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Kindness Not Cruelty

I was recently contacted by by Stacey Citraro of KindnessNotCruelty.org.  It was wonderful to hear from another person who has done fantastic work in the name of all any and all animals that have been abused.  I highly suggest checking out the website and poking around.  There are lots of great articles and tips/advice.

Wendy Gould: Why did you create the website, “Kindness Not Cruelty”?
Stacey Citraro: Kindness Not Cruelty is a resource directory created to help expose animal cruelty, promote animal protection and protection for our planet Mother Earth.

WG: What is the ultimate purpose of your website?
SC: My goal is to educate the public about issues and concerns affecting the well-being of animals and the environment. I want people to know what is happening and why it is wrong. I want people to care and I want people to do something to help. If enough people care and show their concern, we can make changes for the better.
My site is all about education, awareness and most importantly,
Helping People Help Animals." - SC
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With the Holiday season fastly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about gift-giving!

And what better way to give than with the true holiday spirit in mind?  This year, give a charitable gift to your loved ones, co-workers, families and friends.   Here are a few animal friendly places to keep in mind:

American Humane (www.americanhumane.org)

Per their website,

“We are advocates for animals, raising awareness and supporting legislation to end animal cruelty. We are advocates for children, putting a stop to child abuse, neglect and exploitation. And we are advocates for our communities, exposing the link between animal abuse and other kinds of societal violence. We are humane.”

You can purchase things pets, like this eco-friendly zebra striped sleeper for $25.00.  You can also purchase gifts for humans, too!

Here are some other charitable, animal-friendly organizations to keep in mind this gift-giving season:

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Animal Rights FAQ

I recently came upon a website called “The Animal Rights FAQ” and I found it extremely insightful.  It covers a lot of topics set up in a question/answer format.  For example it discusses animal-related moral issues, practical issues, labratory animals, farming, insects and plants, etc.

There was one particular topic that caught my attention, especially since it’s getting colder outside and animal-fashion is a controversial issue.  Here are a few excerpts from the website that I think you will benefit from.  The topic is called “Leather, Fur and Fashion.”

Question: What is wrong with Leather?

Answer:

Most leather goods are made from the byproducts of the slaughterhouse, and some is purpose-made, i.e., the animal is grown and slaughtered purely for its skin. So, by buying leather products, you will be contributing to the profits of these establishments and augmenting the economic demand for slaughter.

In terms of disposal, one would think that leather products would be biodegradable, but the primary function for a tanning agent is to stabilize the collagen or protein fibers so that they are no longer biodegradable.”

Question: What is wrong with wool, silk and down?

Answer:

What’s wrong with wool? Scientists over the years have bred a Merino sheep which is exaggeratedly wrinkled. The more wrinkles, the more wool. Unfortunately, greater profits are rarely in the sheep’s best interests. InAustralia, more wrinkles mean more perspiration and greater susceptibility tofly-strike, a ghastly condition resulting from maggot infestation in the sweaty folds of the sheep’s over-wrinkled skin.To counteract this, farmersperform an operation without anesthetic called “mulesing”, in which sections of flesh around the anus are sliced away, leaving a painful, bloody wound. Without human interference, sheep would grow just enough wool to protect them from the weather.

What’s wrong with silk? It is the practice to boil the cocoons that still contain the living moth larvae in order to obtain the silk. This produces longer silk threads than if the moth was allowed to emerge. The silkworm can certainly feel pain and will recoil and writhe when injured.

What’s wrong with down? The process of live-plucking is widespread. The terrified birds are lifted by their necks, with their legs tied, and then have all their body feathers ripped out. The struggling geese sustain
injuries and after their ordeal are thrown back to join their fellow victims until their turn comes round again. This torture, which has been described as “extremely cruel” by veterinary surgeons, and even geese breeders, begins when the geese are only eight weeks old. It is then repeated at eight-week intervals for two or three more sessions. The birds are then slaughtered.

Question: I understand that trapping animals is inhumane, but what about fur ranches?

Answer:
A common misconception about fur “ranches” is that the animals do not suffer. This is entirely untrue. These animals suffer a life of misery and frustration, deprived of their most basic needs. They are kept in
wire-mesh cages that are tiny, overcrowded, and filthy. Here they are malnourished, suffer contagious diseases, and endure severe stress. On these farms, the animals are forced to forfeit their natural instincts.

Beavers, who live in water in the wild, must exist on cement floors. Minks in the wild, too, spend much of their time in water, which keeps their salivation, respiration, and body temperature stable.

The methods used on these farms reflect not the interests and welfare of the animals but the furriers’ primary interest–profit.

For more information, please visit the website.

This story is taken AnimalConcerns.com and is published by The Oregonian.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office cited a Gaston woman on animal neglect today after deputies confiscated 165 dogs, four birds and two horses from her home.

Carolyn Ohlhauser had more than 150 Chihuahuas in small, feces-covered cages and kennels that filled one floor of her home, said Sgt. David Thompson, a sheriff’s spokesman.

The 59-year-old is a registered AKC breeder and was last inspected in 2002, Thompson said. Her daughter and three grandchildren were living upstairs.

“I think she was breeding dogs pretty successfully, and then for whatever reason, the upkeep got away from her, and things went downhill,” he said. Despite the filth, all of the dogs appeared to be well-fed and healthy.

Ohlhauser forfeited her rights to the animals, which were transported to the Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter. They will be held one to two weeks, then put up for adoption.

The shelter is accepting donations of dog food or money. For information, call 503-846-7041.

Sometimes we forget about the fact that it’s the small puzzle pieces that create the big picture. That’s why I decided to talk with Michael Delp, Animal Control deputy in Johnson County. It is home to approximately 100,000 Hoosiers and is the second fastest growing county in the surrounding Indianapolis area.

Wendy Gould: Tell me about Johnson County Animal Control.

Michael Delp: Johnson County Animal Control is empowered to enforce animal laws in Johnson County – this also includes Indiana State Laws – we receive complaints – investigate – and if the situation dictates – issue citations and/or prosecute in court.

WG: What are some of your more common issues dealt with?

MD: The most common complaint Animal Control receives is a dog running at large – followed by barking and then neglect – Animal Control responds to approx 5,000 calls a year. We also investigate and enforce quarantine procedures on approx 500 reported bite cases a year in Johnson County.

WG: Who reports these problems?

MD: Any citizen can report a problem or concern – some do so without leaving their names

WG: What happens to the people who are reported?

MD: Typical response from an Officer is a verbal or written warning – suggestion(s) on how to rectify the problem – written citation to appear in court before a judge – criminal charges can also be filed if the problem or infraction is egregious enough.

WG: Do you think that these issues are common?

MD: Statistics show that animal problems are common throughout the US – all cities generally have Animal Control – often times an Officer from the local Police Dept handles complaints – in Johnson County Deputy Wardens handle all complaints – incorporated areas such as cities and unincorporated areas (county areas).

WG: Has animal abuse become more of an issue in recent years?

MD: I don’t know if animal abuse has increased or not in the last 10 years – certainly awareness of what animal abuse is and who to report it to has increased – also very public abuse cases (Michael Vick – etc.) have raised awareness – certainly more cases have been reported.

WG: Do you think there is a connection between animal abuse and human abuse?

MD: Unfortunately, when Animal Control investigates Animal cruelty – and children are in the home- they are often victims also, along with the spouses. Our society views animal cruelty and abuse seriously and our local prosecutors vigorously prosecute animal abuse – cruelty cases – animal control is also a priority with our Commissioners.

WG: Are you aware of any statistics that may be interesting to the public?

MD: Some important statistics include approx 3 million reported bite cases a year in the US – 60% involve children – over 8 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the US – a vast majority adoptable – but no one to adopt them – estimates show that there are over 250,000 dogs and cats in Johnson County – and a total of 4 Deputy Wardens

WG: Any other words of wisdom?

MD: Yes Wendy, we encourage people to have their pets spayed or neutered. We also warn children to not approach strange or unfamiliar dogs or cats and inform owners of dogs and cats have their pets vaccinated for rabies every year – it’s the law!

This past week I spoke with Alison Gianotto, founder and director of Pet-Abuse.com. Pet-Abuse is an internationally recognized organization that tracks animal cruelty cases/abusers throughout the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Spain and New Zealand.

After shifting careers several times (from Wall Street to web developer to professor), Gianotto found solace in a career of animal cruelty prevention and prosecution.

Gianotto has been featured in various publications, including People Magazine, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune. In addition to print media, she has also made appearances on a number of radio and television programs with the goal of educating the public about “the connection between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence.”

WG: Tell me a little bit about Pet-Abuse.com

AG: Pet-Abuse.Com is the largest, most comprehensive searchable database of criminal animal cruelty cases online – we were also the first! Our flagship product is the cruelty database itself, where we analyze thousands of cruelty cases every year, breaking them down by certain criteria so that animal welfare organizations can begin to better understand who is abusing animals, what types of animals are being abused, and why.

WG: What other kinds of services do you offer?

AG: We provide a convicted animal abuser name search, which is used by rescues, humane societies, and breeders to ensure that the person they trust their animals with does not have a history of animal cruelty.

WG: How can this service be of use to common, every day people?

AG: As a general rule, I recommend checking everyone who may end up having contact with your pet when you’re not around – vets, groomers, new boyfriends or girlfriends.

WG: What are some of the larger goals that Pet-Abuse.com has?

AG: One of our main goals is to collect data on all of the cruelty cases in the country – to become a clearinghouse for this information – and we’ve been doing a pretty good job at that. Unfortunately, the government is not mandated to report cases to us, so it’s never a complete picture – but the picture gets more complete every year as we make new contacts and gain momentum. Another primary goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved. Our CaseWatch feature, for example, allows registered users to “watch” specific cases for updates and court dates, where they receive an email when new information is posted. Online action alerts and interactive maps that let people see exactly how close to home these cases are occurring are just a few other ways we provide unique tools for animal advocates.

WG: In your 6 years of work in this field, what has been the most surprising thing you’ve encountered?

AG: That’s a tough question. On one hand, it feels like nothing surprises me anymore – and then on the other hand, there are lots of smaller surprises every day. I don’t think I have a “most” surprising, but I’ll share a few that are important to me…

  • The fact that we’ve managed to secure prosecutions and convictions based solely off of the content of a MySpace profile. I am surprised and encouraged by the fact that law enforcement in some areas is taking animal cruelty seriously enough that they are willing to prosecute people who post videos of themselves burning, fighting and torturing animals on their MySpace profiles.
  • Also, the fact that so many more young people “get it.” They understand compassion towards animals, and many are making life choices based on their desire to help. Years ago, if you asked a child what they wanted to be when they grew up, you’d hear “doctor,” “lawyer,” “astronaut.” Now, “animal cop” comes up in that same mix, and that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. There are students in law school right now whose sole purpose in being there is to become a prosecuting attorney to help animals. It’s just amazing.

WG: Any other surprises?

AG: I am also still surprised by the number of cases we get related to animals that were off-leash or loose at the time of the abuse – even more so when it wasn’t the owners first animal that was killed. I want to shake these people and say “If you’ve had 5 dogs killed in the past 10 years – WHY wouldn’t you keep them INSIDE or safely in your own yard?” Obviously, the person committing the crime is responsible, but it surprises me how many people don’t understand that keeping their pet out of harm’s way is their responsibility.

WG: Speaking of responsibility, what seems to be the most common thing occurring in animal crime cases today?

AG: Neglect is – and probably always will be – the most common cruelty type we see.

WG: Why is that?

AG: Animal neglect is a real problem – some people just don’t seem to understand that these animals are completely dependent on us. Their lives are in our hands.

WG: When it comes to reporting animal crimes, do you think that most people who commit these crimes actually face the appropriate repercussions? Or do many get off lucky?

AG: I think some people do, and some people don’t. I’ll have more concrete answers for you once we’re further along in our plea bargain statistics – we only have that data for 35% of our cases so far – but in general, I think many cases are plea bargained when they shouldn’t be – If they were prosecuted in the first place.

WG: Do more laws need to be created to help this issue?

AG: Many people believe we need better laws to prevent and punish animal abuse, but I think that for the most part, we have plenty of good laws already on the books (I did say for the most part). If those laws are not being used properly, no amount of new legislation is going to improve things for animals. One project we’re working on is tracking misdemeanor versus felony charges in cases. Once we have more data collected, we’ll be able to point out which states have great felony laws, but never, ever use them.

To learn more about Pet-Abuse.com, visit their website by clicking here.

I thought this information was really interesting.  It’s common knowledge that men are statistically more violent than women, but I had no idea the gap was this wide (in regard to both sexes).

To view the graph, click on it, or click here.

I created the graph but got my information from Pet-Abuse.com.