Ariz town bans animals as prizes

Jennifer Aniston may let chickens roam at her newly refurbished, $21 million Bel Air mansion, but Fountain Hills, Arizona, has unanimously amended the town code to prohibit the practice of giving away as game prizes live animals, reptiles, fish, fowl and insects.

The Republic reports that state law already prohibits giving away live animals as prizes in games of chance. However, animals can still be given away as jennifer.aniston.chicken.13prizes in games of skill, such as hitting a target with either a ball or a dart, or the ring toss.

The loophole in state law allowed Scottsdale-based Frazier Shows to give away rabbits, turtles and fish at its carnival in Fountain Hills last November, Kavanagh said.

When alerted by residents that live animals were being given as prizes, the mayor said she was “shocked and appalled” that any organization in today’s society would do this and called the practice “cruel and inhumane.”

The mayor said she received numerous calls from parents panicked about having to care for the animals and the potential for contracting diseases. Many of them didn’t want to just let the rabbits go in the wash, she said.

Nosestretcher alert: rhetoric of comparing actual with estimated cases of E. coli to make a political point

Get the data right.

There are many rhetorical flourishes available to advance a particular viewpoint, but they all crumble if the data is wrong.

Mike Baker of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) International cites a report by his group in the Huffington Post that allegedly found “the tendency to rear animals in confined indoor spaces, using selective HappyCow[1]breeds and intensive management methods to dramatically increase production to satisfy voracious consumer demand for meat and other animal products is putting human health in serious danger. … The report illustrates how intensive farming practices are increasing the risk of these dangerous bacteria in our food chain, as stressed animals become more susceptible to infection.”

It’s one of those arguments which leave the brain comfortably numb; it seems so intuitive, it must be true.

Here’s the nosestretcher: in comparing the intensive methods of cattle rearing in the U.S. with the more bucolic practices in the UK — birthplace of mad cow disease and mushy peas — Baker says “the U.S. has around 73,000 human cases a year, compared to fewer than 1,000 in England and Wales, a significant difference even when the population discrepancy is taken into account.”

Yes, it’s a significant difference, because Baker is comparing estimated cases of E. coli O157:H7 in the U.S. with actual cases of E. coli O157:H7 in the U.K. cow.poop2There are about 500 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 annually in the U.S. Throw in other shiga-toxin producing E. coli and the numbers are higher.

The UK Health Protection Agency stated in 2011, “In the UK the most common form of E. coli is the O157 strain, with the majority of outbreaks linked to open farm visits where children may have been in contact with animals such as sheep, goats, cattle or their environments.”

Get the data right.

CCTV for live animal exports? ‘If there’s nothing to hide let the public see’

The use of closed circuit television or some form of video surveillance is increasingly being used to monitor animal welfare procedures at slaughterhouses – who wants to be held hostage by the last plant hire who may be recording stuff for an activist group – and is starting to be used to enhance food safety techniques.

Australia has a significant business involving life animal export for overseas slaughter.

The Brisbane Times reports that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has written to the Australian Livestock Exporters Council offering to pay for cameras on export boats and an.welfare.videoapproved international slaughterhouses in a bid to stamp out cruelty.

The trade has been plagued by frequent revelations of inhumane treatment of animals.

The group’s director of campaigns, Jason Baker, wrote to the livestock council chief executive Alison Penfold with the offer to ”pay to install and monitor surveillance cameras on each ship that transports animals from Australia to be slaughtered overseas as well as in all the slaughterhouses approved by the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System’.’

Under the plan the footage would be available on the Internet on a live stream. He said video would also make it easier to identify and attend to animals that become sick or injured on board the ships.

”If there is nothing to hide, why not let the public see what life is like for animals on live-export ships?” Mr Baker wrote.

Ms Penfold said the matter was one for individual export supply chain participants. She said a focus on training and support was ”the best investment to changing practices and behaviors towards livestock and will deliver lasting improvements to animal welfare outcomes.”

 

Alleged chicken ring found in NZ

Authorities have swooped on an alleged illegal poultry operation in South Auckland, seizing chickens, eggs and cash.

Two Manukau properties were raided by investigators after several months of monitoring the chicken enterprise.

Operation Ginger was run by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which said it executed search warrants this week at chicken.shock.may.13the premises, where a group was suspected of killing and processing poultry on a commercial scale.

The operation was in breach of the Animal Products Act 1999, the ministry said.

Investigators were speaking with several people involved with the properties, and “items of interest” had been seized.

This included 149 processed chickens, more than 700 eggs, commercial incubators and processing equipment, documentation identifying sales and a large amount of cash.

As a result of Operation Ginger, the ministry will investigate restaurants and outlets believed to be involved in the purchase and sale of illegal poultry to the public.

Investigations and inspections will take place with other suspected premises believed to be involved with an illegal chicken ring.

Individuals found guilty of contravening the Animal Products Act 1999 face up to two years in prison or a fine of up to $100,000.

“The sale of animal products for human or animal consumption is subject to strict rules to ensure animals are slaughtered humanely and that the resulting meat product is safe for human consumption,” MPI director of compliance Dean Baigent said.

University of Guelph students suspected of bullying geese

The 1979 movie, Breaking Away, is the softer, more empathetic version of Animal House, chronicling the conflict between locals or townies or cutters, and the university students who invade these towns for four years at a time.

Set in Bloomington, Indiana, I was at the time similarly attracted by cycling and the exasperated father, played by Paul Dooley, in a role he BREAKING-AWAYessentially reprised in the teen classic, Sixteen Candles as Molly Ringwald’s father.

A resident of Guelph (that’s in Canada) stepped forward a couple of weeks ago and accused four males, three wearing Ontario Agriculture College (OAC) leather jackets that said “Aggie” on the back, of bullying geese by herding them to a nearby park and threatening to throw a large, inflated, plastic ball at them.

As reported by the Guelph Mercury, because of the OAC jackets, she concluded those harassing the geese were University of Guelph students. Because of this she said the April 3 incident became a tipping point for her in how she regards the continuing saga permanent residents encounter in the area shared with university students who rent temporary housing there during the academic year.

The resident approached the putative students and was told by one that if he wanted to kill the geese, he would have picked it up and snapped its neck. Another student tossed the ball at her, saying if she was worried about the ball, she could have it, which she still does.

Dean of the OAC, Robert Gordon, says if the incident unfolded as 16candles529Laverty-Pagnan asserts, the college is disappointed.

“It’s something we don’t condone,” Gordon says. “If there is a need to extend the code of conduct to other areas, our university is always prepared to take a leadership role.”

Way to go, Aggies.

Truck crammed with 500 cats stopped en route to restaurants in China

Some 500 cats were discovered crammed into a truck during a routine check as it made its way to restaurants across China to sell the pets as meat.

The animals were rescued thanks to vehicle checks in Xuzhou, in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

Having pulled over the truck in what they assumed was a run of the mill stop, officers were shocked to find the horrific haul.

Officer Sun Hai, who helped rescue the terrified felines along with a colleague, said: ‘The driver said it was a full load of rabbit. 

‘But after we instructed him to uncover the load we were shocked to find a full load of living cats.’

Following the find the pair informed volunteers from a local animal protection centre who quickly arrived on the scene.

They cut open the bags with keys and knives to save the animals from suffocation and also bought water and food.

It is believed that the owner of the load refused to reveal where the cats had come from and it even took seven hours of negotiations to get him to hand them over to rescue teams.

The cats have now been transferred to an animal rescue centre at Tangzhang County, where they are being treated.

Ontario racehorses being sold for meat as slots shuttered

The theory of unintended consequences underscores Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel, Cat’s Cradle.

According to QMI, it’s possible thousands of Ontario broodmares have been slaughtered for meat since the Liberal government announced the cancellation of a slot-machine program that generated millions in revenue for the horse-racing industry, an equine veterinarian says.

Mark Biederman, who works just outside Windsor said while he’s not sure how many broodmares have been sold for meat, he estimates it could be hundreds, if not thousands.

He said many of his clients have sold theirs.

Broodmares are retired female racehorses used to breed the next generation. But with the horse-racing industry in dire straits — facing hundreds of millions in losses — the old girls aren’t worth much anymore.

“The broodmares are the first casualty of the industry,” Biederman said. “There isn’t any market for them other than going for meat.”

Ontario’s horse-racing industry reels in $354 million a year from the soon-to-be-dead Slots at Racetracks Program, which divvies up profits from slot machines at tracks between the industry, the track owners and the government.

The province announced in the spring its plan to axe the program and divert the money to health care and education instead. Slot machines have already been removed from some racetracks in Ontario, and they’ll all be gone by March 31, 2013.

The move was met with opposition from people in the industry, and has forced some major tracks — such as the Windsor Raceway — to shut down.

It also means many horse owners can no longer afford to keep the animals.

Biederman says business is down 50% at his veterinarian clinic. He’s had to lay off staff and reduce hours. When the program officially ends in March 2013, he said he’ll probably pack up and leave the province.

“If the slot program is ultimately cancelled, I think that’ll be the death of the industry. I don’t think there will be any way to stay in Ontario. I think you’re gonna have a mass exodus of horses.”

Or as Vonnegut wrote,

“I’m not a drug salesman. I’m a writer.”

“What makes you think a writer isn’t a drug salesman?”

What do USDA inspectors do? Undercover video shutters another dairy cull slaughterhouse in Calif.

Federal regulators shut down a Central California slaughterhouse Monday after receiving undercover video showing dairy cows — some unable to walk — being repeatedly shocked and shot before being slaughtered.

In a few hours, someone in the industry will say, this is an isolated incident and they practice the highest standards of animal welfare and safety.

It’s a tired tune.

People realize the soundbites are meaningless – especially compared to graphic video. It’s like all those food types who say they have really safe food and everyone is worthy of trust and faith, yet outbreaks manage to happen weekly. Industry and academia should be judged by the data they bring to the table, not platitudes.

According to the Associated Press, officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects meat facilities, suspended operations at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., which slaughters cows when they lose their value as milk producers.

The USDA received hours of videotape Friday from Compassion Over Killing, an animal welfare group, which said its undercover investigator was employed by the slaughterhouse and made the video over a two-week period in June.

Four minutes of excerpts the animal welfare group provided to The Associated Press showed cows being prepared for slaughter. One worker appears to be suffocating a cow by standing on its muzzle after a gun that injects a bolt into the animal’s head had failed to render it unconscious. In another clip, a cow is still conscious and flailing as a conveyor lifts it by one leg for transport to an area where the animals’ throats are slit for blood draining.

"The horror caught on camera is sickening," said Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, based in Washington, D.C. "It’s alarming that this is not only a USDA-inspected facility but a supplier to the USDA."

Within hours of seeing the video, the USDA’s Office of Inspector General sent investigators who found evidence of "egregious inhumane handling and treatment of livestock."

The USDA had at least two inspectors stationed at the site, and federal officials, when asked whether there was evidence the inspectors had neglected their duties, said the investigation is ongoing.

The videos show workers pulling downed cows by their tails and kicking them in an apparent attempt to get them to stand and walk to slaughter. Others shoot downed cows in the head over and over as the cows thrash on the ground. In one instance, the video shows workers trying to get cattle to back out of a chute while repeatedly spraying them with water and shocking them.

"It’s a good sign that the USDA is taking this seriously, but I want to see what comes next," said Meier, adding the video will be posted on the organization’s website Tuesday. "The footage clearly speaks for itself, but this is not an isolated incident. Investigation after investigation of these places is revealing cruelty."

In early 2008, the Humane Society of the United States released video documenting animal abuse at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. of Chino, Calif., secretly shot by an undercover employee.

That $100-million-a-year company does not exist anymore – brought down by someone using an over-the-counter video recording device. USDA inspectors were at that plant as well and didn’t notice anything. ?In April 2009, Cargill Beef announced it had implemented a third-party video-auditing system that would operate 24 hours a day at its U.S. beef plants to enhance the company’s animal welfare protection systems. All of Cargill’s U.S. plants were expected to have the program in place by the end of 2009.

In Feb. 2010, Cargill announced it would expand its remote video auditing program to monitor food-safety procedures within processing plants.

Slaughterhouses are only as good as their worst employee and can be shuttered by the latest hire. Forget the rhetoric and take control of the issue: all slaughterhouses should have their own video documentation and walk the talk.

Would you like me better if I paid you? $1 to watch a graphic food safety video? $1 to watch graphic anti-meat video?

Activists of all types may suck at science but are successful when it comes to street theater, attracting attention, on-line or in the park.

The Los Angeles Times reports the folks at Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) found a way to get people to watch disturbing animal cruelty videos: pay them.

Operating on the premise that watching a four-minute video could persuade a viewer to drastically and permanently reduce the amount of animal products consumed in their diet, FARM launched a national tour in early May to show the public a graphic “Farm to Fridge” video, made with hidden-camera footage showing farm animals, including cows, chickens and pigs, living in factory farm conditions and being processed at slaughter. Participants are paid $1 to watch the video, displayed on a vehicle specially equipped to host up to 32 simultaneous viewers.

The 10-Billion Lives Tour (named after the estimated 10 billion land animals raised and killed every year for food in the United States) began in Portland, Ore., and has traveled south, stopping at colleges, universities and fairs along the way in Eugene, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

Senator wants dog meat investigation in Philippines

Dog meat has entered into Philippine mainstream consciousness and has spawned a dish called asocena which is meant to be eaten as a side dish during drinking sessions.

So, according to Bikyamasr, Philippines Senator Manuel Villar Jr. is hoping to open an inquiry into the reported prevalence of the illegal dog meat trade to tighten existing animal protection laws.

However, local animal rights activists say it is not enough, arguing that the senator wants to maintain the practice “and not do the right thing by ending dog slaughter altogether.”

Dog meat eating has existed as a long-standing cultural phenomenon in the Northern provinces of the Philippines, traditionally associated with celebratory events and rituals of mourning.

Maria Pillar told Bikyamasr.com that “the use of dogs for food is wrong and backward. Just because it was traditional in the country doesn’t mean we should keep it. It was part of our culture to keep women at home, but that has changed.”

Villar said.some 500,000 dogs are slaughtered for sale every year.