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

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Geronimo the alpaca deserved a more dignified end.

 

The 4 year campaign to save Geronimo's life in the U.K. ended in an unsightly scrum.

The whole tragic and acrimonious tale of the euthanasia of Geronimo the alleged TB suffering alpaca lasted four years. It involved court cases and appeals, a 140,000 petition, a demonstration to Downing Street and appeals direct to Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister. Campaigners camped outside the farm reminiscent of the days of the nuclear protests and the story was covered worldwide.

Unfortunately, it ended in distasteful and unacceptable scenes when the poor animal had to be forcibly removed from his farm. Unpalatable as it may have been, Geronimo’s fate was always going to be irrevocable and it should have been everybody’s priority to make his last moments as calm and peaceful as possible. But this did not happen

A media and campaigner scrum.

There was so much wrong on both sides of the fence during his final hours and unforgivably it turned into a scrum which caused considerable stress, anxiety and upset to poor Geronimo. Noisy supporters and demonstrators vented their frustration and emotions and jostled with the media photographers. There were scenes of paparazzi type photographers chasing after the trailer, jumping up to get their last photos as is often seen with prison vans outside courthouses.

This melee unnecessarily forced a Police cordon to be present to protect the government vets trying to lead Geronimo away. Not surprisingly Geronimo reacted to the close proximity of all these uniformed officers and the commotion surrounding him. Accusations by supporters of the government vets mishandling and causing Geronimo distress appear slightly hypocritical and shouts of “call yourself vets” were uncalled for and unhelpful. They were accused of being murderers, executioners, torturers and slaughterers. I am sure the vets and Geronimo would have preferred a more civilised exit.

Geronimo being led away by government veterinarians for euthanasia
Geronimo could have done without the melee surrounding his departure.

Geronimo could have been given a more peaceful and respectful end to his life.

It could have been such a different story. Geronimo could have been given the opportunity for a quiet and humane euthanasia in his stable surrounded by people he knew to calm him during his final moments as we would do with our precious pet dog or cat. Or the owner could have done more to keep the circus away and allowed the vet to calmly lead Geronimo to the trailer or even to have done it herself although this would of course have been upsetting.

Well-meaning supporters allowed their emotions to get the better of them.

The well-meaning people present when he was removed from the farm did the poor animal no favours. They allowed their emotions to get the better of them and they lost sight of the wellbeing of the animal they were supposedly so concerned about. They should have put Geronimo’s best interests first by being more respectful.

The whole episode was tragic and although I applaud the concerted efforts of his supporters to save his life, their actions in his final hours just made his death more distressing and pitiful. If Geronimo had been my pet I would have also have fought to save him, but I would have hated to see the life of an animal of mine end in such circumstances.

Geronimo imported from New Zealand for stud.

Although all the coverage portrayed Geronimo as a beloved pet, he was also an expensive stud animal imported from New Zealand to improve the gene line on the alpaca breeding farm which had apparently operated for 15 years. There are hundreds of thousands of them in New Zealand and Australia bred to slaughter for meat.

He was also one of 45,000 alpacas and other camelids in the U.K. involved in the burgeoning breeding and farming of them for their fleece and their meat. As such they are treated as livestock and subject to TB checks. Unfortunately he was was found to be positive in two blood tests although this has always been contested.

Alpacas are killed daily in the U.K.

In 2020, 205 alpacas and other camelids were culled due to TB and over 28,000 cattle and dairy cows along with countless badgers because of the threat of this contagious disease. Their fate goes mainly unnoticed.

As does the fact that in the UK more alpacas are slaughtered each year for their meat, and because they are either unsuitable for breeding or their fleeces are degrading. There are also large numbers of unwanted and abandoned alpacas each year which has resulted in Alpaca rescues having to be set up.

Realistically we should be attempting to stop the keeping of alpacas, llamas and camels in the U.K. so that this kind of incident need not arise.

He was euthanised on Tuesday 31 August 2021.

RIP Geronimo another victim of our passion for exotic meats and clothing.


Olympic Games horse cruelty no surprise

 Cruelty in equestrian sports

No reason to involve horses in Modern Heptathlon.

Olympic games horse cruelty should be no surprise as it is nothing new. A decade ago, there was a furore over cruel practices inthe dressage event. This time it was the show jumping section of the modern pentathlon which raised concerns and rightly so. It is not exactly an equestrian sport per se, but a cobbled together event of outdoorsy type sports of swimming, fencing, running and shooting which some misguided person decided unnecessarily add show jumping.

What makes the show jumping portion of the event contentious is the way it is organised which is a recipe for ill treatment of the horse. Competitors are only given 20 minutes to bond with totally unfamiliar horses which are drawn by lot. They are taken round the course several times by different riders.  Those involved are not necessarily the elite as owners of expensive well-trained and experienced horses are obviously reluctant to hire them out for such stress and risk of injury. The competitors who are accomplished in a wide variety of sports are not necessarily competent or experienced riders.

Told to hit "it" by trainer.

The incident at the centre of the furore this time involved a horse named Saint Boy ridden at the time by German rider Annika Schleu who was tipped for a medal. Saint Boy was not keen to enter the course with her, refused to jump, bucked, was sweating and was allegedly upset. Annika obviously became frustrated and stressed at seeing her medal hopes disappearing which resulted in her shouting and weeping which couldn’t have helped the demeanour of Sant Boy. 

She was urged to use her crop by her trainer, Kim Raisner, who was heard to shout  in the empty arena: “Go on, go on hit it”. This remark of using “it” rather than “him” is telling and expresses how the horse was viewed. The trainer Kim Raisner later allegedly hit the horse and was suspended by the governing body the International Modern Pentathlon Union  for “appearing to strike the horse Saint Soy with her fist”.

Should Be of Concern to all equestrians.

What was surprising is that the trainer involved thought it acceptable and reasonable to punch the horse in full view of onlookers.  But the equestrian industry has a habit of turning a blind eye to equine sports that obviously cause suffering , injury and death as in the case of endurance racing, Grand National, cross country and dressage to name a few. Forcing horses to jump when they obviously do not want to, using the crop whip excessively, and having riders shouting, weeping and breaking down is not really the best way to behave. It all seems rather unsavoury and surely any reasonable person or experienced equestrian with a love of horses must watch this awful spectacle with great concern.

Although it is argued that all the criticism and hate directed at the rider and trainer following the incident was overblown and no harm was caused by striking the horse, it is the attitude and intent of those involved that should be the worry. Striking out at a horse either verbally or physically through frustration is a telling indication of how the animal is viewed. When things do not go right or as expected in the search for success and glory the frustration leads to the horse just becoming a piece of equipment to vent this anger. No different to a tennis player smashing a racket or a batsman their bat.  It makes one wonder what goes on behind the scenes when they are willing to openly indulge in such actions.

The is no reason for horses to be involved. It is a human’s choice to push their bodies to the limit and risk injury or death in their search for glory and self-satisfaction and their pursuit of this should not involve animals. The welfare of the animals must take precedence over winning medals. The modern pentathlon should not involve horses in the first place and let’s face it there is an easy solution by replacing them with rock climbing or mountain biking.

 


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?

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Creative Dog Grooming, Mutilation and Humiliation


Judging by some of the outlandish mutilations of dogs on TV and social media, creative grooming appears to be getting out of control. I cannot understand how any dog owner who sincerely has any love or respect for their supposed best friend could allow them to be put through such humiliation, but then I am just a dog lover myself and obviously do not “get it” or understand this phenomenon.

Creative dog grooming has been around since the sixties and its invention is blamed on the age of the hippies who coloured and dressed their pets. It is not new as the UK has held a championship for many years and the USA since 1973 but it is only recently that it has become more outrageous.

Dog Grooming out of control.

Creativedog grooming is described as a way for groomers to deviate from breed profile grooms by using colour dyes, extensions and carving in order to turn a dog into another animal or famous character. It has become a very profitable service for professional groomers, but like many crazes, things get out of hand when social media and TV step in and everyone loses sight of the animals involved.

It was sadly a UK nation of dog lover’s company, Beyond Productions, that came up with the idea, modelled on Strictly Come Dancing and Singing contests with a panel of judges. It is obviously destined to become a global franchise. Australia’s Seven Network has a version and ABC in the USA  has ten groomers competing in a serious of “outrageous themed challenges”.

Pooch perfect a bad influence.

The UK version of “Pooch Perfect” hasn’t quite stooped as low as the American version but give it time. It’s Facebook page states that the program ‘celebrates the nation’s love of dogs’, but it seems a strange way of showing it. They also insist their groomers must let their imagination off the lead when they give four curly coated canines a cute teddy bear trim. Note the pun there.

Even the mainstream media take a light-hearted approach and see no harm it with quotes such as Ever thought your dog wasn’t jazzy enough, and that maybe with a pair of scissors and a tin of spray paint you could have the best looking mutt in town”.



There is no shortage of owners willing to put their dogs forward for this humiliation and have a chance of getting on TV and audiences are lapping it up judging by comments on social media and the show’s website. American owners are willing to do whatever it takes to make their dogs the wackiest in attempting to win $5,000. There is even a veterinarian on the panel of the judges, so the veterinary profession must believe its harmless. Really?

It will not be long,  I am sure, when we will be back in the good old days of the circus and have barking contests, beauty shows, dressing up shows and dogs doing tricks on TV. Am I missing something here? Is it really just good fun? Am I just being an old grouch or is it a sign that we have fundamentally lost sight of our respect for animals?


Friday, 2 April 2021

Escobar's hippos. The ultimate invasive species.

 


You cannot get a more obvious and intrusive alien invasive species running wild in a foreign land than hippos and in the normal course of events such a situation should not happen but in the case of the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar in Colombia and his private zoo at Hacienda Napoles it did and it is now causing scientists consternation and disagreement.

Pablo Escobar managed to legally and illegally import into Colombia a whole private zoo from all parts of the world in the 1980’s and these included four illegally imported hippos. How its possible to smuggle such large animals into a country is another matter, but there were also giraffes, elephants, kangaroos and many other species.

Hippos left to fend for themselves.

When Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993 most of the animals were left to fend for themselves including the four hippos who took up residence in a local river and in the space of thirty years have allegedly increased their numbers to a staggering 80-100. A wonderful breeding achievement proving that you do not necessarily need a bunch of scientists in a zoo with their artificial insemination to breed animals. But some scientists and conservationists hate invasive species and prefer everything to remain in its right order and place as nature intended. This is because in some circumstances they eradicate indigenous animals and plants and muck up the ecosystems and biodiversity and the knee jerk reaction is always to kill them.

In this case, because of the difficulty and expense in relocating them, and the fact that the locals love them, are making money out of tourists visiting them and fingers crossed no one so far has been seriously injured or killed, they are at the moment being left alone. There have been attempts to neuter them but with so many this is now proving impractical. Some university study groups and scientists have wildly estimated that there could be as many as 1,500 by the year 2035 if the Colombian government do not act now. But unusually in such cases the Government are presently protecting them.

One of the greatest challenges of invasive species in the world.

One has to wonder why there wasn’t earlier intervention to remove them before their numbers got out of control and why wildlife rescue, university study groups and scientists didn’t step in sooner. One group has stated that they are “one of the greatest challenges of invasive species in the world”. but now that they are situ I am all for leaving them be as they now obviously form a colony outside of Africa which could prove useful in the future. And there are many studies in progress to monitor them so there could be many lessons to be learned from leaving animals to without our intervention.

Invasive species are a worldwide problem mainly caused as always by the hand of humans abandoning exotic pets or historically introducing them to benefit human occupation. In Australia and New Zealand it is feral cats and dogs, in Europe it is animals like the coypu, in the USA it is alligators, turtles and snakes. In the UK it is grey squirrels, mink and ruddy ducks. They are blamed for all sorts of things by us which is a tad rich when the major invasive species at work on the planet has always been homo sapiens wherever they have decided to take up residence and irreparably destroy the local biodiversity.

 


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.


Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Remembering the shooting of Harambe the Gorilla





The shooting of Harambe the gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo in May 2016 on the premise that he might have harmed a human was proof that human life will always takes precedence over that of an animal.

Harambe died through no fault of his own.


On the afternoon of 28 May 2016 a three-year-old boy fell into the moat of the gorilla pen at Cincinnati Zoo in the USA, which at the time contained three gorillas. The two females were tempted from the pen, but Harambe, a 17-year-old male endangered lowland gorilla, was fascinated by the child splashing about in the water and went over to investigate. The screaming crowd of onlookers agitated and confused Harambe and he dragged the child through and out of the water.
Zoo officials were afraid for the child’s life and so the zoo marksman was called and Harambe was shot dead. Although the zoo was criticised for not doing more to save the child and Harambe, Mr Holloway, a zoo spokesman stated, screams from the crowd further agitated Harambe and it’s a horrible call to have to makebut human life will always take precedence over the animal.’ The incident became headline news worldwide and caused considerable controversy and a year after his death he had become the biggest meme of the year with memorials held all over the world.

We prefer animals to entertain us rather than seriously conserve them

Harambe died through no fault of his own, but because he fell foul of our human precedence belief and because we like to treat animals as objects of entertainment. Had his enclosure been designed for the safety and interests of the gorillas over that of the public or better still excluding the public to allow Harambe and his mates to get on with conserving their species undisturbed, he would still be alive.
If we can kill such an endangered animal as a gorilla in a breeding programme doesn’t all this make a mockery of our supposed serious intention to preserve animals for the future.
Harambe RIP
So the moral of the story is that although gorillas are sentient, are an endangered and protected species, are closely related to us and disappearing at an alarming rate in the wild and that Harambe was doing his bit for conserving his species by being part of a breeding program, none of this saved him or was of any consequence.  I suspect that even if he had been the last male gorilla on the planet, his life would not have been  considered more important than that of a human.  Animals will unfortunately always come second to humans whatever the situation or circumstances as we could never bring ourselves to perhaps save an animal at the expense of a member of our own species.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Police Horses' Lives Matter Too



The fact that police horses must wear protective clothing is testament to the dangers they face.



It was saddening to see yet again police horses finding themselves caught in the middle and being abused, this time in Whitehall, London on Saturday during the Black Lives Matter demonstration. They cease to be horses in these situations and become authoritarian entities and many people who in normal circumstances may treat animals with compassion lose all reason in their efforts to attack or injure the figure sitting on them.

Over the past years we have seen, time and again, police horses put at risk and violently attacked when the frenzy of confrontation gets out of hand. There will always be people who see no harm in hurting animals but putting that aside there is no excuse for throwing bicycles, flares, and other objects at them. 

Many will contend that if they were not there they would not get hurt and this is absolutely right as in these modern civilised times they shouldn’t be. But if we are truly civilised we should not be taking out our anger on them, either intentionally or accidentally. In trying to injure or unseat the rider the innocent horse maybe viewed as collateral damage. The police officer could easily be killed or bystanders seriously injured by a fleeing horse. How urbane is that?

And what about the mental impact on the animal as the runaway horse seen on Saturday was clearly terrified? What also was the sense in cantering the horses through a melee on wet slippery roads during a downpour - where was the health and safety risk assessment there? The runaway horse showed extremely good sense by finding its own way home away from the chaos.

We are now well into the 21st century, with the Police possessing high-tech equipment for every eventuality and yet forces around the world still seem unable to combat crime or deal with disturbances without resorting to putting horses (or dogs) at risk on the front-line. The fact that the horses must wear protective equipment is testament to the risk of injury.
In 2018, a police horse name “Morecombe” tragically died after falling on a metal pole which punctured his stomach while patrolling a football match, having slipped while “responding to reports of disorder”. He is not the only fatality in recent years. Although many police forces in the UK have already got rid of their horse section and retired them to normal lives, most still feel a need for them.

When are we going to remove the danger to everyone – horse, rider and public by banishing them to their best and most useful role as ambassadors and ceremonial participants or better still retire them? Once again we have seen that there are no qualms about attacking or injuring a horse regardless of the new “Finn’s law”.