Saturday, July 24, 2010

Niko. Before and After. A Dog Saved.

Just something to cheer you up. I found these photos of a pit bull named Niko on the web. His transformation from a homeless, downtrodden dog to a happy and proud one is the stuff of miracles. All he needed, after all, was some love and attention to bring him back from depression. Like humans, animals are social beings.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Philippines. Operation Calesa. Animal Welfare for Horse-Drawn Carriages.

Considering that the tides of animal welfare turn slowly, it is definitely great news to hear that the attention of several animal rights groups in the Philippines has now focused, along with the traditional forms of animal abuse, on the horse-drawn carriages ( Calesa ) that ferry people and supplies in both the city and the outlying provinces of the Philippines. Unlike the horse-drawn carriages seen in Europe and the United States, these calesas have always been a cheaper form of transportation, appealing largely to the proletarian people and rarely used for romantic and scenic rides around the neighborhood.

The reform's primary thrust comes from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), and Care and Responsibility for Animals (CARA).

The typical scenario is one involving a gaunt, old horse pulling an overloaded wooden carriage in the extreme heat of the tropics, often amidst smoke-belching motor vehicles, salivating profusely from extreme effort. Then, you add the incessant whipping. What do you have? Animal abuse. Improving the horses' lot will mirror the efforts made in cities like New York where animal rights organizations are trying to get rid of horse-drawn carriages entirely. The group representing the carriage drivers in New York offered a compromise that included a two-month vacation for the horses a year. For many animal rights proponents, however, any horse pulling a carriage is an abused animal.

Now, this is not to say that all calesa drivers in the Philippines are animal abusers. I believe that there are calesa drivers, aka kutcheros, who do care for their horses. But it is best to put into place specific laws, or practices, that protect the welfare of calesa horses and govern the actions of calesa drivers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bergen County NJ. Tap Water. United Water Co. Sodium in Our Water.

I must confess. I don't read all the mail I receive. Many of them end up, straight away, in the pile of papers meant for the municipal recycling pick-up truck. I am talking about mail regarding recent elections for Board of Directors at the credit union, or the latest news from the regional school system. Stuff like that, I am not truly interested in.

I did pay attention to one piece of innocuous-looking mail from the water company. It turned out to have a bit of a sting. What is true here in Bergen County could be true at your area of the country as well. Perhaps, we should take a harder look at how we are affecting our water supply and what the local water company is doing about it.

United Water New Jersey wanted to inform us that the level of sodium in our drinking water was higher than the upper limits set by the NJ Division of Environmental Protection (DEP). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also involved in monitoring water quality but it has not set upper limits to the amount of sodium in our drinking water unlike the DEP.

Anyway, the DEP has set the upper limit at 50 parts per million (ppm). Test results from 2009 showed that United Water---our water company---exceeded the limit, averaging 76ppm and 69ppm at the Haworth Water Treatment Plant and the Upper Saddle River wells.

By February 2010, tests showed that United Water continued to exceed the limits for sodium. The numbers ae 73ppm and 67ppm respectively at those two places named above. If you compare the figures, nothing much has changed.

The DEP argues that a higher level of sodium in our water---higher than the stated upper limits set by them---is not a health threat to healthy individuals because a much greater sodium intake can be had from the food they eat.

Yeah, but how many among us is a perfectly healthy individual? United Water suggested that if you are on a sodium restricted diet, then better consult your health care provider.

Well, in that case, this is pretty serious stuff. Did you know that our drinking water in Bergen County has elevated amounts of sodium?

But what is more surprising is the culprit. According to United Water New Jersey, it's road salt! In their letter, they said, " Road salt run-off affecting our source water quality is the leading cause of elevated sodium levels in the drinking water supply. " United Water assures us that they are working with local communities to address the problem.

Assuming that the water company is correct and not passing the buck, then that illustrates how easily our water supply is affected by what is out there. What else on the road seeps into our water supply? I reckon anything we throw on the ground, or into the streams and rivers, especially in large quantities. That's how interconnected and fragile our environment is. Clean and healthy water, we take it for granted most of the time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Meat is Always Cruel. Animal Slaughter. Blood and Gore.

Next time you see meat on the menu, think of this photo with the blood splattered walls, the brawny butchers in their blood-drenched aprons, the blood-soaked floor, and of course the terrified and helpless animal being forcibly led to the slaughter area. How lucky you are! You need only to point at the menu item and wait for the dish to be served at your table. Perhaps, it's about time to consider ethical eating habits over just blindly satisfying your hunger pangs.