9 September 2017

  - In scenes reminiscent of the Biblical story of Noah and his ark, Southwest Airlines took the extraordinary step this week of filling up the cabin of one of its planes with orphaned animals from flood-hit Houston.
Animal shelters all over Texas are at maximum capacity after Hurricane Harvey devastated the region, leaving many pets homeless and desperate. Enter Southwest Airlines, who together with animal rescue groups helped dozens of animals escape the floods, easing the burden on overworked shelters and creating room for more rescued pets.

Flying the orphaned animals to the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego, California was literally a life-saving gesture. The Texas rescue group, Operation Pets Alive! had taken in an overwhelming number of orphaned dogs and cats who had inhabited shelters before the storm and were suddenly facing euthanasia simply because they had no place to go. The joint operation between the Helen Woodward Center and Southwest Airlines to relocate these animals allows Operation Pets Alive! to increase animal rescue operations in Houston, as it begins to recover from the effects of the devastating hurricane.

Volunteers helped board the animals into crates in the specially converted cabin of the aircraft, giving them a chance of a new life in California where it is hoped that they will eventually find homes. We don’t yet know if they had access to in-flight entertainment and meals, but we would like to think so!

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30 August 2017

 - Pharmaceutical firms, chemical companies, contract testing facilities, and some cosmetics manufacturers are bad news for millions of animals locked in their laboratories. But when it comes to cruelty, some cause even more pain and misery than others.

To name the worst of the worst, we’ve looked at the number of animals the companies killed, the most painful and invasive experiments conducted, how far they lag behind industry animal protection standards, their refusal to use available non-animal test methods, and their appalling histories of federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations.

John Ratliff, Covance: As the world’s largest breeder of dogs destined for suffering and pain in experiments—and as the biggest importer of primates for experimental purposes in the U.S.—Covance and its chief executing officer, John Ratliff, is the worst CEO for animals in laboratories. Covance is a contract testing company that tests everything from drugs to industrial chemicals to cosmetics ingredients for client companies. In Covance’s tests, caustic chemicals are dripped into the eyes of animals and experimental substances are applied to their raw and abraded skin. They have been forced to ingest or inhale deadly toxins, and experimenters have intentionally induced cancer in animals.

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27 July 2017

 - Over a century ago, naturalist Charles Darwin observed that all humans, as well as other animals, exhibit and express emotion in remarkably similar ways. He theorized that vocal expressions of feelings date back to the earliest terrestrial species, hinting that all land animals — and birds too — share a basic, inherent understanding of each other.

New research not only supports Darwin’s views, but also identifies a universal “language” of arousal emitted and understood by amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggest that we are at least somewhat like the famous fictional character Doctor Dolittle, who could decipher animal communications with ease.

“Our study shows that humans are naturally able to recognize emotional arousal across all classes of vocalizing animals,” said lead author Piera Filippi, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Aix-Marseille and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. “This outcome may find an important application in animal welfare, suggesting that humans may rely on their intuition to assess when animals are stressed.”

Prior research additionally suggests that animals understand human emotional vocal expressions. Pet owners are often more attuned to this, given the reactions that dogs, cats, horses, birds, rodents, and more have to a range of owner outbursts, from angry scolding to happy praise.

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10 May 2017

 - Environmental activists are urging the European Commission to take action against Denmark, accusing the country's officials of facilitating the slaughter of pilot whales and other marine mammals in the Faroe Islands.

Sea Shepherd Netherlands announced that it has officially submitted a request to the commission to launch "infringement proceedings" against the Scandinavian country, claiming it has the formal support of 27 members of the European Parliament.

The complaint centers on a practice known as Grindadráp, or Grind, in which "hundreds of pilot whales are driven onto the beaches of the Faroe Islands using motor boats, then slaughtered..." a Sea Shepherd press release states.

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29 April 2017

 - For many people working in animal advocacy, the failure of science to produce better ethical results has been a bitter disappointment. For us (a scientist and an ethicist), an early feeling of optimism has given way to frustration, even alarm, about what is happening to animals globally. Animals are, by many measures, objectively worse off than ever before. Despite the extensive database on the cognitive and emotional capacities of cows and pigs, burgers and bacon continue to be popular foods. According to a recent report by the Worldwatch Institute, global meat production and consumption have increased steadily over the past four decades, rising by 20 percent in the last decade alone.

And although captivity is known to cause profound emotional trauma to large mammals such as orcas and elephants, entertainment venues continue to keep these animals on display. SeaWorld has agreed — under intense public pressure — to end captive breeding of orcas and stop using them to entertain the public, and yet the marine park still plans to hold orcas captive. (At the same time, China seems to be embracing orca shows.) And though the NIH took a laudable first step by ending its support of research on chimpanzees, overall, hundreds of millions of monkeys, cats, dogs, and other animals are used in research and testing worldwide. (It’s impossible to know precisely how many, since only a handful of countries track these data and many creatures are excluded from the tallies.)

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18 March 2017

R.I.P. Zorro - much loved and missed by his humans and cat and dog friends...

15 March 2017

 - UK badgers need your urgent help. UK badger culls are to be debated in Westminster on 27th March - please urge your MP to attend the debate and oppose further killing.

Almost 15,000 badgers have been shot over the past four years as part of the Government’s strategy to ‘control the spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle’. Culling has taken place across ten zones in seven English counties.

None of the killed badgers were tested for bovine TB. Controlled shooting has been rejected by the British Veterinary Association because of animal welfare concerns. The culls have cost the taxpayer an estimated £40 million to date, with no sign of any benefit.

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10 March 2017

 - Animal rights groups have slammed Norway for slaughtering pregnant whales, calling it “even more unacceptable” as they carry the next generation of the mammals. The criticism follows a new documentary featuring the murder of female whales carrying a fetus.

The documentary film dubbed ‘The Battle of Agony’, about the killing of pregnant whales, was released on NRK, a public television network, earlier in March.

“The majority of common minke whales caught in Norway have a fetus in their bellies,” the film said.

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8 March 2017

 - America has two long-standing symbols for freedom: the bald eagle and the wild mustang. You've seen these majestic wild horses in TV or magazine ads, running unbridled across the open range, dust in their wake. They evoke the boundless West and our nation's pioneer spirit.

What you don't see is the helicopters chasing them. Roundups sound romantic, but in the case of mustangs, the process is cruel and brutal. Despite federal protection, the horses are treated like pests on their native range because, it turns out, the West isn't that open after all.

The roundups start with the helicopters, which swoop down and terrorize the animals, chasing them to awaiting corrals. The pursuit is dangerous and terrifying. Many horses are injured and some die.

Speak up by signing this petition...

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5 March 2017

 - Norway’s government recently paved the way for recreational hunting of wolves, which are endangered in Scandinavia. The current law states that wolves can be killed only if they represent a “potential nuisance” for sheep or other livestock. Now hunters will be allowed to kill wolves for “for recreational and cultural considerations,” local media report.

WWF-Norway's CEO Nina Jensen slammed the move, calling it “one of the ugliest examples of Norwegian nature management in modern history.”

“It is beyond comprehension that one would change an established law in order to shoot more endangered animals, particularly in a country like Norway, which strives to keep an environmental profile.”

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26 February 2017

 - Your taxes are funding a secret, multibillion-dollar government enterprise that tortures and kills tens of millions of animals every year. Even puppies are subjected to a wide range of torture, including forced heart attacks. Finally, Congress is seeking answers.

Last week—following criticism from bipartisan Congress members, citizens, press, and advocacy groups like the White Coat Waste Project, a nonprofit that seeks to eliminate cruel, wasteful and unnecessary taxpayer-funded animal testing—the U.S. Department of Agriculture began to reverse course on its unjustifiable animal welfare database blackout. It started by restoring documents about government and other animal laboratories. This is a crucial resource, but we’re still fighting systemic government transparency failures about $15 billion in wasteful taxpayer-funded experimentation on dogs and other animals.

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19 February 2017

Grizzly bear family in Alaska - Mother bears hibernating with their cubs and wolves raising pups in their dens may no longer be protected from a hunter's rifle.

The lives of countless bear and wolf families are hanging in the balance today because the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to overturn a ban on cruel hunting tactics that previously protected animals on some of the most treasured wildlife refuges in America.

On 76 million acres of federal refuges in Alaska, hunters will be permitted to enter dens where vulnerable bear families are hibernating and kill them if the resolution becomes law. They will also be able to shoot entire wolf families raising young pups if the Senate and President agree with the vote.

"What the House did today should shock the conscience of every animal lover in America," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said on Thursday. "If the Senate and President concur, we'll see wolf families killed in their dens, bears chased down by planes or suffering for hours in barbaric steel-jawed traps or snares."

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17 February 2017

____5769825_orig - We must change the language we use to discuss the killing of other species. It's well known that the language we use to refer to nonhuman animals (animals) can be used to hide or sanitize the often rather egregious ways in which we use, harm, and kill them. Words such as euthanize, dispatch, harvest, and cull are frequently used to refer to instances in which people with different motivations and intentions, kill healthy animals, usually "in the name of humans." It's about time these polite words are changed to the harsher word, murder, because that's what it really is. However, time again, others and I are told that only humans can be murdered, because that's the way legal systems view killing other-than-human animals.

Two recent essays in New Scientist magazine in which the word "murder" is used in the title to refer to nonhumans caught my eye, and got me to revisit that restricted use of the word. The first, by Veronika Meduna called (in the print edition) "Murder most foul," centers on New Zealand's goal of killing all animals they call pests by 2050. The title of the online version of Medua's essay is called "The great extermination: How New Zealand will end alien species," and only accessible to subscribers. What's important here is that the word "murder" is used in the print edition to refer to humans killing nonhuman animals.

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Calendar of Events

Our next three group distant healing events:

21 December 2017 - Solstice

20 March 2018 - Equinox

21 June - Solstice

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