Written by PETA
… With a $3,000 suspended fine and two years of probation from the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA)! It's the least that Sun Pet deserves, considering that PETA's undercover investigator took video footage of one of the animal dealer's employees—who has since been fired—placing hamsters in a bag and bashing it against a table in an attempt to kill them. The investigator also documented that other animals were being abusively handled and warehoused in conditions that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
None of this appears to matter to PetSmart or PETCO, whose stores continue to sell animals supplied by Sun Pet despite findings by not only the GDA but also the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The GDA's April 22 inspection found rodents running loose, dead animals (including eight guinea pigs) in enclosures with live ones, food thrown into cages and on top of bedding, and rusty cages with sharp, dangerous edges, which Sun Pet was ordered to replace immediately (but didn't). According to the consent order, inspectors also found live rats climbing out of a trash can.
Eighteen days after the GDA inspection, the USDA—prompted by a PETA complaint—inspected Sun Pet and found the same jagged, rusty surfaces on the facility's chinchilla cages as well as severe crowding, inadequate lighting, accumulations of trash and rodent droppings, and deteriorated animal carcasses. The USDA also noted that in a repeat violation of federal law (which Sun Pet had been warned about in February 2009), the company had been buying animals from unlicensed vendors and selling them to pet stores such as PETCO and PetSmart.
PetSmart's execs apparently need a reading lesson, because in PetSmart's official response—sent to PETA before the GDA's investigation was officially closed—they claim that "the Georgia Department of Agriculture … conducted two thorough investigations since [PETA] issued [its] allegations. The first investigation resulted in one citation for a rusty chinchilla cage which was immediately replaced. The second investigation resulted in no violations." ("Immediately replaced"? Really? Then why did the USDA find the same dangerous cages almost three weeks later?) PETCO has not officially responded to PETA, but as of this week, it is still doing business with Sun Pet, according to its vice president of animal care and education, Marcie Whichard.
More on this soon. In the meantime, we can take "disciplinary action" against Sun Pet and other sleazy animal dealers by never buying mice, hamsters, rabbits, fish, birds, or any animal from a pet store or breeder and by steering others who are considering getting an animal away from pet stores and toward animal shelters.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
On an average day, PETA's Cruelty Investigations Department (CID) receives dozens of phone calls from caring individuals reporting cases of animal abuse. When an animal is in trouble, our caseworkers fly into action. Able to leap great obstacles for a single hound, they help fight injustice, collar bad guys, and rescue animals in distress. Seriously. In an average week, CID caseworkers process more than 300 reports of cruelty. Here are just a few of the many animals they recently helped:
These cases are a reminder of why it's vital to report cruelty to animals immediately. PETA's CID needs your help to prevent other animals from meeting a similar fate. Keep your eyes open for animals in need, be a nosy neighbor, trust your instincts, and always alert police or animal control officials right away if you know or suspect that animals are being abused or neglected.
Written by Amy Skylark Elizabeth
The following is a guest post from blogger and former Ringling clown André du Broc
I've spent much of my life in careers centered around making others happy. As an actor, I believed that my first responsibility was to the audience. They needed to be delighted and engaged by everything that I did on stage. This was particularly true of my time as a circus clown. If an audience's joy depended on my dropping my pants, I dropped my pants. If it meant taking a pie in the face three times a day, so be it. Many may have thought that these actions were undignified. I saw it as doing my job well. It brought me great satisfaction to see families sitting together in a crowded stadium and smiling from ear to ear.
Every Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show begins with the ringmaster's announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Children of all ages!"
I love that thought. From the beginning of the show, the audience is told to leave adulthood at the door. Be a kid again. Laugh. Smile. Enjoy!
The veneer of the circus was everything I desired in a career. It was a chance to make masses of people happy, a chance to travel all over, and an opportunity to take my silliness very seriously. What I found backstage, however, was very different. My goal is not to write an exposé of everything that happened backstage at Ringling. My former work as a circus clown has carried me far and opened a lot of doors for me over the years, and for that I am very grateful. But there was a world behind the curtain that I was not equipped to handle.
Audiences come to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth ("Big Bertha" to circus folks) primarily to see two things—clowns and elephants.
I spent most of my time with the elephants. In Tampa, I had a roommate who was an elephant trainer for a local zoo, so I had a deep fondness for these massive animals. If you look into the eyes of an elephant, you can't help but remark at their soulfulness. They are filled with expression. When an elephant is happy, you can tell at a glance. Back in Tampa, when the elephants were allowed to play in the water, their eyes would twinkle, their bodies would waddle, and their trunks would curl up, pulling their large mouths into an unmistakable smile. They looked like they were having fun. They were happy.
I never saw the elephants in the circus make that face. They looked tired, weary, frustrated, angry, and so very sad. I stopped one of the assistant elephant handlers to ask why a particular elephant had tears pouring down the sides of her face. He laughed, "'Cause she's a bitch and the bitch got what was coming to her." He then pointed to the welt on the side of his face from where she had slapped him with her trunk. He then showed me his bullhook, a 2-foot-long stick with a metal hook on the end that is used to train elephants. "I gave her about 10 good whacks across her skull. Bam! Bam! Bam!" he demonstrated. "Bitch'll think twice before she messes with me." This brutal assistant handler had never received any formal training in dealing with elephants. His job was simply to keep them fed, watered, and in line.
I remember that there was always a bullhook in the corner of the apartment back in Tampa. The metal hook had a blunt, rounded tip. My roommate had explained that it was used to hook the inside of where the mouth and trunk met. You give it a slight tug and the elephant will move in that direction. I witnessed many of the Ringling trainers sitting in circles, sharpening their bullhooks to dangerous points. They wanted the elephants to fear them, and the best way to do that was to inflict as much pain as possible.
Each of these great animals were looking at a lifetime of being chained to a wall, beaten, and marched out briefly to perform. Unlike those I left in Tampa, they would never roll in the grass or enjoy playing in the water.
The largest of the elephants, King Tusk, had a particularly sad story. When he first came to Ringling from another circus in 1986, he was the largest traveling land mammal alive. At 42 years old, weighing 14,762 pounds, standing 12 feet 6 inches tall, and sporting a length of 27 feet, King Tusk (Tommy) was a spectacular being. In the wild, elephants are constantly rubbing down their tusks to reduce the weight carried by their head. Tommy, however, had been prohibited from doing so for 42 years, and this had allowed his tusks to grow unacceptably long. In fact, where cracks would form along the tusk, metal bands were installed to keep them from breaking. His tusks were more than 7 feet long and put enormous weight and strain on his back. He had arthritis in his neck and back, and by the time I joined the circus in 1992, he could no longer perform any tricks.
Instead of retiring this great elephant with dignity and shaving down his tusks so that he could live out his remaining years in comfort, Ringling would have him simply stand in the center ring while two acrobats performed on his back.
Tommy was finally transferred to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 1998 after spending 51 years of his life performing in circuses. According to Two Tails Ranch's records, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium sent him to live out his remaining years at their elephant facility in Florida, where at 57 years of age he was finally euthanized just before Christmas in 2002.
I am grateful for the experiences that I had in the circus. I learned about who I am as a person, an entertainer, and a clown. I learned so much and had amazing, exciting, and terrific experiences. Most importantly, I learned what dignity means. I filled my steamer trunk with plenty of it as I rolled it out of Clown Alley and away from the Big Top forever.
I will not go to a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show or any other Feld Entertainment production ever again.
Tommy would have wanted it that way.
André du Broc graduated from Clown College in the fall of 1992 and went on the road with Ringling's blue unit in late October. He left the circus about a month later because he could no longer bear to witness the horrific treatment and living conditions of the animals. André maintains a blog at toomanycookies.wordpress.com.
Anyone who's ever wondered whether Christianity and compassion for animals are compatible should check out Oliver Thomas' USA Today column "What's the Godly Way to Treat Animals?" Thomas, a Baptist preacher, speaks out against chaining dogs and factory farming abuses, including "packing animals shoulder to shoulder in their own excrement" and "wiring them into cages where their personal space is smaller than a piece of printer paper." I especially like what Thomas has to say about people who dodge their duty to spay and neuter their animal companions: "With free and discounted spay/neuter opportunities galore, that's inexcusable." Amen to that!
Be sure to read the whole column, share it with your Christian friends and family, and leave a comment thanking Thomas and USA Today for this great piece. Then check out IslamicConcern.com and JewishVeg.com for information about how other religions believe that animals should be treated.
Sometimes I consider myself a hardened PETA veteran. With each new investigation I force myself to watch, I convince myself that that I've seen the worst abuses that animals are subjected to. But then something like this new video, which was shot by an undercover worker at an Ohio dairy factory farm, hits my desk, and I am again moved to tears by the way people exploit and abuse animals:
In the video, which was recorded over the past few weeks by Mercy For Animals, workers at Conklin Dairy Farms are seen beating cows with crowbars and stabbing them with pitchforks. One worker wires a cow's nose to a metal bar and then repeatedly beats the cow with another bar as she bleeds.
These findings are similar to what PETA revealed when we went undercover at a Land O'Lakes supplier in Pennsylvania. Over the course of several months, PETA's investigation documented that cows who had trouble standing were kicked and electro-shocked. One cow's gangrenous, infected teat ruptured while she was being milked by a machine. Another cow collapsed in a deep pool of liquid manure and was left to languish there for hours as the urine and manure covered her body and coated her eyes, nose, and mouth.
The next time someone asks you, "What's wrong with eating dairy products?" tell them, "Everything!" and then show them these videos.
Please take a minute to share this investigation via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. Then let your friends and family know that the best way to help prevent cows from suffering these abuses is to go vegan. If you haven't already taken that leap, check out these cruelty-free alternatives to dairy foods to get started.
Update: A man who police believe to be one of the dairy farm workers who was recorded on video beating cows with crowbars and poking them with pitchforks was charged yesterday with 12 counts of cruelty to animals!
Billy Joe Gregg Jr., 25, was jailed in Mechanicsburg and was to be arraigned on Thursday. Each cruelty-to-animals charge he faces carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.
Written by Shawna Flavell
Yes! Ernie Paragallo, the jerk thoroughbred breeder who starved more than 175 horses on his farm in New York's Hudson Valley, has been sentenced to up to two years in prison and fined $30,000. In addition, he must pay restitution to humane groups that cared for the horses after they were seized. Of course, the fine is just a drop in the (oat) bucket for a former Goldman Sachs exec who netted more than $20 million during the 20 years that he bred and raced horses, but that jail time's gotta hurt.
"Your moral compass is out of kilter," Judge George Pulver Jr. told Paragallo as he handed down the maximum sentence. "Your sense of integrity, your code of conduct, your perception of right and wrong was perhaps formed by your days on either mean streets or Wall Street."
Coming in the midst of the Triple Crown season, the sentencing serves as a timely reminder to stay away from racetracks and the cruelty to horses that's associated with them. Here's hoping that Paragallo gets nothing but bread and water during his stay in the pokey—and even that's more than his horses got.
Written by Alisa Mullins
In another chapter straight out of "Don't Let Death Stop You From Rocking the World for Animals," a gorgeous outfit belonging to late model and passionate animal defender Anna Nicole Smith is going to be auctioned next month, with proceeds benefitting PETA!
Which outfit, you may ask? None other than the one that graced Anna Nicole's curves in this unforgettable PETA ad:
Anna Nicole's former partner, Larry Birkhead, is auctioning off much of Anna Nicole's memorabilia—from a Mercedes-Benz to a Marilyn Monroe cookie jar to several of Anna Nicole's own paintings—to benefit their daughter, Dannielynn, as well as the Anna Nicole and Daniel Wayne Smith Foundation, which helps underprivileged children. But Larry wanted to make sure that this one special item gave back to PETA, since Anna Nicole was involved in so many of PETA's campaigns during her lifetime.
Even if Anna Nicole's wardrobe is beyond our budget, we can still make her compassion our own by never buying products from companies that test on animals.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
Now that spring is in full bloom in much of the country, we won't be hearing reports of "backyard dogs" freezing in the snow for a while. But other sad stories are in no short supply: Many puppies born this spring will be taken away from their mothers only to end up chained alone in someone's yard, and they will stay in that same spot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the rest of their lives, with nothing but a patch of worn-down dirt and no companions, scant attention, and all freedom lost forever. And if that weren't enough, many chained dogs strangle on the chains; get ripped apart by other dogs; are tormented, teased, injured, and killed by cruel humans; or are stolen by "bunchers" who resell them to laboratories. Others will simply starve to death when no one remembers to bring them food and water.
But there's hope for dogs who are suffering on chains. As USA Today reported, dog chaining is "inching its way toward unacceptability" as ever more jurisdictions pass laws banning or restricting chaining. California already has a law restricting tethering to three hours per day—as does PETA's hometown of Norfolk, Virginia—and the Illinois General Assembly is currently considering a statewide law that would ban dog chaining between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The Illinois bill has passed the Senate and is now in the House Rules Committee.
You can help chained dogs! If you live in Illinois, please contact your legislators and ask them to support Senate Bill 2580. If you live elsewhere, please lobby for an ordinance in your community. To get started, call us at 202-540-2174 for a free guide on getting the job done, and we'll help you every step of the way.
A plain-Jane litter pan shoved out of sight? Boring! It's time to redecorate your cat's bathroom. But before you call Extreme Makeover: Litter Box Edition, take a look at these snazzy slipcovers from KattySaks.
Fun and functional, these machine-washable fabric slipcovers—which come in three different designs (the Beach Bus, the Surf Shack and Le Dresser)—are guaranteed to take your cat's litter box from drab to feline fab.
Your cat really wants you to win one, so tell us what makes him or her a purrfect companion. The person whose comment earns the most "awws" around the office will win the slipcover of his or her cat's choosing.
Good luck, cat lovers!
Can Kentucky Derby fans handle the truth? Outdoor advertisers in Louisville don't seem to think so. We sent the ad below to every billboard and bus ad company in town with the intention of running it during next week's Derby, but they all turned us down flat.
We wanted racegoers—and everyone—to know that the horrific on-track breakdown of Eight Belles at the end of the 2008 Kentucky Derby was no fluke. On average, three horses break down on racetracks in America every single day. That adds up to at least 2,000 racehorses dead on tracks since Eight Belles collapsed two years ago after both her front ankles snapped.
After being prodded by PETA, the racing industry has made some improvements, including banning steroids from the states where Triple Crown races are run, but the misuse of legal drugs is still the biggest cause of breakdowns and deaths, and the industry has yet to address that issue in any meaningful way.
Many trainers use injections of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to mask fatigue and injury and make horses feel well enough to run when they should be resting and recovering. Racing subjects horses' bodies to punishing stresses that can lead to breakdowns. Racing insiders tell us that some horses are injected with various drugs 25 to 30 times in the week before a race, and it's all legal.
PETA advocates a ban on all drugs during the week leading up to a race, among other reforms. Please take a moment to send an e-mail to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority to let its officials know that Eight Belles has not been forgotten and to demand that the authority take steps to ensure that no more horses die in pursuit of the roses. As for the Derby: Don't go, don't watch, and don't bet.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.