Thursday, June 25, 2009

SPOTLIGHT ON: Emma (A816658). Blind pittie that is a lovely joyful gal!

At Manhattan AC&C is a very special lady...
Emma (A815558), 4 yr old female pit – one of the sweetest and fearless pits I’ve ever met. She just wants to meet everyone. She’s constantly wagging her tail and making friends. She is quiet in her crate and when she comes out she is actually fairly good at getting around...this leads us to believe her vision is limited to shadows…or she has been blind all her life and has developed a strong enough sense of surrounding to be able to feel her way through things. I can’t say enough great things about her personality, cheerfulness and beautiful temperament. She is always eager to please and is a true joy to be around. It’s impossible to be around this dog and not feel happy!

AC&C VOLUNTEER WROTE: Sweet as sugar, confident in her blindness. Emma, who is blind, was found wandering the streets on 6/23/09. This volunteer has had two blind dogs of her own, but neither was as confident and trusting as Emma. She's willing to find her own way around, but is grateful if you lead her, too. She loves people and wants to kiss you -- all the time -- to show you her love. We figure she's around 4 years old. We don't know what caused her blindness, but nothing has dimmed the lightness of her soul. She's a joy.

Contact me (Courtney) if you're interested in Emma or any animal for adoption.
We REALLY need more foster homes.
Find ALL adoptable dogs and cats here:
A-number is for AC&C to better help you meet the dog you are interested in. Please use it if you contact AC&C directly or visit the shelters.


AC&C in Brooklyn really needs more volunteers!! Contact if you can help. Every little description, personal testimonial for an animal drastically increases their chance for adoption.
AC&C Brooklyn
2336 Linden Blvd (East New York)
3 train to New Lots; walk up New Lots four blocks to Essex, make a right, walk two avenue blocks to Linden Blvd, and see shelter between Essex and Shepherd Ave.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Food, Inc.

Filmmaker, Robert Kenner, lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA.

Released nationwide on June 8th, Food, Inc. sets out to inform to public on what it has no way of knowing. Like any investigatory documentary, these directors and producers conducted interviews with key players and also were ignored or got the door slammed in their face by those purported as the perpetrators of some of the food crises our country has experienced, as well as the several risks consumers are putting themselves at with each bite of food.

My quick thoughts...
It's really good, although, I initially found it disturbing that the Director and Pollan and others still eat burgers, etc., despite their supposedly vast knowledge. The messages at the end ask the public to write to their senators/reps, know where their food is from by asking and checking labels, yet the whole movie is about how you can't trust the FDA/Agri government regulators and food industry heavyweights that control everything, because they're all bed fellows and all lie. So why they don't then promote veganism is odd, but I'd guess it's because they were also trying to help food growers, including organic animal food farmers.

I would say to someone who's seen it and is still on the fence about eating meat, to just go vegan in order to be on the safe side.


From Gene Baur, Founder and Director of Farm Sanctuary
June 22, 2009

"I was able to see Food, Inc. over the weekend, and it was great to see that the theater was packed. The film’s popularity suggests we’re in the midst of a burgeoning food movement in the United States as consumers are finally learning about the abuses of factory farming and the importance of making informed food choices. Food, Inc. doesn’t explicitly promote a vegan lifestyle, but it does urge consumers to make a difference “one bite at a time.” Among several recommendations, the film urges citizens to plant a garden (even a small one) and to shop at farmer’s markets. The movie shows footage of chickens, pigs and cattle kept on industrialized farms, along with other affronts to animal welfare. A non-industrialized farmer is interviewed and criticizes factory farming. He describes how confined animals are more likely to be contaminated and diseased, and that people who mistreat animals are also more likely to mistreat humans. Ironically, he’s making these comments while chickens are being slaughtered at his farm and he’s pulling out their guts on camera. The film also talks about how agribusiness bullies farmers and citizens who challenge the status quo, including through costly litigation and promoting laws to make it illegal to take photos at factory farms. Factory farming requires secrecy to continue as it has, but Food, Inc. is helping promote more discussion and awareness. That’s a very good thing."


BR: I want to go but fear I will have to see more animals abused, if there is any of that in there, I will choose not to go? Is there any does anyone know?

CK (me) : @BR -- Yep, there are images of animal abuse but only as a necessity to inform not necessarily shock, as other films do (for good reason). I'd encourage you to see it, though, as it may affirm your convictions against cruelty and for a vegan diet (hopefully). It is never easy to watch any living creature be abused, but this movie is educational in its depictions of the reality of the way animals are treated, in addtion to the way the poor farmers working for the monstrous food corps are, in a way, imprisoned.

You can learn a lot on your own here, at the site for the Center for Food Safety. Interested in veganism? Educate yourself first, as I did, to be sure you are making a decision you will not back out on, you can defend to others that will inevitably question you and your choices -- and, normally, I get tons of questions, because people are curious, want to know, maybe are considering a veg diet themselves.

I learned that I had no choice, if I was to uphold one of my core values, which is to act and be in consistent with my beliefs, one of the strongest being that animal cruelty is wrong and I will not contribute to it. Eating animal food, consuming products, such as clothing, made of animals, contributes to animal cruelty. It's very simple, however not easy to put into practice, so give it time, if this is something you would like to transition toward -- that being a cruelty-free lifestyle.

As for the film, it's incredibly scary that our food can so easily be poisonous to our body. I have looked up green markets in NYC, so that I can purchase more locally grown foods. Check this out, find one near you:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dogs Deserve Better - an expert's treatise on "outside" dogs

...on the negative effects of keeping a dog outdoors. Bottom line- dogs should not be treated this way. Dogs -- all household animals -- deserve to be inside with their family. Be kind to animals, don't use them, don't exploit them. Be kind. It serves you and the world.

By Dennis Fetko, Ph.D.
Reprinted from August 1995 issue of Whiskers & Wags
Halifax Humane Society Newsletter

I'm familiar with hundreds of dog breeds, but what's an outside dog? Unless you're medically intolerant of the dog (and therefore can't take care of him in a medical emergency, so you shouldn't have the dog anyway), making a dog stay outside is a costly waste. If he's for protection, what do you think I want to steal -- your lawn? When you leave, do you put your valuables and your kids out in your yard? Just what is the dog protecting out there? Most dogs kept outside cause far more nuisance complaints from barking and escaping than any deterrent to intrusion. Such complaints cause teasing, antagonism, release and poisoning. With your dog a helpless victim, it's no laughing matter.

If I'm a crook and your dog is out, your fence protects ME, not your possessions or your dog. If I just open the gate, 9 out of 10 dogs will run off! I can safely shoot, stab, spear, poison, snare, strangle them, or dart through the fence and you just lost your dog AND everything I steal!If he's tied up and I keep out of reach, he's useless. He'll bark, but outside dogs bark so much, they're usually ignored. But let a dog hit the other side of a door or window I'm breaking into, and I'm GONE! I can't hurt the dog until he can hurt me, and nothing you own is worth my arm. Deterrence is effective protection.

Protection and aggression are not the same. Protection is defensive, reactive, often passive, and threatens or injures no one. Aggression is active, harmful and offensive, threatens all and benefits none. Yard dogs often develop far more aggression than protectivity because everyone who passes by or enters has already violated the territory that dog has marked dozens of times a day for years. That's not protection, it's not desirable and it overlooks two facts of life today:First, property owners have implied social contracts with others in the community. Letter carriers, paper boys, delivery people, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, meter readers and others are allowed near andat times on your property without your specific permission. And sure that ten-year-old was not supposed to jump your fence after his Frisbee; but neither you nor your dog are allowed to cause him injury if he does. Imagine this: A neighbor looks into your yard or window and sees you, your wife or child laying on the floor in a pool of blood. They call 9-1-1 and your dog prevents paramedics from assisting! Should they shoot your dog or just let you die?
Great choice.

Second, even if the intruder is a criminal, few places allow you or your dog to cause physical injury to prevent property loss. Convicted felons have sued the dog's owner from jail and won more in the suit than they ever could have stolen!
Appalling? True.

And don't be foolish enough to believe your homeowner's insurance will cover the loss. Now you see why many feel that an outside dog is a no-brainer.

The more a dog is outdoors, the less behavioral control you have. It's easier to solve four or five indoor problems than one outdoor problem. The reason is valid and simple: The more you control the stimuli that reaches your dog, the more you control the responses. You've got a lot more control over your living room than you do over your entire county! When your dog is bored, but teased by every dog, cat, bird, squirrel, motorcycle, paperboy, airplane, firecracker and backfiring truck in the county, OF COURSE he'll dig, chew, and bark.

Would you sit still all day everyday? Do you want unnecessary medical and parasite fees, especially as the dog ages?When a dog is alone indoors, you are still 30% there because your scent and things he associates with you, constantly remind the dog of you and your training. When he's out, your dog is alone whether you're home or not. Do you really expect him to keep YOU in mind while the entire world teases, distracts and stimulates him?

The media is full of stories about the family dog saving everyone's life during a fire. How many people, including children, would be dead today if those dogs were kept outside? SURE - you ALWAYS get up to investigate everytime your yard dog barks. And I've got this bridge.

An outdoor dog has an address, not a home. Dogs offer real value as companion animals. Stop behavior problems and start enjoying real protection and companionship. Bring your dogs inside.

Dennis Fetko, Ph.D.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bloomberg wants to gas the geese: Urban Wildlife Coalition bringing protestors together; Kinship Circle with ways to get your voice heard

From the Urban Wildlife Coalition...


Join us and various animal groups to speak out and PROTEST on Tuesday, June 16 to Stop Mayor Bloomberg from Gassing to Death thousands of GEESE in NYC.

Where: Port Authority Headquarters – 225 Park Avenue South (between 18th and 19th St.) When: Tuesday, June 16th Time: 12:00PM - 2:00PM

This premeditated heinous killing is very much characteristic of what Mayor Bloomberg's tolerance and support of animal cruelty is all about. He's always saying that public safety comes first at the expense of wildlife but he never thinks or looks into peaceful non violent life affirming solutions at all for animals and the public at large. He never shows respect for any animal species because he never wants to save the life of any animal. His draconian thinking is unacceptable and intolerable.
He's very gun-ho on solving any animal issue with the gun. The FAA has stated that it was MIGRATORY BIRDS and not resident geese that brought down UA AIR 1549. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is never enforced and enacted either and these birds need protection also. The resident geese are molting and are going to be gassed to death at their their most vulnerable time.

Interested in protesting? Here's all the details:
Where: Port Authority Headquarters – 225 Park Avenue South (between 18th and 19th St.)
When: Tuesday, June 16th
Time: 12:00PM - 2:00PM

From Kinship Circle:
NYC To Kill 2,000 Canada Geese, June-July 2009
Please send a few e-mails today!
New York City is contracting with the USDA to kill Canada geese from about 40 parks, wastewater treatment plants, and city properties within five miles of JFK and LaGuardia Airports. Articles dated 6/12/09 say roundups are to begin by Monday, 6/15/09. The killing is to occur through July.
The organization GeesePeace has researched this extensively and proposes a plan for non-lethal geese population control which involves oiling the eggs to prevent hatching and then using repellents and landscape modifiers to dissuade geese from inhabiting key areas.
You can see the full plan on their website:

Send some e-mails, and faxes, and make some phone calls. A sample letter is reprinted below. For the City Council and USDA, we have e-mail addresses below - cut and paste them into your e-mail. For some contacts, like Mayor Bloomberg, we only have a web form, so you'll need to fill out the form at the sites indicated below, or, better yet, send a fax and make a phone call!


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall; New York, NY 10007
ph: 311 (or 212-788-3000 outside NYC); fax: 212-312-0700
web form [300 word limit]:

USDA-APHIS, Wildlife Services State Director
1930 Route 9; Castleton, NY 12033
ph: 518-477-4837; fax: 518-477-4899
Allen Gosser:
Martin Lowney:

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
225 Park Avenue South; New York, NY 10003
ph: 212-435-7000;
web form:

NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sample Letter (but please use your own words!)

Dear Mayor Bloomberg, Port Authority of NY & NJ, and USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services State Director:

I oppose New York City's plan to kill up to 2,000 Canada geese this summer. Please implement non-violent ways to safeguard airplanes from collisions with birds. I hope public outrage will convince you to cancel this misguided initiative.

The recently formed NYC Wildlife Hazard Management Steering Committee to Promote Aviation Safety within the Metropolitan Area should devise a better solution than mass killing. I urge Mayor Bloomberg, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and the USDA-APHIS-WS State Director to employ non-lethal management of Canada geese. A sweeping eradication shows no long-term commitment to reduce flock growth.

When geese are killed without modifying landscapes and waterways that attracted them in the first place, replacement geese soon fill the void.

There are seven GeesePeace chapters in New York. All specialize in population stabilization and site aversion. GeesePeace relies on integrated strategies that are long lasting. They demonstrate how to recruit and train community volunteers to find nests, addle/oil eggs, use repellents and other applications on a scale that solves conflicts with resident Canada geese.

It is particularly inhumane to ambush geese when molting and flightless. Yet that is how goslings and adults will be trapped on municipal properties surrounding Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

Communities nationwide have successfully used non-violent tactics to significantly reduce flock growth. I urge airport biologists, elected officials, and the Port Authority to ramp up bird-radar and scare tactic programs at airports - but leave the killing out of it.

Thank you,
(your name)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Victory for Dogs and Advocates yet More Delays in Vick-like Dog Fighting Trial, Bronx, NY

Victory for Dogs and Advocates yet More Delays in Vick-like Dog Fighting Trial
Bronx, NY

The case was last heard on June 11, 2009 before Judge Steven Barrett (Docket #02688-2008). Two of the defendants with misdemeanor charges, Israel Cuevas and Alterik Mason (they were spectators, not dog fighters) were hoping to plea out but thankfully the Judge and ADA Jacob Kaplan rejected their plea and confirmed that their case would go to trial with the others.
Jennifer Panton, President of United Action for Animals and Director of the New York Anti-Animal Fighting Campaign, a partnership with UAA and NYC Animal Care and Control, said “It will be interesting to see what Cuevas and Mason receive. I feel it’s important to mention that currently NY state is rated nearly the worst (48th) in the country, yet NJ is rated the best.”

Summary of New York State charges for dog fighting:
(1) Dogfighting: Felony, Max 4 years, Max $25,000
(2) Spectator at a Dogfight: Misdemeanor, Max 1 year, Max $1,000
(3) Possession of Dogs for Fighting: Max 1 year, Max $15,000

You can
click here to see state rankings for dog fighting laws – note the stark difference between ranking for New York and for our neighbor, New Jersey. Please note that on June 2, 2009, an amendment to the current law passed. For the full details, refer to an earlier post about this.

On June 16, 2009, Alexander Estephane, Juan Toledo, Lauritz Acoy, who received felony charges for dog fighting (and Cuevas, Mason misdemeanor charges as spectators), will face the same hearing, where final charges will be made official. They already do not have a chance at plea deal. In other words, all five defendants will be charged with the maximum crimes – no charges have been or will be reduced.
There is a sixth person, Rashan Johnson, who Panton believes is AWOL and is waiting from the ADA for confirmation.

Delay in setting trial date

While the news about the charges is good for the prosecution and advocates showing up to each hearing, making their presence known for the ADA and the Judge, the bad news is that there are more delays in establishing a trial date.
Judge Steven Barrett (Docket #02688-2008) who set another hearing date of July 8th to establish a trial date for all 5 defendants also calendared July 27th as an estimated trial date for all defendants. The ADA, thankfully, had requested that both misdemeanor and felony defendants to stand trial together rather than separate trials. However, after the hearing finished on Thursday morning, ADA Kaplan told us that the July 8th hearing was merely to “discuss” a trial date, admitting that because there are six attorneys involved (including himself) there will be conflicting trials and summer vacations to contend with, and, therefore, the July 27th tentative date will likely will get pushed back.

Petitions and letters to Judge help uphold the no-plea deal

Kaplan thanked us for the help with the plea option, and by that, Panton says, “I think all the letter writing to the judge and [online] petition helped”.
See below her letter to Judge Barrett.

From Jennifer Panton, United Action for Animals
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Judge Barrett,

Please see the attached document which contains over 1,500 signatures from a petition regarding the Bronx Dog Fight Case (Docket #02688-2008). This petition and signatures can also be view at:

We would like to express to you that the defendants should be given no plea deals and have a speedy trial date established at their June 11th and June 16th hearings, as these alleged crimes were committed over a year ago with overwhelming evidence (i.e. one dog died on the way to the shelter that night).

Regarding the two defendants, Israel Cuevas and Alterik Mason, that were already lucky enough to dodge felony charges due to current law, please note that on June 2, 2009, the NY Senate’s Agriculture Committee unanimously passed S.3926, to increase penalties for spectators at animal fights as well as for persons possessing animals for the purpose of fighting (please see press release attached for your reference).

Additionally, please keep in mind that animal fighting does not occur in a vacuum. Animal fighters are violent criminals that engage in a whole host of peripheral criminal activities. Many are heavily involved in organized crime, racketeering, drug distribution, or gangs, and they arrange and attend the fights as a forum for gambling and drug trafficking.

Thank you for your time.

Jennifer Panton
United Action for Animals
P.O. Box 635
New York, NY 10021
Tel: 212-249-9178

The online petition was exported into a document, which Panton references above. She says, “our petition elaborated about our stand – that New Yorkers want these criminals punished to the max for these heinous crimes and to rid animal fighting out of our great City.

Please sign this petition – we need as many signatures as possible for continued letters and evidence that we are not going anywhere, that we represent a large constituency of voters and influentials that stand strongly for the prosecution and conviction of people who commit dog fighting.

Official Summary of Case:
Supreme Court of The State of New York
County of Bronx
People of The State of New York -Against-

Alexander Estephane, Docket # 36626C-2008
Lauritz Acoy, Docket # 36624C-2008
Juan Toledo, Docket # 36622C-2008
Rashaan Johnson, IBNA
Israel Cuevas, Docket # 36625C-2008
Alterik Mason, Docket # 36623C-2008
Indictment # Grand Jury # 43788/2008
Prohibition of Animal Fighting
Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (2)(a)
(count one)
Prohibition of Animal Fighting
Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (2)(d)
(count two)
Prohibition of Animal Fighting (four counts)
Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (4)(b)
(counts three – six)
A Panel, 8th Term
August 1, 2008
A True Bill


The Grand Jury of the County of the Bronx, by this Indictment, accuses Defendants Alexander Estephane, Lauritz Acoy, Rashaan Johnson, and Juan toledo of the Crime of Prohibition of Animal Fighting, in violation of Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (2)(a), committed as follows:

Defendants Alexander Estephane, Lauritz Acoy, Rashaan Johnson, and Juan toledo, acting individually and in concert with each other, on or about June 14, 2008, in the County of the Bronx, for amusement or gain, caused any animal to engage in animal fighting.

The Grand Jury of the County of the Bronx, by this Indictment, accuses Defendant Alexander Estephane of the Crime of Prohibition of Animal Fighting, in violation of Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (2)(d), committed as follows:

Defendant Alexander Estephane, on or about June 14, 2008, in the County of the Bronx, permitted animal fighting to occur on premises under his control.

The Grand Jury of the County of the Bronx, by this Indictment, accuses Defendant Israel Cuevas of the Crime of Prohibition of Animal Fighting, in violation of Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (4)(b), committed as follows:

Defendant Israel Cuevas, on or about June 14, 2008, in the County of the Bronx, was knowingly present as a spectator having paid an admission fee or having made wager at a place where an exhibition of animal fighting was being conducted.

The Grand Jury of the County of the Bronx, by this Indictment, accuses Defendant Alterik Mason of the crime of Prohibition of Animal Fighting, in violation of Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (4)(b), committed as follows:

Defendant Alterik Mason, on or about June 14, 2008, in the County of the Bronx, was knowingly present as a spectator having paid an admission fee or having made wager at a place where an exhibition of animal fighting was being conducted.

The Grand Jury of the County of the Bronx, by this Indictment, accuses Defendant Rashaan Johnson of the crime of Prohibition of Animal Fighting, in violation of Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (4)(b), committed as follows:

Defendant Rashaan Johnson, on or about June 14, 2008, in the County of the Bronx, was knowingly present as a spectator having paid an admission fee or having made wager at a place where an exhibition of animal fighting was being conducted.

The Grand Jury of the County of the Bronx, by this Indictment, accuses Defendant Juan Toledo of the crime of Prohibition of Animal Fighting, in violation of Agriculture and Markets Law § 351 (4)(b), committed as follows:

Defendant Juan Toledo, on or about June 14, 2008, in the County of the Bronx, was knowingly present as a spectator having paid an admission fee or having made wager at a place where an exhibition of animal fighting was being conducted.

Scheduled Arraignment Date: September 8, 2008

Arraignment Part: Part 60
Other Associated Indictments: None

Completed: August 1, 2008
A.D.A. Jacob Kaplan
Rackets Bureau


Protests, showing up to court, media, buzz...
While most of our court advocacy has been just showing up to court (sitting in the audience), at each of the seven hearings, to make the judge, ADA, and defendants know that we are watching them and supporting the voiceless victims, Jennifer and several others have led one protest and there will be more such activism once the trial starts.

Personally, and I wrote Amy Sacks of the New York Daily News this, I know that my goal, which I'm sure Jennifer and others share, is to make an example out of this case, as a local Michael Vick case, the Vick wanne-be being, of course, Alexander Estephane. The extent to which the accused had set up their training facility in the basement of the Tremont, Bronx, house is not unlike that of the Vick compound – only it was indoor and a small backyard, a more confined space (it's New York City, after all...). According to the Daily News article which came out the day after nine men were arrested, "They [NYPD] found an animal house of horrors filled with bite sticks used to separate dogs during jousts, syringes, painkiller medication, weigh-in scales - and a 9-by-9-foot fighting pit, police sources said. Rusted metal and wooden cages heaped with dog waste were found in the backyard of the E. 179th St. building. One dog, showing fresh injuries from a recent battle, died while being rushed to a shelter [NYC AC&C] for treatment."

The mindset of these people, their will to torture animals and watch them writhe in pain, to gamble and live outside the law, is all the same. Should people in New York who really followed the Vick story turn their eyes on a nearly identical case happening in their own city – the support on our side, media coverage, and buzz surrounding it would have far reaching implications, including that of educating people, inspiring teachers and parents to talk to their children about animal fighting cruelty, cruelty in general, open more eyes of the NYPD so they take reports of fighting and cruelty more seriously, etc.

The movement behind this case has the potential to be characterized as a local version of that behind the Vick story. Hopefully a larger grassroots effort will build within Jennifer Panton's NYC Anti-animal Fighting Campaign and we can really show New York that they can't turn away from it anymore, because it is happening here and it's that bad.

See link here to today’s Daily News article, quoting Jennifer Panton, regarding this case, coverage for which I helped facilitate and will continue to do so for all media as much as I can. Media coverage for the trial is especially important, and I’m committed to working hard to get it. We need the media to reach New Yorkers, inform those who don't know about the case as well as affirm the compassionate supporters trying to help.

Television coverage is especially important for Day 1 of the trial. More exposure means more access to the public, more people will pay closer attention to this potentially precedent-setting case.

If you are a member of the media or have a media connection, please contact me to get details on the latest with this story.

Courtney Kistler,, 212.933.1688

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mother's Comfort Project...a volunteer's viewpoint

From a volunteer of Rational Animal's Mother's Comfort Project...

Jen B., a volunteer for the Mother's Comfort Project, participated in our April sewing session. She had a great time and then came along with us for the delivery on June 6th, just this past Saturday.

Having experienced this great Rational Animal project from the inside out, she had these kind words to say about it:

"Thanks so much for letting me come with you to the shelter this past weekend. I really felt good about the experience and would like to continue being involved in the Mother's Comfort Project.

I have always been an animal lover, so when I saw an article in Time Out New York about the Mother's Comfort Project, I thought that would be a good way to help. I had never volunteered before. Making the beds was a great experience, and it made me want to help distribute them as well. I had never been to a city shelter before, and I think my perception was that the animals would be sick or aggressive, it would be depressing, etc. When I got there, I was amazed to see how many GREAT, affectionate animals there were. The dogs came to the front of their cages and wagged their tails when we walked by, and the cats started meowing as soon as we walked in. They also weren't all strays as I assumed, there were animals whose owners had passed away, or whose owners simply decided they no longer wanted to have or pay for an animal.

Whether they were strays or owner surrenders, they just seemed to be looking for some love and attention. Unfortunately there were a lot of them, and the shelter had its hands full, so it made our job even more worthwhile. The animals are held in cold steel cages, and something as small as a bed, toy, or pat on the head really does make a difference in their quality of lives. I can vouch for this first-hand.

I think we can all find excuses and reasons NOT to get involved, but I can truly say that I am so happy that I chose to follow through and do it, because the feeling you get back outweighs the excuses tenfold. Mother's Comfort is making a direct impact, and these animals really do deserve it."

Thanks, Jen!! We appreciate our volunteers' work for our projects. As we all strive to help animals and empower more people to be aware, educated, and make informed decisions. We know this contributes to prevention -- which is key. We seek to prevent some of the problems we deal with in the animal rescue and awareness realm, such as the high incidents of owner surrender and breed/puppy shop buys, as well as cruelty in dog fighting and general neglect.

It's so great to hear one of our volunteers express that she feels she is making a difference.
We feel we are -- and we will not give up!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why are the rules different for animals? Can we answer this?

If we choose to treat each other humanely and remain intolerant of violence on our fellow man...why are the rules different for animals?

Remember a time you felt total utter fear or anguish, and imagine that was your entire life day in and day out...

Goldfinger's John Feldman wrote this song for PETA, who put together this footage; there are two versions in existence, one concentrates purely on factory farms, this one covers a number of industries that abuse animals for money, including the farming industry.


There is a reason the animals struggle and fight and/or try to escape when humans in factory farms, laboratories, fur farms, or an American household threaten, hurt, torture, abuse, and try to kill them. Humans react the same way.

Imagine someone tore you from your family and threw you in a cage...for the rest of your life. Your time out of the cage is spent strapped to an uncomfortable, painful apparatus you do not understand or know is going to get worse or ever stop. Back in the cage you suffer from the same fear, anguish, and mental deterioration that prisoners in solitary confinement do. The only difference is that prisoners get out of solitary confinement and often out of prison altogether.

Why? Because they have rights.

Imagine you are torn from your family at birth and put in a small crate for the first few years of your life. You cannot turn around, your muscles do not develop properly, you are injected with foreign substances, and you cannot express to anyone the pain and discomfort you are feeling day in and day out. Imagine then that you are so crippled by the unnatural environment that you are left to stumble in a pen, hit and abused by unknown beings who are doing it purely for their own amusement, because you are no good to them, your price tag is gone, you are nothing except an object of abuse...for no reason. You cannot get away, you try to fight, through your pain, your fear, but you can do nothing. You cannot express that what is happening to you is wrong and someone needs to help you. You cannot ask another to punish those who torture you.

Why? Because you have no rights.

Do we have a right to live? Yes.
Do you have a right to be free from fear and oppression and harm? Yes.
You are lucky.

Animals have a will to live...the creatures you see in this video don't want to die, and they want to be free with others of their kind. That's what we feel and do.

How is it different for these animals?
Why do we rob them of the things we take for granted for our own lives and which are protected by laws, by each other?

What is the reason these animals are subjected to such suffering? The reason is the humans just do it. Humans abuse animals for fun, but mostly humans abuse and exploit animals for money, and they don't hold back.

Animal protection laws are not working; they are not being abided by; they are not being enforced.
What can you do?

Do not give money to industries that harm animals. Try transitioning to a vegan diet, do not buy clothing made from animal products such as leather and wool, and try to learn more about the products you buy, such as Splenda, made by Proctor and Gamble, a company that tests its consumer products on animals.

Check out this list of companies that test on animals, and try to avoid purchasing products manufactured by them. Opt for products by companies that do not test on animals -- search by category here.

It's not easy -- we strive to conserve, waste less, recycle...if we are seeking to help our planet, why shouldn't we also seek to help the animals we share it with? We are all here on the same ground, breathing the same air, and while we have rights...we have obligations. For those that do not have rights, we are obligated to protect them by making informed decisions and helping to educate our peers.

The next time you need a hug, you call a friend for help, you breathe a fresh breath of air in the comfort of pure freedom...remember those who do not have even the simplest of things such as that. When you hold your cat, walk your dog, or enjoy watching animals in their natural environment, remember those who were robbed of this.

After watching this and other videos like it, remember that it is okay to feel sad, angry, and sick...

but even if you cannot answer these questions, know that you are not helpless.

Alleged Dog Fighters Go Back To Court, Bronx, NY, June 11th and June 16th

Alleged Dog Fighters Go Back To Court, Bronx, NY, June 11th and June 16th
Bronx, New York, June 9, 2009

Join United Action for Animals in court this Thursday, 6/11/09 and next Tuesday 6/16/09 for the 16 victims with no voice.
Please be there at 9:00 am @ Bronx Court, Hall of Justice, 265 East 161st Street (4 train to Yankee Stadium), Bronx, NY. Be prompt so you don't miss the hearing, as there is a long security line at the entrance.
More info and location details

This is a heinous crime -- Estephane's basement was used as a training facility for fighting dogs, not unlike Vick's property was. These were not amateurs, and they'd been running the fighting ring for some time, as was Vick, before his place was finally discovered. So, essentially, my goal is to help make an example out of this case for bringing attention to NYC dog fighting crime, as the large orgs and media did for the Vick case for bringing attention nationwide to the crime of dog fighting in general.

Please show you will NOT tolerate dog fighting in your city! This type of animal cruelty needs more exposure so that children will learn that this is a crime and not take after those who may tempt them into participating, even watching, animals tear each other to shreds in order for humans to make money.

Five alleged dog fighters and spectators will go back to court in New York City at Bronx Court, Hall of Justice, 265 East 161st Street, Bronx, NY, on charges related to a Bronx dog fighting bust last summer.

The cases were last heard on May 13, 2009 before Judge Steven Barrett (Docket #02688-2008) who set the following hearing dates:
(1) Thursday, June 11: Judge will make a decision in regard to requests by both Cuevas and Mason to plead out. If the judge rules against them, they will be included in the trial with the other three men.
(2) Tuesday, June 16, a trial date will be set for Alexander Estephane, Lauritz Acoy and Juan Toldo on felony dogfighting charges.
-Isreal Cuevas and Alterik Mason will face misdemeanor charges because they were spectators, not dog fighters, unless they are allowed by the judge to plead out.

Almost exactly one year ago, on June 14, 2008, NYPD, acting on a tip from the New Jersey state police, rescued 16 pit bulls and two roosters from the back yard of a house at 108 East 179th Street in the Tremont section of the Bronx that doubled as a dog fighting ring. One of the dogs, that appeared to be badly hurt, died on the way to a shelter. Officers recovered $2,000 in cash and syringes used to inject the dogs with stimulants.Police arrested seven men from the Bronx and New Jersey. The suspected ring leader, Alexander Estephane, 44, lives in the Bronx building that neighbors have long believed housed the inhumane and illegal blood sport. The other men were identified as Lauritz A. Acoy, 41, and Eric A. Boyce, 33, both of the Bronx, and Israel Cuevas, 34, Juan Toldo, 38, Alterik Mason, 29 and Darnell Walker, 34, all of New Jersey.

The next day, in a separate matter of animal cruelty, Israel Cuevas was charged by the New Jersey SPCA with failure to provide food and water to animals residing at his home, 5 adult pit bulls and 12 pit bull puppies, in North Brusnwick, New Jersey. Cuevas, a senior correction officer at the New Jersey Training School for Boys, in Jamesburg, New Jersey, pled guilty to the charges and was fired from his job. Charges against Boyce and Walker were dismissed.

United Action for Animals (UAA), a New York City non-profit humane organization, has created an Anti-Animal Fighting campaign to assist with court advocacy, awareness, animal foster care and pro bono legal assistance for the Animal Care and Control of New York City, the shelter that cares for the victims.

For more information see:

Jennifer Panton, President
United Action for Animals
P.O. Box 635
New York, NY 10021212-249-9178


Many of the pit bulls that cruel people try to use for dog fighting end up at Animal Care and Control.

Brooklyn AC&C, bed delivery for Rational Animal's Mother's Comfort Project (Jan 11, 2009)

This little guy was so sweet. You can see his ears have been cropped -- he was probably used for dog fighting (had scars on his face and legs), and often the ears are cropped (as in literally the top half is cut off when the dog's a puppy) to make the head look bigger or to not get in the way when another dog is attacking its head.
Dog fighting is plain, abominable animal cruelty, and it's illegal.

And many of the dogs -- the lucky ones -- like this guy are still sweet, loving, adoptable companion animals that don't have a fighting bone in their body...which is often why they are dumped out on the streets.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Race horses, a staple in international trade

Race horses, a staple in international trade

Horse racing is animal cruelty, but is not relegated only to the race track and practice fields and trainer room with hormone and steroid-filled syringes.

PETA went inside Japan's largest horse slaughterhouse in early 2009 to expose a little-known fact about horse racing. When horses can no longer perform, many are sent to slaughter.
Beyond the race track, the breeding farm, the jockey...prize-winning horses are shipped to Japan for slaughter every year, where they live the last few weeks of their life in fear, constant anxiety, cold, neglect, only to then face the stench of death and heartless strangers just waiting to kill and dismember them. That is the TRUE American race horse industry.

Would bonnet-wearing, julip-sipping spectators buy tickets to this?

PETA undercover investigators have recorded exclusive footage in a Japanese horse slaughterhouse, in which 4,500 horses are killed and cut up each year—many of them racehorses—to be made into food for dogs and humans.

Slaughterhouses such as the Kumamoto Shokuniku Center, which was exposed by investigators, are often the last stop in a system that routinely produces tens of thousands of "surplus" thoroughbreds each year because there is no plan for what to do with them after their racing or breeding days are over.

All these horses want is to live freely and be with each other.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

News! NY State's tougher laws against animal fighting

New York State's tougher laws against animal fighting

On June 2, the New York State Senate’s Agriculture Committee unanimously passed S.3926, sponsored by Sen. Toby Stavisky, D-Flushing, to increase penalties for spectators at animal fights as well as for persons possessing animals for the purpose of fighting.

S.3926/ A.6287a: Animal Fighting
While dogfighting and cockfighting are felonies in New York, possessing animals for the purpose of fighting is only a misdemeanor and attending a fight is just a traffic-ticket style violation and misdemeanor. This makes it more difficult for law enforcement officials to effectively prosecute animal fighters. Moreover, these anemic provisions tend to attract criminals from other states to engage in illegal activities in New York.
This bill would make it a felony to be a spectator at a dogfight or a cockfight, punishable by a maximum fine of $25,000 and/or up to four years of imprisonment. The Assembly version of the bill, A.6287a sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn, also passed the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee unanimously in April.

Couple more steps to go...

The new animal (not just for dogs) fighting bill that passed unanimously this month by the Senate Agriculture Committee now has to go through Senator Eric Schneiderman, Chair of Codes Committee and Senator Malcolm Smith, Majority Leader. The ADA for the dog fighting case we have been covering and helping bring attention to mentioned that these proposed laws are actually an improvement than what they were before.

And don't forget to get the latest on the New York City Anti-animal Fighting Campaign, started last year as a coalition between NYC AC&C and United Action for Animals.

We will be attending the Bronx Criminal Court again on the morning of Thursday, June 11th, in support of the prosectution of nine men charged with operating an organized dog fighting ring in the 179th St. area of the Bronx. Full story and to sign the petition to show you will not tolerate animal fighting

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When Animals Answer to a Kosher Power


Got a message the other day..."My friend Katie is Jewish and said that Kosher meat is all regulated by the rabbis and humanely slaughtered"

So I checked with my friend who works at Farm Sanctuary and is covering the farm industry day in and day out as part of her job. She is a savvy one too, who knows fact from exaggeration and the ineffectiveness of the latter. I also looked up the definition of "
kosher", and it seems rather open to interpretation, as methods for 21st century slaughter are derived from the descriptions of what is "clean" and "unclean" meat. The Torah states which animals Jews can and cannot eat, and beef, chicken, and fish, of course are permitted, and pork is not. Methods of slaughter are very specific, however, which is problematic in the context of the business of churning out animal product for profit. Since the Kosher meat we typically find in grocery stores is from large-scale meat plants and slaughter houses, the chances that such specific, fine-tuned instructions are followed to the tee and are also overseen by the appropriate entities is unlikely.

In America, therefore, Kosher meat is some of the cruelest meat available. Despite the intentions in some scripture to make the process a certain way, which some may deem humane, given the economy of America when it comes to our mass consumption of meat products and the profit opportunities in meat processing, the intentions are often lost and cast aside. That said, however, I understand the intent behind the Kosher slaughter laws, but in practice the one instrument, one slice method is actually very brutal. They are not shocked with a head bolt to render them senseless, which is what is supposed to happen on factory farms. So Kosher farm workers have to develop other methods of how to make death quick for animals like cows and chickens. The laws governing how animals are slaughtered is that it should be quick, with a sharp knife to slit the throat and esophagus.

Despite the humane intention and spirit of the Jewish dietary laws, there are no standards to ensure that Kosher slaughter is any less cruel than conventional slaughter. The problem is that like most slaughterhouses, profit is maximized. Which means that as many animals are killed as quickly as possible. This is what leads all slaughterhouses to be brutal, because if they miss (it is, after all, a two thousand pound animal, writhing in fear for its imminent death) then they don't do over. It continues on the chain.

Even if Kosher slaughter sometimes is more effective at rendering the animal senseless quickly (there is still pain involved), it doesn't change the fact that all animal agriculture in this country exists with cruelty. The feedlots, the unnatural diet, the constant cycles of impregnation, the environmental disaster, the warehouses of factory farms, the neglect of illness and injury, the downed animals left to suffer. Animals are commodities and are treated as such every day, in every part of the world, by people of every religion.


And managers of meat and meatpacking plants, Kosher or not, can equally succumb to greed as well. Late last year, an Iowa plant, Agriprocessors, Inc., was raided for hiring children, undocumented workers, and for dangerous work environments -- it was a Kosher plant. This facility was documented for seven weeks by a PETA investigator, and the atrocities against the cattle they slaughtered one after another, in bulk quantity, day in and day out, are gut-wrenching. Check out the Rabbis overseeing this type of slaughter (read quotes from rabbis and video on left side), and let me know if you think what they do is humane.

Bear in mind that no organization or business other than an animal or other rights org will distribute video like this. PETA, the Humane Society, WSPA, and others like them shoot the undercover footage at factory farms. At animal testing labs, like the one of the New Iberia Research place in Louisiana, the Humane Society footage was shot by an HSUS person who worked at the lab undercover. There's a reason why these images aren't disseminated freely by the businesses and people in them. You can also bet that when one bit of footage comes out, there is the same activity going on behind closed doors all over the country. It's not easy to do these investigations, let alone actually prove the violations of various sorts. That said, we actually don't know the extent to which the AWA and municipal animal protection laws are egregiously violated. Like with illegal hand gun possession, drug rings, and muggings, we only know about it when perpetrators are caught and charged.

Jewish culture widely expresses compassion for animals and animal life, in the phrase tsa'ar ba'alei chaim. It is not surprising then that prominent Jews who were also vegetarian spoke about it and about the humane issues behind it.

Jewish leaders, such as Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-91),winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978, who witnessed slaughter in Poland at a very young age, which is when he
decided to never eat meat, including fish, ever again, advocated for vegetarian diets but even moreso for humane treatment of animals. He has also unofficially been quoted as saying, "There will never be any peace in the world as long as we eat animals."

Albert Einstein migrated to a vegetarian diet toward the last years of his life, which he
remarks on in a letter written to Hans Muehsam, and dated March 30, 1954, which was about 1 year before Einstein died: "So I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way. It always seems to me that man was not born to be a carnivore." He has also unofficially been quoted as saying, "If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals."

This is a great site for exploring Jewish culture's possible advocacy for vegetarianism: Any scripture or holy literature is open to interpretation, so neither meat-eating or meat-avoiding is the hard and fast dietary rule in Judaism, among many other religions.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Testing on-going debate.

Animal testing...starting with 1-2-3:

I posted this on my Facebook to spark a debate, which it did, thankfully, and even more thankfully, brought into the conversation a med student that did research on rabbits at Rush Hospital in Chicago a couple years ago. She is on one side, I am on another. It's great, and it's one of the best ways to stay informed and educated on any issue for which you speak for or against.

My position: If you or anyone you know is in the medicine field (including in school for), please
watch and pass this on and tell others to stand AGAINST animal testing. It is unscientific research yet proven animal cruelty. More info at

Counter: I think that it is difficult to learn the facts about animal testing from an extremist video. One fact, you cannot video tape or take pictures of the animals in the lab unless you have explicit permission and can prove that it is pertinent to the research. So, I would just question where those images came from, not that they aren't horrifying. However, if you really want to learn the facts about animal testing and then decide what should be changed, go to or

Rebuttal: The most likely source of the footage is an employee of the lab(s) where animals are tested. No one else has access, to your point. Bear in mind that PETA and the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (which produces -- they are the same org) or schools like Columbia ( both have an interest in making you believe they are right. The difference is that one is defending a practice that is regulated only as far as animal protection laws are enforced behind closed doors by parties interested in the progress of the research, not in questioning and challenging its practices – including third parties hired by the lab or by the government (, an entity that has been known for and charged with atrocities on animals for research. Does Columbia put out pictures of their tests for the public? No.

Without pages of essay explaining the enforcement gap, these images depict in a concise, poignant manner what pro-vivisection scientists do not share with the public, as they divulge information that depicts full compliance only. Even with PETA’s efforts (over two decades’ worth), there is still an amazing amount of cruelty in the name of science – so I can’t imagine how animals would be treated if people were not invited to be shocked at least once so that they question animal testing. It is an unconventional regulatory method that US legislation and regulation cannot, by design, ever employ.

The bottom line is that it is 2009, we have alternatives, and society should employ a zero-tolerance standard. Because we cannot rely on existing regulatory bodies to prevent or stop animal cruelty in this sector, there is always the chance that animals are suffering, despite laws against it. Therefore, if one is against animal cruelty, one should be firmly against all animal testing.

Not surprisingly, National Anti-Vivisection Society was not listed under "Links" on the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science website. It's the oldest entity of its kind, yet for some reason, the pro-testing organization the Counter suggested omitted it:

We cannot get our information about animal testing from a NON-biased party. It is impossible at this stage because it is science and money against ethics. Very tough dynamic to carry out debates in, without ultimately arriving at the "agree to disagree" ending.

NAVS supplies some interesting numbers, though, on
number of animals used in research.

Alternatives to animal testing at AltWeb and more at In Defense of Animals for methods such as in vetro, computerized simulations, epidemiology, and more.


A PRO-animal testing protest, no pun intended...but they intended it and to protest: They may or may not have seen this HSUS footage from the New Iberia Research Center. This is just one of many dozen research centers conducting the same types of tests on chimpanzees and baboons. That the other centers are violating the AWA and other protection laws goes without question. This is a perfect example of the enforcement gap and how undercover video is, as of yet, the only way for the public to know that there is animal cruelty going on in this country in the name of science -- illegal cruelty.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Short...reminder about the reality of euthanisia.

It's 2009...and when it comes to companion animals, there are three rules:
Please help PREVENT the overload of homeless animals in shelters. How?

(1) Save
-That's right, no breeders, no shops -- a cool guy or gal adopts!!

(2) Care
SPAY/NEUTER and get regular vet check-ups
-A healthy pet is easy on the wallett! and on shelters taking in unwanted litters caused by escaped, unfixed pets and irresponsible backyard breeders.
-Cats and dogs that go unfixed are also at much greater risk for certain types of cancers and other infections --preventable via spay/neuter surgery.

(3) Love
COMMIT to caring and protecting your animals for their entire lifetime.
-Do your research, consult a shelter/rescue group adoption rep, ask questions, be honest in the adoption process, and know what you're getting into.
-Dogs and cats can live up to or over 20 years! and they'll need your love and protection for each one of them.


It is 2009, and we are in a crisis situation. There is no excuse for buying from breeders, if one knows about adoption, if one knows where their shelter is, if one watches the news...
There is also no excuse for turning a blind eye. Talk about the issues, encourage your peers and friends to "stray" from buying and look into adoption.

You do not have to look very hard to find evidence in your community of the reality of overwhelmed shelters, rescue groups, and deaths of healthy, adoptable animals in all of America.

One of the things that will never cease to bring tears to my eyes is thoughts of the reality of euthanasia in the U.S. Today our citizens continue to put money into breeders and mills, usually because they believe they must have a certain look in a dog or cat, a certain breed, a popular breed, or just a puppy or kitten for the day. Such motivations and intentions are wrong when dealing with live animals -- thoughts like the above apply to inanimate objects and products, not to cats, dogs, rabbits, horses and other animals that families typically keep as so-called pets... who can't speak up and say "Look, I know you may not want me anymore, but I need you. Please don't neglect me because you've changed your mind. Please don't take my home away. Please don't let me die".

It is still way too easy to buy an animal and it is too easy to also get rid of an animal. While that probably won't change any time soon, we must advocate for adopting as well as being responsible and showing love for household animals for their entire lifetime.

To those who feel they must have the dog their friend has, the dog they saw in a movie, the one their friend has or a celebrity shows off on TV... it is not always about what YOU want, but what animals need.

Saving a life, caring for an animal that needs you far outshines buying an animal that looks like the product you want or what everyone else has.

YOU are the only one that makes these decisions. Think about YOUR decisions only, do not feel that you need to change the minds of others. You cannot single-handedly stop the gassing of cats and dogs who have outlived their stay at shelters and die in metal boxes like this one pictured here. You can contribute to saving lives by making the right decision for yourself. Individuals buying from shops and breeders or having their animals give birth, and others who give up their animals to shelters have slowly contributed and helped build up the problem we are facing right now. In the same fashion, we can all do our part to reverse this and reduce, eventually eliminate, the market for buying and selling animals.

Again, the best way to do your part is to make the right decision for yourself -- adopt, spay/neuter and vaccinate, and commit to lifelong guardianship of your animals' lives. Be proud of doing something good for our communities. Others will take after you and reap the same rewards. If you have children, your children will learn something you cannot teach them with books or words.

Don't forget -- Euthanasia is NOT a solution to overpopulation. PREVENTION is the SOLUTION. Millions of cats, dogs, rabbits, and other companion animals are sentenced and put to death every year.

AND if you think death is quick and painless for unwanted animals... watch:
We do not need to deal with this sadness, these feelings of helplessness, if we take steps to prevent it and educate others to do the same.