Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Moscow, Russia Seeks to Deal with Growing Homeless Dog and Cat Population: Roots of Problem due to Human Abandonment of Pets and Lack of Sterilization

A very serious, mostly human-created problem. Abandonment on top of lack of sterilization can only lead to such hell. And on top of it all, a great many of the strays will suffer unbelievable abuse on the streets at the hands of humans.

Here are a few quotes from the article below:

“Despite an effort in recent years to reduce the stray population through sterilization, their numbers have not come down in part because people are increasingly abandoning their pets, city officials and animal rights activists say.

Such neglect has been accompanied by a number of gruesome attacks against homeless animals.

In August, a 22-year-old Muscovite, Nikita Golovkin, was sentenced to one year of corrective labor for setting his American Staffordshire terrier upon a group of stray puppies.

When asked by a building supervisor to call off his dog, Golovkin reacted by grabbing two of the puppies, slamming one to the pavement and throwing another against a metal window frame. Four puppies died in the incident.


In 2002, a model, 22, stabbed a stray dog to death in an underground passage. A court declared her mentally incompetent and confined her to a hospital for the criminally insane in the Tver region.”


Article:

City Grapples With Thousands of Strays

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2006/10/31/003.html

By Anastasiya Lebedev
Staff Writer

Igor Tabakov / MT

Feral dogs have become a common sight in Moscow. They sleep in packs in empty lots and underground passages; they are fed by the kindhearted and abused by the cruel.

Click here to see photo essay -
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/photos/photo-essay/
2006-10-31/page1.html

(All photos were taken at the Bim Charity Fund's animal shelter in Khoteichi.)

The latest study commissioned by the city puts the number of stray and feral dogs on the street at a minimum of 23,000.

Despite an effort in recent years to reduce the stray population through sterilization, their numbers have not come down in part because people are increasingly abandoning their pets, city officials and animal rights activists say.

Such neglect has been accompanied by a number of gruesome attacks against homeless animals.

In August, a 22-year-old Muscovite, Nikita Golovkin, was sentenced to one year of corrective labor for setting his American Staffordshire terrier upon a group of stray puppies.

When asked by a building supervisor to call off his dog, Golovkin reacted by grabbing two of the puppies, slamming one to the pavement and throwing another against a metal window frame. Four puppies died in the incident.


In 2002, a model, 22, stabbed a stray dog to death in an undergound passage. A court declared her mentally incompetent and confined her to a hospital for the criminally insane in the Tver region.

Such horror stories highlight the need for the city to come to grips with the problem of stray animals and to adopt adequate animal protection laws, activists say.

At present, Moscow's four animal shelters can only handle 1,000 dogs per year, said Marite Arent, head of the city's Wild Animal Collection Service, which is in charge of finding private companies to run the shelters and the sterilization program.

Arent said the Northern Administrative District was operating an additional seven shelters, with a total capacity of 2,300 dogs per year, at its own expense, and that a Vneshtorgbank-sponsored shelter in southern Moscow was scheduled to open in December.

The city's other administrative districts have been reluctant to open new shelters, however, because local officials prefer to reserve land for more profitable enterprises, Arent said.

Charitable organizations have attempted to step in and fill the void left by inadequate city services for animals.

The Bim Charity Fund runs four animal shelters, including one in the village of Khoteichi, 100 kilometers southeast of Moscow, that houses some 600 dogs and more than 200 cats.

Nurik Turakolov, a caretaker at the Khoteichi shelter, said 10 percent of the animals in his charge were not mongrels, but purebred animals abandoned by their owners.

Fund director Darya Taraskina said purebreds often end up in the street when a breed goes out of style.

Many of the Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, Staffordshire terriers and bulldogs that wind up at Bim's shelters have been poorly trained by their owners, Turakolov said. The shelter's caretakers retrain the dogs and attempt to place them in new homes.

Anyone who wants to adopt a pet from Bim must undergo a thorough evaluation, promise to care for the animal properly and to bring it back if he or she can't manage, Turakolov said. The shelter, in turn, provides free veterinary care and boards the animal for free when the owner is away from home.

Turakolov added that the shelter regularly takes in animals that have been abused, a crime that goes largely unpunished.

At present, cruelty to animals is only punishable when it is carried out for material gain, in the presence of minors or in cases of hooliganism. The Criminal Code provides for a maximum sentence of six months in jail or one year of corrective labor.

"It may seem that there is a legal basis [for protecting animals], but in reality it's nothing," said Irina Novozhilova, head of Vita, an animal rights organization. The Criminal Code allows for prosecution "only if the animal was maimed or killed," she said. "But what about depriving it of normal living conditions?"

The environmental crimes division of the Moscow police department received more than 270 complaints about cruelty to animals in 2005 and 2006, but only five cases made it to court, division head Grigory Kibak said at an animal rights conference last month.

The environmental police, an experimental force that has existed in Moscow, the Moscow region and Tatarstan for nearly 10 years, ends up responding to such complaints, which are outside their jurisdiction, because the regular police rarely do.

"When you call the local precinct to file a complaint, they say things like: 'I've got two murders and three rapes, and you expect me to deal with a bunch of kittens?'" veteran animal rights activist Ilya Bluvshtein said.

A bill that would have expanded the definition of cruelty to animals to include beating or unlawfully killing animals, abandoning pets and failing to care for them properly nearly became law in 2000.

The bill would also have banned the killing of animals with certain poisons currently used in the fur industry and the breeding of fighting dogs; and it would have introduced tougher regulations for the handling of animals across the board.

The bill was approved by both houses of the parliament but was vetoed by President Vladimir Putin, who insisted that most of its provisions were covered by or contradicted existing laws. The bill was returned to the State Duma for reworking and it is still there six years later.

A powerful lobby made up of dog and cattle breeders, furriers and others who profit from the current regulations fought the bill and won, Bluvshtein said.

Yevgeny Tsigelnitsky, a spokesman for the Russian Dog Breeders Federation, said his organization had opposed the bill because it would have banned fighting breeds.

He said the federation would also fight a bill coming up for a vote in the Moscow State Duma this fall.

The bill, which has been debated for years, would beef up the ban on killing stray animals and create a register of domestic animals, among other measures. City Duma Deputy Ivan Novitsky of the Yabloko party, who supports the bill drawn up by Moscow's Housing and Communal Services Department, is also a proponent of banning fighting dogs.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Australia Hit With Cruelty Charges Again: Group Claims Farmed Pigs Throughout Country Abused

This is no surprise. In general, all farm animals in intensive operations will be horribly abused. This includes not just blatant abuse, but just the general conditions they are kept in.

For photos of pigs in factory farms see:
http://www.factoryfarming.com/gallery/
photos_gestation.htm

Here is an article recently wrote regarding Australia and the live animal trade. What you'll see is shocking cruelty:
http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/03/
unbelievable-video-exposes_08.html

Article:

Animal rights group claims farmed pigs being abused

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200610/s1775927.htm

Animal rights groups have launched an advertising campaign that claims factory farmed pigs are being abused.

They say the majority of Australia's 320,000 sows and their offspring spend their entire lives in restricted environments.

Glenys Oogjes from Animals Australia says that is cruel and legislation should be changed to protect them.

"If the same sort of conditions were imposed upon cats and dogs then the law would be able to step-in," she said.

"But unfortunately at the present time this system, the factory farming of pigs, is exempt from our legislation or protection legislation."

Australian Pork Limited has rejected claims of cruelty to the pigs.

Chief executive Andrew Spencer says they are well cared for.

"The things that the animal extremists don't like about our industry are actually, in many cases, things that are put in place in the production systems to ensure that the animals are looked after well," he said.

"This is really the motivation of the pig farmer, he has to have productive animals.

"He is the expert on welfare, he has to deliver it every single day."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Behind the Scenes at an Animal Auction: Illegal Dealers Snatch up Various Animals to Put in Canned Hunt Facilities to be Killed

For those who don’t know, a canned hunt is basically an enclosed facility that takes in animals (of all varieties) and allows rich hunters to pay money to come and shoot them. Basically, it’s the lazy and easy way to hunt.

Turns out that many of these animals come from auctions. The auctions usually don’t monitor who buys and sells. So, those without permits can easily buy or sell. I guess life is cheap.

Here’s a paragraph from the article below:

“Fearing the worst, the Humane Society sent three people to the auction to monitor who was buying animals. The two dealers in question have been known to sell animals to canned hunts in Texas and purchased antlered fallow deer, yak and red deer, among other animals, Page said. One dealer spent more than $22,000, he said.”

Article:

Some Game Farm animals headed to canned hunts, Humane Society says

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1769&dept_id=74969
&newsid=17384608&PAG=461&rfi=9

By Joshua M. Rinaldi, Freeman staff
10/27/2006

THE HUMANE Society of the United States alleges that two dealers known to sell animals to people operating canned hunts purchased animals at the Catskill Game Farm auction on Oct. 18.

"These are tamed animals, that people once hand-fed, that are now going to be mounted on someone's wall," said Andrew Page, manager of the Humane Society's anti-hunting campaign.

Fearing the worst, the Humane Society sent three people to the auction to monitor who was buying animals. The two dealers in question have been known to sell animals to canned hunts in Texas and purchased antlered fallow deer, yak and red deer, among other animals, Page said. One dealer spent more than $22,000, he said.

"It's what we expected and what we had kind of warned the public of since the beginning," Page said.

Catskill Game Farm owner Kathie Schulz, who closed the operation earlier this month after 73 years in business, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. She previously said the Game Farm would not sell any of its animals to operators of canned hunts, which allow people to shoot exotic animals at close range in a controlled environment. However, the auction was open to all, and permits were required for the purchase of only six species.

The Game Farm, off state Route 32 in Catskill, auctioned about half of its 2,000 animals - along with rides and various pieces of equipment - on Oct. 18, two months after Schulz announced the hands-on zoo was going out of business.

The animals that weren't auctioned were sent to sanctuaries or remained in Schulz's family's private collection, she said previously.

The Humane Society petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to monitor the auction, but the USDA replied that it did not have any authority in such matters.

While the Humane Society monitored the auction inside the Game Farm's gates, other animals rights activists - calling themselves Advocates for Game Farm Animals - staged a protest outside, on Game Farm Road, during the zoo's final weekend of operation.

Some of the advocates also aligned with a similar group in Washington, D.C., and bought 205 animals at the auction, including two rhinos and a warthog that went for $9,000.

"It was the last thing we could do to save some lives," said Jim Van Alstine of the advocacy group.

The animals purchased by the coalition will go to sanctuaries or private owners, Van Alstine said. He said animal rights groups usually don't buy animals during auctions - because it simply gives the owners money to buy more animals - but the coalition made an exception in this case because the Catskill Game Farm was going out of business.

"Or course, we would have liked to get more (animals) out, but we got quite a few out and more than I thought possible a few weeks ago," he said.

Page fears the animals allegedly sold to canned hunt dealers are lost, but he hopes the Catskill Game Farm auction will help generate legislation to ban canned hunts nationwide.

"Ultimately, getting an animal at an auction is not illegal, which illustrated the need for legislation," he said.

More than 20 states currently ban canned hunts, Page said. New York is not one of them.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Netherlands' Largest Supermarket Chain Accepts Line of Halal Meat: This Move Rejects Law to Slaughter With Anesthesia

As this article states, “The main point of contention is that most of the animals are slaughtered without any kind of sedation or pain killers.”

"In our country it's forbidden to kill animals without anesthesia," party leader Marianne Thieme told The Associated Press. "In 1972, an exception was made to accommodate a small number of religious groups. But what we see now is that this is not an exception anymore, it's becoming a common way of slaughtering."

So essentially what we see is circumvention around slaughter rules in order to get cruelty-obtained flesh into the hands of people.

Article:

Animal rights activists protest after Dutch supermarket introduces halal meat
The Associated Press

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/25/europe/EU_GEN_
Netherlands_Halal_Meat_Fight.php

Published: October 25, 2006

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands The Netherlands' largest supermarket chain has come under fire from animal rights activists after it introduced a line of halal meat, which is prepared according to Islamic religious rules.

The country's Party For The Animals, which pollsters expect to win a seat in parliament in elections next month, said Wednesday its members have sent more than 5,000 complaints to grocer Albert Heijn after it introduced meat with a halal label last week.

The main point of contention is that most of the animals are slaughtered without any kind of sedation or pain killers.

"In our country it's forbidden to kill animals without anesthesia," party leader Marianne Thieme told The Associated Press. "In 1972, an exception was made to accommodate a small number of religious groups. But what we see now is that this is not an exception anymore, it's becoming a common way of slaughtering."

She said the move by Albert Heijn would force slaughterhouses to adopt halal slaughtering methods "just to be sure their meat can be brought to market."

A spokesman for Albert Heijn said his company's move was intended to attract business from some of the country's 1 million Muslims, who make up around 6 percent of the population.

Jan Christiaan Hellendoorn said Albert Heijn selected 45 out of its 700 stores to carry the halal line, mostly in areas of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague where many Muslims live.

He said the slaughter of sheep and cows is "handled in the best way it can be handled," and added that chickens were anesthetized before slaughter.

"It's always a serious matter if people complain," Hellendoorn said, but he said sales were in line with expectations and the company will follow through for at least six months.

"There is a market for it," he said.

Kasim Ademir, chairman of the Turkish Islamic Cultural Association, said he welcomed Albert Heijn's move, but couldn't comment on whether the meat was really halal.

Halal rules "are complicated" he said, and a subject of debate within different Muslim communities. He said in any case Islamic law demands that all animals be treated well.

"Animals may be anesthetized briefly before their slaughter and still be halal," he added.

Thieme predicted that Albert Heijn will eventually bow to popular pressure and cancel the halal line. Her party is expected to receive more than 50,000 votes in national elections Nov. 22, enough to win a seat in the 150-member Dutch parliament for the first time.

Due To Cruelty of Mulesing and Treatment of Sheep, Fashion Designer Marc Bouwer Will No Longer Use Australian Wool in His Designs

Very good for a designer to stand up. They really have a lot of clout (don’t ask me why, but they do).

The issue of mulesing is just one aspect of the cruelty of Australia towards sheep and other animals. We wrote a while back about the live animal export issue. What you’ll read is shocking. You can see the story here:
http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/10/
even-after-horrors-exposed-live-animal.html

Bouwer writes:

"I recently learned from my friends at PETA how sheep are treated in Australia and am so appalled that I will be cutting all Australian wool from my future collections,"

Article:

Fashion designer bans our wool

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/
0,21985,20647828-662,00.html


Peter Mitchell

October 26, 2006 12:00am
Article from: AAP

A LEADING American fashion designer to Hollywood's A-List celebrities has slapped a ban on Australian wool.

Marc Bouwer, a favourite of Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, has fired off a letter to Prime Minister John Howard detailing why he will no longer use Australian wool in his designs.

Bouwer said he came to the decision after talks with animal rights group, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA has waged a long-running campaign against the Australian wool industry and has lobbied for farmers to ban mulesing, a technique used to protect sheep from flystrike.

"I recently learned from my friends at PETA how sheep are treated in Australia and am so appalled that I will be cutting all Australian wool from my future collections," Bouwer wrote in the letter to Mr Howard.

"Your government's failure to take steps toward enforcing an end to these crude practices reflects poorly on Australia's standing as a wool supplier in the global fashion marketplace.

"The Australian government has been promising for years to address the painful mutilation known as mulesing, in which farmers use gardening-like shears to cut huge chunks of skin and flesh from tens of thousands of lambs' backsides each year - without painkillers."

Bouwer also criticised Australia's live export of sheep to the Middle East "where they are painfully slaughtered in ways that would be illegal in any developed country".

Reinstated Maryland Bear Hunt Ends with 41 Bears Killed

The idiocy of such a “hunt” is obvious. Glad to see that the HSUS is stepping up. As the article states: “The Humane Society of the United States, which opposes trophy hunts, announced a new campaign this week through its legislative fund to fight the re-election of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., whom the group blames for restoring bear hunting in Maryland.”

So, if you know of anyone in Maryland pass that information on.

Article:

Bear hunt ends with 41 animals killed

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-
bear1025,0,4298674.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Snow cited for near-perfect conditions; 2 charged with baiting, may face fine
By David Dishneau

The Associated Press

Originally published October 25, 2006, 5:16 PM EDT

HAGERSTOWN // Hunters killed 41 black bears in the Western Maryland mountains during a two-day hunt in near-perfect conditions, the state's top game manager said today.

The Department of Natural Resources announced an end to the season Tuesday night after hunters had checked in enough bears to satisfy the agency's objective of 35 to 55. Had the quota not been met, the hunt could have continued for up to four more days.

The season's first winter storm blanketed much of far western Garrett County with up to three inches of snow Monday and Tuesday, helping hunters spot their prey, said Paul Peditto, director of the DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Division.

"Snow for tracking bears or seeing bears against that white backdrop, particularly given that a fair amount of leaf cover has come off in Western Maryland, makes for nearly ideal conditions for hunting," he said.

The attractive conditions in Garrett County helped explain why just two bears were reported to have been taken in neighboring Allegany, Peditto said. For the first time in 54 years, hunting was permitted in all of Allegany County, including the 44,000-acre Green Ridge State Forest.

"We know we have bears in Green Ridge and we expected to have some checked in from there, but conditions were ideal in Garrett County and we suspect hunters moved there," Peditto said.

The largest bear killed was a 464-pound male taken by William Corbin of Oakland, the DNR said. The average weight was 161 pounds.

The agency said 451 hunters participated in the hunt. Permitees were chosen by lottery from 2,402 applicants.

For the second straight year, 47 hunters voluntarily carried Global Positioning System devices that recorded their geographical movements, Peditto said. Twelve previously captured-and-released bears also wore GPS units on collars as part of a scientific study of how the animals respond to hunting pressure.

The Natural Resources Police said two Jessup men -- Kendall T. Hayden, 51, and Frederick C. Wieland Jr., 42, -- were charged with baiting bears after officers found them hunting Monday from a tree stand over a large pile of cookies and cakes. Hunting bear over bait is prohibited in Maryland and punishable by a fine of up to $1,500 for a first offense.

Annual bear hunts returned to Maryland in 2004 after a 51-year ban. The DNR says hunting helps control the black bear population, which the agency estimated in June at 650 statewide, including 550 in the hunt zone.

The Humane Society of the United States, which opposes trophy hunts, announced a new campaign this week through its legislative fund to fight the re-election of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., whom the group blames for restoring bear hunting in Maryland.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

“Humane Certified Meat”, "Animal Compassionate" Label: Better Treatment of Farm Animals Pre-Slaughter Making It’s Way Into the Marketplace

I want to mention that there is still debate about some of these labels. Yet, that there is a general trend in this direction is a good sign. And of course, it’s not the companies who are driving it; rather, it is consumer demand.


Article:


Meat Labels Hope to Lure the Sensitive Carnivore

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/24/business/
24humane.html?ref=todayspaper

By ANDREW MARTIN

Many cows, pigs and chickens will soon be living cushier lives.

But in the end, they will still be headed for the dinner plate.

Whole Foods Market is preparing to roll out a line of meat that will carry labels saying "animal compassionate," indicating the animals were raised in a humane manner until they were slaughtered.

The grocery chain's decision to use the new labels comes as a growing number of retailers are making similar animal-welfare claims on meat and egg packaging, including "free farmed," "certified humane," "cage free" and "free range."

While the animal-welfare labels are proliferating, it remains unclear whether they appeal to anyone other than a niche market of animal lovers, particularly since the meat and eggs are as much as twice as expensive as products that do not carry the labels.

Mike Jones, a Louisburg, N.C., farmer who is raising "animal compassionate" pigs for Whole Foods, is convinced the new label will find buyers among "recyclers" and "foodies."

"The recyclers will buy it because they love this kind of agriculture," Mr. Jones said. "The foodies will buy it because they love the taste."

The increase in animal-welfare labels has been driven in part by animal-rights organizations. The Humane Society of the United States, for instance, has been working for nearly two years to end the practice of confining hens to cages. But, like organic and natural labels, the animal-welfare claims are also a way for food retailers to offer something their competitors do not.

"You are always trying to find a point of difference," said Ted Taft, managing director of the Meridian Consulting Group. "You could argue that chicken is chicken. But if you get a chicken that is free range, consumers will say, 'I like that.' "

Mr. Taft added that buyers say " 'It makes me feel good.' It's something to give it an edge in a tie-breaker."

The labeling trend has even been embraced by the restaurant industry, where a handful of high-end restaurants are now carrying "certified humane" meat. The Chipotle Mexican Grill, meanwhile, trumpets its humanely raised pork in an ad campaign that appears on the company's Web site and on billboards.

Steve Ells, the chain's founder, chairman and chief executive, said his decision to use humanely raised pork, free of antibiotics and hormones, in his burritos was based in part on his distaste for industrial-style farming, but also on his belief that it tastes better. When the natural pork was added to the menu six years ago, sales of the pork burrito quickly doubled, though the price jumped by $1.

"What is cool about this is we made our food taste better, and we did something good for the food system, for sustainability," Mr. Ells said.

The market for cage-free eggs, which often cost 60 percent more, is growing rapidly, though neither the federal government nor the United Egg Producers, a trade group, tracks their share of the market.

It is harder to determine how many meat packages carry animal-welfare labels. There is general agreement, though, that it remains a small niche that will probably expand substantially when Whole Foods begins offering its animal-compassionate line in its 186 stores.

At one grocery outlet, at least, "certified humane" meat is selling briskly. D'Agostino, a small grocery chain in New York, said sales of meat jumped 25 percent since it added the "certified humane" logo, though the products cost, on average, 30 to 40 percent more.

Several other vendors said they believed that the animal-welfare labels have helped them in various ways. "It has probably helped sales, but it's not really recordable," said Steve Gold, vice president for marketing at Murray's Chicken, which uses the "certified humane" label. "It helps the image of what we are trying to be as a company."

Whole Foods, which recently banned the sale of live lobster amid welfare concerns, has been working on its animal compassionate standards for three years and plans to unveil its logo in a few months, as soon as auditing guidelines are established to make sure farmers are following the rules. The initiative was started by Whole Foods' chief executive, John P. Mackey, a vegan who has been increasingly outspoken on animal-rights issues.

"We want to make sure that people know that it's real," said Margaret Wittenberg, vice president for communications and quality standards. "That it's not just marketing."

But some critics say all the new marketing labels will confuse consumers who are already struggling to decide between organic and antibiotic-free, grass-fed and natural.

"I have a great deal of concern over the animal welfare or certified humane-type programs, that they are meaningful and that they don't put forth that they do more than organics," said George Siemon, chief executive of Organic Valley, a Wisconsin cooperative that primarily sells dairy products. He noted that the federal government's organic standards include animal-welfare provisions, like prohibiting cages for laying hens and requiring outdoor access for livestock.

To remind consumers of the value of organic, the cooperative's meat brand, Organic Prairie, is playing off the profusion of new labels in its advertising. "Forget the marketing buzz words," says an ad showing a package of ham with six different labels. "Organic Prairie says it all."

At the same time, others question the validity of the certification programs for animal-welfare labels because some allow farming practices like cutting the tails off pigs and allowing animals to be raised entirely indoors.

For instance, the United Egg Producers provided an "animal care certified" logo to its members that several state attorneys general said was misleading because it falsely suggested that the chickens were humanely raised. While denying the charges, the group recently changed the label to say "United Egg Producers certified."

"One needs to understand the integrity of these seals of approval," said Bill Niman, the founder and chairman of Niman Ranch, a meat company that follows what he believes are rigorous animal-welfare protocols. "If the consumer knew how the animals are being raised that are receiving these seals of approval, it's quite different than what they envision. They have this bucolic vision" that is often "quite far from reality."

The federal government generally does not regulate how farm animals are treated, nor do they verify animal-welfare labels. The government does require that labels be truthful and has established definitions for such designations as free range, natural and organic.

Instead, several animal-rights organizations now offer to certify animal-welfare labels to bolster their credibility. For instance, the American Humane Association oversees the "free farmed" program, while Humane Farm Animal Care administers the "certified humane" label. The Animal Welfare Institute plans to unveil its own label next month,

Along with Whole Foods, their animal welfare standards are each more rigorous than the industry norms. For instance, laying hens cannot be housed continuously in wire cages, which is the industry norm. And dairy cows, which are routinely raised indoors, must receive at least four hours of exercise a day. Their tails cannot be cut off either, an accepted industry practice.

Whole Foods has not yet completed its standards for dairy cows.

But there are differences among the humane certification programs, and the activists who run them argue over which program is better.

For instance, the Animal Welfare Institute and "free farmed" allow nose rings for pigs; the rings make rooting more difficult and prevent the pigs from tearing up the ground. The others do not allow rings.

Mike Jones, the North Carolina farmer, said he had no trouble meeting the standards. He has created his own version of hog heaven on 73 scrubby acres that stretch out behind the Mitchell Baptist Church.

Much of the land is divided into wire-rimmed pens in front of his house, where on a recent morning five massive sows snoozed on a thick bed of hay while dozens of pigs chased one another through the woods or nudged open feeder doors for corn and soybean meal.

While most pigs in the United States are raised in buildings derisively called "factory farms," Mr. Jones, 42, has created a farm that is decidedly low tech. Even pig breeding, which is typically done by artificial insemination, is left to the whims of nature.

As with any romance, it does not always work so smoothly. For instance, a 550-pound pink sow grunted and squealed to ward off the advances of an even larger black boar.

"He's attempting to be romantic with her, and she's saying, 'I'm not interested,' " Mr. Jones explained. When the boar bit off a mouthful of shrubs and chased after the sow, Mr. Jones remarked: "Look, he's bringing her a bouquet of flowers. I've never seen that before."

At the Whole Foods store in Durham, N.C., several customers said they would consider buying meat with the "animal compassionate" label, while others were undecided.

"To be honest with you, I don't know," said Christopher Martin, 44. "I've never thought about it before."

"I've noticed cage free," he added. "I never knew what it meant. It didn't register."

Martha Warburton, 62, said she did not have a problem with eating meat, though she also did not want farm animals to be mistreated. Still, when confronted with an "animal compassionate" label on meat, Ms. Warburton said, "I might not want to eat meat at all."

What Candy is Cruelty Free or Vegetarian or Vegan: Your Halloween List

You will see a list of vegetarian or vegan candies at the end of the article.

You can also visit our Cruelty Free Shopping Page for a list mail or web-order companies that offer cruelty free candy and food. That page can be found at - http://www.geari.org/cruelty-free-shopping-products.html

For a List of Vegan Products that can be Found on Conventional Chain Grocery Store Shelves which includes candy, cookies, beverages, drinks and snacks see - http://www.geari.org/vegan-products-conventional-grocery-stores.html

Article:

Halloween treats for your vegan ghouls, goblins

http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/ss/family/30115

By LIZ KOHMAN

Published: 10.25.2006

Vegans have no need to be scared on Halloween. Even though some candies have hidden animal products, there's still a variety of tasty treats to please even the pickiest of trick-or-treaters.

You could be trying to raise a vegan child or just want to hand out treats that don't betray your beliefs. There is a surprising amount of vegan candy available produced by vegan and mainstream companies.

Some vegan food companies, such as Sun Flour Baking Company – [http://www.sunflourbaking.com], offer vegan-friendly Halloween gift baskets of goodies.

Parents who want to keep their children vegan on this candy-filled holiday should be prepared.

Look for a vegan/vegetarian-friendly Halloween event to attend or make a game of sorting candy post-trick-or-treating. If your children are old enough to read, tell them to look for animal products such as gelatin, casein, honey, lard and pepsin in the ingredients list of the candies they collected.

Put all the candy with animal products in a special trade-in pile and have a variety of vegan candy to swap for the nonvegan candy.

TRICK-OR-TREAT CANDIES

Use this list of vegan candy as a guide:

Airheads taffy
Atkins peanut butter bars
Blow Pops
Charms lollipops
Chick-o-Sticks
Cracker Jack
Cry Babies
Dem Bones
Dots
Dum-Dums
Fireballs
Goldenberg's Peanut Chews
Hot Tamales
Hubba Bubba bubblegum
Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)
Jujubees
Jujyfruits
Lemonheads
Mambas
Mary Janes (regular and peanut butter kisses)
Mike and Ike
pumpkin Now and Later
Pez
Ring Pop lollipops
Smarties
Sour Patch Kids
Starburst (jelly beans and hard candy)
Super Bubble
Swedish Fish
Sweet Tarts
Tropical Source mini chocolate bags
Twizzlers
Zotz

Source: Peta Kids

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lead Bullets of Hunters Causing Lead Poisoning in California Condors: Populations Greatly Affected

But it’s not only other species who are affected by the irresponsible hunters. Humans are too.

“Supporters of a lead ban say hunters and their families also are at risk. Studies in Greenland and Canada have found elevated lead levels in people who eat seabirds and other animals shot with lead ammunition. On contact, a lead bullet fragments into tiny pieces and powder that disperses well beyond the wound.”

Article:

Lead poisoning eyed as threat to California condor

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-10-23-condor_x.htm


By John Ritter, USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — One of the great feel-good environmental stories of the past 30 years is the recovery of the majestic California condor, North America's largest bird, a scavenger-turned-billboard for the campaign to save endangered species.

On the brink of extinction, saved by a captive-breeding program, the condor population has grown from just 22 birds in 1982 to 289 today; 135 are in the wild and more are released every year.

Even so, condors have failed to gain a secure foothold in the hills and deserts of California and Arizona because of lead poisoning, the most often diagnosed cause of death, environmentalists say.

Environmental groups say the most likely source is condors' eating of game that was shot by hunters using lead bullets. Frustrated that most hunters have not switched to substitutes, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other groups notified California officials in July that they will sue under the Endangered Species Act to force a ban.

At a meeting of state fish and game staff this month to discuss potential hunting-rule changes to recommend, the groups again asked for a ban on lead ammunition. A decision is likely early next year. Lead shot used in shotguns to hunt waterfowl has been prohibited since the 1980s.

Andrew Wexler of the NRDC's endangered species project says, "The commissioners have a historic opportunity. It's a mystery why they've resisted a ban because the scientific evidence is so overwhelming."

That evidence isn't conclusive, says Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute, whose goal is to restore North American wildlife. "There are other potential pathways for lead," says Williams, a former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service in the Bush administration. "I wouldn't speculate on what those other sources may be." He's "happy to learn that hunters are taking action on their own" but says more study is needed.

Many hunters who have tried alternatives, mainly copper bullets that don't poison wildlife, find them as good or better than traditional ammunition, though more expensive. A high-performance copper bullet costs $2 to $2.50, about $1 more than lead.

At a "free shoot" last weekend at a range near Pinnacles National Monument in Central California — prime condor habitat — hunters and ranchers were invited to try copper bullets. In questionnaires filled out afterward, more than 90% approved.

Alternative efforts

Some groups, such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation, oppose a ban, though they support efforts to reduce lead exposure in condors and other animals that feed on carrion, eagles among them. These groups say voluntary hunting practices would achieve the same goal, including removing carcasses from the field and burying "gut piles," an animal's inedible portions.

"Clearly hunters have shown in studies that they're very willing to adopt one of those management steps," says Rick Patterson, director of the shooting foundation, which sets standards for firearms and ammunition manufacturing. He says studies have shown that some hunters resist the added cost of copper bullets.

Under the microscope

The coalition that threatened the lawsuit says a July study that analyzed blood of condors in the wild and compared it with blood of captive birds proves that lead from bullets is poisoning and killing condors.

The study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology was the first to identify a lead isotope in bullets bought at retail outlets in condor country and then match it to lead found in condor blood. Twenty of 26 condors sampled had high lead levels, and many exceeded levels toxic to humans.

"It's very analogous to situations we still encounter with kids who eat chips of lead-based paint," says Donald Smith, a professor of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who worked on the study. "The chip might be small but have very high levels of lead in it, and it doesn't take much to cause lead poisoning."

Supporters of a lead ban say hunters and their families also are at risk. Studies in Greenland and Canada have found elevated lead levels in people who eat seabirds and other animals shot with lead ammunition. On contact, a lead bullet fragments into tiny pieces and powder that disperses well beyond the wound.

"Subsistence hunters especially who hunt for most of their protein, if they have kids in the household, to me that's a significant potential risk," Smith says.

Condors, flying as high as 15,000 feet with 9-foot wingspans, spot a meal and go straight to the bullet wound, because that's the easiest place to feed. They'll eat almost any dead mammal, from a squirrel to a cow.

California's fish and game commission last year rejected an emergency ban on lead bullets, and bills in the Legislature to outlaw them in hunting died twice. Groups such as Ventana Wildlife Society urge an approach like Arizona's. The state offered free non-lead bullets to hunters last year in areas frequented by condors. Nearly two-thirds accepted them, and condor lead-exposure rates fell 40% from 2004, according to Arizona's game and fish department.

Ventana wants California lawmakers to approve $200,000 a year for five years to pay for coupons that hunters could redeem for free or reduced-price non-lead bullets. "That's a million bucks. Big deal," says Ventana's president, Kelly Sorenson. "Compared to the total cost we're spending on the condor recovery program, it's a small price to pay."

That program, involving state and federal agencies, zoos, foundations and universities, has cost at least $40 million, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.

After String of Unbelievable Cruelty Cases, Group in Utah Aims to Make Animal Cruelty a Felony

These paragraph say it all as to why this is necessary:

“A woman bringing three injured kittens to the animal shelter said her boyfriend had been getting free kittens from listings in the newspaper with the intent of hurting them.
The animals were burned and some had broken legs or tails, said Temma Martin, spokeswoman for Salt Lake County Animal Services. Martin said the woman told her she had left the relationship and would testify about what he had been doing to the kittens in court.

A Sandy man beat and kicked the 13-month-old dog in front of his wife and at least one child, then dumped the injured animal in a canal behind his house.
His wife later retrieved the dog and took it to a veterinary hospital, where it died of internal injuries. The man pleaded guilty to a class C misdemeanor animal cruelty charge and was sentenced to two months of jail - three months would have been the maximum penalty.
The case caused an outcry and propelled a bill increasing penalties through the next legislative session. But lawmakers fell short of what animal advocates say is the ultimate goal: making some animal cruelty in Utah a felony.”


Article:

Advocates hope to make animal cruelty a felony

http://www.sltrib.com/portal/news/ci_4540221?_loopback=1

A legislator says Utah is one of eight states without strong laws because of a misperception that a bill would limit hunting

By Debbie Hummel
The Associated Press

A woman bringing three injured kittens to the animal shelter said her boyfriend had been getting free kittens from listings in the newspaper with the intent of hurting them.
The animals were burned and some had broken legs or tails, said Temma Martin, spokeswoman for Salt Lake County Animal Services. Martin said the woman told her she had left the relationship and would testify about what he had been doing to the kittens in court.
''In the meantime, she moved back in with him,'' Martin said.
Martin is worried about the woman, and her concerns are valid.
The link between animal cruelty and domestic violence is becoming increasingly clear. Last April, Maine was the first state to adopt a law including pets in domestic protective orders.
''It means that the courts are acknowledging that [the abuser] may stop abusing the wife and the children, but he'll still scare everyone to death by abusing the pets in the home,'' said Frank Ascione, a psychology professor at Utah State University.
Ascione has published and lectured on the link between animal abuse and other acts of violence in the home.
''A lot of the incidents where these activities occur are in an instance of child abuse or domestic violence,'' he said. ''The animal abuse is kind of a sentinel for us indicating that there are problems in the family.''
2005, the Humane Society of Utah investigated 305 cases of animal cruelty or abuse, according to the most current statistics on their Web site.
On May 25, during a fight with his wife, a Murray man put his wife's Chihuahua-mix puppy, Henry, in a 200-degree oven. Henry suffered damage to his front paws and now limps.
It wasn't the only time Marc Christopher Vincent had hurt the dog. He was also accused of chasing and cornering the dog with a leaf blower, damaging one of the dog's eyes, which later had to be removed, according to charging documents.
Last month, Vincent, 36, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated animal cruelty; a second count was dropped as part of a plea agreement.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 6 and faces up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
The maximum penalty for animal cruelty in Utah is a year in jail if it is charged as a class A misdemeanor; it can also be charged as a lower class B or C misdemeanor. Jail time is rare.
Animal cruelty in Utah was only charged as a lower misdemeanor until the 1995 death of a Rottweiler named Dawg.
A Sandy man beat and kicked the 13-month-old dog in front of his wife and at least one child, then dumped the injured animal in a canal behind his house.
His wife later retrieved the dog and took it to a veterinary hospital, where it died of internal injuries. The man pleaded guilty to a class C misdemeanor animal cruelty charge and was sentenced to two months of jail - three months would have been the maximum penalty.
The case caused an outcry and propelled a bill increasing penalties through the next legislative session. But lawmakers fell short of what animal advocates say is the ultimate goal: making some animal cruelty in Utah a felony.
Utah is one of only eight states that do not have felony penalties for animal cruelty.
Martin hopes the cases of Henry's oven-burned paws and the injured kittens - one died, and another is still badly injured and might require skin grafts - will again build interest in getting tougher animal cruelty penalties.
''Each year it hasn't failed in the Legislature, it's just gotten held up,'' Martin said.
In the past two years, the bill has made it through the House only to fail in the Senate, said Rep. Scott Wyatt, R-Logan.
Wyatt sponsored those attempts and said there is a different plan this year.
He said he would like to see it start the process in the Senate, ''and if it can get through the Senate, I'm going to run it from there.''
He said the problem in the past has been one of misperception.
''It's an animal cruelty bill, and they assume that it's an animal rights bill and it's not that,'' Wyatt said.
Utah has a long tradition of hunting, farming and ranching, Wyatt said, and some worry that it will interfere with or limit those activities. But the bill actually strengthens exemptions for those traditions, he said.
"Then the bill takes the most serious of animal abuse, the intentional prolonged abuse of an animal, and calls it what it is: a felony,'' Wyatt said.

Typical Hunters Blast Away At Anything: Group Caught Shooting Randomly at Decoys

Typical hunters – no game at all. Just drink and blast away. Very sad. Glad they were stupid enough to fall for it. But shows you how scary these type of people are. Just let the bullets fly.

Article:

Hunters blast away at elk decoy; nine cited

http://www.jhguide.com/article.php?art_id=1049

By Cory Hatch
October 24, 2006

A young bull elk decoy in a closed hunting area off Union Pass Road looked too good to resist for a number of hunters whom Wyoming Game and Fish cited Oct. 1.

Of 29 people who slowed down their vehicles to look at the decoy, nine, or 31 percent, fired weapons at it, resulting in 19 citations and four warnings from officers.

All nine hunters fired either from their vehicles or from the road itself. A total of 30 bullets hit the decoy. "Three people shot it so many times they knocked it over," said Scott Werbelow, game warden supervisor for the Jackson/Pinedale region.

In 2002, Game and Fish targeted the same location, racking up 17 citations and three warnings. The area, called elk area 95, has a history of problems, partly because of its late opening date and relatively high concentration of animals.

This year's effort resulted in six citations for shooting from a roadway, three citations for taking elk from a vehicle, six citations for taking elk during a closed season, three citations for taking elk without a license, and one citation for transfer of license. All told, the fines amounted to $7,700.

"In this situation the decoy was in a closed area," Werbelow said. "So everyone that shot it was in violation. We had people that didn't even have licences."

"If there had been a moving part [to the decoy], we would have had more shooters," he said. "It's not like everybody that comes down the road shoots it. It's typically designed for somebody that is road hunting or going to shoot from the road."

Normally, Werbelow said, offenders deny any wrongdoing, but when faced with a decoy, they usually confess.

"It puts the game warden ... and the hunter at the scene at the same time," he said. "We typically don't have that kind of information in our job."

"Typically, people are very humble or mad at themselves," Werbelow said. "They feel bad. They can't believe that they did it."

Most of the time, a hunter's excitement upon seeing an elk overwhelms his sense of right and wrong, Werbelow said. "It's quite an educational tool. I guarantee, everybody that shot this [decoy] will think twice before they do it again."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cloned Meat and Dairy: Animal Rights Weighs In

An issue that has come to reality. This article gives a fairly good overview to the issue. I’ve listed a couple paragraphs from the article below. These give you a good idea on the animal rights side of the argument.

“Some consumer groups and individuals, for example, oppose the marketing of meat from clones because many clones die in the first days of life, increasing the level of suffering in the world. Others argue more philosophically that every animal deserves a degree of individuality and integrity that would be violated by the production of cloned replicas.

Still others called for a slowing of animal biotechnology out of concern that the techniques will lead to unethical applications in humans.

"If people become comfortable with these technologies, then human cloning is inevitable," said E.J. Woodhouse, a political science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Center for Ethics in Complex Systems in Troy, N.Y. "Proceeding very slowly is an important part of proceeding sensibly," he said.”

Article:

Religion a Prominent Cloned-Food Issue

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006
/10/18/AR2006101801713_pf.html

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2006; A09

With federal officials close to approving the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock and their offspring, experts for and against that policy said yesterday that such decisions should be based not only on the question of human safety -- the criterion used by the Food and Drug Administration -- but also on issues of ethics and animal welfare.

"These are animals. They're not just economic units. . . . They're not just machines," said Michael Appleby of the London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Among the problems raised by the new technologies are how followers of some religions will manage their strict dietary rules if, say, meat in stores is made by a process deemed sinful or contains genes from an organism they are not supposed to eat.

At a Washington conference sponsored by Michigan State University and the nonpartisan Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, speakers with expertise in biology, philosophy, ethics and theology said that scientists must be part of an "implicit social compact" to use ethical means to solve societal problems.

"We need to continue to ask the 'Should we?' questions," said Nancy Jones, a public health scientist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Many of yesterday's topics, such as "How well do farm animals deserve to be treated?" and "Do animals have species-specific natures that should not be altered?," have been simmering for years as farming practices have evolved to include artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryo manipulation. But cloning and genetic engineering, Appleby said, "sharpen the question" about how much tampering is acceptable.

Some consumer groups and individuals, for example, oppose the marketing of meat from clones because many clones die in the first days of life, increasing the level of suffering in the world. Others argue more philosophically that every animal deserves a degree of individuality and integrity that would be violated by the production of cloned replicas.

Still others called for a slowing of animal biotechnology out of concern that the techniques will lead to unethical applications in humans.

"If people become comfortable with these technologies, then human cloning is inevitable," said E.J. Woodhouse, a political science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Center for Ethics in Complex Systems in Troy, N.Y. "Proceeding very slowly is an important part of proceeding sensibly," he said.

Barbara Glenn, chief of animal biotechnology at the Washington-based Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), agreed on the importance of animal welfare.

"Does the animal matter? The answer is a resounding 'yes,' " said Glenn, who often makes the point that clones, because they are so valuable, are treated like royalty or rock stars. She said that the survival rate for clones "is approaching" that for animals produced by other assisted-reproduction technologies, and that clones that survive birth are healthy.

"They get up, nurse and run through the fields, just like conventional animals," Glenn said.

The world's religions are just now wrestling with how to respond to recent changes in animal agriculture, said Harold Coward, director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria, B.C.

"New questions have required the development of new theologies," he said.

Hindus, he said, see animals as human souls in animal form and view eating meat as "quasi-cannibalism," so they need not ponder whether to eat clones. Nonetheless, he said, while Hindu leaders have said that genetically modified plants cannot be used in religious ceremonies, they have given their blessing to the consumption of those plants and to animal cloning generally.

Buddhists have addressed animal biotechnology mostly in terms of the motivation of the scientists doing the work, Coward said, and they accept the practice if the motivation is to reduce suffering.

Among Jewish scholars, "animal biotechnology is now a hot topic," Coward said, with cloning mostly deemed acceptable but the creation of gene-altered animals seen as a possible violation of Talmudic prohibitions against cross-species "grafting."

Muslim scholars were concerned at first that cloning was an usurpation of Allah's unique right to engage in creation. But discussions have since led to an acceptance of cloning and other animal alterations, on the rationale that the human talents undergirding the work are the gifts of Allah, Coward said.

Among Christian leaders, he said, cloning is largely seen "as an act of hubris, a great sin." But change is afoot, and even the Church of Scotland has approved small experiments for which economic gain was not the prime motivation.

The motivations of corporate cloners are mixed, panelists acknowledged, but there is at least some good there, several said.

"We think of this as advancing the healthiest animals," said Glenn of BIO. "And healthy animals make healthy food."

Fur Farming Still Illegal in Austria, but Companies Continue to Sneak it in Via Goods: Activists Keep up Fight

Interesting to know that “Fur farming became illegal in Austria after the last fur farm was closed in November 1998.” So, a good sign. Yet, you’ll see that the issue still needs to be addressed.

Article:

Austria : Animal rights activists to intensify anti-fur campaign

http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/textile-news/
newsdetails.aspx?news_id=25094

October 20, 2006

A concerted effort by animal rights campaigners in spreading anti-fur message had the effect that fur shops began to close down and the fur trade decreased dramatically. Fur farming became illegal in Austria after the last fur farm was closed in November 1998.

In 2000, the fur industry began to fight back due to resurgence in popularity of fur as more general clothes stores began to sell fur, hidden as accessories and spruce. A nationwide campaign began against clothing chains which were selling the most fur.

'Kleider Bauer', a specifically Austrian chain with 50 outlets in financial trouble, changed their mind and stopped fur sales. The decision by Peek & Cloppenburg (P&C) of finally agreeing to stop selling fur by 2007 appears to have turned a trickle into a full scale rout of the fur industry in Austria.

Activists also took part in an international campaign against big clothes retailer Zara which led to the chain declaring that they would not be selling fur in any of their stores.

Activists approached all major clothes retailers to make them sign an agreement against fur and the first to sign was 'Schops', which has 124 outlets and it agreed to stop selling fur by 2007.

Anti-fur campaigners have intensified protests against those shops which are still holding out against adopting an "ethical" policy in their business dealings.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Zimbabwe’s Rangers Cruelly Kill the Animals They Are Meant to Protect: The Result Is a Decimation of the Country's Once Teeming Wildlife

Here is just one disturbing excerpt from the article below:

“In one case, rangers pumped at least 40 bullets into an elephant suspected of encroaching on a settlement in remote northwestern Zimbabwe, said the independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force in a report released Tuesday.

A witness told the task force the elephant appeared to have been "kneecapped" in the first bursts of fire. Several minutes and at least 40 shots later, a single heavy-caliber shot was heard.”


Article:

Animals fall prey to ranger chaos

http://www.currentargus.com/ci_4512107


By Angus Shaw
The Associated Press
DenverPost.com
Article Launched:

Harare, Zimbabwe - The economic chaos engulfing Zimbabwe is decimating the country's once teeming wildlife, according to a conservation group, which painted a grim picture of nature reserves staffed by poorly trained rangers who cruelly kill the animals they are meant to protect.

In one case, rangers pumped at least 40 bullets into an elephant suspected of encroaching on a settlement in remote northwestern Zimbabwe, said the independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force in a report released Tuesday.

A witness told the task force the elephant appeared to have been "kneecapped" in the first bursts of fire. Several minutes and at least 40 shots later, a single heavy-caliber shot was heard.

The animal's meat was sold to local residents, the task force said.

Another elephant was shot 16 times.

Both animals were shot in full view of "disgusted and heartbroken" tourists, some of whom vowed not to return to Zimbabwe, said the task force, which was formed in 2001 by a group of local environmental activists concerned about illegal poaching and government seizure of wildlife preserve land.

"On the one hand, Zimbabwe is trying to promote tourism, and on the other it is destroying any chances of reviving it," said the task force in its latest monthly report.

No comment was immediately available from the government or state wildlife officials.

Christina Pretorius of the South Africa-based International Fund for Animal Welfare called the situation in Zimbab we's nature reserves "outrageous. Absolutely outrageous."

"Zimbabwe wildlife is absolutely unmanaged," she said.

In total, at least five elephants were shot by rangers looking for a rogue elephant that killed a safari park caretaker in the Chirundu district in the Zambezi River valley on the border with neighboring Zambia, 190 miles northwest of Harare, the conservation task force said.

Problems with rogue elephants have increased in Zimbab we as the mighty mammals roam into villages in search of food and water.

Although no reliable figures exist, Zimbabwe's elephant population is generally thought to be on the rise, as it is in neighboring South Africa. But whereas South Africa is able to manage its herds, there is no control in Zimbabwe.

Demand for Shark Fins Soup Still High

What else can I say but that this is not good.

Article:

Sharks pay high price as demand for fins soars

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conservation/
story/0,,1862110,00.html

Conservation group criticises EU move as world populations plunge

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Thursday August 31, 2006
The Guardian

A Thai worker waits for clients outside a shark fin restaurant in Bangkok
A Thai worker waits for clients outside a shark fin restaurant in Bangkok. Photograph: Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/AFP/Getty

In the fish markets of Asia, the tailfin from a basking shark can fetch nearly $10,000 (£5,250), a price tag justified not by its nutritional value, but its desirability as a vast sign on which restaurants can advertise their shark fin soup.

Demand for the delicacy is rising fast, and at up to $100 a bowl, fisheries around the world are in open competition to supply more than 10,000 tonnes of fins to Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore every year.

Article continues
But British conservation groups warn that the high market value of shark fins is fuelling the outlawed practice of "finning", where sharks are hacked with machetes to remove their fins, often while still alive, before the carcasses are dumped overboard. The bodies, worth less to the market than fins, are discarded because they can contaminate other catches and take up valuable space in the hold.

According to the conservationists, finning is exacerbating a crisis in global shark populations, some of which have already plummeted by more than 90% since the advent of industrialised fishing. Records from fisheries published in 2003 revealed that numbers of thresher sharks have fallen by 75% in just 15 years through overfishing.

Sharks are unusually sensitive to fishing because their populations grow so slowly, a consequence of reaching sexual maturity late and producing few young.

One problem conservationists face is that sharks have such a bad public image, said Uta Bellion of Shark Alliance, a coalition of conservation groups. "Sharks have been ignored, not least because people are often scared of them. We all remember Jaws and what that did to a whole generation," she said.

Finning was made illegal in Europe in 2003, but yesterday the Shark Alliance warned of moves to soften already lax laws that will effectively render the ban obsolete. By relaxing legislation, fisheries would be able to practise substantial finning legally, a move conservationists believe will push some species, many found off the British coast, towards extinction.

The majority of sharks caught for their fins are the blue sharks, threshers and hammerheads of more exotic waters, but North Atlantic species, including the porbeagle, angel, shortfin mako and spiny dogfish - sold in British fish and chip shops as rock salmon - are also under threat.

Vessels fishing off the coast of Britain and in other European waters can legally slice fins off sharks to help store the bodies onboard, but to ensure they do not engage in finning, they can only sell fins weighing up to 5% of the total catch - a figure based on the assumption that 5% of a shark is its fins.

But the Shark Alliance claims the law is flawed and unscientific. Studies show the fins of a shark account for only around 2% of its weight, so allowing fisheries to sell more encourages finning, they claim. Inthe US, where legislation is tighter, fisheries can only sell around 2% of the weight of their catch as fins.

But according to the Shark Alliance, moves in Europe suggest the situation is set to get worse. Earlier this week, the European parliament's fisheries committee approved a report recommending the shark fin law be relaxed from 5% to 6.5%. The report was written by Rosa Miguélez Ramos, an MEP from Spain, home to one of the largest fisheries in the world that catches 50,000 tonnes of sharks per year and supplies nearly one third of all shark fins on the Hong Kong market.

Sonja Fordham of the Shark Alliance said the change would render the finning ban meaningless. "The fisheries committee's call to weaken finning restrictions signals a troubling disregard for some of the ocean's most vulnerable species.

"With this week's vote, they have essentially recommended a policy for finning at least two out of every three sharks landed, thereby betraying the intent of the EU's ban on finning and the will of the public," she said.

Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP and environment spokesman to the European parliament, opposed the move. "My fear is that if this is adopted, unacceptable fishing practices will continue and may be accelerated." He added that by the time people realised how dire the situation was the point of no return may have been passed.

Xavier Pastor, director of Oceana, a marine conservation group, said Spain must be forced to reduce its enormous fishing fleet, whose vessels and fuel costs are part-funded by taxpayers.

The alliance is preparing to lobby European ministers ahead of a full parliament vote at the end of September.

"This is a classic example of how the fisheries and policies of the EU dominate global policy and affect the marine environment around the world. If the EU permits this restriction to be weakened, it will be a license to fin and may well be actively copied by other nations," said Ms Bellion.

Tigers in India Face Extinction Unless Illicit Skin Trade by Criminal Gangs Between Subcontinent and Tibet Stopped

Keep in mind that Tigers in India make up half of the world's surviving population.

And all for selfish, vain reasons.

Article:

Skin trade could wipe out India's tigers

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conservation/
story/0,,1882517,00.html

• Pelts sold for £10,000 each on Himalayan plateau
• Campaigners say illegal trade must be stopped

Randeep Ramesh in New Delhi
Thursday September 28, 2006
The Guardian

Tigers in India, which contains half of the world's surviving population, face extinction unless an illicit skin trade run by criminal gangs between the subcontinent and Tibet is brought under control, campaigners said yesterday.

In a report the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Wildlife Protection Society of India said the Himalayan plateau had become a massive bazaar for Indian tiger skins. Pelts are sold for £10,000 each and it has become fashionable for them to be used in luxury clothes and accessories.

Article continues
Running skins across the roof of the world are organised criminal syndicates, which buy from poachers in India and send the contraband through Nepal into Tibetan markets where wealthy Chinese line up to buy feline hides and coats.

India's big cat population has been whittled away by a combination of habitat destruction, loss of prey and conflicts with humans. But this trend is being accelerated by the tiger skin trade. The result, say conservationists, has been that tigers are being wiped out in India.

Just before independence in 1947 India's wild tiger population was 40,000. It has dropped to 1,500."We have to urgently curb the slaughter otherwise we are certainly heading for a situation where India will have no tigers," said Belinda Wright of WPSI. "This is an illegal trade much like the criminal arms trade or drugs trade. It has to be controlled and stopped by specialised enforcement units."

The scale of the problem is daunting. Despite the international ban on the tiger trade and the fact that the trade is illegal under Chinese law, undercover investigators went to Tibet and filmed shops in Lhasa which displayed tiger skins for sale. They also photographed festivals where herdsmen wore Tiger skin ceremonial robes, known as chubas. Ground tiger bones, whiskers and penises are also used in traditional Chinese medicines.

Nitin Desai, a conservationist at WPSI who spent a month in China, said the team found skins in stores "sold as trophies and wall hangings for rich Chinese business people.

"We found them sold on the streets and at one fair even saw them paraded right next to police officials who are supposed to be seizing these illegal goods. One tent had been made of 108 tiger skins."

The trade has shifted to other communities. "The other minorities have no compunction about selling the skins and the Chinese are still buying."

Next week sees a meeting of the international agency that oversees the trade in endangered species.

The US has tabled a motion that would seek trade sanctions next year against India and China if they fail to combat the illegal trade. However, experts say the only way to stop "skin smugglers" is to cut off the supply of tigers from India.

It is estimated that Indian poachers kill more than 200 tigers a year, and as populations fall the animals are chased deeper into the reserves. In many so-called sanctuaries tigers have vanished.

Sariska in Rajasthan, on India's tourist trail, has been completely emptied of the big cats. India set up a taskforce last year but it has only just set up a new agency to deal with dwindling numbers.

Souvenirs Taken by Tourists Lead to Decimating Wildlife Populations

Amazing that a trinket is worth the destruction of species.

Article:

Wildlife threatened by tourist souvenirs

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conservation
/story/0,,1865375,00.html

Staff and agencies
Tuesday September 5, 2006

Guardian Unlimited

Up to 600,000 Britons have bought souvenirs made from animals while holidaying abroad in the last five years, a survey revealed today.

Elephant ivory, rhino horn, animal teeth and claws, big cat skins and reptile skins as well as coral are among the items that have been purchased by holidaymakers and brought back to the UK, according to a poll for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Of 1,804 people who had travelled overseas within the last five years it found that 26% of travellers had seen animal items for sale and 7% had purchased at least one of them.

IFAW said this represented 1.5% of all those who travelled abroad over the last five years - 600,000 people across the UK. Tourists who come home with some of these products risk heavy fines and jail terms if they are caught with them at the airport.

The group's UK director, Robbie Marsland, said: "Tourists need to remember if they don't buy, animals won't die.

"If 600,000 British tourists are bringing back parts of dead animals as souvenirs think how many millions must be dying internationally."

Many of the animals slaughtered to produce souvenirs are protected species, including elephants, rhinos, leopards and turtles, and are protected by international law, but the IFAW said there was "widespread confusion" surrounding their legal status.

Wildlife campaigner Nikki Kelly said: "Most of these souvenirs are being bought unwittingly simply because travellers are confused by the complex laws governing trade in wild animals or because they just aren't aware of them.

"Worse still, wildlife souvenirs are often sold so openly abroad many tourists mistakenly believe they must be legal."

IFAW said the trade also raised concerns about the welfare and conservation of species that aren't currently endangered. Porcupines, for instance, are being killed in their thousands to supply quills for souvenirs.

To tackle the problem, the group has launched a "Think Twice" campaign with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) to encourage people not to buy wildlife products.

In particular it will be targeting the 500,000 British tourists who make their way to South Africa each year, where it said the souvenir trade is endangering not just native wildlife, but animals in Western and Central Africa too.

The campaign has been supported by 70 MPs, including environment minister Ian Pearson, the shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, and backbenchers Ann Widdicombe and Clare Short.

Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, said he supported the campaign and would not buy wildlife souvenirs.

He said: "While some souvenirs may appear harmless often they belie a bloody trade. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in our homes.

"I hope future generations will be lucky enough to experience the thrill of seeing wildlife in its natural habitat and not through history books."

Keith Richards, from ABTA, said the organisation would brief the 6,500 travel agents and 850 tour operators it represents in the UK and ask them to give advice to customers about what they can bring back.

Mr Richards added: "Unless the travel industry acts now some of the very animals so many people go abroad to see may soon only be found on our mantelpieces or in our jewellery boxes."

IFAW said holidaymakers should look for alternative mementoes, such as local handicrafts instead of items that harm the very animals many of them had travelled so far to see.

Possession of animal goods is not illegal, only their trade, but IFAW said people who realised they had any of these souvenirs at home and did not want them could send them to the group, which would use them for educational purposes.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Iceland Resume Whaling: An Excellent Article On Whaling And The Truth Of The Issues Surrounding It: Do That Many People Really Eat Whale?

I have to say, this is probably the best piece on whaling and the issues surrounding it that I have read. Not only does it show the idiocy of the act, but also that really, it’s only done for political reasons. Very few people eat whale as, like any thinking person, they’re disgusted by it! Also, at the very end, there’s a very good list of the different species of whales and their status in terms of endangered. A must read. Overall a very disturbing situation, but helpful one that will change.

Here are some quotes from the article below that discuss the reality of why Iceland whales and the true numbers in it’s population who actually eat whale.

“And there is barely a market for the catch. In 2004, just a quarter of the whale meat taken by the Icelandic whaling fleet was actually sold. The country's industrial freezers are full of unsold whale from previous seasons. A recent poll of Icelanders by anti-whalers found that only 1% of Icelanders eat whale meat once a week or more, while 82.4% of 16- to 24-year-olds never eat whale meat. Meanwhile, the international market is saturated. The Norwegians, who maintain whaling to keep their remote northern coastal communities politically sweet, failed to meet their quota of whales last year, yet still had to turn some of the catch into pet food. Meanwhile, the Japanese are reportedly handing it out to schoolchildren.

Whaling doesn't matter very much, culturally or economically, to anyone in Iceland. But behind this decision is a real fear that if we allow ourselves to be dictated to about whaling, then the world will start telling us what we can and cannot fish. This is what is really important. The real issue is fishing, and safeguarding our fishing grounds."

Article:

Death on the high seas

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conservation
/story/0,,1925584,00.html

Iceland's decision to resume commercial whaling has made it an international pariah - and blown a 20-year moratorium on hunting out of the water. But since no one actually wants to eat whale, why are the harpoonists heading out again? John Vidal reports

Thursday October 19, 2006
The Guardian

Fishermen slaughter a 10m-long bottlenose whale / whaling
Fishermen slaughter a 10m-long bottlenose whale at the Wada port, east of Tokyo Photograph: Yoshika Zutsuno / AFP


I first tasted whale almost 10 years ago in the Faroe Islands. An unhappy hunter was getting drunk on one side of me, telling me about his urge to kill the largest creatures in the sea, and a secondary school headmaster who ran the islands' whaling association was kicking his shins under the table trying to keep him quiet. Even as the whaler slumped senseless in his cups, the plate of steaming minke arrived.

Article continues
Every mouthful was a political and cultural booby trap, every forkful an invitation to offend a nation of blubber lovers. But I was genuinely divided. The fatty blubber was, honestly, rather tasty; but the black flesh was tough and rank as old puffin or wildebeest. "Ah," said the headmaster, quite enjoying my mixed reaction. "When we eat whale, we don't eat it to enjoy. We eat it to remind us who we are." Ha ha.

Yesterday, 280,000 Icelanders were reminded who they are: pariahs of the big green world community of animal lovers. As their government announced the breaking of an international moratorium that has banned commercial whaling worldwide for 20 years, the Australian government called Iceland's decision "a disgrace", and just about every western environmental group leapt to fire cliches at them. Icelanders were condemned as "irresponsible", "unacceptable" and "insane", and the decision was "the thin end of a dangerous wedge" and "deliberately provocative". Japan and Norway, the world's only other significant-sized whaling countries, watched the reaction carefully and, despite all the outrage, may now move to follow Iceland's lead.

In fact, however, Iceland's decision has changed very little. The three main whaling countries have never accepted the ban and have been effectively whaling commercially ever since it was imposed. Diplomatically, they have called it "scientific" whaling and, under the cloak of research, have been allowed to carry on killing as before. Iceland has, since 2003, been given a "quota" of 39 minke whales a year, enabling its scientists to declare that whales eat a lot of fish and that stocks of minke and several other species in the north Atlantic are in good health. Not, of course, that there was any need to kill several hundred whales to find this out.

Iceland's decision to resume commercial whaling is probably based on fear, more than money or even self-image. Polls have repeatedly shown that 70-80% of Icelanders support commercial whaling and the government has long threatened to play the nationalist card. It also claims that the industry is economically essential to the country. This, though, is nonsense. All of Iceland's whaling is done by one company, owned by one powerful family in Reykjavik who are subsidised by the Icelandic government. While the government says it is economically essential to continue whaling, there is little evidence that it supports more than a few seasonal jobs. Indeed, whale watching is far more important to the country.

And there is barely a market for the catch. In 2004, just a quarter of the whale meat taken by the Icelandic whaling fleet was actually sold. The country's industrial freezers are full of unsold whale from previous seasons. A recent poll of Icelanders by anti-whalers found that only 1% of Icelanders eat whale meat once a week or more, while 82.4% of 16- to 24-year-olds never eat whale meat. Meanwhile, the international market is saturated. The Norwegians, who maintain whaling to keep their remote northern coastal communities politically sweet, failed to meet their quota of whales last year, yet still had to turn some of the catch into pet food. Meanwhile, the Japanese are reportedly handing it out to schoolchildren.

Sigrun Davidsdottir, an Icelandic novelist and economic analyst, says that whaling was never a major economic factor in Iceland. "Foreigners were whaling in Icelandic waters from the 15th century, even running whaling stations there. In 1916, Iceland banned whaling to protect its dwindling fish stocks. Whaling was only a seasonal activity and most products were exported. It amounted to roughly 2% of the export of fish products. As in Norway and Japan, the issue is about the right to whale.

"The Icelandic republic was only founded in 1944 - the country had been under Danish rule - and, in the Icelandic mind, the battle for independence is still going on. Whaling doesn't matter very much, culturally or economically, to anyone in Iceland. But behind this decision is a real fear that if we allow ourselves to be dictated to about whaling, then the world will start telling us what we can and cannot fish. This is what is really important. The real issue is fishing, and safeguarding our fishing grounds."

But whaling is far too important to be left to whalers. For north American, British and European environmental groups, it is now the most important symbol of man's abuse of the global commons, and arguably animal conservation's greatest global success. The commercial ban, which has prevented thousands of whales being killed, is both popular and politically important. For most western governments with active animal conservation groups, being on the side of the whales is the one time they can be seen to support green activists. Indeed, the genuine passion with which the British and American governments have fought to maintain the whaling ban is only matched by their deep ambivalence about green issues in many other international meetings.

Humans' attitudes to whales have turned full circle in only two generations. From medieval times, whales - and their first cousins, dolphins - were regarded as no more than an economic resource and were slaughtered in vast quantities for oil, meat, "baleen" and ambergris whenever they came near European or American shores. The operation was strictly coastal: watchmen manned lookout towers and when whales were sighted, rang a bell to alert the boat crews. But as boats improved, the slaughter of the whales reached epic proportions. Populations were devastated in all oceans as an unregulated industry spread around the world. By the middle of the 20th century, many whale populations were severely depleted and by 1945 it was quite likely that some would be completely exterminated within years rather than decades.

The tide turned in the 1970s with the birth of Greenpeace. Images of small boats bobbing in front of harpoonists, and individuals trying to save whales from commercial hunters were some of the most potent of the past 50 years - they spoke of opposition to authority, protection of the innocent and, especially, revulsion at previous generations' casual slaughter of life. Images of bloody whales, vivid accounts of lingering deaths and film of harpoons exploding deep in whales' flesh revolted a generation and kickstarted both the animal rights movement and international conservation efforts.

Here is Captain Paul Watson, one of the original Greenpeace activists and now of Sea Shepherd conservation society, talking about the first time he tried to save a whale: "Above us a muscular blond ape of a man swivelled a mounted 90mm cannon. Jutting out from its mouth: a grenade harpoon five feet in length, with foot-long barbed flanges pivoted on hinges. The hooked flanges were bound down with light rope, waiting for the shock of impact to unleash its awesome promise of destruction. He was concentrating on the whales, oblivious to our presence. We were proud traitors to our species with the innocence to believe that somehow, someway, we could reach our fellow man with a message to end the whale wars and to silence the harpoon cannons."

Along with the horror at how they were being killed came wonder and knowledge at how whales lived. They were given human attributes, found to sleep about eight hours a day, communicate with each other through song and give birth to a single calf. The young were found to mature late, the old to live for as long as humans.

Sceptical scientists say that this does not make them intelligent, but earlier this year new research suggested that whales and dolphins have something close to self-awareness. Bottlenose dolphins were shown to be able to recognise themselves in a mirror, a behaviour that until recently has only been recorded in humans and great apes. And some were found to carry sponges on the ends of their beaks to protect them when foraging for food on the seabed.

Mark Simmonds, director of science for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, who published the evidence, is convinced that whales are emotional, intelligent beings: "Evidence of the typically human emotions - grief, parental love and joy - as well as the existence of complex social interactions and structures are indicators of the highly developed intelligence of whales and dolphins," he says. "In one example, despite the risk of dehydration, stranding and shark attack, a group of false killer whales floated for days in the shallows of the straits of Florida to protect an injured male. Such was their cohesion and reliance upon the group that individuals became agitated when rescuers tried to separate them, calming only when reunited."

Iceland's decision to resume commercial whaling comes at the most sensitive time for international whaling in a generation and threatens to set back marine conservation many years. Earlier this year, led by Japan and Norway, 30 small and poor developing countries with no real interest in whaling gained control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the body that regulates worldwide whaling. Spurred by Iceland, it is possible that Norway and Japan will now leave the IWC and take a number of small countries with them. At the very least, the pro-whaling nations now hold the majority of votes, and the IWC is being slowly driven to abandon its conservation and welfare mandate.

Meanwhile, the whale wars are set to intensify, with the Japanese fleet preparing to head to the southern ocean in a few weeks' time to kill endangered whales, and environmentalists ready to risk life and limb to stop them. "Iceland has just changed the rules. It's going to get bloody," said one conservationist yesterday.

Endangered? A guide to whales

Northern right whale The most endangered large whale in the world; the population is estimated to be about 350 animals. It was the first whale to be protected, in 1935, but numbers have barely recovered. Prized for centuries for its oils and bone.

Bowhead whale Commercial whaling severely depleted stocks in the early 1900s. Since the mid-1960s, the IWC has classified bowheads as protected and in the 1970s they were added to the Endangered Species List. Bowhead whales live exclusively in Arctic and sub-Arctic waters.

Blue whale The largest animal that has ever lived was down to perhaps 1,000 by 1950. Hunting stopped in 1967 and stocks are recovering. The latest estimate revealed 15,000 blue whales remaining worldwide. Pre-whaling populations were estimated at perhaps 300,000 individuals.

Fin whale Too fast for early whalers to catch, but nearly three-quarters of a million were killed from the early 1900s until the 1970s. They are now highly protected and numbers have recovered well.

Sei whale The global population is estimated at only 57,000, but numbers have plummeted following Japanese hunting. More than 25,000 were killed in 1964/5.

Beluga whale Highly sociable creatures that move in large pods. Numbers stand at around 100,000. One of the commonest whales, but populations are in peril in some areas.

Beaked whale Poorly known and believed to be very rare. Beaked whales are a deep-water, deep-diving species only rarely encountered by humans.

Sperm whale Sperm whales have the largest brain and were widely hunted because of the large quantity of sperm oil in their heads, which was sold for making candles and make-up. Populations have recovered, and are now stable at around 1 million.

Grey whale Hunted to the edge of extinction in the 1850s and again in the early 1900s. They were given full protection in 1947 and they have made a remarkable recovery. In 1999, there were 26,600 grey whales

Humpback whale Among the most endangered of the great whales. Population estimates suggest 2,000-4,000 remaining in the western North Atlantic. They are popular with whale watchers, and are known as the most vocal of all whales.

Minke whale At around 10 tonnes, the minke is the smallest of the seven great whales. Norway, Iceland and Japan argue that the minke is abundant and have been killing them regularly, even though they are on the endangered list.

Pennsylvania Governor Puts Forth Measures to More Closely Regulate Puppy Mills: Measure Also Address Cruelty Conditions of Puppy Mills

These are incredible moves. Just simply adding more inspectors will help immensely. In fact, the lack of inspectors is usually to blame for not enforcing cruelty measures in any setting. Yet, he has also included new regulations which would certainly help. At the very least, this sends a signal to the cruel puppy mills that they are now being watched. Well, we’ll wait and see how it all ends. Let’s hope it’s not just another political maneuver.

Here are some excerpts from the article below the state what will be done:

“Governor Ed Rendell appointed a new head of the state's bureau of dog law enforcement, named a special prosecutor, and created a team of inspectors to police about 2,800 kennels.

New regulations, which also need approval by legislators, include doubling cage sizes; requiring all dogs to be exercised for at least 20 minutes a day, and setting minimum standards of temperature, lighting, ventilation and sanitation in the kennels.”

For more on the cruelty behind puppy mills see:

http://www.hsus.org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/get_
the_facts_on_puppy_mills/index.html

http://www.kimtownsend.com/whatisapuppymill.html



Article:

Pennsylvania moves to end cruelty at "puppy mills"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061017/us_nm/life_puppies_dc_1


By Jon HurdleTue Oct 17, 4:54 PM ET

Pennsylvania unveiled measures on Tuesday to crack down on commercial kennels that breed dogs in inhumane conditions across a state that has one of the biggest concentrations of so-called puppy mills in the United States.

To strengthen the application of existing law, Governor Ed Rendell appointed a new head of the state's bureau of dog law enforcement, named a special prosecutor, and created a team of inspectors to police about 2,800 kennels.

"We have a very serious problem with the regulation and sale of dogs in Pennsylvania," Rendell said at a news conference. "The state has become known as the puppy mill capital of the country."

Rendell, a Democrat who is running for re-election on November 7, proposed legislation that would strengthen criminal penalties for kennel owners found guilty of cruelty; allow dog wardens to seize dogs in distress, and revoke the license for 10 years of any kennel owner found guilty of cruelty.

Rendell hopes to introduce the legislation by the end of the year.

New regulations, which also need approval by legislators, include doubling cage sizes; requiring all dogs to be exercised for at least 20 minutes a day, and setting minimum standards of temperature, lighting, ventilation and sanitation in the kennels.

Other states with significant numbers of puppy mills include Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Animal-rights campaigners have protested for years against the conditions endured by thousands of dogs kept permanently in cramped and unsanitary conditions. Adult dogs are continuously bred until they reach the end of their reproductive life, and are then destroyed, according to activists.

Because of the inhumane conditions of the kennels, the puppies produced there often have health, genetic and behavioral problems when they are sold to pet stores.

Bob Baker, a consultant with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals, welcomed the Pennsylvania initiative which he said put the state in the forefront of a national effort to regulate puppy mills.

"We are delighted with the proposals," Baker said. "This is a significant step forward in enforcement, and it is significant that (Rendell) also wants to improve the regulations. No other state compares."

Baker estimated that Pennsylvania's puppy mills produce at least 200,000 puppies a year.

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