Written by PETA
Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae is a bacterium that infects pigs—usually on crowded, inhumane factory farms, where infectious diseases such as swine flu spread like wildfire. Erysipelas causes fever, chronic arthritis, heart inflammation, painful skin lesions, and often death. Up until a few weeks ago, most of us at PETA had never heard of erysipelas either.
There is a vaccine for erysipelas, but each batch produced was tested by infecting pigs with the disease. The test caused the animals immense suffering, which was often followed by death. Enter PETA's scientists, whose heads are no doubt getting a little big right now, what with two big victories in one week.
In August, PETA's Regulatory Testing Division wrote to the USDA asking the agency to follow Europe's example and adopt a non-animal in vitro test for the erysipelas vaccine. We pointed out that the in vitro ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay—try saying that three times fast) test is more humane and is also much more reliable than simply administering the vaccine and seeing whether or not the pigs die. It also helps to ensure vaccine consistency.
Last week, we received a response from the USDA announcing that the test involving the use of pigs will no longer be used. The icing on the cake is that the USDA also said that it is moving away from a hideously cruel method that uses mice to produce antibodies and will instead use a cell culture–based system that is humane and reliable.
Not ones to rest on our laurels, we at PETA are also working to replace animal tests with in vitro tests for tetanus, hepatitis B, whooping cough, clostridium, and leptospirosis vaccines. Already, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is on board when it comes to ending the use of hamsters in the manufacture of leptospirosis vaccines—a decision that will save the lives of about 40,000 hamsters a year. Hopefully, we'll be able to report back with another victory soon.
Written by Alisa Mullins
In case you forgot how smart, social, and absolutely adorable pigs are, meet Sherlock. Found wandering down a rural road in Suffolk, Virginia, this little guy was captured and taken to the local animal shelter:
When he was found, Sherlock was still a baby, but he was already castrated and his tail had obviously been docked. That means that this plucky little piglet likely fell off a truck headed to a growing/finishing barn—which is what the piggy flesh industry calls the factories that are used to fatten up little pigs like Sherlock for slaughter. On factory farms, piglets are taken away from their moms when they are less than 1 month old. Workers cut off their tails, clip their teeth with pliers, and castrate the males—all without painkillers. The animals spend their entire lives in extremely crowded pens on tiny slabs of filthy concrete. It gets even more heartbreaking when you factor in the abuse that these animals face: A recent undercover investigation of an Iowa pig factory farm, which supplies piglets to Hormel, documented that workers beat pigs with metal rods and sexually abused them with canes.
When one of our fieldworkers saw the headline about Sherlock in the Suffolk paper, she immediately went to work to find this guy a wonderful home. Click here to see how Sherlock's story ends!
Written by Amy Elizabeth
Who needs a spa treatment when you can rejuvenate your soul by nuzzling 800-pound piggies at an animal sanctuary?
Well, a group of us kids from PETA and the PETA Foundation were lucky enough to do just that over the weekend. An hour north of D.C. lies a spectacular oasis called Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. It consists of 400 acres devoted entirely to the rehabilitation of abused and/or neglected animals. This past Sunday, Poplar Spring hosted its annual Open House and Fundraiser. I don't think anyone could turn down yummy vegan nosh and cuddle time with the cuties pictured below, do you?
This is Bobby and yours truly. Before coming to the sanctuary, he and his friend Harry had lived their entire lives in cages and were used in insulin experiments. When they arrived at Poplar Spring, both of them were white as snow because they had never seen a single ray of sunshine. The first thing they did when they arrived at Poplar? They dove into a mud pool and stared up in amazement at the trees and stars. What a lucky guy, and such a looker too!
I'm telling you, folks, I highly recommend finding your nearest animal sanctuary and visiting. Or better yet, volunteer! With Thanksgiving coming up, most farm sanctuaries have special Thanksgiving celebrations that honor their turkeys. If my picture doesn't convince you, maybe these will.
Written by Missy Lane
When I was in elementary school, I had a friend named Katie. We slept over at each other's houses, hung out during recess, and wore the same clothes, pretending to be twins. I was so ready to give her the other half of my best-friend necklace—but then I heard her talking smack about me in the lunch room. Backstabber.
The CEO of Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, is a lot like Katie. While the aquarium's mission is supposedly "to instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems," CEO Dr. Jerry Schubel has just launched a new program called "Seafood for the Future"—which encourages people to eat specific kinds of fish in order to qualify for a free ticket to the aquarium.
If Dr. Schubel really knew what was best for fish, he'd know that eating them isn't an option. Fish communicate and develop relationships with one another. They experience fear, show affection by gently rubbing against other fish, and even grieve when their companions die. When they are dragged from the ocean's depths, they undergo excruciating decompression, which often causes their internal organs to rupture.
Encouraging aquarium visitors to eat fish seems a little bit like serving poodle burgers at a dog show. Wouldn't you think the best way for visitors to safeguard and respect the ocean's sea life is to adopt a vegan diet? We've fired off a letter to Dr. Schubel asking him to cancel this program immediately.
Is it obvious yet that aquariums really don't care about the animals they're supposedly protecting?
Written by Liz Graffeo
Ground beef is not a completely safe product.—Dr. Jeffrey Bender, food safety expert
Ground beef is not a completely safe product.—Dr. Jeffrey Bender, food safety expert
In a chilling reminder to all meat-eaters, Saturday's New York Times recounted the tragic story of Stephanie Smith, whose meatborne illness almost killed her and left her paralyzed.
Two years ago, Smith was a dance instructor who ate a hamburger contaminated by E. coli bacteria, which happens when feces from cattle comes into contact with their flesh during the slaughter process—something that's hard to avoid when the animals are forced to lie in their own urine and feces in barren feedlots and when they are hacked apart in filthy slaughterhouses.
Stephanie experienced stomach cramping that turned into bloody diarrhea. Then her kidneys shut down. Seizures, which knocked her unconscious, were so frequent that doctors had to force her into a coma. Nine weeks later, she woke up. The virus had ravaged Stephanie's nervous system to the point that she can no longer walk, and doctors believe she will be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
The name "E. coli" comes from "colon," where E. coli is found. In other words, anything that comes into contact with feces can be contaminated. While raw vegetables can be cross-contaminated with meat or with waste runoff from factory farms, ground beef is the most common source of E. coli poisoning.
Ground beef is usually a mixture of the flesh of many cattle from several slaughterhouses. Stephanie Smith's deadly burger contained "trimmings" from one slaughterhouse in Nebraska that kills 2,600 cattle each day. Other bits of the burger came from a slaughterhouse in Texas that kills discarded dairy cows and old bulls.
According to the Times, there isn't any federal law requiring meat-grinding companies to test for E. coli. Many slaughterhouses put the fear of losing money in recalls before public safety and will only sell to grinders who agree not to do testing.
The company that made Stephanie Smith's burger continues to sell its cheap bits and pieces of dead cattle to supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, and the school lunch program, so if a dose of E. coli doesn't sound appealing, go vegan.
Written by Heather Drennan
Sound the alarm! Yet another emergency services department in California is facing a financial crisis. This time it's the police department in Vallejo. PETA has offered to help by paying the department to run our pro-vegan ad on Vallejo's police cruisers.
Police departments across the country say that their goal is "to serve and protect." If Vallejo police chief Robert Nichelini allows PETA to serve our message to his community, no doubt many residents will make changes to better protect animals, the environment, and their own health.
Written by Karin Bennett
Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on this Win It Wednesday. The winners of the 'Tofu Never Screams' Tote and Tee are Mike Hoyt, Annie, and Kelly. Congratulations!
It's almost time for Halloween: my favorite holiday. Every year, I'm eager to gorge on vegan Swedish Fish Sea Kittens and decide on a costume.
This year, I've been thinking about going as Evil Ronald McDonald, with frizzed-out red hair, a hatchet, and a blood-splattered yellow jumpsuit—all topped off with PETA's Ronald mask.
Now PETA's quirky "Tofu Never Screams" tee and tote, which just happen to be this week's "Win It" Wednesday prize, have me thinking about a second costume idea. I may finally have a perfect use for that big, horrible block of Styrofoam in my hall closet.
How do you win one of this week's prize packages? Share your most creative, animal-friendly costume idea and the tote (perfect for carrying home that mountain of candy) and the T-shirt can be yours.
This past June, a Maryland man, David Beers, who sought revenge against a couple who had asked him to leave their property, admitted that after leaving the couple's yard in a huff, he later returned and snatched their 18-month-old dog, Zoey. Beers drove off with Zoey and then hurled the four-pound dog out of the passenger side window of his car and over the side of a bridge. Her tiny body was never found.
When we first heard about the story, we wrote to the prosecutor and pushed for vigorous prosecution of Beers. We also asked that Beers be required to undergo a psychological evaluation and receive counseling and also be prohibited from having animals.
Now Beers is headed to court and faces a felony aggravated cruelty-to-animals charge, which could mean three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Zoey's death is a reminder of the dangers that await dogs who are tethered outside or are allowed to roam unsupervised. Please, don't ever take chances with your pooch's well-being—and always take a moment to educate others who might not know any better.
Written by Karin Bennett
Vegan prisoners in the U.K. have just won the right to order cruelty-free hygiene products, including essentials such as shampoo and sunscreen. So, you might say that the incarcerated vegans1 will now be protected in their right to bare arms (ba-dum, ching!).
The Vegan Prisoners Support Group has successfully petitioned for inmates to have access to nuts and dairy alternatives as well. Next up? Vegetarian shoes, of course.
While I don't know the state of lip balm in U.S. prisons, I do know which states have the tastiest vegetarian prison food2—and you can check out our celebrated Top 10 List here.
Written by Amanda Schinke
Recently, members of PETA Asia-Pacific and Animosa stripped down to their daisies and took to their coffins outside the Giorgio Armani store in Taipei.
In 2007, Armani vowed to stop using fur, but several months later, his collection was full of rabbit fur.
PETA Asia-Pacific wanted to remind the designer that the pelts, ripped from the bodies of rabbits who kick and scream before they are hung upside down and decapitated, are indeed fur—and that fur is dead.
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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.