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Animal Rights and Wrongs.Com, and its sister blog animalrightsandwrongs.uk. are predominately animal welfare focused websites and have over 150 articles on pet-keeping, animal welfare, rights and law issues. To read more articles on the main site please use this link: Animal Rights & Wrongs UK

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Showing posts with label animal cruelty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animal cruelty. Show all posts

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Celebrity Chefs, tarantula eating and our love of being made to squirm.


Do we need to see such eating habits being promoted by TV celebrity chefs?

With the ever increasing popularity of veganism and plant based food it is surprising that most celebrity chefs continue to revel in promoting exotic meat eating and even worse, insist on sampling any creature put in front of them.

This is particularly so when let loose in a foreign land with a TV crew and a director who wants some shocking footage to make us squirm and create outrage in order to attract publicity. Many chefs appear happy to go along with the fun of sampling some living or dead exotic creature regardless of the message it might send. But is it really necessary? A local restaurant near me recently received widespread free publicity across the media for their new menu of squirrel and muntjac shot by the chef himself to guarantee freshness and added interest to the story.

People love celebrity chefs, but their behaviour towards the various exotic animals they choose to eat can influence others to follow suit. They should have more responsibility to ensure the message they might portray with their antics takes into consideration animal welfare and rights. But being predominately committed meat eaters it doesn't appear to cross their mind.

We love to see sights that make us squirm.

This sensation seeking follows the pattern of the TV celebrity “get me out of here” programme syndrome and on their safaris to exotic places, their producers and directors know the viewers love to see their stars eating any animal that moves to get a reaction.

No doubt they will counter that it is all in the pursuit of understanding cultural eating habits and pushing the boundaries of gastronomic delights, but of course this could be done without the chef participating. There is no necessity to give everything, no matter how nauseating, a try but better to just pass comment on it and in these Covid times with the alleged links of disease crossovers from eating wildlife it might be a time to discontinue such practices.

Many celebrity chefs have got into trouble.

Many chefs have rightly found themselves in trouble with animal lovers over their eating habits including chef Fearnley-Whittingstall. He is not ashamed about causing controversy by boasting he has eaten giraffe, fruit bats, and squirrels  as long as the animals are killed responsibly. He thankfully draws the line at eating endangered species which is good of him.

In an episode of Ainsley Harriott's Street Food series he is shown in a Korean wet market manhandling and being frightened by a live snake destined for the pot, brushing it off his shoulder to fall to the concrete floor. He commented that he hates live snakes but enjoys eating them.

Gordon Ramsey received what was probably welcome publicity for one of his shows when visiting Cambodia. He attempted to eat a tarantula, a practice known locally as “a-ping.” He failed to get past a piece of crunchy leg so it was a wasted exercise, but it got the reaction required. Such publicity though has made the practice an Instagram must for tourists and has caused the spiders to become increasingly rare and closer to extinction locally.

https://youtu.be/9Z_UndhO2ME

Rick Stein is also not adverse to trying out anything offered to him especially if it has a marketable cringe factor for the programme such as eating animal eyeballs.  He got into trouble in 2015 when his BBC 2 programme featured him taking part in the cruel practice of feeding coffee beans to badly treated captive civet cats in Indonesia. The poor civets "produce" Kopi Luwak coffee by eating and secreting the coffee berries and of course he had to sample it.

This insistence on sampling and supporting the unnecessary eating of exotic creatures for the camera should be past its sell by date and is overused and celebrity chefs should give more thought to the implications of what they promote. And where are all the celebrity vegan and vegetarian chefs on prime time television?

Friday, 25 June 2021

Emotional Support Animals. America finally sees sense.

 

Emotional Support Pony on aircraft

An end to the farce.

Finally, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) took action in December 2020 to amend theAir Carrier Act and restrict carriage in the cabin of Emotional support Animals (ESA) to proven trained service dogs which have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability”. Under the new rules, animals such as pigs, ponies, turkeys, snakes and possums and other exotic animals will rightly be designated as pets and must be paid for and travel in the holds.

Airlines now have the leverage to refuse to take animals and it is not surprising that within weeks virtually every US airline immediately banned ESA’s. Alaskan airlines were the first quickly followed by United, American and Delta. United airlines have stated that “the change will further ensure a safe and accessible travel experience for our customers”. Well any sane person can understand that, but there has still been an outcry from individuals insisting they need a cockerel or a peacock or crocodile or whatever to steady their nerves.

Very little to do with Emotional Support

I wrote an article a year ago on the farce of so-called Emotional Support animals in America varying from ponies to possums being allowed in the cabins of aircraft to ease the flying worries of their owners. How much of it was ever genuine is obvious as it appeared only to be a chance for people to try and outdo each other with photographs and video on social media or enable their pets to travel free. Agencies suddenly sprang up to provide dubious accreditation for the animals and also online sites offering fraudulent certificates.

Increase in 'negative incidents'.

The number of ESA’s carried on aircraft jumped from 481,000 in 2016 to 751,000 in 2017 and a 14% increase in 2018. And there has been a sharp increase in “negative incidents” caused by animals and we can imagine what these were. Strangely many cabin crew appeared to welcome these animal passengers.

The airlines quite rightly have been arguing about the stupidity of the situation for a long time and pointed out all the health and safety issues involved to both cabin crew and other passengers, but it had fallen on mainly deaf ears until now. The Airlines for America lobbying organisation has been pushing for the change for over a year. The question is what took so long?


Thursday, 4 February 2021

Should animal rescues dress up animals

 


Do we really need wigs, hats, and sunglasses to make animals more homeable.

The Flagler Humane Society in Florida received worldwide coverage of their recent “creative” and “ingenious” scheme to find homes for three of their left behind elderly dogs by dressing them up as old people. Such an action raises the question of whether animal welfare organisations should be condoning dressing up animals and possibly sending out the wrong message to animal owners. I think most animal owners have occasionally popped a hat and sunglasses on their pet as a bit of harmless fun but it is not a trait or habit that should be encouraged.


It is a constant problem for rescues, as I well know being a former animal home manager, to find new places for elderly dogs. Most people do not want the heartache of taking on an animal that may just live for a few years. Although it would be a perfect fit to match elderly people with aged dogs this rarely possible. This can cause desperation for many rescues when anything goes in the search for these elusive homes.


Pet industry makes a fortune out of our fads.


Surely though we are hitting a low point when Humane Societies and other rescues are reduced to dressing animals in wigs, hats, scarves and jumpers to get our attention. It doesn’t say much for our pet loving qualities when prospective owners only feel a dog becomes more worthy of a home when it suddenly becomes cute and adorable by wearing a hat and sunglasses.

Costumes for animals are big business for the pet trade, who have no interest in the ethical or welfare aspects of doing so, only the multi-millions they make out of our inane insistence to dress our pets up to make them look cute. Just because these outfits are available doesn’t mean we have to buy them or believe they are suitable or morally right. Very little thought is given to whether they may be uncomfortable, cumbersome, or even frightening.

The issue highlights the divide between animal welfare and animal rights.

The RSPCA and other welfare organisations as usual sit on the fence and guardedly warn against the practice while also giving tips and advice on how to ethically dress them up. Animal rights organisations, such as PETA, are obviously against the practice. Ardent animal rights advocates were probably horrified at an animal welfare organisation showing such little respect for the dignity of animals and their status. It is a classic example of the often great divide between the philosophy of animal welfare and animal rights.


Although needs must and this “ingenious” stunt was successful, with the three dogs finding new homes, there must be a risk that it sends out the wrong message to all those who already paint the nails and dress up their pets, buy bizarre outfits for them and pierce them. Perhaps our perceptions of acceptable behaviour towards animals is becoming rather skewed and if so, it is not a particularly edifying state of affairs.

 


Celebrities parading their ear cropped dogs.


Jordan Banjo joins a long list of "celebrities" with ear cropped dogs.

Ear cropping dogs in the UK has been banned since 2006 when the Animal Welfare Act made it illegal, but it is still an increasingly common sight to see these dogs being openly paraded in U.K streets and on social media. This is because ear cropped dogs are readily available from many countries in Europe and the USA and there is no ban on importing them making a mockery of the law.

Over the years there has been a long line of “celebs” parading their cropped and docked dogs on social media all professing either ignorance or indifference to the fact that it fuels the demand, their only interest being the “coolness” of it. The latest is Diversity star Jordan Banjo who in December 2020 posted pictures of his new dog Sergio with cropped ears which was met thankfully, and apparently to his surprise, by a barrage of condemnation. In his defence he is quoted as saying:

”I can't pretend to have known all of the information on cropped ears, I don't even want to pretend to be misinformed, to be blunt I didn't even think about it in the first instance. I didn't get his ears cut, I didn't even import him. It upsets me to think that Sergio or any dog goes through this purely to look 'cooler'” Jordan Banjo

There are no health benefits to ear cropping.

Once dog’s ears or tail are mutilated there is obviously no going back but making it illegal to own one, prosecuting anyone seen with a puppy with hefty fines and publicity given would soon send the word out and help deter people. Dogs could be handed back to the prosecuted owners if circumstances allowed and certified in the same way that some working dogs are, but if the sentencing was severe with a mandatory amount it would eventually curtail the trade.


Cropping is purely cosmetic and has no health benefits. There is no medical evidence that it prevents ear infections as often claimed by its proponents or any other health benefits. It is an inhumane and unnecessary procedure that serves no purpose other than changing the appearance of a dog. It is done more for the vanity of the owner than the well-being of the dog and because of a perverse belief that it makes the dogs look the way they

 

There are companies that legally import dogs with cropped ears.


The ban, like many animal welfare laws in the UK was not given enough thought and was never fit for purpose because it did not make it illegal to own an ear cropped dog imported from abroad.  Taking a dog to another country to have the procedure done in order to  circumvent the law and allowing the suffering to take place elsewhere is also allowed.

There are companies that legally import dogs with cropped ears into the UK and there is nothing to stop owners taking their dogs to countries in Europe that still allow it or even the USA and bring them back. There is little point in reporting them as the owners can legitimately claim they were done abroad.


Finally the UK government has woken up to the situation and are considering changing or tightening the legislation.


Monday, 9 November 2020

In it together. The bond between the men and the war horses.

three world war one soldiers treating a war horse's injured leg.
Caring for a wounded WW1 horse.

They fought together, rested and ate together and ultimately died together.

It is that time of year when we remember the fallen in wars, particularly those in the Great War. Last year, being the 100th. anniversary of the armistice, I was prompted to try and discover more about the role one of my grandfathers played in the war. His name was Edwin Clark and I was only four years old when he died so knew little about him. I soon discovered that he had a full on war in the Canadian Field Artillery and it came as a pleasant surprise to find that he had the dangerous job of a “driver” looking after and riding the horses that pulled the guns.

I gathered so much information that I decided to write a book about his eventful personal war. But during my research I was so intrigued with the men’s obvious emotional relationship with their horses, the story became as much about the heroics and deprivations of the horses as the men.

The men spent most of their waking hours caring for them often under almost impossible conditions. They fought together, rested and ate together, often slept together and ultimately died together. There is no getting away from the fact that their lives were unforgiving and unremitting, but at the same time the men responsible for them lavished as much care as they could to alleviate their suffering and formed incredible bonds with them.

She is very stupid but I love her – a soldier wrote this on the back of the photograph. Credit: National Museum of Scotland.

The men were devoted to the horses.

The horses and mules became friends, confidants, fellow comrades and pseudo counsellors with who the men could air their grievances, discuss their suffering and help alleviate their depression and melancholy. Without their companionship the physical and mental well-being of the men would have been worse than it was. The relationship is probably one of the ultimate examples of man’s dependence on animals for solace.

Their devotion to the horses is evident by how an officer responsible for censoring their letters home to mothers, wives and girlfriends stated:

“Drivers almost wept as they wrote of their faithful friends – the horses – wishing so much that they could be given more feed and better shelter. Such care and attention they gave these dumb animals. When nothing else was available an old sock was used to rub them down or to bandage a cracked heel while breast collar and girth were eased by wrapping light articles around the harness to keep it from rubbing the sore spot”.

Legitimate targets

The horses and mules were viewed as legitimate targets by both sides. They faced being shelled, bombed, gassed, sometimes shot and suffered horrific shrapnel injuries. Many suffered shell shock and remarkably others learned to lie down and take cover when under fire.  Like most of the human recruits, the horses had never experienced such noise, chaos, smells, violence and hardships and they did not have the capacity to realise what was happening to them or likely to happen to them. So everything occurring around them was terrifying until they became accustomed to it.

There are no exact statistics on the average lifespan of a World War One horse arriving at the front, but for most of them it was very short. They died in large numbers daily and were replaced by new recruits. Very few managed to survive the whole war. The few that did manage to see it through to the end were shown no compassion and were just slaughtered for meat or sold to work on farms, being logistically too difficult and expensive to repatriate. Their suffering was immense and unlike the men, none of them returned home.

I find it rather poignant that when Edwin, my grandfather was severely wounded for the third time and invalided from the war, just four weeks before it ended, he was tending to the horses. He was giving them their nightly feed, water and grooming a mile behind the front line when an enemy plane flew over and dropped bombs in the midst of them killing and wounding many drivers and horses. Edwin did thankfully make it back, but after three years continuous action in most of the major battles on the western front he returned both physically and mentally scarred. We owe them all so much.



Wednesday, 27 May 2020

U.K animal sanctuary owner charged for alleged suffering of animals.



I have made comments before about the ease in which well-meaning people can set up animal sanctuaries and rescues in the U.K and apply to be bona fide charities with little or no investigation or inspection and often without the knowledge, experience, financial stability or understanding of the long term responsibilities and difficulties they might face.
While so many of the major animal charities abide by stringent health and safety policies, regular veterinary inspections of animals, adequate staffing levels, state of the art housing and care it seems unfair and ludicrous for “pop-up” charities to import large numbers of street dogs into their homes or set up rescues and sanctuaries in their backyards or garage.
In my article Downfall of the Alternate Animal Sanctuary I used the alleged plight of the animals housed at this sanctuary as an example, but unfortunately this is not an isolated case. This sanctuary housed hundreds of animals of various types often with only the owner to care for them and with 106 dogs being kept together in her house.
She was a registered charity fundraising through an agency which took most of the money raised and the Charity Commission had her under investigation since 2016 for financial irregularities  and instigated a statutory inquiry. The sanctuary was raided three times by Police, local authorities and the RSPCA seizing large numbers of animals at great expense, but the sanctuary continued operating with the owner taking in more animals to fill the places of those taken away. It highlights the lack of powers the local authorities, the police and the Charity Commission have in the UK to regulate or close down such mismanaged premises when it all goes wrong.

Animal Sanctuary owner is charged for causing alleged unnecessary suffering to animals in her care.

On May 9 2020, a year to the week after the animals were seized by police and RSPCA, the owner was charged with nine criminal offences including six counts of causing unnecessary suffering to horses, dogs, cats, pigs and three counts of failing in her duty to ensure the welfare of animals in her care.
The unnecessary suffering charges relate to a failure to get veterinary attention for 2 long-haired cats with ear infections, chronic dental disease in 8 cats, infected wounds on 3 Shar-Pei dogs, a leg injury to a Husky dog, routine dental treatment and parasites on 3 horses and an ingrown tusk on a boar.
The other charges relate to failing to provide suitable food and fresh water to the animals in her care and not providing a suitable living environment for 14 pigs and 70 cats. She was also charged with failing to protect three dogs from pain, suffering, injury or disease. The case was adjourned until June 4 and it will prove interesting to see the reaction to the result whether proven or not, any punishment that may be imposed and whether the sanctuary is allowed to continue operating.
The complaints that the animals were allegedly suffering from gives an indication that the staff of the sanctuary did not have the experience or expertise to recognise or provide the necessary care the animals urgently required or an understanding of the potential ongoing problems of accepting them in the first place.
When sanctuaries and rescues like this fail, it is the stress and anguish to the animals when they must be removed for their own safety which is the most tragic consequence of it all. Hopefully this case might encourage all the authorities and agencies involved to push for urgent legislation to bring some kind of measure of control over these establishments.


Monday, 25 May 2020

From Ant to Elephant, Come Fly With Us.

Here is a conundrum: what is the difference between a companion pet and an emotional support animal or an ESA as everyone likes to call them?
For those outside countries like the USA who are not familiar with this relatively new phenomenon, an ESA is an animal not trained to perform a specific task to aid a disabled person in the way that service animals like guide dogs are, but only provides comfort and support in the form of affection and companionship for any individual suffering from a mental or emotional condition.
In a rational world the answer to the above question should be that there is no difference as ESAs are just people’s pets. I have always been under the impression that companion pets were bred over generations to perform this purpose, but for some reason we feel the need to give some of them special status. But the real question is whether by just giving them a different title they should be allowed to be used to cause so many problems for airlines and their passengers.

ESAs have no legal status

Service animals have many legal rights in most countries such as accompanying their owner into hotels, restaurants and on board aircraft whereas an ESA has no legal status, but a few countries such as the USA appear to foolishly allow them to travel in aircraft cabins and they are now paying the price. ESA ownership and registration has become a burgeoning industry in the USA, fraught with accusations of fraudulent use.
For a pet to become an ESA they have to be certified as serving a purpose by a health professional so that they can legitimately accompany the owner on aircraft but this has led to a trade in providing alleged fake certificates from online sites. Some have suggested that there are now more fraudulent support animals then there are legitimate ones.
Now the situation has been compounded by the U.S. regulatory authorities designating mini horses as suitable service animals which forces airlines to carry them as well. It is difficult to see where this madness will end.


ESAs can be an ant or an elephant

Over the last few years, the whole situation has become a circus – literally. Because these pets do not require specific training, they can be anything from an ant to an elephant. This is why social media is full of photographs of  mini horses, goats, kangaroos, snakes, peacocks, ferrets, lambs, and parrots. Social media in fact loves it with cute and light-hearted videos and photographs making the practice appear fun for all concerned, but on the other hand is it much fun for the animals and other passengers. Many cabin crew also seem to find it “cute”. They may be a comfort to the owner but who is comforting the animal. It has even been known for passengers to bring a support animal to support the support animal.
How is this fair on the animal or fellow passengers?

ESAs are just pets?

It has become such a problem that the US Department of Transport is seeking to amend the transportation regulations in 2020 to ensure that “our air transportation system is safe for the travelling public and accessible to individuals with disabilities” and to recognise ESAs as pets rather than service animals. The new rules would not ban airlines from accepting ESAs but would not require airlines to take them and each individual airline could enforce their own rules.
Delta airlines reportedly carries 700 support animals daily and 250,000 annually and they have seen a 84% increase in hygiene and biting  incidents. In 2018 United airlines apparently saw a 75% increase and carried 76,000. It is so out of control that airlines have been compelled to constantly change policies and to compile and amend lists of animals they will accept as well as provide extra forms to complete in regard to the behavioural nature of the animals and insurance risks.
No one seems to be addressing whether all this is necessary in the first place. And have also overlooked the needs of fellow passengers who may have allergies, phobias or just have no wish to travel with a menagerie.

Could this happen in the U.K.?

Unfortunately while the USA wrestles with the problem, UK airlines who sensibly do not allow ESAs in the cabin, could face similar problems. There are certain groups in the UK keen to introduce the practice here such as the UK Emotional Support Animal Registry established in 2017 who are pushing for similar legal recognition for dogs and cats which could then give leeway to force airlines to accept them.  
Having once spent many years as an animal health inspector at Heathrow Airport enforcing rabies, bird import and animal transport welfare regulations I spent a lot of time catching escaped animals on board aircraft and haranguing various american airlines particularly Pan Am for allowing animals in the cabin. I was called to assist many dogs and cats which were wedged into small containers designed to fit underneath the seats and took many prosecutions for causing what back then we deemed unnecessary suffering and I would hate it all to begin again.