Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good deeds stained with animal blood

Countless worthy causes are based on the grilling and eating of animals

The St. Catharines Standard - Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"So while you're home today eating your sweet, sweet holiday turkey, I hope you'll all choke ... just a little bit." - Kent Brockman, Channel 6 News

That charming little quote is from The Simpson's, and while I consider it to be one of the funniest shows on television, I honestly have no desire to see anyone suffer ... not even a little bit.

I would, however, like people to think about the choices they make and why they do the things they do, especially when it comes to the way we treat others in the pursuit of own individual interests.

Christmas easily comes to mind. It's a time of sharing, family gatherings and being thankful for what we have.

We spend the days and weeks leading up to Christmas looking for just the right gifts for family and friends, feeling all good inside about how nice and thoughtful we are.

Perhaps we even do some volunteer work to ease the suffering of those less fortunate.

Then on Christmas Day, after all the presents are exchanged and the smell of homecooking fills the house, we take our places at the dinner table, say a little prayer, and feast on the slaughtered remains of some defenceless turkey, goose or pig.

In the name of peace, love and goodwill towards others we cause or sanction the unnecessary suffering and violent deaths of other animals, and think nothing of it.

Either we don't consider the consequences of our actions or we simply don't care.

Maybe it's just that the taste of another animal's flesh is more important to us than the life of that animal.

Consider all the organizations that collect and distribute turkeys around Christmas (and Thanksgiving) to give to those in need.

Sure it's great to give food to those who can't afford it, but what's wrong with giving rice, pasta, potatoes or canned vegetables instead?

Why does a good deed have to be stained with the blood of an innocent animal?

But that's the way we are, and not just around the holidays. All year long, and for countless worthy causes, we'll cook up, barbecue or grill other animals to help our own kind -- your friendly community rib-fest, wing-fling, fish-fry or beef-on-a-bun.

This type of prejudice is called speciesism, meaning when one species (ours) puts its own interests above the interests of all other species so it can do whatever it wants to those other species.

We defend our discrimination in many ways, like saying animals aren't capable of complex thinking, using language or contemplating death the way we are, as if these reasons justify cruelty and exploitation.

Did you know that turkeys are clever, cunning and extremely friendly creatures? Did you know they blush? They also become extremely stressed just before slaughter, which apparently makes their "meat" tougher because of all the adrenaline that's released into their bodies.

And did you know that a few years ago a pig, someone's pet, saved the life of a woman who was having a heart attack? It's true. LuLu, sensing her owner was in trouble, risked her own life by leaving the house, running into the street and lying down in front of traffic until someone finally stopped, followed LuLu into the house and called 911.

Some eight million pigs and another three million turkeys are slaughtered for food each and every day around the world. Maybe if they were more like LuLu, we'd think twice about eating them.

And maybe if we got to know a few cows, chickens and turkeys the way we know cats or dogs, we'd treat them better, too.

It's as if we suffer from some sort of moral multiple personality disorder -- nice to some animals, even creating laws to protect them from abuse, and cruel and indifferent to the rest.

We need to start practising what we preach. If it's wrong to make one kind of animal suffer, it's wrong to make any animal suffer.

So in the spirit of Christmas and with a new year just around the corner, may I offer a suggestion: If you feel bad for the animals that are killed to be your food, or a little guilty for causing so much pain and suffering, then do something about it.

Make it your New Year's resolution to stop eating animals. It's not only good for your health; it's good for theirs too. If you truly want peace in the world, take the first step: go vegetarian.

Or as Bart might say, don't have a cow, man!

Dan Wilson is a vegan, environmentalist, animal rights activist and public education director for the Niagara Centre for Animal Rights Awareness. He is a member of The Standard's community editorial board. Contact him at dkw1@sympatico.ca.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our laws are too lenient to deter cruelty to animals

The St. Catharines Standard - Wednesday December 17, 2008

Re: 'Who could do this?' The Standard, Dec. 10.

I am a cat lover and I was absolutely horrified and appalled when reading this article.

How someone could possibly dream up torture of this nature and then carry it out on a defenceless animal is beyond my comprehension.

This truly takes a very sick person. My heart goes out to Carrie Hawkes and her son, Devon. I know what it's like to lose an animal, after all, they become part of your family. My only hope is that they catch this person or persons and that justice will be carried out.

Unfortunately, our laws are far too lenient and don't really deter this type of behaviour.

It's about time that something was done to send a message out to the persons who carry out these horrendous acts -- maybe an eye-for-an-eye approach. A hand slap just isn't going to do it.

Roberta Librock
St. Catharines

Blogger's Note - What happened to this cat, as bad and sick as it was, is really no different than what happens to millions of other defenceless animals - cows, chickens, pigs, etc. - each and every day. Unfortunately, there are no laws preventing this. Indeed, it's an accepted, even honourable part of our culture. It's also big business (not to mention the killing of animals for fashion, scientific research and recreation) but not too many people are calling for an end to this. It's too bad all the self-proclaimed "animal lovers" don't speak up for these animals as well.

"If one person is unkind to an animal, it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people." - Ruth Harrison, Animal Machines, 1964

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New faces surface at Marineland

Wildlife group opposes addition of eight Russian belugas to roster of animals

The St. Catharines Standard - Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Arctic Cove at Marineland had a few new residents move in over the weekend.

Eight Russian belugas - all females - landed in Hamilton Saturday morning after a 13-hour flight aboard a specially modified Aeroflot IL-76 jumbo jet.

From the airport, they made the trip down the QEW to Marineland inside water-filled tanks hauled by tractor-trailers.

"There are two in each tank; they keep each other company," said John Holer, owner and founder of Marineland.

The new additions bring the total number of the belugas at the aquarium to 30.

"We have a large demand of people who want to feed and pet the belugas," Holer said.

Belugas are the friendliest of whales, he said, particularly when dealing with humans.

So far, only one of the eight has shed its youthful grey colour and turned the milky, white colour for which belugas are known.

Belugas are native to Arctic areas. This latest batch of two-and three-year-olds originally came from the Pacific Ocean off the east coast of Russia. They have been housed in a beluga aquarium in the Black Sea since being taken into captivity a couple of years ago.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature last year downgraded the threat of extinction for belugas and estimates the global population at 150,000.

Rob Laidlaw, executive director of Zoocheck, a national wildlife protection charity, says he is "astounded" by the arrival of the belugas.

"Most aquariums have two, three or maximum five belugas. To have 30, that's unheard of," the biologist said. "They're basically floating marshmallows when in captivity."

Holer said it's more realistic for a child to be able to see and learn about the wildlife by viewing it up close and in person.

"This is the best education you could have."

Laidlaw said people don't want to learn about animals, "rather they want to be entertained."

Although the majority of the belugas at Marineland were born in the wild,

Marineland has been managed to breed a number of the whales, with Eve and Gemini born this past summer.

Over the next few months, the eight new whales will be closely monitored by Marineland's team of veterinarians. For now, they will remain in an isolated area of the Arctic Cove playground while they get accustomed to their new habitat.

None of the belugas have names yet, a task Holer leaves to the individual trainers.

But by the time he opens for business next May, Holer expects the belugas will be ready to entertain the multitude of visitors that flock to the park throughout the summer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Police looking for cow killer in cold case

The St. Catharines Standard - Tuesday, December 9, 2008


It’s been two years since the last crime, but Niagara police are hoping the public will help them track down a serial cow killer from their cold files.

Four cows - including one that was pregnant with twin calves - were killed by someone who used a crossbow to fire arrows into them.

“It’s a real weird one,” Niagara Regional Police Det. Sgt. Brian Smith said.

The killings took place over a period of five days from Dec. 10 to 15, 2006, at a farm on Effingham Street near the border of Welland and Pelham.

The animals would have suffered painful deaths in the gruesome attacks, Smith said.

“Some of them didn’t die right away. They died as a result of their injuries, but it took a little while,” he said.

A similar cow killing also involving a crossbow two or three years before the latest incident remains unsolved, Smith said.

The first crossbow attack happened on a farm in nearby Wainfleet, where a single cow was killed.

It’s possible the killings are linked, Smith said.

“Personally, I would say yes, because there hasn’t been anything else even similar.

The chances of those two being completely independent of each other would be hard to believe,” he said.

The property where the four cows were killed two years ago is owned by an 80-year-old man who runs a hobby farm, Smith said.

“We don’t believe this guy was targeted in a revenge thing.... He just happens to have this isolated farm in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

Based on where the arrows hit the cows, police don’t believe a skilled hunter was responsible for the kills.

“They were pretty well random,” Smith said.

Investigators have very little information to go on, but are hoping a large knife found near the dead cows may lead them to the killer.

They believe the knife was brought to the scene by the crossbow attacker.

The knife - made by the J.A. Henckel company - has a 20-centimetre blade and distinctive markings on its black handle.

Engraved in the handle are the initials “PR,” followed by the numeral 2, indicating it may have come from a restaurant or butcher shop, Smith said.

“I think that’s going to crack the case if somebody can tell us where that knife came from,” he said.

The disturbing case has troubled Smith since it landed on his desk two years ago.

“We thought we’d throw something out there and give it one last-ditch effort to solve it,” he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Smith at 905-688-4111, ext. 3345, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Anonymous tipsters can also reach Crime Stoppers online at http://www.crimestoppersofniagara.com/ or by texting a message to CRIMES (274637) with the text reading:tip309 and the message.

"If one person is unkind to an animal, it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people." - Ruth Harrison