Ban the bunny: California aims to end post-Easter parade of unwanted rabbits

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Californians can eat chocolate bunnies and snuggle plush Peter Cottontail dolls to their heart’s content this Easter.

But those who want to buy a live bunny as an Easter gift won’t find them for sale at pet stores this year after California became the first U.S. state to pass a law aimed at stemming a post-holiday deluge of maturing rabbits being abandoned or euthanized.

The legislation, which took effect in January, prohibits retail shops from selling commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits. The idea is to encourage adoption of rescued animals and to crack down on the sale of pets from “puppy mills,” “kitty factories” and “bunny bundlers.”

Legislatures in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania are considering similar bills. Dozens of cities, from Boston and Chicago to Salt Lake City already have local ordinances on the books.

The problem of abandonment and euthanasia is particularly acute for rabbits purchased in pet stores, as they tend to be impulse buys, especially in the days before Easter.

“In the one to three months after Easter, we traditionally see a spike in shelter rabbit intakes,” said Anne Martin, executive director of the House Rabbit Society, a nonprofit group that rescues rabbits and places them in foster care.

“In Northern California alone, thousands of stray and unwanted rabbits end up in the municipal shelter systems, and the majority of these rabbits are under a year old,” she said.

The Easter Bunny, an age-old symbol of fertility and renewal, plays an endearing role in the springtime holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, tempting parents to buy one of the cuddly-looking creatures for their families.

But to the surprise of many, rabbits are not low-maintenance balls of fur, their owners say, as they require daily cleaning and specialized medical care.

‘UNINTENTIONAL ANIMAL CRUELTY’

“There is a common misconception that a rabbit just can sit in a cage and eat carrots,” said Jacob Levitt, 44, a dermatologist who owns eight young, adopted bunnies that roam his New York City luxury apartment.

He said it was “unintentional animal cruelty” to keep a rabbit cooped up and to fail to give it a proper diet of grass hay.

Fulvio Roman, 32, whose fiance made a “spur of the moment” decision to buy a pet store rabbit, admitted to being unprepared for the demands of its care.

“Once she saw the bunny and was able to hold her, she immediately fell in love,” said Roman, who lives on Long Island and supervises kitchen workers in New York City public schools. “We didn’t know what it really took to have a bunny.”

Eight months later, after the rabbit resisted being picked up, chewed through air conditioner wires, and their landlord demanded a non-refundable $1,000 security deposit, they surrendered the rabbit to a shelter.

“Not everyone knows how much work a bunny takes. We ended up being educated by force,” Roman said.

Rabbits typically live 10 years and multiply every 30 days, with an average litter of eight babies. Pet stores often fail to neuter bunnies, according to House Rabbit.

Bunnies mature at 3 to 6 months and males spray urine and females become territorial. When they grow less adorable, house bunnies are left in backyard hutches or abandoned in fields or woods.

Under California’s Law, consumers can adopt animals from a shelter or buy them directly from a breeder.

Some 2.8 million U.S. households have rabbits as pets, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), compared with 60.2 million with a dog, 47.1 million with a cat, 7.9 million with a bird and 2.6 million with a horse.

The House Rabbit Society said bunnies are the third most abandoned pet in the United States. Advocates say rabbits are also the third most euthanized, based on a 2010 study of four shelters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

‘DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES’ FOR INDUSTRY

In California, pet industry leaders, many of whom opposed the new law, say local shops that sell animals will suffer.

“We expect the California law will have disastrous consequences for the small, local business pet stores,” said Mike Bober, president and CEO of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

But live animal sales account for just 3 percent of the industry’s roughly $70 billion in annual sales, according to APPA’s website. The bulk of U.S. pet store sales in recent years has been for food, vet care, supplies and over-the-counter medicines.

John Goodwin, a senior director at the Humane Society of the United States, urged Americans to pass on buying a live bunny as an Easter present.

“There are plenty of stuffed animals and chocolates in rabbit form,” Goodwin said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Berkrot)

Owner faces jail time for abandoning dog to starve in locked home

Kyle Springer, 27, was taken into custody until sentencing scheduled for April 18

Kyle Springer, 27, faces jail time for abandoning his dog in a locked home without food for two months. The dog starved to death before being discovered. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

A 27-year-old man was sent to jail to await sentencing for leaving his dog to starve to death in a rented home he abandoned in 2015.

Kyle Springer was in Woodstock court Tuesday afternoon for sentencing on the criminal charge of cruelty to animals.

But after going over evidence, statements of fact and victim impact statements, Judge Julian Dickson said he needed more time to decide a sentence.

Springer is to be back in court April 18 at 1:30 p.m. for sentencing.

He was taken into custody until that time to the loud applause of a packed courtroom.

Two-and-a-half hours before Springer was scheduled to appear, the sidewalk in front of the Carleton County Courthouse was packed with nearly 100 protesters, many with their dogs, demanding a stiff penalty.

Springer pleaded guilty Jan. 8 to leaving his dog, Diesel, to starve to death in a locked rental home in the Woodstock area over the course of two months.

Protesters brought along some of their four-legged companions to the Woodstock courthouse Tuesday and called for a stiff sentence for Springer. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

According to the statement of facts read in court, the two-year-old shepherd mix was found dead in the fetal position near a window in the house weeks after Springer had left.

The dog had torn open everything in search of food and water, including bags of sugar, pillows and garbage bags. The home appeared covered with scratch marks and the living room, kitchen and bedroom floors were covered with the dog’s urine and feces.

‘Emaciation and dehydration’

RCMP were called to the house after the landlord found the dog Jan. 15, 2015. In June of that year, an arrest warrant was issued for Springer, who had left for Western Canada.

A necropsy performed by provincial veterinarian Jim Goltz found only two bits of plastic in the dog’s stomach. The animal lacked body fat, its eyes were sunken in, and its ribs protruded from its body.

Springer left his dog, Diesel, to starve to death in a locked rental home near Woodstock. (Submitted by Advocates for Animals)

The cause of death was “emaciation and dehydration,” said Crown prosecutor Nathalie Lajoie, reading from Goltz’s report.

According to western New Brunswick Crime Stoppers, Springer had moved to Alberta but was arrested after an anonymous tip when he returned for the 2018 holidays.

Nearly 100 protesters gathered outside the Woodstock courthouse Tuesday during the sentencing hearing for Springer. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The statement of facts said Springer’s physical description as well as the make and model of his vehicle were shared with RCMP. Later in the parking lot of a Foodland grocery store in Florenceville-Bristol, police approached Springer in the vehicle described to them.

When police asked if he was Kyle Springer, Springer said ,”No.” He later admitted it was indeed his name when police requested he step out of the vehicle and placed him under arrest.

He was released on an undertaking and appeared in court on Jan. 8, when he pleaded guilty.

Sentence requests

The Crown argued Springer has obviously tried to avoid justice. Lajoie is requesting a jail sentence of five to six months,  along with a year of supervised probation and a 10-year ban from owning any animals. The request garnered gasps from the courtroom full of animal advocates.

Springer’s lawyer, Peter Hyslop, argued for a lighter sentence of 90 days in jail, to be served intermittently. Hyslop argued this was Springer’s first offence and his guilty plea should be considered a mitigating factor.

When Hyslop argued a stiff sentence could result in Springer losing his job with a fertilizer company and result in nobody in the area ever hiring him again, the judge was not having it.

“If he loses his job, there’s not much chance he’ll get another one in Carleton County in the foreseeable future,” said Hyslop.

“And whose fault is that?” Dickson said.

Thirteen seconds of uninterrupted applause followed Dickson’s response, and he demanded no further outbursts.

Animal advocate Susan Henley was pleased to see Springer remanded into custody until a sentence is delivered next Thursday. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

When asked if he had anything to say, Springer stood, wearing a plaid blue shirt and blue pants, and said: “I do feel bad for what happened to Diesel. That’s all, sir.”

Dickson then stated that he would need more time before handing down a sentence.

“I’m going to tell you right now an intermittent sentence is not in the cards,” Dickson said. “It will not be an intermittent sentence and I will give you full reason on the 18th, and, Mr. Springer, I’m remanding you into custody until then.”

Protesters react

Applause broke out again as Springer was handcuffed, but the outburst was quickly stopped by sheriffs.

On the courthouse steps afterward, protesters were pleased with the proceedings.

“I feel positive,” said Susan Henley, an animal advocate who travelled from Fredericton.

“We always want more. You come into these things praying for the most but expecting your heart to break at the end. But I really feel more positive than I have in a lot of cases that we’ve followed and gone to.”

Fellow advocate Stephanie Thornton said, “Hearing the shackles at the end was awesome.”

Vets Refuse to Treat Farm Sanctuary Animals Because They Disagree With Their Stance Against Animal Agriculture

Lead Image Source : Spring Farm Sanctuary

This Sweet Endangered Finless Porpoise Cried as It Was Sold for Meat

129,168 SUPPORTERS
130,000 GOAL
It was a horrific sight: a live porpoise cried as its captors auctioned it off for parts. Literally the animal had tears rolling down its face and it was making crying sounds. Luckily, two animal activists were able to purchase it and release it into the wild, but the trauma is done and whoever did this is still out there.

Sign on if you want Chinese authorities to investigate this act of animal cruelty and punish the responsible parties.

Poiposes are a lot like dolphins actually. And the porpoise in question is not only adorable, but it’s also endangered. The finless porpoise is on the red list. It’s believed there are only about 200 of them left and this one was almost murdered for parts! 

The sweet porpoise cried the whole time it was being auctioned off and it’s likely that it was injured because, when the activists took it out to sea, it had a difficult time swimming. It’s completely outrageous that someone captured this rare and endangered creature just to torture and ultimately murder it.

Catching and selling a finless porpoise is completely banned and illegal in China. That’s why we want to make sure the authorities find whoever did this and bring them to justice!

Photo credit: video screenshot

Lab-grown meat: Taste-testing chicken of the future

Where’s the beef? Actually, it’s a chicken nugget.

BY 

Chicken nuggets usually get a pretty bad rap. Whether they’re filled with mystery meat or come with a mouthful of additives, they also involve slaughtering an animal. But the nugget I’m about to eat from San Francisco-based Just was grown in a lab, using cells taken from a living chicken. It’s cultured meat (and cruelty-free).

Carnivores, breathe a sigh of relief.

Watch this: Trying a lab-grown chicken nugget
 7:58

Unlike entirely plant-based products such as the Impossible Burger, the Just chicken nugget is actual meat.

Cultured meat, also called lab-grown or clean meat, starts with the collection of cells, usually done through a biopsy so the animals aren’t harmed. Just says it has also been able to get cells from a chicken feather. The most viable cells are chosen and then given the right nutrients they need to grow in a bioreactor. In the case of this chicken nugget, those nutrients are plant-based.

Not only does cultured meat avoid sacrificing animals, it could take fewer resources to produce than traditional livestock. Around 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are from livestock, according to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. But one study questions how environmentally friendly clean meat products could be if the process is energy-intensive.

nugget-2
The chicken nugget once plated with Just’s plant-based mayo as a dipping sauce.

CNET

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Just’s cultured chicken product takes around two weeks to grow in a bioreactor. The team of chefs plays a major part in creating the product once the scientists have developed the biology. “They are really the ones that can assemble everything and come up with the ideal ratios of cell types,” says Vitor Santo, director of cellular agriculture.

So what does it actually taste like? The crunch from the breading and the smell from the fry was exactly what I expected from a good chicken nugget. But I was pleasantly surprised at how similar the cultured chicken itself tasted compared to the real deal, even if it didn’t look like your typical KFC or McDonald’s nugget. You can watch the video to find out more.

Just’s next cultured meat product will be wagyu beef. Several other companies are also developing clean meat derived from animal cells, like Memphis Meats (chicken and duck) and SuperMeat (also chicken).

If you’re hankering to try your own cultured chicken nugget, you’ll have to hold tight a little longer. The nugget needs to get USDA and FDA approval in the US, but Just says it’ll first be available in selected high-end restaurants in Asia later this year once it gets regulatory approval.

The video on this page is an episode of Beta Test, the show that puts you in the front seat with me as I test out crazy tech products and experiences. Check back each month for a new show! You can also find the series on YouTube.

Animal Advocates Push for Vt. Coyote Hunting Regulations

The groups point to an incident this weekend, described by a homeowner as “extremely traumatic,” as one reason why new hunting rules are needed

A conflict this weekend between hunters and property owners in northeastern Vermont has reignited calls from animal advocates for more regulations.

Groups including Protect Our Wildlife and the Vermont Coyote Coexistence Coalition have been regularly advocating for Vermont to follow the lead of Massachusetts and set a formal season on the killing of coyotes.

Their multi-year campaigns added a new supporter after a scene that played out Saturday morning in the backyard of Diana Hansen of Craftsbury.

“It was, particularly for me, extremely traumatic,” Hansen told necn Tuesday.

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(Published Friday, March 1, 2019)

Hansen said a hunter set his dogs on a coyote, and they chased the animal into Hansen’s backyard — biting and bloodying the coyote as her young children watched from a rear window, horrified.

“It was incredibly disturbing to see that kind of violence happening,” Hansen said.

The mom said the coyote pursuit also caused around $500 in damage to the family’s greenhouse when the dogs and their target climbed on the greenhouse, puncturing its plastic with their claws.

It is legal to hunt coyotes with hounds year-round in Vermont, but animal advocacy groups often criticize the practice.

“The use of hounds in hunting is really concerning,” said Barry Londeree of the Humane Society of the United States.

The Humane Society, along with Protect Our Wildlife and the Vermont Coyote Coexistence Coalition, wants to see tighter regulations in the state, including a specific hunting season for coyotes.

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Londeree said the animals have an important role in the ecosystem, including preying on rodents like mice and rats.

“They shouldn’t be subject to year-round hunting with no limits,” Londeree said of coyotes.

For a response to the advocacy groups’ calls for a defined hunting season on coyotes, with limits, necn sought an interview with the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Update on Ridgeland, Wisconsin Chicken Toss

http://upc-online.org/entertainment/190125_update_on_ridgeland_wisconsin_chicken_toss.html

We’re delighted that so many of you have responded to Wednesday’s Alert urging a polite call to three Dunn County, Wisconsin officials asking them to use their influence to stop the Ridgeland “chicken toss” in February.

Today’s Alert includes email addresses for these three Dunn County officials, plus links to our letter to District Attorney Andrea Nodolf, and very importantly, to the letters from University of California Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine Nedim Buyukmihci, VMD in which Dr. Buyukmihci explains to the District Attorney and the County Supervisor why the chicken toss is inhumane and needs to be eliminated.

We understand that the offices are telling some callers that they’re not responsible for the chicken toss; however, these offices represent the county, including the village of Ridgeland. My conversation with County Supervisor Brian Johnson this week was cordial. While he did not say outright that he dislikes the chicken toss, he did not appear to support it either. He said it’s a sensitive “political” issue for those involved.

Whether we leave phone messages, send an email, or write a letter, we must always be courteous and keep the focus on the chickens, compassionate treatment, and humane education.

Thank you!

Karen Davis
President

 

— UPC Letter to Dunn County District Attorney, Jan. 25, 2019

— Letter from Nedim C. Buyukmihci, VMD to Dunn County Board Supervisor

— Letter from Nedim C. Buyukmihci, VMD to Dunn County District Attorney

 

Dunn County Officials

 

China’s latest monkey cloning tests are considered ‘monstrous’

China’s latest monkey cloning experiment has sparked outrage and been labeled “monstrous” by animals welfare advocates.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience have cloned five monkey babies from a single donor with genes edited to cause diseases.

The Chinese scientists tinkered with a specific gene in the original donor monkey to produce the unhealthy animals which they say will help medical research.

The gene is BMAL1, which helps regulate the circadian rhythm but scientists made it inoperative using a gene-editing tool, known as CRISPR. With the gene turned off, the animals are at greater risk of developing sleeping problems, hormonal disorders and a host of diseases.

Researchers said the monkeys demonstrated increased anxiety and depression, reduced sleep time, and even “schizophrenia-like behaviors,” according to a pair of papers published by the scientists in the National Science Review.

All five macaques were born with identical genes, which include the mutation.

“Disorder of circadian rhythm could lead to many human diseases, including sleep disorders, diabetic mellitus, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases, our BMAL1-knock out monkeys thus could be used to study the disease pathogenesis as well as therapeutic treatments” said Hung-Chun Chang, senior author and investigator of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in a statement.

Researchers used a cloning technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce the five macaques, the same method they used to generate the first two cloned monkeys this time last year.

It is also the same general method used to clone Dolly the sheep more than two decades ago.

The experiment to clone the two healthy monkeys, reported in the journal Cell in January last year, also caused some apprehension among the broader scientific community.

“The genie’s out of the bottle now,” said Jose Cibelli at the time, a cloning expert at Michigan State University in the US.

Animals rights advocated have slammed the latest experiment. Dr. Julia Baines, Science Policy Adviser at PETA UK, said: “Genetically manipulating and then cloning animals is a monstrous practice that causes animals to suffer.”

But speaking to news.com.au in June, Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience and co-author of the latest papers, Dr Mu-ming Poo, defended the practice of using cloned animals for medical research.

“More cloned monkeys will soon be produced,” he said at the time. “Some of them will carry gene mutations known to cause human brain disorders, in order to generate useful monkey models for drug development and treatment.”

It’s important to note that because primates share approximately 95 percent of human genes and a number of physiological and anatomical similarities, biomedical research currently uses a large number of monkeys, sometimes up to 100,000 annually around the globe.

“This number will be greatly reduced by the use of monkeys with uniform genetic background that reduces the noise in experimental studies,” Dr. Poo said, pointing to the example of testing drug efficacy before clinical trials.

“This will greatly help the ethical use of non-human primates for biomedical purposes.”

The team behind the latest experiment reiterated that position in the statement this week, saying the institute is following strict international guidelines for animal research.

The gene-edited monkey clones come hot on the heels of a rogue Chinese scientist announcing he used CRISPR technology to create the world’s first gene-edited human babies.

The controversial doctor made headlines last November after claiming he altered human embryos resulting in the birth of genetically edited twin girls.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.

Video Of Man Killing Opossum At Tulsa Nightclub Sparks Discussion

http://www.newson6.com/story/39722197/video-of-tulsa-man-stomping-on-baby-opossum-sparks-outrage?fbclid=IwAR38RB2KrBxFXHy6OZcXbyRdIG5hw1b63h0akeXS4rASx42x8Rs-XqZF78E#

Wednesday, January 2nd 2019, 6:14 PM CST
Updated: 

Play Video


TULSA, Oklahoma – **Warning: Video Above May Be Upsetting**

Video of a Tulsa man stomping a baby opossum to death is sparking a conversation about animal cruelty and wildlife laws in Oklahoma.

Animal advocacy groups from across the state are pushing for law enforcement to file charges in this case but game wardens say while the video is hard to watch it, none of the evidence they have seen so far, proves anyone broke the law.

The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals says the video shows “a disgusting act of felony cruelty.”

Wild Heart Ranch says the actions in the video clearly violate animal cruelty laws in Oklahoma.

In their statement, Wild Heart Ranch specially mentioned SS 1685 which says in part, “any person who shall willfully or maliciously torture, destroy or kill…any animal…whether wild or tame…shall be guilty of a felony.”

Tulsa County Game Warden Carlos Gomez says because of the way the laws are written they have found themselves in a grey area.

“After we get over the initial shock like anyone else of the repulsive behavior of somebody who takes a pretty harmless little critter out and steps on it…we enforce Title 29 wildlife statutes,” said Carlos Gomez Tulsa County Game Warden.

Gomez says he is talking with club employees to see if he can gather any new information but says right now -it does not look like charges will be filed.

“Obviously it’s abhorrent the way it was done. Within the framework of the statutes, they are on their own property, it’s a place of business, he is an employee, they deem it to be a nuisance animal,“ said Gomez, “I think it is wrong but that doesn’t make it illegal.”

Gomez says in order for animal cruelty charges to be filed, the city will have to get involved.

“If a person was hunting it for sport, for hide, they would have to have a Hunting License but on their own property removing nuisance animals….it’s not very different from somebody who, let’s say, is trapping a mouse,” said Gomez.

“The brutal killing of the young opossum at Rodeo is a disgusting act of felony cruelty. The killing is inexcusable, intolerable, and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals supports law enforcement and prosecutors in the investigation and prosecution of this horrific crime. There simply is #NoExcuseForAnimalAbuse. Where animal cruelty exists, there are almost always other felony crimes.”

 The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals

“There is a video going around of a man stomping a young opossum to death that was found inside a Tulsa Night club. I will save you the viewing. It made me sick. Several people have sent it to me and I have forwarded it to our Game Wardens to handle. For anyone who believes it is okay in Oklahoma to stomp wildlife to death, beat them with bricks, or maim them while they are caught in a trap, below is the law that protects the animals and gives the State the ability to prosecute (copy of SS 1685). The challenge is to get these cases prosecuted. Since this crime is clearly a violation of the above law and comes with very clear evidence, I hope to see something done about it. I am here if needed to assist.”

-Wild Heart Ranch

On Thursday morning, Gomez told News On 6 he’s spoken with the couple who owns the club. He said the man in the video is the manager of the club who said he could have handled the situation better.

The owners told Gomez the incident happened on New Year’s Eve and the club had about 1,000 people in it at the time.  They told him the manager was concerned customers might have panicked because they may have thought it was a rat.

Gomez said the owners are meeting with the manager today and are cooperating with law enforcement.

Why My New Year’s Resolution Is To Speak Up About The Suffering Of Fish

A Fishes Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Chas Newkey-Burden, PlantBasedNews.org
December 2018

 

Fish are gentle, sensitive, intelligent, and complex creatures – yet we massacre them in their billions. It’s time to speak out about the hell these creatures endure.

rainbow trout
A rainbow trout is manipulated for stripping – squeezing of eggs for artificial spawning – Photo: Compassion In World Farming

“But you can eat fish, right?” Lots of vegans and vegetarians have been asked this well-meant question and it reveals an important truth: when it comes to speciesism, the more a creature looks and acts like a human, the easier it is for most humans to appreciate it.

Small creatures that live in the water somehow seem less important than big creatures that live on the land, like us.

So fish get a particularly hard time – not breathing like us or moving like us, they are harder for us to relate to.

Hypocrisy

I’ve noticed this in myself over the years. As a kid, I raged about slaughterhouses, fly-posted about vivisection and spoke out against fox-hunting. My visceral horror was stirred up by thoughts of cows in abattoirs and cats in labs, and foxes in pieces. I’m sure I cared about fish and sea mammals, but I don’t remember feeling it the same way.

I do remember finding other people’s hypocrisy odd though. School friends were proud when the tuna in their sandwiches was ‘dolphin-friendly’ – meaning it was caught using methods that didn’t also kill dolphins. That’s great, I’d say, but what about the tunas?

One guy wore a ‘Save the Whale’ badge but ate fish and chips every Friday night. The double-standard seemed so glaring to me. Another friend who adored his pet dogs nevertheless bragged about ‘catching’ – ie killing – fish at the weekend.

I couldn’t get my head round it. I’d never heard of speciesism at the time. I just assumed I was a weirdo. Being a vegan in 2019 – especially with access to the internet – is a walk in the park compared to those days, trust me.

Even now I notice some fishy double-standards. There are people who campaign against fish abuse at SeaWorld yet eat fish fingers from intensive farms. These dreadful places kill fish in far worse conditions than SeaWorld.

Then there are the people who say we must stop using so much plastic because it hurts the fish…even though they chomp on the flesh of these fish.

A voice for the fish

Looking back, I do remember one time I spoke up for the water creatures. I was 12, and my aunt had taken me to a marine park. After a worker had proudly got dolphins to perform a whole series of tricks, he asked if anyone had any questions. I raised my hand and tore him, his work and the whole marine park to pieces. I still remember my aunt’s face.

Vegan advocacy as a whole is very focused on land animals: we concentrate on the animals killed for their meat, their milk, their eggs or their fur. Rarely the fishes. I’m as guilty as anyone because I’ve written dozens of articles about animal abuse for The Guardian and other papers, yet only one about fish.

The suffering of fish

Their experiences are horrific. Fish that get caught in trawl nets are often crushed to death under the weight of other fish. Their eyes balloon out. If they survive that, they are either left to slowly suffocate or they are disemboweled with a gutting knife while still conscious.

Fish from factory farms are usually cut across the gills and left to bleed to death, electrocuted in a water bath, or smashed over the head with a blunt instrument.

Fishermen say the fish don’t feel pain but this has been disproved. Professor Donald Broom, a scientific advisor to the government, said: “The scientific literature is quite clear. Anatomically, physiologically and biologically, the pain system in fish is virtually the same as in birds and mammals.”

Experts have found that lobsters may actually feel more pain than humans would. They say that lobsters, who can live up to 100 years in the wild, are ‘quite amazingly smart animals’. Yet restaurant diners often think nothing of picking one from a tank and asking for him to be boiled alive.

Fish aren’t stupid

The idea fish are stupid is stupid in itself. Researchers have shown that, contrary to legend, goldfish have longer ‘sustained attention’ spans than humans. Some fish woo potential partners by singing to them or creating art. Scuba divers tell beautiful stories of individual fish they have made friends with.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, a leading marine biologist, said: “They’re so good-natured, so curious. You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they’re wounded.”

These are the creatures we kill on an unimaginable scale. The fishing industry measures the losses in tonnes rather than individual lives. The global wild fish catch stands at about 90 million tonnes, with a further 42 million tonnes coming from fish farms. Trillions of lives.

We might not mourn the cods and haddocks in the same way we do the cows, sheep, and pigs. We may feel it differently. But we can each speak out in our own way.

That’s why my New Year’s Resolution is to put fish in the spotlight. It’s time to do more than wear a Sea Shepherd hoody – though, like so, so many vegans, I’ve got one of those.

After Franz Kafka went vegetarian, he saw some fish and thought: “Now at last I can look at you in peace, I don’t eat you anymore.”

This is beautiful. Every vegan can relate. But wouldn’t that peace be all the more blissful if, as well as not eating them, we lent them our voice too?