Written by PETA
If you haven't been keeping up with world events, you may be surprised to learn that change has come to the land down under. Julia Gillard recently made history by becoming Australia's first female prime minister. Now PETA is asking this precedent-setting PM to implement another big change: Help end the barbaric mulesing mutilation that's needlessly inflicted on millions of lambs every year.
PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk has dashed off a letter to Gillard asking her to spearhead government action on this issue.
Says Ingrid: "Carving hunks of flesh from lambs' rumps is a crude way to attempt (often unsuccessfully) to prevent flystrike. I have seen dead mulesed sheep with my own eyes, and everyone knows that there are humane options that should replace this barbaric act."
Experts estimate that mulesing could be phased out in just two years if Australian wool farmers would simply stop breeding overly woolly merino sheep—whose wrinkly skin makes them more susceptible to flystrike—and switch to "bare-breech" sheep (i.e., ones with smooth bottoms) instead. So far, greedy sheep farmers have refused to make the switch, so it's up to us to push hard—and we are doing just that with our campaign to get retailers and consumers around the world to reject merino wool.
If you've contacted decision-makers about this issue before, please do so again. If you haven't, now's the time. We'd like everyone to please take a minute to congratulate Prime Minister Gillard and ask her to fast-track the transition away from mulesing.
Written by Paula Moore
It's not often that we use the word "great" to describe anything involving vivisectors, but a recent development involving a petition filed by PETA and Madison-based Alliance for Animals against sheep experimenters at University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison is just that: Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith has determined that nine individuals may face criminal penalties for conducting excruciating and deadly decompression experiments on sheep.
You might remember that PETA and Alliance for Animals joined forces to petition for prosecution after a district attorney shrugged off his own findings that UW-Madison had indeed violated state law using decompression to kill sheep. The D.A. apparently decided that it wasn't worth his time and effort to pursue charges.
After reviewing our petition, Judge Smith decided that animal experimenters are not above the law, determining "that probable cause exists to conclude that certain named individuals … violated [a state law prohibiting the use of decompression to kill animals], either directly or as party to a crime." That means that both the vivisectors and those who assisted them with their experiments may face criminal or civil prosecution. In her 24-page decision, Judge Smith also wrote, "[T]he University has apparently engaged in behavior resulting in the above-described animal deaths for years," and noted that "it may well continue to decompress animals to death contrary to law, unless I take action." She has appointed a special prosecutor to determine whether to bring charges against the nine UW-Madison employees.
Considering that this is possibly the second time that a judge has found probable cause for criminal charges—the first was PETA's landmark Silver Spring Monkeys case—it's no wonder that news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and others are buzzing about this important development.
We'll keep you in the loop on future developments as they happen, but we—and animals—are depending your efforts to help stop animal experimentation.
Written by Karin Bennett
Back in the '80s, when many people still thought that PETA was a Middle Eastern bread, a funny actor from Oklahoma became our first champion in Hollywood and helped establish the organization as a household name. She was Rue McClanahan, the flirty "Golden Girl," and she became so active that she was PETA's honorary director for almost three decades.
I was still PETA's receptionist when I wrote to Rue and asked if she would star in our first anti-fur commercial. You can imagine my delight when I answered the phone to hear Rue say that not only would she do it, she had gotten Bea Arthur and Betty White to appear, too, and had even convinced the producers to film it for us free of charge on the set after one of their Friday-night tapings. From then on, Rue became a key PETA operative in Hollywood as well as a personal friend; she even let me use her dressing room as a makeshift office, as PETA had no office in L.A. back then. I left my post at the reception desk and started developing campaigns with high-profile personalities thanks in large part to Rue's enthusiasm.
Growing up in the country, Rue had always been shocked to see the glee that many people derive from hunting and fishing—and she had been mocked for her concern—so she felt relieved to get involved with an organization that made no apologies about defending all animals. After winning an Emmy, Rue did the talk-show circuit and always found a way to discuss her PETA activism, telling viewers, with that gracious smile, that not only was she anti-fur, she also opposed animal experimentation. In Salt Lake City, she took time off from the Touched By an Angel set to host PETA's video for a landmark factory farm cruelty case. In Las Vegas, she led a protest outside a furriers' convention. In Virginia, she launched PETA's mobile spay-and-neuter clinic. And in New York, she hosted a saucy PETA benefit at Chippendales. One muggy summer, she returned to Oklahoma, where PETA had filmed elephant trainers beating animals who were performing in the circus, to screen that footage at the state capitol and call on lawmakers to outlaw bullhooks.
When floods ravaged the Midwest, Rue flew to St. Louis to make appeals for people to include animals in their evacuation plans. She starred in public service announcements urging people to spay or neuter their animals and always to adopt from animal shelters rather than buying from pet shops or breeders (there were four shelter dogs at that shoot, and she took all of them home). She opened her house for a PETA benefit and told guests that "Rue" is French for "street" and that she always wished her last name had been "Walker."
But my favorite memory of Rue was when we traveled to New Mexico, where she helped push through legislation to outlaw cockfighting. When a reporter asked if there would be any naked protesters, she just smiled and replied, "It's not that kind of cockfight."
If animals could sing, I have no doubt that they'd serenade Rue with the Golden Girls theme song: "Thank You for Being a Friend."
Written by PETA Senior Vice President Dan Mathews
P.S. To make a gift for animals in Rue's honor, please visit our True Friends Memorials page.
Holy Guacamole Vegemite! The Fremantle City Council just voted to phase out the live export of sheep from its port. To get an idea of how huge this decision is, consider that in 2006 more than 80 percent of the almost 4 million sheep who were exported from Australia went through Fremantle's port.
Why the move to stop shipping sheep? Freemantle Mayor Brad Pettitt declared that it's time for the "cruel and unnecessary live sheep trade to be phased out and replaced with a trade that supports local jobs." Indeed, the transport to the Middle East of millions of sheep—some of whom were once used and abused for their wool—is the stuff that nightmares are made of. The grueling journey can take weeks or sometimes months, and animals battle starvation, disease, and trampling from severe crowding. Those who survive the arduous journey are then taken to slaughter and have their throats cut while they are still conscious.
Australian meat workers have spoken out. Politicians have voted to close their ports. You say that you, too, have taken action to help sheep? Post a comment to tell us all about it.
PETA supporter Mimi wasn't on the agenda—or even the guest list—for the International Wool Textile Organisation's recent conference in France, but when an Australian farming representative started to tell attendees that the barbaric practice of lamb mulesing is necessary, she became the featured speaker. Mimi borrowed the microphone to inform the crowd that mulesing is a fiercely cruel practice in which farmers cut flesh from lambs' hindquarters with a pair of gardening shears (without using painkillers), even though alternatives exist. So much for trying to pull the wool over people's eyes!
Of course, you don't need to snag a microphone to voice your opposition to mulesing. Just personalize and send this message to the Australian government. And for extra credit, avoid all merino wool—or wool of any kind for that matter.
Written by Heather Moore
Last July, we received word that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) was reneging on its public promise to phase out mulesing by the end of this year. Mulesing is the crude and cruel process of cutting flesh from a lamb's rump with a tool resembling a pair of gardening shears. Afterwards, the lambs lie on the ground in pain for days, unable to stand up. Had AWI gone to work on a bare-breech (smooth rump) breeding program five years ago instead of shuffling its feet, stalling, suing PETA (to no avail), and trying to promote worthless products for the profit of AWI executives, the Australian wool industry would have met its deadline—but that didn't happen. Now, PETA is willing to extend our campaign moratorium if the Australian government agrees to implement a genetic program that would eliminate mulesing within two years. It's time for Aussie officials to stop the mulesing madness.
Thanks to PETA's education campaign, dozens of retailers and designers worldwide have been so appalled that they have abandoned Australian wool. We've asked the office of the U.S. trade representative to make the new timeline a condition of approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which is currently being negotiated with Australia.
Always shun wool and ask Australia's minister for agriculture, Tony Burke, to act right away.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Can't sheep get a break?
First, we told you that PETA and Madison, Wisconsin's Alliance for Animals petitioned for prosecution after experimenters at the University of Wisconsin–Madison killed sheep in excruciating U.S. Navy–funded decompression experiments. (Killing animals by decompression is specifically prohibited by Wisconsin's Crimes Against Animals law.)
Now we've learned that 16 sheep were restrained, injected with methamphetamines, shocked with a Taser device for up to 40 seconds and killed in cruel and ineffective experiments aimed at studying how being shocked with a Taser affects the hearts of meth addicts who run from the cops. These ridiculous Taser-funded experiments were conducted at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis by Taser medical director Jeffrey Ho and others. Of course, sheep don't do drugs or resist arrest, and they shouldn't be made to suffer because some humans do. To boot, medical experts, the authors of this sheep study, and others have concluded that data obtained from using Tasers on drugged-up animals (including pigs on cocaine!) are not relevant to humans.
These twisted folks may have violated federal animal protection laws, so PETA has fired off a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for an immediate investigation. We'll keep you posted as the case unfolds.
In the meantime, here's how you can take action against cruel animal experiments.
PETA always tries to explain to people that what is done to animals inside laboratories would be illegal if it happened anywhere else. Burning, shocking, or poisoning a dog would typically land someone in jail. But paradoxically, as long as the abuse happens in a laboratory and is called "science," the people responsible for it are exempt from prosecution under cruelty laws in almost every state. Fortunately, there are some instances in which animal experimenters can be held legally accountable for tormenting animals, but we're learning that even in those cases, experimenters seem to be above the law. As you probably could've guessed, we're fighting to make sure that justice for animals is served!
Last year, Madison, Wisconsin's Alliance for Animals filed a complaint with the district attorney of Dane County alleging that experimenters at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (remember them?) had violated the state's Crimes Against Animals statute by killing sheep in U.S. Navy–funded decompression experiments (killing animals by decompression is specifically prohibited by Wisconsin law). The animals were placed in high-pressure hyperbaric chambers, and some died from the excruciating pain of decompression sickness ("the bends"), which occurs when bubbles of nitrogen gas form in the blood, muscles, and organs, including the brain. Did we mention that the French Navy and the U.K. Ministry of Defence no longer conduct decompression experiments on animals?
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard investigated and concluded that UW-Madison did in fact violate state law by killing sheep by decompression. Incredibly, he decided that it wasn't worth his time and effort to pursue charges.
Fortunately, there is a Wisconsin law that allows private parties to request that a circuit judge order the filing of a criminal complaint in cases in which a crime has been committed and the D.A. refuses to take action. So PETA and Alliance for Animals have stepped in to petition for prosecution.
We'll keep you up to date on this case as it unfolds. In the meantime, please help us put an end to laboratory atrocities that are still taking place in campuses across the U.S.
Yes, you've read that correctly, and no, the headline wasn't ripped from The Onion. In a joint press conference this morning, the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union and the World Society for the Protection of Animals agreed that the live export of sheep who were once abused for their wool is destroying the nation's economy.
Every year on the grueling journey from Australia to their slaughter in the Middle East, millions of sheep endure weeks, and sometimes months, on extremely crowded, disease-ridden ships with little access to food or water and through all weather extremes. Many sheep fall ill, become stuck in feces and are unable to move, or are trampled to death by other sheep. Those who survive are dragged from the ships, are thrown into the backs of trucks and cars, and eventually have their throats cut while they are still conscious.
Hopefully, this surprise support from Australia's meat industry will mean less suffering for sheep. And who knows, maybe the next shocking headline we'll see will read, "Australian Meat Workers Oppose Meat" (considering the energy, land, and resources wasted by the production of meat—a guy can dream, can't he?).
Written by Logan Scherer
At 5' 4", I'm often the shortest person in a room, so I've frequently resorted to the maxim "good things come in small packages," but I'll admit it: Even I'm loving all 828 meters of the Burj Khalifa—which just opened in Dubai. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and is breaking all sorts of world records—the highest occupied floor, the tallest service lift, and the world's highest observation deck—and, if Emaar Properties agrees to PETA's proposal it could break one more: world's longest banner.
None of the Burj Khalifa statistics are as astounding as the number of sheep who die every year on the traumatizing and grueling journey from Australia to their slaughter in the Middle East after they are deemed unprofitable to wool farmers. The cramped, suffocating conditions on live-export ships make the recent TSA regulations look like travel perks. In one year alone, 35,000 sheep die from starvation or disease or are trampled to death by other sheep. Those who survive the trip are dragged off the ships, thrown into the backs of trucks and cars, and eventually have their throats cut while they are still conscious. At least we survive the body scans.
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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.