Tuesday, December 17, 2013

SeaWorld. Recognize the Writing on the Wall. Animal Captivity and Slavery. Blackfish.

The arrogance of SeaWorld...Their stock price has fallen. Eight of the ten scheduled artists to perform for them in 2014 have canceled. Attendance tanked for 2013. The Chairman of their very own Board of Directors, David D'Allesandro,  sold S1.3 millions of his SeaWorld shares last November. That's 26,000 shares on November 1 and then another 17,000 shares on November 4. Yes, that's like the Captain securing a lifeboat for himself while the band was still playing at the ballroom. And Seaworld still refuses to capitulate or make any concessions. They ignore the writing on the wall, clinging to those Orcas like the the thief who stole the silver candelabra from the church altar. At the present time, SeaWorld controls twenty-two Orcas at its three parks---ten in San Diego, seven in Orlando, five in San Antonio. Freedom for ALL the marine animals at SeaWorld, not just the Orcas. Every animal at SeaWorld is a captive. 

Everyone should see Blackfish.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Animal Cruelty. Animal Suffering. No Less Than Human Suffering.

Pretty good answer to a very common question. Somehow, our self-proclaimed dominion over animals, the we'll-decide-what-happens-to-you, also translates to a my-good-before-the-animals' mentality. We know that one of the fallacies out there is that human concerns preempt animal concerns. How is one's suffering more important than another? We're all sentient beings. We object to all forms of animal cruelty no matter what exists on the human side of the equation. Animal welfare is our infinite passion and there is no substitution or subrogation to others.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Free Mali, Manila Zoo's Lone Elephant. Inquirer. Editorial. Peter Wallace.

The battle rages on over Mali, the lone elephant at the Manila Zoo. In 1977, she was taken there as a a goodwill gift from Sri Lanka to Imelda Marcos. She was still a child back then. Yes, I refer to animals like they were humans. It is never "it," but always a he or she. Surely, a mind-shift whose time has come. When we relegate animals to a form of "it," we open the door to all sorts of abuse and liberties upon them. "It" makes them subhuman. What an incredible thought---something lower than a human.
Below is my response to an editorial that appeared in a local newspaper in Manila. The writer, obviously, supports the Stay Mali movement as opposed to the Free Mali movement. The former favors extending captivity while the latter favors freedom. We want Mali transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand where she can socialize with other elephants and live in an environment that may not be perfect but closer to reality. She has not been with another elephant for more than thirty years. Her life literally spent in solitary confinement. Mali lives in a concrete enclosure at the Manila Zoo with a leaky faucet for a waterfall and painted trees on the walls for greenery. The zoo officials gave her an old truck tire for a toy, and she ignored it. It is all so pathetic.
Peter, thanks for your opinion. It should be obvious to you that coming up with realistic solutions is far more difficult than editorializing on the fate of a nonspeaking, long-held captive animal. We can go around in circles discussing compassion and ethics, but seeking real solutions will inevitably have us confront the hard facts, the specifics that no conjecturing will resolve.

For one, there is the matter of space. The zoo covers approximately 5.5 hectares. Maali's enclosure is just a fraction of that area which, by my generous estimation, would come to 100x100 meters. An Asian elephant, in its natural environment, would cover a walking distance of 20-30 miles. And a herd of Asian elephants, living in the wild, would require an estimated roaming area of 30,000 hectares. If renovation is the answer, then the final product should come as close as possible to this ideal.

How would the the city bankroll such an expansive and expensive renovation? How could the city spend so much money on a zoo in the face of other pressing social problems? How? Please show us through the process, the money trail. The city is in a state of penury. You said it yourself.

The Singaporeans are not the answer. Stop pointing at the Singaporeans like they are cavalry on their way to our rescue. Cavalry have been known not to show up, and Estrada has said things that were never true. There are no specifics about the Singaporeans’ offer of a P2 billion renovation , no specifics about their construction plans, and no guaranty that Singaporean investors would invest money on a facility that, by your own description, cannot generate sufficient revenue.

The city cannot provide the proper care and environment for Maali. It’s time to evolve into a higher form of existence where the concepts of compassion and empathy are not incomprehensible but commonplace.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Vegetarianism. It's not a Fashion Trend, but a Philosophy. Meat is Tortured Flesh.

This is a typical article on vegetarianism written by a nutritionist. A writer who is an animal rights advocate and a vegetarian will put a different spin on eating a well-balanced diet. This writer assumed that many people who turn vegetarian don't really know what they are doing, and there are probably some who don't. 

But all vegetarians and vegans I know have done their research well and they have turned vegetarians not because they want to be trendy but because they want to be healthier and ethical in their choices. It's not fashion that drives most people to become vegetarians, but a personal philosophy and a real commitment against animal cruelty. At least, this is true among my group. This writer saw it as a matter of nutrition; animal rights advocates will see it as a matter of decency. 

The point that I agree with is that meat is not the only source of protein in this world. Whenever you meet someone who says that he needs his meat for protein then that's the meat industry speaking through him. He needs to think outside the box. Remember that gorillas and elephants require protein in their diets too.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Amber, The Pit Bull, Needs Your Help. Slated for Death. NJCAS. Choose Life, Not Death. Work the Problem. Don't Kill the Dog.

I am trying to save the life of a pit bull named, Amber. She is being held, at the time of this writing, at the North Jersey Community Animal Shelter (NJCAS) in Bloomingdale, NJ. It serves as an adoption center as well as animal control for several towns in Passaic County. I am presently a volunteer at NJCAS, coming in on Sundays, and whenever I have free time. I love all animals, and I love all the dogs I have met at the shelter. But, Amber's case is outstanding, and I'd like the world to know her story. 

Amber entered the shelter around June, 2012, ten months ago. And during that time, she has never bitten anyone---shelter staff or a prospective adopter. However, in an adoption event several weeks ago, she was reported to have lunged at a stranger and would have 
bitten that stranger if not held back. The Animal Control Officers (ACO) at NJCAS do not deny that Amber has no aggression towards the shelter staff at all, even with an ever-changing crew, but is unwelcoming to newcomers, barking at them from the confines of her kennel. Our resident dog trainer spent some time trying to correct this "problem" but has had no success. This is where the Head Animal Control Officer, Lisa Perry, decided that Amber was a risk and must be put down. She's thinking lawsuit at this point and the reputation of NJCAS. She told me this herself. It was announced in an email to the volunteer community. The decision was, as always, expressed in the hackneyed manner so prevalent in shelters that kill-- as sad but inevitable, and a very difficult decision to arrive at. So be it.

But, I differed. I do not believe that Amber has reached the end of the line. I do not believe that Amber has earned a trip to the euthanasia room. Amber plays a little rough, muscular, and energetic. You can see that in the video. But, she isn't a rabidly angry dog. She does not have Red-Line anger problems. She barks, perhaps even growls, at strangers. But, that is not aberrant behavior from an animal species known to bark and protect their territory.  

In my opinion, not enough attention, expertise, and time have been exerted to correct the problem--- if indeed there was a problem. I have videos of Amber lunging at me while at play in our shelter backyard. You can see that tendency in the videos, towards the end
( Look at the 2:00 minute mark of the video above taken in the snow). Evidently, I am still here, writing to you-- unscathed.

In order to be constructive and solution-oriented, I proposed to the Head ACO that an independent dog trainer be brought in to assess Amber and work with her if a problem does exists. I proposed that I will pay all the expenses involved in this effort so that the municipality wouldn't be burdened. NJCAS is managed by the town. The facility is operated by ACOs who are municipal employees. NJCAS is not under an animal welfare group although it was until about a year ago under a different name, BASS. 

An animal welfare group, a rescue group, would receive my proposal in a positive vein. I am talking about the management, not the volunteer community. In Amber's case, I make a clear distinction between management and the volunteer force. There are volunteers who have reached out to me. This is not a criticism of the volunteers although I wish they would step up and be counted.

So, my central question is, why has NJCAS not responded to my proposal at all? Was it so unreasonable as to not deserve a response? It was not meant to be divisive, but an invitation to work together to save a dog's life. I, as a volunteer, have come in for 6 years on Sundays to serve. And I don't deserve an answer? Are Lisa Perry and the other ACOs so hellbent on killing the dog, to eliminate liability in the future, that they are willing to ignore a perfectly reasonable alternative to death? 

Yesterday, I wrote to the Mayor of Bloomingdale, NJ for some help. I wrote that letter in the same spirit as this one--- that a friendly dog shouldn't be railroaded to death because it is convenient. No response from the Mayor. If NJCAS is petrified by liability, then all the more we should pursue additional training and seek the opinion of other professional dog trainers. This is where the "sheltering" part comes in. Otherwise, the place functions as a processing plant with a discard bin for those who didn't make Grade A. Kill the problem, not the dog. They're not the same.

I ask of you, those who are pit bull lovers, animal lovers, animal welfare people, and anyone who believes in constructive solutions, to send a respectful letter to the Mayor of Bloomingdale, Jonathan Dunleavy ( jdunleavy@bloomingdalenj.net ), and to the Head ACO of NJCAS, Lisa Perry ( lperry@bloomingdalenj.net ). Telephone number 973-850-6767. Express your disapproval, no matter how late you came to this story.