Stay Tuned…

I’ll be away from the blog for a few days (possibly a week), so stay tuned. In the meantime, here are some links to articles that didn’t end up here, but which I sent to Exposing the Big Game’s Facebook site:

These 14 States Have a Plan for Climate Change. The Rest of You Are Screwed.

A comprehensive look at the progress states are making in preparingfor climate change. Click to see the interactive map. Georgetown Climate Center

The Horrors of Vietnam’s Meat Trade

Oct 02, 2014 22:30
by Nelufar Hedayat
Reporter Nelufar Hedayat looks at the terrible conditions dogs are forced to live in just to keep the black market in dog meat supplied

A shocking new TV documentary will reveal how hundreds pet dogs are being stolen every day in Vietnam for the lucrative dog meat trade. Unreported World shows disturbing evidence of how dogs are stolen, force-fed, kept in cramped cages and slaughtered for meals. Here, reporter Nelufar Hedayat exclusively reveals the horrors she witnessed.
The smell of dog and filth permeated the whole room along with frantic, high-pitched barking from the hundreds of dogs crammed into the large metal caged room.
Inside, line upon line of smaller crates were already packed with dogs who seemed to be vomiting rice onto the wet floor.
Grabbing one dog by the throat, the four men dragged it to a contraption at the back of the room, where one of them attached a tube to small buckets full of rice. He then pushed the other end of the pipe down the dog’s throat as the fourth man pulled down hard on a pump, forcing rice into the dog’s stomach.
The terrified local Vietnamese mutt screamed in pain, defecting and urinating as it was forced out and caged again, only to vomit the rice he’d just been force fed.
I watched horrified as this then happened again and again and again, presumably something happening to the hundreds of dogs here.
To call it a house of horrors would be no overstatement. But this is the reality of the dog meat industry in Vietnam, where thousands of dogs are force-fed to increase their weight, and therefore their market value when they are sold on.
Chau Doan
Trapped: Dogs
Breathtaking, after what I’d just seen, I asked the owner if the dogs feel pain when they are force-fed like that. His off-hand reply was “no-not at all, no pain”.
On the flight to Vietnam to investigate the dog meat trade in the country, I had prepared myself mentally. I knew what I was about to see would be brutal, difficult and shocking. But what I found was beyond even what I had imagined.
Almost certainly some of the dogs being force-fed in that room will have once been people’s pets.
The insatiable appetite for eating dog in Vietnam has sparked a huge black market in it and has provided a huge payday for thieves who steal thousands of dogs to sell on and meet the demands of the lucrative market.
Traditionally, dogs were trucked over in their hundred of thousands from Thailand where they would go without food and water for days on end till they reached Vietnam.
In the last six months the Soi Dog Foundation has worked hard with the Thai government to stop these criminals and bring an end to the dog meat silk road.
But the lack of dogs coming into the country has meant that criminal gangs have taken hold of the trade and need to find dogs from elsewhere.
In Hanoi, I spoke to two thieves fresh from a night’s work stealing dogs in a local village. They told me business is booming and gangs like his now prey on villages in Vietnam, stealing pets and guard-dogs by the hundreds.
“In the seven years I’ve been working, I’ve stolen round 3,000 dogs, big and small” one of them tells me.
Pets, strays or family guard dogs – they didn’t care because they had no-one to answer to and lots of money to make in the multi-million dollar industry.
But those whose animals have been stolen certainly care.
One man, Dang, who lives in the town of Nghe Ann, keeps his dog in a cage to prevent it being stolen and told me: “Along this road, all the failies living on both sides have lost dogs.”
Chau Doan
Sold: Dog trade
Almost 300 have been stolen over the last few months.
But it is a drop in the ocean of the dog meat trade overall.
It’s eaten in a host of countries including Thailand, South Korea, Philippines and China among others for a variety of reasons, from purging yourself of bad luck to increasing male sexual prowess.
It’s estimated that millions of dogs a year are raised, farmed and stolen to meet the ever-growing demand.
Every day or so I would I would see trucks in Hanoi with cages upon cages of deathly silent dogs all staring at passers by without so much as a bark.
They would be sold to slaughter houses or restaurants, kept for a few days and then killed in front of one and other by the roadside in the markets of Hanoi.
At one of the marketss the street is lined with holding pens, each with up to 500 dogs inside. The will be weighed to assess their value before being packed into incredibly cramped crates.
Chau Doan
For sale: Dogs as food
At busy times, the holding houses on this street process around 2,000 dogs in a single day.
The lust for dog meat grows as the Vietnamese become increasingly better off. The country has been transformed from one on the brink of starvation 30 years ago, to a place on the up and up by rapid economic changes.
People now have more money to spend on food, going out and partying and dog meat fits perfectly into that culture.

Any celebration and especially the end of the lunar month calls for a trip to the many dog meat only restaurants there. But do these people know where the meat they feast on comes from?
“We don’t know but we don’t care” one group of young teenage diners told me. “We only care about how it tastes and we love it” he said as his pals nod in agreement.
But in Vietnam, dog theft is not a crime, all you get charged with, if at all, for stealing dogs is a fine of up to $100 (about one night’s work for thieves).
But that’s rare as dog thieves operate in the dead of night and are notorious for being armed with home-made stun guns, swards and machetes to stop any pet owner from fighting them off. They’ve viciously attacked and even killed people who have fought back.
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But the tension is getting to much to bear and now some villages across the country are fighting back. Numerous mob killings of dog thieves have made national headlines.
In one such village, N-hi Trung, in the centre of Vietnam, 68 people confessed to the killing of two dog thieves who they say stole over 300 dogs from them that year alone.
“We are not scared of them” one pregnant villager who took part told me. “We won’t beat them to death, just break their arms and legs.”
It felt surreal, just bizarre, to think people were being killed for someone else’s dog meat dinner.
But more than anything, what was the most upsetting was the scale and truly inhumane way the dogs that had been caught were treated.
You don’t have to be an animal rights campaigner to see blatant cruelty at almost every turn and some of the killing and brutality I saw will stay with me for ever.
Chau Doan
Horror: Caged dogs
There are no health and safety or hygiene regulations for the killing of dogs and at a slaughterhouse I watched as a dog was grabbed from a pit and rendered unconcsious with two blows to the head before its throat is slit.
And I cannot forget the terrible scenes of those dogs being force-fed at one of the largest dog-trading market villages in the north of the country Son Dong Village.
In a single day seven tonnes of live dogs would be packed into massive metal crates piled high on top of one and other and shipped to Hanoi City alone for the restaurants and slaughter houses.
From what my team and I saw, the whole situation seems to be coming to a climax in Vietnam.
I’m not against people who eat meat, far from it, and our Unreported World film isn’t about that. What we have uncovered is a world of lawlessness when it comes to dog meat in Vietnam.
A government with a don’t ask don’t tell policy; middle-men and thieves who do unspeakable things to the dogs for better profit margins and the dog meat lovers who rarely question where the meat they were eating came from.
Whether the answer is regulating it, like pork or beef here in the UK, or banning it outright – as it currently stands people and dogs are suffering pointlessly as a result of the dog meat trade in Vietnam.
My hope is that after watching this film, people, campaigners and even the Vietnamese government are moved to end the cruelty in the dog eat trade. It simply isn’t right for things to continue as they are.
* Unreported World: Vietnam’s Dog Snatchers is on Channel 4 tonight(FRI) at


The Way of the Dodo

The past two centuries of U.S. history saw two seemingly cast in stone injustices abolished, setting the stage for the most magnanimous of human advancements—the recognition of rights for non-human animals.

Each of these advancements was met with staunch opposition, ridicule and fears that they would end a way of life as we know it. While that may have been true for some of the most egregious exploiters, most Americans learned to adapt to new forms of fairness.

Plantation owners, steeped in self-pity, bemoaned the potential loss of free labor that would be wrought by acknowledging rights for all humans. Only after their cessation from the Union and a bloody civil war were they forced to accept the concept of human equality.

Two of my great aunts were embroiled in the suffragette movement. Thanks to theirs and other women’s efforts, “superior” males finally resigned themselves to the concept of voting rights for women. The same arguments crop up when such efforts are made for each group of “others.”

The idea of non-human animals being entitled to even the most basic rights is still a long way off from universal acceptance. But, IF the human race continues to survive this century, and if positive advancement continues to trump status quo and beats out the urge to backslide, notions of human superiority over other species will go the way of the dodo.



‘Right to Hunt’ Amendments Pit Gun Rights vs. Animal Welfare

With backing by the NRA, making hunting a constitutionally protected right has become increasingly popular in the past decade. The latest battlegrounds are Alabama and Mississippi.

by | September 19, 201430973_4756818474045_484772904_n

If enough Mississippi voters think it’s a good idea support hunting and fishing, they’ll join 17 other states in ensuring constitutional protections for the practices.

So-called “Right to Hunt and Fish” amendments have become increasingly popular in the past decade, as groups like the National Rifle Association have led yearly pushes in states they consider friendly terrain. Their objective: to head off future regulation against hunting and also establish it as the “preferred” means of wildlife population control, as opposed to special forms of contraception and other methods of thinning out herds.

In Alabama, which already has a hunting rights amendment, advocates want to make it even stronger through the ballot box in November. The amendment before voters would make hunting and fishing the “preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.” Mississippi’s amendment would do that as well.

Both amendments would be subject to “reasonable regulations” that promote wildlife conservation, but animal welfare groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States, generally oppose constitutional protections for hunting for a number of reasons. They often deride the measures as policies that don’t respond to any particular threat but merely will make it difficult to regulate more controversial practices down the road.

“It could prevent really progressive reform that would be necessary if there were really egregious abuse, certain forms of trapping like the kind we’re trying to fight against in Maine,” said Tracy Coppola, the director of the Humane Society’s Wildlife Abuse Campaign.

Her example in Maine refers to hounding, trapping and baiting, which sometimes include using mounds of human junk food to ensnare trophy catches or chasing bears into trees with a pack of dogs equipped with GPS devices for easy tracking. The group is trying to ban the practice in Maine this year. The NRA is opposed to the measure.

The NRA says the Maine referendum is overly restrictive. It would mostly ban the use of dogs in bear hunting. But the NRA’s issue with animal welfare organizations is much broader.

While the Humane Society argues its interest is to maintain traditional, humane forms of hunting, the NRA argues the group’s ultimate goal is to displace hunting as the most common means of wildlife management. The group does fund research into methods such as immunocontraception, a vaccine that uses the body’s immune system as birth control. It hasn’t yet reached wide use in the U.S., but some American towns are exploring it to control deer populations.

The threat of new forms of population control, initiatives to ban dove hunting, campaigns to prohibit lead bullets, challenges to bear hunting and other perceived efforts to limit hunting are alarming signs to hunting enthusiasts. “We’re not in jeopardy of losing hunting as a right today, but, you know, that’s the whole point of a constitutional amendment, to protect the next generation or the generation after that,” said Lacey Biles, the NRA’s deputy director of state and local affairs.

The first state to add a right to hunt to its constitution was Vermont in 1777, though the wording didn’t go as far as Alabama, Mississippi or other recent additions to right-to-hunt states in establishing the practice as a wildlife management tool. Most of those recent additions came in the past 14 years, mostly in the South and West but also among some Midwestern states, such as Minnesota. A number of other states, such as New Hampshire and Florida, have statutory protections but not constitutional ones.

There’s been a steady stream of bills in state legislatures seeking constitutional protections for hunting, some appearing in more liberal (but active hunting) states.  Over the past two years, bills have appeared in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bills have advanced through committees in Indiana and West Virginia but haven’t moved in any of the others. Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey have among the highest number of hunters per square mile in the country.

Biles said the NRA doesn’t keep track of every right-to-hunt bill that pops up in a state legislature, many of which weren’t initiated by the group, which claims a 90-percent success rate in places it specifically targets. One miss came in 2010 in Arizona, where groups actively opposed the effort. But there isn’t any organized opposition to Alabama and Mississippi’s campaigns, which are both featured on the NRA’s website. Given near-unanimous legislative support for the bills that launched the amendments in Alabama and Mississippi, that lack of organized opposition and both states’ pro-gun, pro-hunting traditions, it’s a safe bet that both will pass their amendments in November.

Whether right-to-hunt amendments will continue their steady momentum, though, is less certain.

Please Don’t Read this Blog

If you have ever been personally hurt by anything I’ve written here, I’m sorry, but please don’t read this blog.

Even if I’ve invited you or shared a post with you in the past, please don’t read this blog.

Unless you’re seeking information about the injustices of hunting or animal exploitation in general, please don’t read this blog.

If you’re so set in your ways that the things I write about animal rights seem like a personal attack on you, please don’t read this blog. It’ll just make you feel bad.

I have never set out to hurt or attack anyone personally (that’s why I don’t tend to name names). But like people who defend human rights, those who speak in defense of the rights of non-human animals and seek to expose the ongoing atrocities committed against them by human societies, I often have a hard time playing the diplomat.

It’s not that we’re un-American, but once you know what kind of animal suffering is behind the making of an all-meat hot dog, you can’t un-know it.

This blog is not for everyone. Those who are like-minded seem to enjoy it here; those who feel out of place might do better not reading it. (That’s why I don’t spend my time reading hunters’ or cattlemen’s blogs.) I’ve been accused of preaching to the choir. Fair enough, but even a choir of angels needs a pep talk once in a while to remind them that they’re not alone in what they’re going through.

A blog can be likened to a writer’s personal diary made public. Those close to the writer sometimes recognize themselves between the pages. My advice to folks who don’t like what they read here is, simply, stop reading. Speaking for myself, I never start off writing things with the intention of hurting anyone’s feelings. The only intention I ever have is adding my voice to the call to end animal suffering and abuse of the innocents.

Writing can be cathartic and when the words are flowing, I don’t have much control over their direction. They’re often a meditation on an issue that is really important to me. I find it works better than trying to debate with people over these emotional issues, because when things get heated, I tend to get overheated. My circuits fry, and my thoughts don’t flow; they go on overload. Afterward, I end up feeling like “I should have said this,” or “I should have answered to that. “

Unless you really care to know how I think or feel, please don’t read this blog.


Everything You Do Leaves an Impact, so You Might as Well Be an Ass-teroid

One of hunters’ favorite fallacies these days is some form of the (il)logic that everything you do affects something in some way so you might just as well hunt down big “game.” It’s the same school of thought as, you can never be completely vegan so what’s the point in choosing not to eat animals?

Apparently some folks, with nothing better to do, have been staying up nights wracking their brains to come up with as many ways imaginable that non-hunters, or even vegans, might inadvertently kill animals. Not because these spin-doctors really care about anything except themselves, but because it’s easier to try to break down someone else’s resolve than to look at ones’ own intentional acts of—or collaboration in—cruelty.

After all, nature’s cruel, so you might as well be the cruelest, right? And as long as someone eats who you kill, it’s almost sacred, or something, isn’t it? (But, as PETA put it, “Did the fact that Jeffrey Dahmer ate his victims justify his crimes? What is done with the corpse after a murder doesn’t lessen the victim’s suffering.”)

It’s like saying, you’ll never be Jesus so what’s the point of trying to live the best life you can? Sort of a variation of Lucifer’s “…better to lead in Hell…” credo.

How’s that working out, Satan? Hot enough for you down there?


“Humane Meat” Legitimizes Factory Farming

Somewhere out there someone must be raising ‘food’ animals ‘humanely,’ therefore I’m justified in eating this steak, chicken, egg, pig part, turkey leg, hamburger, sausage, etc., etc., without feeling guilty–there’s always a chance that meat meal was humanely raised and compassionately killed, right?


It’s amazing how many people use some version of this feeble argument in rationalizing their culpability to cruelty, as if ‘humane’ animal farming gives them a license to ‘kill’ (so to speak).

I understand there are some who think the ‘humane meat’ movement will lead to a more compassionate future for factory farmed animals. But the fact is, advocating any form of animal agriculture that results in the breeding and premature death of an animal just legitimizes factory farming to the masses who may not see the subtle difference between a hot dog made with body parts scraped off Farmer John’s bloody-red kill floor or off Farmer Joe’s slightly greener kill floor. Yes, Farmer Joe may be able to keep his slaughterhouse a little tidier, but that’s only because he may ‘process’ fewer animals at a time, not because he truly thinks he’s being ‘compassionate.’

What would it take to provide ‘humane meat’ to everyone who won’t consider giving up their flesh? Robert Grillo answers that question, in this quote from an article entitled, Pasture Raised Eggs: The Humane, Sustainable Fiction:

“As for the scale of such an operation, where does all the land needed to give animals a “natural” farm life come from?, asks author and program director of United Poultry Concerns, Hope Bohanec. “At any given time, there are 100 million head of cattle and 70 million pigs alive in the U.S. Currently, only about 9 percent of all livestock is pasture raised. How would we ever have the land to pasture raise them all? To give all farmed animals the space they need to have even a semblance of a natural life, we would have to destroy millions more acres of wild areas, forests, prairies, and wetlands to accommodate them.”

[This mirrors the situation with open range cattle grazing. Although less than 5% of cows raised and killed for meat are put on the open range, when people see cows out there on National Forest or DNR land, they think their hamburger must have led a nice life out on the range somewhere. Truth is, most cows are raised in overcrowded feed  lots.]
“There is not enough land on the planet, or even two planets, to free-range all the billions of pigs, sheep, turkeys, ducks, and chickens. We would need closer to five planet Earths. It simply cannot be done. Free-ranging animals for food can never be more than a specialty market for a few elite buyers.”
And United Poultry Concerns’ president Karen Davis PhD addresses the notion of Hurting Animals Humanely in her article featured in the Dodo:

No one who truly respects animals, respects their dignity, feels with and for them, and wishes them joy in life supports “farming” them, because animal farming is about degrading animals meanly to the level of their genitals and their genes, mutilating their body parts, destroying their family life, controlling every aspect of their lives including culling (killing) them as one pleases when they are deemed not “productive” enough to keep feeding, and ultimately murdering them. 

“How can anyone claiming to respect animals promote a view of them as ‘dinner’?”


This quote from a Facebook friend sums the situation up succinctly: “‘Humane’ animal farming is nothing more than the devil putting on a fancy suit. Vegan is the only way”

And, PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk put out a U-tube on the folly of ‘Humane meat’: