Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vegan is Fashionable in LA

This is vegan chic and vegan exotic.

The New York Times has an article headlined "Making Vegan a New Normal", saying that vegan food is now mainstream in Southern California, which is experiencing a surge in popularity of plant-based diets.

The article reports that in Southern California omnivore’s restaurants court vegans and vegetarians, and particularly the high-profile advocates for veganism, glamorous, famous and powerful ones who fuel the dining economy there. And whatever happens in Los Angeles now will become the national trend later.

All this is replacing the public image of lentil-eating vegans in sandals with that of quinoa burger eaters in high heels.
That shift is under way in various cities around the world, but it’s happening in an explosive way in and around Los Angeles: at the elite gastronome magnets, at casual gathering spots and everywhere in between.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pets at Home Investigated by Watchdog

The BBC consumer programme Watchdog has investigated the chain of pet stores Pets at Home and found it wanting.
When buying a new pet you want to be sure it’s happy and healthy when leaving the shop. Pets at Home say its animals are all bred in comfortable and caring surroundings and that their pets are then looked after by staff dedicated to their welfare. It’s all very reassuring but in reality do they live up to their promises?

Christina Sage bought guinea pigs Batman and Robin from Pets at Home in the Cardiff Ty Glas store as a present for her 4 year old son Dylan. But within three days, Robin fell ill, losing all the hair on the side of his face. A vet later confirmed that both he and Batman were infected with the painful fungal infection, ringworm. As a result, Dylan is forbidden from playing with them whilst they undergo treatment and Christina can only handle them if she wears plastic gloves.

Ringworm is highly infectious and can spread easily between animals. But as 12 year old Chloe Cameron discovered, it can also be passed to humans too. She bought two guinea pigs from the Pets at Home store in Carlisle. They too fell ill, and shortly after their diagnosis with ringworm, Chloe noticed a circle up on her neck.

This circle spread, leaving her with painful sores all over her body. Unfortunately, Chloe already suffers from a condition that affects her immune system, so she collapsed and ended up in hospital, where she was treated for several days. To make matters worse, her dad then caught ringworm too. Thankfully Chloe, her dad and her pets made a full recovery, but the experience was a very distressing one for all concerned.

Unfortunately, some animals don’t recover. Caroline Parkes bought rabbits Frank and Wonky from the Pets at Home store in West Drayton. Both animals sadly died within 11 days and Caroline believes that they should not have been sold the way that they were.

After talking to unhappy customers, we decided to test out Pets at Home for ourselves. Vet Mike Jessop, former president of the Small Animal Veterinary Association, joined a team of Watchdog secret shoppers on visits to eight of Pets at Home’s stores across Britain.

In every store, our team came across fish that appeared to be suffering from disease. In four of the stores, we found fish with ‘white spot’, a parasitic and infectious disease of the skin that could have affected all of the other fish sharing the tank. In seven of the eight stores tanks contained dead fish – we counted over 50 in total. Some of the worst conditions were in New Malden and Stockport, stores that proudly advertise themselves as specialist ‘aquatic centres’.

In the West Drayton store, Mike Jessop was so concerned about the welfare of two of the rabbits for sale that we decided to buy them so they could be taken away for treatment. Later examination confirmed that one was underweight, while another had an obvious skin condition. We also bought a Guinea Pig in Cardiff Ty Glas store that later turned out to be suffering from scurvy.

Throughout our mystery shopping trips we found evidence of some Pets at Home staff members failing to follow their own welfare advice. A sign in the Carlisle store clearly states that you shouldn’t keep an Aquatic Dwarf Frog with small fish, yet we found one in a tank along with, you’ve guessed it, small fish. We also found a sign in the Durham store that says Syrian hamsters must live alone or else they’ll fight. So why did we spot three in one cage?

As well as the conditions of the animals, we’ve also had complaints about Pets At Home’s after-sales service. Before leaving the store with a new pet, staff are supposed to give customers all the care information they need, checking off everything they tell you on a tick list on your receipt. But, in half the stores we visited, the staff asked us to sign to say we’d received information that they simply hadn’t given us.

Sick and dead pets, hazardous conditions and staff failing to do their job. Not so reassuring afterall?
Read Pets at Home's response.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cemeteries for Human and Nonhuman Animals

The Corriere della Sera newspaper (via Pietro Melis) reports that in Fauglia, a village near Pisa, Italy, a "mixed" cemetery is being planned in response to the requests of many people who want to be buried with their pets, dogs, cats, horses and other domestic animals, nonhuman members of their families dear to them.

This is going to be the first in Italy. Animal rights people are all in favour, while some others are perplexed, often for religious reasons.

«The land has already been allocated» says Fauglia's mayor Carlo Carli, «the project is innovative and lots of people are looking forward to it».

In the UK such cemeteries already exist. In Cornwall, England, there are about 30 people buried with their animals, and 120 all over the country have "booked" their place in similar cemeteries.

The great Romantic poet Lord Byron, after unsuccessfully trying to get permission to be buried next to his beloved Newfoundland dog Boatswain, dedicated to him an "Epitaph To a Dog", which starts:

"Near this spot Are deposited the Remains Of one Who possessed Beauty Without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, And all the Virtues of Man Without his Vices. The Price, which would be unmeaning flattery If inscribed over Human Ashes, Is but a just tribute to the Memory of “Boatswain,” a Dog Who was born at Newfoundland, May, 1803, And died in Newstead Abbey, Nov. 18, 1808."

Byron spent several years in Pisa (and nearby Livorno) and probably knew those hills where the shared cemetery will be created. It is quite possible that this cemetery will be dedicated to him.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Save Dogs from Cops

Apparently in the USA police officers are too ready to kill innocent dogs.

A new Facebook group, K9 Partners of Monroe County, is "petitioning the White House to make it mandatory for police officers to undergo special training for handling dogs non-lethally".

Here is an interview with the founder and administrator of the group, Eddie Cintron.

With beloved family dogs killed impulsively by trigger-happy cops, a canine-friendly group feels it’s time for the Obama Administration to prevent this outrage by federal legislation.

Loose dogs may scare some people but loose cops can tear families apart with fear and grief. More often than not police officers raiding a house, sometimes the wrong one, don’t hesitate in shooting down family dogs outside or even inside the owner’s house, killing them in cold blood with the clich├ęd excuse of shooting the canine in self-defense. Then there also have been reports of police K9s dying while their officers left them in a hot patrol car. Such cases of cps killing dogs, in action or by neglect, led to the creation of the Facebook group K9 Partners of Monroe County, which is petitioning the White House to make it mandatory for police officers to undergo special training for handling dogs non-lethally. Founder and administrator of the group Eddie Cintron tells more about this initiative.

Ernest: Eddie, we frequently hear of cops shooting dogs not only outside but in their homes. How serious is this problem?

Eddie: Yes, this is a common occurrence that happens every day and many go unreported where there is a no-knock warrant or an officer simply has come to the address where there is a dog and come to find out they were at a wrong address to begin with and the dog ends up being shot inside the house. In Wayne County in Upstate New York, just recently, the Drug Task force forced a 75-year-old grandmother to the floor after executing a no-knock warrant, which is illegal and the woman having serious health issues was told to close her eye and they shot her dog where the dog bled all over the house dying in his doggie bed. This is how bad it's gotten. A Maryland mayor is asking the federal government to investigate why SWAT team members burst into his home without knocking and shot his two dogs to death in an investigation into a drug smuggling scheme. The mayor indicated that police are not to re-write the constitution and they found out that the judge did not sign the warrant.

Ernest: Why do you think the cops pull the triggers on dogs this way?

Eddie: Simple answer: because with all the professional training police officers get, they do not get trained in how to approach or handle an unfamiliar dog and many respond out of fear or fright; and there are some out of pure spite wanting to cause harm to the dog. I just received an email from the Chief of Police of Coconino, AZ, assuring me that appropriate actions would be taken on his Corporal Tewes that beat a dog to death with his baton and then crushed his head with his foot; the Chief was disturbed by these actions and gave him an administrative leave without pay until investigations were done.
Read it all.

Here you can sign the petition to the Obama Administration to institute mandatory training for police officers of non-lethal force in handling our canines family members.

Muslim Kills Horse By Anally Raping Him

Muslim Kills Horse By Anally Raping Him
A North African Muslim, an illegal immigrant living in Spain, killed a horse by anally raping him with a wooden handle.
The Guardia Civil has arrested a 53-year-old North African resident of El Ejido accused of abusing to death a horse that was with others on a farm in the municipality. The man arrested, identified as M.A., had been arrested in May 2011 for a similar episode and sentenced by a judge for abusing a female horse.

This latter arrest followed a complaint by the horse farm's owner, who reported that unknown persons had got into his farm by jumping the fence in the early hours of the 13th, although nothing seemed to be missing. The complainant reported that one of the horses had been immobilised with ropes tied to a storage room and that a wooden handle 70 cm long and 5 cm wide had been introduced into his anus.

According to the account of the owner, the horse had bruises on various parts of his body, and anal bleeding and internal injuries that had caused his death. The Guardia Civil began an investigation which discovered that the detainee had a previous record for a similar act committed in the same farm. Once the police interviewed M.A., who showed obvious signs of nervousness and gave contradictory answers, they arrested him on suspicion of a crime of animal abuse. The proceedings will take place in the capital's second court.
The previous similar crime committed by the same man in the same farm mentioned was perpetrated when he tried to rape a mare, who kicked him back, smashing his face bones and causing multiple hematomas.

And that was not the first time either. The farmer had caught the same individual twice before sneaking into the farm to have sex with the animals but hadn't filed charges against him.

After he was admitted to hospital and underwent an operation, the Muslim was identified by the police as an illegal immigrant and was expected to be deported to his country for an offense against the Immigration Law. Obviously - surprise, surprise - that didn't happen and now a horse is dead because of that negligence.

The practice of having sex with and raping nonhuman animals is much more common than we think in Muslim countries.

In Pakistan, a donkey was honour killed after being raped, a treatment ususally reserved to Muslim women. From Wikipedia:
Karo-kari is part of cultural tradition in Pakistan and is a compound word literally meaning “black male” (Karo) and “black female (Kari), in metaphoric terms for adulterer and adulteress. Once labeled as a Kari, male family members get the self-authorized justification to kill her and the co-accused Karo to restore family honor, although in the majority of cases the victim is female, while the murderers are male.