Among the major loves of my life are animals and writing (chocolate comes in a close third).
Stop the Elephant Rides at California County Fairs
This summer the San Diego County Fair will offer rides on elephants rented from Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), a company that uses sharp bullhooks and high-voltage electrical prods to train its animals. Undercover videos released by Animal Defenders International (ADI) last month show HTWT owner Kari Johnson and various employees beating and shocking elephants. A calf is shown being smacked inside its very sensitive mouth with a bullhook, a device so inhumane that it’s been banned in several U.S. cities and counties, most recently in Fulton County, Georgia. Members of ADI, PETA and the Animal Protection and Rescue League addressed the San Diego County fair board during a meeting on June 7, 2011, asking that the elephant rides be stopped. Board President Barry Nussbaum agreed to look into the allegations against HTWT and confer with animal experts. Although ADI has called for an immediate suspension of the rides pending the investigation, the fair has started and the elephant rides are underway. By renting elephants from Have Trunk Will Travel, the San Diego County Fair is condoning animal abuse. Sign the petition asking the fair to stop the elephant rides. Photo credit: Glenn R. Carter
Tell Selena Gomez: Don’t Use Painted Animals in Your Videos
While shooting the video for her new single "Love You Like a Love Song," Disney star Selena Gomez frolicked on a Malibu beach this week with two horses that had been spray-painted pink. While her rep issued a statement saying the paint was non-toxic and a Humane Society official was on set to ensure the horses weren’t harmed, it is still inhumane to spray paint an animal. "There are no safe ways to paint a live horse or any animal,” PETA spokesman Dan Mathews said. “They can have painful allergic reactions to chemicals and there's no way to know how an individual animal will react. Also, subjecting skittish animals like horses to extended periods of restraint and spraying is stressful and frightening.” On her Twitter account, singer Pink, who witnessed the horses being spray painted, tweeted, "Artists should be more aware and responsible for their actions." Earlier this month, when the Los Angeles restaurant Pink Taco spray-painted a donkey pink for Cinco de Mayo, thousands of animal lovers protested on Change.org and Facebook, threatening to boycott the restaurant. The owner spoke to PETA and agreed not to use the painted donkey again. Gomez, star of The Wizards of Waverly Place on the Disney Channel and girlfriend of Justin Bieber, has in the past described herself as a “huge animal lover.” If she truly loves animals, she needs to stop allowing them to be painted for her music videos. Please sign the petition telling Gomez to publicly apologize and pledge not to use painted horses or any other painted animals in her videos again. Photo credit: Briddish
Tell Pink Taco: Stop Using a Pink Donkey for Publicity Stunts
For Cinco de Mayo, the marketing geniuses at Pink Taco, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, thought it was a great gimmick to chain a donkey that was shaved and painted pink outside its entrance. Although no animal abuse charges have yet been filed – the restaurant was ordered by police to remove the donkey only because there was no display permit – what isn’t abusive about shaving and spray-painting an animal, trucking it a long distance (90 miles round trip), and then forcing it to stand on concrete for hours in 85-degree heat? This wasn’t the first time Pink Taco used a pink donkey. Back in 2007, one also appears in the restaurant’s cheesy video, “Pinky’s Road to Stardom.” On Thursday, shortly after Ben Decker made the world aware of the pink donkey by posting a picture on his Twitter account, outraged animal advocates reacted by creating a Boycott Pink Taco Facebook group, which now has more than 2,200 members. PETA is investigating the incident, and celebrities like Pink and Lea Michele have expressed their disgust via Twitter. And soon after Decker posted the picture, Pink Taco removed its Twitter and Facebook accounts. It has not yet commented on its lame publicity stunt. A spokesman for the restaurant told OCWeekly.com that a formal statement will be released next week. It’s time for Pink Taco to find compassionate ways to attract customers. Please sign the petition telling Pink Taco to apologize for the stunt, and to promise not to use a pink donkey (or other live animal) again. Photo credit: @BenDecker
Stop Elephant Rides at the Santa Ana Zoo
The Santa Ana Zoo in Southern California is only one of two accredited U.S. zoos that continue to offer elephant rides. Zoo Director Kent Yamaguchi refuses to stop them, saying he sees no evidence indicating that the elephants (which are rented by the zoo for weekend rides) are not properly cared for. Yamaguchi also told the Los Angeles Times that he sees no problem with using a bullhook to train elephants. As its name implies, a bullhook consists of a sharp metal hook attached to a handle (PETA describes it as being like a fireplace poker). To make the elephant submit, the trainer pokes sensitive areas like the mouth, ears and anus with the hook, and beats it with the handle. Yet Yamaguchi compared bullhooks to dog collars. "You can't put a big collar and leash on an elephant, but you can use this little tool," he said. "If you need to tap them with it, you do." The elephant rides are not only cruel for the elephants, but they put people at risk as well. All other cities in Orange County ban contact between people and elephants due to the risk that the animals may transmit tuberculosis. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) urges its members to stop elephant rides in the interest of public safety. Many zoos have instead adopted a "protected contact" training method that doesn't allow anyone, including zoo employees, to be in the same enclosure as an elephant. It's time for the Santa Ana Zoo to adopt a similar policy. Please sign the petition telling Zoo Director Kent Yamaguchi and Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido to ban elephant rides.
Tell Arizona Animal Shelter to Terminate Employee Who Euthanized Hero Dog
Update 11/19/10: Four days after Target's death, Pinal County officials announced that the employee who did not follow procedures and mistakenly euthanized the dog has been fired. While it may seem unfair to call for the employee's termination when a chain of unfortunate events led up to the incident, the fact is that the employee ignored shelter protocol, which resulted in the death of the wrong dog. R.I.P., Target. "Target," a former stray dog who earlier this year saved dozens of soliders' lives in Afghanistan by scaring off a suicide bomber, was mistakenly put to sleep yesterday by an Arizona animal shelter employee who did not follow proper protocol. The unidentified employee is currently on paid administrative leave. Last Friday, Target escaped from the yard of Sgt. Terry Young, who had brought the dog home with him to Arizona after his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Target was picked up and taken to the Pinal County Animal Care and Control in Casa Grande, Ariz. On Monday morning, the shelter employee confused Target with another dog that was scheduled to be put down, and euthanized her. In a statement, shelter director Ruth Stalter said the employee did not follow the shelter standards for euthanizing an animal. "Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures," Salter said. "I am heartsick over this. This is unacceptable and no family should be deprived of their companion because procedures were not followed." This is unacceptable indeed, and it is also unacceptable that the employee was not immediately dismissed if she did not follow proper procedures. Please sign the petition asking the shelter to terminate this employee to prevent tragic cases like Target's from ever happening again.
Don’t Lift the U.S. Ban on the Sale of Small Turtles
Update: More than 400 people sent a message to the FDA, asking that the 1975 ban on the U.S. sale of turtles smaller than 4 inches continue to be enforced. The FDA has confirmed that the ban will remain in place. In 1975, the FDA banned the U.S. sale of turtles smaller than 4 inches because they posed a severe risk of salmonella. The FDA said the ban prevented 100,000 children from becoming infected each year. Louisiana turtle farmers have filed a federal lawsuit against the FDA, demanding that the ban be removed since it is destroying their industry. They say that nowadays the turtles are raised in a sterile environment, and a cleansing process removes almost 99 percent of the salmonella. But the FDA says even clean baby turtles can continue to shed the bacteria throughout their lives, wreaking havoc on humans and wildlife. Once the tiny, adorable red-eared slider turtles grow into foot-long, aggressive adults (they rarely live that long due to manhandling and neglect), they are frequently dumped by their owners. They die due to starvation or extreme dehydration, or are killed by predators. If they manage to survive, these turtles, labeled "clearly invasive" by the U.S. Geological Society, become a major threat to native species such as California's western pond turtles. Although it's illegal to sell them, thousands of these turtles are still being purchased through the black market and then abandoned. What's the point of lifting the ban and opening the floodgates for thousands of more unwanted turtles? Tell the FDA to continue banning the sale of small turtles in the U.S.