Thursday, June 28, 2007

Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Commits Act of Animal Cruelty: Straps Dog to Top of Car for 12 Hour Car Ride: Charges of Animal Cruelty

Very disappointing that he actually thought this act would be ok. I hope his power doesn’t let him get away from such a blatant act of animal cruelty.

Article:

Romney's Cruel Canine Vacation

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1638065,00.html


The reporter intended the anecdote that opened part four of the Boston Globe's profile of Mitt Romney to illustrate, as the story said, "emotion-free crisis management": Father deals with minor — but gross — incident during a 1983 family vacation, and saves the day. But the details of the event are more than unseemly — they may, in fact, be illegal.

With the 2008 campaign just months old, the G.O.P. candidate has already made some memorable misstatements

Romney's Disappointing Campaign

Viewpoint: The Republican star acts like a man on a mission, says Joe Klein, but without a shred of courage or conviction

The incident: dog excrement found on the roof and windows of the Romney station wagon. How it got there: Romney strapped a dog carrier — with the family dog Seamus, an Irish Setter, in it — to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Ontario, which the family apparently completed, despite Seamus's rather visceral protest.

Massachusetts's animal cruelty laws specifically prohibit anyone from carrying an animal "in or upon a vehicle, or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner or in a way and manner which might endanger the animal carried thereon." An officer for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals responded to a description of the situation saying "it's definitely something I'd want to check out." The officer, Nadia Branca, declined to give a definitive opinion on whether Romney broke the law but did note that it's against state law to have a dog in an open bed of a pick-up truck, and "if the dog was being carried in a way that endangers it, that would be illegal." And while it appears that the statute of limitations has probably passed, Stacey Wolf, attorney and legislative director for the ASPCA, said "even if it turns out to not be against the law at the time, in the district, we'd hope that people would use common sense...Any manner of transporting a dog that places the animal in serious danger is something that we'd think is inappropriate...I can't speak to the accuracy of the case, but it raises concerns about the judgment used in this particular situation."

Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was less circumspect. PETA does not have a position on Romney's candidacy per se, but Newkirk called the incident "a lesson in cruelty that was ... wrong for [his children] to witness...Thinking of the wind, the weather, the speed, the vulnerability, the isolation on the roof, it is commonsense that any dog who's under extreme stress might show that stress by losing control of his bowels: that alone should have been sufficient indication that the dog was, basically, being tortured." Romney, of course, has expressed support for the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques when it comes to terrorists; his campaign refused to comment about the treatment of his dog.

As organizer of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, Romney came under fire from some animal welfare groups for including a rodeo exhibition as part of the Games' festivities. At the time, he told protesters, "We are working hard to make this as safe a rodeo for cowboys and animals as is humanly possible."

Louisiana Puts Forth Bill that Will Ban Cockfighting: If Governor Signs it, Louisiana will be Last State in United States to Ban Cockfighting

Wow. I never thought I’d see the day. Let’s hope that Blanco signs it. It’s been a long hard road for those against animal cruelty.

For more on why cockfighting is wrong, see -
http://www.hsus.org/hsus_field/
animal_fighting_the_final_round/cockfighting_fact_sheet

Article:

Louisiana to be last state to ban cockfighting

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/
nation/la-na-cockfight28jun28,1,5067323.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

By Russell McCulley

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Louisiana will become the last U.S. state to outlaw cockfighting under a bill approved by the state legislature on Wednesday.

The ban, which will take effect in August 2008, follows a measure in New Mexico that outlawed cockfighting earlier this year.

Animal anti-cruelty groups in Louisiana have long sought a ban on the bloody sport, in which trained roosters battle, often to death.

But proponents of cockfighting managed to forestall a ban for years, defending the practice as an integral part of rural Louisiana culture.

Animal advocates hailed the vote as a triumph for Louisiana, much of which is still reeling from the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

"The whole country has been focused on Louisiana due to our massive rebuilding and recovery efforts, and no one wanted to see Louisiana blemished with the stigma of being the only state that still allowed such a brutal and inhumane practice," Laura Maloney, executive director of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in a written statement.

Much of the debate over the bill in this year's legislative session centered on whether to ban cockfighting immediately, which animal rights groups favored, or to allow a one-year delay to give those in the business time to sell their animals and equipment.

The impasse nearly scuttled the ban, which has widespread public support in Louisiana. Lawmakers agreed to the one-year reprieve by a vote of 91-1 in the state House and unanimously in the Senate.

Legislators also approved a ban on gambling at cockfights that will take effect this summer, a move that could effectively end the sport much sooner than the 2008.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco is expected to sign both bills in coming days.

10 Tips to Help Protect Pets on the Forth of July

As you might expect, the forth of July can be hell for cats and dogs. The tips below provide a few steps that can be taken to help alleviate the situation.

Article:

The Fourth is no fun for many pets

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07179/797658-62.stm

Thursday, June 28, 2007
By Linda Wilson Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The hiss, pop and crackle of July 4 fireworks can be terrifying or even deadly for dogs and other pets.




Online only

For more news you can use about pets, read Pet Tales Journal





Animals can be hurt by sparklers, cherry bombs and other kinds of fireworks set off in residential neighborhoods.

A lot of people don't realize that every year dogs and cats, terrified by fireworks, escape from their houses and yards. Many are never found, and some run out into roads and are killed by cars.

Warnings have been sent out by many animal organizations. The best of the batch this year comes from Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine.

"Owners need to use common sense when letting their pet join in the festivities," said Lorriane Corriveau, wellness veterinarian at the school in West Lafayette, Ind.

"Some dogs love to chase those spinning and swirling objects on the ground. Others are traumatized by loud noises. Owners can help with tricks that can be as simple as putting cotton in their pet's ears to muffle the sound."

Here are 10 tips from Dr. Corriveau:

Never leave pets alone outdoors, even if tethered or fenced. Dogs, especially, may escape and become lost. They may injure themselves by chewing or choking on their leashes. Keep small pets indoors and horses in their stalls.

Make sure all sharp objects are removed from enclosures.

Turn on the radio or TV for distraction.

Do not take pets to fireworks displays.

Do not leave a pet unattended in a car.

If a pet must be outside during July 4 festivities, make sure it is leashed or in a carrier.

Protect animals from children who may not realize that waving sparklers near a pet could upset the animal.

Keep ID tags current so the pet can be reunited with owners if loud noises cause it to run away.

Owners of dogs, cats or horses that have a history of being frightened during thunderstorms or fireworks should ask their veterinarian about administering sedatives or tranquilizers before the noise starts. Noise phobias can get worse with age.

Pick up leftover sparklers and other sharp objects when the festivities are over.

Tips come from many sources, including Going Home Greyhounds, the local group that finds homes for retired racing dogs.

Put a T-shirt that has been worn by a family member on your dog or in the dog's bed when you know the dog might be facing a stressful situation. This simple solution sometimes works wonders because the scent of the people they love can be very soothing for dogs.

So what's the deal with cats and with some of the people who own cats?

I'm talking about the endless flood of cats and kittens that are taken to animal shelters and animal rescues. I'm talking about the cats that are dumped in wooded areas and in some neighborhoods.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sporadic Postings: I’m Sorry

I started a new job about 2 months ago and I’m still catching up. I apologize and I’m hoping to get back to my daily postings soon. Please bear with me. It's killing me that I've been behind. I'm hoping to get back to my daily assured postings.

Cruel Australia at it Again: Plans Kill of 3,200 Kangaroos

Wow, once again Australia proves that it defaults to killing over any perceived issue it must face. Interesting that it’s in regard to Defense Department property. Connection between mentality…..

Article:

Animal rights activists warn of protests against cull of 3,200 kangaroos in Australia
The Associated Press

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/20/
asia/AS-GEN-Australia-Kangaroo-Cull.php

CANBERRA, Australia: Animal rights activists warned of protests after authorities Wednesday approved the cull of 3,200 kangaroos on the national capital's grassy fringes, saying the animals have become too numerous and risk starvation.

Canberra's administration, the Australian Capital Territory government, announced it would allow the Defense Department to shoot 2,800 kangaroos at one of its properties and use tranquilizer darts to kill another 400 on a second property, where shooting bullets its regarded as too dangerous to the public.

Defense officials said in a statement Wednesday that they would reveal on Thursday if they intend to go ahead with the cull.

The department argues that the 6,500 common eastern gray kangaroos that have overrun the properties at suburban Belconnen and Majura will starve if their numbers are not drastically reduced.

The defense officials and government agree that the kangaroos are also destroying the grassland habitats of endangered species of lizards and an insect.
Today in Asia - Pacific
Japan's universities fighting to attract students
Manchester City accepts bid from Thaksin
U.S. negotiator on surprise visit to North Korea

"We must care for the kangaroos as well as the threatened species of plants and animals, but our priority is to protect the rare and declining species," government official Russell Watkinson said in a statement announcing that the cull had been approved.

Pat O'Brien, president of Wildlife Protection Association of Australia, which has as its patrons the family of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, threatened to trespass at the Belconnen site if the Defense Department attempts to dart kangaroos there and then administer lethal injections.

"I'll be the first one over the fence," O'Brien told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Animal Liberation's Canberra spokesman Bernard Brennan predicted others would follow O'Brien in attempting to shield the kangaroos.

"If people feel that strongly, you can't stop them," Brennan said.

A government environmental adviser, Ian Fraser, said darting kangaroos was a last resort because the stress of capture can kill them.

"It's a very undesirable thing to do," Fraser said. "Shooting is much better, but that might not be an option at Belconnen."

Fraser said the most pressing problem was the environmental damage the kangaroos were doing to the grassland through overgrazing.

"This is native temperate grassland which is a critically endangered habitat," Fraser said, adding that there was no evidence yet that kangaroos were starving.

Editorial: Foie Gras Industry Ignores the Key Research

Normally I do not print editorials, but this one does contain many true facts.

For those who don’t know, foie gras is essentially the liver from a dead duck who was force-fed via a tube overly large quantities of foods in order to increase the liver beyond its usual size. As you might imagine it’s an extremely painful process. So, essentially, it’s hell on earth for them, and then they’re slaughtered. Quite a life.

More information on foie gras can be found at:
http://www.nofoiegras.org/

Article:

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/pa/8085072.html

Foie gras industry ignores the key research
The June 13 commentary, "Examine the facts in debate over foie gras," from the industry's public relations group, Artisan Farmers Alliance, could hardly have been more misleading.

If Nicolas Maduros, its executive director, truly wanted to "examine the facts," he would acknowledge that the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare, an independent council providing expert scientific analysis to the European Commission, found that the liver condition of force-fed birds is pathologic and force-feeding is "detrimental to the welfare of the birds."

The "only recommendation that the Committee can properly make is that force-feeding of ducks and geese should stop and that this could best be achieved by the prohibition of the production, importation, distribution and sale of foie gras," as committee member Dr. Dennis J. Alexander concluded.

The foie gras industry wants consumers to believe that force-feeding birds until their livers become diseased and engorged far beyond their normal, healthy size is "humane." Citizens and governments of 15 countries, state of California, and city of Chicago, who have all legislated against foie gras, disagree. Force-feeding ducks and geese through a pipe thrust down their throats merely for the sake of a so-called "delicacy" is clearly unnecessary and clearly inhumane.

Miyun Park

Vice President, Farm Animal Welfare
The Humane Society of the United States
Washington
mpark@humanesociety.org

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dalai Lama Reiterates Support for Animal Rights and Vegetarianism

What sticks out here is that in the past he had eaten meat (which he admits) but yet still says that vegetarianism is the way. Very good quotes as well in term of how the human animal should view the non-human animals.

As he states below:

“Hunting, beef, sheep farms, piggeries, millions, billions, die,” the Dalai Lama said. “We can be so cruel to animals.”

“Taking care of animals is essential to developing more happiness in human beings,” he said. “I appreciate Steve Irwin and his wife, Terri, all their dedication.”

Article:

Dalai Lama makes case for animal rights

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/jun/14/dalai_lama_makes_case
_animal_rights/

By Dennis Passa - Associated Press Writer

June 14, 2007

Advertisement
The Dalai Lama, right, meets the Irwin family, from left, Terri, Bob and Bindi, with a koala, at Australia Zoo in Beerwah. The Dalai Lama spoke on animal rights at the zoo built by “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

Steve Holland/AP Photo

The Dalai Lama, right, meets the Irwin family, from left, Terri, Bob and Bindi, with a koala, at Australia Zoo in Beerwah. The Dalai Lama spoke on animal rights at the zoo built by “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

Beerwah, Australia — With creatures great and small around him, the Dalai Lama called Wednesday for a halt to lab experiments on animals and made the case for eating only fruits and vegetables — all at the zoo of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhists delicately handled a Burmese python and petted a koala as he was feted like a rock star at Australia Zoo, speaking to a sold-out crowd of 5,000 at its open-air “Crocoseum.”

“Hunting, beef, sheep farms, piggeries, millions, billions, die,” the Dalai Lama said. “We can be so cruel to animals.”

Although he sometimes sparked laughter with his remarks, the Dalai Lama’s 30-minute address also had a more serious note: He criticized companies and organizations that he said “remain indifferent” to the rights of animals by experimenting on them.

Irwin, host of the TV wildlife show “Crocodile Hunter,” died last September when the barb from a stingray pierced his chest while he was diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Dalai Lama thanked Irwin’s family for their support of wildlife.

“Taking care of animals is essential to developing more happiness in human beings,” he said. “I appreciate Steve Irwin and his wife, Terri, all their dedication.”

The hourlong zoo tour was a change for the Dalai Lama, whose trip to Australia has prompted lawmakers to express concern about meetings with the man China considers an exiled troublemaker.

After weeks of hedging, Prime Minister John Howard agreed to see the Dalai Lama on Friday. Howard is anxious not to offend Beijing because Australia’s economy is closely tied to China’s booming demand for natural resources. China, which rules Tibet, has used diplomatic pressure to discourage governments from meeting with the Dalai Lama, and Beijing immediately criticized Howard’s decision to see him.

The Dalai Lama, his long red robe flapping in the wind, received a standing ovation as he took the stage at the Crocoseum on a sunny but crisp winter morning.

Some of the crowd waved Buddhist prayer flags, and about a dozen Australian native birds, including black cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets, unexpectedly flew into the stadium just as he began speaking.

The Dalai Lama described the benefits of being a vegetarian, saying he became meat, dairy and egg-free in 1965, although he acknowledges he now eats meat occasionally. He said he used to buy animals to save them from the slaughterhouses when he was a young man in Tibet.

Asked to speak about the importance of family, the Dalai Lama urged parents to show as much compassion as possible to their children, and suggested that children be taught “warmheartedness” as part of the school curriculum.

The 71-year-old admitted he’s not sure how he’d cope as a parent.

“I’m a monk, so I have no children ... but I may lose my temper,” he said with a laugh.

The Dalai Lama’s visit ended when Terri Irwin and her children, Bindi and Bob, came on stage, with Bindi carrying a koala.

“He is rather lazy ... just like myself,” the Dalai Lama joked of the koala before presenting the Irwin family with Buddhist white scarves, or katas, which are used to signal the positive start of new relationships.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Joshua Winston, Veterinarian in Phoenix, Arizona, Faces Cruelty Charges After He Hit a Five-Pound Chihuahua in the Head So Hard That He Dislodged Eye

I post this as a reminder to limit your trust.

Article:

Vet Arrested in Chihuahua's Beating

http://www.fox11az.com/news/topstories/stories/
kmsb-20070612-apjc-fetarrested.3e323f51.html

The Associated Press

PHOENIX - Arizona authorities arrested a veterinarian Monday on suspicion that he hit a five-pound Chihuahua in the head so hard that he dislodged the dog's eye. Joshua Winston faces animal cruelty charges in the June 4 incident, according to Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Paul Chagolla.

Another spokesman, Deputy Charles Scudella, said Winston had posted bond Monday night and would be released. He did not know how much the bond was.

Employees at the Sun City West Animal Hospital northwest of Phoenix reported that Winston hit the Chihuahua, named Bella, in the head three to five times with his fist.

The dog survived, but had to undergo corrective surgery.

"The eye was put back in and stitched," Scudella said. "It's a wait-and-see if the dog still gets use of the eye."

Two veterinarian technicians who said they witnessed the incident told the sheriff's office that Winston was extremely frustrated with the dog because it was uncooperative and aggressive during a visit for spay surgery.

"We trust our vets with those that we love most," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. "Most vets are good people, they love animals. I just hope this is an isolated incident, not just with this vet, but with any vet."

Winston also faces a theft charge from an incident earlier this year. Hospital employees said Winston charged a client $80 for medication he didn't give a Neapolitan Mastiff after the dog became uncooperative.

A call to the animal hospital was not immediately returned Monday.

,,,

On the Net:

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office: http://www.mcso.org/

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Inherent Cruelty of Puppy Mills / Dog Breeders Begin to be Exposed

For more on the truth behind dog breeders, puppy mills and pet stores see http://geari.blogspot.com/search?q=puppy+mills

Article:

States attempt crackdowns on puppy mills

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070603/ap_on_re_us/puppy_mills_1

By ERIC OLSON, Associated Press Writer Sun Jun 3, 1:41 PM ET

OMAHA, Neb. - Bob Baker has seen the worst of the worst in his 27 years as an animal cruelty investigator.


There was the Missouri breeder who would skimp on food by skinning dead dogs and feeding them to other dogs in his kennel. There was the South Dakota breeder who used a handsaw to amputate the leg of a pregnant Rottweiler, injured in an attack by another dog, in hopes that the Rottweiler would survive long enough to give birth to another litter.

Baker says such cases are the exception, but adds that mistreatment of dogs in large-scale breeding operations remains common and troubling.

"Most breeders learn how to keep their standards just above violating cruelty statutes, but the conditions are still unacceptable," said Baker, a St. Louis-based national investigator for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "It's difficult dealing with these people. We file charges on the most egregious ones."

State legislators across the nation are attempting to crack down on rogue breeding operations and pet sellers.

The week after the May 16 rescue of 173 dogs from the property of a Dawson County man, the Nebraska Legislature passed a law that increased the number of state kennel inspectors from one to four and requires new operations to be inspected before opening.

Puppy lemon laws, which let buyers get their money back if health or genetic defects are discovered within a set time, are on the books in 16 states and were introduced in four others this year.

California lawmakers are studying a bill that would require cats and dogs over 4 months old to be spayed or neutered, unless the person caring for them obtains a breeding license.

Laws that would tighten the regulation of retail pet shops are pending in Oregon, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and bills establishing standards for breeding operations were introduced in Minnesota and Ohio.

Mass breeding has been a hot-button issue for decades with animal welfare activists, who use the term "puppy mills" to describe the most unsavory of operations, which are usually situated in rural areas.

The Humane Society of the United States has long identified Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania as the major puppy-mill states, said outreach director Stephanie Shain.

Of the 7 million to 9 million dogs brought into U.S. families each year, Shain said, an estimated 2 million to 4 million are products of puppy mills.

The demand for popular breeds, and the high prices people are willing to pay, keep breeding operations churning, Shain said. A quick Internet search showed many puppies with four-figure sale prices, and some breeds, including bulldogs and Belgian Malinois, with top prices exceeding $3,000.

Many dog breeders chafe at the term "puppy mill," saying it is inflammatory and lumps conscientious commercial dog breeders together with the unscrupulous.

Clem Disterhaupt, president of the Nebraska Dog Breeders Association, said most commercial breeders have the animals' best interest at heart.

"We don't associate ourselves with puppy mills, but sometimes people are under the impression that if you have a lot of dogs, you must be a puppy mill," Disterhaupt said.

Disterhaupt said reputable breeders are licensed with state or federal agencies and provide adequate space, cleanliness, heat and air conditioning and ventilation.

"That's not a puppy mill," he said. "People need to distinguish the difference."

Daisy Okas, assistant vice president of communications for the American Kennel Club, said breeders, kennel operators and pet stores register all types of breeds with her organization. The AKC has 15 inspectors who visit about 5,000 places a year where significant numbers of dogs are registered.

Shain, however, said people who want a puppy should avoid pet stores and instead buy from a hobby breeder or adopt from a shelter.

Puppy mills, Shain said, damage dogs emotionally and physically because the animals are confined in tight, unsanitary quarters with little or no socialization with humans or veterinary care. Females are bred repeatedly, some when they're as young as 6 months.

The overbreeding, combined with the dismal environment, results in sickly puppies that have genetic defects and temperament problems, she said. The dogs are sold in pet stores or on the Internet to unsuspecting buyers.

Investigators such as Baker inspect breeding operations after receiving complaints. Breeders usually cooperate, but when they don't, he said, he gathers information by interviewing neighbors and observing the facility from afar.

Baker, who said he has visited more than 750 breeding facilities since 1980, said that when he finds evidence of animal cruelty, he notifies local law enforcement.

"Most abuse we see is neglect," Baker said. "They know some of the stuff they're doing is wrong, and they're embarrassed. They apologize a lot of times when we come see them. But they're blinded by the greed and money they're making off of this.

"Some start out with the right intentions. They breed a few and make money, so they get more dogs but don't put money back in. They get swamped."

____

On the Net:

Humane Society of the United States: http://www.hsus.org

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: http://www.aspca.org

Dan Piraro, Cartoonist of Bizarro – Vegan and Environmentalist

Because he’s a relatively new vegan, he has a healthy look at the subject of animal rights. Here are a few quotes from the article below that sum up his look at the issues:

“There are so many people out there that just have no idea of the impact that their day-to-day lifestyle choices have, and that was me six years ago, so you know, I’m not being judgmental.”

“Environmental and animal rights issues are so interwoven, there’s no way to separate those two issues. Vegetarianism is environmentalism. It’s all the same issue.”

“There’s is an inordinate amount of suffering caused by a person’s 99-cent hamburger... [Most people have] no idea what tremendous amount of suffering and environmental damage is being done — and political damage with all the subsidies. It just drives you crazy once you know.”

Article:

Bizarro's Piraro

http://thesuburban.com/content.jsp?sid=
20476197201962316595503958513&ctid=1000073
&cnid=1011863

By Anthony Bonaparte, The Suburban

Syndicated cartoonist Dan Piraro was in town last month to speak at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival.

Anybody who reads the newspaper comics pages is familiar with Bizarro — the surrealistic panel ‘toon with a die-hard following of fans of all that is warped.

Dan Piraro, the 48-year-old cartoonist behind Bizarro, was in town last month to speak at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival and says he’s thrilled to have such a loyal fan base.

“Every time I get an e-mail from somebody who loves my work and has been enjoying it for years ... It’s like ‘wow,’ how terrific is that?”

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Piraro debuted the cartoon in 1986 and though it now appears in more than 250 daily newspapers, Piraro says he’s not as rich as people might think.

“The one regret I have is that I haven’t made more money at it,” says Piraro, who now makes Brooklyn, New York, his home. “It’s hard to make money in syndication, but I make a living, so I’m very lucky.”

Known mainly as a cartoonist, the eclectic artist also expresses his creative freedom as a stand-up comic, painter and writer, with his latest book, Bizarro and Other Strange Manifestations of the Art of Dan Piraro, released just last year. His one-man Bizarro Baloney Comedy Show is an on-again-off-again labour of love.

“I haven’t actually done an organized tour of any kind since last year when I took my comedy show around and made my wife promise to never let me do that again,” says a laughing Piraro, who is not enamoured with lugging sets, props, costumes and multi-media equipment through airports.

All things being equal, Piraro says if he had to pick one interest over all the others, and still make a living, it would be his painting, “cause there’s no parameters, there’s no rules to it — and there’s no deadlines.”

Piraro says syndication deadlines are brutal, and were especially difficult to handle several years ago when he had to produce comics while going through the painful end of his 16-year marriage.

“It was horrible. It was the one time in my life where I really wished that I had just been an accountant. You know, something where I could just get dressed, go to work and add numbers all day. Something mindless that was simple,” he said.

”Now watch. If you print that, every accountant in Canada will be writing to me. I get a lot of hate mail.

“Trying to be creative and funny in the midst of emotional distress, when your brain won’t stop chewing on this one single issue, is just torture,” says Piraro.

Environmentalism and animal rights play a central role in his life, and the two issues are often reflected in his work. He became more ardent after meeting his second wife, Ashley Smith, a long-time animal-rights activist. Like Smith, Piraro turned to veganism when he learned more about how farm and agricultural animals are treated.

“There are so many people out there that just have no idea of the impact that their day-to-day lifestyle choices have, and that was me six years ago, so you know, I’m not being judgmental.”

Piraro often beats the animal rights drum in his cartoons, sometimes so subtly that some people might not notice — but it’s there.

“A lot of my cartoons are born out of anger. And a lot of it is just the anger of ignorance,” says Piraro.

“Environmental and animal rights issues are so interwoven, there’s no way to separate those two issues. Vegetarianism is environmentalism. It’s all the same issue.”

His anger is aimed at a media that he says doesn’t give the issue enough coverage, at politicians who turn a blind eye, and at the average citizen who doesn’t bother to get informed.

“There’s is an inordinate amount of suffering caused by a person’s 99-cent hamburger... [Most people have] no idea what tremendous amount of suffering and environmental damage is being done — and political damage with all the subsidies. It just drives you crazy once you know.”

Piraro hits the issue so persistently that he was honoured for his efforts in 2002 by the Humane Society.

Piraro also is bugged by what he sees as an American attitude toward religion that is becoming increasingly poisonous politically. But he says its a topic he’s not allowed to address in his newspaper cartoons.

“Newspaper editors are almost more skittish about religion than they are about sex. And they’re certainly more skittish about religion than they are about violence, which has always driven me crazy.”

He says he would like more freedom to do cartoons on contentious issues, but the need to be politically correct has gotten out of control. “It’s insane. I’m too embarrassed to be an American.”

The outspoken Piraro scoffs at the idea of receiving Dixie Chicks-like treatment for his statement.

The country singers’ albums and concerts were boycotted after member and Texas native Natalie Maines said the group was ashamed that the President of the United States was from Texas.

“The sort of people that follow me are embarrassed to be Americans,” says Piraro. “They’re not toothless rednecks like the Dixie Chicks followers, and I’m not that popular. It’s not like they can shut me down.”

Informed that The Suburban’s website has U.S. readers, Piraro laughed and said, “I’m sure you do, but they’re not right-wing nit-wits who would blow the whistle on me.”

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