product made from animals that experienced the horrors of factory farming, transport, and slaughter. The leather industry uses some of the most dangerous substances to prepare leather, including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, various oils, and some cyanide-based dyes.

ENTERTAINMENT

Animals used in the circus spend the majority of the year imprisoned in small cages or on chains, traveling from show to show. The training endured by circus animals is almost always based on intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of the animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for several days while being trained to perform, and tigers are chained to their pedestals with ropes around their necks to choke them down.

Horses and cows used in rodeos are abused with electrical prods, sharp spurs, and "bucking straps" that pinch their sensitive flank area. During bucking events, horses and bulls may suffer broken legs or run into the sides of the arena causing serious injury and even death. During calf-roping events, a calf may reach a running speed of 27 miles per hour before being jerked by the neck to an abrupt stop by a lasso. This event has resulted in animals' punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, paralysis, and broken necks.

Once greyhounds begin their racing careers, they are kept in cages for about 22-1/2 hours a day. The cages are made of wire and are barely big enough for the dogs to turn around. Dogs that are considered too slow to race are sold to research facilities or killed (20,000-25,000 each year) -- very few are adopted. More racehorses are bred than can prove profitable on the racetrack. As a result, hundreds of racehorses are sent to slaughter every year. 

While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented, most are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. Many animals in zoos and aquariums exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social structures. Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection. The vast majority of captive-bred animals will never be returned to the wild. When the facility breeds too many animals they become "surplus" and often are sold to laboratories, traveling shows, shooting ranches, or to private individuals who may be unqualified to care for them.

10 Ways To Help Wildlife

Habitat loss and the extinction of species are devastating consequences of irresponsible human actions. The problem’s complexity and reach often leads people to feel unable to make a difference. However, every single action we take is crucial in bringing about change. Although individually our contribution may seem small, the sum of our efforts can really make a huge difference.

Protect Wildlife Habitat

The most pressing issue that threatens species is their progressive loss of habitat. Animal agriculture, deforestation, and development impact the environment in profound ways: erosion, soil compaction, desertification and changes in climate. When the land is manipulated in such a manner, wildlife habitat alteration or even elimination takes place. This is more pronounced when rare species are involved; these alterations may result in the rapid extinction of the species. Habitat protection ensures that whole animal communities are safe, which in turn leads to fewer interventions needed towards the conservation of endangered species. Reserves, parks, and similar protected areas are often the only safe havens that remain unaffected by habitat loss. 

Consume Less, Recycle More

A great way to minimize our effect on the environment is to recycle and reuse as much as possible. Consuming less is an immensely effective means of protecting the planet. What’s more, by reducing our energy consumption we help conserve our natural resources, and we save money in the process!  

Become Member Of A Conservation Organization

Numerous conservation organizations exist with a mission to protect endangered species and habitats. Each organization has a different mission – for some it’s to safeguard a certain habitat or species, for others to push for the legislation of good environmental practices. If you are particularly interested in a topic, chances are that you will find an organization that shares your interest. Becoming a member will let you back organized, constant efforts towards protecting wildlife and habitats. Moreover, there are often special programs available that offer the chance to do conservation field work, as many organizations depend on volunteer work.

Use Fewer Herbicides And Pesticides

Herbicides and pesticides are effective in beautifying your backyard, but they wreak havoc on wildlife on several levels. Some of these compounds degrade at an extremely slow rate, which means their levels build up in the soil and, consequently, pass into the food chain. Certain animal groups, like the amphibians, are especially prone to the toxic effects of these chemicals, suffering a greater impact. 

Prevent Invasive Species From Spreading

Native wildlife populations all over the world have been severely affected by the invasion of non-native species, since the latter increase competition for food and habitat. Native species may even become their direct prey, risking extinction. You can minimize the impact of invasive species by populating your garden with native plants.

Don’t Drive Too Fast

For many native species, life takes place in densely populated areas, meaning they have to find their way through a labyrinth of human-made dangers. Roads, in particular, pose one of the greatest risks for wild animals that live in developed areas, because they split their habitat and pose a constant threat to animals that try to cross to the other side. So, if you are driving in such areas, reduce your speed and pay attention for such animals.  

Install Decals On Windows To Prevent Bird Collisions

Collisions with windows is a serious risk for birds. Almost one billion birds lose their lives every year by colliding with windows. A simple way of decreasing that number is by installing decals on the windows of your office and home. Other things you can do to help is to relocate bird feeders to a more convenient spot, draw curtains and shades when it’s bright outside, install screens on the external side of your windows, or use tinted window glass. 

Express Your Concerns And Become Actively Involved

By actively expressing your concerns regarding endangered species to local and national authorities, you raise the chances of someone actually doing something to remedy the situation. 

Share Your Excitement For Nature And Wildlife

Motivate other people to read up on wildlife issues, respect wildlife, and be serious about the protection of species and habitats. 

Go Vegan!

Last but not least, the single most effective way of helping wildlife is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Livestock has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the greatest cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans.

Fair Trade Not Fair For Animals

Fair trade products appeal to socially and environmentally conscious consumers. Fair trade products seek to reduce poverty, child labor, gender inequity, workplace safety issues, and poor environmental practices.

Fair trade helps to improve working conditions, sustainability, and fair terms for farmers and workers. When businesses and direct consumers pay sustainable prices for products, the injustices of conventional trade, which often discriminates against the poorest producers in the poorest countries, is reduced.

Fair trade products improve the lives of the people who made them, as well as their communities. They promote healthy and safe working conditions, encourage sound environmental practices, and create thriving small businesses.

But what fair trade fails to address is the interests of other sentient animals.

Consumers seeking to protect humans and the environment are likely to expect that the needs of animals were also considered in the making of the product. But the fair trade movement often fails to include animals in its ethical considerations. Products that negatively impact domestic animals, wildlife and entire ecosystems should not be promoted as fair trade.

Animals also deserve respect, compassion and rights. Promoting and protecting animals and ecosystems should be part of every companies’ corporate social responsibility. It is a logical extension of fair trade standards, and would be welcomed by health-conscious and humane consumers – those who often already support fair trade.

Is It Fair To The Animals?

How can fur, leather, wool, and other animal products ever be considered fair trade? Animal agribusiness hurts humans, the environment and animals.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of animal extinction, ocean dead zones and habitat destruction. Rapid habitat destruction is taking place by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops. Predators and "competition" species are perceived as threats and killed in alarming numbers. Dangerous chemicals interfere with reproductive systems of wildlife and poisons waterways. 1/3 of the earth has been desertified, with animal agriculture as the leading driver. Chemical fertilizer and pesticide runoff kills fish, degrades aquatic habitats and threatens drinking water supplies.

136 million rainforest acres have already been cleared for animal agriculture. It is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction, with another acre cleared every second. As a result, over 130 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day.

Are Animal Products Fair To Humans?

Not only do these animal agriculture products promote injustices to animals, they endanger the very humans that the fair trade movement seeks to protect. Animal agriculture threatens human health, degrades rural communities, harms workers and damages the environment that is home to fair trade producers.

Animal agriculture contaminates ground and surface water, releases dangerous pollutants into the air, incubates infectious diseases, and promotes the overuse of chemical pesticides. Workers on animal farms are exposed to a variety hazards that are known to cause health problems.

Animal agriculture emits harmful gases and particles such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, major contributors to global warming. It is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation exhaust combined. When also factoring in byproducts, animal agriculture accounts for at least 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of water pollution, threatening drinking water sources. It also uses a tremendous amount of water, reducing precious supplies.

82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals who are then eaten by people in western countries. 15 times more protein could be grown on lands with plants rather than animals.

Ethical Trade

Shopping is a form of voting; a way to express our moral choices. If we care about the planet and animals, but continue to buy from companies that harm animals and the environment, than we are participating in that unethical behavior.

Fair trade enthusiasts should embrace ethical consumerism – buying things that are made without harm to, or exploitation of, humans, animals and the environment. Ethical consumerism involves positive buying and moral boycotting. Positive buying means favoring ethical products, including vegan fair trade, cruelty free, organic, locally produced, recycled or re-used. Moral boycotting means refusing to buy products that not only exploit humans, but also products that exploit animals and the environment.

What would animals consider to be fair trade? At the very least, we can certainly assume that animals do not want to be considered commodities. True fairness factors in the considerations of people, animals and the environment. Our shopping choices do not need to come at the expense of animals and the planet.

The Truth About The Wildlife Film Industry

It's easy to get swept up in the wonders of the animal kingdom when watching an animal documentary, but what you're watching may be no more real than reality television. And the animals may be suffering at the hands of the entertainment industry.

Chris Palmer, School of Communication professor, believes the animal filmmaking industry - including Discovery, National Geographic, Animal Planet and the History Channel - becomes less ethical each year. According to Palmer, unethical animal filmmaking focuses on dollars and ratings.

“These networks and their fraudulent documentaries only increase ignorance and fear when they could be changing the course of history by bringing true science education to a broad audience,” stated Palmer.

While working as a lobbyist for environmental conservation on Capitol Hill, Palmer quickly discovered that Congressional hearings were bland events, poorly attended by the majority of Representatives and Senators and with far less impact than one would expect. So he turned, instead, to wildlife filmmaking, for the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation, with the hope of transforming mindsets and encouraging protection of wildlife.

In the process, Palmer discovered both the magic - and the misgivings - of the industry. While Shamu looked beautiful captured on film breaching, was it right to keep killer whales captive? Was it okay to have sound engineers recording the sound of their hands splashing in water and pawning it off as the sound of bears splashing through a stream? And should reputable TV networks be accepted or called out for airing sensational shows that put wildlife in harms way and present animal fiction like mermaids and monster sharks as fact?

In a tell-all book of the wildlife filmmaking industry, “Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: The Challenges of Staying Honest in an Industry Where Ratings Are King”, Palmer exposed the industry. He shared his own journey as a filmmaker - with its highs and lows and challenging ethical dilemmas - in order to provide filmmakers, networks, and the public with an invitation to evolve the industry to the next level. Palmer used his life story as a conservationist and filmmaker to convey his points, with an ultimate call to stop deceiving audiences, avoid harassing animals, and promote conservation.

Animal harassment in the industry includes disturbing the animals, using captive animals in staged shots, baiting animals, harming animals, using GPS technology to track them by stunning the animals with tranquilizers and slicing their skin to implant GPS transmitters, and even killing animals.

According to Palmer: “In Yukon Men (Discovery Channel, 2012), audiences are shown a lynx struggling in a leg hold trap and then strangled to death by a hunter with a wire noose; a man beating to death a snarling wolverine caught in another leg hold trap; and a man killing a wolf by pursuing it on a snowmobile and then shooting it with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. Some filmmakers, under pressure from broadcasters, will incite violence to get the footage they want.”

“The business side of television seems to coerce them into behavior that harms wildlife, spreads misinformation, and coarsens society’s appreciation of nature,” stated Palmer. “We need to persuade these channels to put more emphasis on conservation, on animal welfare, and on producing programs that are ethically made.”

Palmer now promotes raising awareness about conservation and animal welfare through an ethical lens.

“I’ve been as guilty of fabricating phony wildlife scenes as those I now criticize. That’s just the way it is done in this industry, and I’m ashamed of how long it took me to realize this practice was wrong,” stated Palmer. “I want to show the complexities of making wildlife films in an ethical manner. It is not easy to pull back the curtain on the industry’s failures - and even harder to reveal my own - but I believe the time has come for wildlife filmmaking to move in a healthier direction. We, as a society, cannot afford the malignant race for ever higher ratings to further corrupt the quality of these programs. I believe that wildlife filmmakers have at our disposal one of the greatest tools ever conceived to sway public opinion - a tool so powerful that, with its influence, we can actually change the future for all life on this planet. Film gives us the potential opportunity to educate and inspire every single viewer to move closer to nature and to treat the other inhabitants of this planet with more dignity and respect. Let’s seize this opportunity.”

Balloon Releases Harm Animals

If you are planning a balloon release for a special occasion, understand that the moment or two of delight the balloons provide can have deadly consequences for the environment. When you release balloons you are littering and your litter creates numerous threats to wildlife. Before you plan a balloon release ask yourself, “What happens to the balloons? Where do they go?”

While some balloons burst, others gradually deflate and fall back to earth where they can have cruel consequences for wildlife. Dolphins, whales, turtles, and many other marine species, as well as terrestrial animals such as cows, dogs, sheep, tortoises, birds and other animals have all been hurt or killed by balloons. The animal, unless rescued, will die from the balloon blocking its digestive tract. Unable to take in any nutrients, the animal slowly starves to death. Sea turtles are particularly at risk because they naturally prey on jellies and balloons can easily be mistaken for this prey. Wildlife of all kinds can become entangled in a deflated balloon and/or its ribbon, leaving the animal unable to move or eat.

Surveys of beach litter show that the amount of balloons and balloon pieces found on beaches has tripled in the past 10 years and those balloons can take years to break down. The balloon industry has set “standards” for themselves claiming that releasing balloons that are hand-tied, made of “biodegradable” latex, and without ribbons are environmentally friendly. Natural latex may be biodegradable, but after adding chemicals, plasticizers and artificial dyes it is no longer “natural”. It may degrade after several years, but it can do a lot of harm during those years. The ribbons or strings that are tied to the balloons also last years and can entangle any animal that comes in contact with them.

Many defenders of balloon releases are in the balloon business. They profit from the sale of balloons and many encourage people to disregard everything scientists, wildlife rehabilitators and conservationists are reporting about the impact balloons have on animals and the environment. Mass balloon releases bring in big profits. Conservationists are finding many more of the so-called “biodegradable” latex balloons, because the balloon industry has promoted this “alternative” with false information. But it should fall on the consumer to act responsibly and not risk wildlife just to mark an occasion.

Some states and countries have enacted laws regarding the release of balloons. The Balloon Council, and other balloon industry entities, spend millions of dollars lobbying to keep balloon releases legal. This multi-billion dollar industry, by promoting their product, actually encourages consumers to litter. Releasing balloons should be included in already existing litter laws. The practice is, by all definitions, littering.

Sky lanterns also return to earth as litter, and are also often marketed as “biodegradable” or “earth- friendly”. Both claims are untrue. Sky lanterns are made with treated paper, wires and/or a bamboo ring. They can travel for miles and always come down as dangerous litter. Sky lanterns have caused huge losses of property by starting structure fires and wildfires. This flaming aerial trash has also caused serious burns to humans and has killed animals that eat them or become entangled in their fallen remains.

Entire countries have banned the use of sky lanterns, including Austria, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Spain, Germany and parts of Canada. In the USA, bans include California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Other states, including Kansas and Missouri and the New York Division of Fire Prevention and Control are also looking into adopting changes to fire codes to regulate the use of sky lanterns.

The FAA has raised concerns over the use of floating lanterns as they can be sucked into aircraft engines. And there are even more consequences to this practice. In a report out of the UK, “Chinese Lanterns Report for Defra by WFU”, the Women’s Food and Farming Union determined: “The results were staggering, all over the country farmers had discovered them in their fields; loss of livestock, horses, and cattle was reported as well as fires and machinery damage. Worries about the metal being cut into small needles and then incorporated into hay or silage were uppermost in many farmers’ thoughts and so the WFU undertook to provide enough evidence to obtain a total ban on their use throughout the UK.”

There are many environmentally and animal friendly alternatives to balloon releases. If the occasion calls for a remembrance, why not plant a memory garden or just one tree? Though certainly not in keeping with a “reduce, reuse and recycle” lifestyle, there are pinwheels and streamers that can still offer a lovely display. Be certain that none are discarded at the site or beyond, as the purpose of not littering will be defeated.

Other alternatives to a balloon release are:
  • Blow bubbles (Collect all empty bubble bottles and wands.)
  • Light candles (Use safety precautions and collect all spent candles.)
  • Float flowers or flower petals (Many people feel a sense of peace and of letting go when they watch the flowers float away on a stream or lake.)
  • Fly a kite (Never near trees or lines where a kite could become entangled and harm birds.)

But never choose to release butterflies. They promote the breeding and exploitation of animals. A butterfly’s life is short. Not a minute should be spent in a container. Many of these beautiful creatures do not survive to fly away. And Lepidopterists warn that butterfly releases are not good for the environment, often introducing one species where it may not belong.

What You Should Know About Circuses

Performing captive wildlife -- elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas -- all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to "entertain" an uninformed audience.

Animals used in the circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.

Elephants suffer terribly while being used for human "entertainment." Elephants have three basic needs -- live vegetation for food, family relationships, and freedom of movement -- all of which are denied in the circus setting. In captivity, baby elephants are wrenched from their mother at one year of age and are trained with abusive domineering methods. Perhaps as the result of the ongoing stress and abuse they endure, there have been dozens of premature deaths of elephants used in the circus.

Compare the existence of captive elephants to those left in the wild. Elephants in the wild live as long as 70 years. Wild elephants live in herds and have a large extended family with strong social bonds. Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the females remain with their extended families throughout their lifetime. They roam up to 25 miles a day foraging for food and water. They take dust baths and find comfort during hot weather by wading in water and standing in the shade.

Large exotic cats used in the circus don't fare any better. In the wild, large cats roam for miles each day; they hunt for food, sleep in the sun and lead a fairly solitary existence. Exotic cats used in the circus are allowed none of these behaviors. They live and travel in small cages in close confinement with other cats. They have little room to move around and are never provided with any environmental enrichment.

Elephant training is almost always based on fear and intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of these magnificent animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for days at a time while being trained to "perform." During their training and throughout their lives in captivity elephants are beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods, stabbed with sharp (ankus) hooks and whipped.

Cats used in the circus are also trained by inherently cruel and dominating methods to force them to perform tricks that are unnatural and undignified. Exotic cats are often whipped, choked and beaten during their training sessions. To force a cat, such as a tiger, to stand on her hind legs, her front paws are often burned with cigarette lighters. To make the cats used in the circus run "enthusiastically" into the circus arena, they are often prodded with pipes or frightened by loud noises to make them appear excited to perform.

It is no wonder that out of frustration and rage elephants used in circuses have been responsible for over 40 human deaths worldwide since 1990. Denied their natural behaviors, and stressed by being kept in close quarters and being forced to constantly perform inane tricks, captive cats also strike back against those responsible for their confinement. There have been more than 75 documented human attacks by felines since 1990.

No traveling animal act, regardless of size or appearance, is capable of handling exotic wildlife in a humane manner. Federal USDA inspection records of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show more than 100 instances of substandard animal keeping between 1992 and 1997 alone. Although such a record of non-compliant items is not rare, citations are seldom issued. Each year only approximately a dozen of the 2,000+ licensed animal exhibitors in the U.S. are cited, and just one or two may have their license suspended or revoked by the USDA. Fines are frequently suspended.

Despite poor enforcement of animal welfare laws to protect animals in circuses, hope is on the horizon. A movement is underway to restrict or ban traveling animal acts at the local and state level. Traveling acts using animals have been banned in a number of cities in Australia and Canada. Several towns in the U.S. have prohibited animal acts and a few large cities are considering bans. Bills restricting circuses have been introduced in several state legislatures in recent years, and legislation was introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and for rides.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all animal circuses and other animal acts. Instead, support one of the growing number of circuses that do not use animals. Do not allow elephant rides or other animal acts to be used for fundraising purposes in your community. Contact the event sponsors and urge them to promote humane, animal-free circuses instead. Support legislation to protect captive exotic animals. 

If you witness animal cruelty at an event, document it in writing and/or with photographs or videotape and report it to your local humane society and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, Phone: 301-734-4981 Fax 301-734-4978.

What's Wrong With Zoos?

Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos remain more "collections" of interesting "items" than actual havens or simulated habitats. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, bored, cramped, lonely and far from their natural homes. They are a form of animal entertainment, not education.

Zoos range in size and quality from cageless parks to small roadside menageries with concrete slabs and iron bars. The larger the zoo and the greater the number and variety of the animals it contains, the more it costs to provide quality care for the animals. Although more than 112 million people visit zoos in the United States and Canada every year, most zoos operate at a loss and must find ways to cut costs (which sometimes means selling animals) or add gimmicks that will attract visitors. Zoo officials often consider profits ahead of the animals' well-being.

Animals suffer from more than neglect in some zoos. When Dunda, an African elephant, was transferred from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, she was chained, pulled to the ground, and beaten with ax handles for two days. One witness described the blows as "home run swings." Such abuse may be the norm. "You have to motivate them," says San Francisco zookeeper Paul Hunter of elephants, "and the way you do that is by beating the hell out of them."

Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species, but they frequently fall short on both counts. Most zoo enclosures are quite small, and labels provide little more information than the species' name, diet and natural range. The animals' normal behavior is seldom discussed, much less observed, because their natural needs are seldom met. Birds' wings may be clipped so they cannot fly, aquatic animals often have little water, and the many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone or, at most, in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. The animals are closely confined, lack privacy and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise, resulting in abnormal and self-destructive behavior called zoochosis.

A worldwide study of zoos conducted by the Born Free Foundation revealed that zoochosis is rampant in confined animals around the globe. Another study found that elephants spend 22 percent of their time engaging in abnormal behaviors, such as repeated head bobbing or biting cage bars, and bears spend about 30 percent of their time pacing, a sign of distress.

One sanctuary that is home to rescued zoo animals reports seeing frequent signs of zoochosis in animals brought to the sanctuary from zoos. Of chimpanzees, who bite their own limbs from captivity-induced stress, the manager says: "Their hands were unrecognizable from all the scar tissue."

More than half the world's zoos "are still in bad conditions" and treating chimpanzees poorly, according to renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall.

As for education, zoo visitors usually spend only a few minutes at each display, seeking entertainment rather than enlightenment. A study of the zoo in Buffalo, N.Y., found that most people passed cages quickly, and described animals in such terms as "funny-looking," "dirty," or "lazy."

The purpose of most zoos' research is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist, so would the need for most of their research. Protecting species from extinction sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals who draw crowds and publicity, and neglect less popular species. Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered, nor are they being prepared for release into natural habitats. It is nearly impossible to release captive-bred animals into the wild. A 1994 report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals showed that only 1,200 zoos out of 10,000 worldwide are registered for captive breeding and wildlife conservation. Only two percent of the world's threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs. Those that are endangered may have their plight made worse by zoos' focus on crowd appeal. In his book The Last Panda, George Schaller, the scientific director of the Bronx Zoo, says zoos are actually contributing to the near-extinction of giant pandas by constantly shuttling the animals from one zoo to another for display. In-breeding is also a problem among captive populations.

Zoo babies are great crowd-pleasers, but what happens when babies grow up? Zoos often sell or kill animals who no longer attract visitors. Deer, tigers, lions and other animals who breed often are sometimes sold to "game" farms where hunters pay for the "privilege" of killing them; some are killed for their meat and/or hides. Other "surplus" animals may be sold to smaller, more poorly run zoos or to laboratories for experiments. 

Ultimately, we will only save endangered species if we save their habitats and combat the reasons people kill them. Instead of supporting zoos, we should support groups like the International Primate Protection League, The Born Free Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation and other groups that work to preserve habitats, not habits. We should help non-profit sanctuaries, like Primarily Primates and the Performing Animal Welfare Society, that rescue and care for exotic animals, but don't sell or breed them. 

Zoos truly interested in raising awareness of wildlife and conservation should create high-tech zoos with no animals. Visitors could observe animals in the wild via live satellite links with far off places like the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier reef and Africa.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

It is best not to patronize a zoo unless you are actively working to change its conditions. Avoid smaller, roadside zoos at all costs. If no one visits these substandard operations, they will be forced to close down. Zoos are covered under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which sets minimal housing and maintenance standards for captive animals. The AWA requires that all animal displays be licensed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must inspect zoos once a year. However, some zoos that have passed USDA inspections with flying colors have later been found by humane groups to have numerous violations. Start a "Zoocheck" program to build a strong case for implementing changes.

Glue Traps Are Inhumane

Glue traps are often used to catch mice, rats, sparrows and other small birds, and is thought by some to be a more humane method of catching small animals that are seen as pests. Glue traps, however, are an extremely cruel method of catching animals. If people understood the degree of cruelty associated with the use of glue traps, they would want no part of them.

A 1983 test that evaluated the effectiveness of glue traps found that trapped mice struggling to free themselves would pull out their own hair, exposing bare, raw areas of skin. The mice broke or even bit off their own legs, and the glue caused their eyes to become badly irritated and scarred. After three to five hours in the glue traps, the mice defecated and urinated heavily because of their severe stress and fear, and quickly became covered with their own excrement. Animals whose faces become stuck in the glue slowly suffocate, and all trapped animals are subject to starvation and dehydration. It takes anywhere from three to five days for the mouse to finally die. This is nothing less than torture.

If traps are needed to remove mice or rats, humane box-type traps are available from humane societies and hardware stores. These traps are a box-like plastic or cage-like metal with a spring-release trap door at one end that closes behind the animal once he or she enters the trap. The trap can then be taken outdoors where the animal can be released. Live, humane rodent traps are widely available, and have the added benefit of being reusable, while glue traps are not. The labor involved in using these is comparable to glue traps, as someone will always have to pick up the trap and discard it, or in the case of a humane trap, release the mouse outdoors.

You can then take measures to prevent mice from re-entering the building, as they surely will over time. Patch all holes larger than 1/4" in diameter, seal cracks in the walls and floor, and close gaps around plumbing, doors, windows. This should help to prevent the need to deal with the problem of removing mice again. If you need to do so in the future, you will have the humane traps at your disposal. 

It is important to remember that though small and removed from our day-to-day world, mice and other small animals are mammals, with nervous systems and perceptions of pain that are similar to humans. There is no evidence that mice suffer any less than we do.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Use only humane traps. Seal all holes in your home to prevent infestation. Educate others on the issue and ask local retailers to carry humane traps and not glue traps.

Don't Support Animal Entertainment

Animal acts and exhibits run a deplorable gamut. They include diving horses at theme parks, dancing chimpanzees, caged bears at an ice cream stand, piano-playing chickens, caged parrots in hotel lobbies, cats forced through flaming hoops, and giant turtles forced to give children rides. 

Animals used in these spectacles are often subjected to abuse in order to provide "entertainment" to patrons. Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for animals meant to roam free. Kept in small, barren cages, forced to sleep on concrete slabs, and imprisoned behind iron bars, performing animals often suffer from malnutrition, loneliness, the denial of all normal pleasures and behaviors, loss of freedom and independence, even lack of veterinary care, and filthy quarters. Attracting customers is the first consideration and the animals' welfare is often the last. Even when the mere display of the animals themselves is the "draw," the animals rarely receive proper care--and almost never the socialization and stimulation they crave. 

Animals used for entertainment are subjected to rigorous and abusive training methods to force them to perform stressful, confusing, uncomfortable, and even painful acts; training methods can include beatings, the use of electric prods, food deprivation, drugging and surgically removing or impairing teeth and claws.

Confined to tiny cages and gawked at by crowds, animals in exhibits and acts endure constant stress. They may suffer from temperature extremes and irregular feeding and watering. Without exercise, they become listless, their immune systems are weakened, and they become prone to sickness; many resort to self-mutilation in reaction to stress or boredom. Mental illness is rampant among confined animals. Torn from their families and deprived of all dignity, every part of their lives is controlled by their captors.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Refrain from patronizing animal entertainment businesses. Educate others on the issue and encourage them to boycott the industry. Urge your local government to ban animal entertainment in your community.

Make Your Own Natural Vegan Bath & Beauty Products

Outer beauty is a reflection of our health. When healthy and well-nourished our skin glows, our hair is silky and our eyes are bright. Ironically, most “beauty” products are anything but healthy and humane. Often laced with dozens of chemicals and tested on animals, conventional bath and beauty products are destructive to the planet's health as well as our own. Fortunately, simple and effective alternatives are waiting to be discovered in your kitchen cupboards. In fact, just three ingredients from your kitchen can make most of the products you use in your bathroom – oil, baking soda and vinegar. They are truly so healthy you can eat them. If you can't eat your bath and beauty products, you shouldn't be using them on your body.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Shampoo

Baking soda is very effective at cleaning hair. Simply dissolve the baking soda in some water and apply it to your hair, then rinse thoroughly. For dry hair, apply a bit of oil such as olive or coconut oil. For frizzy hair, use less baking soda or rinse it sooner. For greasy hair, add a little lemon or lime juice. For itchy scalp, add essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Hair Conditioner

Coconut oil offers exceptional hydration and can be used before or after shampooing. For thin, lightweight, or oily hair, apply before showering. For curly, thick, or dry hair, apply after showering. Apple cider vinegar is also one of the best alternatives to commercial conditioner. It smoothes your cuticles, leaving your hair softer and easier to detangle. Simply mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water. Apple cider vinegar has low pH, so it can dry some hair types – mix a little oil with it.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Body Wash And Soap

Baking soda is an amazing body cleanser. Just mix a little baking soda with water. To moisturize your skin, add a little coconut oil. For some added fragrance, add some essential oil. Peppermint oil can stimulate and lift your mood, camomile or lavender oils promote relaxation, and ylang ylang and geranium oils help your overall feeling of well-being. 1 cup of Castile liquid soap (vegetable oils) mixed with 6 drops of essential oil also makes a great body wash.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Bath Salts

Mix 3 cups of Epsom salt, 2 cups of sea salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Add essential oils for scent. Jasmine, lavender, and cedar create a calming bath. Citrus scents like orange, grapefruit, lemon and tangerine are used for clarity and joy.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Bath Milk

Mix 1 1/2 cups powdered soy milk and 1/2 cup Epsom salts together. Add a few drops of essential oil if desired.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Bubble Bath

Mix 1 cup of liquid castile soap, 2/3 cup of liquid vegetable glycerin, 1/4 cup of water, and a few drops of essential oil together. Add to bath.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Body Scrub

Mix 2 cups of brown sugar with 1 cup of coconut or olive oil. Add essential oil for fragrance if you like. For a softer alternative, substitute all or part of the sugar for oats.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Hair Gel

Coconut oil makes an excellent, all natural alternative to hair gel...and it conditions your hair. Note: a little goes a long way.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Deodorant And Antiperspirant

Conventional antiperspirant and deodorant put aluminum in your body and prevent perspiration – the body’s natural way of eliminating toxins. Baking soda is an incredibly effective natural deodorant. Mixing it with equal parts coconut oil is even better. Coconut oil is antibacterial and anti fungal, so it prevents odors very well.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Lotion

Skin is the largest organ in the body, and chemicals from conventional lotions are absorbed through the skin and stored in fat. A much safer lotion alternative is pure organic coconut oil. Coconut oil helps dry skin, wrinkles, and additional skin issues. It is naturally antibacterial, so it does not create breakouts. Coconut oil can be combined with other oils, herbs and essential oils to create a variety of solutions for different skin types.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Toothpaste

Virtually all conventional toothpastes contain dangerous fluoride – a toxic byproduct of the aluminum industry. Fluoride has been linked to numerous diseases, including cancer and thyroid disease. Steer clear of fluoride toothpaste. Instead, brush your teeth with baking soda. You can add peppermint or other essential oils for better taste and fresher breath.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Lip Balm

Use coconut oil in place of lip balm. It works well, and it's quite tasty.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Facial Toner

Apple cider vinegar diluted with water makes a fantastic facial toner. Use a teaspoon of vinegar per half cup of water. Don't worry, the vinegar scent fades as soon as it dries. A few drops of essential oil will improve the scent. Apple cider vinegar brightens, tightens and freshens skin. It solves dry skin and breakout problems.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Facial Cleanser

Make a face wash by adding a little baking soda to coconut oil.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Mascara Remover

Olive oil or coconut oil work well at removing mascara and eye makeup, including waterproof makeup. Use one or the other, or combine the two. These oils also moisturize the eyes and help remove or prevent wrinkles.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Hair Spray

Juice a lemon and mix with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Keep the mixture stored in the refrigerator. A cup of boiling water mixed with 1 to 4 teaspoons of sugar also creates an effective hair spray. Pour the mixture into a mister bottle. Apply as many times as needed, allowing it to dry in between applications. For a natural beach waves look, substitute sugar for salt.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Teeth Whiteners

A healthy diet is most effective in keeping teeth white, and pure baking soda applied with a toothbrush is also effective. You can also rub fresh strawberries on your gums or mix mashed strawberries with baking soda and keep in your mouth tray for about 30 minutes one time a week.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Cuticle Care

Scrub dry, cracked cuticles with a paste made from equal parts baking soda and warm water. It exfoliates dead skin cells and soften hands.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Acne Solution

Mix baking soda with a little bit of water. Apply to the acne until dry.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Foot Soak

Eliminate foot odor and fungus by soaking your feet in a solution of warm water and half a cup of baking soda. Add essential oil if you like.

Natural Vegan Alternatives For Aftershave

Apply a little coconut oil after shaving to soothe your skin.

The Derby Is Deadly

“The most exciting two minutes in sports” are actually the deadliest. While spectators enjoy their mint juleps in over-the-top fashion at the Kentucky Derby, the horses are given drug cocktails to enhance their performance and mask their pain and injuries, and more than 1,000 of the “athletes” die every single year.

What if other sports had the same odds? What if three NFL players died every Sunday?

Horse racing is not a sport. It’s a blood sport. Until the cruelty ends, please don’t go to the racetrack or have a Kentucky Derby party or watch the Triple Crown races on TV. And please, never bet on horse racing—because the only sure thing in horse racing is that the horses always lose.

Many fragile, young horses are injured and killed before they ever even race. Thoroughbreds who survive are given drug cocktails to enhance their performance and mask the pain of their injuries—a practice that makes the horses even more vulnerable to the kind of catastrophic injury that killed Eight Belles at the 2008 Kentucky Derby and more than three horses every day on U.S. tracks. Nehro, the second place finisher at the 2011 Kentucky Derby, was forced to run and train on extremely painful, deteriorating hooves—one of which was held together with superglue. Nehro died at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day in 2013.

When horses are no longer profitable, many owners discard them. Every year, as many as 15,000 Thoroughbreds are crowded onto trucks, shipped on long and terrifying journeys to Canada and Mexico, and slaughtered so their flesh can be sold for human consumption. But the industry continues to breed tens of thousands more Thoroughbred mares each year, perpetuating a deadly cycle.

The scale of drug abuse by trainers at the race course is highlighted in figures from Kentucky Horse Racing Commission papers. 46 horses tested positive at Churchill Downs in 2014 for unsafe levels of permitted or banned substances. Among the substances were methamphetamine, painkillers, steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs. The numbers reveal only a fraction of the drug abuse as not every horse is tested - only the first three winners in a race.

The life of a horse used for racing is miserable and painful. The use of performance-enhancing and pain-masking drugs is rampant in the racing industry. The horses are more likely to suffer from pulmonary bleeding and catastrophic injuries on the track as they’re pushed beyond their physical limits. While their bones are still growing and not yet strong enough to handle the speed of racing, the abuse of yearlings and 2-year-olds in training is commonplace, resulting in catastrophic injuries and often death. The horse racing industry keeps this figure quiet and quite literally puts up screens to blind viewers to the carnage.

Jockeys have been known to whip horses so mercilessly that the animals’ eyes have hemorrhaged and they’ve sustained other injuries. Hard-packed dirt surfaces make it more likely that horses will break a bone. Equine Injury Database studies have shown that grass and even synthetic surfaces are far less likely to result in injuries.

Owners in constant search of the next Triple Crown winner force winning horses to breed excessively, hoping for their next big paycheck. As if the races themselves weren’t hard enough, the horses endure repeated auctions, serial ownership, and constant travel throughout their careers. Retirement equals slaughter. When Thoroughbreds are no longer making money, many are shipped to Mexico, Canada, or Japan to be slaughtered for food.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

The easiest and best way to speak out against this travesty is by not supporting these tragic events. Avoid everything related to horse racing, including betting on, watching, and attending races as well as attending Kentucky Derby parties.

End Internet Hunting

Internet hunting—also called remote controlled hunting—utilizes Internet technology to allow a computer user to hunt large game and exotic animals from their own home. The controversial practice originated in San Antonio, Texas, with the launching of the website Live-Shot.com, which allowed hunters to shoot animals with the click of a mouse for a fee. Computer users aimed and fired a weapon that was mounted on a mechanized tripod at a remote location—usually a game ranch where exotic animals were kept penned and shot at close range.

The customer signed up through the website and paid a user fee and deposit for the animal he or she wished to kill. The animal was lured to a feeding station within range of the mounted rifle. At one facility, the animals were fed at the same time and place each day by people to whom they had become accustomed. When the animal approached the appointed place at the appointed time, the desktop hunter used the computer mouse to line up the crosshairs and fire the rifle. A single click of the mouse shot the animal. Trophy mounts were prepared at the ranch and shipped to the customer.

An Internet hunting session usually cost more than $1,500. The final cost depended on the species and size of the animal killed and the cost of mounting the trophy.

This practice bared no resemblance to traditional hunting.  Even pro-hunting groups denounced Internet hunting because it violated the ideals of a "fair chase." Kelly Hobbs of the National Rifle Association stated, "The NRA has always maintained that fair chase, being in the field with your firearm or bow, is an important element of hunting tradition. Sitting at your desk in front of your computer, clicking at a mouse, has nothing to do with hunting." Even Safari Club International, a group dedicated to hunting large and exotic trophy animals, agreed that Internet hunting "...doesn't meet any fair chase criteria."

John Lockwood, the founder of Live-Shot.com, claimed the operation was intended to provide disabled individuals with the opportunity to hunt, but the Texas legislature did not buy it and promptly outlawed Internet hunting in state. The website was removed.

Internet hunting has now been banned in 40 states. This proactive measure has so far curbed the practice, but the interstate and international nature of the worldwide Web necessitates federal legislation. Laws in the states where it is still permitted are also needed to put a permanent end to the travesty of Internet hunting.

Eat Vegetables To Save The Earth & Animals

A plant-based diet is the most dramatic lifestyle change you can make to help save the planet and its animals. It also provides a wealth of health benefits. People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.

Nutrients
  • Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. (Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, and/or cholesterol.)
  • Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
  • Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
  • Dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
  • Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
  • Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
  • Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.

Health Benefits
  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancers.
  • Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
  • Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.

Tips To Help You Eat Vegetables

In General
  • Buy fresh vegetables in season. They cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor.
  • Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking.
  • Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up pre-washed bags of salad greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes for a salad in minutes. Buy packages of veggies such as baby carrots or celery sticks for quick snacks.
  • Use a microwave to quickly “zap” vegetables. White or sweet potatoes can be baked quickly this way.
  • Vary your veggie choices to keep meals interesting.
  • Try crunchy vegetables, raw or lightly steamed.

For The Best Nutritional Value
  • Select vegetables with more potassium often, such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
  • Sauces or seasonings can add calories, saturated fat, and sodium to vegetables. Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the calories and % Daily Value for saturated fat and sodium in plain and seasoned vegetables.
  • Prepare more foods from fresh ingredients to lower sodium intake. Most sodium in the food supply comes from packaged or processed foods.
  • Buy canned vegetables labeled "reduced sodium," "low sodium," or "no salt added." If you want to add a little salt it will likely be less than the amount in the regular canned product.

At Meals
  • Plan meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a vegetable stir-fry or soup.
  • Try a main dish salad for lunch. Go light on the salad dressing.
  • Include a green salad with your dinner every night.
  • Shred carrots or zucchini into casseroles, quick breads, and muffins.
  • Include chopped vegetables in pasta sauce.
  • Order a vegan pizza with toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, and ask for extra veggies.
  • Use pureed, cooked vegetables such as potatoes to thicken soups and gravies. These add flavor, nutrients, and texture.
  • Grill vegetable kabobs. Try tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.

Make Vegetables More Appealing
  • Many vegetables taste great with a dip or dressing. Try a low-fat, low-sugar salad dressing with raw broccoli, red and green peppers, celery sticks or cauliflower.
  • Add color to salads by adding baby carrots, shredded red cabbage, or spinach leaves. Include in-season vegetables for variety through the year.
  • Include beans or peas in flavorful mixed dishes and salads.
  • Decorate plates or serving dishes with vegetable slices.
  • Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables in a see-through container in the refrigerator. Carrot and celery sticks are traditional, but consider red or green pepper strips, broccoli florets, or cucumber slices.

Vegetable Tips For Children
  • Set a good example for children by eating vegetables with meals and as snacks.
  • Let children decide on the dinner vegetables or what goes into salads.
  • Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up vegetables.
  • Allow children to pick a new vegetable to try while shopping.
  • Use cut-up vegetables as part of afternoon snacks.
  • Children often prefer foods served separately. So, rather than mixed vegetables try serving two vegetables separately.

Keep It Safe
  • Rinse vegetables before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub vegetables briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel after rinsing.
  • Buy organic vegetables whenever possible.

Over 100 Vegan Uses For Baking Soda

Baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda, can be used as a natural, non-toxic alternative for many cleaning and bath products. Drastically reduce your consumption, eliminate your use of toxic products, and save a lot of money with simple baking soda solutions.

Using baking soda for bath and beauty needs, cleaning, deodorizing and other eco-friendly uses is easy. For solutions, stir together about 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of baking soda with 1 quart of water until dissolved. For pastes, stir together three parts of baking soda with one part water. For sprinkling, simply store baking soda in a jar or bottle with a shaker-type cap.

Baking Soda In The Bath
  • Shampoo: Use baking soda as a shampoo, rinse, then use apple cider vinegar as a conditioner.
  • Spa Bath: Add baking soda or bath salts to your bath.
  • Toothpaste: Dip your wet toothbrush into baking soda to brush your teeth, whiten your teeth and freshen your breath.
  • Teeth Whitener: Create a paste with a teaspoon of baking soda and water. Rub paste on your teeth once a week, let sit for five minutes, then rinse.
  • Deodorant: Lightly pat baking soda under your arms.
  • Mouthwash: Add one teaspoon of baking soda to a small glass of water.
  • Exfoliant: Mix three parts baking soda with one part water to use as an exfoliant to gently remove dead skin cells. Rub in a circular motion, then rinse.
  • Insect Bites: Make a paste out of baking soda and water and apply to skin.
  • Clean Combs And Brushes: Remove oil build-up by soaking combs and brushes in a glass of warm water mixed with one teaspoon of baking soda. Rinse and let dry.
  • Oral Appliances: Clean retainers and dentures with two teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in a cup of warm water.

Body Uses For Baking Soda
  • Hand Softener: Mix baking soda with warm water and rub on your hands to clean and soften.
  • Rash: Use two tablespoons of baking soda in bathwater to relieve rash.
  • Antacid: Use baking soda to relieve heartburn, stomach upset and acid indigestion by drinking half a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with half a cup of water.
  • Canker Sores: Used as a mouthwash to relieve canker sore pain.
  • Windburns: Moisten baking soda with water and apply.
  • Feet: Soak your feet in a warm bowl of water with three tablespoons of baking soda.
  • Sunburn: Apply a paste of baking soda mixed with water.
  • Bee Stings: Create a poultice of baking soda mixed with water.
  • Measles And Chicken Pox: Relieve general skin irritations such as measles and chicken pox by adding baking soda to your bath.
  • Itchy Skin Relief: Mix baking soda with water to create a paste – then rub it on your skin.
  • Splinters: Splinters come out naturally after a few days of soaking in baking soda twice a day.

Health Benefits Of Baking Soda
  • Ulcers: Baking soda neutralizes stomach acid and is beneficial for ulcers. Add a pinch of baking soda to your drinking water.
  • Cancer Prevention: Eating baking soda can offer nutritional and immune support for people with cancer. Add a little baking soda to your drinking water. Baking soda increases the pH of acidic tumors without affecting the pH balance of healthy blood and tissues. A pH imbalance causes unhealthy organisms to flourish, damaging tissues and organs and compromising immune systems.
  • Exercise Enhancer: Mix a pinch of baking soda in your drinking water before workouts. Baking soda absorbs lactic acid in muscles during vigorous workouts, prolonging fatigue and enhancing athletic performance.
  • Kidney Function: Low-functioning kidneys have difficulty removing acid from the body. Baking soda buffers acids and maintains balanced pH levels in your body.

Bathroom Cleaning With Baking Soda
  • Soft Scrub: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge to scrub bathtubs, showers, tiles and sinks – then rinse and wipe dry.
  • Vinyl Shower Curtains: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush to scrub shower curtains, rinse and allow to dry.
  • Toilet Cleaning: Add one cup of baking soda to the toilet and scrub.
  • Clogged Drains: Unclog your drain with one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar.
  • Laundry Uses For Baking Soda
  • Laundry Detergent: Use half to 1 cup of baking soda in the wash cycle to get clothes clean and smelling fresh naturally.
  • Laundry Detergent Boost: Add half a cup of baking soda to detergent to get clothes brighter.
  • Pre-Soak: For heavy odor and dirt issues, use baking soda as a pre-soak. Dissolve 1 cup of baking soda in warm water. Fill the washer or sink with water and add the dissolved baking soda and clothes to soak overnight before washing.
  • Fabric Softner: Add half a cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle to balance pH levels and suspend detergent or mineral deposits in the water that make clothing feel stiff.
  • Iron Cleaner: Remove built-up starch and scorch deposits from irons with a mix of baking soda and water, then wipe the plate with white vinegar.
  • Cloth Diapers: Add half a cup of baking soda to 8 cups of water to soak cloth diapers.

Kitchen Cleaning With Baking Soda
  • Floors: Mix half a cup of baking soda in a bucket of warm water. Mop and rinse clean.
  • Microwave: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge or cloth to clean inside of microwaves and remove odors.
  • Cookware: Shake baking soda onto pots and pans, add hot water and soak for 15 minutes before washing.
  • Oven: Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom surface of your oven and spray with water. Allow to sit overnight, then scrub and rinse.
  • Cookware Oil And Grease: Add a heaping scoop of baking soda to your regular dish soap to help cut oil and grease.
  • Dishwashers: Deodorize and cleanse your dishwasher by adding baking soda to the wash cycle.
  • Dishcloths: Sweeten sour dishcloths with baking soda.
  • Cutting Boards: Sprinkle baking soda on cutting boards, scrub and rinse.
  • Drains: Unclog your sink with one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar.
  • Polish Silver: Mix baking soda and water to create a paste and rub onto silver with a clean cloth, then rinse and dry.
  • Stainless Steel And Chrome: Rub with a moist cloth and dry baking soda. Rinse and dry.
  • Fridge And Freezer: Clean with baking soda sprinkled on a damp cloth, then rinse.
  • Food And Beverage Containers: Wash food and beverage containers with baking soda and water.
  • Melted Plastic Bread Bags: Use baking soda to remove melted plastic from bread bags by dampening a cloth and creating a mild abrasive with baking soda.
  • Counters: Clean with baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge.
  • Thermos Bottles: Wash out with baking soda and water.
  • Coffee Pots: Clean glass or stainless steel coffee pots (but not aluminum) with 3 tablespoons of baking soda mixed with one quart of water.
  • Coffee Makers: Run coffee maker through its cycle with a baking soda solution, then rinse.
  • Garbage Disposals: Eliminate odors by slowly pour baking soda down the drain while running warm water.

Outdoor Uses For Baking Soda
  • Barbecue Grills: Sprinkle baking soda on barbecue grills, let soak, then rinse off.
  • Garage Floors: Sprinkle baking soda on greasy garage floors. Allow to stand, then scrub and rinse.
  • Repel Rain From Windshields: Apply gobs of baking soda to a dampened cloth and wipe windows.
  • Patio Furniture: Sprinkle baking soda under chair cushions to freshen patio furniture.
  • Weeds: Sprinkle baking soda between the cracks of your walkway to keep weeds away.
  • Cars: Mix baking soda with warm water on a soft cloth, brush or sponge to clean off dirt and bugs.
  • Garbage Cans: Wash garbage cans with baking soda and water.
  • Hands: Remove odors from hands by wetting hands and rubbing them hard with baking soda, then rinse.

Cleaning With Baking Soda
  • Furniture: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and rub furniture lightly. Wipe off with a dry cloth.
  • Surfaces: Clean and remove stains from marble, formica and plastic surfaces by scouring with a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Batteries: Create a baking soda paste and apply with a damp cloth to scrub corrosion off batteries. Use caution as batteries contain acids. Disconnect battery terminal before cleaning, and to prevent corrosion wipe on petroleum jelly.
  • Oil And Grease Stains: Sprinkle baking soda on oil and grease and scrub with a wet brush.
  • Crayon Marks On Walls: Add baking soda to a wet cloth to remove crayon marks on walls.

Deodorizing With Baking Soda
  • Air Freshener: Add one tablespoon of baking soda to water and a little essential oil.
  • Refrigerator: Place an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator.
  • Rugs And Carpeting. Sprinkle baking soda on rugs and carpet, wait 15 minutes or overnight, and vacuum.
  • Garbage Cans: Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of garbage cans.
  • Sports Gear: Sprinkle baking soda into gym, sport and golf bags.
  • Closets: Place an open box of baking soda in closets. To ward off moths, add a few drops of lavender oil.
  • Toilets Odors: Add one cup of baking soda to the toilet and allow to sit an hour before flushing.
  • Stuffed Animals: Clean stuffed toys by sprinkling them with baking soda; brush off after 15 minutes.
  • Fireplaces: Reduce soot odor by cleaning the ashes out of your fireplace and placing a bowl of baking soda inside.
  • Vacuum Cleaners: By vacuuming baking soda into the vacuum cleaner, you deodorize the vacuum.
  • Shoes: Shake baking soda into shoes.

Baking Soda Companion Animals Uses
  • Dry Bath: Sprinkle baking soda on dry fur, brush it in then brush it out. Keep away from eyes.
  • Wet Bath: Bathe your dog with a solution of 1 tablespoon of baking soda for every 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Let it soak into fur for a few minutes. Thoroughly rinse, then apply apple cider vinegar to condition fur – 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per cup of warm water – allowing to sit for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly, then dry. Keep both solutions away from eyes.
  • Accidents: Clean up companion animal "accidents" by scrubbing the area with club soda, then allow the area to dry. Sprinkle baking soda on the area and let stand for a while, then vacuum up.
  • Teeth And Gums: Brush your companion animal's teeth by dipping a damp, soft brush in baking soda and brushing gently.
  • Animal Bedding: Sprinkle baking soda liberally onto pet bedding, allow to sit for 15 minutes before vacuuming.
  • Animal Carpet Odors: Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, let dry, then vacuum.
  • Litter Box Odor: Layer the bottom of the box with baking soda, add litter on top.
  • Litter Box Cleaning: Empty old litter and pour in a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Let stand for 15 minutes, then scrub, pour out and dry.
  • Cage And Crate: Scrub with a solution of baking soda dissolved in warm water. Rinse and dry.
  • Dishes: Scrub dog and cat bowls with baking soda and water.
  • Toys: Dissolve baking soda in warm water to wash pet toys. Rinse well and dry.
  • Blankets And Towels. Add half a cup of baking soda to the wash.
  • Skunk Odors: Combine 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of grease cutting dish detergent. Wash your animal with the solution.
  • Bee Stings: Remove stinger from animal if needed, then apply a baking soda paste.
  • Nail Bleeding: If you cut your animal's nails too close and draw blood, dip the nail in baking soda and apply pressure.
  • Bad Breath: Mix half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of baking soda with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray your animal’s mouth regularly.

Food Uses For Baking Soda
  • Produce: Scrub produce with baking soda under water to remove pesticides and residue.
  • Baking: Baking soda, as its name implies, can be used as a leavening agent in baked goods. It causes dough to rise.
  • Beans And Bloating. Sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda in water while soaking dry beans to reduce bloating.
  • Tea: Add a pinch of baking soda to a gallon of freshly brewed tea to remove bitterness and cloudiness.
  • Lunch Boxes: Place a spill-proof box of baking soda in a lunch box between uses to absorb odors.
  • Ants: Mix equal parts baking soda and salt and sprinkle in areas where ants are entering your home.

Babies And Kids Uses For Baking Soda
  • Baby Bottles: Clean baby bottles with baking soda and hot water.
  • Cloth Diapers: Dissolve half a cup of baking soda in two quarts of warm water and soak diapers thoroughly before washing.
  • Diaper Rash: Add two tablespoons of baking soda to your baby's bath water to help relieve diaper rash.
  • Play Clay: Combine 1 1/4 cups of water, two cups of baking soda and one cup of cornstarch.
  • Baby Spit Ups: Moisten a cloth, dip it in baking soda and dab at the dribbled clothing.
  • Baby Pools: Add baking soda to the bottom of a mildewed baby pool, then hose it down.

More Baking Soda Uses
  • Cut Flowers: Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a vase of flowers to expand their life.
  • Fill Wall Holes. Mix baking soda with white toothpaste to fill holes in a plastered wall.
  • Small Fires: Toss baking soda at the base of the fire to help put a fire out.
  • Ashtrays: Remove odors from ashtrays with baking soda and water. Sprinkle dry baking soda in ashtrays to prevent smoldering and reduce odor.
  • Canvas Bags: Use dry baking soda with a brush to rub canvas handbags clean.

Don't Support Marine Mammal Parks

Each year, orcas leap through the air for a handful of fish, and dolphins are ridden by human performers as if they were water skis. Employees at marine parks like to tell audiences that the animals wouldn't perform if they weren't happy. You can even see how content the dolphins are--just look at the permanent smiles on their faces, right? But what most visitors to marine parks don't realize is that hidden behind the dolphin's "smile" is an industry built on suffering.

FAMILIES TORN APART

Killer whales, or orcas, are members of the dolphin family. They are also the largest animals held in captivity. In the wild, orcas stay with their mothers for life. Family groups, or "pods," consist of a mother, her adult sons and daughters, and the offspring of her daughters. Each member of the pod communicates in a "dialect" specific to that pod. Dolphins swim together in family pods of three to 10 individuals or tribes of hundreds. Imagine, then, the trauma inflicted on these social animals when they are ripped from their families and put in the strange, artificial world of a marine park.

Capturing even one wild orca or dolphin disrupts the entire pod. To obtain a female dolphin of breeding age, for example, boats are used to chase the pod to shallow waters. The dolphins are surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted into the boats. Unwanted dolphins are thrown back. Some die from the shock of their experience. Others slowly succumb to pneumonia caused by water entering their lungs through their blowholes. Pregnant females may spontaneously abort babies.

Orcas and dolphins who survive this ordeal become frantic upon seeing their captured companions and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium in a steel cage, a group of wild orcas followed for miles.

ADAPTING TO AN ALIEN WORLD 

In the wild, orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day. But captured dolphins are confined to tanks as small as 24 feet by 24 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Wild orcas and dolphins can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes at a time, and they typically spend only 10 to 20 percent of their time at the water's surface. But because the tanks in marine parks are so shallow, captive orcas and dolphins spend more than half of their time at the surface. Experts believe this may account for the collapsed dorsal fins seen on the majority of captive orcas.

Dolphins navigate by echolocation. They bounce sonar waves off other objects to determine shape, density, distance, and location. In tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bouncing off walls drives some dolphins insane. Jean-Michel Cousteau believes that for captive dolphins, "their world becomes a maze of meaningless reverberations."

Tanks are kept clean with chlorine, copper sulfate, and other harsh chemicals that irritate dolphins' eyes, causing many to swim with their eyes closed. Former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the television show "Flipper," believes excessive chlorine has caused some dolphins to go blind. The United States Department of Agriculture closed Florida's Ocean World after determining that over-chlorinated water was causing dolphins' skin to peel off.

Newly captured dolphins and orcas are also forced to learn tricks. Former trainers say that withholding food and isolating animals who refuse to perform are two common training methods. According to Ric O'Barry, "positive reward" training is a euphemism for food deprivation. Marine parks may withhold up to 60 percent of food before shows so that the animals will be "sharp" for performances. Former dolphin trainer Doug Cartlidge maintains that highly social dolphins are punished by being isolated from other animals: "You put them in a pen and ignore them. It's like psychological torture." It's little wonder, then, that captive orcas and dolphins are, as O'Barry says, "so stressed-out you wouldn't believe it." The stress is so great that some commit suicide. Jacques Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel, vowed never to capture marine mammals again after witnessing one captured dolphin kill himself by deliberately crashing into the side of his tank again and again.

TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES

If life for captive orcas and dolphins is as tranquil as marine parks would have us believe, the animals should live longer than their wild counterparts. After all, captive marine mammals are not subject to predators and ocean pollution. But captivity is a death sentence for orcas and dolphins.

In the wild, dolphins can live to be 25 to 50 years old. Male orcas live between 50 and 60 years, females between 80 and 90 years. But orcas at Sea World and other marine parks rarely survive more than 10 years in captivity. More than half of all dolphins die within the first two years of captivity; the remaining dolphins live an average of only six years. One Canadian research team found that captivity shortens an orca's life by as much as 43 years, and a dolphin's life by up to 15 years.

Sea World, which owns most of the captive orcas and dolphins in the United States, has one of the worst histories of caring for its animals. After Sea World purchased and closed Marineland, a Southern California competitor, it shipped the Marineland animals to various Sea World facilities. Within a year, 12 of them--5 dolphins, 5 sea lions, and 2 seals--were dead. The following year, Orky, a Marineland orca said to be the "world's most famous killer whale," also died. Because of such high mortality rates and because captive breeding programs have been highly unsuccessful, marine parks continue to capture orcas and dolphins from the wild.

Captive animals are not the only victims of these "circuses of the sea." Sea World patrons were stunned when two orcas repeatedly dragged trainer Jonathan Smith to the bottom of their tank, in an apparent attempt to drown him. Trainer Keltie Lee Byrne was killed by three Sea Land orcas after she fell into the water with them.

MIS-EDUCATION

Marine parks have shown no more interest in conserving marine mammals' natural habitats than they have in educating audiences. In fact, the industry has actively lobbied to keep small cetaceans, such as orcas and dolphins, outside the jurisdiction of the International Whaling Commission (even though this would help protect these animals in the wild) because they don't want to risk not being able to capture additional animals in the future.

TURNING THE TIDE 

Increasingly, people around the world are recognizing that dolphins, orcas, and other cetaceans do not belong in captivity. Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. In Brazil, it is illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. In England, consumer boycotts have forced all the marine parks to close. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks, South Carolina has banned all exhibits of whales and dolphins, and other states are currently working on legislation to prohibit the capture or restrict the display of marine mammals.

Richard Donner, coproducer of the film "Free Willy," has joined a growing number of people in calling for an end to the marine mammal trade. Says Donner, "Removal of these majestic mammals from the wild for commercial purposes is obscene....These horrendous captures absolutely must become a thing of the past."

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Boycott all forms of animal entertainment.

Contact your local, state and federal officials and encourage them to ban marine mammal parks.

Educate others on the issue.

What's Wrong With Carriage Rides?

What could be more romantic than a leisurely carriage ride on a warm summer evening?

In the late 1980s, Whitey, a nine-year-old gelding, collapsed while pulling a carriage during a summer heat wave in New York City. A passing nurse gave Whitey an IV saline solution, and sympathetic police officers sprayed him with cool water for two hours. Eventually Whitey managed to get back on his feet. Another carriage horse, Misty, died from apparent heat exhaustion during the same heat wave. Despite the national attention that was focused on the carriage horse industry after Whitey's collapse--and the outrage of romantics everywhere--little has changed for the horses.

BREAKDOWNS

Many horses who end up pulling carriages through city streets are "breakdowns" from harness racing tracks. Standardbreds are often trained to race by being tethered to the back of a truck that drives increasingly faster, so carriage horse operators consider these horses "street savvy." But standardbreds are much smaller and lighter than traditional "draft horses" and are not accustomed to pulling heavy loads. Many other carriage horses are breakdowns from Amish farming communities. Regardless of their source, most horses, as veterinarian Holly Cheever points out, "enter the carriage horse trade with a legacy of previous injuries and debility." When horses can no longer pull heavy carriages, they are sold to rendering plants or dog food companies.

HARD & HARSH CONDITIONS

Even for healthy horses, a carriage ride is not an easy trip. Most cities have only minimal regulations governing working conditions for carriage horses, and these regulations are rarely enforced. Carriage horse operators know all the loopholes in their city's laws. An officer with the Canadian SPCA has said, "[I]f regulations state that a horse can work for nine consecutive hours, but [fail] to say within a 24-hour period, [drivers will] work the horse for nine hours, give the horse an hour or two of rest, then come back on the road." As a result, many horses work 12 or more hours a day, often in extreme weather conditions.

As in the case of Misty, weather conditions sometimes prove fatal for working horses. Carriage horses are exposed to bitter cold and scorching heat. Carriage Operators of North America, a trade organization to which only a small percentage of carriage horse operators belong, says horses may work if the temperature is nine degrees Fahrenheit, well below freezing. In summer months, horses suffering from dehydration or heat stress can die in just a few hours. Some cities outlaw carriage rides when the temperature reaches a certain degree, but often the official weather bureau reading does not accurately reflect the temperature on the streets. A study published by Cornell University, for example, found that the air temperature recorded by the weather bureau can be nearly 50 degrees cooler than the actual asphalt temperature. And the New York City Department of Transportation found that asphalt surfaces can reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

INJURIES & ACCIDENTS

Horses and heavy city traffic can also be a deadly mix. Despite carriage horse operators' claims, most horses are not comfortable working among cars and trucks, and many accidents, injuries, and even deaths--to horses and humans--have been caused by horses becoming "spooked" in traffic. According to Cheever, it is normal for horses to "react to threatening situations with panic and flight." A survey of national carriage horse accidents revealed that 85 percent of all accidents were the result of an animal spooking. Seventy percent of the time there was a human injury, and 22 percent of the time there was a human death. The survey also found that in New York City, which has the highest carriage horse accident rate in the country, 98 percent of the horses who "spooked" became injured.

Injuries and fatalities resulting from collisions between cars and carriage horses have occurred in almost every city that allows carriage rides, including Cincinnati, Ohio; Salt Lake City, Utah; Charleston, South Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Baltimore, Maryland; and Houston, Texas.

SMOKE & EXHAUST

The smoke and exhaust fumes from urban traffic are also dangerous for horses. In a study by veterinarian Jeffie Roszel, "tracheal washes and samples from respiratory secretions of these horses showed enormous lung damage, the same kind of damage you would expect from a heavy smoker." Horses' nostrils are usually only 3 to 3 1/2 feet above street level, so these animals are "truly ... living a nose-to-tailpipe existence."

ABUSE & NEGLECT

Carriage horses also routinely suffer at the hands of poorly trained drivers. Because they are constantly walking and standing on hard streets, "lameness and hoof deterioration are inevitable" in carriage horses, says Cheever. "The problems are worsened by the inexperience of the gross majority of the owners and drivers, who are either incapable of recognizing lameness or are unwilling to suffer financial loss by removing a horse from service for a few days." Many drivers don't know how to fasten harnesses correctly, and either leave straps so loose they rub and chafe the horse's skin, or buckle the straps so tightly they pinch. And few horses are fitted with new horseshoes as often as is needed. Conditions for carriage horses aren't much better when the horses are off the streets.

Raids on carriage horse stables have exposed stalls with no hay or other bedding, stall floors covered with urine and manure, poor ventilation in the stables, and horses who had no free access to water. Many stables have stacked floors--like parking garages--with steep ramps leading from one floor to the next. The floors in one stable were so rotten, they often gave way under the weight of the horses, repeatedly causing animals to break their legs. In 1991, two horses owned by a carriage horse operator in New York died after being fed bad hay.

Not surprisingly, carriage horse operators view attempts to regulate their industry--through stipulations on where and how long horses can work, temperature restrictions, and mandatory veterinary care--as economic threats. One carriage horse operator in Charleston, S.C., even said,"[L]egislation is ridiculous."

In her classic novel, Black Beauty, Anna Sewell wrote, "My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt." People around the world agree and are increasingly recognizing that it's the carriage horse industry--not just the horses--who are taking them for a ride.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Don't patronize the carriage horse industry.

Educate others about carriage horses.

Pressure from concerned residents has resulted in bans on carriage horses in a growing number of cities. Educate your local officials on the issue.

Shop Smart & Healthy

Making smarter food choices at the grocery store helps the planet and it animals and is important for a healthier diet. Avoiding processed foods and factory farmed products dramatically reduces your contribution to environmental destruction and animal exploitation, while improving your health.

Follow these tips to make smart and healthy food choices:

Shopping for Fruits & Vegetables:

- Choose a variety of fruits and veggies for a colorful plate!

- Buy fresh, organic fruits and veggies.

- Can’t buy fresh? Try frozen! Frozen vegetables are picked at the height of freshness, and the freezing process locks in their nutrients.

- Buying canned? Go for organic fruit in 100% fruit juice, and low sodium, organic veggies.

Try This: Check out your local farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal produce.

Shopping for Grains:

- When shopping for breads, cereals, and pastas, choose options that list one of the following as the first ingredient: brown rice, whole oats, whole rye, or whole wheat.

- Limit or eliminate refined grains like white bread, white rice, and “plain” pasta.

- Buy organic whenever possible.

- Try to get all the grains in your shopping cart to be whole grains.

Try This: Try a whole grain you’ve never tried before—like brown rice or quinoa. Then mix it up by tossing in some fresh, colorful veggies and herbs.

Shopping for Non-Dairy:

- Choose soy, rice, almond, coconut or hemp milk.

- Buy vegan cheese or go without. Most recipes that call for cheese can be made without it or the cheese can be substituted.

- When buying “no fat” products, watch out for added sugars, which might mean more calories, and worse calories, than you think.

- Flavored non-dairy milk and beverages may also contain added sugars, which may mean more calories, and worse calories, than you think.

End Captive Hunts

Captive hunting operations—also referred to as "shooting preserves," "canned hunts," or "game ranches"—are private trophy hunting facilities that offer their customers the opportunity to kill exotic and native animals trapped within enclosures. Some facilities have even allowed their clients to kill animals remotely via the Internet.

The animals killed in captive hunts may come from private breeders, animal dealers, circuses or even zoos. These animals are frequently hand-raised and bottle-fed, so they have lost their natural fear of people. In many facilities, the animals expect to be fed at regular times by familiar people—a setup that guarantees a kill for trophy hunters.

Endangered species are even available at captive hunts. Several species of threatened and endangered animals are regularly advertised at captive hunting ranches. For example, the International Union for the Conservations of Nature and Natural Resources lists the scimitar-horned oryx and Pere David's deer as extinct in the wild; the Dama gazelle and the addax as critically endangered; the Arabian oryx and markhor as endangered; the blackbuck and bongo as near threatened; and the Nubian ibex, aoudad, barasingha, mouflon, yak and European bison as vulnerable.

Although the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects animals listed as endangered or threatened, captive hunt enthusiasts exploit loopholes in federal law that allow captive-bred wildlife to be killed if permitted by state law. This creates a market for endangered species’ trophies, and can encourage illegal poaching of the animals in their native habitat. Issuing permits to shoot endangered species on these ranches contradicts the basic purposes of the ESA, which is to conserve endangered and threatened wildlife – not kill them.

Semi-tame animals make easy targets, so captive hunt operators can offer their customers a guarantee of "no kill, no pay." The animals are guaranteed something as well—that there will be no escape.

Due to the high population densities on captive hunts, risk of disease transmission increases, posing a threat to animals inside and outside the fences. And it is doubtful that those involved in the captive hunting business provide acceptable veterinary care for their animals. Diseases such as tuberculosis and brucellosis—which can also infect farm animals and other wildlife—have been diagnosed in captive wildlife. Michigan battled an outbreak of tuberculosis among deer a few years ago due to baiting, which encourages animals to congregate in small areas. Chronic wasting disease, a fatal disease that infects deer, elk, and moose, is another serious concern. CWD has been reported in 19 states; in 11 of these states CWD was present in captive wildlife populations. In 2011, new cases of CWD have been reported in South Dakota, Illinois, West Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Although there must legally be fencing around captive hunts, animals often can and sometimes do escape from these facilities. Since 2007, there have been 48 instances of elk escaping from captive facilities in Iowa alone. In Wisconsin, captive facilities reported 437 escapes from 2004 to 2007. The interstate transport of animals for breeding purposes increases the possibility of spreading these diseases even further. Once present, CWD becomes increasingly difficult to control, and attempts to halt the disease can cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Through escaped animals, fence-line transmission, or environmental contamination, game farms and captive hunting ranches are putting our wild herds at grave risk.

Captive hunting is a lucrative and expanding industry. It is estimated that more than 1,000 captive mammal hunting operations are operating in at least two dozen states. Several factors feed into that expansion: The overbreeding of captive exotic animals, the desire by some hunters with plenty of cash for a quick and easy kill, and the incentive to bag exotic mammals provided by Safari Club International's "Introduced Trophy Game Animals of North America" trophy hunting achievement award.

Do all hunters support captive hunting? No. As hunter and noted author Ted Kerasote puts it, "'Canned hunting' is a misnomer. More accurately defined as 'shooting animals in small enclosures,' the activity has nothing to do with the motives that inform authentic hunting: procuring healthy, organic food; participating in the timeless cycles of birth, death, and nurturing; honoring the lives that support us; and reconnecting with wildness. No matter where one stands on hunting—vehemently opposed to it or seeing it as yet another way to live sustainably on earth—one ought to decry shooting animals behind fences."

"Fair chase"—a concept central to the philosophy of many in the hunting community—doesn't exist in captive hunts. The self-described ethical hunting community (including groups like Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, and the Izaak Walton League) is becoming increasingly vocal in its opposition to canned hunting.

As reviled as captive hunting is by non-hunters and hunters alike, no federal law bans the practice, and only about half of the states have policies that ban or restrict canned hunts. The regulations implementing the federal Animal Welfare Act do not apply to game preserves, hunting preserves, and captive hunts. Although the Endangered Species Act protects animals listed as endangered or threatened, the Fish and Wildlife Service does not prohibit private ownership of these animals and even allows captive hunting of endangered species.

Don't Relocate Nuisance Animals

It’s a common phenomenon around the world: when humans observe wildlife in their neighborhood that they consider a nuisance they call wildlife officials to have the animal removed and transported elsewhere, often great distances away. It makes people happy to think they are ridding themselves of a potential problem without killing the animal.

What they don’t know is they may be killing the animal after all, and it can be a long, slow death.

Human-animal conflicts happen everywhere, but translocation of the animals should be the last option considered. It should only be used if it has been proven to work. Research shows it does not work for most animals.

Relocation of wildlife appears to be successful with only a few species, including some larger mammals and tortoises. It doesn’t work for snakes and it does not appear to be very successful with many other small animals.

Most wild animals know their home range really well, so if they are dropped off someplace else they take off and make all sorts of unusual movements that are not typical of their normal behavior. The more they move, the less time they spend eating, reproducing and finding hiding places. Movement is a good indication of how well the animals are doing, and relocated animals move a lot and do not do well.

Many relocated animals are killed by other animals or run over by vehicles. Some just give up and die a slow death from stress.

Long-distance translocation is clearly not the answer. A short-distance relocation to the nearest natural habitat, which may be as close as 20 yards away and probably no farther than 500 yards away, is a more humane solution. That way the animal does not become completely separated from its home range.

Most short-distance relocated animals are likely never to be seen again, since they prefer to avoid people.

There is a widespread notion that translocation works. People want to save the animal, take it away from the area and put it in a pristine environment. But it’s not that simple. Individual animals are tied to their home range. Make the humane choice and only relocate animals near their natural habitat.

Don't Leave Dogs In A Hot Car

Some people enjoy taking their dogs along on errands, but leave them in the car. This can be deadly. A little heat outside the car can quickly make it very hot inside. On a summer's day of only 85 degrees, for example, even keeping the windows slightly open won't stop the inside temperature from climbing to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, to 120 degrees in 20 minutes. A dog whose body temperature rises to 107-108 degrees will, within a very short time, suffer irreparable brain damage - or even death. Never leave your dog alone in a car, even for a few minutes, in the summer months.

If you see a dog alone in a hot car, write down the car’s model, make, color and license plate number. Attempt to have the animal's guardian paged in the nearest buildings and call the police. Don’t leave the scene until the dog has been rescued.

Heatstroke symptoms to look for are thick saliva, heavy panting, lethargy, restlessness, dark tongue, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lack of coordination, excessive thirst, lack of appetite, rapid heartbeat and fever.

Provide the dog with drinking water. Spray the dog with water, immerse him in a tub of cool (but not iced) water for a couple of minutes, or apply wet towels to the stomach, chest, paws and groin area. Do not use ice or cold water, and don’t overcool the dog.

If the dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, get her to a veterinarian immediately.

How To Legally Help Dogs In Hot Cars

What can you do, within your legal rights, if you see an animal in distress in a locked car? The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a legal advocacy organization for animals, has some tips.

If you see an animal in distress, call 911. Most states allow a public safety officer to break into the car and rescue an animal if its life is threatened. Calling 911 is the first step to saving that animal’s life.

Know your state laws. More and more states are adopting “hot car” laws that prohibit leaving a companion animal unattended in a parked vehicle. Although 22 states have some form of “hot car” laws, the laws differ drastically from place to place. Only four states—Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Tennessee—have “Good Samaritan” laws that allow any person to break a car window to save an animal.

In 17 states, only public servants such as law enforcement and humane officers can legally break into a car to rescue an animal (Arizona, California. Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.) In New Jersey and West Virginia, although it is illegal to confine an animal in a hot car, no one has the authority to break into a vehicle to save the animal, not even law enforcement.

Legislation is pending in California and New York to give any concerned bystander the legal right to help an animal in distress. Pending legislation in Pennsylvania would make it illegal to confine a dog or cat in a vehicle in conditions that would jeopardize its health and would empower a police officer, a volunteer or professional fireman, a humane officer, a security guard, or a first responder to rescue the animal.

Penalties for hot car deaths of companion animals are still limited. Most states limit penalties to misdemeanors or civil fines and infractions, even for repeat offenders. Maine and South Dakota’s laws don’t impose a penalty at all (although an animal guardian in Maine may regain custody of an animal removed from their vehicle only after they pay all charges that accrued for the maintenance, care, medical treatment and impoundment of the animal).

Let people know it’s not okay to leave their animal unattended in a car. When an animal dies in a hot car, most of their humans say they left them “just for a minute.” If you see someone leave their companion animal in a parked car, tell them that even if it’s a pleasant day outside, the temperature inside the car can skyrocket fast. Cracking a window doesn’t eliminate the risk of heatstroke or death.

Don't Declaw

A cat's claws are used to capture prey, for climbing, and in self-defense. Claws are an integral part of a cat's life, but their use can also be a problem for cats' human cohabitants. Declawing, however, is a painful and permanently crippling procedure that should not be practiced. There are effective and humane alternatives to declawing that can reduce or eliminate clawing damage.

WHY DO CATS CLAW OBJECTS?

Cats claw to maintain proper condition of the nails, for fun and exercise, and to mark territory visually as well as with scent. They stretch by digging their claws into something and pulling back against their own clawhold. A cat's natural instinct to scratch serves both physical and psychological needs. Before domestication, cats satisfied these needs by clawing tree trunks. Domesticated cats can be trained to satisfy their desire to claw without damaging valuable property.

UNDERSTANDING DECLAWING

Declawing involves 10 separate, painful amputations. It is a serious surgery, not just a manicure. The British Veterinary Associations calls declawing an "unnecessary mutilation." Indeed, it is illegal in many parts of Europe.

Declawing a cat involves general anesthesia and amputation of the last joint of each toe, including the bones, not just the nail. Possible complications of this surgery include reaction to anesthetic, hemorrhage, bone chips which prevent healing, recurrent infections and damage to the radial nerve, pain, and possible abnormal regrowth of the nails. The nails may grow back inside the paw, causing pain but remaining invisible to the eye. Declawed cats need regular X-rays to monitor this problem. Declawing results in a gradual weakening of leg, shoulder, and back muscles, and, because of impaired balance, declawed cats have to relearn to walk much as would a person who lost his or her toes. Without claws, cats are virtually defenseless, and this often leads to neurosis and even skin and bladder problems. Without claws to mark their territory, even house-trained cats will often urinate and defecate outside the litter box in a desperate attempt to ward off intruders.

Most animal protection groups, as well as many veterinarians, have spoken out against declawing. Many vets refuse to perform the surgery, calling the operation cruel, and in most cases, unnecessary.

There are several misconceptions about declawing. It does not make cats more "mellow." Declawed cats may be morose, reclusive, and withdrawn, or they may be irritable, aggressive and unpredictable. Many people think declawing makes a cat safer around babies, but this is far from true, as the lack of claws turns many cats into biters. Declawed cats feel so insecure, lacking their first line of defense, that they tend to bite more often as a means of self-protection.

People who have their cats declawed simply do not understand how important claws are to a cat and do not know how else to deal with the problem. With a little effort and commitment to your cat's welfare, you can eliminate the excuse to declaw your cat and make him or her a better companion as well.

THREE-POINT PROGRAM

To train a kitten or to retrain an adult cat requires the following measures: 

Regular nail trimmings. When the cat is relaxed and unafraid, gently press on the toes until the claws extend. Use a pair of animal nail trimmers and cut only the tip of the nail, taking care not to damage the vein or quick. The nail "hook" is what tears up upholstery, so when it is removed, damage is greatly reduced.

Buy or build two or more scratching posts. Such posts must be sturdy, tall enough to allow the cat to completely stretch (3 feet or taller), and properly placed. A bark-covered log, a post covered with sisal, or a tightly woven burlap-covered post works well. Soft, fluffy, carpeted scratching posts don't work - they are one of the greatest causes of declawing because cats often don't like the posts, and frustrated human companions resort to surgery. If you use carpet, secure it to the posts with the rough backing on the outside; soft carpeting will not satisfy a cat's need to claw. Place one scratching post where the cat is already clawing, and another close to where he or she normally sleeps (cats like to stretch and scratch when they first wake up). Another option is the cardboard or sisal "scratching box," which lies flat on the floor. These are inexpensive and small enough to scatter around the house, allowing your cat easy access to an "approved" scratching spot at all times. They do wear out fairly quickly, however, and will need to be replaced every few months - otherwise, cats may get frustrated and revert back to using furniture.

Give your cat specific instructions as to where to claw and where not to claw. Place your cat on the new scratching post and move his or her paws, or pretend to scratch it yourself. This will scent the posts and encourage exploratory clawing. Make the post a "fun" place to be. Play games with your cat on and around the post and attach hanging strings, balls and/or bouncy wire toys to it. Sprinkle catnip on the post, too. (A once-a-week or so "refresher" application will keep your cat interested.) When kitty uses the post, reinforce this behavior with praise, but be careful not to startle or frighten him or her. When the cat claws furniture, discourage this behavior with a firm voice or other loud noise, but never with physical force. Lukewarm water from a squirt gun directed at the back of the animal is often successful. During the training period, you may need to cover upholstery with plastic or other protection (cats don't like the slippery feel and will quickly learn to stay away).

Another option is nail caps for cats. Soft, vinyl nail caps are applied to cats' newly trimmed nails. The nail caps allow cats to scratch naturally, without harming furniture. Each application lasts about four to six weeks.

Keep Animals Out Of Hot Cars And Off Hot Pavement

When outdoor temperatures reach the 80s, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to well over 100 degrees in just minutes—and asphalt temperatures can reach 140 degrees, causing pain, burns, permanent damage, and scarring on dogs’ paws after just a few minutes of contact. Locking dogs in parked cars and walking them on hot pavement places them at risk of deadly heatstroke.

If you see a dog showing any symptoms of heatstroke—including restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of appetite or coordination—get the animal into the shade immediately and lower the dog’s body temperature by providing the dog with water, applying a cold towel to the animal’s head and chest, or immersing the dog in tepid (not ice-cold) water. Then immediately call a veterinarian.

Remember: When dogs’ long tongues hang out, it means they are uncomfortable, even in danger.

Follow these suggestions for safeguarding animals during hot weather:
  • Keep dogs indoors: Unlike humans, dogs can only sweat through their footpads and cool themselves by panting. Soaring temperatures can cause heat stress, injury, or death.
  • Provide water and shade: When outside, animals must have access to fresh water and ample shade, and the shifting sun needs to be taken into account. Even brief periods of direct exposure to the sun can have life-threatening consequences.
  • Walk—don’t run: In very hot, humid weather, never exercise dogs by biking and making them run alongside you or by running them while you jog. Dogs will collapse before giving up, at which point, it may be too late to save them.
  • Avoid hot cars: Never leave an animal in a parked car in warm weather, even for short periods with the windows partially rolled down. Dogs trapped inside hot cars can succumb to heatstroke within minutes—even if a car isn’t parked in direct sunlight.
  • Never transport animals in the bed of a pickup truck: This practice is dangerous—and illegal in many cities and states—because animals can be catapulted out of a truck bed on a sudden stop or strangled if they jump out while they’re tethered.
  • Stay alert and save a life: Keep an eye on all outdoor animals. Make sure they have adequate water and shelter. If you see an animal in distress, provide him or her with water for immediate relief and contact humane authorities right away.
  • Avoid hot pavement: When outdoor temperatures reach the 80s, asphalt temperatures can reach 140 degrees, causing pain, burns, permanent damage, and scarring on dogs’ paws after just a few minutes of contact. Walk on grass when possible, and avoid walking in the middle of the day.

The Truth About Pet Shops

"Pet shops" use the natural appeal of puppies, kittens and other animals to sell them at an inflated price, often several hundred dollars for "purebred" animals.

The vast majority of dogs sold in pet shops, between 350,000 and 500,000 a year, are raised in "puppy mills," breeding kennels located mostly in the Midwest that are notorious for their cramped, crude and filthy conditions and their continuous breeding of unhealthy and hard-to-socialize animals.

Other common problems in the pet shop industry include selling sick and injured animals to the public, failing to provide proper veterinary care, unsanitary conditions and inhumane methods of killing sick and unwanted animals.

You can help bring about changes in local pet stores, if you know what conditions to look for and what steps to take.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Healthy young animals are usually energetic and shiny-coated. Look for signs of ill health, such as listlessness, diarrhea, emaciation, dull coats, runny eyes and dry noses. Sick animals should never be housed with healthy ones.

Check the general sanitation conditions; notice signs of cockroach infestation, rodent droppings on the floor and rusty or dirty cages.

Also look for algae or scum in water bottles, empty water containers, or animals having difficulty drinking from them.

Dogs and cats must have water (it can be in a bottle), and there must be some sort of solid flooring (if a tray is used, it must be flat on the floor). There should be no more than one large dog in a single cage. Look for signs of distemper and parvovirus: runny stool and clogged, dry noses. Cats should have an elevated surface (above the litter area) to rest upon. Water must be in a clean water dish rather than in a bottle. Also, watch for signs of upper respiratory disease (eyes covered with inner membrane, runny eyes and nose and sneezing).

Rabbits should have a water bottle, not a dish. They should not be listless. If an animal is sick, you may notice other animals in the cage walking over him/her. Watch for runny noses and excessive sneezing.

Birds must have a properly sized perch (birds' feet should go three quarters of the way around the perch). Check for others beating up on one - especially common in zebra finches (you may see feathers missing from head, back, etc.). A bird should not be resting on the bottom of the cage (a sign of illness or of having been thrown off the perch by others). Cages should not be overcrowded.

Check fish tanks for overcrowding. Generally, an inch-long tropical fish requires a minimum of 12 square inches of water surface to breathe comfortably; a two-inch fish needs at least 24 square inches of surface area, and so on. Look for dead fishes in aquariums.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Find out who in your town, county or state enforces the anti-cruelty codes. Report abuses to them. Often, these people work for local humane societies or animal shelters. Once you have located the proper law enforcement officials, provide them with a concise, factual, written statement of what you have observed, giving dates and approximate times. Try to get short, written statements from witnesses. Statements should be notarized. Ask sympathetic veterinarians to visit the pet store and write an "expert statement" as to the conditions and health of the animals.

If you have been sold a sick or injured animal, go to your local courthouse and fill out a small claims form (no attorney needed). When you file the form, you will be given a court date. At the hearing, present all your veterinary and related bills. (Be sure to get a statement from your vet.) Though it's difficult to put a monetary value on your animal's health or life, this simple action can bother a pet store owner enough to prevent him or her from being irresponsible and inhumane in the future. Also, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. If the store is in a shopping mall, complain to the mall manager (and ask all of your friends and neighbors to do the same). Ask the mall management not to renew the store's lease.

Find out if a division of your county or state health department licenses pet shops and, if so, request that they conduct an inspection.

Even if the health department does not specifically license pet shops, it should still inspect for dirty conditions that may pose a health risk to the public. If the pet store sells wild or exotic animals, it is required to be registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and violations should be reported to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) office in your state (usually in your state capital). To locate your state office, look in the federal government section of the phone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Educate the public: Write letters to the editor, distribute leaflets outside the store, organize a demonstration, etc. Department stores that have a pet department may be especially susceptible to a boycott, since the revenue from the pet department may not constitute a large portion of overall profit.

If all else fails, contact local television and radio stations and newspapers and try to interest reporters in the story. A news story may force officials to act or scare the person causing the abuse into stopping.

Above all, don't patronize pet stores. You can purchase supplies for companion animals from "pet" supply stores or catalogs which carry full product lines but don't treat living beings as merchandise.

Critters, Fish, Birds & Exotics

Many people appreciate the mystic and beauty of exotic animals such as reptiles, amphibians, birds or mammals of non-native species or individuals of native species that have been raised in captivity. They succumb to the temptation of purchasing critters, reptiles, amphibians and other exotic animals, often on impulse. Too often little thought is put into the care and commitment necessary to properly provide for these animals. Parents frequently purchase the animals as learning aids or entertainment for their children who are far too young to be responsible for an intelligent, emotional, living being.

Most critters, reptiles, amphibians and exotic animals are mass produced by the pet trade...just like puppies from puppy mills. They are viewed by the pet trade businesses as money making objects. Profit is placed above their welfare. They are denied veterinary care, exercise and socialization.

Many are captured from the wild and transported long distances. They are packed into crates and trucked or flown hundreds of miles to brokers and pet stores...often suffering or dieing in the process.

Life in captivity for these animals often leads to neglect, pain, emotional distress and death. Many suffer from malnutrition, unnatural and uncomfortable environments and extreme stress from confinement. While they may look cute and cuddly, wild animals are wild and have very special husbandry requirements. The stress of captivity, improper diets, and unnatural breeding practices to pump out “products” takes its tole on these fragile animals. Trauma and injuries are common, and they are tossed aside when their novelty fades.

Pet shops treat animals as if they are no different than pet supplies or bags of animal food. They have no standards for whom they peddle the animals to. Internet businesses ship live animals to anyone with a credit card.

Although some of us may treat our companion animals well, many are treated poorly and neglected. Most spend only a short time in a home before they are dumped at a pound, given away or released into the wild. Selling these animals denies homes to millions of homeless and unwanted animals who await adoption in animal shelters.

If you have the time, resources and compassion to make a home for a critter, reptile, amphibian or exotic animal, adopt rather than supporting the inhumane pet trade industry. Like dogs and cats, millions of mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, reptiles, exotic animals and "pocket" pets are available through humane societies, shelters and rescue groups each year.

Do The Right Thing: Spay & Neuter

For every puppy or kitten born, a puppy or kitten in a shelter or in the care of a rescue group will not find a forever home. There might have been time to prevent those unwanted births, if communities and individuals had acted responsibly.

Each year, in the United States alone, 27 million cats and dogs are born. Because homes cannot be found for all of them, between 10 and 12 million of these animals will be euthanized - healthy, lovable animals, destroyed just because there are too many of them. The only way to solve the problem is to reduce the numbers of unwanted animals by neutering and spaying. Attitudes must change and we should all share information. We should educate, encourage and speak out, until neutering and spaying cats and dogs becomes the norm.

It is human nature to rationalize the bad decisions we make, but can there ever be a good reason not to spay or neuter? There are parents who allow their cat or dog to have a litter because they want their children to experience "the miracle of birth". By making this decision, those parents have failed to teach their children the value of life. There may be people who are otherwise good animal caretakers, but who are genuinely uncomfortable with neutering. They may believe that they are "taking away the masculinity" of a companion. Unless this guardian is always vigilant, accidental mating can happen. But the worst excuse not to spay or neuter is one of money. There are low-cost options available. Call your local animal shelter for a list of providers of this service in your area or go online. If you can afford any extras beyond food, shelter and medicine, you can afford to spay or neuter. If you are too poor to spay or neuter, you are too poor to have a companion animal. Being a caretaker to a companion animal is a life-long responsibility and commitment. No one should have a cat or a dog if they cannot afford veterinary care. The only good reason not to spay or neuter is when the surgery would put the animal’s life at risk.

REDUCING FERAL CAT POPULATIONS

Feral cat colonies exist almost everywhere and their numbers are growing. The problem of feral cats can be directly laid at the doorstep of irresponsible animal guardians that do not spay or neuter and allow their cats to wander. Many of these cats never come back, giving birth in the wild and forming the colonies that struggle for survival, while producing litter after litter of kittens. Communities should establish Trap Neuter Release Programs to humanely trap feral cats, take them to be neutered, and then release them to the original site of the colony. If found early enough, kittens can be socialized and placed in homes. But again, each of these kittens rob another kitten of a home, so make certain that those you rescue now are the last kittens born to the colony. Trap, Neuter and Release all remaining adults.

FREE KITTENS

“Free kittens” signs mean that sweet innocents are at risk and that irresponsible animal guardians allowed their cat to breed. If you know anyone with a cat that is going to have kittens, encourage them to have the mother spayed as soon as the kittens are weaned and try to convince the person to find a no-kill shelter or rescue group willing to take the kittens. Let the person know that offering any animal for “free” invites disaster. There are people who are on the lookout for free food for "pet" snakes. And there are the awful "bunchers", who take free animals and sell them to laboratories for horrific experiments. Even if the animal is taken to be a companion, people often do not value something that costs them nothing. If no rescue group can take the kittens, it would be better to advertise them at a reasonable price, and do the best possible job of screening anyone wanting to adopt them. You can donate the money to a local animal shelter or charity.

KNOWLEDGE IS THE BEGINNING OF CHANGE

Knowledge is the beginning of change. Share with others what you learn about responsible and humane animal guardianship. You can save lives by helping to educate your community, friends and family about companion animal issues.

Fish In Tanks

Fragile tropical fish, born to dwell in the majestic seas and forage among brilliantly colored coral reefs, suffer miserably when forced to spend their lives enclosed in glass aquariums. Robbed of their natural habitat, denied the space to roam, they must swim and reswim the same empty cubic inches.

The popularity of keeping tropical fish has created a virtually unregulated industry based on catching and breeding as many fish as possible, with little regard for the fish themselves.

In the Philippines, the source of most saltwater fish sold in the U.S., many fish divers collect their prey by squirting cyanide or other poisons into the coral reefs where fish live. Meant to stun them so that they will drift out of the reef for easy collection, the cyanide kills as many as half of the fish on the spot. Many others die from cyanide residue after being purchased. The poison also kills the live coral where the fish live, which can take thousands of years to grow back.

Most of the freshwater fish sold in the U.S. are easier to breed than their saltwater cousins and are bred on "fish farms." These breeding centers, seeking new market niches, create fish breeds that would never occur in nature. Treating fish as ornaments instead of as live animals, some fish breeders "paint" fish by injecting fluorescent dye into their bodies to make them more attractive to buyers.

FISH FACTS

Fish are wonderful creatures with individual personalities and attributes that most people know little about. They communicate with each other, form bonds, and grieve when their companions die. Fish communicate with one another through a range of low-frequency sounds from buzzes and clicks to yelps and sobs. The sounds, audible to humans only with special instruments, communicate emotional states such as courtship, alarm, or submission. Sadly, the pumps and filters necessary in many home aquariums can interfere with this communication. "At the least, we're disrupting their communication; at the worst, we're driving them bonkers," says ichthyologist Phillip Lobel.

Most fish enjoy companionship and develop special relationships with each other. One South African publication documented the relationship between Blackie, a goldfish with a deformity that made it nearly impossible for him to swim, and Big Red, the larger fish who shared his tank. Big Red daily put Blackie on his back to swim him around, and when they were fed, Big Red swam Blackie to the surface, where they ate together.

Fish enjoy tactile stimulation in their relationships and often gently rub against each other. Divers tell of gaining the friendship of fish by lightly scratching their foreheads they've found that the fish then recognize and regularly approach them.

Don't support the pet fish trade by purchasing fish. If you must have fish, adopt - never shop.

If You Already Have a Fish

If you already have fish, biologists say there is no safe way to return them to their natural environment because of the difficulty in locating such a habitat (often in a far-off country) and the possibility of introducing disease to the other fish there. However, you can make their lives easier by duplicating their natural environment as closely as possible. While no confined fish can live a natural life, the following tips will help make them as happy as possible.

The more space that fish have, the happier and healthier they will be. Allow a minimum of 12 square inches of water surface per inch of fish.

Treat tap water properly before putting it in the aquarium. Even trace amounts of chlorine can cause breathing difficulties, nervous spasms, or even death. The type of chemicals you should use depends on your area's water; consult with a local tropical fish supply store to determine the proper treatment.

Before putting the fish into the aquarium, let the filter and pump run for two weeks to allow bacterial cycling and other environmental adjustments.

Different types of fish require different pH levels. Check the pH level daily for the first month and weekly thereafter.

A filter is necessary to remove waste particles and noxious chemicals from the water. An air pump will provide oxygen.

Fish need a constant temperature, usually 68 to 74 degrees. A 74-degree temperature is right for most fish, but you should check with a fish supply store for information specific to your fish. An automatic aquarium heater will monitor the water temperature and turn the heater on or off as needed. Attaching a small thermometer to the tank will tell you if the heater is functioning properly.

Clean the tank regularly, about two to three times a week. The natural waste of fish emits ammonia, which can accumulate to toxic levels. Also be sure to clean the glass well with a pad or a brush so that algae don't grow there.

Never empty the tank all at once; fish are most comfortable with water they are used to, even if it is dirty. When cleaning the tank, change only 10 to 25 percent of the water at a time.

Plants provide oxygen, shelter, and hiding places, and fish enjoy snacking on them as well. Provide live plants, not plastic ones.

Create places for your fish to hide and explore. Ceramic objects, natural rock, and plants all work well. Make sure that all objects are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before putting them in the tank. Do not use metal objects, as they will rust.

Be aware of the environment outside the aquarium. Suddenly switching on a bright light in a dark room can startle fish, and vibrations from a television or a stereo can alarm and stress them. One study found that fish repeatedly exposed to loud music can develop fatal liver injury.

Keep all harmful chemicals away from the aquarium's vicinity. Cigarette smoke, paint fumes, and aerosol sprays can be toxic if they are absorbed into the aquarium water.

Place the aquarium in a spot where temperature and light are constant and controllable. Tropical fish supply stores may be able to advise you on the best degree of light for your fish to live in. Remember that direct sunlight and drafts from nearby doors or windows may change the water temperature, and fumes from a nearby kitchen or workshop may injure your fish.

Don't overfeed; uneaten food and waste material are broken down into ammonia and nitrites, which are toxic. One expert recommends sprinkling in only as much food as your fish can eat in 30 seconds.

If your fish seems sick or lethargic, take him or her to a vet. Fish can be medicated, anesthetized, given shots, and operated on, just like other animals. Bring along a separate sample of the tank water when you go.

Most fish enjoy companionship. If you have a single fish, check with friends and neighbors to find another loner whom you may be able to adopt (but don't support the fish trade by going to a dealer). 

Greyhound Racing Must End

Wanton cruelty is inflicted on thousands of dogs by the racing industry each year. Since 2008, nearly 1,000 racing greyhounds have died and 12,000 have suffered injuries - including broken legs, crushed skulls, broken necks, paralysis, seizures, and death by electrocution. And these are just the reported injuries and deaths. The vast majority of the 80,000 greyhounds born into dog racing can't even be accounted for.

Thirty-nine states have already made the humane decision to ban greyhound racing, but this cruel sport continues to exploit greyhounds despite public outcry and overwhelming financial losses from a dying industry.

Racing greyhounds are kept in warehouse-style kennel compounds, in rows of stacked cages for twenty or more hours each day. They are fed a diet based on cheap, diseased meat, and are routinely deprived of basic veterinary care. They are often dosed with dangerous, illegal drugs.

A recently released national report on greyhound racing in the United States chronicled thousands of greyhound injuries and hundreds of greyhound deaths in the seven states where greyhound tracks still operate. The 80-page report, compiled by GREY2K USA and the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), presented official data and dozens of photographs from nearly 600 sources from 2008 to the present.

11,722 greyhound injuries were documented. Injuries included more than 3,000 dogs that suffered broken legs and other injuries such as crushed skulls, broken backs, paralysis and electrocutions.

909 racing greyhound deaths were reported. The true number of deaths is likely higher as there are no verifiable statistics on the ultimate fate of greyhounds who survive racing but are disposed of each year when injured or no longer competitive.

27 cases of greyhound cruelty and neglect were uncovered. This figure captures the number of dogs who were starved to death, denied veterinary care, or endured poor track kennel conditions. Additionally, sixteen racing greyhounds tested positive for cocaine.

2,200 state disciplinary rulings have been issued since 2008. Racing Commissions have a history of regulatory failures and industry attempts at self-regulating have proven to be ineffective.

Since 1991, forty-one dog tracks have closed or ended live racing, and the greyhound industry has seen a steady financial decline. Over the past decade, gambling on dog racing and greyhound breeding has declined by 66 percent and 57 percent, respectively. Government revenue from dog racing has dropped by 79 percent since 2001. As profits have declined, cost-cutting attempts - like feeding greyhounds inexpensive “4-D” meat from diseased animals - have resulted in poor track kennel conditions as well.

Greyhound tracks now operate in only seven states, but some of these states have laws that are propping up this dying industry by requiring gambling facilities to also operate greyhound tracks. This forced union continues to subsidize a cruel industry that drains millions of dollars from state governments.

Greyhound racing is illegal in the vast majority of the country. It's time to put an end to it once and for all.

End The China Yulin Dog Meat Festival

More than 10 million dogs are killed every year across China for their meat, with thousands slaughtered for the annual dog meat festival in Yulin. Most of the dogs are stolen companion animals and strays grabbed from the streets, still wearing their collars when they reach the slaughterhouse where they are typically beaten to death. Most people in China do not eat dogs, and there have been numerous violent clashes between animal guardians and dog thieves.

Many Chinese animal campaigners vehemently oppose the Yulin dog meat festival, and initiate protests and dog rescues all year round. Hundreds of dogs are rescued from trucks headed for slaughter by activists each year.

The Yulin dog meat festival is not a traditional festival, it was only invented in 2010 by dog traders to boost profits. Before the festival started, Yulin had no history of mass dog slaughter and consumption. Dog meat is only eaten infrequently by less than 20 percent of the Chinese population.

Thirty million dogs a year are killed across Asia for their meat, some 10-20 million in China alone, and thousands die just for Yulin. The World Health Organisation warns that the dog trade spreads rabies and increases the risk of cholera 20-fold.

China’s dog meat trade is animal abuse and criminality on a massive scale, and a stain on China’s international reputation. There is no good reason for the Chinese government to tolerate this cruelty any longer. Animal activists are urging the president to protect the people from this illegal and unsanitary trade, and to protect innocent animals from such wanton cruelty.

Millions around the world are standing with millions across China calling for an end to the gruesome Yulin dog festival and the unregulated dog meat trade. And their calls are being heard. Just weeks ahead of China’s 2017 annual dog meat festival in Yulin, the Yulin government decided to prohibit restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at the event – strictly enforced with fines of up to 100,000 yuan and risk of arrest for violations.

Campaigners recognize that the ban is temporary and does not yet signal an end to the Yulin event. It is nonetheless a milestone victory in the ongoing campaign to end mass dog and cat slaughter at Yulin, and is evidence of growing political will from inside China to clamp down on the trade.

Activists are urging Yulin authorities to make the ban permanent; make public service announcements warning against transporting dogs for the dog meat trade that highlight the new associated penalties; enforce food safety laws and regulations; and build a government facility to house dogs confiscated from the dog meat trade.

The campaign inside China to end the dog meat trade continues, with Chinese animal activists staging protests and dog rescues all year round. The stealing, beating and cooking of these dogs is not a centuries-old tradition, but a barbaric business practice that must end, now.

Pet Trade Threatens Salamanders & Newts

The fate of the world’s richest biodiversity of salamanders and newts is in the hands of “pet” collectors across North America. At issue is salamander chytrid disease, caused by a fungus that infects both salamanders and newts with near total lethality. The fungus, known as B.sal, infects the skin, causing wart-like lesions. As the disease progresses, the animal stops eating, becomes lethargic, loses control of its body movements and eventually dies.

Originally from Asia, the disease – spread by the pet trade – has completely wiped out wild populations where it has appeared in Europe and the U.K.

Experts are raising the alarm, urging immediate action. The threat is similar to invasive fungal disease that all but wiped out entire species of frogs in South and Central America, and white nose disease, which has killed entire colonies of bats – millions of animals – across North America.

Scientists are warning people who already keep salamanders or newts to make sure any water or cage wastes are properly disinfected before discarding them. Always seek appropriate veterinary care for sick salamanders and newts.

The fungus makes little zoospores that can even swim on their own a short distance. They can live in water and in mud and are easily spread.

Experts advise to never handle wild salamanders, and never, ever release pet animals into the wild.

With their shy nature, salamanders keep a low profile that belies their importance to the ecosystem, where they occupy a niche similar to that of frogs and toads. They eat insects and other aquatic invertebrates and are in turn eaten by fish, birds and small mammals.

Amphibians are key components within the food web. A decline or elimination of even one species will have some impact, a trickle-down effect on other species within that food web.

Many people appreciate the mystic and beauty of exotic animals such as reptiles, amphibians, birds or mammals of non-native species or individuals of native species that have been raised in captivity. They succumb to the temptation of purchasing critters, reptiles, amphibians and other exotic animals, often on impulse. Too often little thought is put into the care and commitment necessary to properly provide for these animals. Parents frequently purchase the animals as learning aids or entertainment for their children who are far too young to be responsible for an intelligent, emotional, living being.

If you have the time, resources and compassion to make a home for a critter, reptile, amphibian or exotic animal, adopt rather than supporting the inhumane pet trade industry. Like dogs and cats, millions of mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, reptiles, exotic animals and "pocket" pets are available through humane societies, shelters and rescue groups each year.

Spay & Neuter

About 4 million "excess" dogs and cats will be killed in shelters this year, while millions of homeless animals live short, hard, hungry lives on the streets, only to die miserably from disease, injury, or predation. About 1/3 of animals in shelters are purebreds, either intentionally or accidentally bred.

By being a responsible caregiver and sterilizing your companion animals, you avoid contributing to this terrible problem of pet overpopulation.
Unsterilized (intact) dogs and cats usually find a way to get out and breed. Then, even if you could find good homes for the entire litter, each of your babies would displace another puppy or kitten that will then have to die.

Not all kittens and puppies taken to a shelter get adopted. If you take your litter to a typical, overcrowded shelter, it is likely that the entire litter of kittens or puppies will go straight from your hands to the killing room - they must be destroyed immediately, due to lack of cage space. (And don't think you can avoid the fatal consequences by taking them to a "no-kill" shelter - they may not have space. Even if they do accept your litter, that means other animals will be turned away, and taken to a shelter that may indeed kill them.)

WHY SPAY & NEUTER

Dogs and cats should be surgically sterilized to prevent unwanted pregnancies as well as undesirable mating-related characteristics and behaviors. In females, this operation is called "spaying" and involves removal of the ovaries and uterus through an abdominal incision. For males, "neutering" involves surgically removing the testicles. In most cases, your animal companion will be able to go home either the same day or the next day, and within a few days will be fully recovered. Young animals bounce back much quicker from these surgeries than older ones.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPAYING & NEUTERING

Neutered cats have a much lower risk of being infected by the deadly Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) (also called "Feline AIDS"), because they are much less likely to engage in fighting, which spreads this disease. Decreased roaming and territorial behavior in cats also lowers the risk of bite-wound abscesses. Neutering male cats stops spraying or urine marking in over 90% of cats, and solves this problems in female cats, who often will begin spraying when they go "into heat."

Spaying eliminates the "heat" cycle, which causes crying, pacing, and erratic behavior, especially in cats. Dogs in heat also produce a bloody vaginal discharge that can stain furniture and carpets. Cats and dogs in heat can attract persistent and often obnoxiously loud "suitors" from all over the neighborhood, even if they're kept indoors.

Spayed females are not susceptible to life-threatening uterine infections and reproductive tract cancers that can occur in breeding females, as well as mastitis, ovarian cysts, miscarriages and delivery complications. All these can be expensive to treat, and dangerous to your animal's health. Almost half of unspayed female dogs will develop breast cancer, while spaying before first heat reduces the incidence to almost zero. Even later spaying greatly reduces the risk. Spaying also decreases the risk of developing breast cancer in cats, for whom it is usually fatal.

Neutered male dogs are less apt to develop prostate cancer, and the risk of testicular cancers is eliminated. Up to 60% of older, intact dogs will get enlarged, painful prostates. Neutering male dogs greatly decreases the potential for aggressive behavior and biting, and tends to calm overactive dogs as well. It also decreases or eliminates "humping" behavior.

Some people think that their female dog or cat "should have at least one litter" before she is spayed, that it "settles" a dog or cat, or that she "needs" this experience to be a good household companion. This is completely untrue and there is no evidence, medical or factual, that supports this belief. Spayed and neutered dogs and cats are calmer, less frustrated, happier family members.

WHEN TO HAVE YOUR ANIMAL SPAYED OR NEUTERED

In the past, veterinarians recommended that a cat or dog be at least six months of age before they were sterilized. However, many cats and dogs reach sexual maturity before they are six months old, and many unplanned litters have resulted from this standard. Today, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends "early spay/neuter," which is the sterilization of puppies and kittens between 8 and 16 weeks of age. This has proven to be very safe, with rapid recovery. Many shelters now require adopted animals to be spayed or neutered before they can go home. This policy has begun to make a noticeable difference in the number of unwanted litters, but overpopulation is still a very serious problem.

CHILDREN & THE "MIRACLE OF BIRTH"

This is a completely unjustifiable excuse, as there are numerous videotapes available for children to watch if they are interested in seeing animals being born. There is no guarantee that the mother won't give birth in the middle of the night, or while the children are at school. To experience "the real thing," consider doing foster care for your local shelter. Foster homes willing to take pregnant or nursing animals are rare - they will be delighted to hear from you!

SPAYING & NEUTERING PROBLEMS

People often worry that sterilizing their dog or cat will cause obesity. It's true that spaying and neutering does change an animal's metabolism - more or less instantaneously - but it may take the animal several weeks to adjust its appetite "thermostat." A spayed or neutered animal requires fewer calories for maintenance than an intact one. Some experts recommend cutting the amount you feed by 1/4 to 1/3 for 4 to 6 weeks post-operatively. By doing this, chances are good that he or she will be able to self-regulate at that weight the rest of his or her life. Also, animals, just like people, need exercise and physical activity to maintain their ideal weight. We as caregivers are responsible for keeping our cats and dogs active. A companion animal's metabolism, just like that of humans, tends to slow down as we get older. Therefore, less food and more exercise may be appropriate for your cat or dog as he or she matures.

THE COST OF SURGERY

It is actually much cheaper in the long run to have your companion animal spayed or neutered. If your female does get pregnant, you would bear the cost of veterinary care, raising and placing the litter, and medical bills for the mother should pregnancy or delivery complications arise. For males especially, infections and fight wounds can take a bite out of your wallet. There are also all the other health risks for intact animals. In many communities, the law requires dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered unless a special license or breeder's permit is purchased. Annual license fees may also be significantly less if your animals are altered. Spaying and neutering are preventive measures that will save you money.

If the expense of the surgery is a problem for you, there are many low-cost spay and neuter clinics throughout the country, and many veterinarians offer discounts. Contact your local shelter or animal control agency for a referral.

Declawing Cats Causes Aggression & Abnormal Behaviors

Declawing increases the risk of long-term or persistent pain, manifesting as unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate elimination (soiling/urinating outside of the litter box) and aggression/biting.

Declaw surgery (onychectomy) is illegal in many countries but is still a surprisingly common practice in some. It is performed electively to stop cats from damaging furniture, or as a means of avoiding scratches. Side effects of the surgery include lameness, chewing of toes and infection. Long-term health effects can be even more devastating.

According to research published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, declawing increases the risk of long-term or persistent pain, manifesting as unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate elimination (soiling/urinating outside of the litter box) and aggression/biting. This is not only detrimental to the cat (pain is a major welfare issue and these behaviors are common reasons for relinquishment of cats to shelters), but also has health implications for their human companions as cat bites can be very serious.

Inappropriate toileting, biting, aggression and overgrooming occurs significantly more often in declawed cats than non-declawed cats. A declawed cat is also almost 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with back pain than a non-declawed cat (potentially due to shortening of the declawed limb and altered gait, and/or chronic pain at the site of the surgery causing compensatory weight shift to the pelvic limbs).

The surgical guideline for performing declawing, as recommended by Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, is to remove the entire third phalanx (P3), which is the most distal bone of the toe. Despite this, P3 fragments are found in 63% of declawed cats – reflecting poor or inappropriate surgical technique. While the occurrence of back pain and abnormal behaviors is increased in declawed cats, even optimal surgical technique does not eliminate the risks. The removal of the distal phalanges forces the cat to bear weight on the soft cartilaginous ends of the middle phalanges (P2) that were previously shielded within joint spaces. Pain in these declawed phalanges prompts cats to choose a soft surface, such as carpet, in preference to the gravel-type substrate in the litter box. Additionally, declawed cats may react to being touched by resorting to biting as they have few or no claws left to defend themselves.

Scientific evidence proves that declawing is more detrimental to our feline patients than originally thought. Veterinarians should reconsider declawing cats. The procedure is unethical and inhumane.

Help End The Animal Overpopulation Crisis

Each year, in the United States, 27 million cats and dogs are born. Around 4 million of these animals are euthanized because homes are unable to be found for them. It is a tragic end to these healthy young lives.

Overpopulation is a problem that results in thousands of animals being killed each month. There are many reasons for this; all are preventable. The answer to this huge problem is simple: reduce the number of animals coming into this world. Through the routine procedure of spaying and neutering dogs and cats, there would be fewer unwanted animals, thus reducing or eliminating the heartbreaking process of euthanizing innocent animals left in our overcrowded shelters.

One group of people cannot personally take the blame for this overpopulation epidemic since there are many contributors to the problem. The responsibility is shared by irresponsible guardians, pet shops, puppy mills and professional and "backyard" breeders. Just one litter of puppies or kittens can be responsible for reproducing thousands more in just a few years.

IRRESPONSIBLE CARETAKERS

While there are many breeders and pet shops, the greatest cause of the overpopulation tragedy is individual caretakers who refuse or are afraid to get their companion spayed or neutered. Sometimes parents want their children to experience "the miracle of birth"; other times people let their non-spayed/neutered animals wander, and their companion animals end up mating with other companion animals. There are also people who are genuinely uncomfortable having their companions neutered, "taking away their masculinity," which often results in accidental mating. All of these factors add up to many innocent lives that need to find homes.

PROFESSIONAL & BACKYARD BREEDERS

Another obvious contributor to the overpopulation problem are professional and "backyard" breeders. These people are contributors to a market driven by the same American ideals of buying brand name products because of the associations that go along with them; many purebred animals are bought for the same identification purposes. There is also a tendency for inbreeding in purebred animals because of certain desirable characteristics. This has led to problems, such as deafness, hip dysplasia and epilepsy.

Mixed-breed animals are not the only ones who end up in shelters. A surprising fact is that purebred dogs make up 20 percent to 25 percent of shelter populations. Sometimes a family that just wanted to breed one litter cannot find homes for all the puppies, or the pet store is unable to sell the animal. The bottom line is, each animal that is purchased from a pet store or breeder potentially takes up a home for an animal that could have been adopted from a shelter.

PET STORES & PUPPY MILLS

Puppy mills are facilities that mass breed dogs in almost assembly-line conditions, where dogs are considered nothing more than products. Puppy mills are able to survive because of the demand for purebred animals. The animals are usually kept in squalid conditions, with just enough subsistence to keep them alive until they can be sold at wholesale prices to pet stores. Many of these animals are prone to disease because of the horrid conditions they are raised in and the stress of being shipped over great distances at a very young age.

THE SIMPLE SOLUTION

Spaying and neutering are important steps toward ending companion animal overpopulation. They are simple surgical procedures that are done on the reproductive organs of female and male animals. The procedure eliminates the ability of the animal to reproduce and, in the long term, can prevent many difficulties, such as tumors or bacterial infections that can occur in older animals.

Animals should never be purchased from puppy mills, backyard breeders and pet shops. Adopt - never shop.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Adopt animals from local animal care facilities, rescue groups and shelters instead of purchasing them from breeders or pet stores. 

Have your companions spayed or neutered. 

Educate your community, friends and family about companion-animal overpopulation. 

An Elephant Killed Every 15 Minutes

Tens of thousands of elephants are killed every year, one every 15 minutes. Driven by demand for ivory as a symbol of wealth or prestige, the illicit profits of ivory trade finance wars, terrorism, illegal drugs and human trafficing.

Trade in ivory has been around for centuries. It reached its peak when Africa was colonized. This coincided with the industrial revolution in United Kingdom, Western Europe and America creating a vast demand for ivory. It found use in diverse objects like piano keys, billiard balls, ornaments, jewelry, bow clips, hair pins, needles, buttons, etc. The worst and obvious victims of the trade were the elephants.

Entire populations of this beast was wiped out in North Africa about a thousand years ago, before the Europeans came. The colonization period saw the virtual decimation of the elephant in South Africa during the 19th century and West Africa in the 20th century. The two World Wars in the 20th century saw a sharp fall in ivory trade and provided some respite to the elephants. But the rising affluence from Japan's industrial revival, and the burgeoning wealth of the Middle-eastern oil-rich states in the 1970's, brought back a renewed interest in ivory. The affluent middle class in China since the 1990's created another great market for the product.

The Asian elephant's population has witnessed a decline of nearly 50 percent, from over a 100,000 a century ago to just over 50,000 presently. The male elephant carries tusks while the female does not. The tusk can reach a length of 5 feet and weigh up to 47 kilograms. The tusk of the Asian elephant is in demand for products that require intricate carving. Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich Gulf states are some areas where this ivory is in high demand.

The African elephant consists of two subspecies. The forest elephants are shorter and darker than their Savannah cousins. They are found in the central and western equatorial forests of Africa, primarily in Congo. The 1890's and early 1900's witnessed the mass decimation of this animal by the Belgian colonialists when slave labor was extensively used to transport ivory to North African ports for its ultimate destination in Western Europe.

The bush elephant that inhabited the bush areas of Kalahari in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe is another sub-species that was driven to extinction from rampant hunting by the Dutch and British colonialists.

But the main targets of the ivory trade have always been the Savannah elephants, the largest of all species, known for their huge and magnificent tusks. The male tusks can measure up to 7-8 feet and weigh up to 100 lbs. Unlike their Asian counterparts, even the females have tusks. These mighty creatures are often seen in the vast expanses of the Savannah grassland plains straddling Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The most shocking decline of this elephant species has been witnessed recently in Tanzania in a span of just six years. The count reduced dramatically from 109,000 to 43,000, which is a devastating drop of 60 percent. The Selous Game Reserve is a gold mine for ivory looters who have accounted for as many as 32,000 Savannah elephant deaths. 

There are only about 470,000 elephants roaming the continent of Africa presently. Compare this to 3 to 5 million that roamed the vast expanses at the beginning of the 20th century. It's a frightening drop of 90 percent.

Governments and wildlife agencies have woken up to this terrible loss of wildlife. Virtually every country in the continent, from South Africa to Zimbabwe to Uganda and Tanzania, have placed a ban on ivory trading. Although these bans were put into effect decades ago, only 20 percent of the African elephant habitat is under formal protection.

From over 100 seizures made in the continent in the last 15 years, almost 465,000 pounds of ivory were recovered. That translates into the deaths of over 30,000 elephants. But this hasn't dampened the illegal trade in ivory. Tens of thousands of elephants are lost every year; one killed every 15 minutes.

Organized crime is involved in the transportation of ivory to its preferred destinations, mostly the US and China. The US has put a complete ban on the sale of ivory and ivory items. The immense demand for ornaments and jewellery carved from ivory make China the biggest consumer for the product. Steps have been taken in China to end domestic sales of ivory. In places like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, ivory is in demand for its alleged medicinal properties.

Despite recent efforts, elephant poaching is at its highest level in decades. Valued at US$19 billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value. Domestic ivory markets provides cover for criminals to launder illegal ivory from poached animals. The Internet is utilized for secret, fast and convenient communications and transactions. The criminals that smuggle ivory also smuggle guns, people, and drugs.

Unless the slaughter of elephants is halted, we will likely see these magnificent animals disappear within a few decades. Stopping the crisis will require efforts from a diverse coalition of governments, institutions, organizations, media, scientists, and individuals.

Providing For Companion Animals When You Die

We hope that those we leave behind will care enough about us and what we would have wanted for our beloved companion animals to take them in and give them a loving home. Some families will do the right thing, but many others surrender their deceased family member's animals to high-kill shelters or even have them euthanized.

It is the responsibility of all animal guardians to provide for their animals in the event of their death or serious disability. But be aware that the law sees an animal as a piece of personal property. Therefore, a companion animal cannot inherit in a will. For the same reason, you cannot name an animal the direct beneficiary of your life insurance policy. Because of these restrictions, it is important that you make arrangements for the care of your companion before you die. If you have a trusted friend or family member that cares deeply about animals, you can name that person in your will, make them a beneficiary of your life insurance, or set aside monies in a payable-on-death savings account with the understanding that they are to use the funds for the care of your animal until its death. If you have considerable assets to set aside, a “pet trust” could be the better choice. The following questions and answers should help you decide if a trust is right for you and your animal.

What is a “pet trust”?

A pet trust is a legal technique that can be used to ensure that your companion animal receives proper care after you die or in the event of your disability.

How does a pet trust work?

You (the “settlor”) set aside enough money or other property to a trusted person or bank (the “trustee”) that is under a duty to make arrangements for the proper care of your companion animal, according to your advance instructions. The trustee will deliver the animal to your designated caregiver (the “beneficiary”) and then use the property you transferred to the trust to pay for your companion’s expenses.

There are two main types of pet trusts. The first is a “traditional pet trust,” and is effective in all states. You authorize the trustee to pay the beneficiary for the animal’s expenses, as long as the beneficiary takes proper care of your companion in accordance with your wishes.

The second type of pet trust is a “statutory pet trust” and is authorized in over 45 states. A statutory pet trust is a basic plan that does not require the animal guardian to make as many decisions regarding the terms of the trust. The state law “fills in the gaps”, making a simple provision in a will such as, “I leave $10,000 in trust for the care of my dog, Pip” effective.

Which type of pet trust is “better”?

Many animal guardians will prefer the traditional pet trust because it provides them more control over the animal’s care. For example, you specify who manages the property (the trustee), the animal’s caregiver (the beneficiary), what type of expenses relating to the animal the trustee will pay, the type of care the animal will receive, what happens if the beneficiary can no longer care for the animal, and what arrangements are to be made for the animal after the companion dies; i.e. burial or cremation, disposition of the body or ashes, memorials, etc.

What if my state does not have a special law authorizing pet trusts?

If your state does not have a pet trust statute, you may still create a traditional pet trust.

When is a pet trust created?

You may create a pet trust while you are still alive. This is called an “inter vivos” or “living” trust. Or, by including the trust provisions in your will, a “testamentary” trust will be created when you die.

Which is better – an inter vivos or testamentary pet trust?

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.

An inter vivos trust takes effect immediately and thus will already be functioning when you die or become disabled. This avoids delay between your death and the property being made available for the animal’s care. However, an inter vivos trust can be costly. There are attorney fees when the trust is created and administration fees after that.

A testamentary trust is the less expensive option, because the trust does not take effect until you die and your will is probated (declared valid by a court). However, there may not be funds available to care for your animal during the gap between when you die and when your will is probated. Probate takes time. The estate cannot be closed and funds distributed until a sufficient time has passed to allow any creditors to apply to the estate for payment of debts. And be aware that a testamentary trust will not protect your companion if you become disabled and are unable to care for your animal. A testamentary trust will only take effect after you die.

What does it mean to “fund” your pet trust?

The trustee will not be able to provide for your companion animal without funding. Funding means to transfer money or other property into your trust for the care of your companion. If you choose a testamentary trust, it would be in the animal’s best interest to place enough money in a bank account that is payable on death to the chosen guardian, with the understanding that the money will only be used for the care of the animal until the estate is settled.

How much property do I need to fund my pet trust?

There are many factors to consider in deciding how much money or other property to transfer to your pet trust. These factors include the type of animal, the animal’s life expectancy (especially important in cases of long-lived animals such as parrots), the standard of living you wish to provide for the animal, the need for veterinary treatment, including any out-of-the-ordinary expenses for special-needs animals, and whether the trustee is to be paid for his or her services.

The size of your estate must also be considered. If your estate is relatively large, you could transfer sufficient property so the trustee could make payments primarily from the income and use the principal only for emergencies. On the other hand, if your estate is small, you may wish to transfer a lesser amount and anticipate that the trustee will supplement trust income with principal invasions as necessary.

You should avoid transferring a large amount of money or other property to your pet trust. Such a gift might provoke contention among your heirs and cause them to contest the trust. If the court considers the amount of property left to the trust to be unreasonable, the court can reduce the amount at its discretion.

When do I fund my pet trust?

If you create an inter vivos pet trust, that is, a trust that takes effect while you are alive, you need to fund the trust at the time it is created. You may add additional funds to the trust at a later time or use the techniques discussed below.

If you create a testamentary pet trust, that is, the trust is contained in your will and does not take effect until you die, then you need to fund the trust by a provision in your will or by using one of the techniques discussed below.

How do I fund my pet trust?

If you create your trust while you are alive, you need to transfer money or other property to the trustee. You need to be certain to document the transfer and follow the appropriate steps based on the type of property. For example, if you are transferring money, write a check which shows the payee as, “[name of trustee]”, trustee of the “[name of pet trust]”, “in trust” and then indicate on the memo line that the money is for “contribution to ‘[name of pet trust]’”. If you are transferring land, your attorney should prepare a deed naming the grantee with language such as “[name of trustee]”, in trust, under the terms of the “[name of pet trust]”.

  • Direct Transfers: If you create the trust in your will, you should include a provision in the property distribution section of your will that directly transfers both your companion animal and the assets to care for your animal to the trust. For example, “I leave [description of animal] and [amount of money and/or description of property] to the trustee, in trust, under the terms of the [name of pet trust] created under Article [number] of this will.”
  • Pour Over: If you create your pet trust while you are alive, you may add property (a “pour over”) from your estate to the trust when you die.
  • Life Insurance: You may fund both inter vivos and testamentary pet trusts by naming the trustee of the trust, in trust, as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. This policy may be one you take out just to fund your pet trust or you may have a certain portion of an existing policy payable to your pet trust. This technique is particularly useful if you do not have or anticipate having sufficient property to transfer for your animal’s care. Life insurance “creates” property when you die which you may then use to fund your pet trust. Be sure to consult with your lawyer or life insurance agent about the correct way of naming the trustee of your pet trust as a beneficiary.
  • Payable On Death Accounts, Annuities, Retirement Plans, and Other Contracts: You may have money in the bank, an annuity, a retirement plan, or other contractual arrangement that permits you to name a person to receive the property after you die. You may use these assets to fund both inter vivos and testamentary trusts by naming the trustee of your pet trust as the recipient of a designated portion or amount of these assets. Consult with your lawyer, banker, or broker about the correct way of naming the trustee of your pet trust as the recipient of these funds.

How do I decide on the individual to name as my companion’s caregiver?

The selection of the caregiver for your animal is extremely important. Here are some of the key considerations:
  • Dedication to the rights and well-being of all animals.
  • Willingness to assume the responsibilities associated with caring for your companion.
  • Ability to provide a stable home for your companion.
  • Harmonious relationship between the caregiver’s family members and your animal.

Should I name alternate caregivers?

You should name at least one, preferably two or three, alternate caregivers in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve as your companion’s caregiver. To avoid having your animal end up without a home, consider naming a sanctuary or no-kill shelter as your last choice.

What types of instructions should I include in my pet trust regarding the care of my animal?

Here are some examples of the types instructions you may wish to provide:
  • Food and diet.
  • Daily routines.
  • Toys.
  • Cages.
  • Grooming.
  • Socialization.
  • Medical care, including preferred veterinarian and whether or not you had pet insurance. If you did, provide all policy information.
  • Compensation, if any, for the caregiver.
  • Method the caregiver must use to document expenditures for reimbursement.
  • Whether the trust will pay for liability insurance in case the animal bites or otherwise injures someone.
  • How the trustee is to monitor caregiver’s services.
  • How to identify the animal (all nicknames and pet names).
  • Whether or not the animal should be euthanized if determined by a veterinarian to be suffering without hope of recovery and disposition of the companion’s remains, e.g., burial or cremation, memorials, and where the body or ashes are to be interred.

Who should be the trustee of my pet trust?

The trustee needs to be an individual or corporation that you trust to manage your property prudently and make sure the beneficiary is doing a good job taking care of your animal. A family member or friend may be willing to take on these responsibilities at little or no cost. However, it may be a better choice to select a professional trustee or corporation, which has experience in managing trusts even though a trustee fee will need to be paid.

Should I name alternate trustees?

You should name at least one, preferable two or three, alternate trustees in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve as a trustee.

Is it a good idea to check with the trustees before naming them in my pet trust?

Serving as a trustee can be a potentially burdensome position with many responsibilities associated with it. You want to be certain that the person and all alternates you name as your trustees will be willing to do the job when the time comes.

What happens to the property remaining in the trust when my companion animal dies?

You should name a “remainder beneficiary,” that is, someone who will receive any remaining trust property after your animal dies. Note that it is not a good idea to name the caregiver or trustee because then the person has less of an incentive to keep your companion alive. Many animal guardians elect to have any remaining property pass to a charitable organization that assists the same type of animal that was covered by the trust.

What happens if the trust runs out of property before my companion dies?

If no property remains in the trust, the trustee will not be able to pay for your animal’s care. Perhaps the caregiver will continue to do so with his or her own funds. In case the caregiver is unwilling or unable to do so and none of the alternates you named are willing to take the animal without compensation, you should indicate in your pet trust the shelter or sanctuary that you would want your animal to go to. However, try to choose a caregiver and alternates that would not even consider this last resort option.

How do I get a pet trust?

You should consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning and, if possible, who also has experience with pet trusts. You may find it helpful to give your attorney a copy of this article.

Providing for a surviving companion is the last act of love that you can perform for him or her as part of the ongoing responsibility of companion animal guardianship. Making an informed choice will maximize your animal’s chances of living a long, healthy, happy life without you. Talk with your family to get a sense of how they feel about caring for your animal. Sometimes a friend is a better choice. Having the conversation can spare your companion trauma, abuse or even death. We are their protectors and their voice. Protect them and speak for them.

Stop Blaming Feral Cats

While some wildlife groups may use media attention to speculate that cats are causing species loss, leading biologists, climate scientists, and environmental watchdogs all agree: endangered species’ fight for survival rests in our own hands.

Focusing on cats diverts attention from the far more dangerous impact of humans. Too many media stories sidestep these realities to focus on sensational issues like cats’ imagined impact on birds. But cats have been a natural part of the landscape for over 10,000 years—that has not changed. What has changed in that time is how we have re-shaped the environment to suit 21st century human needs—at a great cost to the other species that share our ecosystem. Our direct impact on our environment is without a doubt the number one cause of species loss.

Make no mistake—habitat loss is the most critical threat to birds. With this exponential human population growth comes massive use of natural resources and rampant development: industrial activity, logging, farming, suburbanization, mining, road building, and a host of other activities. The impact on species from habitat destruction, pollution, fragmentation, and modification is alarming. According to the World Watch Institute, “people have always modified natural landscapes in the course of finding food, obtaining shelter, and meeting other requirements of daily life. What makes present-day human alteration of habitat the number one problem for birds and other creatures is its unprecedented scale and intensity.”

Human activities are responsible for up to 1.2 billion bird deaths every year. Nearly 100 million birds die annually from collisions with windows; 80 million from collisions with automobiles; 70 million from exposure to pesticides. Millions of birds are intentionally killed by U.S. government-sponsored activities each year.

The human population continues to grow, threatening other species. Exponential population growth has left little land untouched by human development. In America alone, the population grew by 60 million people between 1990 and 2010, and experts predict we will add 23 million more people per decade in the next 30 years. That kind of growth—the equivalent of adding another California and another Texas to our already teeming population—is unprecedented in American history.

Killing cats will not save wildlife. Studies have shown cats to be mainly scavengers, not hunters, feeding mostly on garbage and scraps. When they do hunt, cats prefer rodents and other burrowing animals. Studies of samples from the diets of outdoor cats confirm that common mammals appear three times more often than birds. Additionally, scientists who study predation have shown in mathematical models that when cats, rats, and birds coexist, they find a balance. But when cats are removed, rat populations soar and wipe out the birds completely.

Some wildlife organizations and media outlets continue to quote scientific studies that have been proven inaccurate. A careful analysis of the science concludes there is no strong support for the viewpoint that cats are a serious threat to wildlife.

Although human civilization and domestic cats co-evolved side by side, the feral cat population was not created by humans. Cats have lived outdoors for a long time. In the thousands of years that cats have lived alongside people, indoor-only cats have only become common in the last 50 or 60 years—a negligible amount of time on an evolutionary scale. They are not new to the environment and they didn’t simply originate from lost pets or negligent animal guardians. Instead, they have a place in the natural landscape.

The Truth About Puppy Mills

Few people can resist looking in the pet shop window to see what cute puppies and kittens might be inside. But a closer look into how pet shops obtain animals reveals a system in which the high price paid for "that doggie in the window" pales in comparison to the cost paid by the animals themselves. The vast majority of dogs sold in pet shops, up to half a million a year, are raised in "puppy mills," breeding kennels located mostly in the Midwest that are notorious for their cramped, crude, and filthy conditions and their continuous breeding of unhealthy and hard-to-socialize animals.

Puppy mill kennels usually consist of small wood and wire-mesh cages, or even empty crates or trailer cabs, all kept outdoors, where female dogs are bred continuously, with no rest between heat cycles. The mothers and their litters often suffer from malnutrition, exposure and lack of adequate veterinary care. Continuous breeding takes its toll on the females; they are killed at about age six or seven when their bodies give out, and they no longer can produce enough litters.

The puppies are taken from their mothers at the age of four to eight weeks and sold to brokers who pack them in crates for transport and resale to pet shops. Puppies being shipped from mill to broker to pet shop can cover hundreds of miles by pickup truck, tractor trailer and/or plane, often without adequate food, water, ventilation or shelter.

Between unsanitary conditions at puppy mills and poor treatment in transport, only half of the dogs bred at mills survive to make it to market. Those who do survive rarely get the kind of loving human contact necessary to make them suitable companions. By not spending money for proper food, housing, or veterinary care, the breeders, brokers, and pet shops ensure maximum profits. Cat breeding occurs on a smaller scale, but under similar conditions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 25 percent of the 3,500 federally licensed breeding kennels have substandard conditions. The USDA is supposed to monitor and inspect the kennels to make sure they are not violating the housing standards of the Animal Welfare Act, but kennel inspections take low priority at the USDA and the kennels are not regularly inspected. Even when violations are found, kennel operators are rarely fined, much less shut down. Persistent offenders often refuse the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) personnel access to their facilities to conduct inspections.

The American Kennel Club (AKC), while claiming to promote only reputable dealers, does not attempt to influence or reform puppy mill breeders, perhaps because it receives millions of dollars from breeders who pay the AKC registration fees for "purebred" dogs.

Puppy mills are rarely monitored by state governments.

Dogs from puppy mills are bred for quantity, not quality, causing unmonitored genetic defects and personality disorders to be passed on from generation to generation. The result is high veterinary bills for the people who buy such dogs, and the possibility that unsociable or maladjusted dogs will be disposed of when their guardians can't deal with their problems. 

Dogs kept in small cages without exercise, love, or human contact develop undesirable behaviors and may become destructive or unsociable or bark excessively. Also, unlike humane societies and shelters, most pet shops do not inspect the future homes of the dogs they sell. They also dispose of unsold animals in whatever manner they see fit, and allegations of cruel killing methods abound. Poor enforcement of humane laws allows badly run pet shops to continue selling sick, unfit animals, although humane societies and police departments sometimes succeed in closing down pet shops where severe abuse is uncovered.

WHAT YOU CAN DO


In today's society, where unwanted dogs and cats (including purebreds) are killed by the millions every year in animal shelters, there is simply no reason for animals to be bred and sold for the pet shop trade. Without pet shops, the financial incentive for puppy mills would disappear. People looking for companion animals should go to animal shelters or breed rescue clubs.

Although animals sold by local breeders escape many of the early miseries that dogs suffer at puppy mills, they are subject to the same physical problems caused by inbreeding that animals from pet stores often exhibit, and they also contribute to the overpopulation of companion animals with its attendant suffering. Only when people refuse to support pet shops, puppy mills and breeders will this chain of misery be broken.

Wild Animals In The Concrete Jungle

If you thought cities were all about concrete jungles and the teeming millions of humans inhabiting it, you are wrong. Quite astonishingly, it's not just man who is moving from the country to big cities; it's their four-legged and furry friends, too. There have been sightings of bobcats, deer, raccoon, coyotes and squirrels in the areas surrounding Laurel Canyon Boulevard, a major arterial road of Los Angeles. It's not unusual to find a crocodile basking in the Biscayne Bay shores of Florida alongside accommodating boaters. Chicago city's well tended patches of forests and wetlands are home to skunks, coyotes and shorebirds migrating from the Illinois corn hinterland.

One of the most common American animal, the coyote, has adapted to the urban life seamlessly. The coyote is a true survivor of all conditions. It can be found in swamps, grasslands, dense forests, deserts and high mountains and it can live off just about anything. Being a natural scavenger, the call of the cities makes it one more addition to its habitat. Over and above its normal diet of snakes, rodents, rabbits, frogs, birds and grasshoppers, it has added dog and cat food and garbage to its repertoire. Coyotes resemble collie dogs and have brownish gray fur and a belly that is cream-colored. They weigh 20 - 45 pounds and are highly reproductive animals, something that has made its proliferation into towns and cities easier. Big parks and landscaping surrounding golf courses are some of the creature’s favorite urban hangouts.

The American red fox is another animal that has made cities its home. It mostly moves around after dusk and before dawn scavenging for food. Its tiny size makes it difficult to spot and gives it the advantage to move around unnoticed. While the diet of the rural fox consists entirely of meat, its constitutes just 50 percent of its urban cousin who feeds on pigeons, insects, worms, fruits, vegetables and city garbage.

The raccoon has taken to urban America quite successfully. Found almost all over country, the first city sighting of this creature was in the early 1920's in the suburban areas of Cincinnati. Since then it has proliferated to most cities. The raccoon is just 16 to 28 inches long and weighs from 8 to 20 pounds. Its grayish coat covers its entire body including the belly. Its face is a mixture of black and white and its eyes look like a pair of sunglasses from afar. Among its favorite sleeping places in the cities are abandoned houses. Gardens are favorite targets of raccoon scavenging for fruits or vegetables. Garbage leftovers are another good food source. 

The tiny Virginia opossum, whose natural habitat is the Rockies and areas east of it, are quickly migrating to cities. More like a rodent in appearance, but a bit more furry, this gray and white colored creature now competes with the raccoon for city trash in the backyards of American urban homes. Basements, sewers and chimneys are ideal hiding places for the possum during busy city day hours. This Virginia native is now found all over the Western states since it was introduced in the region during the Great Depression as a source of food for humans.

The skunk is another common squirrel-like American animal which is found in its towns and cities. Although its white and black striped coat gives it a cute look, it is dreaded for the terribly pungent odor it emits. Bird nests and eggs are favorite targets of the skunk. It prefers to come out at night, although day sightings of the creature in cities are not uncommon.

Astonishing instances of urban sightings also include a new species of leopard frog discovered in 2013, not in the backwaters of Florida, but in Staten Island, New York.

Ospreys, a 24-inch fish-eating bird resembling a hawk, are fast abandoning their nesting habitats in the wild and moving them to unusual havens in cities. Cell phone towers, channel markers, power pole cavities and other man-made structures are the new safe houses for their elaborate 250 pound nests. The ospreys have become familiar with humans and have begun nesting close to busy highways.

Apart from squirrels, which are the most common wild urban creatures, various species of deer, foxes, coyotes and wild turkey are being frequently sighted in parks and golf courses skirting cities. The adaptability of these new denizens in urban environs heralds a new era of human awareness and tolerance to the co-existence of creatures of the wild in their midst.

Many species of wildlife have adapted to city and suburb life. Some of the animals have made themselves at home by nesting in chimneys, attics and basements. They dig through trash cans to find food, and even eat dog feces that are not properly disposed of. While these animals are beautiful to see from a distance, up close encounters can be shocking. 

Tips To Live In Harmony With Wild Urban Animals

Make sure trash is secure at all times. Trash receptacles should be kept tightly closed at all times. Wild animals will not live where they cannot eat. Removing the food source is the most effective way to evict them.

Inspect properties regularly for places where the animals can live. Make sure that your chimneys are capped so animals can’t nest in your fireplace. Keep flues closed so they don’t invade living areas. Inspect attics, crawlspaces, and basements for holes.

Use caution repairing holes in the spring, as there may be babies already in nests. Try playing loud music to encourage animals to leave before patching holes.

If putting out food for alley cats, only put out enough food to satisfy their hunger. Pick the food up when the cats finish so the leftovers don’t attract rodents or wild animals. Always trap, neuter and return cats in a feral colony you are managing.

Try deterrents. Sprays and other agents that are designed to keep unwanted animals away can be purchased at most garden or hardware stores. Moth balls or ammonia soaked rags can also aid in deterring animals from a specific area.

Keep trees well trimmed. If there are trees hanging over your house, animals are likely gaining access to the rooftop by climbing the trees.

Backyard Birding

Watching the many species of birds that inhabit your ecosystem is a fun and fascinating pastime the whole family can enjoy together. Winter is the best time to feed birds as they need the food more than at any other time of year and you will typically see a greater number and variety of birds at bird feeders. Many interesting birds from the north fly south in winter, and in spring many species return home from lands in the south, providing a great variety of species to see.

You don’t need to spend money on food or feeders to attract birds to your yard. If you can leave a small area of your yard un-mowed, you can attract a lot of birds. They eat the seeds from the grasses and weeds and use the area for cover as well.

Employing a feeder grants the ability for close study of birds. While all feeders draw birds, those that keep the bird feed dry and free of mold are best. Moldy seeds are bad for bird health. Place feeders either near a window or fairly far away to help prevent birds from colliding with windows when startled. The most common feeder is a hopper or house feeder, usually made of windows of clear plastic that feed seed to a perching surface. These feeders attract cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, grosbeaks, buntings and titmice. One without a lot of perching surface minimizes use by house sparrows or starlings. The most important thing is to keep feeders clean by washing with bleach water every few weeks. Washing with bleach water prevents the spread of disease.

Although slightly more expensive, bird food with black oil sunflower seeds attract a wide variety of desirable birds. A suet feeder attracts woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and bluejays. Some birders push suet or peanut butter into crevices in bark or in the cracks of old stumps to attract birds. Witnessing a northern flicker or red-bellied woodpecker feeding at close range sears a delightful memory into the mind of a youngster. Woodpeckers love dead branches on trees. Leave a dead branch on a tree to attract woodpeckers if it is safe to do so.

It is important to provide water for birds in winter too. Place the water in a spot in the yard that receives sun as its rays will melt some water for birds on even the coldest days.

A good guide book is essential for identifying birds. Looking up unfamiliar birds and learning about their distinguishing characteristics is part of the fun of birding. Modestly priced binoculars now have coated lenses and other features that make them acceptable choices for bird watching. Don’t get zoom binoculars for birding. You tend to lose clarity at high magnification. A wide angle pair lets in more light and makes it easier to find birds.

Bird watching is a good way to introduce kids into the outdoors and spark awareness of our natural world. Backyard birding is a family-friendly way to enjoy wildlife viewing. Plus, it is just plain fun.

Does Coral Make A Good Gift?

Corals are popular as souvenirs, for home decor and in costume jewelry, yet corals are living animals that eat, grow, and reproduce. It takes corals decades or longer to create reef structures, so leave corals and other marine life on the reef.

Corals have long been popular as souvenirs, for home decor, and in jewelry, but many consumers are unaware that these beautiful structures are made by living creatures. Fewer still realize that corals are dying off at alarming rates around the world.

Coral reefs are some of the most biologically rich and valuable ecosystems on Earth, but they are threatened by an increasing array of impacts—primarily from global climate change, unsustainable fishing, and pollution. Strong consumer demand for coral, heightened over the holiday season, is another factor that is contributing to the decline of coral reefs. Each year, the U.S. imports tons of dead coral for home decorations and curios. Most of these corals are shallow-water species.

The U.S. is also the world's largest documented consumer of Corallium, red and pink corals often used to create jewelry. Finished pieces of jewelry and art crafted from this type of coral can fetch anywhere between $20 and $20,000 in the marketplace. Continued consumer demand is contributing to the decline of these delicate corals around the world.

Commercial harvesting to satisfy the demand for coral jewelry has reduced colony size, density, and age structure of Corallium over time. Harvesting is also lowering the reproduction capability of this species and is decreasing its genetic diversity. Research indicates that removal of red and pink corals for the global jewelry and art trade is also leading to smaller and smaller Corallium in the wild.

Corals grow very slowly, are extremely long-lived, and take years to reach maturity. It takes corals decades or longer to create reef structures. Once coral is harvested—especially when it's extracted at a young age—surrounding coral beds often do not recover. That's why it's best to leave corals and other marine life on the reef.

Remember: corals are already a gift. Don't give them as presents.

Hunting Is Killing Off Mammal & Bird Populations

Hunting is a major threat to wildlife, particularly in tropical regions. An international team of ecologists and environmental scientists have found that bird and mammal populations are reduced within 7 and 40 km of hunters' access points, such as roads and settlements.

Within these impact zones, mammal populations decline on average by 83%, and bird populations by 58%. Additionally, commercial hunting has a higher impact than hunting for family food, and hunting pressure is higher in areas with better accessibility to major towns where wild meat can be traded.

Only 17 percent of the original mammal abundance and 42 percent of the birds remain in hunted areas.

There are several drivers of animal decline in tropical landscapes: habitat destruction, overhunting, fragmentation, etc. 

Higher hunting pressure occurs around villages and roads. Scientists have discovered that humans gather resources in a circle around their village and in the proximity of roads. As such, hunting pressure is higher in the proximity of villages and other access points. From there the densities of species increase up to a distance where no effect of hunting is observed.

Mammals are more sought after because they are bigger and provide more food. They are worth a longer trip. The bigger the mammal, the further a hunter would walk to catch it.

With increasing wild meat demand for rural and urban supply, hunters have harvested the larger species almost to extinction in the proximity of the villages and they must travel further distances to hunt. For commercially interesting species such as elephants and gorillas, hunting distances are even larger because the returns are higher.

Protected areas are no safe haven. Mammal populations have been reduced by hunting even within protected areas.

Strategies to reduce hunting in both protected and unprotected ecosystems are urgently needed to avoid further defaunation, including monitoring hunting activities by increasing anti-poaching patrols and controlling overexploitation via law enforcement.

Parrots & Toucans: Birds In Danger

While it's quite common to keep parrots and toucans as “pets” for human entertainment, they are creatures of the wild and not meant to be caged. Thousands of these birds are still taken away from their families and flocks every year, packed up as if they were toys and sold at bird shows, through pet shops, or peddled on the internet. Many don't survive the journey, and those who do are likely to be destined for a life of misery. As a result of the demand, populations in the wild have suffered immensely, compounded by deforestation, animal agriculture, hunting and logging. Some species have been completely wiped out from parts of their range.

These birds are often stolen from the wild illegally and falsely declared as captive bred. They are then laundered into the global wildlife trade, often “legalized" along the way. The illicit pet trade industry is believed to have contributed to the threatened status of 66 parrot species and the extinction of the Spix’s Macaw. Nearly 27 percent of worldwide parrot species are now at risk.

Whether wild caught or captive bred, a birds' instinctive yearning to fly is thwarted when they are confined to a cage. Exotic birds are not "domesticated" even when they are bred in captivity; they retain their wild needs and instincts. Even in a large aviary, it is virtually impossible to provide birds in captivity with a natural existence, since naturally changing temperatures, food, vegetation, and landscape cannot be recreated indoors, nor, of course, can the birds fly freely.

There are nearly 390 species of parrots with habitats spanning from the Tropic of Cancer downwards to virtually all the countries in the Southern hemisphere. Though the primarily color of the parrot is green, there are multi-colored species – especially found in the deep jungles of Papua New Guinea.

Toucans are distinguishable from the parrot by their large and colorful bills. Their geographical spread of habitat is much narrower than the parrot, being restricted to the Amazon region of Brazil and North-eastern parts of the South American continent and the jungles of the Caribbean.

Illegal trafficking in parrots is quite common in India, despite the activity being banned by the authorities since 1991. Smuggling three to four week old chicks is rampant, threatening what is left of the 12 species of the bird left in the wilds of the country. Many of the birds die en-route to their chosen destinations. The plum-headed, red-breasted, malabar, Himalayan and Finsch’s parakeets are some of the threatened Indian parrot species.

Most vulnerable are island parrots. Rapidly growing human habitations and limited land space are squeezing out forest areas, and consequently the parrots. There are just 800 St. Vincent parrots left on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. The Society islands of the Pacific are home to a dwindling population of a parrot species known as blue lorikeets, of which just 2,000 are left.

In the Amazon, common threats afflicts all wildlife - deforestation, growing farmlands and rampant logging. Diminishing food sources, and a lucrative illicit trade, have reduced one of the largest and most colorful species of parrot to near extinction. The Lear’s macaw was one of the most commonly found birds in the Amazon forests, but now is ensconced in a small patch of forest in the North-eastern Brazilian state of Bahia. There are only 960 of these birds that have been declared critically endangered. Parrot protection groups have gone to the extent of purchasing 4,000 acres of forest in the region to be under protection as suitable habitat to these rare birds.

Even worse is the fate of the blue-throated macaw of Bolivia, a victim of extensive mining activity, forest farming and illegal trade. Their absolute paltry numbers, just around 87, have prompted a captive breeding program desperately attempting to save these rare Bolivian birds.

Species like the thick-billed parrots were hunted to the point of extinction in Arizona. They are found across the border in Mexico where they presently face the twin threats of logging and illegal pet trade. Thick-billed parrots depend on their natural habitats of mature pine forests for their food source. Since such forests are vanishing fast, the birds are being driven out to drier desert regions where they simply cannot last long.

Among the most fascinating and loved of feathered animals in the world are the parakeets, or lorikeets. Wild parakeets inhabit the thick mountainous jungles of Papua New Guinea, the forest regions of Northern Australia, and the Polynesian islands in the Pacific. A combination of dazzlingly different colors and vocal variations make them the most sought after creatures by zoos of the world, and as pets doomed to life in captivity. Despite being protected in the still vast virgin tropical forest tracts of the Australasia region, their remarkable traits and appearance still make them targets of illegal trade. The budgerigar is one such species of lorikeet which has been in great demand as “pets” for decades.

The Australasia species also face a threat in the form of Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD). PDD causes regurgitation, a state in which food remains undigested in the digestive tract or blood. PDD is known to be caused by a virus called Bornavirus that results in weight-loss, feather-plucking, toe-tapping, and other issues.

The threat to toucans is not dissimilar to that of parrots. In fact, their much limited habitat and small number of species, just five, make their survival a much bigger threat. Loss of habitat due to deforestation, and wanton creation of farmlands especially in the Amazon, are common threats. The toucan is hunted for the rich fabric of its feathers that has great commercial value. The toucans fare even worse as pets than the parrots and can die from sheer desolation. Being deep forest birds, they are susceptible to diseases arising out of sudden human presence in their vicinity.

Parrots are more threatened than other bird groups. Loss and degradation of habitat, animal agriculture, hunting and the wildlife trade are all threatening the future of parrots and toucans. An alarming 56 percent decline of all parrot species is currently taking place. Action must be taken now to save these birds from being lost forever.
Home  |  Why Veganism?  |  News  |  About  |  Join  |  Contact  |  Adopt An Animal

Ⓥ World Vegan Foundation  |  
World Animal Foundation 
PO Box 136, VERMILION, OHIO 44089

WorldAnimal.Foundation  |  WorldAnimalFoundation.com  |  Adopt An Animal
 
© 2018 All Rights Reserved  |  Created by all in one websites
PRIVACY POLICY  |  DISCLAIMER  |  COPYRIGHT  |  FAIR USE NOTICE  |  GUARANTEE POLICY  |  RETURN POLICY  

 .