‘Construction workers like it’ Activists call on Swiss parliament to outlaw eating cat for Christmas

Amy talks glowingly of her time in Switzerland, but seems sorta weird to me.

steve.martin.cat.jugglingKeeping with the shameless exploitation of cats to increase blog hits, animal rights activists have drawn up a petition to ban the ‘barbaric’ practice of eating pets in Switzerland, where cat meat often appears on traditional Christmas menus in rural areas.

The animal protection group, SOS Chats Noraingue, has handed over a petition with 16,000 signatures, including such notable animal rights defenders as Brigitte Bardot, to the Swiss parliament on Tuesday.

Dog meat is often used to make sausage, while cats are prepared around the holiday season in a similar style to rabbit – in a white wine and garlic sauce. A type of mostbröckli made from marinated cat or dog is another local favorite.

Though there are no statistics available on the amount of cat and dog meat consumed by the Swiss, SOS Chats founder and president, Tomi Tomek told AFP she suspects that “around three percent of the Swiss secretly eat cat or dog.”

While the commercial sale of dog meat is banned nationwide, its consumption is still legal and is particularly popular in Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and in the canton of Bern, according to Tomek. Farmers are free to kill and eat their own animals. Those in the Appenzell and St. Gallen areas are said to favor a beefy breed of dog related to Rottweilers.

In a 2012 report on pet eating in the Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger, the Swiss Veterinary Office chalked up the practice to a “cultural matter” and noted that some countries breed dogs specifically for slaughter.

One farmer, defending the practice, told the paper, “There’s nothing odd about it. Meat is meat. Construction workers in particular like eating it.”

Chilliwack Cattle Sales owners previously investigated for injured cattle, E. coli

Chilliwack isn’t just a bad Canadian band that peaked in 1977 and that my high-school girlfriend happened to like (to her credit, she introduced me to Neil Young), it’s a town in B.C. and home of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, Canada’s largest dairy farm and a major supplier to Dairyland, where eight employees were secretly recorded brutally abusing cows.

dairy-farm-employee-whipping-cowThe undercover video from the non-profit group Mercy for Animals Canada — shot by a former employee of the farm — shows dairy cows being whipped and beaten with chains and canes, as well as punched and kicked.

A day after the B.C. SPCA recommended charges against the eight employees, it has emerged that the same farm was in court in 2008, after six cows were injured while being transferred to slaughter.

The case went to the B.C. Supreme Court, but the farm, which is owned by the Kooyman family, was cleared of all charges.

Then last year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency charged meat processing operation Pitt Meadows Meats, also owned by the Kooymans, with selling E. coli tainted beef in 2010.

That case is still before the courts.

Farm owner Jeff Kooyman said those cases do not reflect on the quality of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, which has 3,500 dairy cows.

“We have high standards and when you’re working with that many employees, things do happen. We’ve got to work harder at regulations, more inspections,” said Kooyman.

Kooyman said he and his family knew nothing about the cruel treatment of the cattle, saying his company has zero tolerance for animal abuse.

Anna Pippus, director of legal advocacy with Mercy for Animals Canada, described the abuse as sadistic and rejected Kooyman’s claim that none of the owners knew about the abuse.

“Our undercover investigator repeatedly brought his concerns to the farm’s owners, who failed to take any corrective action,” said Pippus.

“The company allowed criminal cruelty to animals to flourish on its watch. Without our investigation, this cruelty would have continued to run rampant indefinitely.”

The farm is a major milk supplier to Dairyland, which is owned by Montreal-based dairy giant Saputo. Pippus accuses Dairyland of failing to properly oversee operations at the farm.

Strengthening vet oversight of antimicrobial use in food animals: reducing antibiotics in meat — Part II

Ron Doering, former president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and current counsel in the Ottawa offices of Gowlings (Ronald.doering@gowlings.com), reports with part II of his take on antimicrobiasl in food animal production:

While the medical commu­nity recognizes that the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in hu­mans is a potential disaster for humanity and that it is the overuse of antimicrobi­als in human medicine that is the largest contributor, there is a broad consensus that the use of antibiotics in animals contributes to the problem, though the scale is still unclear. This uncertainty is due mainly to a failure to adequately control and monitor the use. Health Canada (HC) lacks the authority to control and monitor use because the practice of veterinary medicine falls under provincial juris­diction. Recognizing that almost all practical efforts to reduce the level of antibiotics in meat depend on the more active participation of veterinarians, HC announced recently that it wanted “to develop options to strengthen the veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in food animals.”

44755363What can veterinarians and their provincial regulatory licensing bodies do now to reduce the threat of AMR? Here are four suggestions:

1. Enhance awareness among members .

While the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has developed vol­untary Prudent Use Guide­lines, I’m told that many vets are hardly aware of the issue and may not even know of the Guidelines. Concerned enough about this, Ontario’s regulatory body, the Col­lege of Veterinarians of Ontario, just an­nounced that it was launching a project to study the use of antibiotics among food animal veterinarians and to determine if they use the CVMA’s Guidelines in daily practice. Quebec requires a manda­tory day-long AMR program and a test. All provinces should follow Quebec and develop mandatory continuing education programs on antimicrobial stewardship.

2. Fill the regulatory gaps.

As long as vets continue to prescribe off label use and the use of Active Pharma­ceutical Ingredients (APIs) in production medicine, it’s impossible to know the level of antibiotic use. Own Use Importation (OUI) by animal owners is another avenue for which use information is un­available. As one recent report stressed: “The gap in reliable usage data makes it difficult to state with confidence which antimicrobials are used, in what quantities, and for what purposes.” The recent critical assessment by a group of experts, titled “Stewardship of antimicrobial drugs in animals in Canada: How are we doing in 2013?” (Canadian Veterinary Journal, March 2014), highlighted the absolute importance of improving Canada’s monitoring of antimicrobial usage.

3. Conflict of interest issue.

This issue has been flagged by several reports going back to the landmark McEwen Report of 2002. Veterinarians obtain income from the profitable sale of antimicrobials. Decoupling veterinary prescribing from dispensing raises several issues because the current veterinary prac­tice business model is based on an income stream from antimicro­bial sales. Veterinarians should lead a dialogue on this important issue that clearly needs closer examination.

ab.res.prudent.may.144. Antibiotics for disease prevention.

The real issue is not the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or the treating of disease, but whether they should continue to be used for disease prevention. While some antibiotics of very high importance to human health should only be used to treat infection, there are several arguments that some of high or medium importance to human health (what HC calls Category ll and lll, for example tetracyclines) should still, with closer veterinarian oversight, be used for disease prevention. Because major retailers, processors and consumers increasingly demand meat with “raised without antibiotic” claims, the marketplace is forcing changes in practice. But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that while there are risks to using antimicrobials in animal production, there are also risks with non-use.

Two-thirds of animal diseases are zoo­notic, meaning the disease is transferable to humans. For this and other reasons, I have been a long-time proponent of strengthening the connections between human and animal medicine — the concept known as One Health. In this context, AMR represents an historic opportunity for vets to step up and provide greater leadership. 

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?”