Friday, December 30, 2005

Animal Rights and the Myth of 'Humane' Treatment: Animal Rights is Common Sense. A Quick Read By Tom Regan

A few good points in the writing I have posted below by Tom Regan.

Those who do not know who Tom Regan is, please visit the following link to learn more: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/animalrights/


The first is that (as he states) "[r]educed to the essentials, however, what we believe is just common sense." I've said this for years. Yes, these issues are emotional, but mostly it's just common sense to have a more humane-centered look at the world. It not only benefits the other species, but benefits us as well. The easiest example - health.

The seconds point is that (as the name of the writing implies), "humane treatment" is simply a myth. You CANNOT have humane experimentation, slaughter, etc. The word humane and those just mentioned simply cannot accompany eachother. So, again, common sense. This is why Tom Regan is an asset. I guess it takes a PhD Philosopher to point this out.

The third is to never trust industry to give you the facts. To me this is common sense. If you still trust industry to tell the truth, then, quite simply, I feel sorry for you.

He states..."Second, animals are being abused. When the organs of animals are crushed and their limbs are severed; when they are made sick by the food they are forced to eat and spend their entire life in isolation; when they are gassed to death or have their necks broken: No propaganda machine in the world can turn these facts into something they are not."

As the great Yoda might say ... "trust in industry you do and further from the truth you shall become."

Read on....

Animal Rights and the Myth of 'Humane' Treatment
By Tom Regan.

To outsiders, animal rights advocates look to be a strange lot. We don't eat meat, avoid cosmetics tested on animals and boycott the Ringling Brothers Circus. Drape
ourselves in fur? Forget it. Animal rights advocates don't even wear leather or wool.

Many people view advocates as certifiable, grade-A, top-of-the-class nutcases. Reduced to the essentials, however, what we believe is just common sense. We believe the animals killed for food, trapped for fur, used in laboratories or trained to jump through hoops are unique somebodies - not generic somethings. What happens to them matters to them. What happens to them makes a difference to the quality and duration of their lives.

In these respects, animal rights advocates believe humans and these animals are the same - equal. And so it is that all advocates share a common moral outlook: We should not do to them what we would not have done to us. Not eat them. Not wear them. Not experiment on them. Not train them to jump through hoops. "Not larger cages," we say, "empty cages."

"Humane treatment"

Comparatively speaking, few people are animal rights advocates. Why? Part of the answer concerns our disparate beliefs about how often animals are treated badly. Animal rights advocates believe this is a tragedy of incalculable proportions. Nonadvocates believe mistreatment occurs hardly at all.

That nonadvocates think this way seems eminently reasonable. After all, we have laws governing how animals may be treated and a cadre of government inspectors who make sure these laws are obeyed. In the language of our most important federal legislation - the Animal Welfare Act - animals must receive "humane care and treatment." In other words, animals must be treated with sympathy, kindness, mercy and compassion - the very meaning of the word "humane." It says so in any standard dictionary.

For fiscal year 2001, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducted 12,000 inspections. Of that total, only 140 sites were reported for possible violations because of improper handling of animals. That works out to a compliance rate of almost 99 percent.


Inspections and Myth

Tragically, the public’s trust in the adequacy of government inspections is misplaced. What inspection service inspectors count as "humane" undermines the inspections before they are conducted. Cats, dogs, nonhuman primates and other animals are drowned, suffocated and starved to death. They are burned, subjected to radiation and used as "guinea pigs" in military research. Their eyes are surgically removed and their hearing is destroyed. They have their limbs severed and organs crushed. Invasive means are used to give them heart attacks, ulcers and seizures. They are deprived of sleep, subjected to electric shock and exposed to extremes of heat and cold.


It Only Gets Worse

Per annum, the number of animals used in research laboratories subject to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspections is estimated to be 20 million. This figure, though large, is dwarfed by the 10 billion animals annually slaughtered to be eaten, just in the United States. Remarkably, farm animals are explicitly excluded from the legal protection provided by the Animal Welfare Act. The act says: “The term ‘animal’ excludes horses not used for research purposes and other farm animals such as but not limited to livestock or poultry used or intended for food or fiber.”

But if not our government, then who decides what humane care and treatment means for farm animals? In the realpolitik of U.S. animal agriculture, it is the farm animal industries that get to write the rules. "Veal" calves spend their entire lives individually confined in stalls too narrow for them to turn around in. Laying hens live a year or more in cages the size of a filing drawer, seven or more per cage, after which they routinely are starved for two weeks to encourage another laying cycle. Female hogs are housed for four or five years in individual barred enclosures ("gestation stalls"), barely wider than their bodies, where they are forced to birth litter after litter.
Until the recent mad cow scare, beef and dairy cattle too weak to stand ("downers") were dragged or pushed to their slaughter. Geese and ducks are force-fed the human equivalent of 30 pounds of food per day to enlarge their livers, the better to meet the demand for Foie gras.


Don't Forget the Fiber

In the newspeak of the Animal Welfare Act, more than "food" animals fail to qualify as animals. The same is true of any whatchamacallit “used or intended for fiber.” For leather, for example. Or wool. Or fur. This is fact, not fiction. Fur-bearing animals, trapped in the wild or raised on fur mills, are exempt from legal protection, scant though it is, provided by the act. As is true of animal agriculture, the fur industry gets to set its own rules and regulations of "humane care." On fur mills, mink, chinchilla, raccoon, lynx, foxes and other fur-bearing animals are confined to wire mesh cages for the duration of their lives. Waking hours are spent pacing, rolling their heads, jumping up the sides of their cages, mutilating themselves or cannibalizing their
cage-mates.

Death is caused by breaking their necks, asphyxiation (using carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide) or by shoving electric rods up their anuses to "fry" them from the inside out. Animals trapped in the wild take, on average, 15 hours. Trapped fur-bearers frequently chew themselves apart in a futile attempt to save their lives.


Time To Get Mad

People who trust what industry representatives and government inspectors tell them about the “humane care and treatment” need to get mad as hell for two reasons. First, they have been abused. They have not been told the truth. They have been misled and manipulated by industry and government representatives. “Not to worry, John and Jane Q. Public. Trust us: All is well at the lab, on the farm and in the wild. Animals are being treated humanely.”


Trust Us? Not Any More.

Second, animals are being abused. When the organs of animals are crushed and their limbs are severed; when they are made sick by the food they are forced to eat and spend their entire life in isolation; when they are gassed to death or have their necks broken: No propaganda machine in the world can turn these facts into something they are not. If the day comes when the public does get mad as hell, the ranks of animal rights advocates will begin to grow in unprecedented numbers. When this day comes, our shared hope for a world in which animals truly are treated humanely finally will have realistic legs to stand on.

Did the Sky Fall? A Conservative Speaks Out for Animal Rights

Wow, came across this today. I think this is great. Not that I am for the conservative ideology. But that some conservatives (whatever that is now) see that their beliefs should not be incompatible with animal rights. In fact, she is quite dismayed and confused as to why her side WANTS to be against it. As she says ...."I left the event with a better understanding of why so many of my peers use “Republican” as a synonym for “jerk.”"

Interesting reading. Unfortunately though, very rare. Even she admits that most on her side will never accept any understanding of animal rights philosophy even though such behavior makes no sense at all.


From: http://newsbyus.com/comments.php?id=1304_0_1_0_C

A Conservative Speaks Out for Animal Rights

MORE...

In fact, you’re as unlikely to catch me in a tie-dye as in a fur coat. I’m an unabashed capitalist and registered Republican who abhors gun control and would like to do away with welfare altogether. I believe in individual rights rather than group rights and in limited government rather than big government. I believe in free market economics and a strong national defense. I think the blame for most of society’s problems lies with the irresponsible behavior of individuals rather than “corporate greed.” I like it when men hold doors for me. I believe in God. Put it all together and I’m the last person most people expect to find boycotting the circus or checking the label on my lipstick to make sure it wasn’t tested on animals. According to conventional wisdom, animals are supposed to be outside the scope of my concern.

I want to know who decided that being conservative means you can’t care about animals. More importantly, why would conservatives want it to?

Liberals are fond of painting conservatives as cold and uncaring, and, as a group, we’ve never been too good at fighting them on that one. But for us to actually help them do it by proclaiming that caring about animals contradicts what we’re about, well, that’s just plain stupid. It’s bad enough when liberals try to claim compassion as their own exclusive turf, but I am far more incensed when my fellow conservatives drive the point home. If the buzz phrase “compassionate conservatism” means anything at all, surely it’s that we shouldn’t dismiss issues of pain and death with a smirk and a jeer.

Yet we do it all the time. At a College Republicans Convention I attended, amid tables staffed by the NRA, the Eagle Forum, and Citizens for a Sound Economy, vendors hawked stickers ridiculing environmentalists and animal protectionists, stickers with slogans like “Pave the Rainforests” and “People Eating Tasty Animals.” When I asked them what made them think Republicans would be a receptive audience to such unkind sentiments, they looked at me like perhaps I was an escapee from the UFO conspiracists convention being held on another floor of the hotel. I left the event with a better understanding of why so many of my peers use “Republican” as a synonym for “jerk.”

I’m used to encountering resistance from people of all political persuasions to my belief that animals deserve to be free from unnecessary suffering. After all, agreeing means giving up hamburgers, learning which detergents and shampoos are rubbed into rabbits’ eyes, and seeking out shoes made of synthetics, not leather. But I can’t get used to hearing other conservatives tell me animal rights is for communists, hippies, or liberals (often all three at once!).

When was it decided that scoffing at kindness is part of the conservative ideology package? After all, there are plenty of reasons to support the Second Amendment that have nothing to do with blasting helpless animals into shreds. And experimenting on animals is both cruel and bad science; as The New York Times reported, “So much evidence has accumulated that chemicals frequently have wholly different effects in animals and humans that officials throughout Government and industry often do not act on the studies’ findings.” So if you’re interested in reliable, efficient research, those who waste tax dollars force-feeding cocaine to monkeys, sewing kittens’ eyes shut, and poisoning beagles should draw your ire.

It’s a mistake to argue that the conservative tent has no room for a belief that we don’t have the right to eat, wear, or experiment on animals. The fact is, there are people who care about animals on both sides of the political spectrum and everywhere in between. We are young, old, religious, atheists, bankers, truck drivers, doctors, teachers, bricklayers, homemakers, liberals, and, yes, conservatives. Matthew Scully, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, argues that compassionate conservatism must be extended to animals who are raised and killed for food. In his book Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, Scully asks why, if we are appalled by cruelty to a puppy, we regard with indifference the abuse and mutilation of other intelligent, sensitive animals. Pat Buchanan recently won a national award from PETA after he made the gutsy decision to place animal rights issues, specifically the abuse of farmed animals, squarely on the cover of his American Conservative magazine.

Why should liberals have a stranglehold on the belief that there is a kind alternative to every cruel act? Like humans, animals have interests that shouldn’t be sacrificed or traded away just because it might benefit others. It doesn’t matter whether they’re cute, or useful to humans, or an endangered species, or whether any human cares about them at all. (After all, if finding someone likable or attractive was a prerequisite for not hurting them, some of us would be in a lot of trouble.) In this day and age, with virtually unlimited choices of food, clothing, and entertainment, we don’t have to choose between human rights and animal rights. We can take care of ourselves and treat animals compassionately; this isn’t a competition.

Animal rights doesn’t have to be your issue. You don’t have to carry picket signs outside KFC or go naked to protest fur if you don’t want to. But neither should you automatically assume protecting animals is something that can’t fit in your ideological package. Forget for a moment that you’re more Rush Limbaugh than Jane Fonda and examine what we do to animals with an open mind. You just may find that you, too, object to treating animals like walking entrĂ©es, handbags, and lab tools.

When you think about it, there’s nothing partisan about compassion. And conservatives, who have as much heart as anybody, shouldn’t want there to be.

Alison Green is a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; PETA.org.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Winery Owner in California Kills Four Black Bears. Another Example of a Trigger Happy Response to Wildlife Issues.

Yes, mistaken identity, but still, the killing did occur and was due to bears eating grapes (Gee, a winery in an area with animals who like grapes. Hummm, don't you think 1+1=2?)

Again, was it really necessary to kill them? Just another example of short sided thinking when dealing with wildlife issues. We can go into space, view atoms, create medicine, etc. and we can't come up with non-lethal alternatives to wildlife issues?! Come on. The potential is there - the desire is not. If humans really cared, alternatives would exist and would be used.

Maybe Arnie signed their death order too.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/state/la-
me-sbriefs28.2dec28,1,2387063.story?coll=la-news-state


From the Los Angeles Times

IN BRIEF THE STATE / NAPA

Winery Owner Objects to Animal-Rights Calls
From Wire Reports

December 28, 2005

A winery owner said she is the victim of mistaken identity after receiving angry calls and e-mails protesting the killing of grape-munching black bears.

Sally Kimsey, owner of Aetna Springs Cellars, said she is being unfairly targeted by animal-rights activists upset over the capture and killing of four black bears earlier this year at a winery in the same area with a similar name, Aetna Springs Vineyard.

Rwanda's Rare Mountain Gorillas and the Celebration of Dian Fossey and Her Work for Them.

I have to admit: I love gorillas. A very smart, cool animal. It's sickens me to see that there are many who still poach this cousin of ours.

On a positive note though, there are many who are following in the teachings of
Dian Fossey and yearly commemorate her work yearly on the anniversary of her murder. As it is said in the writing below, "[s]he was dedicated to the conservation of gorillas and their habitats in Rwanda and Africa at large through anti-poaching, regular monitoring, research and education."

Read on.....you will also find many other articles at the link below that touches on the plight of gorillas and other primates in Africa. Unfortunately, it's not all good news.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4564374.stm


Rwanda honours gorilla campaigner

Rwandans have been commemorating the 20th anniversary of the murder of gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey.

The US researcher spent two decades working among Rwanda's rare mountain gorillas and was the subject of the Hollywood film Gorillas in the Mist.

Local people held traditional dances while government officials made speeches and laid wreaths where Ms Fossey was buried.

It has never been established who killed her in her jungle cabin in 1985.

Fossey brought the plight of mountains gorillas to the attention of the world
Rosette Rugumba
Rwanda's Parks and Tourism director general

The ceremonies were held in the Volcanoes National Park, where she had had her research base.

Rosette Rugumba, the director-general of Rwanda's Parks and Tourism Board, praised Ms Fossey's work.

"Fossey brought the plight of mountain gorillas to the attention of the world," she told Reuters news agency.

"She was dedicated to the conservation of gorillas and their habitats in Rwanda and Africa at large through anti-poaching, regular monitoring, research and education."

During a decade of conflict in the region, gorillas have become easy prey for armed poachers.

Only about 700 gorillas survive in the remote range of volcanoes spanning the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ms Rugumba said many thousands of tourists come to Rwanda each year to see the gorillas, where about a third of them live.

Ms Fossey's life inspired the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist, starring actress Sigourney Weaver.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/4564374.stm

Published: 2005/12/28 14:21:54 GMT

© BBC MMV

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

In regard to Earlier Posting on Elephants in Zoos. Further Words From an Expert on Why Elephants Should Not be in Zoos.

Earlier I posted a link to an article about elephants in zoos. In it, were some words that expressed support for elephants in zoos. To again debunk any sort of lies these people may say, I have included a post at another blog from a well respected and renowned professor. His words carry a lot of weight when assessing why elephants should not be in zoos. Read on...

Let the Elephants Roam

From the blog Dog Bytes at http://mbdog.blogspot.com/2005
/12/let-elephants-roam.html

The following is a guest blog by Marc Bekoff, professor ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, devoted in the truest sense to understanding animals and treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve as unique beings.

The article in today's Washington Post by Robert Strauss about elephants in zoos ("The Elephant in the Room") contains a lot of faulty reasoning and self-serving claims for keeping these wonderful and magnificent beings in cages that are far too small for them. For example, Mark A. Reed, the executive director of the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas and the head of the Elephant Task Force of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) made the following statements:

"They are a flagship animal. To some people, elephants mean Africa or Asia. I look at them as the representatives for species in the wild."

**Captive animals are hardly the representatives for their wild relatives. Anyone who's seen elephants in the wild (and I have) knows that zoos cannot possibly provide what these individuals need. Furthermore, zoos ship elephants and other animals around as if they're a piece of furniture ignoring the fact that elephants are extremely social, bright, and emotional beings who live in long-lasting families in the wild and who grieve the loss of friends and family. Elephants are viewed as money-making commodities rather than highly emotional beings who don't like being ripped apart from family and friends.

"What people forget is that sooner or later, every animal in every zoo is going to die, no matter how well we treat them," Reed said, noting that no one has accused any zoo of intentional abuse. "Just because elephants can walk 50 miles a day, it doesn't mean they do -- or even want to."

**Michael Hutchins, formerly of the AZA, has also offered the same sort of vacuous claim--Reed and Hutchins seem to think that this biological fact justifies keeping animals in horrible conditions. One could make the same claim for individuals of *all* species, including humans, and the slippery slope onto which this argument goes is a very dangerous one---a first-grader could likely pick away at it ... To hear people from the AZA make this claim to justify keeping animals in cages is especially disturbing.

Reed also said that just like humans, elephants would rather stay put, and they do if they can find water, shelter and food.

**Once again this is just vacuous. How does he know this? People often makes these claims that individuals are happy or content, but then criticize people who say that individuals would rather "not" do something or don't like something--it's OK for them to make these sorts of attributions but not for those in other camps....Let's not forget that concerning Ruby, another captive elephant who was shipped around as if she was a piece of furniture. Someone from the AZA said she's happy and doing well but then accused others of being anthropomorphic for saying she wasn't happy or that she wasn't doing well ....What self-serving double-speak ...

"Some of this is our own fault. We put up signs at the fence that say an elephant can walk 50 miles in a day and people then say they have to walk that far," said Reed. "We make sure our elephants get exercise, but three, four, five miles is plenty, we feel."

**What does he mean "we feel?" Once again he makes a guess that's self-serving because of how little zoos can really offer elephants and so many other animals

"My first animal contact was seeing Rosie the elephant at the Portland, Oregon, zoo when I was 3 1/2, in 1954. It had a huge impact, and I know it is why I am in this line of work," he said.

**Of course, that's why he feels good about his line of work - keeping elephants in cages that aren't and can't be large enough --

Marc Bekoff

Homepage: http://literati.net/Bekoff

Marc Bekoff and Jane Goodall (EETA): www.ethologicalethics.org

Finally, even zoos are questioning the ethics of keeping elephants as slaves in captivity.

Very good sign. Finally, even zoos are questioning the ethics of keeping elephants as slaves in captivity. Don't think for a second that this isn't in some part due to the hard work people on the anti-zoo side have done. Again, education and persistence is the key to showing the truth of zoos, slavery, and captivity. A promising sign. Yet, as you'll see, there's still much work to be done.

Read on.....


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2005/12/27/AR2005122700939.html?referrer=emailarticle

The Elephant in the Room
U.S. Zoos Struggle With Question of Keeping Pachyderms in Captivity
By Robert Strauss
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 28, 2005; A03

PHILADELPHIA -- A vintage advertising poster from the mid-20th century
hangs in the offices of the Philadelphia Zoo. It has a yellow
background
with a semi-Art Deco drawing of an elephant and says "Visit the zoo.
Open
every day."

Some things haven't changed at the Philadelphia Zoo, America's oldest,
founded in 1874. It is still open every day and, for the time being, it
still has elephants. But in Philadelphia, as in zoos around the
country,
the question of whether elephants should be kept at all zoos -- or
maybe
even any zoo -- has almost abruptly become a sensitive one.

"I can tell you that if the animal rights people had picked the
elephant
shrew instead of the elephant, no one would be calling me," said Mark
C.
Reed, the executive director of the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita,
Kan.,
and the head of the Elephant Task Force of the American Zoo and
Aquarium
Association. "They are a flagship animal. To some people, elephants
mean
Africa or Asia. I look at them as the representatives for species in
the
wild."

Three zoos have discontinued their elephant exhibits over the past
year,
and this fall the Philadelphia Zoo decided to put on hold plans to
build a
new and larger elephant habitat. The zoo's board decided to fund a $20
million big-cat habitat, a new aviary and an update of the children's
zoo
instead of a new area for the zoo's four elephants.

A protest group, Friends of the Philly Zoo Elephants, has claimed this
as
a victory. The group maintains that elephants are roaming and foraging
animals and need more space than zoos can give them. It and other
animal
rights activists say that penned-in elephants tend to get diseases and
injuries they would not get in the wild. The Philadelphia group is
pressing the zoo to donate its elephants to a sanctuary in Tennessee.

"I know it's the right thing to do. Whether the zoo does it is a
different
thing," said Rowan Morrison, the spokeswoman for the group.

The organization has protested at the Amtrak station and a City Council
meeting, asking people to sign petitions to move the elephants.
Morrison
said the group formed earlier this year after one of the elephants
gored
another. She said she has asked the zoo for medical reports on the
elephants but has been denied them. Zoo officials have said they do not
want to respond to the group, but were not reluctant to talk about the
elephant issue in general.

"It is a concern for us because it brings into focus what zoos are
for,"
said Andrew J. Baker, the zoo's senior vice president for animal
programs.
"If we make the decision to not have elephants here, it will be a
tremendous disappointment, not only for us as zoo people, but for
visitors. I can see people saying, 'How will my kid learn about
elephants
if he can't see them?' We would continue with our missions of education
and research, but it would certainly be different here."

The elephant issue has come to the fore as zoos in Detroit, Chicago and
San Francisco have discontinued their elephant exhibits in the past
year.
Three elephants at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo died in eight months, and
two elephants died last year at the San Francisco Zoo. The zoo in
chilly
Detroit shipped its elephants to a sanctuary in California in the
spring.

By contrast, the National Zoo in Washington plans to expand its
elephant
collection from four pachyderms to form a social group like those found
in
the wild. This will require a much larger elephant house that can
accommodate an adult male elephant, according to the zoo's Web site.

"Elephants are an attraction, that is true, but the way we treat
elephants
in captivity has got to change," said Richard Farinato, who runs the
Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a sanctuary mostly for injured or
abused large animals, in Murchison, Tex., outside of Dallas, for the
Humane Society of the United States. "We've been giving them discipline
by
complete domination and making them live without being able to roam on
more than a few acres and live with wet, cold concrete under their
feet.
It is no wonder they have arthritic conditions after a while or gore
each
other.

"Some zoos are building larger areas for elephants, and that is good,
but
it might be best to have them all in sanctuaries," he said.

Reed, of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the nonprofit
organization to which most zoos belong, said the recent elephant
controversy is overblown.

"What people forget is that sooner or later, every animal in every zoo
is
going to die, no matter how well we treat them," Reed said, noting that
no
one has accused any zoo of intentional abuse. "Just because elephants
can
walk 50 miles a day, it doesn't mean they do -- or even want to."

He said that just like humans, elephants would rather stay put, and
they
do if they can find water, shelter and food.

"Some of this is our own fault. We put up signs at the fence that say
an
elephant can walk 50 miles in a day and people then say they have to
walk
that far," said Reed. "We make sure our elephants get exercise, but
three,
four, five miles is plenty, we feel."

He said the Sedgwick Zoo in Wichita is building a 3 1/2 -acre elephant
habitat and plans to acquire as many as four more elephants in the
coming
years.

The Philadelphia Zoo's Baker said his zoo shipped its chimpanzees to
zoos
in St. Louis and Scottsbluff, Neb., a decade ago.

"We didn't think we could care for them correctly. It was a
disappointment
for visitors for a while, but then the furor died down," he said. There
are 1,600 animals, many of them exotic species from all over the world,
at
the Philadelphia Zoo. "I know if the elephants go, it will be sad, but
we
will have the new big-cat exhibit and many other things to attract
people."

Elephants, though, are both an attraction and a sentimental thing for
Reed.

"Our job is to link people to these animals, to know that their
education
about them has a global reach," Reed said, noting that despite great
conservation efforts, the population of African elephants has dwindled
from 2 million to 600,000 in the past 25 years and that there are only
40,000 Asian elephants left.

"My first animal contact was seeing Rosie the elephant at the Portland,
Oregon, zoo when I was 3 1/2 , in 1954. It had a huge impact, and I
know
it is why I am in this line of work," he said. "We've had elephants in
circuses, zoos, on television, with 'Dumbo,' cartoons. Yes, zoos should
always update their care, but they are an umbrella species. People are
attracted to give money and time to conserve them, and in that way
conserve the wild environment around them."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Austrian Parliament Agrees to Ban on Ape Experiments

Amazing.  I believe I posted this before, but just wanted to
make sure all see it.
Very good development and a good sign for possible future
developments in other
countries. Read on..
Press release from Austria. http://www.vgt.at/
Upper Chamber in Austrian Parliament agrees to ban on ape 
experiments!
 
From 1st Jan 2006 onwards, experiments on apes
that are not in the
interest of the subject, will be illegal in
principle in
Austria
 
In the year 2002, the last chimps were retired
from vivisection at the
labs of the company Baxter in Orth at the
Danube 30 km East of Vienna.
The retirement opened up the debate on the
justification of experiments
on all apes, not just Chimps, Bonobos,
Gorillas and Orang Utans, but
also on all 8 Gibbon species. A
Parliamentarian scientific committee was
set up and eventually agreed on the ban,
putting it before Parliament.
On 7th December 2005, the Lower Chamber in
Parliament agreed on the new
law and today the Upper Chamber also
supported the bill in a unanimous
vote. By 1st January 2006 therefore, the
new law will be in place and
all ape experiments banned.
 
Dr. Martin Balluch, president of the
Austrian Association Against
Animal Factories, which was
instrumental in achieving the ban, comments:
"Today's decision might not have
immediate practical consequences,
since there are no ape experiments
in
Austria anymore. But the ban does a
lot more than guaranteeing that there
won't be any such experiments in
the future. On the one hand, this
decision will send a signal to the
rest of Europe and the world, where
such experiments still take place:
civilized countries consider it
unacceptable to allow any kind of
experiments on apes. That should
have a ripple-on effect to stop such
experiments elsewhere, like the fur
farm ban in
Austria eventually helped to
trigger a similar ban for example in 
England
.
  But on the other hand, this decision
can also be seen as a
declaration on the status of animals in
society. After all, the all-out ban
actually says that any kind of experiment,
even of the mildest form, is
illegal if it is not in the interest of
the subject, never mind how big the
advantage of the experiment could be for
mankind. Hence, the ban is one
step away from the Kantian view of
animals as means to human ends, a
step away from the human-animal concept
of the enlightening era that sees
animals as mindless things.
 
The contradiction between seeing
animals as things, as they are treated
by law, and seeing animals as
individuals in their own right, like you
and me, with a right to life and a
value independent of their use for
human ends, as it is becoming common
in society, is growing ever bigger.
This discrepancy will become more and
more obvious and cause for
conflict, until a big change, a
revolution in thought, will happen towards
animals as subjects of rights. For
many in the younger generation that
attitude is already a reality. And
the next generation will find it even
more obvious. With time, to put that
attitude into law will be
inevitable."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Update: Animals Asia Team and An Exhilarating year! Help to End Bile Bears or Bear Farming in China and the Dog and Cat Fur Industry in China

Great stuff happening with this group. I fully respect them for their work with ending Bile Bears or Bear Farming in China. They’ve also been instrumental in bringing to light the disgusting cat and dog fur industry in China. Links can be found below. A good group to support. http://www.animalsasia.org

From their newsletter.

Christmas greetings from Jill and the AAF Team!

Dear Friends,

With Christmas just around the corner, the Animals Asia team is coming to the end of an exhausting but exhilarating year! Over 50 bears have been rescued from the barbaric bear farms of China (bringing the total to 198) and more are scheduled to arrive in early 2006. Exciting news of our progress in Vietnam will also be released in the New Year - all closing the net on bear farming Asia wide.

Fantastic political action in Europe has also led to a remarkable achievement. Spearheaded by Animals Asia’s UK Director, Dave Neale, we are very, very proud and happy to announce that 'Ending Bear Farming in China' is now official European Union Policy!!!! Heartfelt thanks to the thousands of people who lobbied their MEP's, and to the MEP's themselves, who helped Dave and Gill Maltby from our UK office, and Christa Filipowicz from our German office finally secure the required 367 votes. Read more on our website. What an incredible end to 2005, and thank you to every single one of you involved in this campaign!

No-one could be more grateful than the bears themselves - and just this month more terrified victims arrived in Chengdu. Thin and sick, but slowly responding to tender veterinary care, tasty nutritious food, and heaps of love. One lucky bear has a very special sponsor - the lovely Dr. Dame Jane Goodall who joined us on site earlier this month and named the bear she saw being cut out of the cage "Mandela", in recognition of how forgiving this species can be after so many years of imprisonment.

Dogs and cats too have not been forgotten and, earlier this month, I met with Lady Heather Mills McCartney and discussed the horrific plight of millions of our "best friends" being cruelly slaughtered for the meat and fur industry in China. Read more about "Friends....or Fur".

I also had a productive meeting this week at the Chinese Embassy in London, and we hope for significant progress in 2006 - which is the Chinese Year of the Dog. With 40,000 copies of our "Dr. Eddie Friend.. or Food" film being distributed across China and development of our projects which give animals and their guardians in China their own "voice", there is no doubt that there is growing support from within.

Most of all our thanks to everyone in every country of the world who cares for the animals of Asia - together, our voices are being heard; sparking change and a new awareness which is helping their plight as never before. Thank you from every bear, every dog and cat who will one day wake without fear in their hearts because of your voice and help which is changing their lives.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas and 2006 - and, as ever, bear hugs from all in the Animals Asia team,

Jill
Jill Robinson MBE
Founder & CEO
Animals Asia Foundation

Reindeer Rights Group Sues Bush and Ag. Sec. Mike Johanns For Animal Abuse for Allowing Inhumane Slaughter: Reindeer Aren't Even Safe on Christmas

Wow, even in the holiday season Reindeer “…are commonly slaughtered in a manner which is intensely painful and otherwise inhumane."

Yikes, you’d think they’d atleast have some respect for these animals as the government yahoos and those who actually slaughter probably go home and tell their young children great stories about the magical reindeer and their important contribution to the overall holiday of Christmas. Instead, it may be possible, that the government “…does not require scrutiny, for the commercial slaughter of other animals including reindeer, bison, antelope, North American elk, ostrich and rabbit.”


Found at: http://cbs5.com/topstories/local_story_358151023.html

Reindeer Animal Rights Group Sues Bush For Abuse

(AP) Reindeer, buffalo and a Marin County farm animal protection group sued President Bush and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns Friday in federal court in San Francisco for allegedly allowing inhumane slaughter.

The lawsuit filed on the last court day before Christmas charges the Agriculture Department with failing to apply a federal humane slaughter law to the commercial killing of reindeer, buffalo and certain other animals for meat.

The plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit are reindeer, American bison and the Humane Farming Association, a farm animal protection group based in San Rafael.

A spokesperson for the Agriculture Department could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit contends the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 requires humane slaughter techniques for all livestock. But the plaintiffs allege the Agriculture Department enforces the law by requiring slaughter inspections only for certain types of animals, including cattle, calves, pigs, sheep and horses.

The suit alleges the agency offers optional slaughter inspection for a fee, but does not require scrutiny, for the commercial slaughter of other animals including reindeer, bison, antelope, North American elk, ostrich and rabbit.

It claims that those animals "are commonly slaughtered in a manner which is intensely painful and otherwise inhumane."

The lawsuit alleges that the uninspected killing of reindeer, bison and other animals could cause Humane Farming Association members to suffer contamination-related illnesses and also affect them emotionally.

"These members heartily endorse the national policy embodied in the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and suffer various levels of distress simply because they know of the rampant mistreatment of unprotected animals at the time of slaughter," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Bush and Johanns to revise regulations to extend the humane slaughter requirements of the law to the currently unprotected species.

Well, now that the craziness of the holidays is over...let's get back to business

So here we go!!!!.....

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. has canceled plans to allow live pets to be sold on its Web site

Good move.

Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,
http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle

Dec 20, 11:22 AM EST

eBay scraps plans to offer live pets

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. has canceled plans
to allow live pets to be sold on its Web site after receiving thousands of
angry letters from users.

The San Jose-based company has long banned the sale of live animals except
fish and snails, and officials said Monday they were scrapping plans to
create a separate classifieds category that would feature free ads from
animal shelters and paid ads from breeders.

Over the weekend, an eBay manager revealed in a posting to an online
message board that the company was considering lifting the ban, prompting
letters from more than 2,000 users, most of whom urged that the ban remain,
said company spokesman Hani Durzy.

Users were worried the listings would encourage puppy mills, where animals
are sometimes bred in unsanitary conditions, and that it would be difficult
to differentiate between legitimate animal shelters and unsavory sources.

"The feedback was pretty overwhelming," Durzy said. "Farms and for-profit
commercial breeders wasn't something that they wanted to see."

Booming sales of pet supplies - and the possibility that users may want a
pet listing service - had prompted the company to reconsider its ban on the
sale of live animals, Durzy said.

---

Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle

Submit your Nominations for the 2005 Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants List

Great idea. Very good way to raise awarness to the issues that elephants face in concrete captivity.

From the article below. Or, what to look for in order for a zoo to qualify as one of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants in 2005

"Do they spend their lives on concrete and hard
surfaces? Are they kept in a wee enclosure better suited for a bathroom than
an elephant exhibit? Has your zoo had a spate of elephant deaths related to
their captive environment? Does your zoo have a solitary elephant? If you
can answer yes to any of these questions, your zoo is eligible for IDA's
"Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants" in 2005 list."

Read on....

Nominations can be made at www.helpelephants.com/nominate_worst.html.


IDA Invites Nominations for 2005 Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants


Mill Valley, Calif.-After landing spots on In Defense of Animals' (IDA's)
2004 "Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants" list, Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo lost
its remaining two elephants to premature deaths directly related to
captivity; Philadelphia Zoo came under fire for its antiquated, inadequate
elephant enclosure; and El Paso Zoo underwent a media maelstrom with the
community calling for the elephants at the Zoo to be sent to a sanctuary and
the enclosure shut down permanently.



Now IDA is inviting members of the public to submit nominations for the 2005
"Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants" list. "Do the elephants at your local zoo bob
and sway unnaturally?" the group asks on its web site,
www.HelpElephants.com. "Do they spend their lives on concrete and hard
surfaces? Are they kept in a wee enclosure better suited for a bathroom than
an elephant exhibit? Has your zoo had a spate of elephant deaths related to
their captive environment? Does your zoo have a solitary elephant? If you
can answer yes to any of these questions, your zoo is eligible for IDA's
"Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants" in 2005 list."



Elephants are highly complex, social animals. In the wild, they live in
extended family groups. They form lifelong bonds and females stay with their
mothers, aunts, sisters and other female relatives for their entire lives.
Males stay with their mothers for up to fifteen years. These intelligent
animals can travel more than thirty miles a day, which is necessary for good
foot and joint health.

Today's zoos are unable to meet the physical, psychological and social needs
of elephants. Forced to stand for long periods on hard, compacted soil and
concrete is causing elephants in zoos to die prematurely. In the last year
alone ten elephants have died in U.S. zoos. Of those, seven were under age
forty. Elephants in the wild can live to be seventy years or older.
According to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association elephants in U.S.
zoos die on average at thirty-four years old.



IDA is hoping to call public attention to the plight of elephants in zoos
that land on this less-than-prestigious list. IDA hopes to convince zoos to
put the physical and psychological needs of elephants ahead of business
interests by closing elephant exhibits and sending elephants to a more
naturalistic environment, such as that offered by two U.S. sanctuaries --
the Performing Animal Welfare Society in California and The Elephant
Sanctuary in Tennessee. In the last year, two U.S. zoos in San Francisco and
Detroit have done just that.


Nominations can be made at www.helpelephants.com/nominate_worst.html.

Truth is Dead: More on Wacko FBI and Targeting Legal Animal Rights Groups: New Files Show FBI Watched Peaceful Domestic Activist Groups

This article is even more clear about pointing out the ridiculous nature of the Administration and the FBI and their little spy fun plan (you can picture the administration having fun with the cool new gadgets the FBI dreams up. Maybe even playing spy games in the whitehouse).

I went on enough in my last post about this issue, so I won't say more, but just look at this quote: "…F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct
surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of
the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates
the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur
planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals."

All I can say is ha ha. What a freaking joke. What the hell is "semi-communistic ideology"? And boy, I bet the Vegan Community Project was a real threat. Right up there with back woods militants and neo Nazis. Yep, any vegan or group with the v word in their name MUST be plotting a terrorist activity (sarcastic for those who didn’t' get it). Don't they know veganism is a peaceful ideoolgy? I mean, that's the whole purpose of it! And a protest over llama fur was a threat? To who? Oh, I get it, a threat to their friends who make millions in Llama fur.

Yikes! The idiots are definitely running the mad house.

If I sound mad, it's because I am. I'm angry about anyone or any group who is so blatantly against the truth.



http://articles.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id
=20051220042209990021&cid=

New Files Show FBI Watched Domestic Activist Groups

By ERIC LICHTBLAU, The New York Times

WASHINGTON (Dec. 20) - Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of
Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering
operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse
as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency
records show.
F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in
monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched
on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at
public protests and in other settings.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, John Ashcroft, who was then attorney
general, loosened restrictions on the F.B.I.'s investigative powers, giving the
bureau greater ability to visit and monitor Web sites, mosques and other public
entities in developing terrorism leads. The bureau has used that authority to
investigate not only groups with suspected ties to foreign terrorists, but
also protest groups suspected of having links to violent or disruptive
activities.
But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that
President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting
terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had
improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and
lawful protest.
One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct
surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of
the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates
the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur
planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The documents, provided to The New York Times over the past week, came as
part of a series of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American
Civil Liberties Union. For more than a year, the A.C.L.U. has been seeking
access to information in F.B.I. files on about 150 protest and social groups that
it says may have been improperly monitored.
The F.B.I. had previously turned over a small number of documents on antiwar
groups, showing the agency's interest in investigating possible anarchist or
violent links in connection with antiwar protests and demonstrations in advance
of the 2004 political conventions. And earlier this month, the A.C.L.U.'s
Colorado chapter released similar documents involving, among other things, people
protesting logging practices at a lumber industry gathering in 2002.
The latest batch of documents, parts of which the A.C.L.U. plans to release
publicly on Tuesday, totals more than 2,300 pages and centers on references in
internal files to a handful of groups, including PETA, the environmental group
Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group, which promotes antipoverty efforts
and social causes.
Many of the investigative documents turned over by the bureau are heavily
edited, making it difficult or impossible to determine the full context of the
references and why the F.B.I. may have been discussing events like a PETA
protest. F.B.I. officials say many of the references may be much more benign than
they seem to civil rights advocates, adding that the documents offer an
incomplete and sometimes misleading snapshot of the bureau's activities.
"Just being referenced in an F.B.I. file is not tantamount to being the
subject of an investigation," said John Miller, a spokesman for the bureau.
"The F.B.I. does not target individuals or organizations for investigation
based on their political beliefs," Mr. Miller said. "Everything we do is
carefully promulgated by federal law, Justice Department guidelines and the F.B.I.'s
own rules."
A.C.L.U officials said the latest batch of documents released by the F.B.I.
indicated the agency's interest in a broader array of activist and protest
groups than they had previously thought. In light of other recent disclosures
about domestic surveillance activities by the National Security Agency and
military intelligence units, the A.C.L.U. said the documents reflected a pattern of
overreaching by the Bush administration.
"It's clear that this administration has engaged every possible agency, from
the Pentagon to N.S.A. to the F.B.I., to engage in spying on Americans," said
Ann Beeson, associate legal director for the A.C.L.U.
"You look at these documents," Ms. Beeson said, "and you think, wow, we have
really returned to the days of J. Edgar Hoover, when you see in F.B.I. files
that they're talking about a group like the Catholic Workers league as having a
communist ideology."
The documents indicate that in some cases, the F.B.I. has used employees,
interns and other confidential informants within groups like PETA and Greenpeace
to develop leads on potential criminal activity and has downloaded material
from the groups' Web sites, in addition to monitoring their protests.
In the case of Greenpeace, which is known for highly publicized acts of civil
disobedience like the boarding of cargo ships to unfurl protest banners, the
files indicate that the F.B.I. investigated possible financial ties between
its members and militant groups like the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal
Liberation Front.
These networks, which have no declared leaders and are only loosely
organized, have been described by the F.B.I. in Congressional testimony as "extremist
special interest groups" whose cells engage in violent or other illegal acts,
making them "a serious domestic terrorist threat."
In testimony last year, John E. Lewis, deputy assistant director of the
counterterrorism division, said the F.B.I. estimated that in the past 10 years such
groups had engaged in more than 1,000 criminal acts causing more than $100
million in damage.
When the F.B.I. investigates evidence of possible violence or criminal
disruptions at protests and other events, those investigations are routinely handled
by agents within the bureau's counterterrorism division.
But the groups mentioned in the newly disclosed F.B.I. files questioned both
the propriety of characterizing such investigations as related to "terrorism"
and the necessity of diverting counterterrorism personnel from more pressing
investigations.
"The fact that we're even mentioned in the F.B.I. files in connection with
terrorism is really troubling," said Tom Wetterer, general counsel for
Greenpeace. "There's no property damage or physical injury caused in our activities,
and under any definition of terrorism, we'd take issue with that."
Jeff Kerr, general counsel for PETA, rejected the suggestion in some F.B.I.
files that the animal rights group had financial ties to militant groups, and
said he, too, was troubled by his group's inclusion in the files.
"It's shocking and it's outrageous," Mr. Kerr said. "And to me, it's an abuse
of power by the F.B.I. when groups like Greenpeace and PETA are basically
being punished for their social activism."

Wasted Resources, Hypocrisy and Self-Fulfilling Definitions: FBI Spies on Legal Animal Advocacy Groups

The article can be found below. But first.....

This is not new to me. Any person with half a mind can sense and knows that this has been going on for sometime. I’m more surprised and how surprised people seem now that it’s out. Of course they spy – they get off and get richer by this sort of thing. I can remember a few times when running small groups we’d have some strange guy or woman show up and ask a lot of questions. Kind of pathetic how bad of acting they did. Figures coming from a bunch of wacko suits. They didn’t know how to train them right.

Really ridiculous though that those interested in making life better and raising awareness to these issues (in other words, serving an educational role) are put in the same group as actual potential sabotages. I've been into Animal Advocacy for a while and I'm still to meet an activist or teacher who advocate illegal activity.

As this writing states, "ACLU leaders contend that the memos show that FBI and government Joint Terrorism Task Forces across the country have expanded the definition of domestic terrorism to people who engage in mainstream political
activity, including nonviolent protest and civil disobedience." In other words, use tax resources to spy on people doing legal activities. And hey, when you write your own definitions and call them truth (as the administration does on a daily basis) then you’ll always be right in your mind (and your mindless followers).

Also mentioned is that the FBI uses such derogatory, demeaning and ignorant terms as "..the animal rights/Ruckus movements." Ruckus? No comment on this stupidity.

And then this ridiculous reality: "John Lewis, the FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, told a Senate panel in May that environmental and animal rights militants posed the biggest terrorist threats in the United States,
citing more than 150 pending investigations."

Amazing. LISTEN TO ME NOW: Even if one is to label the ALF or any such group as terrorist, it's IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER ONE FACT THAT IS CONVENIENY LEFT OUT OF THIS DISCUSSION: NOT ONE PERSON HAS EVER BEEN KILLED IN AN ALF ACTION. In fact, it's the creed they stick by: to harm no living being in these actions.

CONTRAST THIS TO THE WACKO ANTI ABORTION MOVEMENT; HOW MANY HAVE BEEN KILLED IN THIS MOVOENT? MANY. AND THEY STILL SAY that "...environmental and animal rights [pose] the biggest terrorist threats in the United States."

Perhaps if the Administration wasn't in line with wacko anti abortionists and wasn’t them selves big business whose interests are affected by truth, then they'd focus more on the real terrorists - those like them. I stand by the truth. In their eyes, anyone who messes with their interests (money) are terrorists. Well, then all interested the truth will be branded as terrorists.

I guess they will need to lock me up now for being a terrorist. You know, the kind of terrorist who gets into your mind and fills it with truth.



FBI Papers Show Terror Inquiries Into PETA; Other Groups Tracked

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 20, 2005; A11

FBI counterterrorism investigators are monitoring domestic U.S. advocacy
groups engaged in antiwar, environmental, civil rights and other causes,
the American Civil Liberties Union charged yesterday as it released new
FBI records that it said detail the extent of the activity.

The documents, disclosed as part of a lawsuit that challenges FBI
treatment of groups that planned demonstrations at last year's political
conventions, show the bureau has opened a preliminary terrorism
investigation into People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the
well-known animal rights group based in Norfolk.

The papers offer no proof of PETA's involvement in illegal activity. But
more than 100 pages of heavily censored FBI files show the agency used
secret informants and tracked the group's events for years, including an
animal rights conference in Washington in July 2000, a community meeting
at an Indiana college in spring 2003 and a planned August 2004 protest
of a celebrity fur endorser.

The documents show the FBI cultivated sources such as a "well insulated"
PETA insider, who attended the 2000 meeting to gain credibility "within
the animal rights/Ruckus movements." The FBI also kept information on
Greenpeace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the
papers show.

The disclosure comes amid recent revelations about the extent of
domestic spying by the government after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks. Those disclosures include the expansion within the United
States of military intelligence and databases covering, among others,
peace activists; increased use of "national security letters" by the FBI
to examine personal records of tens of thousands of citizens; and, most
recently, warrantless eavesdropping of overseas telephone calls and
e-mails by U.S. citizens suspected of ties to terrorists.

ACLU leaders contend that the memos show that FBI and government Joint
Terrorism Task Forces across the country have expanded the definition of
domestic terrorism to people who engage in mainstream political
activity, including nonviolent protest and civil disobedience.

"The FBI should use its resources to investigate credible threats to
national security instead of spending time tracking innocent Americans
who criticize government policy, or monitoring groups that have not
broken the law," ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson said.
Previously released papers showed that the FBI kept files that mentioned
the organizations, she said, "But we didn't know that they actually
launched counterterrorism investigations into these groups."

FBI officials said that the agency is not using the threat of terrorism
to suppress domestic dissent and that is has no alternative but to
investigate if a group or its members have ties to others that are
guilty or suspected of violence or illegal conduct.

"As a matter of policy, the FBI does not target individuals or
organizations for investigation because of any political belief.
Somewhere, there has to be a crime attached," FBI spokesman John Miller
said. "At the same time, the fact that you have ties to an organization
or political beliefs does not make you immune from ending up in FBI
files when you go and commit a crime."

The status of the PETA inquiry is unclear. Justice Department spokesman
Brian Roehrkasse said: "The Justice Department does not comment on or
confirm the existence of criminal investigations. All matters referred
to the department by the intelligence agencies for purposes of further
investigation are taken seriously and thoroughly reviewed."

PETA general counsel Jeff Kerr called the FBI's conduct an abuse of
power that punishes activists for speaking out.

"These documents show a disturbing erosion of freedom of association and
freedom of speech that we've taken for granted and that set us apart
from oppressive countries like the former Iraq," Kerr said, adding that
the documents show no illegal activity by PETA. "You shouldn't have to
wonder when you go to a speech at a college campus, or when you go to a
meeting, whether you're being surveilled by the FBI. It goes back to the
dark days of Nixon and the enemies list."

John Lewis, the FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism,
told a Senate panel in May that environmental and animal rights
militants posed the biggest terrorist threats in the United States,
citing more than 150 pending investigations.

The ACLU said it received 2,357 pages of files on PETA, Greenpeace, the
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the ACLU itself. One
file referring to the committee included a contact list for students and
peace activists who attended a 2002 conference at Stanford University
aimed at ending sanctions then in place in Iraq.

The FBI has said that when it interviewed members of groups planning
demonstrations at last year's conventions, it did not yield information
into criminal activity. But the agency said the interviews were prompted
by specific threats. The latest data lay out a similar, broader pattern
regarding 150 groups whose FBI files the ACLU has asked to see.

For example, a June 19, 2002, e-mail cites a source offering information
on Greenpeace regarding "activists who show a clear predisposition to
violate the law." Other documents contain suspicions that PETA funds,
supports or otherwise acts as a front for "eco-terrorist" groups that
use arson, bombs or vandalism, such as the Animal Liberation Front or
Earth Liberation Front.

Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Parrots in Peril: The Free Market Allows Wackos, Crack Whores, Junkies, Scum, etc. Who Can't Make it In Life to Breed, Trade and Sell Parrots

Why you should think twice about buying a Parrot. This article discusses a case in one state. However, it is easily applied to all states, as protection does not exist for birds in the pet trade.

You'll see this quote further down in the article - "Nevertheless, no federal legislation protects birds in the pet trade....Basically,
anyone with a patch of land can set up shop as a bird breeder away from
prying eyes and without minimum care standards."

Translated by me - any sicko who can't make it in life, can easily make money off of an unregulated trade in living beings. I'm not so sure this is what Adam Smith and such meant when they talked of the virtues of a somewhat unregulated economy.

I personally like to keep sickos, crack whores, wackos, junkies, scum, etc. behind bars and not making money off of a beautiful species that should be in a tropical environment with it's relatives - not sitting in some scum’s apartment watching him do crack and being forced to say things like “Pass the pipe” as his stoned friends laugh and then pass out while an episode of Cops blares in the background. What kind of life is that?



http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/

story/5407680p-4885764c.html


Tacoma, WA - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Parrots in peril

Roy breeding operation leaves birds in squalor, and despite complaints and
investigations, Pierce County Council rejects change in ordinance

MIRA TWETI; For The News Tribune
Last updated: December 18th, 2005 01:16 PM (PST)

At Martha Scudder
s Parrot Depot in Roy, hundreds of parrots, including many endangered
species, have lived in cold, wet, filthy conditions for years, according
to eyewitness accounts, experts, deposed testimony and scores of
post-mortem reports.
The people and documents indicate Scudder
s has neglected hundreds, and possibly thousands, of parrots over its
25-year history. A veterinarian working with the Humane Society for Tacoma
and Pierce County called the 5-acre farm on 332nd Street South a
concentration camp
for birds.

Plastic sheeting covers eight ramshackle wooden sheds. It flaps in the
wind and offers little protection to the 800 parrots living there. At
least one roof has been leaking unfixed for years, according to the
veterinarian in a lawsuit deposition. Seven other sheds are equally
dilapidated.

Several complaints about Scudder
s have been made to the Humane Society and one to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service. Plus, animal control inspectors have checked the property and
warned Scudder that they believe the facility violates the state
s animal cruelty law.

Still, not a single bird has been removed or a fine issued.

In the past, Scudder has denied her birds are mistreated or diseased. She
has said in a legal document that she cleans the birds
cages only monthly during breeding season so as not to disrupt the
process.

Her partner, Bob Vincent, declined a request from The News Tribune to see
their aviaries and, after agreeing to an interview that included Scudder,
did not return several phone calls to set the meeting.

Reached last week, their attorney, Jack Maichel, declined to make Scudder
and Vincent available for an interview. A message left Friday at Scudder
s home was not returned.

The story of Scudder
s, which is considered the largest parrot-breeding operation in Washington
state, is a drama marked by legal battles, family feuding and
estrangement. Primarily, it reveals how little protection there is for
birds in the pet trade and how little oversight there is for bird-breeding
businesses, locally and nationally.

Parrots were the fastest-growing pet of choice through the 1990s. An
estimated 50 million to 60 million of the pet birds live in the United
States today. Each year, breeders produce about 2 million young parrots.

According to two Washington state experts, veterinarian Tracy Bennett and
former parrot broker Lori Rutledge, a big percentage of the state
s major breeding facilities for large parrots keep their charges in bad
conditions
a situation other experts say occurs nationwide.

Nevertheless, no federal legislation protects birds in the pet trade.
Neither do measures in most states, including Washington. Basically,
anyone with a patch of land can set up shop as a bird breeder away from
prying eyes and without minimum care standards.

The problems at Scudder
s continue, in part because of inaction by the Humane Society and the
Pierce County Council.

Until this year, the county contracted with the Humane Society to provide
animal control and shelter services, and the administrative infrastructure
to support them.

The Humane Society received five complaints against the breeder since
1999, citing filthy conditions, dead or deformed birds, overcrowded
incubators and general neglect. Animal-control inspectors went to the farm
each time, but no further action was taken.

When urged to oversee pet breeders, the County Council
which has the power to license, and thereby inspect and regulate the
facilities
tabled an ordinance that would have required inspections.

For now it is just the birds at Scudder
s that suffer. But the threat of an avian flu pandemic raises the
question: Is public health at risk from thousands of exotic birds being
kept in unlicensed, unregulated and unmonitored circumstances in Pierce
County and across the state?


New parrot fan gets involved


The situation at Scudder
s came to light in part through Seattle resident Larry Gallawa, an
engineer by trade and an animal lover by vocation. His battle against
Scudder led her to sue him for defamation, a lawsuit a judge eventually
dismissed.

Gallawa
s passion for animals revolved around cats and dogs until a decade ago,
when his daughter, Ronda, got a state job that required her to travel.

She asked her parents to take care of Bailey, her 3-year-old Umbrella
cockatoo. They did, and he
s been with them ever since.


I take him everywhere,
said Gallawa, 59,
in the car, to the supermarket, to the dry cleaners. There
s not many places he hasn
t been.


Now smitten with parrots, Gallawa endeavored to learn as much as possible
about them.

He found out parrots test higher than most primates on intelligence tests
and that the average parrot is believed to have the intelligence of a 3-
or 4-year-old child. Parrots can master large vocabularies and speak in
sentences with comprehension, and even learn to count. Sophisticated,
complex and social animals, parrots bond for life and are more loyal than
dogs. And, unlike dogs, they are long-lived: A large parrot can live to
100.

Gallawa also found a local expert, Lori Rutledge at Cockatoo Rescue, a
parrot sanctuary in Stanwood, who told him about parrot-breeding
conditions in the state. Rutledge estimates Washington has 20 large exotic
bird-breeding facilities and countless smaller ones.

Eventually she got around to talking about Scudder
s, which Rutledge said had a bad reputation.


I
d heard that so many times from so many people it was almost an urban
legend,
she said in an interview.
Everybody that had anything to do with the bird-breeding business knew
about Scudder
s.


Not liking what he was hearing, Gallawa contacted the Progressive Animal
Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood in late 2002.

Two volunteers, Donna Diduch and Stephanie Beecroft, went to check out
Scudder
s, saying they were interested in buying a bird.

Scudder, 65, wouldn
t allow them into the aviaries, but what they saw in the main house
prompted them to file a report with the Pierce County Humane Society. They
wrote that the place was
dark, filthy and cold.
One parrot was lying on its stomach, obviously sick and in distress.
Scudder said it was fine.

After reading the report, Gallawa insisted Wally Hall, field coordinator
for the Humane Society, go with an avian veterinarian for an inspection.
Tracy Bennett got the call.

Veterinarian visits

Of about 85,000 veterinarians in the United States, 97 are certified for
avian practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Avian
certification is considered the hardest to get because birds are
behaviorally complex, physiologically unique and there are so many
different species.

Bennett, 40, is one of the 97. For the last 11 years, parrots have made up
90 percent of her practice at the Bird and Exotic Clinic of Seattle. When
Bennett was called to inspect Scudder
s, she was one of three vets certified in avian practice in Washington
state. (Now there are five.)

Although she
d never been there, Bennett had seen evidence of the situation at Scudder
s in her own veterinary office. Her findings and later impressions, stated
in reports and letters to the Humane Society, became part of the
defamation lawsuit against Gallawa.

Bennett said the new owners of several young birds from Scudder
s had brought them to her for veterinary care. She said they were
uniformly in poor condition, tested positive for disease, showed signs of
stress and were underweight.

On Jan. 23, 2003, the investigators went to Scudder
s, which Bennett later described in an interview as
horrifying
a scummy, filthy, horrible
place.

Bennett said the main house was filled with cages and filthy with feces.


We went downstairs, and there was feces all down the wall,
Bennett said.
It was all green with it.


Downstairs was the nursery where Scudder incubated and fed baby birds.


Across from the babies were some incubators the size for chicks but one
had an adult bird, and he barely fit,
Bennett said.

The next room was filled with birds in stacked wire cages.


Some of the birds were brought in from the aviaries because Martha said
she thought they were sick,
Bennett said.
Some had clubbed feet walking on bare wire, which was very bad. Others she
was boarding and had no idea of their health status but they were mixed in
with the rest.


All of these were next to her nursery, close enough to contaminate the
baby birds with any diseases they might have.


Bennett said she saw only a fraction of the flock because Scudder would
allow her into only two of the eight bird barns that house African Grey
parrots, Amazons, macaws and different kinds of cockatoos, and some rare
species, such as Vasa parrots.

Bennett described the aviaries as
rotten old ramshackle wooden shacks with hanging wire cages.


They had what I call
fecal stalagmites
at least 6 inches high, maybe higher,
she said.
You would think seeing giant accumulation of feces would be a bad thing
but Martha Scudder didn
t comprehend that. I got the impression that she saw no problem.


The automatic watering system was leaking badly and poorly maintained,
Bennett said. Where there were water bottles for the birds, algae was
growing in them.


Water was coming into the barns because the buildings were open to the
elements,
she said.
It was bad, but at the time I was happy about it, because all the drinking
water those birds would get is what they could lick off the bars.


The birds that especially haunt Bennett are the ones left on their own.


I remember this one double yellow-headed Amazon just sitting on the bottom
of the wire cage
no perch, no mate
in this cold, rainy place in winter, sitting there alone with just filth
underneath it,
Bennett said.
And I thought,
This is torture for this bird.


Questions over what to do

Hall, the Human Society field coordinator, and Bennett dispute what
happened after the inspection. Hall said he asked Bennett what she wanted
to do.


I told her,
You
re in control.
Is there enough to pull (the birds)?
And she said,
No, I believe we can work with Mrs. Scudder to clean it up.


Bennett said she didn
t want to wait.


I told Wally Hall in the car that we needed to shut the place down,
she said.
He told me,
To shut it down, we need to show dead bodies.
I told him birds were sick, and the conditions were deplorable.


Hall
s now-retired assistant, Nancy Groves, 53, accompanied him and Bennett to
Scudder
s. Groves said that, to the best of her recollection, Hall preferred not
to take the birds but deferred to Bennett.


Bennett said she didn
t think there was enough cause to pull the birds,
Groves said.
She wanted Scudder to reduce their number and said she would write a
letter of recommendations
for improvements.

Retired Humane Society veterinarian Betsy Larson, 53, accompanied Hall and
Bennett to Scudder
s. She said Bennett asked Scudder to relinquish the birds.


The doctor said she knew rescue groups that would be very happy to take
these birds immediately and give them a wonderful home,
Larson said.

According to Bennett, Hall told Scudder he knew she had good intentions
but, because her husband had died, the place had fallen into neglect. She
had to make repairs, he said.


He figured she
ll just fix it up and everything will be fine,
Bennett said.
They didn
t want to make waves, and they didn
t want to get stuck with 500 birds. They told me it was very hard to take
these things to court.


Larson explained the difficulties in having to prove animal cruelty in
court.


It
s not the seizing of the animals that
s hard, it
s building your case,
she said.
With abuse cases, you don
t get people
s attention sometimes until there are dead animals
overt suffering that the layperson, the judge and the court will
recognize.


Here we get into how to make this case in a court of law. This is why it
s so hard to go after puppy mills and places that raise animals. Nothing
s worse than having the animals go back after a year.


Confiscation of animals rarely happens on animal control inspections, Hall
said.
It is a lot easier to work with someone to change their attitude,
he said.

Confirming the birds were sick would take work, Bennett said. As a defense
mechanism, they mask their illnesses. Plus, many severe illnesses can have
mild signs, such as lethargy, anorexia and ruffled feathers, that make
them hard to confirm without a blood test.

Bennett said she told Hall she could prove the animals were sick if they
let her run tests.


They said there was no money for that,
Bennett said.

Based on Hall
s stance, Bennett sent a report March 7, 2003, outlining recommendations
for improvements. Among a long list of actions, Bennett wrote that Scudder
should get rid of most of her birds, reducing their numbers to fewer than
100, replace the watering system and improve the birds
diet.

Bennett also reported Scudder
s to the local U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office, citing ill health of
the endangered birds and the conditions she
d seen. She later faxed a list of the endangered species.

Citing confidentiality issues, Fish & Wildlife supervisor Philip Knudsen
in Redmond declined to comment on any follow-up that might have been done
on the complaint.

Steve Pierce, Hall
s boss, said he called Bennett after reading her report. He said he was
appalled by the sanitation conditions she described.


I spoke to her personally and talked to her about seizing those birds,
he said,
and I can promise you nowhere in that conversation did she tell me that we
should seize those birds.


Bennett said the opposite and that she felt sure Pierce would take action
after they hung up. In retrospect, Bennett said, she should have plainly
stated,
All these birds need to go and right now.


Scudder received Bennett
s report, which had a deadline of May 31, 2003, for her to complete the
changes. But she didn
t take the recommendations seriously.

Later, in deposed testimony in the lawsuit against Gallawa, Scudder said
she thought Bennett
s recommendations
were not conducive to flock management
and that she didn
t feel required to reduce her flock just because the Humane Society sent
her a letter saying so.


She has no right telling me how to run my business,
Scudder said in a deposition, referring to Bennett.

On March 31, 2003, Hall got a written reply from Scudder, asking what
right he had to make her change anything.

On April 16, Hall provided Bennett with the state
s animal cruelty statute and asked her to write a response outlining
whether the situation at Scudder
s situation met the state
s requirements.

A week later, in a letter to Hall that became part of the defamation
lawsuit, Bennett outlined how Scudder
s situation met the five points of the state
s cruelty regulation.

Scudder had balked at making the requested changes, and Hall had it in
writing that the conditions were cruel under the law. So why didn
t he confiscate the birds?


The intent of the communication was to go to Scudder so she could make
changes,
Hall said.
It wasn
t for Wally Hall to get a search warrant to pull the birds.



How the Scudders started

In the early 1960s, John and Martha Scudder moved from Moses Lake, Grant
County, where their three boys were born, to Southern California. There,
they bought their first bird, an Amazon parrot, at a swap meet.

They soon became hobbyist breeders, and by the time they bought land in
Roy and moved the family to Washington in 1979, they had about 80 parrots.
John Scudder drove a truck, and Martha worked at a hospital. By the early
1980s, they were selling birds commercially as a side business.

With three sons, there was plenty of help. The oldest, John Jr., planned
to be a veterinarian and had been accepted to college. But when his father
suffered a debilitating back injury that required several surgeries, John
Jr. gave up that idea and took over his father
s truck route.

He married his first wife, Suzanne, had two sons, and started an aviary on
the land adjacent to his parents.

Some blame the decline in the elder Scudder
s aviaries on John Sr.
s death from cancer in 2002. But John Jr. says they have been bad since
the early 1980s, when he no longer was involved with them on a daily
basis.


Long before John (Sr.) got sick, those aviaries were never properly
maintained,
he said in an interview.
You
d go out from one day to the next and birds would be dead in their cages.
They thought of the parrots like livestock and saw themselves as
management. It was someone else
s job to clean the cages and feed the birds. As they got bigger, they got
worse.


John Jr. said Martha rarely was in the aviaries taking care of the birds.

He said poisonous deadly nightshade vine grows into the parrots
cages because the ground under them isn
t mowed, and the food dishes aren
t cleaned once a week as they need to be.


They
d scrape them out rather than wash them, so they were never really cleaned
properly,
he said.
Aspergillis bacteria, a mold that grows in the birds
lungs, grows in them.


After John Sr. went into the hospital, the birds were neglected so badly
it was
scary
to go into the barns, said his daughter-in-law of 25 years, Robin
Scudder, 42, who lives in Alaska and had been close friends with Martha
Scudder.


From 2000 on, things started getting really hairy, and the flock started
dying,
she said in an interview.

Finally, John Jr. and Robin Scudder fired the caretaker.


He would turn off the water system and forget to turn it back on and didn
t remember how many days it had been off,
Robin Scudder said.

The two cleaned the place up, but problems continued.


Martha stopped taking birds out for necropsies to find out what had
happened,
Robin Scudder said.
At first we buried them, but as the quantities jumped and jumped they went
to the Dumpster. I know of at least 50 to 75 birds in the Dumpster.



Family disagreement

John Scudder Jr., 47, and his wife, Kathy Scudder, 47, live on the 7 acres
adjacent to Martha Scudder
s property. The two run their own aviary, Happy Hookbills Ranch, which has
gotten a clean bill of health from Bennett.

Even so, says Kathy Scudder, Martha Scudder
s reputation has affected their business.

According to documents in the defamation lawsuit, Martha Scudder had
Washington State University
s Disease Diagnostic Laboratory write necropsy reports on 90 birds that
died at her farm. Those included 50 from 2002 to the first quarter of
2004.

Lab technicians found diagnoses of aspergillis, a long-term, chronic
infection in which the bird dies gasping for breath; proventricular
dilatation disease or PDD, a highly contagious virus commonly called
avian AIDS
; polyoma, which causes birds to bleed to death; and mycobacterium avium,
an avian tuberculosis contagious to humans.


I can
t sell birds in the Pacific Northwest because my last name is Scudder,
said Kathy Scudder.
And I won
t put my birds in the same stores with Martha
s anyway. I don
t know what diseases her birds have. If my bird gets sick, they
ll think it was sick from my place and say,
See, their birds are just like Martha
s.


John Jr. and Kathy Scudder had helped clean Martha Scudder
s barns for a follow-up inspection by the Humane Society on June 12, 2003.

This time, Bennett said, the birds
condition still was worrisome. But she was optimistic for the first time
because it looked as if Martha Scudder were going to have help from her
family in running the aviaries.

That didn
t happen, in part because that August, Martha became involved with
Vincent, 49.

By all accounts, Martha Scudder had been deeply saddened by the death of
her husband 18 months earlier.


Martha was at her lowest and looking for anyone,
Kathy Scudder said.
Bob was supposed to do the feeding, cleaning and landscaping. The next
thing that we know Bob is no longer the worker
Bob is the lover.


Then, after Vincent and Kathy Scudder got into a shoving match, Martha
Scudder took out a restraining order against her eldest son and his wife.
There now are mutual restraining orders between the families.

John Jr. and Kathy offered to take Martha Scudder off their restraining
order, but she refused if they wouldn
t accept Vincent on her terms.


I
d love to see the animals taken care of properly, but there
s nothing I can do about it anymore with the restraining order,
John Jr. said.

When Robin Scudder moved to Alaska, she boarded some of her birds at
Martha Scudder
s. She says in a court document taken as part of the Gallawa lawsuit that
Vincent told her 10 birds died, though she was never told the
circumstances. He sent her a certified letter ordering her to come and get
the rest of the birds when she visited Roy in December 2004.

When she came, the cages were in front of Martha Scudder
s house for her to collect. The birds were in terrible shape, Robin
Scudder said.


I opened the Amazon
s nest box and there was a nest of mice,
she said,
and the two Umbrellas
(cockatoos) nest box had so much fecal matter in their shavings it was
just soup.


Last August, Robin Scudder came to Washington to visit Kathy and John Jr.
and ran into the garbage collector who services both Scudder properties.


The Dumpster guy says,
Robin Scudder, where the devil have you been? And what
s going on with your mom? Do you know the amount of birds that have gone
in the Dumpster since you left?


The conditions at the farm

Vivian Graves, a friend of Martha Scudder for six years, moved her mobile
home onto Martha
s property 21/2 years ago. She lived rent-free with utilities in exchange
for taking care of the birds.

Until the end of September of this year, Graves was the caretaker for the
aviaries and has most recently seen the conditions there.

Graves says Vincent, who has taken over operation of the farm, wouldn
t allow the birds to be fed until so late in the day that she often had to
use a flashlight to feed them after dark in the winter.

That doesn
t work for parrots, which rise at dawn and sleep at dusk, Bennett said.
The birds need fresh food in the morning because they awaken hungry and
need energy for the day.

The watering system, which Bennett wanted replaced, still
leaks like a sieve,
causing cesspools under the birds
cages of moldy seeds and feces, with flies everywhere, Graves said.


It was disgusting,
she said.

Vincent has covered the cages of some of the birds, depriving them of
daylight to facilitate their breeding, she said. However, Bennett pointed
out, keeping birds in the dark produces the opposite result, because the
birds
internal breeding clock is based on following the sun.


Every time I brought up the idea that those birds cannot see anything,
Graves said,
they
re not getting any sun, that it
s not healthy, they
d say,
You
re trying to make pets out of everything.


Graves said the birds are deprived of heat in the winter and, without
perches, some freeze their toes off on the cage wire.

In her deposition, Martha Scudder said she provides heat only when
absolutely necessary.
She contended her birds are acclimated and don
t require heat because they are
neotropical.


In fact, virtually all parrots need warmth because they do not have the
thick down that insulates birds from cold climates. The term
neotropical
means only that the birds are from the tropical areas in and near South
America.

Tropical birds don
t become acclimated to the cold, Bennett said. At best, their immune
systems become compromised. At worst, they die.

Vincent and Martha Scudder brought legal action to evict Graves. She
recently moved to Utah but said she felt compelled to come forward with
what she knew about the Scudder operation.


I always thought of myself as a stand-up kind of person,
she said.
I can
t walk away knowing what I know and having seen what I
ve seen and not try to do something to make it better. I felt ashamed that
I was letting the birds down.


Details from depositions

After Bennett
s two visits and without any action by the Humane Society, Gallawa went
online to avian Internet chat rooms in fall 2003 to rally support and
raise awareness of the conditions at Scudder
s.

On March 2, 2004, Martha Scudder and Vincent sued Gallawa for defamation
and damage to their business resulting from his comments.


After two years of discovery and everything, he has yet to pull up one
document that we have exotic Newcastle disease or some of these other
things (like) psitticosis,
Vincent said in a phone interview with The News Tribune.

Gallawa denies ever saying the Scudder birds had those diseases and
contends he only quoted from Bennett
s report. Nevertheless, he welcomed the lawsuit.


Most people aren
t happy to get sued, but I was ecstatic. It meant Martha Scudder had to
open her life to inspection,
Gallawa said.
Under our state laws, my attorneys could go in and seize documents which
otherwise wouldn
t be available and that
s exactly what they did.


Among the documents subpoenaed were the necropsy reports by the WSU
laboratory.


The most shocking,
Bennett said, are the necropsies showing birds died of Pacheco
s disease, a highly contagious and sometimes fatal herpes virus.

Most of Scudder
s ill birds would have looked very thin before they died, Bennett said in
an interview.


The PDD birds are emaciated to look at,
he said.
They died with no one ever caring, taking them to the doctor, or putting
them in a warm area.


Martha Scudder had an expert of her own testify in the lawsuit about the
necropsy reports.

Brian Speer, a board-certified avian vet and a bird breeder, testified
that some of the reports were inconclusive and that there was no proof the
birds had psitticosis and exotic Newcastle disease.


There were diseases present, just not those,
he later told The News Tribune.

Martha Scudder, under oath in deposed testimony in the lawsuit, contended
there were no diseases in her aviaries and said no bird had died of
starvation.

However, Kathy Scudder said Martha Scudder once pointed out a bird and
identified it as dying of PDD.


That bird was laying in the bottom of the cage. It wasn
t even able to get up on a perch,
Kathy Scudder said in a deposition.
It was skin and feathers and bones. Two days later, she told me the bird
was dead. It did not receive medical treatment and it was not euthanized.
She just let it waste away until it died.


In the end, the judge hearing the lawsuit ruled Martha Scudder couldn
t prove damages from Gallawa
s actions and dismissed the legal action. Scudder and Vincent asked the
judge for reconsideration and were denied. They are now appealing the
ruling.

An appeal to county council

To crack down on bad breeders, Gallawa lobbied the Pierce County Council
in mid-2003 to have the Kennel, Cattery, Grooming Parlor and Pet Store
Ordinance include aviaries. The expanded ordinance would have allowed
inspection of any aviary wanting a license and would permit follow-up
checks without advance notice.

All that was required was adding the word
aviaries
to the ordinance with the number of birds defining an aviary. (A license
is required for six or more cats and dogs.)

The Humane Society
s Pierce said expanding the ordinance would enable animal control to
monitor Scudder
s facility in a meaningful way.


We were working with Scudder
s voluntarily for nine months, then they shut their doors to us,
he said.
Then there was no way to verify they were continuing to do what we were
asking them to do. If we
d had a license program in place, we could continue to access the
property.


Hall said the measure would help animal control officers do a better job.


If we had like a kennel license,
he said,
they would have to be clean, they would have to have their food in
airtight containers so there
s no rodents. They have to clean up after their animals, they have to
dispose of things in a certain way. Now we
re just relying on the cruelty law for birds, and they do fall between the
cracks.


He said he thought four aviaries he knew of in Pierce County would not
meet the standards of a revised ordinance.

The breeders were quick to react.


We had a mountain of people against it,
County Councilman Dick Muri said.
Dozens and dozens of my constituents (were) calling me, saying we didn
t need to regulate because there was a system in place.


Muri said he thought 90 percent of those who contacted him were breeders
or bird hobbyists with an interest in keeping the status quo.

Muri went out to see Scudder
s before a hearing on the proposed ordinance and was welcomed by Martha
Scudder and Vincent. Muri toured the property and didn
t see anything amiss.


That in itself doesn
t mean anything,
Hall says.
Of course, they are going to have the place looking spick-and-span when
they know someone like that is coming out.


And Graves said she, Martha Scudder and Vincent would
clean for days
if someone important were coming to the farm.

The County Council held a hearing on the ordinance Feb. 24, 2004, and
breeders argued against the amendment and the inspections it would bring.

One after another, 11 breeders said they either didn
t think they needed regulation, or that any inspection would be disruptive
for the birds and would cause serious problems if strangers came into the
aviaries.

As a result, they said, the county would have to pay what could be
thousands of dollars in damages.


The minute anybody comes in that the birds don
t know, the chance for disease and stress is very high,
said Jonna Kelly, co-owner of the Cripple Creek Avian breeding farm.
What happens if a vet comes out and any number of these birds that they
re inspecting die? Whose fault is that? Who eats that money? Who replaces
the birds?


Also testifying against the amendment was Laurella Desborough, then the
legislative vice president of the American Federation of Aviculture, the
largest organization in the U.S. representing the breeding community.


We see this as an issue that could affect birds not just in this county
but throughout the country when ordinances are proposed,
said Desborough, who traveled from Florida to testify.
If a stranger walks through a breeding aviary, and this is my concern
about inspections, you can end up with scrambled eggs, dead chicks,
damaged or dead mates.


The organization
s president, Benny Gallaway, later said Desborough was not authorized to
speak on its behalf.

Desborough also said at the hearing that the U.S. Department of
Agriculture was about to pass legislation regulating aviaries and that a
Pierce County ordinance would be redundant. In fact, the USDA officials
drafting the legislation do not expect federal legislation to be enacted
for at least five years.

Local breeders also were adamant that, though they had no diseases at
their facilities, inspectors would have to don protective suits so as to
not transmit any diseases from other facilities. And, they added, that
while protective suits were absolutely necessary, they would traumatize
the birds to such a degree as to make inspections impossible.

Hall and Pierce argued that the revised ordinance would help them do their
jobs. Bennett testified and discounted the breeders
concerns.

In the end, the breeders prevailed. Without further consideration,
examination or investigation, the council tabled the proposal.

Chairwoman Barbara Gelman ended the hearing saying,
This is not an issue that is going to be decided on at this particular
committee meeting. We
re going to have other committee meetings and other hearings.


None has been held in almost two years since.


This is not an (ordinance) where the public is beating down our doors,
Councilman Shawn Bunney said later.
There was no public outcry and we didn
t have compelling evidence to do anything.


In addition, he said, it was a strike against the proposition that its
main advocate, Gallawa, was from outside the county.


In hindsight,
Bunney said,
I can reflect that maybe we should go back and re-examine this issue.


Bennett says the council fell for a smokescreen set up by the breeders.


This is the tactic that they
ve come up with to say birds are so sensitive you can
t have anyone walk through their enclosures. It
s ridiculous and it
s just not true,
she said.
I
m an avian veterinarian, I certainly know how to walk through a facility
without disturbing the birds. Quietly walking through and inspecting is
not going to cause any of the problems they said.


Laurence Hawkins, regional public affairs officer for U.S. Department of
Agriculture
s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, sides with Bennett and
against the breeders.


I sympathize with their concerns but I don
t believe that they
re valid,
he said.
Our people are very familiar with how to go into bird facilities,
including handling parrots, to monitor them.


Last hopes

Eighteen months ago, Gallawa was diagnosed with a rare kind of terminal
cancer. It is his dying wish is to see Scudder
s aviary closed and the birds there in a safe place.


I only hope,
he says,
I can make a difference in at least a small way that will make life better
for these animals that deserve so much more than the human race has given
them.

Search for More Content

Custom Search
Bookmark and Share

Past Articles