Monday, March 24, 2008

Escaped steer shot after charging police officer

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

A Mississauga, Ont., community was taken hostage by a herd of cattle for nearly four hours on Thursday morning.

Four steer who escaped from a transport truck during a morning accident made their way to a residential area around Brentano Boulevard near Highway 427 and the Queen Elizabeth Way.

More than 20 officers, animal control workers and farmers were involved in rounding up the nervous animals.

Police managed to contain the animals and were leading them into the back of a truck when one of them escaped.

One steer was eventually shot after it knocked a couple of residents off their feet and charged a police officer.

The animal was killed by an officer's service revolver as a last-minute defence, OPP Const. Dave Woodford told CTV Toronto.

Police said the animals caused some property damage. An ambulance was on the scene but there were no serious injuries reported.

Residents said they were shocked to see the large cattle roaming their neighbourhood.

"What made me nervous was the OPP cars had blocked us in and one (officer) was standing at my neighbour's across the street with a shotgun," said a woman named Theresa. "At first I thought maybe it was a criminal or something, not a cow."

"It was a major distraction for someone who's self-employed because it's really hard to continue working when there's four cows in your neighbourhood," Dorothy Pilarski said with a laugh.

The cattle situation caused delays during the morning traffic rush on the Queen Elizabeth Way.

A transport truck carrying the animals overturned on the highway at about 6:40 a.m. The driver of the truck was not injured in the accident.

Police managed to get the cattle off the road, closing the highway for nearly one hour in the process. All lanes were reopened by 7:30 a.m.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness

To view readers comments, click on: Escaped steer shot after charging police officer

Friday, March 21, 2008

Circus second to nature parks

The Cornwall Standard Freeholder

Posted March 18, 2008

The Standard-Freeholder made three trips to the circus this past weekend based on a tip there may be people protesting the poor treatment of animals in the Greatest Show on Earth.

No such luck. But we still got to watch the show and take some photos of the animals doing some nifty tricks.

Since no one wanted to voice their opinion of the Garden Bros. Circus, we thought we'd judge for ourselves.

Ringmaster Ian Garden noted his disappointment at the poor turnout. He's accustomed to playing to big crowds. Either the shows at the Cornwall Civic Complex were victims of March Break trips or people in the area aren't so enchanted with watching animals perform for entertainment any more.

Animals seem a lot more interesting, and possibly happier, in their own habitats, or at least in zoos such as African Lion Safari near Hamilton that attempt to simulate those habitats.

The animal residents get to roam freely within the confines of the "nature game park" on two to 20-hectare reserves, while humans must stay in their vehicles.

While we didn't see the entire Garden Bros. show, the penultimate act involved three grown-up elephants being led around inside a circus ring no more than 40 feet in diameter. Seemingly the toughest and most awkward part was when they each were directed by their handler to stand on large metal stools, maybe four or five feet wide, on all four feet.

Looks very uncomfortable for multi-ton pachyderms with legs the width of tree trunks.

The next elephant ballet had one of them lying down on its side, then another sat on its colleague's head. Why this is considered impressive is anyone's guess. It just summoned up memories of young siblings wrestling each other into submission.

Don't get the wrong idea. This piece isn't meant to diminish the accomplishments of these well-trained elephants and their handlers. Their act might seem kind of demeaning, old and tired, like it has been done before many times in many different circuses, which it probably has, but it's likely all brand new and amazing to many of the young spectators. The long hours and patience it takes the trainers and elephants to learn to work together and perfect the act must be enormous and continually testing the nerves of both.

Although it may not be the most natural of relationships between these two giants, both literally and figuratively, of the animal kingdom, getting it to work is an achievement in itself, whether you agree with it or not.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


How do you convince manly men to give up meat? With naked ladies, of course.

MACLEAN’S.CA - March 6, 2008


In late 2006, Johnny Diablo, a committed vegan of 23 years, opened a restaurant/bar in Portland, Ore., to prove that meatless fare could be delicious and satisfying - something guys could eat while they're hanging out and just being guys. But the venture flopped. "Even though Portland is known for being open-minded and liberal, I just could not get these guys to come in here to try the food," he says. "We do a very good job of making authentic-tasting, meat-style dishes - but in their heads, they were like, 'I can't go into a vegetarian place.' " So last month, after retooling both the space and the concept, Diablo reopened the doors, unveiling a devil-themed venue called Casa Diablo Gentlemen's Club - the world's first vegan strip club - where, as he told local media, "We put the meat on the pole, not on the plate."

Needless to say, at Casa Diablo, all of the food and drink, along with most of the dancers, are vegan. Also, dancers are prohibited from wearing stage costumes that are made from animal products (happily, there is vinyl). So far, this bait-and-switch tactic is working well on male patrons. "The girls get 'em in, then I get them to try the food with the free sampler plate," he says. After a few drinks, many of them, loosened up, gradually accept that vegan can be delicious and manly. Business is good. "We've got a lot of repeat customers," he says. "They're really happy, loving the food, loving the whole concept."

At first blush, Casa Diablo is just another example of simple, unimaginative "sex sells" marketing: slap a woman's naked body on something and watch the money roll in. But Diablo's carrot-and-stick vegetarianism pitch is actually part of a broader effort to overhaul vegetarianism's wimpy image and to break, once and for all, the historical ties that bind meat-eating and masculinity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a pioneer in this effort, has been dangling Girls! Girls! Girls! as a reward for meat-free living for years. Its early campaigns featured such uber-babes as Pamela Anderson and Cindy Crawford, who said they would "rather go naked than wear fur." (Crawford, as an aside, went on to become the face of the fur brand Blackglama.) Over the years, PETA progressed to ever-racier approaches, like the "Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door" contest, and the spring-break inspired "Milk Gone Wild" campaign, which was banned from airing during the Super Bowl. A 30-second TV-spot released last fall, in which actress Alicia Silverstone emerges naked from a swimming pool, was also spiked by censors - then downloaded online in droves. Other recent ads have functioned as showcasing opportunities for a naked Eva Mendes and a corseted Dita Von Teese. Last week, PETA members outdid themselves in London's Covent Garden by getting a topless pregnant woman, caged and on all fours, to protest the treatment of pigs. As predicted, the press bit.

"The important thing to keep in mind," says PETA spokesperson Lindsay Rajt, "is that unlike our opposition, the wealthy meat industry, PETA has to rely on getting free advertising through media coverage of our campaigns and demonstrations. Experience has taught us that provocative and controversial campaigns make all the difference."

Indeed, PETA's nudie campaigns have proven effective in boosting click-through rates on its websites, where it posts actual information about animal suffering. Also, they're helping to rebrand vegetarianism - once considered a hippie-dippie fringe movement populated by women with excess body hair - as something cool that bombshell actress Sophie Monk would do. But not surprisingly, that has earned the ire of some feminist groups that resent the promotion of animal rights issues at the expense of women's issues. They say PETA is fighting the exploitation of one group by steamrolling another. "For me as a feminist, the means absolutely do not justify the ends," says Carol J. Adams, a feminist-vegetarian and the renowned author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, "because women are the means to somebody else's ends."

What PETA is shying away from admitting, its critics say, is that in order to convert a critical mass of people to vegetarianism, groups like PETA have learned that they have to distance themselves from feminism - even if it means subverting it. There is a deeply entrenched psychological connection between meat-eating and the male identity. "Our culture, especially in the United States, still invests a whole lot in the machismo of meat-eating," says Adams. Real men eat steak and potatoes. They hunt deer, barbecue ribs, carve turkeys. If animals rights groups are ever going to persuade male consumers to change their carnivorous ways, Adams says, they're going to have to reassure them first not only that vegetarianism is a healthy, viable and ethical choice, but also, crudely put, that vegetarianism isn't for pansies. Part of PETA's strategy is a new campaign featuring top athletes, including NFL tight end Tony Gonzales, Olympian Carl Lewis, and Ultimate Fighting champion Mac Danzig. But the best and most effective sell is still women. Naked ones.

Basically, as Adams sees it, the women in PETA's ads, like the strippers at Casa Diablo, are offering themselves up as sub-ins for meat. "One of the things about strip clubs is that they've always associated women's flesh and animal flesh," says Adams. "When I've talked to strippers and pole dancers, they've all said there's something really creepy about doing what they're doing and watching men eat these big hunks of steak."

Even creepier, Adams points out in her more recent book, The Pornography of Meat, is that in food advertising, meat has long stood in for women. "Meat advertisements often pose animals in conventional sexualized positions," she says. It's not uncommon to see a "rear shot" of a cow in lipstick, or an illustrated chicken, pulling up its feathers to reveal a delicious thigh. ("Are you a leg man or a breast man?" chicken ads from the '80s used to ask.)

"PETA is very sophisticated," says Adams. "They know what they're doing, but every time PETA uses female sexuality, it accomplishes two things: it reminds us of the kind of voice that women are allowed to have, which is their bodies. And it reminds us how difficult it is to see that animals are worthy of our care, because PETA can't even use animals themselves to represent their need to be liberated. And I would say, the reason people can't see domesticated animals as individuals is because they've been associated with femaleness."

PETA's standard response - somewhere between an eye-roll and a shrug - is to point out that women freely choose to participate in its campaigns, unlike the animals it's lobbying for, who don't get to choose their fate. "We feel that all people should be free to use their minds and bodies as political instruments to help those who have no voice," says Rajt.

In Los Angeles, an all-girl activist rock group called the Vegan Vixens is making good use of its instruments. Comprised of five women with centrefold bodies and fashion sense, the Vixens started out as an outreach group, speaking and performing at various functions with an aim to converting men to veganism. "I think there's nothing more masculine than a man who's sensitive to the animals and the environment," Vixens founder Sky Valencia told Maclean's.

Their songs, which they call "green music," include Real Men Don't Hunt and Fishnets, Oil Spill. (Sample lyric: Our bodies are hot / if you want to please me / change your habit of leather / it's just so damn easy.) They've appeared on The Howard Stern Show a number of times (if they didn't show their boobs, he'd threaten to spray a lethal substance onto mealworms), and they're regulars at the Playboy Mansion. "In between entertaining," says Valencia, "we'd kind of brainwash them about being vegan and say, 'Look how wonderful this lifestyle is!' " They have yet to convert Hef, she says, but he does seem to be adding more vegetarian options to his spreads. More recently, they launched a magazine-style TV show, and a cookbook - complete with pin-ups of themselves in organic bikinis - is imminent.

When the Vixens first launched five years ago, they received piles of angry letters from feminists who loathed their approach. But then, the tone began to change as letters started rolling in from women wondering how they keep their bodies so lean. "The sex appeal really helps out a lot because sex sells," says Valencia. "Whatever it takes to stop the abuse. And if it takes us in bikinis, that's not a big deal. We'll do it."

Johnny Diablo will do whatever it takes, too. No matter how many women have to doff their cruelty-free clothing at Casa Diablo. "Critics throw that word around a lot: exploitation. Let's look at it. How are we exploiting women?" he says. "Are we hacking off their limbs? Peeling their skin away? Putting them on a barbecue? What we're doing to animals is not exploitation; we're murdering them. It's not apples to apples. Critics like to connect it and I wholeheartedly disagree with the people who are in that camp. I call them Feminazis, and I say, 'Hey, we're Femilibertarians: do whatever you want, as long as you don't step on somebody else's hooves.' "

Far more pressing, he believes, is winning over as many people to vegetarianism and veganism as possible, starting with toughest converts: guys' guys. "You know, I'm a steak-and-potatoes man myself," he says. "I'm six foot two, 270 lb., a big-time athlete, but I just realized in my heart 23 years ago that I don't want to hurt any animals. When anybody, man or woman, when they actually see the information out there, and all the suffering, and how it's not good for your body anyway, it's not good for the earth, it's a win-win situation when you go this route." But a lot of guys, he says, are still afraid their friends might make fun of them if they found out they were going to a veggie restaurant. "It all starts with breaking down the fear. Any time someone eats in my place here, that means they didn't eat some poor creature someplace else. All I'm trying to do is save as many lives as possible and break down the myths in any way possible." Even if this means creating some unappetizing new myths on the way.

Shakeup at Humane Society

The Niagara Falls Review - March 13, 2008


In a shakeup at the Niagara Falls Humane Society, the board of directors has removed the general manager and an inspector from their jobs and the board itself has stepped in as interim manager at the shelter.

Its first act Wednesday: To approve Rebecca Proulx's application to adopt the Blue Heeler/Lab dog named Mace.

The changes come on the heels of a Review report last week that detailed Proulx's quest to adopt Mace and another dog - and her rejection by the humane society, despite her long list of favourable recommendations and the fact she and her husband own a farm with room for the dog to run and a heated barn where it would sleep.

The front-page article sparked criticism of the humane society in the community.

The board met Tuesday evening and yesterday, general manager Valerie Brown and inspector Don Horvath were relieved of their duties effective immediately.

Neither Brown nor Horvath could be reached Wednesday. Shelter staff did not offer contact numbers for them.

A statement released by the board of directors said its actions were "prompted by its desire to strengthen and improve the humane society's relationships with the residents of the city, their elected representatives, city staff and the humane society's employees."

The board's first priority "will remain to make the world a better place for animals."
The Review article detailed the lengths Proulx went to in attempting to adopt two dogs (one of which has since been adopted to another home).

After her application was turned down by Brown, Proulx provided her with numerous letters of reference from friends, clients and professionals in the business.

She also contacted the Fort Erie animal shelter for an assessment of her property.

All agreed Proulx's farm was more than adequate to accommodate another dog.

Proulx had already adopted two dogs from the Fort Erie animal shelter, Diesel and Oliver, and was looking to adopt another one or two dogs from the Niagara Falls Humane Society. After she was denied, Proulx contact The Review with her story.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Three sought in attack on animal

The Standard - Local News - March 12, 2008

Police are seeking three snowmobilers who chased and ran over a coyote earlier this week.

Niagara Regional Police responded to a call about the incident on Monday.

At about 6:45 p.m., three people on snowmobiles where seen chasing down a lone coyote in a snow-covered field between Concession 4 and Fifteen Road. At least one snowmobile struck the coyote and ran over it, police said in a release.

The three snowmobilers then left through the fields and did not stop, police said.

Police approached the injured animal but it appeared to have recovered sufficiently to leave the area.

It is a criminal offence to deliberately harm wildlife in this way, police said, and acts of intentional cruelty can result in up to six months in jail, as well as a maximum fine of $2,000.

Police are asking anyone with information to call 905-688-4111, ext. 5421.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Say No to the Garden Bros. Animal Circus!

Unfortunately, the Canadian-based Garden Bros. Circus launched its 2008 season this week starting in the Toronto area.

It's no secret that circus animals endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering to "entertain" audiences.

Animals in the circus are also unable to behave naturally and are forced to live in unnatural conditions. Elephants are chained up to 23 hours a day and while on the road they are forced to stand in their own waste while lions, tigers and primates are kept in cages so small the animals can barely move around.

Such conditions can cause the animals to develop abnormal behaviours, such as depression, aggression towards other animals (including humans) and other stress-related behaviours like swaying back and forth and bobbing their heads.

The Garden Bros. Circus has been repeatedly criticized by animal protection groups for failing to provide their animals with adequate shelter from the elements, confining their animals for great lengths of time, using harsh training methods on their animals and endangering human safety.

  • In 2001, a 400-pound tiger bit the fingertip off a Garden Bros. worker while the circus was in Toronto.

  • In 1998, Garden Bros. employees left a number of petting zoo animals in their cages by the side of a Virginia road. The temperatures inside the trucks had risen to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. According to USDA citations, part of the problem was that Richard Garden routinely hired unqualified workers. A few days later, Maryland officials confiscated other abandoned animals, including a tiger, an elephant and a rhinoceros. Shortly after those incidents, the USDA suspended Garden's licence for 15 years and fined him $12,000.00.

  • In 1992, Richard Garden, who also owned the Toby Tyler Circus and United Funding, was accused of cheating charities and deceiving donors across the country. United Funding was sued or banned in a dozen states for deceptive telephone pitches. The Toby Tyler Circus was cited for safety violations that resulted in bleacher collapses in Middletown Township, Pa., and Greenport, N.Y., where the 70 injured included an infant who suffered a skull fracture.

According to Clifford Bickford, a former animal welfare investigator with the USDA (the agency that regulates animal circuses in the United States): "Richard Garden has no business having any animals of any kind. His animals were as poorly kept as any I've seen."

How You Can Help

If you receive a phone call from any animal circus asking you to purchase tickets, tell them you won't support animal cruelty. Suggest they continue the shows without the animals.

If your child's school distributes circus tickets, tell the principal or school board you think it's wrong that the school supports animal exploitation and encourage them to stop.

For more information on animal circuses, please visit: Animal Circuses: Fun for Whom?

To view some interesting comments on the recent Torontoist article covering the Garden Bros. Circus, click onto: PhotoTO: The Circus Is In Town

Seal Killing Season Draws Near

Once again, defying international opposition and all standards of human decency, our government is sanctioning the mass killing of helpless baby harp seals.

In the weeks ahead, hundreds of thousands of these animals will be beaten and stabbed with sharp hooks and sometimes even skinned alive -all so someone can wear a coat, a collar, or cuffs made with real baby-seal fur.

Hundreds of thousands of harp seals will be killed in a matter of weeks. Most of them will be less than 3 months old, and many will still be in their first weeks of life. The animals are so young that they will lie on the ice as their attackers approach.

Even if they know that they should flee, their motor skills aren't yet developed enough to do so. They have no chance of escaping to the safety of the water.

The carnage begins as the seals have their heads bashed in with clubs. Still conscious, they will be dragged across the ice with boat hooks. Then these sensitive, intelligent animals will be skinned, sometimes while they are still alive. The sealers will take their fur but leave the seals' bodies on the ice to rot.

Someday soon, Canada will look back on its seal hunt with shame. But until that day comes, it is up to caring people like you to come to the defense of these gentle animals.

How You Can Help

Sign PETA's worldwide petition to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding a permanent end to the annual slaughter of seals.

For more information about the seal slaughter, please check out: Canada's Seal Slaughter