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Time for witnesses to have a legal obligation to report animal cruelty   
  •   The Weekly Times 
  • September 05, 2014 4:16PM
       Image: PETA height=366   Image: PETA
RECENT debates about animal cruelty have been heavily focused on the role of people who film without permission in agricultural facilities — most recently in shearing sheds and abattoirs — and then publish their footage online or via the media.

Sadly, the fate of the animals involved seems to have been lost in this debate.

So too has the fact, that in many cases of animal cruelty captured on camera, there are already eyewitnesses to the events being filmed.

The acts of senseless brutality on defenceless sheep exposed in footage from 19 Australian shearing sheds last month should have shocked the nation.

What it showed was totally unacceptable and is now under investigation by the RSPCA. But instead the debate became focused on the messenger and the message itself was lost.

The fact that others on the shearing line did not act to prevent such cruelty is something that we should all reflect on.

It should not have to take a person with a camera — anyone witnessing animal cruelty has a moral responsibility to report it to the relevant authorities.

But there are some people who, by the nature of their role, are in position of responsibility for the care and protection of animals.

These people are required to know what animal cruelty is and when action should be taken.

Changes need to be made to legislation to require the mandatory reporting of animal cruelty by such people.

Under mandatory reporting requirements, people who are in a position of responsibility for animal welfare would have a legal obligation to report it.

Increased reporting of animal cruelty will help improve awareness of what constitutes animal cruelty and create a culture where abuse and neglect is not tolerated.

Yes it will take funding, training and public education to put this proposal into place but the Australian community expects nothing less.

Anyone witnessing animal cruelty should act on their moral responsibility and report it, but it’s time for those people in a position of responsibility for animal welfare to have a legal obligation to report animal cruelty.

Heather Neil is the chief executive of RSPCA Australia
 RSPCA calls for more farmer commitment for mulesing alternatives 

ABC Rural  Lisa Herbert and Harry Crawford 

Updated 28 Aug 2014, 9:41amThu 28 Aug 2014, 9:41am

    Mulesed Merino Sheep height=227 Photo: A mulesing alternative is still several years away (Laurissa Smith)   

 Australian Wool Innovation has met with animal welfare groups to brief them on their progress finding alternatives to mulesing.

The process involves cutting excess skin from a sheep's backside to reduce fly strike; a problem which costs growers $300 million a year.

Geoff Linden, productivity manager in animal welfare for AWI, says alternatives could include breeding for breach strike resistance and skin traction technology.

“The welfare assessments that we’ve done on both are really quite encouraging,” he said.     

Audio: Geoff Linden from AWI and the RSPCA's Melina Tensen discuss the potential for ending mulesing (ABC Rural) Despite AWI spending $27 million since 2005 researching other methods, a feasible option is still thought to be years away.

In the meantime, the RSCPA has called for a greater commitment from wool growers to introduce breeding strategies to reduce susceptibility to fly strike among their flock.

Scientific officer for farm animals Melina Tensen conceded that this would be unlikely to happen overnight, however.

“A breeding strategy from what we understand can take about 10 years so the sooner wool growers start, the better,” she said.
Symposium Explores Future of Farm Animal Welfare

25 July 2014 

UK - CABI, together with the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), London, held a symposium marking the 50th anniversary of Ruth Harrison’s influential Animal Machines – a book that heralded an entire movement in farm animal welfare and the welfare of animals in intensive production.

The symposium, Animal Machines of the Future, was the third CABI Symposium on Animal Welfare and Behaviour, and also launched the new book Dilemmas in Animal Welfare, by Appleby, Sandoe and Weary. CABI is a scientific publisher and animal health and welfare are among its key areas of specialisation.

Experts speaking at the event asked what Ruth Harrison would make of farm animal welfare 50 years on. In a lively debate, they concluded she would have supported progress such as EU bans on veal crates, sow stalls and barren battery cages, but disappointed with the slow speed at which improvements are being made, especially in countries outside the EU. Chairing the discussion panel of international experts was Martin Whiting of the RVC.

The symposium was opened by Mike Appleby of World Animal Protection, who analysed issues such as ‘animal and machines’, ‘animals as machines’ and ‘animals and the machinery of governance’.

In his talk, he compared the improvement of animal welfare to “climbing the infinite stairway.” He spoke about the Animal Protection Index, which will provide a key reference to the state of animal welfare in 50 major livestock producing countries. Considering future developments, Dr Appleby noted: “Global communications are a real catalyst for change in improving animal welfare.”

Peter Sandoe from the University of Copenhagen spoke about the effect of the Brambell report, which came about as a direct consequence of the publication of Animal Machines, and has gone on to shape legislation in the UK and EU. He concluded that whereas legislation has had a very positive effect on animal welfare in some parts of the world, it has made little progress in others.

Animal welfare from the perspective of a large food company was presented by Dr Jen Walker of Dean Foods, one of the largest processors of milk in the USA.

She commented that: “The increasing importance of animal welfare to consumers, and the need to protect brands and build consumer trust, means that companies are more frequently taking a lead role in animal welfare initiatives.”

She also noted that improving human-animal interaction is the most important way to raise welfare standards in animal production.

Looking at the big picture of livestock production in terms of economics, health, climate change, food security, ethics and sustainability, Dr Tara Garnett of the Food Climate Research Network discussed alternative scenarios for future livestock production and their potential impact on future animal welfare.

In the final presentation, Professor Don Broom spoke about sentience - “Having the awareness and cognitive ability necessary to have feelings” - and how this will shape the animal welfare debate. The issue of sentience will bring animal welfare into areas such as fish and crustacean production, where, until now, there has been very little consideration of welfare.

ThePigSite News Desk
   Arin Greenwood

Animal Welfare Editor,
The Huffington Post   

Animals Are More Than Mere Things. Let's Treat Them That Way   

Posted:  07/21/2014 10:07 am EDT           Updated:  07/22/2014  4:59 pm EDT           

        Arturo the polar bear has been called the "world's saddest animal." He's locked up, alone and hot in an Argentinian zoo, and if you can look at photos of him and not feel like something is terribly, terribly wrong, then you are a lot more hardhearted than Newt Gingrich, who's among the thousands of people calling for change.But while some people see Arturo's situation as anomalous -- an instance of particular, unusual cruelty -- an increasing number of others see zoos themselves as inherently problematic, and argue that even the best-funded, most conservation-minded institutions in which animals are kept on display should go the way of the dodo.

New York Magazine, for example, recently had an excellent piece, "The Case for the End of the Modern Zoo," making the case that "the whole animal captivity picture" has become distasteful to people in the mainstream in the last couple of years, since the documentary Blackfish exposed the horrors of Tillikum the killer whale's life at SeaWorld:

"But the case against SeaWorld always seemed a little narrowly construed. If it was an abomination to keep a killer whale in a tiny cage, then why was it okay to keep a polar bear in a similarly restrictive enclosure? Sure, SeaWorld's marketing is particularly crass, but if the basic problem is that intelligent, social animals are being kept in inhumane conditions that may be driving them insane, then shouldn't that same principle apply to other species, too? It's hard to think that SeaWorld should be put out of business and not have complicated thoughts about the National Zoo. You can't just stop at the orca; you've got to consider the orangutan."

Following this logic, why stop at the orangutan? Why not also the dog, and the cow, the pig and the fish?

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If we start from the premise that knowing more, and caring more, about animals' emotional as well as physical well-being leads to changes in the way we treat them -- the New York Magazine piece ends with the prediction that "we're pretty rapidly reaching the end of the era of the modern urban zoo" -- then where do we end? No animals in captivity whatsoever? No pets?

With my cat hovering around the computer keyboard, swatting at my fingers, and my dog snoring at my feet, I bring this question -- which, I think, is much more than academic; there are almost 70 million animals kept as pets in the United States -- to dolphin scientist and influential animal welfare advocate Lori Marino, who says that, "well, like all things, it is complex. Do we let termites chew our houses down? Do we not kill bacteria that make us sick? Do we not drive our cars because we might run over a squirrel?"

Marino -- who is a vegetarian, but has a pet cat who is not -- has been instrumental in changing the public perception of dolphin exhibits, and she's worked with the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group arguing that chimpanzees' intelligence and self-awareness means they should be thought of as more than mere property under the law, and that courts ought to order them free from captivity.

She tells me she thinks that the question of how an animal should be treated comes down to what that kind of animal is actually like. It's not that animals should never be kept in captivity, then, but that we need to be careful about which animals we keep in captivity, and how.

"Large, roaming, socially complex mammals do poorly in zoos. Small animals can thrive in zoos," she says. "It just depends upon whether you can replicate their natural habitat. But, I think, on principle, the idea of controlling someone else' life for one's profit is unappetizing."
elephant circus
Italy's Alessia Dell'Acqua, tamer of elephants in Rony Roller's Circus, performs during the show, in a suburb of Rome on June 7, 2013, as part of their Summer Tour. Photo credit: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images
Georgetown University philosophy professor Bryce Huebner, who writes about animals, neuroscience and ethics, says he, too, doesn't see bright lines when thinking about where our concern for animals will take us.

"The issues are going to be different though for different animals, and the further we move away from humans, the harder it gets to say what an animal can be happy with, what if can tolerate, and what if will find insufferable," he says. "Perhaps a sardine doesn't care whether it's in open water or in a well apportioned aquarium. But an orca that's been stolen from its family, had all of social relationships destroyed, and kept in a relatively small enclosure -- for no reason besides entertaining people -- is probably miserable and depressed!"

But what about my pets? Are the cat at my keyboard and the dog dozing below suffering, by being kept as companions? (The dog certainly thinks he has it bad sometimes; but really, just when we're paying attention to the cat.)

Phew, no. Marino and Huebner both says that pets may still be acceptable, since "most animals kept as pets are domesticated and are adapted to living with humans," which is "very different from forcing a wild animal to live among humans," as Marino puts it.

"Most people think that if an animal is born in captivity then he is domesticated," she says. "No. Even a fifth generation polar bear born in a zoo is a wild animal."
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Of course the complications don't end there. The pet cat has to eat, and that cat's going to be eating meat. And lots of humans, even those who love animals very much, also enjoy a good steak.

The Humane Society estimates that about 9.1 billion farm animals are slaughtered every year in the U.S. alone. To that, the very patient Marino tells me that she thinks people who ignore factory farming now will one day have to confront that cruelty.

It seems possible -- preferable -- to make sure that the lives of these animals, before they are on the table, are better. Marino says it's even more preferable for humans to eat no meat at all.
"I don't think most people want to know about it because that would ruin their enjoyment of their meals and barbecues," Marino says. "I think that there has to come a time when we rethink our whole stance or relationship with the other animals."

"But in the case of cats, who are carnivores, I am not willing to impose that same restriction on them if it means risking their health," she says. "So, in the case of carnivores who need to eat, then the animals should be raised as humanely as possible.  It is a tough one, isn't it? There really isn't a 'one size fits all' answer."
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My whole life, you may not be surprised to learn, I've been obsessed with furry little beings. I became a vegetarian at age six, once I realized where burgers came from, which was fine. But  even my extremely tolerant parents were not happy when I told them that the title of my bat mitzvah speech was going to be "Animals Are People, Too."

"Why," my mother beseeched at the time, "why can't you talk about how much you love your parents, like you're supposed to?"

It's about 28 years later. I'm still a vegetarian -- though I eat fish, since I spent a long time living on an island where veggie burgers were scarce; every decision is a weighing of tradeoffs, once you go down this route of caring about animal welfare without becoming a Jain -- and today, let me say thank you to my mom and dad. I love you very much!

I'm also feeling optimistic that others are coming around to thinking that, if not people, too -- and it's not like being a person is just automatically great shakes, anyway -- that animals are at least more than mere property, to do with as we will, with no regard for their experience of the world, their pleasures and their pains.

If farm animals aren't yet protected by anti-cruelty laws, and 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters across the country each year, and the Nonhuman Rights Project has not yet convinced a judge to grant "personhood" status to a chimpanzee, and Arturo the polar bear is counting on the likes of Newt Gingrich to help get him out of the heat for his remaining time on earth, we've also got Esther.

Esther is the pig, cuddling with the dog, up at the top of this page. She's a 500 pound house pet, who lives with a Canadian couple, and their little menagerie of dogs and cats, just outside Toronto.

The couple came to be Esther's owners accidentally -- they thought they were getting a teacup pig, then surprise! -- but their unexpected, wonderful life with this giant, affectionate, friendly girl got them wanting to do good for other animals, especially those who belong to species that people don't ordinarily think of as beings, rather than things, whose well-being does not need to be taken into account. With these animals, people don't normally calculate tradeoffs. They simply do what they want to them. But I think that might change.

Not very long ago, perfect strangers gave Esther's family more than $400,000 to start a  sanctuary for animal refugees from the food industry.

$400,000! Because of this, and more -- like the people I see working to improve the lives of shelter pets, so that they can live out the lives we bred them to enjoy, and because Marino is working so hard on behalf of dolphins, and because the National Zoo's enclosures are largely so expansive that you often hear visitors complaining that they can't even see the animals -- I'm hopeful that we are at least moving toward a place where more of us see animals as beings whose lives are worthy of respect.

We might not have to close the zoos. It might be enough to open our eyes.
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Just to bring us back full circle, I asked the National Zoo's director Dennis Kelly if he agrees that his institution would be no longer be in existence within the two and a half decades that New York Magazine predicts. He said, unsurprisingly, no, in a statement sent by email that I thought sounded very reasonable, if slightly canned:

"The Smithsonian's National Zoo is celebrating our 125th anniversary this year and we fully expect future generations to celebrate the 200th anniversary and beyond. One of the most fascinating aspects of the zoo profession is that it keeps evolving. With a mission to save species and the Smithsonian commitment to understand and maintain biodiversity, our work will always be challenging and changing as technology and science advances."

He continued to say that one of "the most fascinating aspects of the zoo profession is that it keeps evolving," and that it is "hard to describe today" what the zoo will look like in decades hence, but that "we will always be committed to creating state-of-the-art facilities and exhibits that inspire visitors and continue as a leader in cutting-edge conservation science."

As for that conservation science, Kelly touted the zoo's conservation efforts with species such as "the black-footed ferret, golden lion tamarins, giant pandas, Przewalski's horses and many more."

My goodness, I love giant pandas, like the National Zoo's panda cub Bao Bao, who will be celebrating her first birthday in August. Is there anyone outside of a few cranky columnists who wouldn't be persuaded that zoos should stay open, if only to keep the otherwise rather doomed giant panda population reproducing, sometimes with the help of some rather kinky looking aids?
panda researcher base
Giant panda cub Tao Tao is the first animal to be subjected to the program involving feeders who perform routine checks dressed in special costumes as pandas, to reduce human influence in the environment. Photo credit: China Photos/Getty Images

Marino says she still doesn't buy it. "That's the big argument the zoos make. They want the public to think that a natural life is so absolutely horrible that any animal would be more than happy to be in a zoo. Existence of a species only in captivity is functional extinction," she says. "We have to co me to grips with the fact that we do not have the right to see and touch everything and everyone on the planet."

This piece originally said 9.1 million, instead of billion, farm animals are slaughtered each year. Thanks to eagle-eyed reader @geekrebel for pointing out the mistake!
Pork industry welcome RSPCA's call for mandatory reporting of animal cruelty 

ABC Rural  Lucy Barbour

 Updated about 4 hours ago Mon 25 Aug 2014, 

    Pork industry welcomes RSPCA mandatory animal cruelty reporting height=227  Photo: The Australian pork industry says the RSPCA's calls for mandatory reporting of animal cruelty are a welcome move in improving animal welfare on farms. (Australian Pork Limited)
The Australian pork industry has welcomed calls by the RSPCA for states and territories to legislate mandatory reporting of animal cruelty.

The RSPCA wants government to make it illegal for anyone working with animals, including farmers, saleyard operators and vets, not to report incidents of animal abuse.

Chief executive of Australian Pork Limited, Andrew Spencer, says it could prevent activists from withholding footage of animal cruelty for long periods of time.     

Audio: Mixed reaction from farm sector to RSPCA's call for mandatory reporting of animal cruelty (ABC Rural) "I guess it needs to be looked at from a legal point of view, how to legislate, how it fits into the various different types of legislation in the states," he said.

"But in principle, cruelty's cruelty, if you do it or if you see it, you have an obligation under the law to either stop doing it or to report, or do something about fixing it."

The National Farmers' Federation says it supports any attempt to improve animal welfare in the farm sector.

But NFF president Brent Finlay says he needs more time to consider the RSPCA's proposal.

"We're always concerned about more legislation and we're trying to get as much legislation that impacts on farming removed," he said.

"But where legislation is required, obviously we will look at it."

Sheep farmer and NSW Farmers' Association New England representative, James Jackson from Guyra, on the Northern Tablelands of NSW, says he's concerned about how far the penalties could go.

"These situations often involve quite fragile human situations...people are in a fragile mental state, and you don't want people suiciding after an intervention and people being publicly humiliated," he said.

"Ultimately what we want is good outcomes for the animals, but we don't want bad outcomes for the people."
Live Export News Updates / Decency toward animals. Good read
« Last post by WA Export News on August 23, 2014, 11:36:58 PM »
 The unbearable rightness of being vegan     

The connections between veganism and feminism seem so clear to me to now, I wonder how it is that I didn’t see them until only three years ago. That’s when, after 16 years of convincing myself I was ‘doing enough’ as a vegetarian, I finally became a fully-fledged vegan.

I was already a self-identified feminist, and a vocal one at that, writing on women’s issues for some of Australia’s best-known websites and newspapers. Our treatment of animals is a terrible betrayal of their innocence, their dependency and their helplessness. It is also a betrayal of ourselves – of our own humanity and compassion. But concern for animal welfare should not be used as an excuse for racism because ‘othering’ has a devastating impact on us all, writes Ruby Hamad.22 August 2014

To put it most simply, I am a feminist because I believe everyone has the right to live their lives as they see fit. And while I certainly cared about animals enough to not eat their flesh, I always thought of vegetarianism as an issue completely separate, and, to be honest, lesser to that of, human rights and feminism.

That all changed in 2011 when two things happened. The first was in January when I came across a news story in the Sydney Morning Herald titled, ‘Bobby Calves Endure the Milk of Human Cruelty.’ The report described how ‘surplus’ calves (bred to make their mothers lactate) were routinely slaughtered at just five days old. Even worse, some farmers wanted new regulations allowing them not to feed the calves for the last 30 hours of their painfully short lives.

As RSPCA spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said at the time, ‘We're talking about a five-day-old calf, and that's (more than) a sixth of its life that you don't feed it.’

Since I was already a vegetarian because I believed humans did not have the right to hurt and kill animals for our own gratification, I knew that in order to bring my actions in line with my ethics, I had to withdraw my financial support from all industries profiting from animal cruelty.

And the more I looked into it, the more I realised that, as a feminist it was the right thing to do. The exploitation of animals mirrors the historical exploitation of women in many ways. Dairy cows, for example, are regularly separated from their calves (with the effect on both being agonising), much as throughout history women from minority races and lower classes have had (and continue to have) their children taken away from them.

In both cases the assurances given are the same: They don’t love them like us. They won’t remember them like us. They are not us.

Going vegan felt like a momentous change that would impact on my relationships, so I decided I would transition slowly, giving myself six months to eliminate all food, clothing, beauty, and household products made from or tested on animals.

I was still in this ‘transition’ phase when the second thing happened. This was something that will resonate with many Australians: the live animal export scandal exposed by advocacy group Animals Australia.

On May 31, 2011, the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast ‘A Bloody Business’, an investigation into live cattle exports to Indonesia. As many reading this would be aware, the footage that emerged was among the most disturbing evidence of animal abuse ever recorded.

The large animals had no idea they were supposed to sit meekly as they were readied for slaughter. Instead they bellowed loudly, thrashing wildly in fear and agony as frustrated slaughterhouse workers beat them, whipped them, broke their tail bones, gouged out their eyes, and flushed water up their nostrils, all to make the confused animals comply.

There is no way to humanely kill an animal that wants to live, and those cows wanted to live. That is the most haunting aspect of all. The sight of their thudding chests, their futile attempts to escape, but most of all the questioning in their eyes.

Why me? They seemed to be imploring.

Why them?

Because they are powerless. That is what it comes down to. Humans can do anything we want to animals because there is nothing they can do to stop us.

And that, right there, is the common thread linking all forms of oppression: wielding power over others who are weaker and cannot challenge their exploitation.

 Humanity's true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -Milan Kundera (author, The Unbearable Lightness of Being) Milan Kundera’s words haunt me whenever I think about that footage, or indeed, any form of animal abuse. Our treatment of animals is a terrible betrayal. Of their innocence, their dependency, their helplessness.

But it is also betrayal of ourselves. Of our own humanity and compassion. The unyielding cruelty in that footage spurred me to abandon my ‘transition’ to veganism and become a strict vegan overnight.

I wasn’t the only Australian to be affected by that footage. Butchers reported a drop in meat sales as Animals Australia and campaign director Lyn White became household names.

Animal cruelty is endemic across cultures
But sadly, many Australians were unable to connect their own actions to what was happening in those far-off slaughterhouses.

Things may not look exactly like that in our own abattoirs at home but animal rights groups frequently reveal welfare breaches here too, such as the 2012 undercover footage of Wally’s Piggery in Victoria that revealed pigs were being clubbed to death with sledgehammers with other pigs looking on, cowering.

A 2010 state government review of NSW’s red meat abattoirs found that every single slaughterhouse failed basic welfare standards.

In an industrialised system, animal cruelty is not so much an aberration as it is an industry model. It is impossible to meaningfully consider the welfare of animals when the aim is to kill as many of them in as short a time as possible.

But, rather than use live export cruelty as an opportunity to look within, the overriding response from Australians was to demonise Indonesia and, more broadly, Islam.

Yes, those images were hideous. But not because of Islam’s halal slaughter requirements.

It’s true that Islam requires animals to be conscious at the time of slaughter in order for their consumption to be considered halal (permissible).

But contrary to popular belief, stunning is not off limits. Many halal-approved slaughterhouses in Australia and Muslim countries across the world stun animals immediately prior to slitting their throats.

It may be hard for many to grasp in the wake of this and other images coming out of Muslim slaughterhouses but Islam actually has a long tradition of respect and care towards animals.

 The Qur'an even promises a reward for those who treat animals kindly: ‘He who takes pity even on a sparrow and spares its life, God will be merciful to him on the Day of Judgement.’

In regards to animal slaughter, the strict requirements were actually designed to minimise, not increase, animal distress. According to the Qur’an, it is haram (forbidden) to:
  •        Tie or bind an animal during or prior to its slaughter.
  •        Kick or beat an animal.
  •        Kill an animal within sight of another animal.
  •        Slaughter an animal with a dull knife.
Clearly, all of these conditions were being flaunted in Indonesia, just as they are in other so-called halal slaughterhouses. So what went wrong?

Exactly what goes ‘wrong’ in every other slaughterhouse across the world: the industrialised nature of animal agriculture combining with our sense of human superiority.

We have failed animals because we treat them, not as beings, but as things. To us they are merely commodities, units of production. I have read that one US pig farming manual even instructs farmers to ‘forget it’s an animal.’

Racism hiding behind animal welfare concerns
But what I saw after the scandal, and what I still see today, are people masking racism and bigotry behind a concern for animals. Sometimes that concern is actually genuine; other times it is a convenient excuse.

In the years since the screening of ‘A Bloody Business’, mainstream opposition to halal slaughter has grown in Australia, ignorant of the fact that the majority of these slaughterhouses do stun.

Fast-food companies such as KFC are targeted, not for their general contribution to animal suffering, but specifically for serving halal meat in certain outlets.

This bigotry is not limited to Islam. Any culture or country that is deemed to have worse standards of animal welfare is considered ‘savage’. China and South Korea are called ‘barbaric’ for eating cats and dogs while Japan is scorned for its whale and dolphin consumption.

While I am not defending those countries treatment of animals, I believe this response is the worst way to approach animal advocacy because it ignores the links between animal and human oppressions.

The first stage in any oppression is to ‘otherise’ the group you want to exploit, stripping them of any attributes that make them worthy of moral consideration. We ‘otherise’ animals by claiming they cannot suffer or feel emotions ‘like us.’ We say they are less intelligent, less self-aware, so different to us, so fundamentally unequal, that it is acceptable for us to do with them as we like.

But this process is replicated in human on human oppression too. As Kundera was implying, our complete otherisation of animals is where our oppression of each other stems.

‘Othering’ impacts us all
All forms of oppressions intersect; they all originate from the belief that other groups are lesser than us. Animals are regarded as so far beneath humans that we can eat them, wear them, use them for entertainment, and experiment on them.

But in doing this to animals, we made it possible to do it to ourselves. Human oppressions came about precisely because certain groups of humans, including women, Africans, and Indigenous Australians, were likened to animals.

As animal advocates, if we want to change the system that allows for animal exploitation, we must not adopt the tactics of the oppressors, and that includes not engaging in racism against those cultures who we feel hurt animals the most.

It is not always easy, but it is always right. It is tempting to veer into misanthropy, to hate other humans for their relentless cruelty and apathy towards those most at our mercy. But the second we use animal abuse as an excuse to direct hatred towards others, we have already lost.

To blame the live export debacle, which is an example of human greed trumping human compassion, simply on Muslims and their religion is to deny the institutionalised nature of animal exploitation worldwide.

It is a system that every country is part of. While some abuses may be more egregious than others, no country – certainly not ours – is innocent of blame.

Our own hands are drenched in the blood of innocent animals too. To merely blame ‘others’ is to create more barriers to human cooperation, which is precisely what we need to undo the oppressive system we have created.

Vegans who claim to be driven by compassion should be at the forefront of moves to eliminate racism and bigotry. Because until all living beings are free of exploitation, then the world will go on as it is, with all of us – animals and humans of all sexes, races and religions – suffering.

Ruby Hamad is an Australian writer focusing on feminism, intersectionality, race, and animal advocacy. She is a regular columnist for Fairfax’s Daily Life and a frequent contributor to ABC’s The Drum. With a particular passion for the intersection of feminism and animal rights, she is also an associate editor for The Scavenger. Connect with Ruby at:

This is an edited extract from Plant Powered Women: Pioneering Vegan Female Leaders Share Their Vision for a Healthier, Greener, Compassionate World, compiled by Kathy Divine.

It is available in paperback from all major online bookstores and as an e-book from Amazon.

Images: Newborn calf (top, Wikipedia commons); Live export, Indonesia 2011 (centre) courtesy of Animals Australia.
Details Published: 22 August 2014    Hits: 162   
Judith Durham joins outrage over elephant         
  • 1 hour ago August 23, 2014 12:29PM
JUDITH Durham has taken aim at a leading tax consultancy for using a performing elephant in a TV advertisement.

THE Seekers singer was horrified to discover bosses of H&R Block had commissioned a commercial featuring a Thai elephant specially painted to blend in with a background wall.
Durham has now written to the company's managing director Brodie Dixon urging him to pull the ad, insisting many animals used for filming are ill-treated.

In the note, sent via the animal rights advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the star writes: "I am dismayed to learn from my friends at PETA Australia that a new H&R Block commercial includes a scene with an elephant."

"I feel certain that it was a lack of understanding that led to this ill-conceived decision and I hope that after learning more about how elephants suffer when used as non-consenting "actors", you'll pull the ad without delay... Whatever reassurances you may have been given, no reputable sanctuary would hire out elephants as trained performers.

She said that Thailand was the world's largest promoter of elephant camps in which baby elephants are broken in in brutal circumstances. "I hope you are as appalled by this information as we all should be and act upon it by immediately pulling H&R Block's new advertisement," she said.

A spokesman for H&R Block referred AAP to a previous statement from the managing director and said the company would not be commenting further. In the statement in July, H&R block said the elephant's welfare was at the forefront of production processes.

The location for the commercial shoot had to be approved by a regulatory body and non-toxic paint was used, it said. "The elephant showed no signs of distress or discomfort at any point during the rehearsal or filming process," the company stated.
Other (non-export) News / Australian Egg Farm Exposed for Cruelty
« Last post by WA Export News on August 22, 2014, 07:53:36 PM »
      Australian Egg Farm Exposed for Cruelty

22 August 2014 

AUSTRALIA - A farm that supplies eggs to Australia's biggest egg producer has again been accused of multiple animal welfare breaches by an animal rights group.

Last year, Pace Farms was fined $3,000 for overcrowding in cages at the farm in Corowa, New South Wales.

Now the animal rights group Animals Australia claims hens are still living in appalling conditions and there are more hens per cage than regulations allow.

A complaint, supported by extensive visual evidence, has been lodged with the RSPCA.

Animals Australia said that dozens of birds, many in poor condition, were discovered abandoned in manure pits below the cages, without access to food or water.

The severely de-feathered animals appeared to be surviving on scraps, beetles and eggs.

Animals Australia said people will be shocked to learn that this facility is part of the egg industry's quality assurance programme, Egg Corp Assured, an endorsement that assures consumers that eggs are 'produced under strict guidelines' and with regard for 'hen health and welfare'.

However, while decrying cruelty to hens, the Australian Egg Corporation Ltd said that it believes the footage in the videos is old.

"That twice in fourteen months this facility has been found overstocking birds in cages, shows why industry auditing systems cannot be trusted," said Animals Australia Campaign Director, Lyn White.

"This case not only reinforces the cruelty of the battery cage but reveals why independent auditing is desperately needed given the ongoing failure of industry and government to enforce even the most basic standards."

The Australian Egg Corporation (AECL) said it does not support, in any way, farming practises resembling those in this footage nor the implications inferred in the footage and media article.

AECL is taking urgent action to ensure the farm complies with the industry quality assurance program, Egg Corp Assured (ECA).

AECL said it believes this footage is not current.

“It is a pity the footage wasn’t brought to AECL’s attention immediately for verification and checking. However we believe it has previously been brought to the attention of the RSPCA,” a spokesman for AECL said.

ECA farms are independently audited by third party certification bodies, such as SGS Australia and the BSI Group ANZ Pty Ltd, and are conducted annually. ECA also conducts unannounced or ‘spot’ audits and verification audits of ECA farms.

To be an ECA licensee, egg farmers agree to and must abide by the scheme rules and audit criteria. Egg farmers can and have had their ECA licence revoked if they are found to be non-compliant and do not take steps to rectify any non-compliance issues in a timely manner.

AECL takes this type of claim seriously and is acting swiftly in the interests of all ECA licensees and participants.

Animals Australia said animal protection groups are united in their call for the battery cage to be phased out.

"Continuing to confine millions of birds this way in Australia is indefensible, especially when other countries have long recognised and acted on this cruelty."

"You cannot look at these poor hens crammed together and morally justify the lives they are forced to lead. We bring these birds into this world only to suffer. Cage eggs may be cheaper, but it is the birds that are paying a dreadful price.

Animals Australia said the promised review of the battery cage is four years overdue, adding that in the absence of a ban, the only way Australians can ensure they are not supporting this type of cruelty is to not buy cage eggs.

This case is currently under investigation by the RSPCA.

Sydney surgeon sentenced for bashing ex-girlfriend's dog 

Date August 21, 2014 - 5:17PM    Emma Partridge

  Sydney surgeon  Nicolas Oddone leaves Downing Centre District Court after his sentencing hearing for bashing his former girlfriend's dog. Sydney surgeon  Nicolas Oddone leaves Downing Centre District Court after his sentencing hearing for bashing his former girlfriend's dog. Photo: Getty Images/Mark Nolan

A Sydney surgeon has been handed a two-year good behaviour bond after he broke more than a dozen ribs of his former girlfriend's papillon dog.

Oncologist and Macquarie University lecturer Nicolas Oddone was also fined $5000 and ordered to pay more than $15,000 in vet bills and legal costs on Thursday.

Oddone, 40, was found guilty of one count of animal cruelty last month after he severely beat Prinny, owned by the woman he was dating, at a Woolwich unit in June 2013.

  Prinny the papillon had more than a dozen ribs broken. Prinny the papillon had more than a dozen ribs broken.

The bashing also caused the dog to suffer a collapsed lung, internal bleeding and muscle damage, according to documents tendered by the RSPCA.

Magistrate Janet Wahlquist said the doctor escaped a more severe punishment of home detention or a suspended sentence only because of his previous good character and "generous treatment" he had given to financially strained patients.

During his sentencing at the Downing Centre Local Court, the prosecution argued the surgeon had beaten the three-kilogram dog because he was jealous about the amount of attention lavished on it by his former girlfriend. 

Ms Wahlquist said the beating was "seriously cruel" and was appalled that a helpless animal had been treated in such a way.

"This is a moment of great shame for you. You will suffer a considerable amount of contempt by members of the community," she said.

Oddone's lawyer said his client maintained his innocence but then went on to argue the actions were a "knee-jerk" reaction to the dog defecating on the carpet inside the unit.

"The little dog had issues with diarrhoea," his lawyer said.

"Mr Oddone had serious concerns about the [poo] as he had children aged one and three [crawling around]," he said.

"It was a single act, it wasn't ... repetitious actions."

He conceded the medical evidence tendered looked "terrible" but said his client was in the middle of a stressful situation and a relationship breakdown.

"[The dog] is now leading what one would call a normal life."

Oddone was convicted of bashing Prinny while the woman he was dating was in the shower.

The pair had been dating for five weeks and Oddone was separated from his wife at the time of the relationship.

A letter of support from his wife, with whom he has since reconciled, was tendered to court but she did not attend the proceedings.

Ms Wahlquist said she accepted the attack had not been planned but said it was a very serious offence that had left the dog with a changed character and the long-term effect of an out-of-place rib.

"I can't understand why you did this, being the member of the community that you are," she said, looking directly at Oddone.

The court heard Oddone was forced to close down his website after receiving a number of hate letters following the publication of his conviction.

Oddone left the Downing Centre through a back entrance and declined to comment to a waiting media pack outside.

The animal cruelty charge carried a maximum penalty of two years' jail and a fine of up to $22,000.

The RSPCA NSW is pleased with the result, a spokesman said.

"It sends a clear message to the community that animal cruelty will not be tolerated," said inspector Slade Macklin.
Cattle owner pleads guilty to failure to feed

20 August 2014

A Laanecoorie man, 63, has pleaded guilty to three animal cruelty offences relating to his failure to provide proper and sufficient feed to his cattle.

He was sentenced without conviction in Bendigo Magistrates Court and fined $5000, with costs of $128.92 awarded against him.

Department of Environment and Primary Industries Prosecutor Adrian Serratore told the court DEPI inspectors attended the producer's property in April and May 2013 and found two of his cattle dead.

The remaining herd of approximately 250 head was in an emaciated state and the calves were stunted and poorly grown.

Mr Serratore said despite inspectors having previously given the producer written advice on correct feeding requirements, the paddocks had little pasture and the supplementary feed that was being supplied was insufficient.

In sentencing, Magistrate Bruce Cottrill said he struggled to understand why the accused did not heed the advice provided by DEPI inspectors, saying that caring for animals was not rocket science.

He said in times of drought, owners should either get rid of their stock or provide them with proper and sufficient supplementary feed.

Mr Cottrill said these types of cases were distressing – not only for the animals involved, but for the general public as well.

He said if someone took on the task to care for animals, they had to do it responsibly.

DEPI District Veterinary Officer Rachael Holmes said producers needed to have contingency plans in place to deal with fluctuations in weather that could affect pasture growth.

"Producers need to make a decision to feed their livestock or reduce numbers. It is not acceptable to allow animals to lose so much condition that they become emaciated," Dr Holmes said.

"DEPI and the community take animal welfare seriously and this is a reminder to producers that they will be investigated and prosecuted if offences contrary to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 are detected."

For advice on how to look after animals or information on your responsibilities go to

The case was heard on 4 August 2014.
Contact Name:
Dale Webster
Contact Number: 0418 293 419

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