Saturday, July 9, 2011

Protecting the Animals Means Protecting the Planet

Pennsylvania is very unfortunate, having so much natural gas beneath its ground. Gas and Oil companies from around the country are here, and are turning our state into a toxic wedge of Swiss cheese, and our Governor doesn't even want to tax them for the privilege. Despite these companies repeatedly saying that they expect to be taxed, and factored the costs - much higher costs than our legislators who support a tax are even proposing - into their business plans.

The wildlife, farm animals, and essentially all living creatures within shouting distance of these wells are in grave danger. The dangers of "fracking" (hydraulic fracturing) are well-known, well-documented, and quite real. Do not be fooled by those who say that it's a good thing that PA is the "Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas" and would have you believe there is any safe way to extract the gas. There isn't. Not yet. And until there is a safe way to drill for and extract the gas, we shouldn't do it. It's that simple.

Please be an informed voter. Don't listen to people who stand to gain financially from fracking. Don't listen to people who have a vested interest in appeasing the major corporations who want our natural gas. Listen to the facts, to the people whose tap water is flammable and whose ground water is killing wildlife, livestock, and turning their soil into toxic sludge. Ask the people who have cancer, whose homes are worthless, whose land is unusable, whose lives have been ruined because they rented land to drillers or because they live near drilling sites.

Visit these sites for more information - and get involved. Protest. Write to your legislators (NJ has banned fracking - why can't PA?), join any number of grassroots groups who are fighting this. If you love animals and care about them - and you wouldn't be reading this blog if you didn't - you owe it to them to fight this. It's their earth, too.

Earth Justice

Marcellus Shale Protest


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There's Too Much at Stake. You MUST Vote on November 2nd.

Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere, you know that despite this being a mid-term election - typically an election people pay less attention to - it's more important than ever to get out and vote. Of course, the reasons for this go way beyond animal and environmental issues, but it's interesting that the candidates we can count on for decency and responsibility on these issues are often the same ones we can count on to regulate corporations to protect our health and our finances, to make taxation fair for the greatest number people, and to help maintain the separation of church and state, so that no one group's beliefs dictate life for everyone else. The LOHV remains a non-partisan organization, so these statements are not in support of any particular party - rather, we support fairness and decency, and look for these values in all candidates, regardless of party. We trust that you do, too, or you wouldn't be reading this blog.

With regard to animals, we've seen the existing Dog Law - which was supposed to vastly improve conditions for dogs in puppy mills - be attacked by the very stewards appointed to protect the dogs and enforce the law. We've seen those whose allegiances lie with the large commercial breeders blatantly ignore the needs of the dogs and support wire flooring and other back-tracking on what the law was intended to accomplish.

What does this have to do with the upcoming election? Well, the next Governor will have the chance to appoint 3 new people to the Canine Health Board (including the board chair), which determines the scope and enforcement of the Dog Law. If Tom Corbett wins, we can expect the appointments to be pro-breeder, and anti-dog. If Dan Onorato wins, we can expect appointments that are sympathetic to the dogs and not beholden to the breeders. Onorato also supports protecting the environment from factory farms and gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. He's simply the better choice if you care about animals and the environment.

Joe Sestak, who's running for US Senate, has an impressive animal policy, and has received a 100% score from the Humane Society as well as from the LOHV. Our two organizations don't always agree on legislation and strategy, but we're in total lockstep on Sestak. Please give him your vote.

We're also supporting a series of PA House and Senate candidates, and hope you'll take our list into the voting booth with you - click here to obtain a printable PDF. You can also visit our Elections page for links to the individual candidates' sites.

SO... On November 2nd, 2010 - please VOTE. Take a co-worker, neighbor, friend, or family member with you. Take several. If someone needs a ride, take them. If someone's on the fence about who to vote for, talk to them. Don't preach, just give them the facts. The facts speak for themselves.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Don't Look Away

Last night, the Academy Award for Best Documentary went to The Cove, a film about the Japanese practice of luring dolphins into a particular cove and slaughtering all but the females with no scars, which they then enslave for humans' entertainment. During the slaughter, the dolphins suffer unimaginably -- they gasp for breath, struggle against their savage attackers, and the cove's water runs crimson. It may be one of the worst things you've ever seen. But please don't look away. You must look - and not wince and turn your head - if only out of respect for the thousands of dolphins that these horrible, bloodthirsty people have killed. In honor of their lives, so selfishly and cruelly taken, give them the moments of your life that it takes to watch the story and learn what you can do to write its ending.

Another thing to think about. Not that it matters, because EVERY living thing deserves respect and to live without pain and fear, but scientists have recently stated that dolphins should be designated "non-human persons" - they're that bright and that complex, emotionally, psychologically, socially, etc... Yet the Japanese slaughter them like they're nothing - nothing but toys for entertainment and flesh to be consumed.

Please contact the Obama administration and demand that they enter into NO agreements of any kind with the Japanese (see link below for news from Greenpeace that the White House is considering a deal that would weaken the moratorium on commercial whaling, something else the Japanese continue to do). The Japanese must be pressured and shamed for their continued slaughter of dolphins - and whales. It's genocide.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Long to a Tumultuous Decade

First, a Happy New Year to our members and subscribers. It's been an interesting decade, and the past couple of years in particular have been exciting in Pennsylvania.

On the positive side, we did get the Dog Law passed. It had most of its "teeth" removed by the creation of the advisory board, which makes it more possible for standards to remain low enough for the less responsible breeders to stay in business, but according to recent reports, a good number of the breeders who couldn't/wouldn't change their ways have chosen to get out of the dog breeding business.

Of course, these greedy abusers have a network that includes other millers in other states, so many of the dogs in these mills just got shipped to another "farm" for further abuse in states without laws like ours. But we have to be glad that at least it's not still legal to deny medical care to dogs, to perform surgeries without a veterinarian, and to stack dogs like wood in wire-floored cages.

NOTE: Because the Governor gets to appoint members to the advisory board, Ed Rendell's successor is very important to our cause. We will be meeting with each candidate to determine who the best successor would be, and putting all of our efforts behind getting that person elected. Stay tuned for our reports!

On the negative side, several judges, who would have been strong advocates for animals, lost in the 2009 election. We hope they'll try again, especially Kevin McCarthy. Instrumental in shutting down the Tiger Ranch in western PA, we have high hopes for him and hope to see him running again for public office.

The Pigeon Shoot continues to be legal in PA, and just today, images of pigeons tortured by the event near Philadelphia were released. It's hard to believe that this practice of throwing live birds out in front of "hunters" for target practice is still legal, but we hope to see it banned very soon. Keep in touch with your legislators to demand change.

Last, but not least, is Michael Vick. Signed by the Eagles and now a possible recipient of a "courage" award and the subject of a BET "reality" show, this sick, useless individual is making millions of dollars and actually increasing the popularity of dog fighting, as young men try to emulate this "hero." It's sad, it's a depressing commentary on Eagles' fans that more of them didn't boycott the games, and one can only hope that his career is brought to an abrupt end by an injury, soon - as clearly the fact that he's a proven liar and capable of perpetrating some of the most horrific abuse ever documented isn't going to end his time on the public stage.

SO. Some improvement for PA's breeder dogs, some improvement overall as more of these issues are now part of the public "conversation," and some areas where PA still needs work. Factory farms remain a problem, polluting the Chesapeake and of course, abusing the animals sentenced to "live" on them, and the pigeon shoot remains legal. We have our work cut out for us.

We look forward to a productive 2010. Stay tuned to our site and our blog for candidate endorsements, news about pending and new legislation, and as ever, ways for anyone who cares about animals to pitch in and help change their lives - by changing our laws - for the better.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

25%? A Very Sad Number

That's the highest percentage for voter turnout seen throughout our area (and throughout PA) yesterday. That means for every 100 registered voters, only 25 of them (and in many cases, far fewer) actually took the time to vote. Unlike the 2008 Presidential election, where people stood in lines to vote, this time there were no delays to worry about, the sun was shining across the state, and important choices needed to be made.

Sadly, we know that most of our "base" - environmentally-concerned, compassionate people who care about (among many other things) animal protection, preserving wildlife habitats, cleaning up the watershed, and regulating those who make their living breeding, raising, and slaughtering animals - did NOT show up in great numbers. How do we know this? By looking at the candidates who won and lost. The winners? The candidates with no positive records and/or stated support for these issues. The losers? All of us. And unless those of us who care about these issues take the time - and we're talking MINUTES here, folks - to pressure the officials and judges who won yesterday to do the right thing, we'll all be paying for this atrocious bout of complacency for decades to come. Local elections - for supervisors, commissioners, mayors, etc... - actually have a greater impact on everyone's daily lives than the national elections do. But less than 25% of us care enough to make a 10-minute stop on the way to or from work, over the lunch hour, or after dinner? That's not only sad, it's terrifying.

Yesterday, we had a chance to fill our courts with responsible judges who care about all life on this planet, but we let them - and therefore ourselves - down. We had the chance to break up the old white boys network and elect progressives (not "liberals", per se, but people who look to the future and don't feel disappointment that it's no longer 1950 - or worse, 1850), and we failed to do it.

I cannot express my disappointment adequately in this format, not without using language that doesn't belong in a civilized forum. I hope and pray that the winners in yesterday's election aren't as regressive as I fear they are, and I'm truly willing - as are all the other leaders of PA LOHV chapters - to work with whoever is now in a position to make the world a better place. In the coming months, we'll be making efforts to get to know the newly-elected better and to present our issues to them, and will hope for the best.

Now... let's focus on 2010 and getting a MUCH higher percentage of the voters out, to elect legislators and other officials who'll do some GOOD. If we fail, yet again, we only have ourselves - every voter who doesn't bother to vote - to blame.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd

It's not just a midterm election, which people tend to get less excited about -- it's an off year entirely. But that doesn't mean it's not CRUCIAL that we all get out and vote. Here in PA, there are key elections happening for important judges, and for local officials.

Why is this particularly important to animal protection organizations and voters who care about animal protection? Because judges who take animal cruelty cases seriously make all the difference. You can have all sorts of laws and regulations in place, but if the judges who hand out sentences, or in the case of the Supreme Court, decide if they're legitimate, aren't on board with making animal cruelty a serious offense that results in serious penalties, all the laws and regulations don't do any good. We need people who are willing to put some teeth into the laws we have.

Local officials are also important to animal protection advocates. They decide on things like supporting spay & neuter programs, zoning issues, and regulation of kennels, shelters, and even residents' in terms of the way they treat the animals in their care. They even make decisions about wildlife issues, as we learned here in Lancaster just a few years ago -- it took a long time, but humane solutions won out in our "management" of migratory crows, and poisoning was ended in favor of non-lethal tactics to move crow roosts. So local politics are VERY important, too. And don't forget -- lots of politicians who end up in the House and Senate start out in local roles, as commissioners, supervisors, etc... -- so getting to know them now, and getting them on board for animals, allows us to keep them on our side once they're bigger fish in bigger ponds.

That said, get to the polls tomorrow. Don't put it off and risk forgetting. And please check our endorsements before you head out -- we're endorsing several judges, and two candidates in local races for Mayor of Lancaster City and a supervisor in East Hempfield Township. While, coincidentally, all of our endorsed candidates are Democrats, this is not usually the case -- so PLEASE don't just blindly vote for one party -- as neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have great records, party-wide, on animal protection. A candidate, as an individual, either cares and is sympathetic to our issues, or he/she isn't. That's why we're non-partisan, and when it comes to the animals, that's why voters need to be, too. Vote for the candidate who'll do the best job on the issues you care about. If you're a subscriber to this blog, a key issue for you is animal protection, and our choices this time around are clear:

Thank you! And PLEASE VOTE!!!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Public Comment Needed - Quickly!

The Canine Health Board, which was created by the passage of last year's "Dog Law," has released its proposed rules for commercial kennels. We, the public, have just 45 days to comment on them. Click here to view the document, as published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Once you've read the standards/rules, which pertain to the ventilation (temperature, levels of ammonia and carbon monoxide, air supply & fresh air changes) lighting (prescribed mix of natural and artificial light, nighttime lighting), and flooring (solid, sloped flooring, drain maintenance, flooring materials, cleanliness, no toxic coatings) in commercial kennels, you can write to the following address to voice your support (or opposition, but we'd like everyone to support these changes so that dogs will get relief quickly):

Health Board
c/o Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement
2301 North Cameron Street
Room 102
Harrisburg, PA 17110

In these days of email and online petitions, it seems laborious by comparison to write a letter and mail it, but PLEASE take the time.

Public comment is important for two reasons -- (A) to let them know what you think and (B) so that it's clear that MANY people care about this issue. The legislators, the governor, and the dog board people hear from the same groups and individuals all the time, but it has a huge impact if the general public makes noise on their own, one letter at a time. It really does make a difference.

Your comments can be brief, as in "I support these regulations and hope they'll be implemented quickly and enforced aggressively" or you can comment on the specifics, for any/all areas that interest/concern you. PLEASE SEND YOUR COMMENTS, and be sure they're received before the 45-day deadline (45 days from September 12th, the date of publication). If you get them in the mail by the first week of October, you'll avoid any chance of missing the deadline.

Thank you all in advance for your help!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Wonder

According to the PA SPCA (the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), dog fighting is on the rise in Philadelphia. This is not a surprise to those of us who see chewed up pit bulls on the street and other tell-tale signs of dog fighting -- even in much smaller cities like Lancaster -- and who know, from experience, that dog fighting is considered a standard "outlaw" activity by those who identify themselves as such. The banning of pit bulls by various municipalities around the country has only increased the novelty of these dogs being "used" for illegal purposes -- serving as intimidating guard dogs for drug dealers and gangs, and of course, for use in dog fighting.

Pit bulls, thanks to ignorance and a desire to take an easy position (banning them is easy -- extricating them from the hands of abusers and educating the public takes effort) have become the equivalent of rape victims, accused of inciting their attackers. They're vicious by nature, right? WRONG. Any dog that is habitually abused and purposely trained to fight will be aggressive. The fact, however, that many of Vick's dogs were successfully rehabbed and are now loving companion animals proves that the knee-jerk reaction of local officials was just that -- the reaction of jerks.

Adding to the "no wonder" aspect of this rise in dog fighting, especially in Philadelphia, is the fact that the poster boy for thugs everywhere, Michael Vick, was given a $1.6 million contract by the Philadelphia Eagles. This removed all doubt from other "outlaws'" minds that crime doesn't pay. Not only does it pay, it pays REALLY well. And shame? Forget about it. There's no shame in torturing and killing "man's best friend" - real men don't have any compassion, and even if they perform and support acts of cruelty that go beyond most people's imaginations, there's little or no penalty.

So, while the HSUS (the Humane Society of the US) embraces Vick's alleged "remorse" and is helping Vick peddle his story of being ashamed and rehabilitated (he's not -- or he would not have returned to public life), the PA SPCA has accurately nailed the reality of the situation. Nobody gave the dogs a second chance, and unless Vick donates a huge percentage of his salary to dog rescues, he's not making anything up to anybody. The PA SPCA is not falling for his "I'm so sorry" routine, and nobody else should, either.

Of course, groups the the PA SPCA are actually dealing with the dogs that become victims of the ignorance surrounding pit bulls, so they have much more of a stake in this whole issue. We urge voters everywhere to do two things:

(A) support the shelters and animal protection groups in your area either by donating money or supplies or volunteering to help care for the animals, and

(B) contact your local and state officials/legislators -- and JUDGES, who sadly are not taking the cases that come before them seriously -- and demand stiffer penalties for dog fighting. Only when people start spending some serious time in jail for this horrific "sport" will it lose its appeal.

And those of you living in cities where dog fighting exists, do your part to report the signs of dog fighting -- seeing injured dogs (with bite and scratch marks on their faces, heads, front legs, and hind quarters), finding dead dogs (in dumpsters, empty lots, alleys), seeing known criminals with pit bulls, seeing multiple pit bulls confined on someone's property, and observing a lot of people going in and out of homes where pit bulls have been seen. The report you give (which can be given anonymously) will allow police to break up a dog fighting "business," resulting in arrests, and at the very least, allowing the dogs to be confiscated and the sick thugs running the dog fights to lose some revenue.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

HB 39 Passes, Governor Rendell to Sign

Because there was no opposition to the PA Senate's amendments to HB 39 (the bill that prevents medical procedures being performed on animals without a veterinarian), the House has passed it and it now goes to Governor Rendell for his signature -- and he's expected to sign it.

Click here to read the Senate-amended bill.

Of course, with the Eagles signing Michael Vick, puppy mills continuing to operate (despite recent crack-downs and some closures), factory farming, and draconian Game Commission policies regarding wildlife, PA remains, as many call it, "Hell on Earth for Animals." But we will all continue to support new laws that make some headway, and support legislators who respect both animals and the people who care about them.

Join the League of Humane Voters today -- and allow your voice to be added to our growing numbers, giving voice to the voiceless victims of animal cruelty.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Keeping up the Good Fight

As you can probably imagine, morale within the animal protection community can get pretty low. The endless streams of requests to make calls, sign petitions, and write letters, all accompanied by heart-breaking details of ongoing cruelty and sickening pictures of the atrocities we all fight to stop, can wear us all down, understandably. Sometimes it seems like the stream won't ever end, and given Pennsylvania's abysmal record on animal cruelty (puppy mills, factory farming, lethal wildlife "management", etc...), it's often quite a challenge for activists and others who work to protect animals to not succumb to feelings of helplessness and futility.

SO... when a bill that will help animals is passed in the PA House or Senate, it's a cause for rejoicing, or at least a smile and a renewed sense of purpose - and that smile appeared on our faces here when PA HB 39 passed the PA Senate this week, with a 47-0 vote. If you're not familiar with the bill, it requires that various surgical procedures, including docking of tails, caesarian-sections, spaying and neutering, debarking (which should never be allowed at all, but that's another goal for another piece of legislation) etc... be done only by veterinarians. The bill, which was amended by the Senate, now has to go back to the House for a final vote. Because the House approved it unanimously when they had it the first time, it is expected to pass and then go to Governor Rendell to be signed into law.

Please contact your PA Senators and Representatives and thank them for supporting this bill. HB 39, while not perfect, will go a long way toward ending a lot of the butchering that currently goes on in puppy mills, in attempts to save money and avoid scrutiny of the horrendous conditions going on in these breeding factories. Use the links below to find your legislators:

PA Senate (click here and then enter your zip code into the upper-right corner box)

PA House (click here and then enter your zip code into the upper-right corner box)

There is SO MUCH MORE work to be done - we need stronger laws to protect dogs from all sorts of abuse (24/7 chaining, dog fighting, and all the things puppy millers are STILL allowed to do, thanks to the weak laws and the suspect make-up of the "Dog Law Advisory Board"), and of course, the fight continues for all the laws we need to protect other companion animals, farm animals, animals used in "entertainment," and wildlife, but we'll keep fighting and keep asking you, the VOTERS, to make your voices heard and speak for the silent victims of animal cruelty.