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  Lori Marino: Leader of a Revolution in How We Perceive Animals Science shows that animals should legally be recognized as persons, Marino argues.           

Text by Virginia Morell Photographs by Pouya Dianat
  Lori Marino doesn't hide how she feels about animals.

Yes, she's a biopsychologist who's spent the past 18 years at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, delving into the behavior of captive dolphins and measuring the brain size of dead cetaceans. Yes, to become a scientist, she has euthanized lab rats and studied their neural anatomy. And yes, Marino knows that due in part to medical research on animals, she overcame a life-threatening illness (which she chooses not to reveal) and is alive today.

Still, Marino's experiences haven't given her that cool, objective gaze that people sometimes adopt when looking at other creatures.

Instead she's used her scientific objectivity to become one of the foremost advocates of animal personhood, and at a time when a tectonic shift is changing how we regard and think about nonhuman species.

It's Marino lawyers with the Nonhuman Rights Project called on to support their argument that a privately owned and caged chimpanzee, Tommy, is entitled—as a legal person—to freedom, a case recently presented to a county court in New York State.

It's Marino the producers of the documentary Blackfish, about the orca Tilikum who killed his trainer at SeaWorld, turned to for an explanation of the neural underpinnings of cetacean intelligence, and why these animals suffer and sometimes go mad in captivity.

And it's Marino who launched a public crusade to end the use of captive dolphins for entertainment and research, an effort that struck many as quixotic. Yet two weeks ago the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, announced that it was considering retiring its eight dolphins to a seaside sanctuary.
Formerly a full-fledged research scientist who found measuring the braincases of dolphin skulls utterly absorbing, Marino has become a self-described "scientist-advocate" for all animals, large and small.

While she's continuing to do research (for instance, she's doing a comparative study of pig and dog intelligence), she's also devoting herself full time to the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, which she founded four years ago. It's the only organization, she says, that is solely dedicated to bridging the gap between the academic world and the animal advocacy movement.

 She wields her knowledge like a cudgel to argue that many species have such sophisticated cognitive capacities that they can only be regarded as persons. The move will keep her even busier working for animal rights groups seeking expert testimony that this elephant or that orca or chimpanzee is suffering in captivity and ought to be freed. Her efforts will also be directed to the Someone Not Something Project, which helps people better understand the cognitive and emotional sides of farm animals.

"I can do it because I know the science," Marino says. "And because I have a Ph.D. You can't imagine the power that title and hard data give you in court."

A slender woman in her early 50s, with a heart-shaped face, soft features, and expressive hazel eyes, Marino doesn't look like a fighter. But she wields her knowledge of animal cognition and behavior like a cudgel to argue that many other species have such sophisticated cognitive capacities that they can only be regarded as persons. No other term suffices.

"There is abundant, unquestionable evidence for personhood for animals," Marino says to me over coffee at a café near her university office. She thought it best that we meet here rather than at work because she's soon moving to Kanab, Utah, to join her partner and fellow animal activist, Michael Mountain, and her office is crammed with half-packed boxes.
 Who Is a Person?
"Person doesn't mean human," Marino explains. "Human is the biological term that describes us as a species. Person, though, is about the kind of beings we are: sentient and conscious. That applies to most animals too. They are persons or should be legally."

Marino nods at a pet dog lying near our table. "He's someone," Marino says. "Not something. Someone. A person."

Earlier, Marino had used the same word for the dogs and cats she'd introduced me to at a no-kill animal shelter where she volunteers once a week.

"Hello, Calum," she'd said to a black Scottish terrier. "You're such a cute little person." Then she'd turned to a pit bull. "Oh, Jazzy, you're such a loving person."

She'd greeted every dog and cat in a similar fashion, as if calling them "persons" was the most natural thing to do. Was it for my benefit, or to make a point? Either way, it sounded odd to my ears, and provoked almost a mental double take: Isn't that a dog?

Seeing the Person in the Animal
By now, though, I was becoming accustomed to Marino's habit. It's her way of gently jarring people, of reminding us that animals are not objects but beings—of getting us to see the person in the animal.
 And while it might seem a long shot to expect any court to recognize an animal as a person, Marino radiates confidence that this will happen.

"Just look at the case with Tommy," she says, referring to the chimpanzee whom the Nonhuman Rights Project attempted to free last December. Tommy's lawyer, Steven Wise, had argued that New York State's habeas corpus provision should apply to this chimpanzee "petitioner" too.

"It's true, the judge ruled against Wise," Marino says, "but he did so in a way that allows an appeal. That's huge. And the case really hinged on the science."

 "I think about the dolphins in captivity who need my help. And the elephants. And Lolita, the orca, who's stuck in a pool the size of a toilet bowl. There are so many." At one point in the proceedings, after Wise declared that chimpanzees are autonomous beings, the judge interrupted him abruptly. "Says who?" he demanded.

Wise responded by producing a stack of affidavits Marino had gathered from the world's leading primatologists, testifying to chimpanzees' cognitive abilities and sense of self. The judge's dismissive tone changed.

"He got it," says Marino. "That's the power of science."

She took a breath. "You know, Tommy is sitting there in that basement. He's all alone in the dark in the most disgusting cage. If I think about him too much, I'll go mad."
 How does she stop herself from thinking about him?

"I think about the dolphins in captivity who need my help. And the elephants. And Lolita, the orca, who's stuck in a pool the size of a toilet bowl. There are so many. But every little positive step helps—even the tiny one we got in New York."

Research Nightmares
Marino didn't set out to become an animal rights advocate, but her experiences as a student sowed the seeds for her future calling. An animal lover from her childhood days in Brooklyn, she attended New York University, where she studied how animals see the world.

"I always wanted to know what it is like to be another animal," she says, "so I took classes in the neurobiology of rat behavior. It was fascinating."

But some of her courses required her to intentionally damage areas in the brains of rats to see how the animals responded. Afterward she killed them.

"I did it," she says. "It bothered me—the distress the rats showed. The struggling."

Even worse for Marino was the "callousness" of some of the researchers, their indifference to the suffering the rats endured.
 "I told myself it's OK because the work is necessary, it's justified."

But it also wore on her. At night she had nightmares. Yet she excelled at her studies and won a full scholarship to study for her Ph.D. at Princeton University, where she'd been invited to join a lab investigating the visual system of cats. To her parents' dismay, she turned it down.

"By then, I knew there was no way I would be able to do that work—changing cats' vision to see how it affects their brains and then killing them. I decided right then: no more."

In 1989 Marino earned a master's in human psychology at Miami University in Ohio, and went to work for NASA's Johnson Space Center. She dated an astronaut, rode the Vomit Comet to experience weightlessness, and helped design experiments to put aboard the space shuttle.

Yet the lure of her old question—what is it like to be another animal?—drew her back to academia, but this time at a lab that didn't require her to do invasive research on animals.

Animals and Mirrors
Instead she studied animal behavior with Gordon Gallup, an evolutionary psychologist at the State University of New York in Albany. He had shown in 1970 that chimpanzees recognize themselves in mirrors, while monkeys do not. The capacity for self-recognition—for knowing that is you in the mirror—seemed to suggest a dividing line between the mental abilities of humans, the great apes, and all other animals.

Gallup's lab focused on chimpanzees, but with his approval Marino decided to look at another group of intelligent species: cetaceans.
 For her Ph.D. thesis, she did a comparative analysis of the skulls of toothed whales (such as dolphins, orcas, and sperm whales) and those of great apes, using a collection at the Smithsonian Institution. It led to her first major discovery: Cetaceans had larger brains relative to their body size than any other animal, including chimpanzees. Indeed they had the second largest brains on the planet, just below those of humans.

So how would a dolphin fare if given the mirror-test challenge? In 1998 Marino teamed up with Diana Reiss, a comparative psychologist now at Hunter College in New York, to find out. Their first tests at Marine World/Africa USA were inconclusive.

Presley and Tab
Then the pair received permission from Brooklyn's New York Aquarium to test Presley and Tab, two male dolphins who spent most of their days performing leaps and spins for cheering audiences.

But Presley's and Tab's mornings were free, and the scientists were allowed to set up controlled tests to see how the dolphins reacted to a mirror. As they looked at their reflections, the cetaceans twisted and turned their bodies, very much like a human waving at a mirror. "It's like they were asking, 'Is that me?'" Marino says.

 The dolphins understood that they were looking at themselves—and thus must be aware of themselves as idividuals. It was a breakthrough discovery. Over the next year, Marino and Reiss gave the dolphins a series of tests paralleling those that Gallup had given the chimpanzees, which they hoped would show that the dolphins did, in fact, recognize themselves in the mirror. For instance, they might scribble a black triangle on Presley's right flipper and a circle on Tab's forehead and back. The animals, of course, couldn't see these marks on their bodies. But they swam right over to the mirror and used it to inspect their newly tattooed body part, contorting themselves to get a clear view, while the scientists watched and filmed their reactions.

Marino and Reiss knew what the dolphins' behaviors meant: Like humans and great apes, these cetaceans understood that they were looking at themselves—and thus must also be aware of themselves as individuals. It was a breakthrough discovery, and upended the old idea that only humans and our closest primate relatives have a sense of self.
 "I couldn't stop thinking about what it meant," Marino says. "Because dolphins see themselves in mirrors, it means that in some ways, their minds work the way ours do. They know who they are."

At first Marino tried to put aside the full implications of the discovery she and Reiss had made and began to plan a self-awareness test for captive orcas.

Horror of Taiji
But when she learned from Reiss about the annual slaughter of dolphins at Taiji, in Japan, Marino decided she could no longer sit on the sidelines—even though she knew that most scientists, including her mentor Gallup, cast a dim eye on scientists who advocate for causes. ("If you're going to be an advocate, you cannot be objective," he told me in a phone interview. "And so you cannot be a scientist.")

But Marino was deeply troubled that as self-aware beings, the dolphins at Taiji must know and understand what is happening to them and their family members as they are being killed.

In 2005 she joined Reiss in an advocacy group, Act for Dolphins, with other cetacean and cognition researchers. The group circulated a petition calling for an end to the slaughter and sent it to the government of Japan. While their petition had little effect on Japanese authorities, who noted that hunting dolphins was one of Japan's cultural traditions, it did help bring some attention to Taiji. And it gave Marino her first taste of the power of using science to advocate for a cause.

There weren't any serious questions, either, about whether she or the other scientists had lost their objectivity—perhaps because the horror of Taiji was so compelling.

Then tragedy struck closer to home. Presley and Tab died from infections after being moved to another aquarium. They were only about 20 years old—half the normal life span of a dolphin in the wild.
 The Turning Point for Marino
"They'd lived their lives in a disgusting cement tank on Coney Island," Marino says. "It was so wrong, so completely wrong, and I decided, OK, I'm in my mid-40s, I have a lengthy CV; how do I want to make a real difference? And I knew it wasn't just going to come from doing the science."

At the time, Marino was publishing groundbreaking papers on her scans of dolphin brains (which came from wild dolphins who had died after becoming stranded). Her studies showed that the animals have an extremely complex neocortex—an area that in the human brain has been linked to self-awareness, problem-solving, and emotions.

Deeply affected by the deaths of the two dolphins, and in light of her new data, in 2009 Marino resolved to take a stand: She would no longer study any dolphin in captivity. And she called on her colleagues to make the same pledge.

 Taiji gave Marino her first taste of the power of using science to advocate for a cause. Some, such as Denise Herzing, a psychologist at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, did—but Herzing has long studied only wild dolphins. Others, such as Richard Connor, a cetacean expert at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, thinks it's a bad idea. He too studies wild dolphins, but he argued that there were still legitimate reasons for doing research with captive cetaceans. After all, he pointed out, it's largely because of this type of study that we know dolphins are smart.

"Plus, there's still a real need for this research," Connor said to me in a phone interview. "We know so much about the cognitive abilities of so many species—the great apes, elephants, parrots—because we're able to study them in captivity. But we've barely scratched the surface when it comes to dolphins."

Moreover, he notes, many zoos and sanctuaries now actively promote such studies as a way to exercise the minds of their animals—something he thinks more public and private aquariums should be doing for their cetaceans.
 Reiss, Marino's key colleague, also refused to stop studying dolphins in captivity—leading to a public break between the two. While they've patched it up to some degree, they are no longer best friends.

"I regret that," Marino says. "But I don't regret calling for an end to that type of research."

She had become an advocate, after all, and to be taken seriously, she felt, she could not be inconsistent in her actions. If holding dolphins, like Presley and Tab, in captivity was wrong, then studying captive dolphins—using them for one's own purposes, even if these were for science—was also wrong.

"They should be free," Marino says. "They shouldn't have to entertain us or be used as therapy animals for us or sent on naval missions for us—or any of it. They should be free to live their lives in their own way."

Mission to the Next Generation
There's one other group that Marino plans to advocate for through Kimmela: students who do not want to do invasive research on animals. She's not forgotten her nightmares from when she did such studies or the mocking tone of other students or professors who teased her for having feelings for the rats.

At Emory, where many students are pre-med or biomedical majors, Marino often saw younger versions of herself in her courses. Some of her students quit their chosen career because they couldn't bring themselves to harm animals.

"And so they leave science," Marino says with exasperation. "They're bright and talented, but they're forced into a different career because they won't do invasive research."
 Marino often counseled such students on how to continue in their chosen field without having to do invasive research, and she plans to do the same thing at Kimmela via the Someone Not Something Project. It has raised the funds to provide students with grant money to do such things as cognition research on domesticated animals at shelters and sanctuaries, and Marino will evaluate their proposals.

"But it must be good science, not just nicey-nicey. It must be methodologically very strong; otherwise we undermine ourselves."

Marino pauses. "Of course, it will be so much easier for those kinds of students when animals are treated legally as persons. That's the key to it all."

Lori Marino visits the Whales: Giants of the Deep display at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, Georgia.
 Public Consultation on the proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Livestock in Saleyards and and Consultation Regulation Impact Statement is now open for a period of 90 days until Friday 12th December 2014.

The proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Livestock in Saleyards and Depots (Saleyard Welfare Standards) will create improved and nationally consistent rules for the care and management of livestock during their transition through saleyards and depots in Australia.
The associated Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) identifies the costs and benefits for protecting the welfare of livestock in saleyards and depots, and demonstrates the need for the Saleyard Welfare Standards.
 We seek views from interested parties about how the:
  • proposed Saleyard Welfare Standards will ensure the welfare of livestock, and
  • associated Consultation RIS demonstrates the need for the standards, and identifies the key costs and benefits for livestock owners and buyers, saleyard operators, livestock agents, government and the wider community.
  Written submissions, preferably on the provided submission form can be sent either by:
  • email with attachments to; or
  • mail addressed to "Saleyard Welfare Standards Public Consultation", DEPI Hamilton, Private Bag 105, Hamilton, VIC 3300.
Effects of Transport Time and Location within the Truck on Bruises and Meat Quality of Pigs

Tuesday, June 03, 2014 

A Canadian study indicates that the adverse effects of prolonged transport and low temperatures on meat quality can be aggravated by the location of the pig in the transport vehicle. Skin bruises were more prevalent in the winter than the summer.

The effects of transport time and location within the truck on skin bruises and meat quality of market weight pigs in two seasons were investigated by researchers in Canada.

In a paper in Canadian Journal of Animal Science, first-named author M.B. Scheeren of the Prairie Swine Centre and co-authors explain that they evaluated skin bruise score and meat quality in 384 pigs distributed across the top front (C1), top back (C4), middle front (C5) and bottom rear (C10) compartments of the truck. They evaluated the effects of season (winter versus summer), transport time (T: six, 12 and 18 hours) and truck compartment (C).

Bruise score was higher (P=0.01) in winter than in summer.

A T×C interaction was found for pHu value in the longissimus thoracis (LT) muscle and for drip loss in the LT and semimembranosus (SM) muscles; higher (P<0.001) pHu was recorded in the LT muscle and lower drip loss in the LT and SM muscles (P<0.001 and P=0.01, respectively) of pigs located in C10 following 18 hours of transport.

In summer, higher (P=0.03) pHu values were found in the LT muscle of pigs transported in C4 and lower drip loss in the LT and SM muscles (P=0.04 and P=0.03, respectively) of pigs located in C10.

The results of this study suggest that, while skin bruises are only affected by season, the effects of longer transport time and winter temperatures on meat quality can be aggravated by the compartment location, concluded Scheeren and co-authors.


Scheeren M.B., H.W. Gonyou, J. Brown, A.V. Weschenfelder and L. Faucitano. 2014. Effects of transport time and location within truck on skin bruises and meat quality of market weight pigs in two seasons. Canadian Journal of Animal Science. 94(1):71-78, 10.4141/cjas2013-136
Other (non-export) News / UK MPs outline recommendations on religious slaughter
« Last post by WA Export News on September 12, 2014, 05:21:30 PM »
MPs outline recommendations on religious slaughter   

29 August 2014 | By Olivia Midgley

MPS have made nine recommendations which they believe will help policy makers take more informed decisions on the rules surrounding around religious slaughter. It comes after an All-Party

Parliamentary Group (APPG) on beef and lamb report looked into the animal welfare concerns around halal and kosher meat.

The recommendations call for more research such as on the measurement of pain in animals at the time of slaughter and in demonstrating the recoverability of certain stunning methods to reassure religious communities that they are compatible with their religious requirements.

European law currently requires that all animals are stunned prior to slaughter.

However, there is a derogation which permits member states to practise non-stunning in the cases of slaughter in observance with religious beliefs.

In addition, the European Commission is currently conducting research into the desirability of labelling for consumers and what the consequences of labelling might be - the results of which are expected by the end of the year.

Chairman of the APPG Neil Parish MP said: “When the group decided to conduct an inquiry into the welfare of animals slaughtered in accordance with religious rites I knew we were entering into an area of public discourse that has been highly polarised, often poorly understood and discussions in the media have often produced more heat than light. I hope our offering provides more of the latter.

“There are no easy solutions to what is legally, scientifically and culturally a very complicated set of circumstances but given the legitimate concerns of the public, animal welfare organisations and religious communities it is a debate worth having in a calm and transparent way.”The nine recommendations:1. Research to be reviewed and new research to be undertaken where necessary to determine the effect of stunning on the residual blood content left in meat in comparison to that produced from slaughter without stunning.

2. The demonstration of recoverability abattoirs as a means to reassure customers the animal is not killed by stunning and therefore is Halal compliant.

3. That the use of electro-immobilisation, a practice that is not currently permitted in the UK, be re-examined to determine scientifically if it is required in order to take into account the associated dangers to operator safety in relation to carcass kicking.

4. More research into the Shechita method of slaughter and the likelihood and duration of pain felt when the cut is made.

5. To help inform the debate on mis-stunning and mis-slaughtering the Group believes that statistics on the incidence of mis-slaughtering is made available.

6. That labelling should be carried out on a stun versus non-stun basis, and that an impact assessment on the burden to the industry should be undertaken in relation to mandatory labelling.

7. Greater research is needed into the measurement of pain in animals at the time of slaughter and in demonstrating the recoverability of certain stunning methods to reassure religious communities that they are compatible with their religion.

8. Labelling should help consumers make informed decisions when buying meat should be carried out on a stun versus non-stun basis, and that an impact assessment on the burden to the industry should be undertaken in relation to mandatory labelling.

9. That a consumer attitudes survey towards meat labelling to see if the public would like to see meat labelled in accordance with stunning or non-stunning, and additional information such as the type of stun that was used and if any religious requirements were needed to be met in producing the meat.
Sue Kedgley: Animals deserve vote of support 

5:00 AM Thursday Sep 11, 2014 

Parties at odds over plans to phase out factory farming practices while millions of creatures continue to suffer.

    Welfare groups are fighting against animals being kept in confined conditions. height=310 Welfare groups are fighting against animals being kept in confined conditions.   

There's been a proliferation of pre-election political panels in the run-up to this election - more than I can remember, which is a healthy sign in our democracy.

But the most interesting one I have attended was a political panel on animal welfare - a first for this country.

When I entered Parliament 15 years ago, MPs could not take animal welfare seriously. They would snigger, crack jokes or yawn loudly whenever the subject was raised. But as more and more incidents of animal cruelty have come to light, such as the recent footage of a pig farmer clubbing a pig to death with a hammer, concern about animal welfare is rising.

And that is no doubt why all the main parties turned out to debate whether factory farming has a future here.

Factory farming is a huge and secretive industry. Ninety million animals are reared inside factory farms each year - 3 million hens, 85 million chickens and 700,000 pigs.

Rabbits, ducks and fish are also reared intensively, as are beef cattle in several feedlots.

Most of these animals are locked up inside aluminium sheds that only a few people are permitted to enter. The only way most of us can find out what happens inside these factory farms is when groups such as Farm Watch film them illegally.

Thanks to their footage, and the work of animal advocacy groups including SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation), we know the awful conditions factory farmed animals are forced to endure during their short and miserable lives, locked up in cages or crammed inside sheds.

Pigs are highly intelligent and sociable animals, and far surpass the mental capacity of dogs. Hens, too, are curious and sociable creatures, with a surprising intelligence and a language of their own. And this begs the question, do we have a right to require intelligent and sociable animals to live miserable lives of suffering, just to satisfy our desire for cheap meat and eggs?

Surprisingly, perhaps, all of the MPs on the political panel agreed that factory farming practices such as battery hen cages, farrowing crates and sow stalls are cruel and unacceptable, and must be phased out.

Even dairy farmer and National party MP Shane Ardern, who chairs Parliament's committee, agreed that battery hen farming is cruel, and that the tiny bit of extra space hens will have when battery cages are finally phased out in 2022 and replaced by so-called "colony" cages, is unacceptable.

Where the MPs differed was on how long these cruel forms of factory farming should be allowed to remain. Sow stalls are supposed to be gone by December next year, but poultry farmers can continue to use battery cages for another eight years, and then replace them with "colony" cages.

Trevor Mallard told the meeting that Labour is committed to phasing out cruel factory farming practices, including "colony" cages, and hopes to have legislation in place in 2016.

Mojo Mathers said the Green Party wants cages and all other cruel forms of factory farming phased out immediately.

"These animals work incredibly hard for us," she said. "The least we can do is treat them humanely and with respect."

New Zealand First and National have no such plans, and no clear animal welfare policy either. Both Richard Prosser, from New Zealand First, and Shane Ardern, from National, acknowledged that keeping hens in "colony" cages is cruel. But their parties support the present legislation that will allow hens to remain in such cages indefinitely.

But whatever their policies, it was refreshing to see parliamentarians debating animal welfare seriously.

Animals cannot vote in the upcoming election, but we can, on their behalf. Now, thanks to the pre-election debate (which was filmed and is being shown on SAFE's website), we know where political parties stand on animal welfare, and can vote accordingly.

Sue Kedgley is a Wellington regional councillor and former Green MP.
 Animal cruelty in the UAE: Who’s listening?   Disturbing rise in animal abuse  cases across country despite Federal Law to protect them
  • By Anjana Kumar, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 15:30 September 10, 2014
(Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Xpress)
  • Cruel act: File photo of abandoned dog rescued neighbours in Tecom Dubai. Picture for illustrative purpose
Dubai: Rising incidents of pet cruelty and abandonment are becoming a matter of serious concern for animal welfare groups in the UAE. Welfare groups say they receive at least 30 distress calls a day from people reporting pet neglect, abuse and abandonment. 

Federal Law No. 16 of 2007 protects the rights of animals in the UAE. Mistreatment of animals can result in a one year imprisonment and Dh20,000 fine. 

According to the law, animals must be given protection from the weather and predators and be fed a wholesome diet appropriate for their age and species, and receive a continuous supply of fresh drinking water each day. Animal welfare groups, however say, the law needs to be implemented strictly. “People don’t take the law seriously and rarely report cases of animal abuse. Most of them don’t care for animals and just choose to remain quiet about  animal abuse.  “Animals are not fashion accessories or toys. They have a life and suffer just like human beings,” said Mel

Stones, founder, Animal Action - Abu Dhabi, which has rehomed around 700 animals since 2010.  “Not everyone has to love animals and have one in the house to understand the suffering of a pet. Take action and call any animal support organisation for help. That is the least that you can do to save them,” said Stones. Lesley Muncey, chairperson, Feline Friends Dubai, also urged people to report animal cruelty.

 “To me, not reporting animal abuse is as bad as keeping quiet about child abuse,” she said. Tania Chernyshova, a volunteer with the Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre said a thorough background check of families wanting to adopt pets can save many animals from torture and cruelty.  “In order to get  get a better understanding of the family looking to adopt a pet, we ask them to fill out adoption forms.

Unfortunately such screening is rarely conducted in pet shops where anybody can buy a pet,” she said. “One of our major goals is to educate people on animal welfare. We do so by running various educational campaigns in Ras Al Khaimah, especially in schools. We run various online campaigns and organise events on responsible pet ownership,” she said.  Saddled with over 130 abandoned dogs and cats, Animal Action recently launched a crisis appeal, asking for foster homes.   Stones said this was the worst ever summer as far as abandonment of pets were concerned. 1

10 shocking pet stories
1. Three caged rabbits are mercilessly left outside a villa in New Dubai area by their owner before leaving for summer vacation. A maid working in a neighbouring villa informs her employer who takes the rabbits into his house. One rabbit dies, and the other two are severely dehydrated.

2. Two cats are left alone in an apartment before the pet owner leaves the country for good. A friend who is supposed to check on the cats and re-home them fails to show up. The pet owner contacts Feline Friends to rescue the cats. With the help of the building security and the permission of the owner, the welfare group manages to rescue the starving cats who probably survived on toilet water for days. 

3. A caged German Shepherd is left outside a villa in New Dubai. Neighbours in the area ask the pet owner to keep the dog inside. Community residents also take up the matter with Dubai Municipality. The owner promises to build an air-conditioned kennel for the dog – but nothing is done about it. 

4. A badly injured female Arabian Mau (around six months old) is abandoned in the garden of a villa in Jumeirah by her owner who leaves for Eid holiday. Feline Friends receives a call from a community member to rescue the kitten. She lures her with some food and water and manages to get the cat out. The cat looks like she is about to die. She has been tossed around and played with like a toy by a child living in the villa. Her hind legs are broken with the bones and muscles visible to the naked eye. The skin is completely splittered all the way into her abdomen. She is stinking and her eyes are dialated. The kitten unfortunately has to be put to sleep as euthanasia is the only humane act left for her. 

5. In what must surely rank among the worst cases of neglect, a pet owner abandons eight dogs in his Tecom villa in unimaginably filthy conditions. The dogs are rescued by an animal activist with the help of a neighbour. Three of the dogs, a chihuahua and her two puppies are seen sitting on their own faeces, looking listless in a bathroom where they are kept without food and water for days.

6. Two mixed-breed stray dogs (a male and a pregnant female) have acid thrown on them by people who do not want them living in their building in Al Ain. The male dog suffers severe burns and soon dies. Millie, the female dog, however returns to the building to litter her puppies. Animal Action – Abu Dhabi is called in to re-home the mum and her puppies. Millie is now in a foster home with a couple in another building and one of her puppies is adopted by a family living just three floors apart.

7. Naji, a male greyhound is dumped at the doorstep of the Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre in Ras Al Khaimah. The dog is extremely malnourished and has a bad case of ascites (fluid retention in the abdomen due to poor nutrition). He has several open wounds with maggots in them and is suffering from Ehrlichia - a tick borne disease. The welfare centre soon begins treatment of the dog with a vet. Fluid from his abdomen is drained out and he is nothing but a skeleton. Unfortunately, despite all efforts taken by the vet, the dog dies.

8. An adult male husky – Whisper - is kept inside a puppy carrier by his pet owner. The dog is rescued from the owner by Animal Action – Abu Dhabi who claims the husky is only four months old. A visit to the vet, however, reveals Whisper is all of two years and is the runt of his litter. The husky is malnourished and looks terribly frightened. He squeezes into his carrier to feel safe every now and then. The dog is now receiving treatment and is showing signs of improved social behaviour. 

9. A mixed-breed female desert dog is found by a passerby in the Al Khawaneej area with a wire around its neck. She is being chased by children who beat her and pelt her with stones. The dog is rescued by the passerby who takes her to Modern Veterinary Clinic in Jumeirah. The dog suffers horrific wounds as the wire slices into her neck tissues. The incision from the wire rips her trachea muscles so badly that a few millimeters deeper could have proved fatal.

10. A maid living in a villa in Jumeirah is seen carrying a cat and her kittens in a bin liner and is seen dumping them in a garbage bin. A neighbour calls Feline Friends to rescue the cats. The neighbour unfortunately fails to report the matter to relevant authorities for fear of being recognised by the maid. The rescued cats are malnourished and have been left starving.

Note: Case-studies provided by Animal Action – Abu Dhabi, Feline Friends, Modern Veterinary Clinic, Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre and some compiled by XPRESS research
An empty stomach the key to less grumpy sheep

Tuesday 9 September 2014 11:06AM

        Inside the shearing shed Image: Sheep are placed in an unnatural position to be shorn (Lauren Waldhuter)   

Shearers say extending the time sheep are kept off food and water before shearing could reduce animal mistreatment.

The Shearing Contractors Association of Australia says sheep with full stomachs are harder to handle because they are uncomfortable being forced onto their rump and back.

'You know yourself what it's like if you go out for a big meal and then come home and squat down and sit in a very unnatural position.'

He says 'one of the things mentioned consistently by shearers and shearing contractors is their frustration towards woolgrowers when presented with full sheep that have not been fasted
sufficiently prior to shearing.'

Mr Letchford says shearers sometimes view this as a 'lack of respect for the very hard task they have to do and when someone is too lazy or complacent and presents those sheep in too short a period since they've last eaten, the shearer's just upset.'

He says occasionally this frustration can result in a shearer being rough or cruel to a sheep.

SCAA secretary Jason Letchford says while the shearers' award calls for a minimum of four hours off food and water prior to shearing, that should be extended to 20 hours.

He says while a 20 hour fasting period is not a silver bullet, it is in line with standard practice in New Zealand's wool industry.

New Zealand department of labour guidelines state that full sheep may 'kick and struggle more during shearing and can cause hazardous conditions in the woolshed by passing more faeces and urine'.

However the guidelines also cite farmers' concerns that prolonged periods off feed prior to shearing can affect growth rates and cause metabolic problems.

The New Zealand guidelines state that a ewe that is neither pregnant nor lactating should spend no less than 20 hours and no more than 32 hours off feed prior to shearing.

The ewe should spend no less than 12 hours and no more than 24 hours without water prior to shearing.

These recommendations also apply to adult male sheep.

Jason Letchford says 'horrific' videos of cruelty published two months ago by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals illustrate the need for a wide ranging code of practice within the wool industry.

Alan McGufficke, a woolgrower at Cooma and a former shearer, says on his farm sheep are emptied out for at least 16 hours before shearing.

Chair of the National Animal Welfare Steering Committee, Professor Alan Tilbrook, says sheep are probably OK for 1-2 days without water but he emphasises that rigorous research around this is lacking.

'The impact of time off water will vary with age, physiological status such as pregnancy, health status and, of course, the local environment especially temperature and humidity.'

The RSPCA says it's concerned about the potential of a lengthy time off feed adding to the cumulative stressors associated with shearing.

A spokeswoman says the RSPCA 'looks forward to being consulted over the development of a shearing code of practice where proposals such as this can be properly examined in the light of the available science'.
Farmers told to stop fighting animal welfare activists and offer PETA an olive branch: risk communication expert

Australian agriculture needs to stop fighting animal activist groups like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and instead, publicly validate some of their concerns.

That is the view of Professor Peter Sandman, a leading New York based, risk-communication consultant who has worked with governments and consulted on the recent Ebola outbreak.

"Probably the single most common mistake is to talk too much and listen too little," said Mr Sandman.

"When it's your turn to talk, acknowledge some of the ways in which they are right.

  Australian ag told told to work with activists. height=467 Photo: Australian agriculture is getting it wrong when responding to animal welfare issues.  (Jeremy Story Carter) 
"You find things to validate in their complaints."

A number of agricultural industries have recently become engaged in combative public debate with activist groups such as PETA.

Mr Sandman says too often, those industries allow their own emotions and sense of outrage to colour their response.

"The single biggest barrier to my persuading the client to be responsive is the client's own outrage," he said.

"If the company can think calmly, it will manage its stakeholders' outrage instead of expressing its own."

In the recent example of welfare abuse claims against the wool industry, social media was central in inflaming the issue and pushing it into broader mainstream consciousness.

While Mr Sandman suggests that social media is an ideal forum for exacerbating outrage, that only makes it a more crucial avenue for industries to respond through.

"One of the problems my corporate clients have is they don't want to respond on social media, and they don't want to let their middle-managers respond on social media.

"They are letting activist groups with an agenda dominate the social media presence," he said. 

People don’t trust the idea that your industry is going to do the right thing on its own, because you’re saints.  Risk communication expert Peter Sandman.

"When PETA puts a video on Youtube, millions of people are going to watch that video.

"They are not senior PETA people, they're just people and they're watching to see how you're going to respond to the fanatics."

In addition to continually working toward achieving better animal welfare records, Mr Sandman says Australian agriculture needs to work closer with animal rights groups.

"Think about working with PETA.

"Ask PETA to sit on your advisory board. If they say no, let it be on their head," he said.

"People don't trust the idea that your industry is going to do the right thing on its own, because you're saints."

"We are looking for evidence that you have noticed that you can't get away with the things you used to get away with."

  ABC Rural  By Jeremy Story Carter   

Updated 9 Sep 2014, 10:55amTue 9 Sep 2014, 10:55am

 Shocking images show Coolup cow cruelty

Local resident Dawn Stancer said she was driving past the land when she noticed several dead, decomposing cows and malnourished cattle, including calves.

“The first one we saw was a little baby calf with faeces all over it and it was really skinny,” Ms Stancer said.

“That’s when we stopped and got out of the car.

“We saw a really sick cow that couldn’t even get up.

“There was the body of a calf and another calf that we thought was dead but was just too weak to move.

“It was horrible, there must have been 20 or more, we lost count.

“I was raised on farms, and to see all that was just so distressing.

“It makes me so angry that whoever owns them can let this happen.”

Shire of Murray chief executive officer Dean Unsworth said Shire rangers attended the property last Monday and immediately called the RSPCA.

He said the RSPCA confirmed on Tuesday that the animal welfare complaint was being investigated.

“The Shire of Murray was saddened to learn of the recent neglect of cattle at a property in Coolup,” Mr Unsworth said. 

“The Shire will continue to provide all parties with assistance until the matter is resolved.”

The RSPCA said it was investigating the complaint.

“An inspector did attend the property this week and is currently working with the owner to address matters related to the cattle on the property,” they said.

Animal Justice Party state leader Katrina Love said authorities should step in when anyone is found to be neglecting animals, either domestic or commercial.

“I think people that are in the position of ownership of animals, whether a companion or livestock, have an obligation to care for those animals and at the very least provide them with feed, shelter and water,” she said.

On Wednesday the cattle were reportedly removed from the property and transferred to another nearby site.
Other (non-export) News / The cruel killing of wombats by Aussie landowners.
« Last post by WA Export News on September 05, 2014, 07:32:51 PM »
Law changes needed to stop cruel killing of wombats by landowners: Wombat Awareness Organisation   
  • Jordanna Schriever 
  •   The Advertiser 
  • September 05, 2014 12:00AM
  1      Farmer Vince Critchley with rescued wombat Noah at Rockleigh. Picture: Simon Cross height=366   Farmer Vince Critchley with rescued wombat Noah at Rockleigh. Picture: Simon Cross 
        Wire near a wombat burrow. The wire has now been removed. height=421   Wire near a wombat burrow. The wire has now been removed. 

WOMBATS are being buried alive by landholders barricading their burrows, which is suffocating them underground, according to an organisation established to protect the animals.
Brigitte Stevens, from the Wombat Awareness Organisation, is calling for legislation to protect the burrows of southern hairy-nosed wombats and prevent the furry natives from being suffocated to death.

She said the latest reports of wombats being buried alive occurred last week at a property near Cambrai, about half an hour south-east of Angaston, where burrows appeared to have been filled in and wire placed near their entrances.

“Because they are not protected, there’s nothing really that can be done,” she said.

She said it was “virtually impossible” to prove wombats had been buried alive, because it would require entering private property to dig out of burrows — something she was not allowed to do without permission.

“It takes up to 21 days for them to suffocate and die, which is really horrible,” she said.

While destruction permits to control wombat populations can be obtained, but the permits call for adults to be humanely shot, not buried alive

Landholders may only apply for destruction permits for wombats if non-lethal measures — such as marking the location of active burrows, installing wombat gates in fences and making changes to fencing — have been tried and have not been successful.

Dairy farmer Vince Critchley, who rents the land to the Wombat Awareness Organisation and its 40 wombats, said the few farmers who act inappropriately towards the wombats and fill in burrows were giving others a bad reputation.

“This is something that could hurt our export markets,” he said.

“If a customer in Belgium or Japan sees that’s the way we treat our natives, it could impact upon our chances of selling to those markets, it produces a bad image of everyone, not just those who are responsible.

“I find it really disappointing that somebody would actually do that.”

Mr Critchley, who has been farming for more than 25 years, said the wombats caused less destruction than kangaroo populations, ate less grass than sheep and kept rabbits and foxes away.

Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin district manager Justin Holmes said staff, including a southern hairy-nosed wombat expert, had visited the properties to investigate the allegations but found “disturbance in the ground consistent with the removal of a stump”.

But Ms Stevens said photos taken of the same property during last summer’s fires showed the same burrows, and no stump that needed to be removed.

Mr Holmes said new fencing work on the property was “wombat-friendly” and “a good example of a landholder living with wildlife”.

“One entrance to the burrow system had some wire nearby, but it was not preventing wombat movement,” he said.
“Wherever possible, landholders are encouraged to live with wombats and to recognise the importance of conserving the species in South Australia,” he said.

“However, wombat burrows can damage farm infrastructure such as buildings, fences and water tanks, and create significant hazards for machinery in fields which pose safety risks to operators.”
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