July 20, 2007


If (man) is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

Immanuel Kant
And that really says it all, that last bit. I'm an animal welfare person - used to like to make fun of PETA and will likely find the occasion to do so again. The dogfighting case against Michael Vick is very, very sick. Of course, dogfighting's been a problem long before the media pounced on this case of it. And now it's suddenly a big deal because a famous person's embroiled in the headlines, as I commented on a blog earlier today - forget which one. So, what does it all mean? Throw out the legal issue, and what does dogfighting mean?

My Internet is slow loading tonight, but eventually I found my way back to Outside the Beltway, where Steve Verdon posted this morning about the issue in a piece called Libertarianism and Child Pornography. Don't click through if you don't want to see a mangled dog. Whose name he gives - it's Gypsy.

Steve's piece attacks the view that dogs are just property, so what's the big deal. It's a debate I've had before, too, with a libertarian; this picture would have been my best argument. Brian and I have cats, and they're family. If someone broke into my house and smashed something, it better well not be a cat. Anything that has a personality is more than a simple piece of property. I visited PETA today to see what it had to say about the incident, and it goes a little something like this.

NFL star Michael Vick, of the Atlanta Falcons, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on felony dogfighting charges. Vick is charged with violating federal laws against competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting, and conducting the enterprise across state lines.

In a raid conducted on April 25 and 26, local and state law enforcement officials found 70 dogs—including at least 60 pit bulls and many dogs who reportedly were neglected, scarred, and malnourished—on quarterback Vick's rural Surry County, Virginia, property. Some of the animals evidently bear scars and injuries, and paraphernalia commonly associated with dogfighting—including a "rape stand"—are also said to have been found on the property.
Wow - reads just like the news. Criminy, I agree with PETA. Someone bring me an NRA magazine to balance the scale.

Point is - well, I opened the post with the point. We (humans) know better. Deep down we do.


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March 17, 2007

Cat and Dog Food Recall

Dogs and Cats Dying of Kidney Failure

A major manufacturer of dog and cat food sold under Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger and other store brands recalled 60 million containers of wet pet food Friday after reports of kidney failure and deaths.

An unknown number of cats and dogs suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, Menu Foods said in announcing the North American recall. Product testing has not revealed a link explaining the reported cases of illness and death, the company said.

"At this juncture, we're not 100 percent sure what's happened," said Paul Henderson, the company's president and chief executive officer. However, the recalled products were made using wheat gluten purchased from a new supplier, since dropped for another source, spokeswoman Sarah Tuite said. Wheat gluten is a source of protein.
Store brands of wet pet food appear to be the blame. I'll extend my lesson of buying quality brands to this instance, though I have to point out that the recent Con Agra debacle certainly breaks that law.

Just wanted everyone to be aware. This includes the Schuncks brand locally.


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August 31, 2004

Wild Animals

On Sunday morning, I arose at the lovely hour of 6:00 a.m. to prepare for the Annie's Frozen Custard Ride. It was a day that started as any other, but when I turned on the light upstairs in the kitchen and looked outside the back glass door, I had a visitor.

Said visitor stood very close to the glass on its hind legs, and it was quite tall. It also appeared upset but stood its ground. On first notice, I thought it was an evilly mutated version of my tabby cat Galt, but, no, alas, it was merely a free-standing raccoon.

After more thinking, I believe what I saw was the offspring of a dog. (Found on the Drudge Report)


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August 27, 2004

Pets and Property

I've long argued that pets are more than mere property and are closer to family members. I think this man would agree with me.
GAINESVILLE, Florida (AP) -- A man jumped in a pond and stabbed a 6-foot alligator with a pocketknife to force the reptile to release his dog from its jaws.

Matthew Goff, 29, said he was walking Sugar, a tan-colored bloodhound/Shar-Pei mix, in a park when the attack occurred Wednesday evening. The unleashed dog wandered to the edge of the pond, and the gator grabbed its head.

The gator released Sugar when Goff stabbed the reptile in the eye. The dog then ran home, escaping with three teeth marks on and about her head. Goff had a few scratches.
I'm glad Mr. Goff is okay. I am sure I would've done the same, although it's OBVIOUSLY not the common sense choice. 'Course my dog would've been on a leash...


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April 28, 2004

Gas Tax

Animals as a category? Yes.

I found this when Ryan forwarded me the link about the formerly hirsute sheep. (His name should've been Samson). Extreme Shearover, baby.

New Zealand has proposed a new gas tax.
New Zealand's farmers have criticised a proposed tax on the flatulence emitted by their sheep and cattle. The move is part of the Wellington government's action to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Scientists estimate that methane emitted by farm animals is responsible for more than half of the country's greenhouse gases.

Flatulence from cows, sheep and other ruminants is a serious environmental problem, accounting for about 15% of worldwide emissions of methane - one of the most potent of greenhouse gases.

Last year New Zealand signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, and agreed to reduce production of such gases.

The proposed flatulence tax is expected to raise NZ$8.4m a year ($4.9m) from next year.
How's it break down? Check out da cow pictorial.

I'd better not take my cat Aurora to New Zealand. She has that special signature way of letting you know she's around.

And, yes, Pixy, I do know this is close to home. I'm sorry - it just had to be blogged. And, you, Samson, quit emitting.


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January 24, 2004


If you're local, listen up.

Stray Rescue is sponsoring an animal adoption event on February 7, 2004 from 10 until 3 at the City pound. The aim is to save as many animals who are slated for gassing as possible. The animals are on the pound's "death row," if you will.

If you're considering bringing an animal (or two) into your family, do please come out and visit. This event is not yet on Stray Rescue's website. Quentin the miracle dog will be in attendance.


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August 18, 2003

Self-Actualizing Quentin

I posted about this before. Quentin is the dog who escaped his date with death by defying the dog pound's gas chamber. He was placed with Stray Rescue of St. Louis, and the director of this organization eventually adopted the dog.

This has raised the ire (probably because he has nothing else to write about) of Kevin Horrigan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist. The article is here.

Now, sampling Kevin's obra.

    I really hate to bring this up, what with the general jubilation over the happy non-ending for Quentin, the Miracle Dog, but is it really right that Quentin will spend the rest of his life as a public relations dog?
Okay. Whoa. Morals and animals, oh my, oh my. Is it "right" to put healthy animals to sleep simply because society doesn't have the sense to spay/neuter its pets? Wow, I don't think I want to go there. Next point.

    This is where Quentin's role as a PR-dog comes in. An organization called In Defense of Animals has hired him, for the cost of a $5,000 donation to the city pound, as a national spokesdog for the plight of stray animals. The money will be used to help hire a full-time veterinarian who can administer lethal injections at the pound.

    Two observations about that: One, unless the city can find a vet who works a lot cheaper than mine does, $5,000 isn't going to go very far. And two, what an awful job: "How'd your day go today, honey?" "Great, I killed 38 dogs." Quentin's new companion-human is Randy Grim, the founder of the Stray Rescue of St. Louis shelter, a man who pops Xanax for anxiety disorders but who has become a kind of Mother Teresa for stray animals. Quentin's new role will be as a celebrity, making public appearances around the country to raise money and awareness - a canine version of Fergie, the ex-Duchess of York.
Let's see. This is a DOG. I'm sure he's going to hate lots of attention from awestruck people who want to pet him and give him treats. Sure, 5k isn't much. But, last I checked, it's $4,999.99 more than a penny, which is a cent more than nothing.

And then there's that little matter of the ad hominem. SMEAR Randy Grim! Why? Because I can, says Horrigan. That man's job would make ME pop Xanax, too - so much heartbreak with unwanted animals.

And then comes the self-actualization part.

    Under the theory of dog fulfillment, tracking dogs like beagles or hounds should go to tracking classes, Labrador retrievers should be furnished with water and ducks, and French poodles should be furnished with a nice Bordeaux. Quentin is a Basenji mix, descended from African hunting dogs, so he should be taken out in the woods to hunt warthogs.
Geez. What next? Should my cats be given live mice in a controlled room with a dirt floor at least three times a week? I think they're faring just fine.

Maslow (and Pavlov) are turning over in their graves.

Mr. Horrigan - I'm certain, though I can't properly anthropomorphize a dog (doubtful you can either), that Quentin would choose life and petting over death and another gassing? You wanna try again with a new column?


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August 07, 2003

Every Dog Has His Day?

One certainly wouldn't think gas day at the animal shelter would be Quentin's day. The previously unnamed dog was locked in with 50 other animals, gassed, and survived.

How odd is this? It unnerves me - not that the dog survived, but to think of the horrors of this job. As an everyday American who takes responsibility for her pets (you know, neuters/spays, feeds, waters, lavishes affection, keeps them in her home and doesn't let them roam, doesn't return them to the animal shelter on the same whim as many who spontaneously decide it's time to "own" a pet). I can't stand to think of euthanasia of healthy animals. I've been exposed to the horrid choice of putting an animal to sleep twice now - both were too ill to survive on their own. It is the only experience nearly as gut wrenching as the death of a human loved one.

While Brian may scoff at the "animal lover whack jobs" (I believe he puts it that way) who strive for no-kill shelters, I really think that's ALL you can strive for, hope for, if you aim to effect change. It seems impossible because the American public is an irresponsible society. Still, any steps toward this goal are only positive.

Animals don't have inherent "rights," nor should they. But, to me, animals are more than mere property. They are living beings. A CD strewn carelessly across my floor is property. Any of my five cats is a family member. Perhaps certain laws may deal with both as something as narrow as "property," but I can promise you that there is a discrete distinction in my mind between the two. My cats are priceless. I'm not sure how to codify the distinction, and I am hopeful it will never matter to me. A year and a half when my home was broken into and the lower-level glass door was shattered, the first thing, once our safety was ensured, was to search for each of the cats. All remained. A true blessing.

This story strikes an emotional chord - cats and dogs often do with me. This dog now known as Quentin is in the spotlight, and I hope his second chance will raise some awareness of what happens, ultimately, to the "unwanted" animals in today's animal shelters. It's amazing what societal lore can do for a single "unwanted,", no?

Reminds me of this. I'm sure Michael McNeilley and his estate won't mind me reprinting it and giving it due credit.

Say Goodbye


It's like Frank said when
he worked in the pound,
killed all those dogs

in the evacuator, sucked the life
out of them in the oxygen
deprivation chamber:

he took a lot of them home,
the cute ones, the ones he
couldn't bear to kill -

the ones he wanted to save,
and they ran out in the

broke their chains and disappeared;
one got killed in a fight,
another ate rat poison.

One way or another they died,
every last damned
one of them.

One day someone came in with
5 perfect poodle puppies
and Frank was told

to kill 4 and save one. The choice of
who lived and who died was left
up to Frank,

so he took the runt of the litter,
the one who seemed he could

and he killed the 4 best ones,
reduced their air pressure
to that at 30,000 feet,

where they puked their hearts out
like all the others he
"put to sleep,"

and took the little one and put him
up front in a tiny cage,
where he would appear

pathetic to the general public,
some of whom selected him and
took him home that very day,

but who returned the next week
for another puppy, saying
the one they got

had "just died. He was fine and then
he died. The kids are all
broken up" they said.

And they wanted to know if there was
a money-back

You can't save anybody, Frank decided,
the system takes over
and that's that.

After a while Frank stopped
taking any of them home.
Frank modified

his objectives, but you can't say
he ever really gave up on them.
Like Frank said,

"I don't want to save them, not really,
I just want to rub their
fucking ears."

And he rubbed their ears, the furry discards,
the smart ones, the dumb ones,
the old and the young,

the rejects, the crippled and lame, the ones
with bad markings, the wrong coloration,
With problems beyond

their understanding. And each time before
he put them in the chamber, he looked
into their eyes.

And if there was no salvation, if there was
no redemption, at least there was
someone to say goodbye.


Found again on rec.arts.poems but easier to read here.

mcn is Michael McNeilley, who died 7/16/2000.


Posted by hln at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)