Animal News (other than cats)

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Very soon I will be announcing a new wine that is going to feature rescue kitties that Black and Orange Cat Foundation helped. The wine, produced by Eldchrist Winery here in Plain City, showcases B and Mittens, feline brothers who went through one of our clinics. The owners of the Winery wanted to give back to us, so a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their “Kitten’s Kiss” wine will go to Black and Orange to help support our sterilization efforts. We’ll let you know more about that as soon as the wine is released. We have tasted the wine and it is SUPER!

But for now, we want to tell you about these wines by Carivintas Winery which honor the Vicktory Dogs, the dogs used in Michael Vick’s dog fighting horrors. The wine labels showcase portraits of the various Vicktory dogs, as well as an inspiring story about the featured dog. Because Best Friends Animal Sanctuary helped save the Vicktory dogs and found homes for them, the Winery is offering a Vicktory Dog Wine of the Day at a discounted rate with 25 percent of the proceeds going to Best Friends.

To see all of the Vicktory Dogs Wines and order yours, go to: http://www.dogloverswineclub.com/vicktorydogs?orderby=PXPC.DisplayOrder%20Asc,%20P.ProductName%20ASC&startrow=1

You can also become a part of the Wine Club and have wines shipped to you monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. The Carivintas Winery not only has a Vicktory Dogs Wine Club, but one for Dog, Cat, and Horse Lovers. I entered our neighbor in the Dog Lovers Wine Club last year (and again this year) and it was probably the best gift she has ever received. She is always so excited now when the mail comes (even if it isn’t time for her wine shipment)! The Winery supports animal shelters and rescue groups across the country and proudly touts this on their site.

You can also order art prints of the animals that were featured on wine labels or create your own label featuring your companion animal. How cool would that be? To have a bottle of wine with your fluffball’s face peering out at you!

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And check out their other merchandise, including a weiner dog wine holder:  http://www.dogloverswineclub.com/index.cfm?method=storeproducts.showList&productcategoryid=adca6e43-f484-6de8-3a4f-b8cb3c0aada6

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For all of us here in Ohio who are fighting the Puppy Mill fight, I love these t-shirts. And not only are they cool and express all our thoughts on puppy mills, $5 from the sale of each t-shirt also goes toward the Best Friends’ Puppies Aren’t Products campaign.

To purchase your own t-shirt and others, with slogans such as “Fairy Dogmother” and “Mom-of-A-Bitch” visit the Fleas Please web site: http://fleasplease.com/

And to read more about Best Friends’ Puppies Aren’t Products, visit: http://network.bestfriends.org/campaigns/puppymills/default.aspx

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I thought that since we are coming up on the holiday gift giving season, I would try to alert everyone to unique gift items that I come across that not only would be very appreciated by any animal lovers in your life, but would also give back to various charitable rescue organizations. Not only do you give a great gift, but you also support rescue work. It is a winning situation for everyone.

The first place I’d like to direct everyone to is the Dogs Deserve Better web site. They have a ton of cool and very uplifting items for sale that help them promote their work of getting dogs off of chains and into homes. I had a very nice email from Dawn Ashby who is the Illinois rep for the group. She had read the story I posted about Squanto, the chained deaf dog who was killed when he was run over by a grain semi. She thought many of us might be interested in Dogs Deserve Better’s new book, Unchain My Heart, Dogs Deserve Better Rescue Stories of Courage, Compassion, and Caring. The book is edited by DDB Founder Tamara Ci Thayne and Dawn. It is made up of happy endings–all the joyous rescue stories DDB has been able to help with. I have already ordered my copy, which I will pass along to our area library when I have finished reading it. And I also bought one for my friend who helped me try to save Squanto’s life.

To order your copy go to: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/unchainmyheart.html

Besides this wonderful book, the site also offers other lovely stuff for those involved in rescue work, such as the “Release Your Joy This Holiday Season” greeting cards (I used this image in the story about Squanto) and Rescue Angel Temporary Tattoos.

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To order the tattoos: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/rescuetemptattoos.html

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Or the greeting cards: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/rescuetemptattoos.html

There are lots of other great gift items in the Dogs Deserve Better store, including shirts, hats, and children’s books that we know the dog lovers (and cat lovers) in your life will enjoy. And your purchases will help this group continue their important work.

To see everything in the store, including one of my very favorite children’s books, Buddy Unchained, the story of a chained dog who finally gets to experience life in a home, go to: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/store.html

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Our good friend, Susan, and her puppy mill pup, Jimmy, who lost his leg due to the horrific conditions in the cage he was in.

Our good friend, Susan, and her puppy mill pup, Jimmy, who lost his leg due to the horrific conditions in the cage he was in.

There is an excellent book called “A Rare Breed of Love” by Jana Kohl, that documents the story of a puppy mill survivor, Baby. Baby lived for nine years in a cage in a puppy mill with her vocal cords cut so the puppy mill owners would not have to listen to her plaintive cries. At the end of her breeding usefulness, she was scheduled to be killed, but was rescued instead and went on to act as a “spokes dog” for puppy mill dogs everywhere. She lost her leg due to the terrible way she lived in the metal cage that was her home for nine long years.

I would encourage everyone to read this book. While it does explain the sad plight of puppy mill dogs, it also gives hope that people who care can make a difference for these dogs. To find out more about Baby and to order the book, go to: http://www.ararebreedoflove.com/

A good friend of ours, who has done a lot for the B and O kitties, knows all about the horrors of puppy mills. Susan adopted her four month old puppy, Jimmy, this past June from a rescue group that specializes in taking the old and unwanted dogs out of puppy mills. Jimmy was only a baby, but he had to have his right front leg amputated, because his foot got caught in the metal flooring of his cage and became infected. It was so infected that it had to be taken off. Jimmy went to live with Susan and he had all kinds of health problems from his days at the puppy mill: pneumonia, kennel cough, every parasite known to dogs–you name it, the poor pup had it. Luckily, Susan had pet insurance to cover the expenses of constant emergency medical care and overnight stays in vet hospitals.

But what if the rescue group that saved Jimmy had not stepped in? What if there were not kind people all over the country helping puppy mill dogs like Jimmy and Baby? It is an industry that needs to be stopped.

If you’d like to find out more about what you can do to end puppy mills in Ohio, please visit the Columbus Dog Connection web site, http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/

On the Columbus Dog Connection site, you can learn where the current puppy mill bills (Senate Bill 95 and House Bill 124) stand in the Ohio legislation and make your voice heard each time puppy mill opponents need to speak for all the dogs who cannot. Together, we Ohioans, can stop the puppy millers from taking over our state and harming more innocent dogs like Jimmy and Baby.

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The first bit of news comes Iowa. A 13-year-old tabby cat tested positive for the H1N1 virus, having contracted it from human members of the house who were sick with the swine flu. This is the first time the virus has been shown to move between the human and feline species. Scientists are now saying that the most common spread of the disease is from humans to other animals. So we can’t blame the animals!

To read the complete story, visit: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/swine-flu-confirmed-in-cat.html

The second tidbit comes from Cat Fancy magazine, which I have to admit is a secret indulgence. In an article by Sandy Robins, titled “For the Cat Who Has Everything,” Ms. Robins recommends the EmeryCat for those well off kitties in your household. The EmeryCat is a patented scratching post that has a gritty surface similar to an emery board or nail file. When the cat scratches on the board, the nails gets a feline manicure and pedicure. It is marketed for those cat parents who hate chasing their cats down to trim nails. But I also think it would do well for those people considering declawing. If you could keep the nails filed back with little or no work on your part, and the cat could not destroy furniture with their nubbin nails, there would be no need to declaw.

And the price is pretty good, too–only $19.95, plus shipping and handling. Right now the web site offers a buy one, get one free deal.

To find out more and order your own EmeryCat for your spoiled kitty, visit: www.emerycat.com

And finally, two things about the passage of Issue 2.

A lady wrote a Letter to the Editor in the Sunday, November 8 edition of The Columbus Dispatch titled, “State Issue 2 was portrayed differently.” In the letter, the woman responded to a Dispatch article from Wednesday, November 4 in which the reporter said that voters, by passing Issue 2, voted “to protect the state’s $93 billion-a-year agribusiness industry.” The woman complained that “the majority of supporters voted to ensure ‘safe, local food,’ which is how Issue 2 was sold to Ohio residents. Big difference!”

That is exactly right. If most voters had known that Issue 2 was being set in place to protect large agribusiness, namely factory farms, I don’t believe they would have voted for the issue.

And finally, on another blog, I found a comment supporting the passage of Issue 2 that made me uncomfortable. In essence the person said that there were “too many ‘fur babies’ and not enough real babies.” This person was lamenting the fact that many people in our society today have opted to not have human children and instead “humanize” their pets and call them their fur babies, treating them like the human children they do not have. This person felt that those who were against Issue 2 tried to place human traits on all animals, not just pets.

As someone who does not have children, and cannot have children, my cats do get treated like my kids. But my husband and I have thought about adopting. There are so many needy children in the United States and other countries who need homes. I just can’t understand why someone would say there are too few human children. I think there are too many who do not get the care and love they deserve! I do agree with the fact that there are too many “fur babies.” My response to that–get on board and spay and neuter!!

 

Cows eating grass outdoors? Imagine that!

Cows eating grass outdoors? Imagine that!

I apologize to those of you who would like for this blog to focus only upon cat issues, but I think that how people treat all animals reflects back and mimics how they treat cats and even humans. You don’t know how many times in our rural area someone tells me about killing or shooting the cats that come to their farms looking for a safe haven. “They’re just barn cats,” is the favorite catch all for why it is okay to kill them or not provide them with vet care.

Anyway, I have heard a few things following the passage of Issue 2 about why “animal rights” people supposedly wanted it stopped. None of these arguments is legitimate. My main concern with Issue 2 is that many fear it will favor “factory farms” more than family farms. I am all for family farms–I come from that background. Factory farms, of course, cause a ton of animal suffering. Additionally, no one knows if puppy mills will also be lumped under the jurisdiction of Issue 2’s governing board and if this board will change the climate for Ohio puppy mills.

Here are a few of the arguments by those for Issue 2 and my reply. And I do want to say, I can argue on farming issues, because I grew up on farms and with farmers. I could call myself a farm girl, but in this climate, I will not.

1. People want cheap food and the only way to get that is through the high productivity that comes about through today’s farming practices.

I heartily disagree with this. I will actually pay more for food that I know has come from humane sources where the animals were allowed to move about and breathe fresh air. I look for labels that say “grass fed” on beef or “cage free” for eggs. I think most people would be willing to pay a bit more to know that the animals that they are eating led a life without suffering.

2. Livestock  are not pets.

I don’t think this was ever an issue. No one was calling for cows and chickens to sleep in bed with us at night (although there were times when your animals were so valuable that they did share a family’s home). The issue is for livestock to be treated with the same care and respect that you would give a household pet–not treat them as if they were already a dead object–but a living, feeling creature that God put here in the care of humans.

Animal husbandry used to be taught to farmers and they had a real bond with their animals. Farmers did everything they could to maintain an animal’s health and treated their animals with respect. My grandfather raised pigs and he became very angry if anyone mistreated them. As he reached his twilight years, he left the business, because he did not like slaughtering the animals. He started ordering exotic chickens just to see what they looked like as they grew from babies to adults. He kept the baby chicks in special pens on the back porch and each time we went over to visit him, he proudly showed us his new chicks. Most of them grew old along with him, wandering in the grass and sunshine.

3. For all my Catholic friends: Did you know Pope Benedict spoke out against factory farming when he was still a Cardinal?  In 2002, he said that animals are “given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them.  Animals, too, are God’s creatures…Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.” Furthermore, he added, ““It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.”

I think Saint Francis of Assisi would agree.

I know this is a bit long, but following this is an article I wrote a few years ago about saving family farms and treating livestock humanely.

I grew up on farms and around farmers.

The first house I lived in as a child was surrounded on three sides by farm fields.  And across the road in the front, which constituted the fourth side, there was another field.

Dad used to plow, plant, and harvest those fields for Mr. Evans who owned the land.  It was always an adventure to crawl up into the combine or tractor and ride with Dad through waving green and yellow corn.

During autumn evenings, Mom, Bobbie, and I would climb into the grain truck with Dad as it rumbled up to the grain elevator in town.  Lined up behind other trucks loaded with corn or beans, the dust from muddy fields casting a foggy hue in front of our headlights, I would be so excited by the noises and the sights that I would force my heavy lidded eyes to stay open just a bit longer.  Inevitably, Bobbie and I would curl up on the seat, sleeping under the golden glow of a bright harvest moon.

While Dad farmed for someone else, my grandpa had his own farm.  When we would walk through the door into the kitchen at his and Grandma’s house, we were often greeted by the high-pitched squeals of tiny pigs.  Grandpa would bring the runts of the litter into the warmth of the kitchen, nestled in a box near the heating vent.  Bobbie and I would always hold the piglets, their pink, delicate skin so like that of a human, their contented grunts as they nursed on a bottle of formula, similar to the greedy sounds of hungry human babies.

Grandpa kept all kinds of animals in the kitchen—baby calves, boxes of furry, yellow chicks, and innumerable pigs. I held and touched them all.

In the back field, I would walk around looking at the pigs as they laid in the mud in grassy fields, their contented sighs mirroring my own contentment at being outside under sunny, blue skies.

Grandpa took good care of his animals right up until the time they were slaughtered.  I watched him treat their medical conditions, wiping iodine on cuts and giving medicine when they were sick.  He respected the animals because he knew they were his livelihood.  They were killed to provide income and food for this family.  He understood their sacrifice and showed them only the utmost kindness while they were in his care.

Grandpa’s farm was the quintessential “family farm” and that family farm died with him.

Sadly, that is the fate of many, many family farms today all across Ohio and the nation.  Many of them are dying off.

The disappearance of family farms is due to many reasons, with one of those causes being the rise of a new type of farm that is the complete antithesis of family farms.  These new farms are “factory farms” or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

According to the “Farm Aid” web site (www.farmaid.org), “As family farms are forced out by large, factory farms, the quality of our food, our environment and our food security is in danger.”

Besides destroying family farms, factory farms are also giant warehouses of suffering for the animals “farmed” there.

Factory farms, as the name suggests, operate like enormous factories with animals moved through as quickly as possible for the largest profit.

And profit is what factory farms are all about. Animals are kept in the worst conditions imaginable because, financially, that is what makes sense.  The more animals that can be crammed into a space, the more money made.

According to the group,“In Defense of Animals” (IDA), factory farming had its start in the 1920s when it was discovered that by putting vitamins A and D in animals’ food, they no longer required exercise and sunlight to grow.  This discovery allowed animals to be kept inside all year long.

However, a new problem soon developed.  Animals kept in confined spaces for long periods of time quickly spread disease through the buildings they were housed in.  The problem was solved in the 1940s with antibiotics.  According to IDA, “in the U.S. almost 50% of all antibiotics are administered to farm animals” (www.idausa.org/facts/factoryfarmfacts.html).

Animals in factory farms are pumped full of vitamins and antibiotics and kept in unnatural conditions.

What horrors await factory-farmed animals?  Here is a brief list of atrocities:

—-Chickens have their beaks cut off to prevent fighting among birds forced to live in close confinement.  Broiler chickens also have their toes cut off and live in unlit areas to stop fighting.

—-Veal calves are kept in small crates that prevent the young cows from moving. This confinement keeps the calves’ muscles from growing so the meat will be tender.  Fed iron deficient diets to keep the meat pale in color, the calves live alone in the dark for four months until they are slaughtered.

—-Pigs, which by the way, are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, (more intelligent than dogs or cats, even) are often driven to fighting, cannibalism, and other emotional vices when they are confined in small cages without daylight for most of their lives.

Not only do factory farms produce nightmarish conditions for the animals subjected to them, they also destroy the environment. Farm Sanctuary, a group working for humane conditions for factory-farmed animals, notes that “the quantity of waste produced by farm animals in the U. S. is more than 130 times greater than that produced by humans.”  Runoff from these factory farms is “the main reason why 60% of America’s rivers and streams are ‘impaired’” (www.factoryfarming.com). Additionally, a study by the Department of Economics at the University of Essex, shows that factory farms cause “$34.7 billion worth of environmental damage in the U. S. each year” (www.themeatrix.com).

Besides concern for the animals and the environment, we should also be concerned for ourselves.  By eating animal meat filled with antibiotics, we also put those antibiotics into our systems. The scary part of this is the fact that by indiscriminately using antibiotics, we have produced antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Someday our antibiotics will no longer work for us because factory farms will have created bacteria that will not respond to treatment.

All of these reasons have led to a new trend in the farming world: raising and labeling products as organic and free-range.

Organic animals and crops are not filled with chemicals or drugs.  Organic animals are not given daily quantities of antibiotics.  Organic crops are grown in pesticide free fields.

Free-range animals are allowed to go outdoors and eat grass.  They are allowed to lie in the dirt, to feel sunlight, and to smell the earth.

Do these trends in farming sound familiar?   They remind me of the type of farming my grandpa practiced.

Organic and free-range practices are a return to the style of farming carried out by family farms.

My husband, Joe, has a philosophy that applies to factory farming.  Joe has always felt that businesses should support each other and that everyone should support their community.  His philosophy has always been to buy locally and support local business.  This holds true for the things we eat.  Animals and crops raised by local farmers are not coming from factory farms.  Animals raised by local farmers are treated humanely and allowed to go outside to see the world instead of being confined in dark, small spaces.  By purchasing produce and meat from local farmers and from local farmers’ markets, we help the family farms that dot the Plain City landscape survive.

I love to drive around Plain City and see green pastures with new baby lambs jumping and playing beside their mothers.  I love to pass bright red barns with cows meandering by fences kept straight and upright by farmers I know.  I love to watch the sky turn red and orange, a backdrop to the sight of ducks and geese floating peacefully on a sleepy creek.

I love the fact that we still have so many family farms in Plain City. I do not want to see them disappear.

Pope Benedict XVI has also been an advocate for animals raised in factory farms.  Speaking in 2002, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that animals are “given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them.  Animals, too, are God’s creatures…Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.”

Furthermore, the new pope said, “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.”

On one of the farms where we lived in my childhood the farmer kept cows in the barn next to the house we rented.  My sister, Bobbie, used to park her bike near the fence that enclosed the cows’ pasture or climb up on to the fence itself to watch the gentle beasts. The cows would come over to her, slowly moving through the grass, until they were right at the fence, noses close to Bobbie’s body.  We would catch her sometimes, singing to those cows.  Lullabies and nursery rhymes and pop tunes off the radio.  Bobbie sang all types of tunes to the cows.  They always seemed to enjoy the private concert.

I don’t think anyone is singing to the animals confined in factory farms.

To learn more about the horrors of factory farms, watch an informative cartoon called “The Meatrix” about the subject.  Visit www.themeatrix.com to learn how you can support family farms and wipe out factory farming.”

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