Animal Rights Collective Blog


Circus demo/vigil schedules – spring 2014 by 1gabriela
Unfortunately, every spring semester at George Mason University signals the arrival of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. ARC – along with community members – have protested Ringling’s animal cruelty for several years and are ready to do so once again.

To read more about ARC’s anti-Ringling efforts in the past (including our past petitions, support from Student Senate & the passing of Resolution 23, as well as Mason media coverage of the demos/vigils), click here. For more information about animal abuse in circuses, particularly Ringling, please check out RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.

Contrary to popular belief, animal circuses do not provide any sort of cultural enrichment nor notion of environmental conservation; and instead, promote poaching, exploitation (both human and nonhuman), captivity, and cruel practices. Please consider lending your voice to animals.

We welcome anyone and everyone to the demos and even provide signs and materials for each demo/vigil. Please disseminate this page as well!

Below are the list of demos and vigils beginning this Wednesday, April 9th.

Meet at  Patriot Center, Fairfax VA (GMU campus), at the Will-Call area on Po River Ln, close to the intersection with Roanoke River Ln (where we always are for protests)
 

Wednesday, April 9 (opening night in FFX): Vigil at 9:00 pm

Friday, April 11: Vigil at 9:30p

Saturday, April 12: 5:30p – 8:00p (vigil for the end of one show and leaflet for the beginning of the next)

Sunday, April 13: 3:00p – 5:30p   (vigil for the end of one show and leaflet for the beginning of the next)

Thursday, April 17: 9:00p Vigil

Friday, April 18: 9:30p Vigil

Saturday, April 19: 5:30p – 8:00p   (vigil for the end of one show and leaflet for the beginning of the next)

Sunday, April 20 (Final show for them in our area): 3:00p – 5:30p  (vigil for the end of one show and leaflet for the beginning of the next)

To further emphasize the importance of these efforts, here some photos taken by ARC precisely ON CAMPUS in the last two years.

"Handler" pulls down the elephant's head with a bullhook, which resembles a fire-poker and are quite painful (Spring 2012)

“Handler” pulls down the elephant’s head with a bullhook, which resembles a fire-poker and are quite painful (Spring 2012)

"Handler" with a closer look at the billhook (Spring 2012)

“Handler” with a closer look at the billhook (Spring 2012)

Performers struggle with one of the dogs (Spring 2013)

Performers struggle with one of the dogs (Spring 2013)

Unhealthy conditions of the llamas; just look at their (lack of) fur! (Spring 2013)

Unhealthy conditions of the llamas; just look at their (lack of) fur! (Spring 2013)

"Handler" using the bullhook on elephant (Spring 2013)

“Handler” using the bullhook on elephant (Spring 2013)



GMU Coverage of Animal Rights Course by christine

Classes We Love: Course Explores Animal Rights Movement

By Jason Jacks on July 18, 2011

from “The Mason Spirit”

In one grainy movie clip, cows are shocked with electric prods to get them onto a truck. In another, stressed-out chickens are thrown into small crates as they’re being prepared for a trip to the slaughterhouse.

Gaining knowledge is not always for the squeamish, as is sometimes the case in one of Mason’s summer courses: Animal Rights and Humane Education.

Image: Paul Gorski teaches a new class about animal rights. (Photo by Nicolas Tan)

As the name suggests, the class explores—sometimes through difficult-to-watch films like the one described above—the movement to protect the other members of the animal kingdom. This is the first time the class is being offered at Mason.

Taught by Paul Gorski, an assistant professor of integrated studies in New Century College, the class touches on the testing of products on animals, the use of animals in entertainment, veganism, and animal fighting, as well as how animals are treated at large factory farms.

“I don’t see my role as preparing activists,” says Gorski, who is teaching the class as a section of NCLC 395 Special Topics in Experiential Learning. “I just see [animal rights] as a conversation in society that people are really interested in.”

This intensive two-week class is split into two sections. The first week takes place mostly in the classroom and includes guest speakers and field trips. During the second week, students spend much of their time working on class projects and meeting with Gorski online.

So far this summer, the class has visited a Maryland sanctuary for farm animals. There were also plans to attend the Taking Action for Animals conference in Washington, D.C.

During one recent class, a representative from the Humane Society of the United States spoke about the brutal conditions some farm animals endure and the increasingly popular trend of “Meatless Mondays,” where consumers forgo meat for one day a week.

On the same day, students also watched “Meet Your Meat,” a short film narrated by actor Alec Baldwin filled with hard-to-watch clips of the maltreatment of animals at some unnamed factory farms.

“I want to go home and throw everything out of my refrigerator,” one student says moments after watching the film.

Katie Isaacman, a senior majoring in integrated studies and a member of the class, has been a vegetarian since age 6. She says she avoids meat for ethical reasons, as she is a strong believer in animal rights.

“It was tough to watch,” she says of the film. “But it’s important to show people what is going on.”

A social justice scholar, much of Gorski’s previous scholarly work has focused on the more human-centric topics of gender, poverty, and racism. He is the founder of www.EdChange.org, a coalition of educators and activists who develop free social justice resources.

To prepare himself for teaching the animal rights class, he read extensively on the subject and took courses on animal protection offered by the Humane Society.

He says classes dedicated solely to animal rights are rare at universities. Those that do offer similar courses, he explains, usually do so through their philosophy departments.

He hopes his class will at least “incite interest” in students to continue studying animal rights.

“I think this class will put animal rights as a potential field of study on the radar screens of some students,” he says.

And if it goes a step further and spurs some into becoming full-fledged animal rights activists, then, “that would be great, too,” he says.



Student Government Supports Student Protests of Ringling’s Animal Abuses by Jason Von Kundra

Student Government Supports Student Protests of Ringling’s Animal Abuses

BREAKING: A few hours ago student government passed “a resolution in support of the student protest to the Ringling Brothers Circus performance at George Mason University.” The resolution cites multiple cases of animal abuses by Ringling. In 2010 alone the Ringling Brothers had numerous citations from the USDA for failures to comply with the Animal Welfare Act, including failure to maintain adequate veterinary care in two separate elephant cases and failure to control an elephant while in public.

Animal Rights Collective members spoke in front of the Student Senate of George Mason University explaining the issue and student opposition to Ringling on behalf of the collective. After a long discussion, the mostly supportive senators passed the resolution.

This is a major victory of the Mason students that have been standing up against animal abuse over the years. A petition was presented to student government with 1,667 student signatures calling for a ban on animal circuses at George Mason. You may add your name to the petition here. We plan to deliver the petition to the GMU administration in the upcoming weeks. We are currently gathering more support and raising awareness about the issue as the ‘Cruelest Show on Earth’ continues at the Patriot Center. Full protest schedule is here.

Senator Jordan and our other allies in student government are true champions in getting the resolution passed and supporting our efforts. They have stood up for what is just and right. “Animal abuse is not entertainment,” Jordan explained to the student senate before the resolution went to a vote. The resolution passed by a majority.

The student petition and the Animal Rights Collective is calling for a ban on animal circuses at George Mason. Considering that many countries are working to end the use of animals as entertainment, banning an animal circuses on campus is possible. Bolivia was the first nation to ban animal circuses, with China being second, and three councils in Australia have banned exotic animal use. The UK is currently considering a ban as well with the release of undercover footage of an Asian elephant being chained 24 hours a day and repeatedly beaten by a staff member. The parliaments of both Brazil and Peru are also considering similar bans. We can bring a ban to Mason and as Jordan advocates, “support animal-free circuses that celebrate human achievement” rather than animal domination.

You can read Resolution 23, the resolution in support of students protesting Ringling, below or check the student government website where the resolution will soon be uploaded.

—–

A Resolution in support of the student protest to the Ringling Brothers Circus performance at George Mason University

R. 23

 

31st Student Senate

2nd Session

R. 23

A Resolution in support of the student protest to the Ringling Brothers Circus performance at George Mason University

IN THE STUDENT SENATE OF

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

April 14, 2011

 

Submitted by Chairman Jordan (Diversity)

RESOLUTION 23

A Resolution in support of student protests to the Ringling Brothers Circus performance at George mason University

Be it resolved that the Student Senate of George Mason University-

Whereas, there are numerous documented cases of animals dying due to lack of veterinary care

Whereas, many animals have died due to poor containment facilities,

Whereas, there are numerous documented cases of unsanitary feeding conditions,

Whereas, of the circus’s 62 elephants, 57 have been taken from their natural habitat,

Whereas, the type of elephant used in the Ringling Brother circus performances are endangered and are subject of numerous cases of mistreatment,

Whereas, the protesters do not wish George Mason University to profit from animal abuse

Therefore be it Resolved, That the Student Senate of George Mason University supports the efforts of student protesters of the Ringling Brothers Circus at the George Mason University Patriot Center



Victory! North Carolina Lab Surrenders Animal Testing Victims by christine

Professional Laboratory and Research Services Undercover Investigation

Investigation Report from PETA

Investigation Victory: Just one week after PETA released the results of its shocking undercover investigation of North Carolina–based contract animal testing facility Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc. (PLRS) and filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), PLRS is surrendering nearly 200 dogs and dozens of cats and shutting its doors for good. This is a monumental victory and the first time that a laboratory has been forced to surrender animals and close under pressure on the heels of a PETA investigation and while facing a formal USDA investigation.

For nine months, a PETA investigator worked undercover inside the filthy, deafeningly loud kennels of Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc. (PLRS). Inconspicuously tucked away in rural North Carolina, PLRS takes money from huge pharmaceutical companies to test insecticides and other chemicals used in companion animal products. Bayer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Schering-Plough (now Merck), Sergeant’s, Wellmark, and Merial, the maker of Frontline flea and tick products, are some of the corporations that have paid PLRS to force-feed experimental compounds to dogs and cats and smear chemicals onto the animals’ skin.

PETA’s investigator found that toxicity tests were just part of what the animals endured. Laboratory workers appeared to despise the animals in their care—they yelled and cursed at cowering dogs and cats, calling them “asshole,” “motherfuckers,” and “bitch”; used pressure hoses to spray water—as well as bleach and other harsh chemicals—on them; and dragged dogs through the facility who were too frightened to walk.

Video evidence shows that terrified cats were pulled from cages by the scruff of the neck while workers screamed in their faces and that a cat was viciously slammed into the metal door of a cage. One worker grabbed a cat and pushed him against a chain-link fence. When the cat fearfully clutched at the fencing with his claws, the worker jerked him off the fencing, saying she hoped that the cat’s nails had been ripped out.

Dogs at PLRS may spend years in cages, either to be used repeatedly in tests or to be kept infested with worms for some future study. They are just like the dogs we share our homes with, but they live day in, day out without exercise or enrichment, companionship, a scratch behind the ears, or even a kind word from the only people they ever see.

Many dogs had raw, oozing sores from being forced to live constantly on wet concrete, often in pools of their own urine and waste. Workers didn’t even move the dogs when they pressure-sprayed the runs, frightening the animals; soaking them with water, bleach, and soap; and exposing already painful sores to harsh, irritating chemicals.

PLRS didn’t bother to keep a veterinarian on staff. Instead, it chose to bring its primary veterinarian in for only one hour most weeks. Animals endured bloody feces, worm infestations, oozing sores, abscessed teeth, hematomas, and pus- and blood-filled infections without receiving adequate veterinary examinations and treatment. Sometimes, the conditions were ineffectively handled by workers who had no credentials or veterinary training.

After a supervisor gave one dog an anesthetic that was past its expiration date (and likely administered too little of it), the supervisor pulled out one of the animal’s teeth with a pair of pliers. The dog trembled and twitched in apparent pain, and the supervisor continued with the procedure despite the dog’s obvious reaction. Workers repeatedly cut into one dog’s tender, blood-filled ear, draining blood and pus but never treating the underlying cause of the dog’s suffering and apparently causing the ear to become infected.

Dogs were intentionally subjected to worm infestations for tests, but conditions were so sloppy that dogs who weren’t supposed to be part of the study also became infested and were then left untreated.

In one test commissioned by a corporation whose products are sold in grocery and drug stores nationwide, a chemical was applied to the necks of 57 cats. The cats immediately suffered seizures, foamed at the mouth, lost vision, and bled from their noses. Despite this, the substance was put on the cats a second time the very same day.

To cut costs, PLRS killed nearly 100 cats, rabbits, and dogs. The company had decided that some of these animals’ six daily cups of food were too expensive.

Federal oversight of horrendous facilities such as PLRS is virtually nonexistent. In preparation for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector’s annual visit, which PLRS staff knew to expect in June or July, PLRS employees painted over the rusty surfaces that the USDA had warned them about the previous year and reported that ailing animals had conditions that might merit veterinary care—which the facility’s attending veterinarian reportedly advised she would not provide—so that PLRS staff would be “covered” from blame should the inspector inquire about the animals’ condition. The inspector’s 2010 visit to PLRS, which housed approximately 400 animals at the time, lasted two hours and 15 minutes.

PETA has filed complaints with federal and state agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and local law-enforcement authorities.

UPDATE: North Carolina Lab Animals Saved! Charge Their Abusers

They are safe. Nearly 200 dogs and 54 cats — tortured by lab staff who kicked, slammed and dragged them — now have a chance to heal.

9/18/10 – KINSHIP CIRCLE

Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. (PLRS) in Corapeake, North Carolina was forced to close and surrender its “test subjects” after a PETA investigation uncovered diseased and wounded dogs, cats and rabbits. Over 9 months, PETA’s investigator recorded staff brutally mishandling terrified animals. One worker used pliers to wrench teeth from a frantic dog. Another tried to pull out a cat’s claws.

PLRS closure is a portal to the routine abuse that occurs in ALL labs. Animal experimentation itself causes creatures to convulse, bleed, stagger, die. Imagine being overdosed with poison or cut apart while restrained. There isn’t one animal experiment today that couldn’t be replaced by non-animal research tools. But animals come cheap and old habits die hard.

ALL PHOTOS show staff at Beagles to the Rescue (VA) taking in abused dogs from the now shuttered PLRS research lab. SEE NEWS VIDEO.

But for PLRS animals, there is hope. Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) — working with about 12 regional shelters/rescues — have taken in the lab’s surviving dogs and cats. At this time, Kinship Circle does not know the fate of any rabbits. We do know that PLRS killed rabbits upon conclusion of experiments.

Shelters & Rescues with dogs and cats from PLRS:

**  Most animals will be in quarantine and rehab before available for adoption/foster.
**  Contact shelters below to inquire about animals rescued from PLRS.
**  Check shelter websites for updates, as information is limited right now.
**  As of 9/18/10: No mention of where rescued cats went, only the dogs.

Associated Humane Societies (NJ) — 973-824-7080
http://www.ahscares.org/

Beagles to the Rescue (VA) — 757-204-4411 (4 beagle girls)
http://www.beaglestotherescue.org/home.cfm

Carteret County Humane Society (NC) — 252-247-7744
http://www.cchsshelter.com/

Elizabeth City SPCA (VA) — 757-344-3033 (15 PLRS animals)
To adopt or foster these animals, contact Sabrenna or John at 252-338-5222
http://www.spcaofnenc.org/

Guilford County Animal Shelter — 336-297-5020
http://www.adoptshelterpets.org/

In Dogs We Trust (FL) — 561-400-7732 (18 PLRS dogs)
http://www.floridadogadoption.com/
Nicole@trustthedog.com

Norfolk SPCA (VA) — 757-622-3319 (38 PLRS dogs)
http://www.norfolkspca.com/

Triangle Beach Rescue (NC) — info@tribeagles.org
http://www.tribeagles.org

Virginia Beach SPCA (VA) — 757-427-0070
http://vbspca.com/modules/vbspcainfo/category.php?categoryid=1

Wake County Animal Control/Adopt. Ctr. (NC) — 919-212-7387
http://www.wakegov.com/pets/shelter/default.htm
animalcontrol@wakegov.com

Wake County SPCA (NC) — 919-772-2326
http://www.spcawake.org/site/PageServer

Washington Animal Rescue League (DC) — 202-726-2556
http://www.warl.org
adopt@warl.org



Over 100 GMU Workers Strike by christine

from the SEIU blog | by Ashley Wood

Sodexo’s most recent retaliation against workers was the last straw at George Mason University. On Wednesday, more than 100 food service workers at GMU went on strike to protest the unsafe working conditions they’ve experienced while on the job. The workers say Sodexo has responded to their demands with retaliation instead of providing the proper protective equipment.

Last week, when workers and students at the Virginia school delivered a petition to Sodexo management raising health and safety concerns, Sodexo responded by changing the assignment of one worker leader of the delegation so she would no longer have contact with students.

Yesterday, Sodexo workers stood up for their rights at GMU and voted to walk off the job to protest workplace injuries and Sodexo’s attempt to intimidate them.

“We are tired of getting burned and injured on the job,” said Christela Moreno, who has worked since 1989 for Sodexo. “We want safe jobs and we want our union, but when we speak up, management tries to scare and intimidate us. That’s why we’re on strike.”

Workers have already protested Sodexo last spring at GMU, after facing intimidation for supporting a union. And wages for GMU workers are so low, most of them cannot afford Sodexo’s expensive health insurance – making safe jobs and union contracts necessary to improve their lives.

GMUStudents_SDXStrikeSept2010.jpgSince 2000, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and various state workplace safety agencies have found 160 violations and levied penalties of more than $200,000 against Sodexo for health and safety problems at its various worksites across the country.

“Sodexo workers shouldn’t go to work fearing that they might end up in the hospital,” said Jaime Contreras, 32BJ District Director. “Last year the company made $1 billion in profits, and workers are simply asking the company to provide good jobs with basic safety protections.”



Another Orca Death at SeaWorld by christine
September 9, 2010, 11:33 pm
Filed under: AR News, News, Use Your Voice! | Tags: , , , ,

Yet another captive orca, Sumar, has died in captivity, once again at a SeaWorld faciity in San Diego. Sumar, the son of Tilikum, the orca who killed trainer Dawn Brancheau earlier this year, died after being lethargic the day before he passed away. SeaWorld uses Tilikum as one of their prime studs, as if they’re running a “whale mill” like one would run a puppy mill. Zoe magazine writes that, “According to SeaWorld, Sumar, an orca dolphin at the entertainment company’s San Diego seaquarium, began acting lethargic on Monday and was given antibiotics. Next day, he was dead.”

SeaWorld calls these sorts of death “mysterious” and “unexpected.” There’s nothing mysterious and unexpected about the death of animals who are exploited for the big business of aquariums. They’re continually stressed and treated as if they’re robots, there to entertain the public by performing stupid and unnatural tricks and to make babies who are transferred here and there at the whim of the facilities that continue to exploit them with no regard for the natural social relationships these animals develop and maintain for long periods of time.

Please write SeaWorld and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and urge them to place killer whales and other cetaceans in sanctuaries where they can live out their lives in dignity. Shame on SeaWorld for irresponsibly continuing to exploit orcas and other sentient beings for filling their own pockets.



Victory: EU Bans Testing on Great Apes! by christine
September 9, 2010, 11:23 pm
Filed under: AR News, News, Video | Tags: , ,

From The PETA Files:

There’s great news from across the Atlantic, where the European Union has voted to ban the use of great apes in experiments. The new legislation also places significant restrictions on testing on other primates and requires that non-animal methods be used whenever possible.

This is an exciting development—but it also raises a question: In light of this humane advance, how can the U.S. government justify its plans to transfer more than 200 “retired” chimpanzees from a facility in New Mexico to a research laboratory in Texas, where they’ll probably be forced to endure cruel experiments?

There is no excuse for it, of course, so please help us persuade officials to permanently retire the chimpanzees to a sanctuary.

Posted by Jeff Mackey

New EU Rules on Animal Testing Ban Use of Apes

from AFP

STRASBOURG — Europe banned the use of great apes in animal testing Wednesday as part of drastically tightened rules to scale back the number of animals used in scientific research.

After two years of heated debate on how to protect animal welfare without scuppering scientific research, the new limits, updating regulations from 1986, were adopted by the European Parliament despite objections from Green MEPs.

Under the new legislations, experiments on great apes such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans are to be banned and “strict” restrictions set on the use of primates in general.

Members of the 27-nation bloc, who are given two years to comply with the rules, also need “to ensure that whenever an alternative method is available, this is used instead of animal testing.”

And they must work at “reducing levels of pain inflicted on animals.”

Proponents of the abolition of animal testing objected that the new rules failed to go far enough.

“Animals will still be used as guinea pigs,” said the Greens in a statement. “They will still suffer pain.”

“It is possible to reduce the number of animals used for science without hindering research,” added Belgian Green Isballe Durant.

But Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli dubbed it “a good compromise on a difficult topic.”

“Today we have the chance to bring the EU to the forefront by caring for animals and protecting science,” he said.

Other MEPs said the demands of scientific research came over and above animal welfare.

“An animal’s an animal and a human being’s a human being,” said Italian conservative Herbert Dorfmann.

“Medical progress is crucial to humanity and unfortunately, to achieve this progress there must be animal testing.”

The legislation notably allows the use of primates in testing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, cancer or Parkinson’s disease if there is scientific evidence that the research cannot be achieved without using these species.

To avoid repeated suffering by an animal, it lists different categories of pain that may be inflicted during a test (non-recovery, mild, moderate or severe) and proposes that the same animals be reused only if the pain is classed as “moderate,” and provided a vet is consulted.

At the moment some 12 million animals are used each year in scientific experiments in the EU.

The legislation calls for government inspections on a third of national laboratories that use animals, some of which must be unannounced.

Last year the European Union banned the testing of animals for developing cosmetics, except for long-running toxicology tests which will be banned altogether in 2013.



Updates on the Recall: Wright County Egg’s Filthy Conditions by christine
September 9, 2010, 10:22 pm
Filed under: AR Alert, AR News, News, Vegan | Tags: , , ,

Chickens in battery cages

After a half billion bad eggs get released, the FDA reveals filthy conditions of Wright County Egg

BY Tom Philpott (from Grist) | 31 AUG 2010 4:07 PM

There’s nothing like a good salmonella outbreak to inspire FDA inspectors to deliver blunt, graphic reports from inside the industrial food system. When future historians marvel at the fetid, festering underbelly of our food culture, they will relish these post-facto dispatches from the biohazardous front.

Back in 2009, a company called Peanut Corporation of America sparked a massive recall involving 4,000 products put out by 360 companies. Nearly 700 people fell ill, half of them children, and nine died. The cause: salmonella-tainted peanut paste. The FDA’s after-the-fact investigation [PDF] of the massive Georgia plant makes riveting reading (for the strong of stomach): moldy water seeping directly into “finished product”; cockroaches running around; processing machinery that routinely went uncleaned, etc. Most shocking of all, the company had several times detected the presence of salmonella in finished product based on its own testing — and sent it out anyway.

Well, the FDA has now competed its post-event investigation of the Iowa egg factories that spawned 550 million salmonella-tainted eggs and have sickened at least 1,500 people. The factories in question are run by Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, two of the 10 largest egg producers in the United States. Again, at least for connoisseurs of the grotesque, the results make a fantastic read.

Turns out, the Wright County and Hillandale egg operations, whose products end up on supermarket shelves across the country, are salmonella-ridden, dilapidated hovels characterized by rodent infestations, flies, and, everywhere, feces —  both from the laying hens themselves and from wild birds scrounging for free feed.

There are some choice images in the report. To wit, “Dark liquid, which appeared to be manure, was observed seeping through the concrete foundation to the outside of the laying houses at the following locations.” It goes on to name 10 different laying houses, each of which contained hundreds of thousands of birds.

My favorite image of all is this one:

Uncaged birds (chickens having escaped) were observed in the egg laying operation in contact with the egg laying birds … The uncaged birds were using the manure, which was approximately 8 feet high, to access the egg laying area.

If I am envisioning the scene correctly, escaped hens had climbed atop vast shit mounds in order to be high enough to get their beaks into the feed within the cages.

Cross-contamination between the laying houses was evidently rife. “Employees working within the houses did not wear or change protective clothing when moving from house to house,” the FDA inspectors report. “An employee at Layer 6 House 3 was observed walking out of House 3 with a metal scraper and into House 2 without changing protective clothing and without sanitizing equipment between the houses.”

Industrial agriculture is often criticized for wiping out biodiversity — species, whether corn or hens, are raised in vast monocrops. But at Wright County Egg, biodiversity of a certain kind thrived. Inspectors observed between “two and five mice” scampering around at no fewer than 12 laying houses. “Live and dead flies too numerous to count” appeared at 19 houses; and at one house, “live and dead maggots too numerous to count were observed on the manure pit floor.”

If you’re worried about avian flu, you won’t be impressed with Wright County Egg’s efforts to keep wild birds from mingling with laying hens. “Non-chicken feathers” were observed inside one laying house. In another three, “wild birds were observed flying inside.” In an “air vent where the screening was damaged,” pigeons roosted. Gaps and holes in the structures of the laying houses, large enough to let in rodents and wilds birds, are evidently a fact of life. The report complains of “holes in exterior siding, missing siding, holes and/or gaps in the concrete foundation, and air vent screens either missing or damaged.”

Then there’s the whole topic of the facility’s feed mill, which the FDA has fingered as the likely source of the salmonella. Here, the sins of Wright County Egg’s management seemed to combine sinisterly into a virtual incubation house for pathogens. Atop vast mounds of corn destined for the mill, “birds were observed roosting and flying.” Wild birds were so at home that “nesting material was observed in the feed mill … ingredient storage and truck-filling areas.”

And when the inspectors took swabs in and around the mill, they routinely found salmonella. They also found it in the manure mounds building up under the laying houses.

One thing the report doesn’t comment on is the environmental impact of Wright County Egg’s manure management. If the company did such a rotten job keeping its hens from coming into contact with shit, what kind of job did it do keeping that salmonella-rich stuff from seeping into surrounding streams?

At any rate, the conditions described by FDA are wretched and can be counted on to produce biological menaces, salmonella outbreaks counting as just a minor example. The prevailing conditions there will be largely read as the villainy of a single man, Wright County Eggs’ owner, Jack Decoster. Now, Decoster is no doubt quite a piece of work; but as I will show in a later post, his brand of doing business is really the logical outgrowth of a food system that rewards cost-cutting above all else.

What’s the answer? GO VEGAN!

Egg Recall Action Alert: What’s inside your egg carton (aside from salmonella)?

From COK.net

As the U.S. faces the largest egg recall in our nation’s history—more than half a billion eggs have been recalled due to the risk of Salmonella—the hard-boiled truth of egg production is starting to make headlines. All the eggs in question were produced on large-scale egg factory farms where hens are crammed inside tiny wire cages that are so restrictive, they can barely even move.

Sadly, such intensive confinement, which causes tremendous animal suffering, is not only standard practice in the egg industry, but studies suggest that keeping hens in cages increases the risk of Salmonella infection in hens, their eggs, and consumers who eat eggs from caged birds. Read the “Food Safety and Cage Egg Production”report by the Humane Society of the United States for more details.

Not only is the egg industry cruelly confining more than 250 million laying hens and putting consumers at health risk, it’s also deceiving those consumers through the rampant use of misleading labels and images on cartons.

To many consumers’ surprise, there are no federal regulations governing the use of animal welfare claims on egg cartons, including “naturally-raised” and “free-range,” enabling producers to mislead consumers with false or exaggerated claims, such as images of hens freely roaming around outside—even if those eggs come from hens forced to spend their lives in misery inside wire battery cages.

In 2006, Compassion Over Killing filed a federal rule-making petition with the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to mandate egg-production labeling on egg cartons, including the clear identification of “eggs from caged hens.” Similar consumer protection practices are already in place throughout the European Union and in Australia. Consumers—and hens—in the U.S. deserve the same.

ACT NOW: Read more about this Truth in Egg Labeling effort and contact the FDA today.



Gulf Coast Disaster: BP’s Wildlife Victims by christine

Are BP’s Wildlife Victims Better Off Dead? (!!!)

by Stephanie Feldstein | June 09, 2010

Silvia Gaus, a biologist at Germany’s Wattenmeer National Park, says the oil-covered birds in the Gulf of Mexico should be killed, not cleaned.

It can take up to four people and 300 gallons of water, plus a lot of Dawn dish soap and dedicated volunteers to rehabilitate and release one bird. After the Exxon Valdez spill, it cost nearly $32,000 per bird to send them home. And, according to Gaus, all that effort still leads to a near certain and painful death for the animals.

When oiled wildlife is rescued, it’s the proverbial race against time. Some of the animals will have already ingested too much oil, and no amount of Pepto Bismol (force-fed to oil-covered animals to protect their stomachs) can save them. For others, the stress of the cleanup operation will prove fatal. If they make it through the rehabilitation, many of them will die within a few days of being released into the wild, often from kidney and liver damage. The trauma of oil exposure may also alter their behavior and reproduction, which will impact their chances of survival. According to Gaus, studies show that the middle-term survival rate of oiled birds is less than one percent.

So, why bother?

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network answers that question by taking a look at mortality, long-term value to the species, and cost. They say, depending on the spill, they’re able to release 50-75 percent of live animals rescued from the oil back into natural habitats.

As for what happens next, they admit survival rates are low, but they don’t have quite as much faith in the stats as Gaus. Animals seem to be faring better than previous studies have shown, but overall, post-release survival is “a critical knowledge gap in understanding the overall effects of oil in wildlife.” That’s part of the reason why we need to keep trying — we’ll never improve survival rates if we rush to kill the animals instead of finding out what might save them. And the animal care protocols for organizations like OWCN include ongoing monitoring and intensive medical management of released wildlife to help prevent those painful post-release deaths.

Some argue that we should only expend these kinds of resources on threatened or endangered species impacted by oil, like the Louisiana brown pelican, who was just removed from the endangered species list in November. The BP oil spill has put the birds at risk of making back onto the list in less than a year. In theory, rescuers could focus all of their energy on the brown pelicans, and similarly threatened species. In reality, all of the animals are collected anyway, and every one of them provides the opportunity for training, research and, most importantly, saving a life.

But $32,000 per bird? It’s a lot of money, but in the Exxon Valdez cleanup, wildlife recovery and rehabilitation accounted for less than five percent of the total cost of the oil spill response. So, when you’re looking at the big picture, wildlife rescue costs are not the problem in the wake of an oil disaster.

While it’s impossible to put a price tag on what the life of one animal means for its species or the ecosystem, cleaning wildlife is undoubtedly a better use of money than BP’s $50 million in TV ads to clean up their image.

Photo Credit: AP Photographer Charlie Riedel filed the following images of Brown Pelicans and other seabirds caught in the oil slick on a beach on Louisiana’s East Grand Terre Island, June 3 2010. See more images.

Learn More:

BP Tries to Block Photos of Dead Wildlife

Why Ken Salazar Should Take the Fall for the Oil Spill

Official oil spill estimate doubles to 20,000-40,000 barrels per day



WVBS for Gulf Coast Wildlife by christine

ARC had a small Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in the midst of finals. We still had some yummy vegan treats though, including mini banana bread loaves with coconut topping, organic apple muffins, toasted coconut or vanilla cupcakes, and “buttery” chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies. The proceeds went to grassroots wildlife rescue along the Gulf Coast in response to the devastating BP oil spill. Thanks to everyone that donated and helped out! This oil spill is far worse that the notorious Exxon-Valdez spill of 1989, releasing that same amount of oil as that disaster – every four days! Find out more, and boycott BP!

Donate to wildlife rescue efforts in the Gulf coast!

Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research and the International Bird Rescue Research Center.

A Brown Pelican being washed at the Fort Jackson, Louisiana rescue center. Photo from Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue Research Center.

The National Geographic Channel will air a documentary on the Deepwater Horizon blowout which sent oil gushing towards the coastlines oof Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama. “Gulf Oil Spill,” Thursday May 27th at 9pm, more info.