Compassionate Living

"Compassionate living" is a concept based on the belief that humans have a moral responsibility to treat animals with respect, and that the interests of humans and animals should be considered equally. This means that in any decision that could potentially affect the life of an animal, that particular animal's interests should not be dismissed simply because it is inconvenient for us to consider them.
 
Although it may not always be easy to determine accurately the best interests of an animal, we can safely assume that animals generally prefer to live, to be free from pain, and to express their natural behaviors. The failure of humans to consider an animal's needs/interests as equal to those of humans is an expression of prejudice called speciesism.
 
Defenders of speciesism often argue that humans are superior to other species because of their greater intelligence. Taken to its logical extreme, this argument would imply that humans with higher I.Q. scores should have more rights than humans with lower I.Q. scores. However, in western society, we have developed the sensitivity to extend basic human rights to all humans, whether or not they meet any criteria for intelligence, capacity, or potential. But animals are commonly experimented on without their consent, and even killed, if it suits human purposes. This gross inequality is what we are trying to address with the concept of "animal rights."
 
Another common assertion is that humans are superior to animals because we possess the capacity to understand morality, as well as the ability to determine right from wrong. Since animals may lack these same abilities, it is argued that humans are not obligated to treat them in any particular way. However, if only those who are capable of making and understanding moral judgments were to be accorded basic human rights, then infants, young children, and the severely ill or mentally challenged would be excluded. It is equally logical to affirm that, since humans are the only ones who can make moral judgments, that it is our responsibility to do so on behalf of the animals.
 
All animals, including humans, have the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Unfortunately, humans have tended to inflict tremendous amounts of pain and suffering on animals without any consideration of how this affects the animals themselves. By making compassionate daily choices, you can help end widespread animal abuse and exploitation.

 

What You Choose to Wear

 
Fur 
 
Each year more than 40 million animals are senselessly tortured and killed to satisfy the dictates of fashion. Wild-caught fur is obtained by setting traps or snares to capture fur-bearing animals. Once an animal is caught it may remain in the trap or snare for several days starving or slowly strangling. Farm-raised fur comes from animals kept in tiny, filthy cages, deprived of adequate protection from the elements. As a result, animals develop stereotypical behavior, including pacing, head bobbing, and self-mutilation. 
 
The techniques used to kill animals on fur farms vary. Small animals such as mink are killed by neck snapping or "popping." Larger animals such as foxes are electrocuted by placing a metal clamp on the snout and forcing a rod into the anus, and then connecting the metal to a power source. Some animals are forced into bags or boxes and gassed with carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide.
 
Wool 
 
Sheep raised for wool are subjected to a lifetime of cruel treatment. Lambs' tails are chopped off and males are castrated without anesthetic. 
 
In Australia, where 80% of all wool comes from, ranchers perform an operation called "mulesing" where huge strips of skin are carved off the backs of lambs' legs. This procedure is performed to produce scarred skin that won't harbor fly larvae, so that the rancher can spend less time caring for the sheep. 
 
The shearing of sheep at most wool ranches can be a brutal procedure, as workers are encouraged to shear as quickly as possible. As a result, an estimated one million Australian sheep die every year from exposure. 
 
Sheep that are no longer useful for their wool are sent to crowded feedlots and then transported to the slaughterhouse. 
 
Leather 
 
By-products of the beef industry are defined by the parts of the cow that are not consumed by humans. These include hooves, some organs, bones, and skin.
 
Skin (leather) accounts for about half of the by-product value of the beef industry. Like meat, leather is a product made from animals that experienced the horrors of factory farming, transport, and slaughter. 
 
The leather industry uses some of the most dangerous substances to prepare leather, including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, various oils, and some cyanide-based dyes.
 

 

What You Choose For Entertainment


Circus 
 
Animals used in the circus spend the majority of the year imprisoned in small cages or on chains, traveling from show to show. 
 
The training endured by circus animals is almost always based on intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of the animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for several days while being trained to perform, and tigers are chained to their pedestals with ropes around their necks to choke them down. 
 
Rodeo
 
Horses and cows used in rodeos are abused with electrical prods, sharp spurs, and "bucking straps" that pinch their sensitive flank area. 
 
During bucking events, horses and bulls may suffer broken legs or run into the sides of the arena causing serious injury and even death. 
 
During calf-roping events, a calf may reach a running speed of 27 miles per hour before being jerked by the neck to an abrupt stop by a lasso. This event has resulted in animals' punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, paralysis, and broken necks. 
 
Greyhound and Horse Racing 
 
Once greyhounds begin their racing careers, they are kept in cages for about 22-1/2 hours a day. The cages are made of wire and are barely big enough for the dogs to turn around. 
 
Dogs that are considered too slow to race are sold to research facilities or killed (20,000-25,000 each year) -- very few are adopted. 
 
More racehorses are bred than can prove profitable on the racetrack. As a result, hundreds of racehorses are sent to slaughter every year. 
 
Zoos and Aquariums 
 
While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented, most are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. 
 
Many animals in zoos and aquariums exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social structures. 
 
Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection. 
 
The vast majority of captive-bred animals will never be returned to the wild. When the facility breeds too many animals they become "surplus" and often are sold to laboratories, traveling shows, shooting ranches, or to private individuals who may be unqualified to care for them.
 

 

What You Choose to Eat

 
Every year billions of animals are raised and killed for human consumption. Unlike the family farms of the past, today's factory farms are high-revenue, high-production entities. On a factory farm, animals are confined to extremely small spaces, which allows farmers to concentrate on maximizing production.
 
Because this type of overcrowding breeds disease, animals are routinely fed antibiotics and sprayed with pesticides. They are also fed growth hormones to enhance productivity. These chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones are subsequently passed on to the environment, as well as to consumers of meat and dairy products.
 
Beef 
 
About 41.8 million beef cattle are slaughtered annually in the United States. For identification purposes, cattle are either branded with hot irons or "wattled," a process in which a chunk of flesh from under the cow's neck is cut out. 
 
Raised on the range or in feed lots, cattle when large enough are crammed into metal trucks and taken to slaughter. On the way to slaughter, these cattle may travel for hours in sweltering temperatures with no access to water. 
 
Animals unable to stand due to broken legs or illness are called "downers" by the meat industry. Downers are electrically prodded or dragged with chains to the slaughterhouse, or left outside, without food or water, to die. 
 
Pork
 
In the United States each year more than 115 million pigs are raised on factory farms and slaughtered for human consumption. Factory-farmed pigs are raised in crowded pens which are enclosed inside huge barns. The air in these barns is filled with eye- and lung-burning ammonia created by urine and fecal waste collected below the floors. 
 
Breeding sows (or "animal production units") spend their lives in metal crates so small that they cannot turn around. Denied adequate space and freedom of movement, these sows often develop stereotypical behavior, repetitive movement such as head bobbing, jaw smacking, and rail biting. 
 
At the slaughterhouse, pigs are stunned (often inadequately), hung upside down before their throats are cut, and then bled to death. If workers fail to kill a pig with the knife, that pig is carried on the conveyer belt to the next station, the scalding tank, where he or she may be boiled alive. 
 
Chicken 
 
Every year approximately 8.785 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered for human consumption in the United States, most on factory farms.
 
Crowded and unable to express natural behavior, chickens begin to peck excessively at each other. Rather than solve this problem by providing adequate space for the chickens, factory farmers "debeak" them, a painful procedure where the bird's sensitive upper beak is sliced off with a hot metal blade. 
 
Chickens raised for consumption have been genetically altered to grow abnormally large. As a result, many broiler chickens' bones are unable to support the weight of their muscle tissue, which causes them to hobble in pain or become crippled. 
 
At the slaughterhouse, chickens while still fully conscious are hung upside down by their feet and attached to a moving rail. Birds missed by the mechanical neck-slicing blade and boiled alive are called "redskins" by the industry. 
 
Eggs
 
There are more than 459 million egg-laying hens in the United States. Of these, 97% are confined to "battery" cages -- tiny wire boxes roughly 16 by 18 inches wide. Five or six birds are crammed into each cage.
 
Battery hens are forced to produce 10 times more eggs than they would naturally. When egg production slows, factory farmers use a method called "forced molting" to shock the hens into losing their feathers, which causes them to begin a premature laying cycle. "Forced molting" involves starving the hens and denying them water for several days' time, during which many hens die. 
 
To keep hens from pecking each other in their crowded cages, factory farmers "debeak" them. 
 
Male chicks, considered by-products of laying hen production, are either tossed into plastic bags to suffocate slowly, or ground into animal feed while still alive. 
 
Milk 
 
About half of the 10 million milking cows in the U.S. are kept in confinement on factory farms. Dairy cows are forced to produce 10-20 times the amount of milk they would naturally need for their calves. This intensive production of milk is extremely stressful, and as a result many dairy cattle "burn out" at a much younger age than their normal life expectancy, and up to 33% suffer painful udder infections. 
 
To continue milk production, a cow must bear a calf each year. Although calves elsewhere stay with their mothers for a year or more, on the dairy factory farm they are immediately removed from their mothers so that the milk can be sold for human consumption. 
 
Calves are sold to the beef or veal industry or become replacements for "burned out" dairy cows.
 

 

What Household Products You Choose


Despite the modern alternatives to animal testing, millions of animals suffer and die each year for the "good" of cosmetics and household products. No law in the U.S. requires cosmetic, household product, or office supply companies to test on animals, but many companies do so to protect themselves against liability. (More than 550 companies do not test on animals.) However, animal testing does not necessarily make a product safe for humans. Most animal tests were developed over 50 years ago and are significantly flawed and inferior to modern alternatives.
 
"Cruelty free" shopping had become so popular as to become confusing, sometimes misleading and ultimately frustrating. Companies have begun designing their own bunny logos, abiding by their own definition of "cruelty free" or "animal friendly" without the participation of animal protection groups.
 
In response, eight national animal protection groups banded together to form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). The CCIC promotes a single comprehensive standard and an internationally recognized "leaping bunny" logo. They are working with companies to help make shopping for animal-friendly products easier and more trustworthy.
 
Buying products with the Leaping Bunny Logo takes the guesswork out of shopping. Use your dollars to send a strong message that animal testing is outdated and unnecessary! When you purchase a product you send this message to the manufacturer: "I support your products and your policies!"
 
Be sure to support only those companies committed against animal testing. 
 

 

Animal Testing & Experimentation

 
Vivisection, the practice of experimenting on animals, began because of religious prohibitions against the dissection of human corpses. When religious leaders finally lifted these prohibitions, it was too late-vivisection was already entrenched in medical and educational institutions. 
 
Estimates of the number of animals tortured and killed annually in U.S. laboratories diverge widely - from 17 to 70 million animals. The Animal Welfare Act requires laboratories to report the number of animals used in experiments, but the Act does not cover mice, rats, and birds (used in some 80 to 90 percent of all experiments). Because these animals are not covered by the Act, they remain uncounted and we can only guess at how many actually suffer and die each year.
 
There are many reasons to oppose vivisection. For example, enormous physiological variations exist among rats, rabbits, dogs, pigs, and human beings. A 1989 study to determine the carcinogenicity of fluoride illustrated this fact. Approximately 520 rats and 520 mice were given daily doses of the mineral for two years. Not one mouse was adversely affected by the fluoride, but the rats experienced health problems including cancer of the mouth and bone. As test data cannot accurately be extrapolated from a mouse to a rat, it can't be argued that data can accurately be extrapolated from either species to a human. 
 
In many cases, animal studies do not just hurt animals and waste money; they harm and kill people, too. The drugs thalidomide,  Zomax, and DES were all tested on animals and judged safe but has devastating consequences for the humans who used them. A General Accounting Office report, released in May 1990, found that more than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1976 and 1985 caused side effects that were serious enough to cause the drugs to be withdrawn from the market or relabeled. All of these drugs had been tested on animals.
 

 

Vivisection

 
Vivisection, the practice of experimenting on animals, began because of religious prohibitions against the dissection of human corpses. When religious leaders finally lifted these prohibitions, it was too
late - vivisection was already entrenched in medical and educational institutions. 
 
Estimates of the number of animals tortured and killed annually in U.S. laboratories diverge widely - from 17 to 70 million animals. The Animal Welfare Act requires laboratories to report the number of animals used in experiments, but the Act does not cover mice, rats, and birds (used in some 80 to 90 percent of all experiments). Because these animals are not covered by the Act, they remain uncounted and we can only guess at how many actually suffer and die each year.
 
The largest breeding company in the United States is Charles River Breeding Laboratories (CRBL) headquartered in Massachusetts and owned by Bausch and Lomb. It commands 40-50 percent of the market for mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rhesus monkeys, imported primates, and miniature swine.
 
Since mice and rats are not protected under Animal Welfare Act regulations, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not require that commercial breeders of these rodents be registered or that the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspect such establishments.
 
Dogs and cats are also used in experiments. They come from breeders like CRBL, some animal shelters and pounds, and organized "bunchers" who pick up strays, purchase litters from unsuspecting people who allow their companion animals to become pregnant, obtain animals from "Free to a Good Home" advertisements, or trap and steal the animals. Birds, frogs, pigs, sheep, cattle, and many naturally free-roaming animals (e.g., prairie dogs and owls) are also common victims of experimentation. At this writing, animals traditionally raised for food are covered by Animal Welfare Act regulations only minimally, and on a temporary basis, when used in, for example, heart transplant experiments; but they are not covered at all when used in agriculture studies. Unfortunately, vivisectors are using more and more animals whom they consider less "cute," because, although they know these animals suffer just as much, they believe people won't object as strenuously to the torture of a pig or a rat as they will to that of a dog or a rabbit.
 
Paying for Pain 
 
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States is the world's largest funder of animal experiments. It dispenses seven billion tax dollars in grants annually, of which about $5 billion goes toward studies involving animals. The Department of Defense spent about $180 million on experiments using 553,000 animals in 1993. Although this figure represents a 36% increase in the number of animals used over the past decade, the military offered no detailed rationale in its own reports or at Congressional hearings. Examples of torturous taxpayer-funded experiments at military facilities include wound experiments, radiation experiments, studies on the effects of chemical warfare, and other deadly and maiming procedures. 
 
Private institutions and companies also invest in the vivisection industry. Many household product and cosmetics companies still pump their products into animals' stomachs, rub them onto their shaved, abraded skin, squirt them into their eyes, and force them to inhale aerosol products. Charities, such as the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes, use donations from private citizens to fund experiments on animals.
 
Agricultural experiments are carried out on cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys to find ways in which to make cows produce more milk, sheep produce more wool, and all animals produce more offspring and grow "meatier."
 
Bad Science 
 
There are many reasons to oppose vivisection. For example, enormous physiological variations exist among rats, rabbits, dogs, pigs, and human beings. A 1989 study to determine the carcinogenicity of fluoride illustrated this fact. Approximately 520 rats and 520 mice were given daily doses of the mineral for two years. Not one mouse was adversely affected by the fluoride, but the rats experienced health problems including cancer of the mouth and bone. As test data cannot accurately be extrapolated from a mouse to a rat, it can't be argued that data can accurately be extrapolated from either species to a human. 
 
In many cases, animal studies do not just hurt animals and waste money; they harm and kill people, too. The drugs thalidomide, Zomax, and DES were all tested on animals and judged safe but had devastating consequences for the humans who used them. A General Accounting Office report, released in May 1990, found that more than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1976 and 1985 caused side effects that were serious enough to cause the drugs to be withdrawn from the market or relabeled. All of these drugs had been tested on animals.
 
Animal experimentation also misleads researchers in their studies. Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed the oral polio vaccine, cited in testimony at a congressional hearing this example of the dangers of animal-based research: "[p]aralytic polio could be dealt with only by preventing the irreversible destruction of the large number of motor nerve cells, and the work on prevention was delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys."
 
Healing Without Hurting 
 
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that sophisticated non-animal research methods are more accurate, less expensive, and less time-consuming than traditional animal-based research methods. Patients waiting for helpful drugs and treatments could be spared years of suffering if companies and government agencies would implement the efficient alternatives to animal studies. Fewer accidental deaths caused by drugs and treatments would occur if stubborn bureaucrats and wealthy vivisectors would use the more accurate alternatives. And tax dollars would be better spent preventing human suffering in the first place through education programs and medical assistance programs for low-income individuals--helping the more than 30 million U.S. citizens who cannot afford health insurance--rather than making animals sick. Most killer diseases in this country (heart disease, cancer, and stroke) can be prevented by eating a low-fat, vegetarian diet, refraining from smoking and alcohol abuse, and exercising regularly. These simple lifestyle changes can also help prevent arthritis, adult-onset diabetes, ulcers, and a long list of other illnesses. 
 
It is not surprising that those who make money experimenting on animals or supplying vivisectors with cages, restraining devices, food for caged animals (like the Lab Chow made by Purina Mills), and tiny guillotines to destroy animals whose lives are no longer considered useful insist that nearly every medical advance has been made through the use of animals. Although every drug and procedure must now be tested on animals before hitting the market, this does not mean that animal studies are invaluable, irreplaceable, or even of minor importance or that alternative methods could not have been used. 
 
Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic, explains, "I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil."
 
Dr. Edward Kass, of the Harvard Medical School, said in a speech he gave to the Infectious Disease Society of America: "[I]t was not medical research that had stamped out tuberculosis, diphtheria, pneumonia and puerperal sepsis; the primary credit for those monumental accomplishments must go to public health, sanitation and the general improvement in the standard of living brought about by industrialization."
 

 

Product Testing

 
Every year, millions of animals suffer and die in painful tests to determine the "safety" of cosmetics and household products. Substances ranging from eye shadow and soap to furniture polish and oven cleaner are tested on rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, dogs, and other animals, despite the fact that test results do not help prevent or treat human illness or injury. 
 
Eye Irritancy Tests 
 
In these tests, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered substance is dropped into the eyes of a group of albino rabbits. The animals are often immobilized in stocks from which only their heads protrude. They usually receive no anesthesia during the tests.
 
After placing the substance in the rabbits' eyes, laboratory technicians record the damage to the eye tissue at specific intervals over an average period of 72 hours, with tests sometimes lasting 7 to 18 days. Reactions to the substances include swollen eyelids, inflamed irises, ulceration, bleeding, massive deterioration, and blindness. During the tests, the rabbits' eyelids are held open with clips. Many animals break their necks as they struggle to escape. 
 
The results of eye irritancy tests are questionable, as they vary from laboratory to laboratory-and even from rabbit to rabbit. 
 
Acute Toxicity Tests
 
Acute toxicity tests, commonly called lethal dose or poisoning tests, determine the amount of a substance that will kill a percentage, even up to 100 percent, of a group of test animals. 
 
In these tests, a substance is forced by tube into the animals' stomachs or through holes cut into their throats. It may also be injected under the skin, into a vein, or into the lining of the abdomen; mixed into lab chow; inhaled through a gas mask; or introduced into the eyes, rectum, or vagina. Experimenters observe the animals' reactions, which can include convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, constipation, emaciation, skin eruptions, abnormal posture, and bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth.
 
The widely used lethal dose 50 (LD50) test was developed in 1927. The LD50 testing period continues until at least 50 percent of the animals die, usually in two to four weeks. 
 
Like eye irritancy tests, lethal dose tests are unreliable at best. Says Microbiological Associates' Rodger D. Curren, researchers looking for non-animal alternatives must prove that these in vitro models perform "at least as well as animal tests. But as we conduct these validation exercises, it's become more apparent that the animal tests themselves are highly variable." The European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods' Dr. Michael Ball puts it more strongly: "The scientific basis" for animal safety tests is "weak."
 
Lethal But Legal 
 
No law requires animal testing for cosmetics and household products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires only that each ingredient in a cosmetics product be "adequately substantiated for safety" prior to marketing or that the product carry a warning label indicating that its safety has not been determined. The FDA does not have the authority to require any particular product test. Likewise, household products, which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency that administers the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), do not have to be tested on animals. A summary of the CPSC's animal-testing policy, printed in the Federal Register, states, "[I]t is important to keep in mind that neither the FHSA nor the Commission's regulations require any firm to perform animal tests. The statute and its implementing regulations only require that a product be labeled to reflect the hazards associated with that product."
 
Testing methods, therefore, are determined by manufacturers. The very unreliability of animal tests may make them appealing to some companies, since these tests allow manufacturers to put virtually any product on the market. Companies can also use the fact that their products were tested to help defend themselves against consumer lawsuits. Others believe that testing on animals helps them compete in the marketplace. Consumers demand products with exciting new ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids, and animal tests are often considered the easiest and cheapest way to "prove" that new ingredients are "safe." 
 
Alternatives to Animal Tests 
 
Such arguments carry little weight with the more than 500 manufacturers of cosmetics and household products that have shunned animal tests. These companies take advantage of the many alternatives available today, including cell cultures, tissue cultures, corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients already determined to be safe by the FDA. Most cruelty-free companies use a combination of methods to ensure safety, such as maintaining extensive databases of ingredient and formula information and employing in vitro tests and human clinical studies. 
 
Tom's of Maine went one step further. For seven years, the cruelty-free company petitioned the American Dental Association (ADA) to grant its seal of approval to Tom's of Maine toothpastes. Other toothpaste companies unquestioningly conducted lethal tests on rats in order to be eligible for the ADA seal (researchers brush rats' teeth for more than a month, then kill the animals and examine their teeth under a microscope). But Tom's of Maine worked with researchers to develop fluoride tests that could safely be conducted on human volunteers. The ADA finally accepted the results of these tests and granted its seal to several of the company's toothpastes in 1995. The groundbreaking effort by Tom's of Maine to find a humane alternative to accepted-but cruel-practices sets a precedent that other manufacturers can follow in the future.
 
Compassion in Action 
 
Caring consumers also play a vital role in eliminating cruel test methods. Spurred by public outrage, the European Union (EU) proposed banning cosmetics tests on animals by 1998; unfortunately, the EU has indefinitely delayed this ban because of complaints by animal-testing companies. But other organizations in Europe have stepped in. For example, after conducting surveys showing that four out of five of its customers are against testing cosmetics and household products on animals, the Co-op, Britain's largest retailer, launched its own campaign urging companies to end such tests. 
 
In the United States, a survey by the American Medical Association found that 75 percent of Americans are against using animals to test cosmetics.(6) Hundreds of companies have responded by switching to animal-friendly test methods. To help consumers identify products that are truly cruelty-free, a coalition of national animal protection groups has developed the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals, which clarifies the non-animal-testing terminology and procedures used by manufacturers and makes available a cruelty-free logo for companies that are in compliance with the standard. Shoppers can support this initiative by purchasing products that comply with the corporate standard and boycotting those that don't and by asking local stores to carry cruelty-free items.
 
What You Can Do:
 
Everyone seeking to stop animal tests should also urge government regulatory agencies and trade associations like the American Dental Association to accept non-animal test methods immediately.
 

 

Drug Testing

 
More than 205,000 new drugs are marketed worldwide every year, most after undergoing the most archaic and unreliable testing methods still in use: animal studies. The current system of drug testing places consumers in a dangerous predicament. According to the General Accounting Office, more than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 1976 and 1985 caused serious side effects that later caused the drugs to be either relabeled or removed from the market. Drugs approved for children were twice as likely to have serious post-approval risks as other medications.
 
Dangerous Differences 
 
Many physicians and researchers publicly speak out against these outdated studies. They point out that unreliable animal tests not only allow dangerous drugs to be marketed to the public, but may also prevent potentially useful ones from being made available. Penicillin would not be in use today if it had been tested on guinea pigs--common laboratory subjects--because penicillin kills guinea pigs. Likewise, aspirin kills cats, while morphine, a depressant to humans, is a stimulant to cats, goats, and horses. 
 
Human reactions to drugs cannot be predicted by tests on animals because different species (and even individuals within the same species) react differently to drugs. Britain's health department estimates that only one in four toxic side effects that occur in animals actually occur in humans. Practolol, a drug for heart disorders that "passed" animal tests, causes blindness in humans and was pulled off the market. 
 
Arsenic, which is toxic and carcinogenic to humans, has not caused cancer in other species. Chlomiphene decreases fertility in animals but induces human ovulation. The anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone breaks down nine times faster in humans than in rhesus monkeys.
 
Diethylstilbestrol (DES), an animal-tested drug that prevents miscarriages, caused cancer and birth defects in humans before its use was restricted. Many arthritis drugs that passed animal tests, including Feldene, and Flosint, have been pulled from the market because they caused severe reactions or even death in human beings. 
 
Experimenters involved in a 1993 test of a hepatitis drug that led to five deaths were exonerated by a panel from the Institute of Medicine, which directly conflicts with the findings of the FDA. During the trials of fiauluridine (FIAU), the FDA contended that the scientists and their sponsors had committed numerous violations of federal rules governing clinical trials, including not spotting and reporting adverse reactions quickly enough. Dr. Morton Swartz, chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee, and a professor at Harvard Medical School said, "[F]indings from previous animal . . . tests using different doses and lengths of time didn't expose this drug's life-threatening side effects."
 
Experimenters using animals are less apt to notice symptoms like emotional changes, dizziness, nausea, and other important but less obvious conditions. Animals are unable to tell experimenters how they feel, information that is necessary to help determine whether a drug can be tolerated by human patients. 
 
The British journal Nature reports that 520 of 800 chemicals (65 percent) tested on rats and mice caused cancer in the animals but not in humans. The same report illustrated different results between rats and mice used to test the same substance. It costs about $2 million to test a single chemical on rats and mice. Billions more are spent regulating the use and disposal of chemicals "proved" to be dangerous in animal tests -- chemicals such as saccharin and cyclamates which may actually present little or no risk to humans.
 
Results Ignored 
 
Unfavorable animal test results do not prevent a drug from being marketed for human use. So much evidence has accumulated about differences in the effects chemicals have on animals and humans, that government and industry officials often do not act on findings from animal studies. The acne drug Accutane was marketed despite the fact that it caused birth defects in rats. A small warning label was placed on the prescription. In this case, the animal tests did reflect human reactions, and now hundreds of children have been born with birth defects caused by Accutane. The drug is still on the market. 
 
Unnecessary Drugs 
 
Drug companies are in business to make money. That is done by marketing large numbers of drugs, many of which are copies of drugs already on the shelves. 
 
A report by Health Action International found that "out of 546 products on the market for coughs and colds in five areas of the world, 456 are irrational combinations. Three-quarters of the 356 analgesics on the market should not be recommended for use because they are dangerous, ineffective, irrational, or needlessly expensive." Of the millions of drugs on the market, only 200 are considered essential by the World Health Organization. According to the FDA, 84% of the new drugs produced by the 25 biggest drug companies had little or no potential for improving patient care. Only 3% were considered significant advances.
 
Safer Tests 
 
As long as the pharmaceutical industry cranks out thousands of new drugs every year, the public must push for the implementation of reliable, non-animal testing methods to ensure the safety of these drugs. Sophisticated non-animal testing methods exist. According to Dallas Pratt, M.D., "[M]any systems using either animal or human cell or organ cultures, as well as plant materials and microorganisms, have been created with emphasis on those which are rapid, inexpensive, and can discriminate between those chemicals whose properties represent a high toxicity risk and those which are relatively innocuous." Highly complex mathematical and computer models can be used to further define the specific problems a product may cause in human use. 
 
Despite the inaccuracies of animal tests, and the many cases of dangerous drugs having to be withdrawn from the market after passing animal tests with flying colors (such as FIAU mentioned earlier), the FDA continues to require animal studies before a drug can be marketed in the United States. 
 
Today we have the knowledge to prevent much illness and human suffering, often by avoiding the hormone and chemical-laden meat and dairy-based diet common in the United States, by regulating against pollutants and dangerous pesticides, and by avoiding tobacco and other known carcinogens. As John A. McDougall, M.D., points out, "The present modes of treatment fail to result in a cure or even significant improvement in most cases because they fail to deal with the cause. The harmful components of [a meat-based] diet and lifestyle ... promote disease and thus the disease progresses unchecked. Present modes of therapy are intended to cover up symptoms and signs rather than relieve the cause of disease."
 
What You Can Do: 
 
Concerned people should write to their congressional representatives and demand an end to wasteful and inaccurate animal studies in favor of human-based research and treatments that actually help people. The National Institutes of Health, the world's largest funder of research, must be pushed to fund more preventive programs and human-based research. Meanwhile, avoid purchasing any drug unless absolutely necessary. Remember, the manufacture and sale of pharmaceuticals is big business. If you must take a drug, ask your doctor what clinical studies, not animal tests, reveal about the drug. 
 

 

Military Testing

                         
When news reports tally the casualties of war, or when monuments are erected to honor soldiers, the other-than-human victims of war--the animals whose bodies are shot, burned, poisoned, and otherwise tortured in tests to create even more ways to kill people--are never recognized, nor is their suffering well known.
 
Uncounted Casualties 
 
The U.S. military inflicts the pains of war on hundreds of thousands of animals each year in experiments. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veterans Administration (VA) together are the federal government's second largest user of animals (after the National Institutes of Health). They account for nearly half the estimated minimum of 1.6 million dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, primates, rats, mice, and "wild animals" used, as reported to Congress in 1983, the last year for which government figures are available. Because these figures don't include experiments that were contracted out to non-governmental laboratories, or the many sheep, goats, and pigs often shot in wound experiments, the actual total of animal victims is probably much higher. 
 
The House Armed Services Committee voiced its concern "about the use of animals in medical and other defense-related research" in its report on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1995. At committee hearings, DOD revealed that its use of animals in experiments has increased 36% in the past decade, but that it spent $180 million on research using 553,000 animals in the last fiscal year. 
 
Top Secret 
 
Military testing is classified "Top Secret," and it is very hard to get current information. From published research, we know that armed forces facilities all over the United States test all manner of weaponry on animals, from Soviet AK-47 rifles to biological and chemical warfare agents to nuclear blasts. Military experiments can be acutely painful, repetitive, costly, and unreliable, and they are particularly wasteful because most of the effects they study can be, or have already been, observed in humans, or the results cannot be extrapolated to human experience. 
 
Sample Experiments 
 
Burns and Blasts: In 1946, near the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific, 4,000 sheep, goats, and other animals loaded onto a boat and set adrift were killed or severely burned by an atomic blast detonated above them. The military nicknamed the experiment "The Atomic Ark."
 
At the Army's Fort Sam Houston, live rats were immersed in boiling water for 10 seconds, and a group of them were then infected on parts of their burned bodies.
 
In 1987, at the Naval Medical Institute in Maryland, rats' backs were shaved, covered with ethanol, and then "flamed" for 10 seconds.
 
In 1988, at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico, sheep were placed in a loose net sling against a reflecting plate, and an explosive device was detonated 19 meters away. In two of the experiments, 48 sheep were blasted: the first group to test the value of a vest worn during the blast, and the second to see if chemical markers aided in the diagnosis of blast injury (they did not).
 
Radiation: At the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Maryland, nine rhesus monkeys were strapped in chairs and exposed to total-body irradiation. Within two hours, six of the nine were vomiting, hypersalivating, and chewing. In another experiment, 17 beagles were exposed to total-body irradiation, studied for one to seven days, and then killed. The experimenter concluded that radiation affects the gallbladder.
 
At Brooks Air Force Base in Texas, rhesus monkeys were strapped to a B52 flight simulator (the "Primate Equilibrium Platform"). After being prodded with painful electric shocks to learn to "fly" the device, the monkeys were irradiated with gamma rays to see if they could hold out "for the 10 hours it would take to bomb an imaginary Moscow." Those hit with the heaviest doses vomited violently and became extremely lethargic before being killed.
 
Diseases: To evaluate the effect of temperature on the transmission of the Dengue 2 virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease that causes fever, muscle pain, and rash, experiments conducted by the U.S. Army at Fort Detrick, Md., involved shaving the stomachs of adult rhesus monkeys and then attaching cartons of mosquitoes to their bodies to allow the mosquitoes to feed.
 
Experimenters at Fort Detrick have also invented a rabbit restraining device that consists of a small cage that pins the rabbits down with steel rods while mosquitoes feast on their bodies.
 
Wound Labs: The Department of Defense has operated "wound labs" since 1957. At these sites, conscious or semiconscious animals are suspended from slings and shot with high-powered weapons to inflict battlelike injuries for military surgical practice. In 1983, in response to public pressure, Congress limited the use of dogs in these labs, but countless goats, pigs, and sheep are still being shot, and at least one laboratory continues to shoot cats. At the Army's Fort Sam Houston "Goat Lab," goats are hung upside down and shot in their hind legs. After physicians practice excising the wounds, any goat who survives is killed.
 
Other forms of military experiments include subjecting animals to decompression sickness, weightlessness, drugs and alcohol, smoke inhalation, and pure oxygen inhalation. 
 
Animal Intelligence 
 
The Armed Forces conscript various animals into intelligence and combat service, sending them on "missions" that endanger their lives and well-being. The Marine Corps teaches dogs "mauling, snarling, sniffing, and other suitable skills" needed to search for bombs and drugs.
 
Thousands of animals also fall victim to military operations and even military fashion. A series of Navy tests of underwater explosives in the Chesapeake Bay in 1987 killed more than 3,000 fish, and habitats for hundreds of species have been destroyed by nuclear tests in the South Pacific and the American Southwest. 
 
And as if weapons tests didn't kill enough animals, the Air Force recently awarded a New Jersey company $5.2 million to manufacture 53,000 leather flight jackets, in an effort to "enhance esprit" among its pilots. At 3-1/2 goat skins per jacket, the result will be that 185,500 African goats will lose their lives so that U.S. pilots can sport a World War II "look."
 

 

Dissection

 
Dissection is the practice of cutting into and studying animals. Every year, 5.7 million animals are used in secondary and college science classes.  Each animal sliced open and discarded represents not only a life lost, but also just a small part of a trail of animal abuse and environmental havoc. 
 
Suppliers 
 
Frogs are the most commonly dissected animals below the university level. Other species include cats, mice, rats, worms, dogs, rabbits, fetal pigs, and fishes. The animals may come from breeding facilities which cater to institutions and businesses that use animals in experiments; they may have been caught in the wild; or they could be stolen or abandoned companion animals. Slaughterhouses and pet stores also sell animals and animal parts to biological supply houses.
 
Depleting the Ecosystem
 
Frogs are captured in the wild to stock breeding ponds because populations die out if not replenished. A completely independent frog colony has never survived long without the introduction of "outside" frogs.
 
In their natural habitat, frogs consume large numbers of insects responsible for crop destruction and the spread of disease. In the years preceding India's ban on the frog trade, that country was earning $10 million a year from frog exports, but spending $100 million to import chemical pesticides to fight insect infestations. In addition, economic losses in agricultural produce were heavy. Today, Bangladesh is the main Asian market for frogs, and in the United States, scientists have noted severe declines in frog and toad populations that they blame on the capture of these animals for food and experiments, as well as on causes of general environmental decline such as the use of pesticides and habitat destruction.
 
Killing Compassion Along With the Frog
 
Classroom dissection desensitizes students to the sanctity of life and can encourage students to harm animals elsewhere, perhaps in their own backyard. In fact, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer attributed his fascination with murder and mutilation to classroom dissections. In the last interview before his death, televised on Dateline NBC, Dahmer stated, "In 9th grade, in biology class, we had the usual dissection of fetal pigs, and I took the remains of that [pig] home and kept the skeleton of it, and I just started branching out to dogs, cats." According to Dahmer, he enjoyed the excitement and power he experienced when cutting up animals and fantasized about cutting up a human body. 
 
Students with little or no interest in pursuing a career in science certainly don't need to see actual organs to understand basic physiology, and students who are planning on pursuing a career in biology or medicine would do better to study humans in a controlled, supervised setting, or to study human cadavers or some of the sophisticated alternatives, such as computer models. Those who are rightfully disturbed by the prospect of cutting up animals will be too preoccupied by their concerns to learn anything of value during the dissection. 
 
Students Speak Up 
 
More and more students are taking a stand against dissection before it happens in their classes, from the elementary school level on up to veterinary and medical school. In 1987, Jenifer Graham objected to dissection and was threatened with a lower grade. Jenifer went to court to plead her case and later testified before the California legislature, which responded by passing a law giving students in the state the right not to dissect. Jenifer's mother and the National Anti-Vivisection Society have set up a hotline for students who want to avoid dissection. Since Jenifer's case, thousands of students have opted to study biology in humane ways, and many schools have accepted the students' right to violence-free education. 
 
Alternatives 
 
Students and teachers may choose from a wide range of sophisticated alternatives to dissection. The typical science "lab" at many schools now emphasizes computers rather than animal cadavers. Computer programs can be used as either a lesson or a test. Many books also offer humane science lessons.
 
What You Can Do: 
 
Whether you are a student, a parent, or a concerned taxpayer, you can act to end dissection in your town's school system. If you are expected to perform or observe a dissection, talk to your teacher as early as possible about alternative projects. If there is an animal rights group at your school or in your community, ask them to help. Parents can urge their local Parent-Teacher Association to ask the area superintendent of schools or school board to consider a proposal to ban dissections in public schools or at least give all students the option of doing a non-animal project. It may help to collect signatures on a petition and to present the school board with information on the cruelty and environmental destruction caused by animal dissection and on readily available alternatives.
 

 

Animals In Entertainment

 
Animal acts and exhibits run a deplorable gamut. They include diving horses at theme parks, dancing chimpanzees, caged bears at an ice cream stand, piano-playing chickens, caged parrots in hotel lobbies, cats forced through flaming hoops in Key West, and giant turtles forced to give children rides. 
 
Animals used in these spectacles are often subjected to abuse in order to provide "entertainment" to patrons. Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for animals meant to roam free. Kept in small, barren cages, forced to sleep on concrete slabs, and imprisoned behind iron bars, performing animals often suffer from malnutrition, loneliness, the denial of all normal pleasures and behaviors, loss of freedom and independence, even lack of veterinary care, and filthy quarters. Attracting customers is the first consideration and the animals' welfare is often the last. Even when the mere display of the animals themselves is the "draw," the animals rarely receive proper care--and almost never the socialization and stimulation they crave. 
 
Animals used for entertainment are subjected to rigorous and abusive training methods to force them to perform stressful, confusing, uncomfortable, and even painful acts; training methods can include beatings, the use of electric prods, food deprivation, drugging, and surgically removing or impairing teeth and claws. 
 
Confined to tiny cages and gawked at by crowds, animals in exhibits and acts endure constant stress. They may suffer from temperature extremes and irregular feeding and watering. Without exercise, they become listless, their immune systems are weakened, and they become prone to sickness; many resort to self-mutilation in reaction to stress or boredom. Mental illness is rampant among confined animals. Torn from their families and deprived of all dignity, every part of their lives is controlled by their captors.
 

 

Bullfighting


Every year, approximately 35,000 bulls are tormented and killed in bullfights in Spain alone. Although many bullfight attendees are American tourists, 90 percent of these tourists never return to another fight after witnessing the relentless cruelty that takes place in the ring. Spanish bulls and their many counterparts in Mexico and other countries are victims of a savage display disguised as "art" or "entertainment" that noted Mexican author Eduardo del Rio described as "a stumbling block for the humanization of man."
 
Murderous Mystique 
 
Spanish and Mexican bullfight advertisers lure American tourists with mystique. They claim the fight is festive, artistic, and a fair competition between skill and force. What they do not reveal is that the bull never has a chance to defend himself, much less survive. 
 
Many prominent former bullfighters report that the bull is intentionally debilitated with tranquilizers and laxatives, beatings to the kidneys, petroleum jelly rubbed into their eyes to blur vision, heavy weights hung around their neck for weeks before the fight, and confinement in darkness for hours before being released into the bright arena.
 
A well-known bullfight veterinarian, Dr. Manuel Sanz, reports that in 1987 more than 90 percent of bulls killed in fights had their horns "shaved" before the fight. Horn shaving involves sawing off several inches of the horns so the bull misses his thrusts at the altered angle.
 
The matador, two picadors on horses, and three men on foot stab the bull repeatedly when he enters the ring. After the bull has been completely weakened by fear, blood loss, and exhaustion, the matador attempts to make a clean kill with a sword to the heart. Unfortunately for the suffering bull, the matador rarely succeeds and must make several thrusts, often missing the bull's heart and piercing his lungs instead. Often a dagger must be used to cut the spinal cord and spare the audience the sight of a defenseless animal in the throes of death. The bull may still be fully conscious but paralyzed when his ears and tail are cut off as the final show of "victory."
 
Mexican bullfighting has an added feature: novillada, or baby bullfights. There is no ritual in this slaughter of calves. Baby bulls, some no more than a few weeks old, are brought into a small arena where they are stabbed to death by spectators, many of whom are children. These bloodbaths end with spectators hacking off the ears and tail of the often fully conscious calf lying in his own blood. 
 
The so-called "bloodless bullfights" that are legal in many U.S. states are only slightly less barbaric than their bloody counterparts. Although the bulls in these "fights" are not killed in the ring, they are often slaughtered immediately afterward. During the fights they are tormented, teased, and terrified.
 
Other Victims 
 
The bulls aren't the only victims of the intense cruelty of the arena. According to Lyn Sherwood, publisher of an English-language bullfight magazine, horses used in bullfights are "shot behind the ear with dope. The horses are drugged and blindfolded and they're knocked down a lot." These horses, who are often gored, usually have wet newspaper stuffed in their ears to impair their hearing, and their vocal cords are usually cut so their cries do not distract the crowd. Fight promoters claim the horses are "saved" from glue factories; this means these animals are often old, tired plow horses who end up being knocked down by bulls weighing up to a half a ton.
 
American author Ernest Hemingway, a bullfighting aficionado, wrote in his book Death in the Afternoon, "In the tragedy of the bullfight, the horse is the comic character ... I have seen it, people running, horse emptying, one dignity after another being destroyed in the spattering and trailing of its innermost values [viscera], in a complete burlesque of tragedy. I have seen these, call them disembowellings, that is the worst word. When due to their timing, they were very funny. This is the sort of thing you should not admit, but it is because such things have not been admitted that the bullfight has never been explained."
 
Bull Breeding 
 
Bulls today are specially bred for bullfighting. They are raised on 280 registered bull ranches located in various parts of Mexico. Selective breeding has enabled ranchers to create a bull who will die in a manner most satisfying to the public. Because the sight of a wounded bull desperately trying to retreat from the ring would ruin the image of the "sport," bulls are bred to return to the torture repeatedly and appear to be a wild and vicious challenge to the matador.
 
Growing Opposition
 
While its exact origins are not known, bullfighting is believed to have emerged in connection with ancient fertility rites. 
 
In 1567, Pope Pius V decreed that "exhibitions of tortured beasts or bulls is contrary to Christian duty and piety." He called for "an end to such bloody amusements, abject and more appropriate for devils than for men." The penalty for violating this decree, which has never been repealed, is excommunication.
 
In 1725, bullfighting began to assume its present state when Francisco Romero invented a stick with a red cloth suspended from the end, which he used to tease and torment the bulls. Today's bullfighting maneuvers became defined in the 1700s and have changed little since.
 
Recent polls of Spanish citizens show they are not particularly interested in attending bullfights. Even bullfight promoter Sherwood admits "there's no way to morally justify bullfighting." But tourists' money keeps bullfight profiteers in business. 
 
The World Society for the Protection of Animals has issued reports and made repeated verbal recommendations to national leaders in Mexico and Spain criticizing bullfighting. Colin Platt, coordinator of the WSPA's Scientific Advisory Panel, commented in a memo attached to one report that "...in over 15 years of compiling scientific reports, this one was the most distasteful subject to research--a sentiment shared by several of my colleagues on the Panel."
 
Many anti-bullfighting groups have sprung up worldwide, including the Spanish Alternativa Para La Liberacion Animal, the Mexican Pena Antitaurina Mexicana, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Tijuana and Mexico City, and the Anti-Bullfighting Committee in New York.
 
Spain's Green Party has been working with the country's Association for the Defense of Animal Rights (ADDA) to have bullfighting banned. In 1993, a petition drive by the coalition raised over one million signatures.
 
What You Can Do: 
  • If you are planning to visit a country that permits or encourages bullfighting, please tell your travel agent you are opposed to animal cruelty in any form. Many tourist resorts are building bullfight arenas as part of their "recreation" facilities; refuse to stay at such a resort, and write a letter to the owner explaining why you will not stay there. Instead, visit the resort town of Tossa de Mar, which was the first town in Spain to ban bullfights and related advertising.
  • Tell others the facts about bullfighting and urge them to protest as well. When tourists stop attending bullfights, profiteers will stop the cruelty.
  • Bloody or bloodless, bullfighting is a senseless, degrading spectacle that has no place in a civilized society. 

 

Circuses

 
Performing captive wildlife -- elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas - all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to "entertain" an uninformed audience.
 
No Life For Animals
 
Animals used in the circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition, and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.
 
Elephants suffer terribly while being used for human "entertainment." Elephants have three basic needs -- live vegetation for food, family relationships, and freedom of movement -- all of which are denied in the circus setting. In captivity, baby elephants are wrenched from their mother at one year of age and are trained with abusive domineering methods.
 
Perhaps as the result of the ongoing stress and abuse they endure, there have been 29 premature deaths of elephants used in the circus since 1994. One of the most recent was the death of Kenny, a 3-year-old baby Asian elephant with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, who died after being forced to perform three times while obviously ill. Although Ringling Bros. was charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the government agency charged with overseeing circuses, the case was settled out of court without Ringling admitting or denying guilt in Kenny's death.
 
Compare the existence of captive elephants to those left in the wild. Elephants in the wild live as long as 70 years! Wild elephants live in herds and have a large extended family with strong social bonds. Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the females remain with their extended families throughout their lifetime. They roam up to 25 miles a day foraging for food and water. They take dust baths and find comfort during hot weather by wading in water and standing in the shade.
 
Large exotic cats used in the circus don't fare any better. In the wild, large cats roam for miles each day; they hunt for food, sleep in the sun and lead a fairly solitary existence. Exotic cats used in the circus are allowed none of these behaviors. They live and travel in small cages in close confinement with other cats. They have little room to move around and are never provided with any environmental enrichment.
 
Training By Intimidation
 
Elephant training is almost always based on fear and intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of these magnificent animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for days at a time while being trained to "perform." During their training and throughout their lives in captivity elephants are beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods, stabbed with sharp (ankus) hooks and whipped.
 
Cats used in the circus are also trained by inherently cruel and dominating methods to force them to perform tricks that are unnatural and undignified. Exotic cats are often whipped, choked, and beaten during their training sessions. To force a cat, such as a tiger, to stand on her hind legs, her front paws are often burned with cigarette lighters. To make the cats used in the circus run "enthusiastically" into the circus arena, they are often prodded with pipes or frightened by loud noises to make them appear excited to perform.
 
Striking Back
 
It is no wonder that out of frustration and rage elephants used in circuses have been responsible for 43 human deaths worldwide since 1990. Denied their natural behaviors, and stressed by being kept in close quarters and being forced to constantly perform inane tricks, captive cats also strike back against those responsible for their confinement. There have been more than 75 documented human attacks by felines since 1990. In one recent case, Arnie, a tiger performing with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, mauled and nearly killed his trainer. After the incident, Arnie was shot five times and killed while locked in a cage by the brother of the injured trainer.
 
No Spotless Record
 
No traveling animal act, regardless of size or appearance, is capable of handling exotic wildlife in a humane manner. Federal USDA inspection records of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show more than 100 instances of substandard animal keeping between 1992 and 1997. Although such a record of non-compliant items is not rare, citations are seldom issued. Each year only approximately a dozen of the 2,000+ licensed animal exhibitors in the U.S. are cited, and just one or two may have their license suspended or revoked by the USDA. Fines are frequently suspended.
 
Despite poor enforcement of animal welfare laws to protect animals in circuses, hope is on the horizon. A movement is underway to restrict or ban traveling animal acts at the local and state level. Traveling acts using animals have been banned in a number of cities in Australia and Canada. Several towns in the U.S. have prohibited animal acts and a few large cities are considering bans. Bills restricting circuses have been introduced in several state legislatures in recent years, and in 1999 legislation was introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and for rides.
 
What You Can Do:
  • Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. 
  • Tell your friends and family to boycott all animal circuses and other animal acts. Instead support one of the growing number of circuses that do not use animals. 
  • Do not allow elephant rides or other animal acts to be used for fundraising purposes in your community. Contact the event sponsors and urge them to promote humane, animal-free circuses instead. 
  • Support legislation to protect captive exotic animals. 
  • If you witness animal cruelty at an event, document it in writing and/or with photographs or videotape and report it to your local humane society and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, Phone: 301-734-4981 Fax 301-734-4978 .

 

Rodeos


Rodeos are promoted as rough and tough exercises of human skill and courage in conquering the fierce, untamed beasts of the Wild West. In reality, rodeos are nothing more than manipulative displays of human domination over animals, thinly disguised as entertainment. What began in the late 1800s as a skill contest among cowboys has become a show motivated by greed and profit.
 
The Stunts
 
Standard rodeo events include calf roping, steer wrestling, bareback horse and bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer roping, and wild cow milking. The animals used in rodeos are captive performers. Most are relatively tame but understandably distrustful of human beings because of the harsh treatment that they have received. Many of these animals are not aggressive by nature; they are physically provoked into displaying "wild" behavior to make the cowboys look brave. 
 
Tools of Torment
 
Electric prods, sharp sticks, caustic ointments, and other torturous devices are used to irritate and enrage animals used in rodeos. The flank or "bucking" strap used to make horses and bulls buck is tightly cinched around their abdomens, where there is no rib cage protection. Tightened near the large and small intestines and other vital organs, the belt pinches the groin and genitals. The pain causes the animals to buck, which is what the rodeo promoters want the animal to do in order to put on a good show for the crowds.
 
Bucking the Myth
 
In a study conducted by the Humane Society of the United States, two horses known for their gentle temperament were subjected to the use of a flank strap. Both bucked until the strap was removed. Then several rodeo-circuit horses were released from a pen without the usual flank straps and did not buck, illustrating that the "wild," frenzied behavior in the animals is artificially induced by the rodeo cowboys and promoters of rodeo events.
 
The End of the Trail
 
Dr. C.G. Haber, a veterinarian who spent 30 years as a federal meat inspector, worked in slaughterhouses and saw many animals discarded from rodeos and sold for slaughter. He described the animals as being "so extensively bruised that the only areas in which the skin was attached (to the flesh) were the head, neck, leg, and belly. I have seen animals with six to eight ribs broken from the spine and at times, puncturing the lungs. I have seen as much as two to three gallons of free blood accumulated under the detached skin." These injuries are a result of animals' being thrown in calf-roping events or being jumped on from atop horses during steer wrestling.
 
Rodeo promoters argue that they must treat their animals well in order to keep them healthy and usable. But this assertion is belied by a statement that Dr. T.K. Hardy, a Texas veterinarian and sometime steer roper, made to Newsweek: "I keep 30 head of cattle around for practice, at $200 a head. You can cripple three or four in an afternoon . . . it gets to be a pretty expensive hobby."
 
Unfortunately, there is a steady supply of newly discarded animals available to rodeo producers when other animals have been worn out or irreparably injured. As Dr. Haber documented, the rodeo circuit is just a detour on the road to the slaughterhouse.
 
Injuries and Deaths
 
Although rodeo cowboys voluntarily risk injury by participating in events, the animals they use have no such choice. Because speed is a factor in many rodeo events, the risk of accidents is high.
 
A terrified, squealing young horse burst from the chutes at the Can-Am Rodeo and within five seconds slammed into a fence and broke her neck. Bystanders knew that she was dead when they heard her neck crack, yet the announcer told the crowd that everything would "be all right" because a vet would see her. Sadly, incidents such as this are not uncommon at rodeos. For example, in 1999, three men and seven horses died at the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada.
 
In San Antonio, yet another frightened horse snapped his spine. Witnesses report that the horse dragged himself, paralyzed, across the stadium by his front legs before collapsing. During the National Western Stock Show, a horse crashed into a wall and broke his neck, while still another horse broke his back after being forced to buck. Bucking horses often develop back problems from the repeated poundings they endure. Because horses do not normally jump up and down, there is also the risk of leg injury when a tendon tears or snaps.
 
Calves roped while running up to 27 miles per hour routinely have their necks snapped back by the lasso, often resulting in neck and back injuries, bruises, broken bones, and internal hemorrhages. Calves have become paralyzed from severe spinal cord injury, and their tracheas may be totally or partially severed. Even San Antonio Livestock Exposition Executive Director Keith Martin agrees that calf roping is inhumane. Says Martin, "Do I think it hurts the calf? Sure I do. I'm not stupid." At the Connecticut Make-A-Wish Rodeo, one steer's neck was forcefully twisted until it broke. Calves are only used in one rodeo before they are returned to the ranch or destroyed because of injuries. Frequently, animals break loose from their pens and escape. They are often shot by police unfamiliar with and untrained in capturing livestock.
 
Rodeo association rules are not effective in preventing injuries and are not strictly enforced, nor are penalties severe enough to deter abusive treatment. For example, if a calf is injured during the contest, the only penalty is that the roper will not be allowed to rope another calf in that event on that day. If the roper drags the calf, he or she might be disqualified. There are no rules protecting animals during practice, and there are no objective observers or examinations required to determine if an animal is injured in an event.
 
What You Can Do: 
 
  • If a rodeo comes to your town, protest to local authorities, write letters to sponsors, leaflet at the gate, or hold a demonstration.
  • Check state and local laws to find out what types of activities involving animals are and are not legal in your area. For example, a Pittsburgh law prohibiting cruelty to rodeo animals in effect banned rodeos altogether, since most rodeos currently touring the country use the electric prods and flank straps prohibited by the law.
  • Another successful means of banning rodeos is to institute a state or local ban on calf roping, the event in which cruelty is most easily documented. Since many rodeo circuits require calf roping, its elimination can result in the overall elimination of rodeo shows.
 

 

Zoos

 
Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos remain more "collections" of interesting "items" than actual havens or simulated habitats. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, bored, cramped, lonely, and far from their natural homes. 
 
Says Virginia McKenna, star of the classic movie Born Free and now an active campaigner in behalf of captive animals: "It is the sadness of zoos which haunts me. The purposeless existence of the animals. For the four hours we spend in a zoo, the animals spend four years, or fourteen, perhaps even longer -- if not in the same zoo then in others -- day and night; summer and winter. . . . This is not conservation and surely it is not education. No, it is 'entertainment.' Not comedy, however, but tragedy."
 
Life Sentence, No Parole 
 
Zoos range in size and quality from cageless parks to small roadside menageries with concrete slabs and iron bars. The larger the zoo and the greater the number and variety of the animals it contains, the more it costs to provide quality care for the animals. Although more than 112 million people visit zoos in the United States and Canada every year, most zoos operate at a loss and must find ways to cut costs (which sometimes means selling animals) or add gimmicks that will attract visitors. Zoo officials often consider profits ahead of the animals' well-being. A former director of the Atlanta Zoo once remarked that he was "too far removed from the animals; they're the last thing I worry about with all the other problems."
 
Animals suffer from more than neglect in some zoos. When Dunda, an African elephant, was transferred from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, she was chained, pulled to the ground, and beaten with ax handles for two days. One witness described the blows as "home run swings." Such abuse may be the norm. "You have to motivate them," says San Francisco zookeeper Paul Hunter of elephants, "and the way you do that is by beating the hell out of them."
 
Propagation, Not Education 
 
Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species, but they frequently fall short on both counts. Most zoo enclosures are quite small, and labels provide little more information than the species' name, diet, and natural range. The animals' normal behavior is seldom discussed, much less observed, because their natural needs are seldom met. Birds' wings may be clipped so they cannot fly, aquatic animals often have little water, and the many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone or, at most, in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. The animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise, resulting in abnormal and self-destructive behavior, called zoochosis. 
 
A worldwide study of zoos conducted by the Born Free Foundation revealed that zoochosis is rampant in confined animals around the globe. Another study found that elephants spend 22 percent of their time engaging in abnormal behaviors, such as repeated head bobbing or biting cage bars, and bears spend about 30 percent of their time pacing, a sign of distress.
 
One sanctuary that is home to rescued zoo animals reports seeing frequent signs of zoochosis in animals brought to the sanctuary from zoos. Of chimpanzees, who bite their own limbs from captivity-induced stress, the manager says: "Their hands were unrecognizable from all the scar tissue." 
 
More than half the world's zoos "are still in bad conditions" and treating chimpanzees poorly, according to renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall.
 
As for education, zoo visitors usually spend only a few minutes at each display, seeking entertainment rather than enlightenment. A study of the zoo in Buffalo, N.Y., found that most people passed cages quickly, and described animals in such terms as "funny-looking," "dirty," or "lazy."
 
The purpose of most zoos' research is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist, so would the need for most of their research. Protecting species from extinction sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals who draw crowds and publicity, and neglect less popular species. Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered, nor are they being prepared for release into natural habitats. It is nearly impossible to release captive-bred animals into the wild. A 1994 report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals showed that only 1,200 zoos out of 10,000 worldwide are registered for captive breeding and wildlife conservation. Only two percent of the world's threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs. Those that are endangered may have their plight made worse by zoos' focus on crowd appeal. In his book The Last Panda, George Schaller, the scientific director of the Bronx Zoo, says zoos are actually contributing to the near-extinction of giant pandas by constantly shuttling the animals from one zoo to another for display. In-breeding is also a problem among captive populations. 
 
When Cute Little Babies Grow Up 
 
Zoo babies are great crowd-pleasers, but what happens when babies grow up? Zoos often sell or kill animals who no longer attract visitors. Deer, tigers, lions, and other animals who breed often are sometimes sold to "game" farms where hunters pay for the "privilege" of killing them; some are killed for their meat and/or hides. Other "surplus" animals may be sold to smaller, more poorly run zoos or to laboratories for experiments. 
 
Beyond Zoos
 
Ultimately, we will only save endangered species if we save their habitats and combat the reasons people kill them. Instead of supporting zoos, we should support groups like the International Primate Protection League, The Born Free Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation, and other groups that work to preserve habitats, not habits. We should help non-profit sanctuaries, like Primarily Primates and the Performing Animal Welfare Society, that rescue and care for exotic animals, but don't sell or breed them. 
 
Zoos truly interested in raising awareness of wildlife and conservation should follow the example of the Worldlife Center in London. The Center plans to create a high-tech zoo with no animals. Visitors would observe animals in the wild via live satellite links with far off places like the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier reef, and Africa.
 
What You Can Do: 
  • Zoos are covered under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which sets minimal housing and maintenance standards for captive animals. The AWA requires that all animal displays be licensed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must inspect zoos once a year. However, some zoos that have passed USDA inspections with flying colors have later been found by humane groups to have numerous violations.
  • Educate yourself. Read Beyond the Bars, edited by Virginia McKenna, Will Travers, and Jonathan Wray. It is available from Thorson's Publishing Group in Rochester, Vt.
  • It is best not to patronize a zoo unless you are actively working to change its conditions. Avoid smaller, roadside zoos at all costs. If no one visits these substandard operations, they will be forced to close down.
  • Start a "Zoocheck" program to build a strong case for implementing changes.
 

 

The Fur Industry 


The fur ads we see in magazines and commercials portray fur coats as a symbol of elegance. But these ads fail to show how the original owners of these coats met their gruesome deaths.
 
Approximately 3.5 million furbearing animals--raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, nutria, beavers, muskrats, otters, and others--are killed each year by trappers in the United States. Another 2.7 million animals are raised on fur "farms." Despite the fur industry's attempts to downplay the role of trapping in fur "production," it is estimated that more than half of all fur garments come from trapped animals.
 
Some people believe that animals raised in captivity on fur "ranches" do not suffer. This is not the case.  Trapping and "ranching" have both similar and disparate cruelties involved, and neither is humane. "Ranched" animals, mostly minks and foxes, spend their entire lives in appalling conditions, only to be killed by painful and primitive methods.
 

 

Ranch Raised Fur 

 
Some people believe that animals raised in captivity on fur "ranches" do not suffer. This is not the case. Trapping and "ranching" have both similar and disparate cruelties involved, and neither is humane. "Ranched" animals, mostly minks and foxes, spend their entire lives in appalling conditions, only to be killed by painful and primitive methods. 
 
Filth and Frenzy
 
Approximately one half of the fur coats made in the United States and Canada come from captive animals bred, born, and raised on fur farms. These operations range from family-owned businesses with 50 animals to large operations with thousands of animals. But regardless of their size or location, "the manner in which minks (and other furbearers) are bred is remarkably uniform over the whole world," according to one study. As with other intensive-confinement animal farms, the methods used on fur farms are designed to maximize profits, always at the expense of the animals' welfare and comfort, and always at the expense of their lives. 
 
In the United States there are approximately 500 fur farms, down from 1,615 in 1970.(1) About 90% of all ranched fur bearers are minks. Foxes, rabbits, and chinchillas account for most of the remainder, though fur farmers have recently diversified into lynx, bobcats, wolves, wolverines, coyotes, and beavers. All of these animals live only a fraction of their natural lifespans; minks are killed at about five months of age, and foxes are killed when they are about nine months old. Breeding females live somewhat longer. The animals' short lives are filled with fear, stress, disease, parasites, and other physical and psychological hardships, all for the sake of an industry that makes huge profits from its $648 million-a-year sales.(2) 
 
Life on the "Farm" 
 
Foxes are kept in cages only 2.5 feet square, with one to four animals per cage. Minks and other species are generally kept in cages only one by three feet, again with up to four animals per cage. This extreme crowding and confinement is especially damaging to minks, who are by nature solitary animals. A large portion of ranched minks develop self-mutilating behaviors, including pelt and tail biting, and abnormalities called "stereotypes" such as pacing in ritualized patterns. Foxes kept in close confinement sometimes cannibalize each other. 
 
Minks, foxes, and chinchillas are fed meat and fish by-products so vile that they are unfit even for the pet food industry. These animals are also fed minced offal, which endangers their health because of bacterial contamination. Newly weaned kits and pups are especially vulnerable to the food poisoning this diet can cause. 
 
Water on fur farms is provided by a nipple system from which the animals can drink at will--except, of course, when the system freezes in the winter. 
 
Pests and Parasites 
 
As with other caged and confined animals, animals on fur farms are much more susceptible to diseases than their free-roaming counterparts. Contagious diseases such as Aleutian disease, viral enteritis, and pneumonia are passed from cage to cage, and sometimes kill entire populations. Bladder and urinary ailments (wet belly disease) and nursing sickness (which kills up to 80 percent of all animals it infects, if not treated in time) are common. 
 
Animals are often infested with fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, and disease-carrying flies are a particularly severe problem because they are attracted to the piles of excrement that remain under the cages for months. 
 
Unnatural Habitats 
 
Fur farm cages are typically kept in open sheds that provide little protection from wind, cold, and heat. The animals' fur helps keep them warm in winter, but summer is very hard on minks because they lack the ability to cool their bodies without bathing in water. 
 
Free-roaming minks spend 60 to 70 percent of their time in water, and without it their salivation, respiration, and body temperature increase greatly. When minks learn to shower themselves by pressing on their drinking water supply nipples, mink farmers have been known to modify the nipples to cut off even this meager water supply. 
 
Poison and Pain 
 
No humane slaughter law protects animals on fur farms, and killing methods are gruesome. Because the fur farmers care only about preserving the quality of the fur, they use slaughter methods that keep the pelts intact but which result in severe suffering for the animals still quite attached to the pelts. Small animals can be shoved up to 20 at a time into boxes, where they are poisoned with hot, unfiltered engine exhaust pumped in by hose from the fur farmer's truck. Engine exhaust is not always 100 percent lethal, and some animals "wake up" while being skinned. Larger animals, including foxes, often have clamps attached to their lips while rods are inserted into their anuses, and are then very painfully electrocuted. Other animals are poisoned with strychnine, which actually suffocates them by paralyzing their muscles in painful rigid cramps. Gassing, decompression chambers, and neck snapping are other common fur farm slaughter methods. 
 
The Choices 
 
Every fur coat represents the intense suffering of up to several dozen animals, whether they were trapped or ranched. These cruelties will end only when the public refuses to buy or wear fur products and rejects the propaganda of trappers, ranchers, and furriers whose monetary motives cause unjustifiable misery and death. Those who learn the facts about furs must help educate others, for the sake of the animals and for the sake of decency.
 

 

Fur Trapping


Steel-Jaw Leghold Traps
 
An archaic device used for centuries, the steel-jaw leghold trap is the most commonly used trap in the U.S. by commercial and recreational fur trappers today. Triggered by a pan-tension device, the weight of an animal stepping between the jaws of the trap causes the jaws to slam shut on the victim's leg, or other body part, in a vice-like grip. Most animals react to the instant pain by frantically pulling against the trap in a desperate attempt to free themselves, enduring fractures, ripped tendons, edema, blood loss, amputations, tooth and mouth damage (from chewing and biting at the trap), and starvation. Some animals will even chew or twist their limbs off, so common that trappers have termed this occurrence as "wring-off," which for them means the loss of a marketable pelt. To the animal left crippled on three legs, "wring-off" means certain death from starvation, gangrene, or attack from other predators.
 
On land, leghold traps are most frequently set for coyote, bobcat, fox, raccoon, skunk and other furbearing animals. However, leghold traps are inherently indiscriminate and will trap any unsuspecting animal that steps foot into the trap jaws, including companion animals, threatened and endangered species, and even humans. Trappers admit that for every "target" animal trapped, at least two other "non-target" animals, including dogs and cats, are trapped.
 
Aquatic leghold traps are most often set for muskrat, otter, mink, and beaver. Most animals trapped in water will either try to surface to gasp for air or will drag the trap under water in an attempt to reach land. Usually they die a slow, agonizing death by drowning, which can take up to 20 minutes for some species. Death by drowning has been deemed inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
 
More than 80 countries have banned leghold traps and 6 states have either banned or restricted them. More than 20 states still allow the use of teeth on leghold traps. An estimated 80% of the total number of trapped animals in the U.S. are taken by steel-jaw leghold traps, followed by wire snares and Conibear traps.
 
In November 1995, the European Union banned the use of leghold traps in all 15-member nations.
 
Many veterinary associations, including the World Veterinary Association and the American Animal Hospital Association have policy statements opposing the use of leghold traps. In 1993, the Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) declared, "The AVMA considers the steel-jaw leghold trap to be inhumane."
 
A national poll conducted in November 1996 showed that 74% of Americans believe leghold traps should be banned.
 
"Padded" Leghold Traps
 
Trapping proponents argue that traps used today in the U.S. are humane, touting the "padded" leghold trap as a commonly used humane alternative to the steel jaw version. However, the only distinctive difference between the two traps is that the padded leghold trap has a thin strip of rubber attached to the trap jaws. Not only do these traps cause significant injuries to animals, but research indicates that fewer than 5% of trappers even own padded leghold traps in the U.S. ("Characteristics of Trappers and Trapping Participation in New York," Wildlife Society Bulletin, Volume 22 [1994]). Only California, Connecticut and Tennessee require that padded leghold traps be used, and this provision only applies to leghold traps set on land.
 
Numerous studies have shown that padded traps can cause severe injuries to their victims. In a 1995 study testing padded leghold traps on coyotes, 97% of all animals trapped experienced edematous swelling to their legs and 26% of the coyotes suffered from lacerations and fractures (R. L. Phillips, et al. "Leg Injuries to Coyotes in Three Types of Foothold Traps." Wildlife Society Bulletin, Volume 24 [1996], 260-263). In a similar study using red foxes, it was shown that of 55 red foxes trapped in padded leghold traps, 25 suffered edema, 23 suffered cutaneous lacerations, 17 suffered tooth fractures (from biting the traps), and 13 suffered severance of tendons, abrasions, maceration, or fractures. (D. K. Onderka, et al. "Evaluating Efficiency of Footholding Devices for Coyote Capture." Wildlife Society Bulletin, Volume 18 [1990], 166-175).
 
Even trappers have admitted that "padded" leghold traps cause severe injuries to animals: 
 
"Padded traps should be an alternative available to trappers, but not required for animals such as raccoons which appear to suffer more injury when caught in padded traps." (The American Trapper, September/October 1995) 
"We learned that these padded traps do not restrain the animal for very long, and in many cases they do as much damage to the animals as regular jawed traps." (The Trapper & Predator Caller, April 1994). 
 
"I was deeply involved with Woodstream in the development of padded jaw traps. In my mind they are inferior to properly built steel footholds, but their appeal is that the public will accept a rubber jaw. It is an attempt to please the public, but I don't think that will happen." (Parker Dozhier in an interview in The Trapper & Predator Caller, April/May 1996).
 
Snare Traps
 
Snares are categorized as either body/neck or foot snares. Like leghold traps, they are a primitive device, simple in design and vicious in action. They are generally made of light wire cable looped through a locking device or of small nylon cord tied so that it will tighten as the animal pulls against it. The more a snared animal struggles, the tighter the noose becomes, the tighter the noose, the greater the animal's struggle and suffering. The body snare is used primarily on coyotes and is often set where animals crawl under a fence or some other narrow passageway. The body snare is designed to kill the animal by strangulation or crushing of vital organs. However, snares do not discriminate between victims and will capture any animal around any body part.
 
While some small animals are thought to become unconscious in about six minutes when neck snared, larger animals can suffer for days on end. Trappers even have a term -- "jellyhead" -- that refers to the thick, bloody lymph fluid which swells the heads and necks of neck-snared canids. Snares frequently have to be replaced after each capture due to twisting and strain on the snare cable that results from animals struggling to free themselves.
 
Set on land and in water, snares are considered even more indiscriminate than the leghold trap. Because they are cheap and easy to set, trappers will often saturate an area with dozens of snares to catch as many animals as possible. Called "saturation snaring," this practice is common in Alaska where trappers attempt to target entire wolf packs through this reprehensible practice.
 
Even the Federal Provincial Committee for Humane Trapping has deemed the snare to cause too many injuries to be considered a "quick killing device."
 
Conibear Traps
 
The Conibear trap, named after its inventor Frank Conibear, consists of two metal rectangles hinged together midway on the long side to open and close like scissors. One jaw has a trigger that can be baited. The opposite jaw has a catch or "dog" that holds the trap open. Originally intended to be an "instant killing" device, the Conibear trap is designed to snap shut in a scissor-like fashion on an animal's spinal column at the base of the skull. However, because it is impossible to control the size, species, and direction of the animal entering the trap, most animals do not die quickly in the Conibear trap, instead enduring prolonged suffering as the clamping force of the trap draws the jaws closer and closer together, crushing the animal's abdomen, head or other body part.
 
Domestic animals are frequent victims of this indiscriminate trap, especially the size 220 (7") Conibear. Numerous veterinary reports indicate that dogs and cats may be found dead or alive by their owners in these traps after suffering for days. However, because it is extremely difficult to open the trap jaws, most people are not able to free their companions in time.
 
Manufactured in three standard sizes, Conibear traps are frequently used in water sets to trap muskrat and beaver. In addition, they are used on land to trap raccoon, pine marten, opossum, and other furbearers. Numerous research studies have shown that this trap does not kill instantly. In one study, which evaluated Conibear efficacy, only 15% of the strikes might have been instant kills. Forty percent of the animals were held in positions that probably caused extreme pain. The study concluded that unless the animal is small or is struck on the skull or neck, this trap does not frequently kill instantly.
 
Even Tom Krause, former president of the National Trappers Association, and current editor of The American Trapper notes, "Traps of the standard Conibear design exhibit trigger aversion problems, and do not acceptably position sufficient numbers of animals for killing blows." (The American Trapper, January/February 1989).
 

 

Humane Mouse Traps

 
Glue traps are often used to catch mice, rats, sparrows and other small birds, and is thought by some to be a more humane method of catching small animals that are seen as pests. Glue traps, however, are an extremely cruel method of catching animals. We believe that if people understood the degree of cruelty associated with the use of glue traps, they would want no part of them.
 
A 1983 test that evaluated the effectiveness of glue traps found that trapped mice struggling to free themselves would pull out their own hair, exposing bare, raw areas of skin. The mice broke or even bit off their own legs, and the glue caused their eyes to become badly irritated and scarred. After three to five hours in the glue traps, the mice defecated and urinated heavily because of their severe stress and fear, and quickly became covered with their own excrement. Animals whose faces become stuck in the glue slowly suffocate, and all trapped animals are subject to starvation and dehydration. It takes anywhere from three to five days for the mouse to finally die. This is nothing less than torture.
 
Because of the cruelty of glue traps, many veterinarians have issued affidavits opposing their use. In one such document, Dr. Robert M. Lynn stated, "In my estimation, there is much suffering by the entrapped animals. It is not a sudden or merciful death, but one brought on by starvation and thirst." Dr. Dianne Ferris added, "Because all mammals have similar nervous systems, they are capable of experiencing the same type of pain and suffering. Thus, rodents suffer as much as any other mammal and are capable of being traumatized and abused."
 
If traps are needed to remove mice or rats, humane box-type traps are available from humane societies and hardware stores. These traps are a box-like plastic or cage-like metal with a spring-release trap door at one end that closes behind the animal once he or she enters the trap. The trap can then be taken outdoors where the animal can be released. Live, humane rodent traps are widely available (information enclosed), and have the added benefit of being reusable, while glue traps are not. The labor involved in using these is comparable to glue traps, as someone will always have to pick up the trap and discard it, or in the case of a humane trap, release the mouse outdoors.
 
You can then take measures to prevent mice from re-entering the building, as they surely will over time. Patch all holes larger than 1/4" in diameter, seal cracks in the walls and floor, and close gaps around plumbing, doors, windows. This should help to prevent the need to deal with the problem of removing mice again. If you need to do so in the future, you will have the humane traps at your disposal. 
 
It is important to remember that though small and removed from our day-to-day world, mice and other small animals are mammals, with nervous systems and perceptions of pain that are similar to humans. There is no evidence that mice suffer any less than we do.
 

 

Vegetarianism - Eating for Life

 
There's little doubt anymore that vegetarianism is going mainstream. In the United States alone, more than 12 million people are vegetarians, and 19,000 more make the switch to a meat-free diet every week. Many others have greatly reduced the amount of animal products they eat.
 
Many people eliminate animal foods from their diet because of health concerns. According to Cornell University's Dr. T. Colin Campbell, director of the renowned "China Project" (a long-term study of the relationship between diet and health), "The vast majority, perhaps 80 percent to 90 percent, of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented, at least until very old age, simply by adopting a plant-based diet." In study after study, the consumption of animal foods has been linked with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and other illnesses. One reason may be because animals are routinely given growth hormones, antibiotics, and even pesticides, which remain in their flesh and are passed on to meat-eaters.
 
Other people become vegetarians out of concern for animal welfare. On today's factory farms, animals often spend their entire lives confined to cages or stalls barely larger than their own bodies. Death for these animals doesn't always come quickly or painlessly. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee member George E. Brown has written that to keep production lines moving, slaughterhouse employees "often find themselves resorting to unbelievable brutality. ... Slaughter workers admit to routinely strangling, beating, scalding, skinning and dismembering fully conscious animals." Every year, nearly 9 billion animals are killed for food in the United States alone.
 
Animals aren't the only victims in slaughterhouses. Workers commonly suffer from repetitive-stress disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as injuries to their backs, necks, shoulders, and hands. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the meat industry has one of the worst records in terms of on-the-job injuries.
 
Reducing health risks and eliminating animal suffering are just two reasons to go vegetarian; adopting a plant-based diet can also help protect the environment and feed the hungry. 
 
Ecological Arguments
 
In 1996, U.S. factory farms produced 1.4 billion tons of animal waste, 130 times more than humans did. The waste produced in a single year would fill 6.7 million train box cars, enough to circle the Earth 12 1/2 times.
 
Unfortunately, much of this waste ends up in our rivers and streams. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, factory farming pollutes U.S. waterways more than all industrial sources combined. The effects are often deadly. For example, runoff from animal waste is linked to a 7,000-square mile "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico that can no longer support aquatic life. And scientists suspect that runoff of manure from chicken and hog farms is one of the leading causes of the devastating pfiesteria outbreaks that have killed billions of fish from Delaware to Alabama. The pfiesteria microorganism causes its human victims to suffer from memory loss, skin lesions, and incapacitating fatigue.
 
Raising animals for food is also taking its toll on the world's forests. Since 1960, more than one-quarter of the rain forests in Central America have been destroyed to create cattle pastures. Of the Amazonian rain forest cleared in South America, more than 38 percent has been used for ranching. Rain forests are vital to the survival of the planet because they are the Earth's primary source of oxygen. And scientists are increasingly exploring the use of rain-forest plants in medications to treat and cure human diseases.
 
Vegetarian Terms
  • Lacto-Vegetarians include milk in their diets.
  • Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians eat dairy products and eggs.
  • Pesco-Vegetarians eat fish but no other meat (many Asians are pesco-vegetarians).
  • Pollo-Vegetarians eat chicken, duck, or turkey but no "red meat."
  • Total Vegetarians eat no meat products including dairy and eggs.
  • Vegans refrain from eating, wearing or buying products derived from animals such as wool and leather.
What You Can Do:
  • Reduce or eliminate meat and dairy products from your diet.
  • Urge the coordinators of any environmental events (such as Earth Day) in your community to include a pro-veg message. Veggie burgers, veggie dogs, veggie chili, falafel, soft pretzels, French fries, corn on the cob, and popcorn are all tasty, easy ways to feed the crowd.

 
Veganism
 
A vegan (pronounced Vee-g'n) is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. A vegan is someone who does not eat any meat, poultry, fish, dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, cream etc), eggs, honey or any other animal derived by-products such as gelatin and whey. They also avoid wearing leather, suede, wool and silk - as these have all been obtained from animals - and toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products that have been tested on animals or contain animal based ingredients. Instead, vegans choose from thousands of animal-free foods and products.
 
Veganism is a philosophy, not a diet. This philosophy is the belief in the right of all sentient beings to be treated with respect, not as property, and to be allowed to live their lives.
 
Some of the Main Reasons for Choosing a Vegan Lifestyle
 
It’s a Healthy Choice
 
A balanced vegan diet (also referred to as a ‘plant-based diet’) meets many current healthy eating recommendations such as eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and consuming less cholesterol and saturated fat. Balanced vegan diets are often rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber and can decrease the chances of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Well-planned plant-based diets are suitable for all age groups and stages of life.
 
It’s Compassionate
 
Many people become vegan through concern of the way farmed animals are treated. Some object to the unnecessary ‘use’ and killing of animals – unnecessary as we do not need animal products in order to feed or clothe ourselves. Public awareness of the conditions of factory-farmed animals is gradually increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to claim not to have at least some knowledge of the treatment they endure. Sentient, intelligent animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviors. At the same time, many suffer serious health problems and even death because they are selectively bred to grow or produce milk or eggs at a far greater rate than their bodies are capable of coping with.
 
Regardless of how they were raised, all animals farmed for food meet the same fate at the slaughterhouse. This includes the millions of calves and male chicks who are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs who are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Choosing a vegan diet is a daily demonstration of compassion for all these creatures.
 
It’s Better for the Environment
 
Plant-based diets only require around one third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarcer globally, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals. Farming animals and growing their feed also contributes to other environmental problems such as deforestation, water pollution and land degradation.
 
It’s Delicious
 
There are mouth-watering plant-based dishes from around the world: from India, vegetable curries and dhals; from the Far East, tofu stir fries; from Italy pastas and salads; from Turkey, hummus and babaghanoush; and from Mexico beans and tortillas… the list goes on! Many familiar foods have vegan versions - vegans can enjoy pizza, vegan sausage and mash, casseroles and even chocolate cake. The variety of vegan food available in shops and restaurants is growing all the time – eating a vegan diet has never been easier.
 
Why Not?
 
Choosing to live a life free from animal products means choosing a path that is kinder to people, animals and the environment. In fact, there are so many good reasons to reject meat, eggs and dairy products and so many delicious animal free alternatives that the real question is not ‘why vegan?’ but ‘why not?’.
 

 

Veganism and Protein

 
Can the vegan (strict vegetarian) diet provide protein adequate for sound human health? This question continues to be asked despite the fact that a "yes" answer was given some three decades ago in a study reported by Hardinge and Stare. The question stays with us largely because animal products (meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) have been promoted (usually by the industries that produce and sell them) as the best source of protein. This dietary assumption is wrong and can even be harmful, as a quick study of the facts about vegetable protein and nutrition shows. 
 
The Importance of Protein 
 
Protein is essential to human health. In fact, our bodies--hair, muscles, fingernails, and so on--are made up mostly of protein. As suggested by the differences between our muscles and our fingernails, not all proteins are alike. This is because differing combinations of any number of 22 known amino acids may constitute a protein. (In much the same way that the 26 letters of our alphabet serve to form different words, the 22 amino acids serve to form different proteins.)
 
Amino acids are a fundamental part of our diet. While most of the 22 can be manufactured in one way or another by the human body, eight (or, for some people, 10) cannot. These "essential amino acids" can easily be provided by a balanced vegan diet. 
 
How Much Protein? 
 
Non-animal foods can easily provide us with the necessary protein. Despite the claims of the meat and dairy industries, only 2.5-10 percent of the total calories consumed by the average human being needs to be in the form of protein. The rule of thumb used by the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board is .57 grams of protein for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. People under special circumstances (such as pregnant women) are advised to get a little more. Vegans should not worry about getting enough protein; if you eat a reasonably varied diet and ingest sufficient calories, you will undoubtedly get enough protein.
 
Eating too much protein can result in osteoporosis and kidney stones. Meat and dairy products raise the acid level in human blood, causing calcium to be excreted from the bones to restore the body's natural pH balance. This calcium depletion results in osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones. The excreted calcium ends up in the kidneys, where it often forms painful stones. Kidney disease is far more common in meat-eaters than in vegans, and excessive protein consumption has also been linked to cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, and pancreas. By replacing animal protein with vegetable protein, you can improve your health while enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods. 
 
Protein Sources 
 
While just about every vegetarian food contains some protein, the soybean deserves special mention, for it contains all eight essential amino acids and surpasses all other food plants in the amount of protein it can deliver to the human system. In this regard it is nearly equal to meat. The human body uses about 70 percent of the protein found in meat and 60 to 65 percent of that found in soybeans. The many different and delicious soy products (tempeh, soy "hot dogs," "burgers," Tofutti brand "ice cream," and tofu) available in health and grocery stores suggest that the soybean, in its many forms, can accommodate a wide range of tastes. 
 
Other rich sources of non-animal protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, food yeasts and freshwater algae. Although food yeasts ("nutritional yeast" and "brewer's yeast") do not lend themselves to forming the center of one's diet, they are extremely nutritious additions to most menus (in soups, gravies, breads, casseroles, and dips). Most yeasts are 50 percent protein (while most meats are only 25 percent). 
 
Freshwater algae contains a phenomenal percentage of protein. One type is the deep green spirulina, a food that is 70 percent protein. It is available in tablets, powders, and even candy bars. 
 
Protein deficiency need not be a concern for vegans. If we ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal, or potatoes, we would easily have more than enough protein. Eating nothing but cabbage would provide more than twice as much protein as anyone would need!
 
Of course, an actual vegan would never want to be limited to just one food. The vegan diet can (and should) be full of a wide variety of delicious foods.
 

 

Vegan Children - Happy and Healthy

 
Most people have been taught that children must eat animal flesh and dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The truth is that children raised as vegans, who consume no animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy, can derive all the nutrients essential for optimum growth from plant-based sources.
 
Consider this:
 
Many children raised on the "traditional" American diet of cholesterol- and saturated fat-laden hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza are already showing symptoms of heart disease -- the number one killer of adults -- by the time they reach first grade. One epidemiological study found significant levels of cholesterol and fat in the arteries of most children under the age of five. Children raised as vegans can be protected from this condition. They are less likely to suffer from childhood illnesses such as asthma, iron-deficiency anemia, and diabetes and will be less prone to ear infections and colic.
 
A vegan diet has other benefits, too. E. coli, the deadly bacteria that killed four children and sickened more than 600 people in Washington state in 1993, was traced to tainted meat in a fast food restaurant. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 20,000 E. coli infections from meat every year in the United States. A vegan diet protects children from the pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics that are fed to animals in huge amounts and concentrate in animals' fatty tissue and milk.
 
Nutrition in Vegan Diets 
 
Nutritionists and physicians have learned that plant products are good sources of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D because they can be easily absorbed by the body and don't contain artery-clogging fat. 
 
Protein--Contrary to popular opinion, the real concern about protein is that we will feed our children too much, not too little. Nutritional biochemist Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the ground-breaking China Study, has shown that excess animal protein actually promotes the growth of tumors--and most people on a meat-based diet consume three to 10 times more protein than their bodies need! Children can get all the protein their bodies need from whole grains in the form of oats, brown rice, and pasta; from nuts and seeds, including spreads such as tahini and peanut butter; and legumes, including tofu, lentils, and beans.
 
Iron--Few parents know that some babies' intestines bleed after drinking cow's milk. This increases their risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia since the blood they're losing contains iron. Breast-fed infants under the age of one year get sufficient iron from mother's milk (and are less prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Formula-fed babies should be fed a soy-based formula with added iron to minimize the risk of intestinal bleeding. Iron-rich foods such as raisins, almonds, dried apricots, blackstrap molasses and fortified grain cereals will meet the needs of toddlers and children 12 months and older. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so foods rich in both, such as green, leafy vegetables are particularly valuable.
 
Calcium--Drinking cow's milk is one of the least effective ways to strengthen bones. Too much protein, such as the animal protein fed to children in dairy products, actually causes the body to lose calcium. In countries where calcium intake is low but where protein intake is also very low, osteoporosis is almost non-existent.
 
Cornbread, broccoli, kale, tofu, dried figs, tahini, great northern beans, and fortified orange juice and soy milk are all excellent sources of calcium. As with iron, vitamin C will help your child's system absorb calcium efficiently.
 
Vitamin D--This is not really a "vitamin" but a hormone our bodies manufacture when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Cow's milk does not naturally contain vitamin D; it's added later. Vitamin D-enriched soy milk provides this nutrient without the added animal fat. A child who spends as little as 15 minutes a day playing in the sunshine, with arms and face exposed, will get sufficient vitamin D.
 
Vitamin B-12--This essential vitamin once occurred naturally on the surfaces of potatoes, beets, and other root vegetables, but the move away from natural fertilizers has caused it to disappear from our soil. Any commercially available multivitamin will assure adequate B-12 for your child. B-12 is also found in nutritional yeast (not to be confused with brewer's or active dry yeast) and many fortified cereals.
 
Dangers of Dairy Products
 
Children do not need dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The director of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Frank Oski, says, "There's no reason to drink cow's milk at any time. It was designed for calves, it was not designed for humans, and we should all stop drinking it today, this afternoon." Dr. Benjamin Spock agrees that although milk is the ideal food for baby cows, it can be dangerous for human infants: "I want to pass the word to parents that cow's milk . . . has definite faults for some babies. It causes allergies, indigestion, and contributes to some cases of childhood diabetes."
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants under one year of age not be fed whole cow's milk. Dairy products are the leading cause of food allergies. In addition, more than two-thirds of Native Americans and people from Asian and Mexican ancestry and as many as 15 percent of Caucasians are lactose intolerant and suffer symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes, or asthma. Many people become lactose intolerant after age four. For these people, animal proteins seep into the immune system and can result in chronic runny noses, sore throats, hoarseness, bronchitis, and recurring ear infections.
 
Milk is suspected of triggering juvenile diabetes, a disease that causes blindness and other serious effects. Some children's bodies see cow's milk protein as a foreign substance and produce high levels of antibodies to fend off this "invader." These antibodies also destroy the cells which produce insulin in the pancreas, leading to diabetes. 
 
An estimated 20 percent of U.S. dairy cows are infected with leukemia viruses that are resistant to killing by pasteurization. These viruses have been found in supermarket supplies of milk and dairy products. It may not be merely coincidence that the highest rates of leukemia are found in children ages 3-13, who consume the most dairy products.

 

  

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