Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What The F is wrong with Texas Animal Shelters


It seemed like a story with the potential for a happy ending. Sara Legvold fell in love with a female Chihuahua at the Garland, Texas animal shelter. "I saw that little Chihuahua, and it broke my heart," said Levgold. "I said, 'I gotta get that little thing out of there.'" She planned to adopt her. Yet this story's ending was tragic, not happy. According to The Dallas Morning News, "less than a day after the dog, Blackie, was listed by the shelter as available, she was euthanized because of her aggressive tendencies."

(full story here)

Remember that story I posted at the end of July? Remember that it was a shelter in Dallas? Now Garland (which is a suburb of Dallas.) While I am pretty sure that stories like this go unreported all the time in various cities in the US, why does it feel that more of them come from Texas or of southern states than really need to? This sickens me and appalls me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Some collected facts (with charts) about Obesity in the US

More facts located here

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Shame of being from Texas

This is from Change

Dallas Animal Services has been having ongoing problems with its air-conditioning. As you might imagine, a building full of animals in the Texas summer heat is pretty uncomfortable (and potentially dangerous). It gets even less pleasant when there's a dead cat stuck in the wall.

Last month, a cat escaped from his cage at the Dallas shelter. It happens. The cat apparently climbed into the ceiling. That happens, too. It can be hard to find a cat who doesn't want to be found. But then the cat wound up trapped in the wall, where shelter workers could hear him trying to get free. It took several days for him to die in there.

As if the thought of this poor cat slowly dying in the walls wasn't bad enough, here's the worst part: He could have been rescued. How do I know that? Because when the stench of the cat's carcass made things unpleasant, it was removed. Apparently it wasn't a high priority for shelter staff to get the cat out of the walls when he was struggling and crying, but as soon as he started to smell, they were getting him out of there, even if it was Mission Impossible.

Sources told CBS 11 that managers were well aware of the missing cat trying to free himself from the wall. The district attorney's office is investigating who knew about the cat, and when, to determine whether cruelty charges can be filed.

Jonnie England, a member of the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission, said "If these allegations are true, these are the people who are charged with protecting and caring for animals in the city of Dallas. This is a level of callousness and unconcern and incompetence that is just stunning."

England has also been outspoken about the chronic ventilation problems at the shelter, saying that between the broken air conditioner and vents clogged with dirt and debris, there's a risk of spreading disease in addition to heat-related problems. It's good to know that the animals in Dallas have a champion, because if the city's "shelter" is allowing animals to die within its walls (literally), the animals need someone looking out for them.

The Dallas Animal Shelter Commission needs to replace the managers and staff responsible for this negligence with compassionate leaders who know the meaning of the word "shelter," and can give the city's animals the safety and care that they deserve.

If you'd like to contact the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission, please do so here:

Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center

Phone: 214-670-8246

1818 N. Westmoreland Road
Dallas, Texas 75212

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

USDA Admits Link Between Antibiotic Use by Big Ag and Human Health

Can't get much more blatant than that now can we?

From Huffington Post:

At a hearing of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday, July 14, 2010, a representative of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally caught up with the rest of the world -- and his peers at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- and admitted that the use of antibiotics in farm animal feed is contributing to the growing problem of deadly antibiotic resistance in America.

Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) read from his previously submitted testimony that the USDA believes it is likely that U.S. use of antibiotics in animal agriculture does lead to some cases of resistance in humans and the animals.

Why is this news? Because the USDA has been continually playing the Three Wise Monkeys game -- it sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil -- when it comes to deadly consequences to humans of the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals. In fact, Dr. Clifford looked as if he'd been given a choice between testifying or having his eye poked out with a stick and he lost the toss.

Others, though, readily stepped up to the plate. Despite the feeble nature of the recent FDA Guidance to Industry on farm animal antibiotics, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Principle Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, was clear in his testimony that the overall weight of evidence supports the conclusion that using antibiotics for production purposes in livestock farming (as growth promoters and to prevent rather than treat illness) is not in the interest of protecting and promoting public health.

Dr. Sharfstein also turned away a challenge from Representative John Shimkus (R-IL 19) about the soundness of the science upon which his findings rest. Mr. Shimkus, obviously unhappy with Dr. Sharfstein's testimony, badgered him to come up with up a U.S. peer-reviewed study (which Dr. Sharfstein did -- a 2003 Institute of Medicine study) and then questioned the veracity of the findings. Dr. Sharfstein assured Mr. Shimkus that the Institute has a peer-review process in place and reminded him that "the Institute is considered our nation's leading scientific expert ... "

Dr. Ali Khan, Assistant Surgeon General and the Deputy Director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Center for Disease Control and Prevention, testified that there is unequivocal and compelling evidence that the use of antibiotics in farm animals leads to drug resistance that has an adverse impact on public health. He also faced questions from a visibly agitated Mr. Shimkus, who kept dismissing studies by the World Health Organization and others to request "real science," which, from his posturing, is evidently only that which supports Big Ag.

Mr. Shimkus played his role as Big Ag's Mouthpiece admirably. He questioned every statistic, slide, study, expert, institution, report or person cited that didn't agree with an antibiotic free-for-all in the farmyard. "So far there's nothing that links use in animals to a buildup of resistance in humans," he stated, recklessly ignoring all published science since 1968 and the testimony of the doctors his government has charged with protecting health, while making sure he gave Big Ag a clear, concise statement around which it can issue an indignant press release.

So let's recap -- the USDA, however grudgingly, is finally admitting the link between the use of subtherapeutic antibiotics in farm animal feed and human drug resistance; the FDA is impressed enough with the "weight of the evidence" to begin calling for changes in how antibiotics are used in farm animal production; and the CDC feels the evidence is "unequivocal and compelling," yet there are still those calling for "real science?"

Well how about the March 22, 2010, report from the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network that a superbug call C. difficile is multi-drug resistant and on the rise? Is that real science or should we conduct more studies and perhaps hold a few more hearings?

We don't need more hearings, we need action. H.R. 1549, Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, continues to languish in committee while a few elected officials spend the taxpayer's time and money to pretend the science they are calling for doesn't already exist in mountains.

In the coming days, I expect that Big Ag will marshal their forces and come out with its own brand of science and experts to refute all testimony that threatens its profit margin. Of course, what I'm really waiting for is the day the Subcommittee calls on one of the dozens and dozens of AWA farmers to relate how changing from confined to pasture-based farming has eliminated the need for subtherapuetic and most therapeutic antibiotics because their animals and their farms are safe and healthy to begin with.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No Charges for Man Who Abused Cows

MARYSVILLE, Ohio — The owner of a central Ohio farm won't face charges in connection with a video showing cattle being beaten and poked with pitchforks, a prosecutor announced Tuesday.

A Union County grand jury decided not to indict Gary Conklin of Plain City after investigators and veterinarians studied the video and concluded Conklin acted appropriately, County Prosecutor David Phillips said.

An animal welfare group secretly recorded the video in late April, saying it showed cattle being abused at Conklin Dairy Farms. The farm fired an employee who has since pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of animal cruelty.

Phillips said the video posted on YouTube used out-of-context scenes to create a false perception that Conklin was involved in the abuse, but investigators and grand jurors saw the original video.

"They saw the unedited video of Mr. Conklin's actions, not the highly inflammatory version released on YouTube by Mercy for Animals," Phillips said in a statement.

The group Tuesday said the decision not to charge Conklin has failed concerned citizens and animals that deserve protection, giving Conklin Farms "a free pass" for animal abuse. "Mercy For Animals was the only true watchdog and defender the animals at Conklin Dairy Farms had," said Daniel Hauff, the group's director of investigations. "The dairy industry and local law enforcement had all failed to detect the abuse or hold the abusers accountable."

Phillips said the grand jury also considered charges against another farm employee, the undercover worker who made the video, and Mercy for Animals officials, but decided there wasn't enough evidence. Phillips said the abuse allegations should have been reported immediately to authorities.

He also said authorities were monitoring threats being made against the Conklin family and farm and warned they could result in prosecution.

Gary Conklin said in a statement it was gratifying that no else was charged. But he said the family remains saddened by the abuse shown in the video and said it doesn't reflect the farm's commitment to animal care.

Here is the "highly imflammatory" and "out-of-context" video that everyone on YouTube saw:

I don't know about you, but the first few seconds of this video looks like "cruel and unusual" punishment to me. Context or not. Acts of violence against another living creature is just that ... violence. Abuse is abuse, there is no "context."

If you take a club and beat a man who was entering your home, it does NOT take away from the fact that you were beating him. Your reasons may be justified but the act is still what it is. I can hardly think though that any cow, under ANY circumstance, would warrant having their heads trampled, stomped or kicked.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BP Burning sealife

BP just can't stay off my radar these days. It seems that they're grossly incompetent in just about any way that a major corporation can be incompetent. I can only imagine how many stories like this the "media blackout" are filtering out.

From Change

It’s not just oil going up in flames in the controlled burns BP has been setting off in the Gulf of Mexico. According to eyewitnesses, sea turtles and other marine life trapped in the oil slick are being burned alive — and BP is preventing rescuers from saving the creatures’ lives.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that converging ocean currents are collecting long clusters of sargassum seaweed along with the spilled oil, creating 30-mile-long "islands of death." The booms trailing BP ships indiscriminately gather up the oil and seaweed (as well as whatever critters have the misfortune to be clinging to it), which is then torched. The 100-foot flames mark an area referred to as the "burn box."

Since April, more than 5 million gallons of oil have been ignited in more than 165 burns. No statistics are available as to the number of turtles and other marine creatures trapped and ignited in those burns. BP executives must be breathing a huge collective sigh of relief over that.

The Times story follows a team of turtle researchers as they cruise near Deepwater Horizon, shadowing the boom boats’ paths in an effort to save any turtles before they are incinerated. Not that the poor creatures have a chance for survival anyway.

"We've seen the oil covering the turtles so thick they could barely move, could hardly lift their heads," said Blair Witherington, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. As for their almost certain death by either suffocation or fire, he conceded, "I won't pretend to know which is the nastiest."

In one case, the crew watched helplessly as a long, thick clump of seaweed was gathered by BP boats and burned — seaweed they were sure was full of sea turtles.

"In a perfect world, they'd gather up the material and let us search it before they burned it," Witherington said. "But that connection hasn't been made. The lines of communication aren't there." At least the team was able to save 11 turtles that day, all of them coated with oil.

Read the rest of the article here

Here's how to help:

* The National Wildlife Federation is working with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, and is encouraging anyone in the southern Louisiana area looking to help to reach out through its website;
* The International Bird Rescue and Research Center has sent a team of specialists to the region to help with any oiled wildlife. If you spot oiled wildlife, call the Wildlife Reporting Hotline at 866-557-1401. Please note that oiled birds (or any other oiled wildlife) should not be captured, but reported to the hotline;
* The National Audubon Society is recruiting volunteers to be trained to respond to the oil spill. They are also encouraging members of the public to contact the Interior Department and encourage them to halt the expansion of offshore oil drilling in the eastern United States;
* Alabama residents are asked to contact the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program at 251-431-6409;
* Or contact the Mobile Baykeeper at 251- 433-4229 to volunteer anywhere along the Gulf Coast;
* Save Our Seabirds is a Florida bird rescue group that is looking for volunteers as its response team prepares to help oiled wildlife. To help, call 941-388-3010;

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oil, Joe Barton and the shame of being from Texas

First let me say that I was going to write about the despicable behaviour of Joe Barton last week when he "apologized" to BP, but I thought twice about that. Let me say this though, I love Texas and I love a lot of things about this state but the political environment stinks to high heaven. Readers of this blog (all 3 of you) have seen that I've posted things on here from time to time that, personally, make me hang my head in shame. People need to realize that politics, suffering and stupidity walk hand in hand (at least in Texas.)

This article is from Change

As if the millions of gallons of oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf of Mexico weren't bad enough, it appears that there is at least some evidence that the solution is almost as bad for animals in the affected areas. At issue is a chemical called Corexit, an oil dispersant.

Now, it's hard to tell you a lot about Corexit, for a couple of reasons. First, we're talking about some pretty hardcore chemistry (key ingredients include things like 2-Butoxyethanol, propylene glycol, and dioctyl sodium sulfosiccinate), and, more importantly, Corexit's makers don't really want you to know a lot about the stuff, since it's a proprietary mixture. The ingredient list was kept secret until last week, when the EPA finally revealed it and scientists could start trying to figure out exactly how the chemicals will impact wildlife.

What we do know about Corexit is plenty though. We know, for instance, that on May 20, the EPA ordered BP to find a better, less toxic alternative to Corexit, and BP more or less refused. We also know that the two flavors of Corexit are but two options out of eighteen on the EPA's list of approved dispersants.

Most importantly, perhaps, we know what Corexit does, at least according to people like Joe Taylor, an environmental engineer in Daphne, Alabama. Taylor told his local TV news that Corexit basically makes oil sink from the surface down to the ocean depths, where it depletes oxygen levels. That, according to Taylor, kills of plankton, with resulting trauma all the way up the food chain.

And finally, we know that, according to the New York Times, "other U.S. EPA-approved alternatives have been shown to be far less toxic, and in some cases, nearly twice as effective."

So why the slavish devotion to Corexit? You might suspect, given BP's past history, it has something to do with lining their own corporate pockets. You would be right about that.

First of all, BP is already in pretty deep with Corexit; they've used between 800,000 and 1 million gallons so far. Nalco Holding Company, who makes Corexit, estimates that they could sell as much as $40 million worth of the chemical for use in the Gulf. And this stuff isn't cheap.

But, more insidious by far are the connections between Nalco and the oil industry, and specifically BP. Nalco exists, in its current iteration, thanks to a joint venture with Exxon in the mid-1990's. And, Nalco's board has more than a few oil-industry insiders, including at least one executive with over a decade of service to — guess who? — BP.

Basically, BP is getting a free pass to continue to help out their friends, while putting Gulf wildlife — even the ones who survive or avoid the oil itself — at risk.