Vandals spray-paint pigs and cows confined at a school

In California, some vandals spray-painted animals at the Visalia Unified School District’s farm. They:

  • Covered two pigs head to tail in spray paint and tagged a third on his nose,
  • Marked two heifers on their sides and rears, and
  • Marked a cow’s genitalia.

But here’s the thing: the animals are being used “for show” and eventually are sold for meat. Of course the commenters on the story are saying things along the lines of “Show some respect for the animals!” Newsflash: if those animals weren’t being contained in cages at a school and used like objects, they wouldn’t be getting spray painted.

This is not to say, of course, that the kids that did it shouldn’t be caught and punished, but let’s save the holier-than-thou attitude. The confinement, use, and eventual murder of the animals is much worse abuse than the vandalism, yet the program is viewed as noble and worthy of praise and defense.

Elephants in Los Angeles

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My friend Ryder passed along a series of videos he shot of elephants wearing Barnum and Bailey emblems being herded down the streets of Los Angeles this morning. They may (or may not) have been connected with the Michael Jackson memorial happening a few hours later.


When Race Horses Die Racing


Winner’s death brings sad note to races

This is a local story about a horse that suffered a fatal heart attack just strides after winning a race. The account of his final moments is sad:

At the March 21 Piedmont Foxhounds Point-to-Point in Upperville, a fatal heart attack at the finish wire sent Quick Line, the winner, careening into the homestretch tailgate parking area.

Rider Noel Ryan, huntsman with Loudoun Hunt, was smiling as the 13-year-old gelding crossed the wire, ears pricked, easily in hand and clearly not distressed.

All that changed a stride later.

Attending veterinarian Ian Harrison of Harrison Equine in Berryville was standing near the finish line, watching Quick Line as he crossed the line.

“The horse finished well,” Harrison said. “I’d say he suffered a heart attack in the next stride,” lurching to the right, while Ryan struggled to keep his mount from veering into the course’s outer rail.

The gelding crashed through the plastic snow fence marking the course, landing between two parked cars. Ryan was thrown clear and — but for a cut on his cheek and a sore hand — was uninjured. The force of the falling horse toppled several spectators who had an instant before been cheering the runners.

According to several people involved, the horse was fit and suffered a heart abnormality that no one knew about.

“There is no blame to be placed on a horse that dies that way. The rider is not to blame, nor the course, nor the race. This just happens. It is terribly rare, but it happens to fox hunters, it happens to pleasure horses, it happens to backyard horses. It happens in people, and it can happen in racehorses. It is very sad, but there was certainly nothing anyone did wrong, and there was nothing that could have prevented it.”

Perhaps it’s true that the horse would have suffered a heart attack at some point in his life whether he was racing or not, but I find it hard to believe that one can claim that “there was nothing that could have prevented it” when he died a stride after finishing a race. My thought, obviously: they shouldn’t have been racing the horse and that would have prevented the horse from dying on that day, at that time. Or am I just talking crazy talk?

Animals and Politics


What’s the deal with Republicans and their VPs?  Apparently it’s a requirement that you support or participate in the most heinous of hunting practices.  Current VP Dick Cheney, when not shooting friends in the face, is a fan of the canned hunt.  Meanwhile, John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin, has supported the aerial hunting of wolves and bears.  This practice involves chasing the animal by helicopter until the animal is exhausted, and then shooting her point blank.

Aerial hunting was outlawed by the federal government in 1972 in the Federal Airborne Hunting Act, but Alaska has been wiggling through loopholes to allow this sort of thing.  Governor Palin “actively opposed a ballot measure campaign seeking to end the aerial hunting of wolves by private hunters and approved a $400,000 state-funded campaign aimed at swaying people’s votes on the issue,” according to the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.  If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to read up over at the Defenders’ page about Governor Palin’s record on this and other wildlife issues.

The thing is, I can guarantee that a question about this will never come up in any of the vice presidential debates.  In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that no question related to animal use or even animal welfare will come up during any debate or be prominently mentioned by either campaign.  Sure, Obama’s got the Animal Rights Advocates for Obama on  The group has, after all, raised $12 for Obama’s campaign!  Wonder if they did that selling lemonade on the corner.

And, sure, Obama’s been quoted as saying, “I think how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other, and it’s very important that we have a president who is mindful of the cruelty that is perpetrated on animals.”  Which is good.  Really.  But it’s kind of a blow-off statement, especially considering his seemingly lackluster voting record on animal welfare.

What I’m getting at is a point that a fellow Poplar Spring volunteer made to me the other day at lunch.  He told me how, as a vegan and animal rights advocate, he felt completely distanced from either candidate.  He said that he had to pretend other issues were more important to him than animal issues for the sole fact that politicians never talk about animals when campaigning.  I had to agree.  This issue that is so important to us, one that we see tied so closely to the mainstreamed issues of human rights and the environment, is completely ignored during the campaign season.  It’s unbelievably frustrating.

I realize it’s likely the candidates ignore the issue because they would alienate much of their base if they were to discuss the rights of animals.  So, until the base changes, the issue won’t be raised.

I think all we can do is continue to work our best to advocate on the individual level, making people aware of the issues and getting people to go vegan.  We have to tie animal rights and veganism to the rights of the human workers in slaughterhouses and the environmental affects of meat, dairy, and egg production.  Once more people are protesting the use of animals in their everyday lives and can see how it’s not just “an animal issue,” then maybe politicians will start talking about the rights of all sentient beings.  Maybe then people like Sarah Palin will be questioned about her support of illegal, barbaric hunting practices.  And maybe then we can start to make some real progress for the animals.