Monthly Archives: November 2009

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Care2 and Adopt-a-Pet.com are sponsoring the “America’s Favorite Animal Shelter Contest” to promote adoptions through shelters and rescue groups.

You only get one vote, (voting ends December 16) so we need you to pass this along to anyone else you know in order for us to get as many votes as possible. I did send this out to everyone who gets our emailed newsletter, so hopefully that will generate votes for us. The last time I looked, Best Friends Animal Society was in the lead. But we could easily make it into the top 100 with just a little coercion of friends–we are only 10 votes away from the group at number 100! Post it to your Facebook contacts and Twitter away! After you vote, you will get an email that will provide links to allow you to post to Facebook, Twitter, and to email it to your friends!

To vote, please follow this link:

http://www.care2.com/animalsheltercontest/74290?refer=20149.06.1257421843.002757

Along with this, Care2 also has a cool site that allows you to “Click to Feed Pets in Need,” (similar to The Animal Rescue Site). It is totally free, paid for by advertising sponsors and 100% of the donations go to The HSUS. Once you have clicked there, you can also click to protect habitat for “Big Cats,” stop global warming, help children in need, and save seals, primates, and wolves. You can click every day to help.

To get started, go to: http://www.care2.com/click-to-donate/pets/

Care2 also wants to show off your rescue pets. If you send in a photo and the story of your pet, they could be featured on the Care2 Causes Facebook Fan page, the Care2 Causes Animal Welfare blog and on the Click to Feed Pets in Need page.

To find out more, visit: http://www.care2.com/causes/animal-welfare/blog/show-off-your-rescue-pet/

And, as always, thank you for all that you to do help us help stray kitties in need!

 

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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I spent last night with a man who has probably seen the worst things done to animals yet still quotes, in Teddy Kennedy fashion, “Today’s adversary is tomorrow’s ally.”

I spent last night with a man who allowed Michael Vick (who he admitted, he has called some of the worst names in the English language) to begin working with inner city children on the issue of dog fighting, because as he said, “They weren’t going to listen to me, a Caucasian in a suit.”

I spent last night at a town hall meeting with Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

I have to say, I was impressed.

And hopeful.

Pacelle’s visit came on the eve of voting for Issue 2, the proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution to set up a governing board overseeing the livestock industry. Pacelle explained how the HSUS tried to talk to the Ohio agricultural boards to set into place more humane practices for livestock, including removal of the confinement systems currently used in livestock production–gestation crates, battery cages, veal crates. These are all methods that do not allow the animals to stand, move around, or even stretch their limbs. These are all methods that the entire European Union is phasing out and which seven states have voted to ban.

Pacelle left the meeting with the Ohio agricultural bigwigs expecting to get a phone call to begin negotiations on what the groups could do together to ensure better treatment for Ohio livestock. Instead, Issue 2 was quickly and quietly moved into place for the voters.

While Pacelle fears that Issue 2 will pass, even as he encouraged everyone in the auditorium at the Ohio Historical Society to vote no, he said the passage will not end the fight for humane treatment of animals in Ohio.

A fight Ohio currently seems to be losing.

While the HSUS has helped pass almost four hundred laws in the past four years at the state and federal level, very little has changed in Ohio.

In fact, I was shocked to learn that Ohio is one of the top three states for the worst animal laws nationwide. We have the worst laws on cock fighting, dog fighting, and puppy mills.

Pennsylvania, one of the leading states for puppy mills, recently passed legislation to crack down on the puppy millers.  Ohio has no such legislation. So guess where all those puppy millers from Pennsylvania are heading? You got it. Ohio.

My first reaction, upon hearing that Ohio has the worst animal welfare laws, was to joke to my friend, Monica, who had invited me to hear Pacelle speak, “Let’s move.”

And while it is true that it would be nice to live in a state that has more humane laws and where we would not have to fight for every little issue, who would help the animals in Ohio if we all packed up and left?

The mission statement of the HSUS is “Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.” And that is exactly what we must do in Ohio.

While the HSUS will back us up in our fight, it is still up to Ohioans to work for Ohio animals. Because the HSUS is fighting a lot of large battles.

As Pacelle said, the Humane Society of the United States tries to help all animals, leaving county shelters to fight the daily battles of saving dogs and cats, while offering their support. The HSUS tries to look at the larger picture for all animals: working to stop seal clubbing in Canada, to protect horses being shipped to slaughterhouses in Mexico, and to save polar bears (and indeed all species) from global warming–issues county shelters and even state advocates don’t deal with in their day to day lives.

And Pacelle put a positive spin on everything, which I was so glad to discover. I had worried that I would be attending a meeting with an angry speaker showing gruesome footage of tortured animals. That was not the case.

Pacelle is engaging, open, and inclusive. He said the HSUS does not want to exclude anyone.  Not Michael Vick.  Not animal opponents. Not meat eaters.

While Pacelle is a “strict vegetarian,” he said the HSUS has never had a vegan agenda for the very reason that there are many animal lovers who do eat meat. And he will not exclude anyone who might be a strong advocate for animals.

Pacelle said he believes that with education, anyone can change. He cited examples of big game hunters who had changed their minds and were now animals’ largest advocates.

Pacelle even admitted that, as a child, his dog was tethered and his uncle purchased a puppy for his family from a puppy mill.

“I was so excited. Our puppy came from Kansas. That seemed so exotic and foreign to me as a kid.”

Kansas, of course, is puppy mill central.

Pacelle also admitted that no one knows how the passage of Issue 2 will affect Ohio puppy mills if the Ohio Agricultural community decides to place puppy mills under the oversight of the governing board. If they do, dogs in puppy mills may continue to be treated like the other confined livestock in Ohio.

Pacelle also asked all animal lovers, rescuers and non-rescuers alike, to become political advocates for Ohio animals. As one lady in the audience stated, a rescuer can save one animal at a time, one dog from a puppy mill, but if you pass legislation that stops dog auctions and shuts down the grossly corrupt puppy millers, you can save thousands of animals in one sweep.

We must all become more politically involved, while still believing that with education, our adversaries will soon become our allies.

If you would like to learn more about Wayne Pacelle, you can sign up to receive his blog, http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/

To learn more about the Humane Society of the United, visit their web site, www.humanesociety.org

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States

Deputy Sheriff and Dog Warden Gary Kronk brings a stray dog to the Humane Society of Madison County.

Deputy Sheriff and Dog Warden Gary Kronk brings a stray dog to the Humane Society of Madison County.

I wrote this story for our local newspaper back in May.  I actually rode around in the truck with Deputy Sheriff Gary Kronk, who made sure to show me a good time–we went off-roading down a bike path and across fields, drove on the Ohio Police Officers Training Academy race track (at legal speeds), and did everything that Gary normally does in a day of helping animals. I just missed getting to have the sirens turned on and run red lights–Gary dropped me off right before he got an emergency call to help out a fellow officer. Deputy Kronk promised me I’ll get to do that next time.

I ran into Deputy Kronk last night at the Town Hall meeting hosted by the Humane Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle and I was once again reminded how much Gary does to try to help animals in our rural area.

Here’s Deputy Kronk’s story:

No dog dies with its collar on and no dog dies alone.

Deputy Sheriff and Dog Warden Gary Kronk makes sure of that.

Deputy Kronk is the one who removes the collar and sits with the dog in its final moments of life.  Even the vicious dogs, once they are sedated, are calm enough that Deputy Kronk can pull them from their crate and hold them in his lap until they die.

“I don’t know if I’m doing it more for me or for them,” Kronk explained.  “But I do it.”

Before Deputy Kronk came on the job as the Madison County dog warden in 2005, the dogs were led into the vet’s office, placed in a cage, and left to die alone as the sedative and then the lethal injection took effect.

No one cradled the canine bodies.  No one whispered gentle words.  No one cared when a life departed.

Now the vet’s office knows to expect a different procedure.  A rug in the back awaits Deputy Kronk and the dogs he brings with him.  They both sit there together, vet staff moving around them respectfully, until the dog passes away and Deputy Kronk rises from one of his least favorite aspects of his dog warden duties.

“This is the worst part of the job,” Kronk said, “Picking up a dog who trusts me because I initially took it to the shelter where they cared for it and fed it and loved it.  Then something doesn’t work out and I have to come back to euthanize it.  The dog trusts me and is happy to see me.  The tail is wagging and then I betray the dog.  It is a betrayal. That kills me.”

If there weren’t unwanted dogs, if everyone spayed and neutered their pets, if no dogs were ever ill or injured, Deputy Kronk would never have to make the trips to the vet’s rug.

“Many people have the misconception that it’s ‘three days and down.’ The law does say that shelters must hold a dog for three days, but after three days the shelter decides what to do with the dog, not just kill it.”

While the Humane Society of Madison County has not euthanized to make room for five years that does not mean it wouldn’t happen when they are too full and space becomes an issue. Their main course of action after three days, however, is to try to find a loving home for the dog—something many of the dogs have never had before coming to the shelter.

“The humane society makes me look good,” Kronk said.  “If they didn’t do such a wonderful job taking care of the animals, I’d be the most disliked person in the county.”

Considering the number of calls he gets, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“I never discourage anyone from calling,” Kronk said.  “If they took the time to call, it was important to them.  I tell them to call me fifty times if they need to.  It’s my job.”

Taking phone calls is just one aspect of a job that often spills over into weekends and evenings.  Because Deputy Kronk is one of the few dog wardens in the state affiliated with a sheriff’s department, emergency calls can reach him at any time.

His association with the sheriff’s department, a relationship started in 1979, also enables Deputy Kronk to have a radio and side arms, to dress in departmental clothing, and to use a sheriff’s office vehicle.  He is the only dog warden in Ohio driving a truck bearing the bold gold word, “Sheriff” on the sides.

On a recent work day, that truck, polished clean and smelling of Armor All, crisscrossed Madison County, stopping in London, West Jefferson, and every little burg in between, some towns no more than tiny blips on the map.

“Sometimes I’ll be in Mount Sterling and I’ll get a call that I have to be clear to the other side of the county in Plain City.”

Deputy Kronk hops in the truck and begins the trek.  Because crossing those miles may help an animal in need.

Deputy Kronk has rescued pet rats, turtles, goldfish, rabbits, and even a snake that no one else wanted to deal with. He has climbed ladders to save cats in trees.

Don’t ever discount cats to Deputy Kronk.

“I’m maybe a little different. I’m a dog warden who likes cats.”

Most of his calls, however, are about dogs.

Deputy Kronk does whatever it takes when a dog is lost or harmed.  That may include off-roading, driving down bike paths, and circling the Ohio Police Officers Training Academy track (at a reasonable speed, of course).

It may also include using five bags of treats to lure a frightened dog from a cornfield.

Beyond helping abandoned dogs, a dog warden’s duties entail much more than rounding up canines at large.

A portion of the job is spent in court, speaking with prosecutors over abuse and abandonment issues.

An even greater portion involves education:  visiting school children, explaining the “vicious” dog laws to pit bull owners, telling overwhelmed mothers who to contact to find homes for the kittens in the garage.

Deputy Kronk’s job also involves educating the public so their dog won’t become one of those he picks up by the side of the road.

“People don’t understand the importance of tags.  It takes just a matter of hours to get your dog back if the dog is wearing a tag.”

Sometimes good intentioned people take a dog from Madison County to a shelter in Franklin or Fayette or Clark Counties.  Perhaps that shelter was on their way to work.  Perhaps the Humane Society of Madison County was closed. Without a tag, it is sometimes impossible to reunite a dog with its family.

Finding a dog’s home or providing it with a new one through adoption is the best part of Deputy Kronk’s job.

That makes up for the worst part: all the times he sits with a dog, removes its collar, and acts as a surrogate family so the dog will not be alone as it passes to a place where dog wardens are not necessary.

To contact Deputy Kronk, please call the Madison County Sheriff’s Office at 740-852-1212 or leave a message on his voice mail at 740-845-1749.  You can also go to www.madisonsheriff.org Click on “Patrol” on the sidebar and the Dog Warden link is listed there. If you do not currently have dog tags, the price is $24 and Deputy Kronk is looking for you!

Deputy Sheriff and Dog Warden Gary Kronk greets a stray dog in need of his help.  Kronk crisscrosses Madison County rescuing stray and abandoned dogs.

Deputy Sheriff and Dog Warden Gary Kronk greets a stray dog in need of his help. Kronk crisscrosses Madison County rescuing stray and abandoned dogs.

Deputy Sheriff Gary Kronk is one of the few dog wardens in the state affiliated with a sheriff's department.  Because of this affiliation, he drives a sheriff's office vehicle while performing his dog warden duties throughout Madison County.

Deputy Sheriff Gary Kronk is one of the few dog wardens in the state affiliated with a sheriff's department. Because of this affiliation, he drives a sheriff's office vehicle while performing his dog warden duties throughout Madison County.

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