Animal Welfare On The Ballot In November


When voters go to the polls this November, they won’t only be making critical decisions about who represents them in the White House, Congress and state and local offices. In a number of states, the people will vote on the humane treatment of animals—deciding whether to adopt policies on factory farming, wildlife trafficking and other animal protection issues.

Since the early 1990s, The Humane Society of the United States and allied organizations have been involved in about 50 statewide ballot contests, and voters have sided with animals about 70 percent of the time. They’ve banned cockfighting in three of the last states where it remained legal (Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma), set humane treatment standards for dogs in the largest puppy mill state (Missouri), stopped extreme confinement of animals on factory farms (Arizona, California and Florida), and adopted new policies to restrict greyhound racing; horse slaughter; body-gripping traps and poisons; trophy hunting of bears, cougars and wolves and more. When politicians in the state legislatures have been held captive by special interests—such as big agribusiness, the trophy hunting lobby or even organized cockfighting groups—animal advocates have petitioned to put these questions directly to the people.

This year in Massachusetts, voters will decide on Question 3, which would phase out the extreme confinement of veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens in small crates and cages where they are virtually immobilized for their entire lives, and will remove inhumane and unsafe products from the Massachusetts marketplace. Backed by the MSPCA, Animal Rescue League of Boston, Zoo New England and hundreds of Massachusetts veterinarians and family farmers, more than 170,000 Massachusetts voters signed petitions to place Question 3 on the ballot. Question 3 adds momentum to what’s already occurring in the marketplace, with McDonald’s, Walmart and 200 other major food retail brands pledging to change their procurement practices and source only cage-free eggs and meats.

In Oregon, voters will weigh in on Measure 100, which will help save endangered sea turtles, elephants, rhinos and other wild animals threatened with cruel poaching and extinction. Every day close to 100 elephants are brutally killed in Africa, their tusks hacked off to supply the black market for ivory trinkets. Poachers poison watering holes with cyanide, killing hundreds of elephants at once. Organized criminal gangs and armed rebels use military weapons to kill wildlife for the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade. Measure 100 will ensure that Oregon does not provide a market for endangered species products resulting from wildlife poaching and trafficking. If passed, Oregon will join California, Washington, Hawaii and other states in shutting down local markets for those who seek to profit from this destructive wildlife trade.

In Oklahoma, family farmers and animal advocates are opposing State Question 777, a measure referred to the ballot by politicians to amend the state constitution with a so-called “right to farm.” It would protect corporate interests and foreign-owned big agribusiness at the expense of Oklahoma’s family farmers, land and animals. The measure is so broadly worded that it could prevent future restrictions on any “agricultural” practice, including puppy mills, horse slaughter and raising gamefowl for cockfighting. Even the president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau said the language is flawed, and “I wish that language weren’t in there.”

Those aren’t the only states where voters will see ballot issues related to animals. Californians will vote on Proposition 67, to protect the state’s ban on plastic grocery bags, which wash into our rivers, lakes, streams and ocean, where they are ingested by or entangle sea turtles, otters, seals, fish and birds. Some ocean animals mistake bags for food, fill their stomachs with plastics, and die of starvation. Montanans will vote on I-777, which would restrict the use of cruel traps and snares on public lands. In Colorado, Amendment 71 would make it more difficult for citizens to have a say on future constitutional ballot measures, including those dealing with animal protection. The HSUS favors the California and Montana measures, but strongly opposes the Colorado measure as an attack on citizen voting.

When you enter the voting booth or send in your mail ballot this November, make sure you don’t stop after the candidate races. Continue down the ballot and review the issues at stake, and you could have a role in promoting the humane treatment of animals and protecting these creatures from cruelty and suffering, and preserving your rights to participate in democratic decision-making in future elections.

Michael Markarian is chief operating officer of The Humane Society of the United States, and president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Trial of activist who fed water to pigs en route to slaughter resumes today

Anita Krajnc gives pigs water near a slaughterhouse in Burlington. Krajnc has pleaded not guilty to a mischief charge in the June 2015 incident.

Anita Krajnc expected to take the stand to defend herself against mischief charge

By Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press Posted: Oct 03, 2016 

A woman who gave cool water to hot pigs on their way to slaughter last year is expected to take the stand in her own defence today.

Anita Krajnc, an activist with the group Toronto Pig Save, has pleaded not guilty to a mischief charge in the June 2015 incident.

Krajnc freely admits to feeding water to the pigs, but contends it wasn’t illegal for her to do so.

Today is the third court date in the trial, which started in late August.

On previous days, the court heard from the truck driver who was transporting the pigs to a Burlington, Ont., slaughterhouse.

Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf testified that it wasn’t unusual for Krajnc and other animal rights activists to offer water to the pigs, and the Fearman’s Pork slaughterhouse has never turned away the animals he hauls there because of it.

During cross-examination, Veldjesgraaf said the animals are given water before and after they’re loaded onto the trucks, but not during transit.

Court also watched video of the 2015 incident, in which Krajnc is seen yelling to the truck driver, “Have some compassion, have some compassion!”

“Let’s call the cops,” the driver says, holding his phone.

“Call Jesus,” Krajnc says as she continues to allow the pigs to drink the water.

“Yeah, no. What do you got in that water?” he asks.

“Water,” Krajnc says.

“No, no, how do I know?” he says.

“Trust me,” she says.

Krajnc’s defence lawyers told court that they would argue the activist was acting in the public good, and therefore not breaking the law.

The first day of trial wrapped up with a debate about how to refer to pig waste.

If You Care About Animals, Don’t Support Firework

Every Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, Americans celebrate the birth of
our nation and the new year. Many people don’t realize the fireworks they
light or support by attending events promot…

Every Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, Americans celebrate the birth of
our nation and the new year. Many people don’t realize the fireworks they
light or support by attending events enable a harmful tradition that has no
place in a compassionate society.

When the fireworks end, here is the aftermath of their devastation:

1. *Increased reports of injuries and deaths to animals fleeing from
fireworks* (animals hit and killed by cars, birds flying into buildings,
and wild animals getting trapped, falling, and suffering from respiratory

2. *Massive increases in stray animals at shelters* in the days that follow
as dogs and cats left outside often run and get lost

3. *Birds losing sight of their nests and never returning, leaving
offspring to starve to death*

4. *Frightened and sick domesticated animals*

Animals have much more acute hearing than humans. That’s one of the reasons
my dog used to shake uncontrollably, jump in the shower, and start digging
when he heard fireworks. This is him still hiding even after fireworks
ended because he was so scared.

Animal research indicates animals hear the sound of fireworks at twice the
decibel level as us—analogous to standing at the base of an airplane’s
engine as it takes off. *No form of entertainment can be worth subjecting
animals to such trauma. Take a moral stand. Refuse to attend any events
that light off fireworks. Animals should never suffer so people can
celebrate a holiday.*

Claws for concern: Hillary Clinton is conveniently vague when it comes to animal rights

Claws for concern: Hillary Clinton is conveniently vague when it comes to animal rightsDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waits to speak at a get out the vote event at La Gala in Bowling Green, Ky., Monday, May 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)(Credit: AP/Andrew Harnik/photo_master2000 viaShutterstock/Photo montage by Salon)

Americans more than ever are concerned about animal welfare, but it’s hard to suss how much Hillary cares about it

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has wisely caught on to an evolving voter dynamic by crafting a position paper outlining her support for protecting animals. But is she for animal rights or for animal welfare?

In addition to being good policy, courting the animal protection vote is good politics. Americans’ concerns about humane treatment of animals is stronger than ever before.

If this trend continues – and there is no reason to expect that it will not – the issue will likely play an even larger role in future elections.

Evidence of society’s rapidly evolving focus on animal protection abounds. In March,SeaWorld announced that it will stop breeding orcas and will phase out its orca shows, which are its signature attraction. Last month Ringling Brothers put on what it called its last elephant show ever. Last year McDonald’s joined Burger King, General Mills, Sara Lee and several other corporations that have announced they will only use cage-free eggs in their food products. In 2014 South Dakota became the 50th state to upgrade animal cruelty to a potential felony. Only 20 years earlier, all but a few stateshad only misdemeanor penalties for animal cruelty.

A 2015 Gallup poll addressing animal rights may be even more compelling. According to the poll, almost one in three Americans – 32 percent – now believe that “animals deserve the exact same rights as humans to be free from harm and exploitation.” In an identical poll Gallup conducted in 2008 only 25 percent of respondents expressed this view.

Clinton’s position paper does not go this far. It provides a vaguely worded list of mainstream animal welfare concerns such as “strengthening regulation of ‘puppy mills’” and “encouraging farms to raise animals humanely.”


The most interesting aspect of  Clinton’s position paper is its description of the candidate as having “a strong record of standing up for animal rights.” “Animal rights” is a loaded term, and even animal rights supporters cannot agree as to what it means. Some animal rights advocates interpret the term loosely, and view animals as already having some rights because laws exist to protect them.

But other animal rights supporters assert that animals presently do not have rights, because our legal system views animals as property and does not allow them to be represented in judicial proceedings. Highly publicized lawsuits are underway in New York seeking to change this for chimpanzees by demanding that they be considered “legal persons” for purposes of protecting their “bodily liberty” and their “bodily integrity.”

I’m not a humanist, I’m a nonhumanist

With all the patrician talk about who were the original occupiers of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, I was planning to write a post about the nonhuman animals being the only inhabitants for millions of years until about 12,000 or 13,000 years ago.

But Marc Bender beat me to it, with the following comment:

“…humans are not indigenous to the Americas. The original inhabitants of the wildlife refuge are, of course, the wildlife.”

Likewise, I was going to inaugurate the word, “nonhumanist” to classify those of us whose ethical values incorporate nonhuman needs and interests. But when I looked it up, I found that “nonhumanistic” is already in use (in reference to those who are Not humanistic).

Meanwhile, that same search produced this related article:

Why I Am Not a Humanist

by Luke Muehlhauser on November 11, 2009 in Ethics,General Atheism

humanismSome people think atheism is synonymous with humanism. If you’re an atheist, you must be a humanist.

Not so. I am an atheist but not a humanist.


Let’s look at at what humanism is. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, humanism is “a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.”

I can already distance myself from this position, but before I say why, let’s get more specific.

The “standard” positions of humanists are summarized in the latest (2003) Humanist Manifesto, which states:

  1. Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.
  2. Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.
  3. Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.
  4. Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.
  5. Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.
  6. Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.

It’s #3 that bothers me. I do not believe that moral values are derived from human desires. I believe moral values are derived from desires, period. To focus on human desires and ignore all other desires in the universe is blatant speciesism.

But can’t I just sign on with humanism, understanding there’s one qualification to be made on point #3?

No, for speciesism is central to humanism. Heck, it’s in the name of the thing. Humanity is the whole point of humanism. Now that is good progress beyond religious ethics, but it’s not progress far enough.

I count humanists as my brothers as sisters. We’re fighting for the same things. Mostly.

But if this post persuades you to cancel membership in a humanist association, please don’t quit activism altogether. Please join another organization that will help you live out your moral values.

That way, we can all work together to make this world a better place, for all of us.


– See more at:

Some Good News and Some Victories for Animals in 2014

An Animal Rights Article from

December 2014

THANK YOU for every single thing you did to make a difference for animals in 2014!

Use this list to honor animal activism, to congratulate yourself for your contribution, and to inspire all of us to do even MORE for animals in 2015. Please SHARE this link!

We know there are many more victories and many more good news items for animals in 2014. And we know there are LOTS of opinions of what “victory” or “good news” mean to different people.

This is a listing of what we posted as good news/victories on our 2014 weekly eNewsletters. Check out past issues here and/or subscribe here.


Dr. Steve Best on animal RIGHTS at AR2014‏

it’s 25 minutes long………..and well worth your time

Steve Best at AR2014

Dr. Steven Best gave this talk in the opening plenary panel at the US National Animal Rights Conference, on July 10, 2014. Dr. Best spoke on the meaning of animal rights, and he contrasted it to animal welfare, contextualized both in the setting of modern capitalism, and underscored the subversive and revolutionary nature of animal rights.

Please forward the link.cow-and-calf-love_w520

Japan takes baby steps toward a proper debate about animal rights

Photo  Jim Robertson

Photo Jim Robertson

by Philip Brasor Feb 22, 2014

On Jan. 10, convenience store chain Family Mart started selling a new bentō (boxed lunch) with a heavy-duty name to complement its hefty ¥600 price: Famima Premium Koroge Wagyu-iri Hamburger Bento, which “contains” high-quality Japanese ground beef. For an added touch of extravagance, it also came with a side of foie gras.

A month later, the company withdrew the product after receiving complaints about the foie gras, which is made from the fatty livers of geese. Animal welfare groups claim the manufacture of foie gras amounts to animal cruelty since the birds are force-fed. A Family Mart PR person told Tokyo Shimbun that the company only received 22 complaints, but that it was enough to persuade it to pull the item. The reporter hinted that the company may have actually withdrawn it due to bad sales, but in any case, it’s significant that complaints related to animal rights would be taken seriously by a Japanese business and picked up by the media. It’s not a topic that’s usually covered unless non-Japanese are involved.

Like Caroline Kennedy. The new U.S. ambassador to Japan recently attracted media scrutiny for a tweet expressing her and the U.S. government’s objection to the dolphin “drive hunt” taking place in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture. Ever since “The Cove” won the Oscar for best documentary of 2009, the world has come down on the whaling town for its yearly cull, which involves scaring dolphins into a cove, separating some for sale to aquariums and marine shows, and killing others for food. Taiji says the condemnation is unfair, since this is how the town makes its living. People who object are hypocrites because humans raise cows and pigs for slaughter. What’s the difference?

Protests are viewed by the Japanese press as a form of cultural bias: Those who complain think dolphins are special, more intelligent than other animals and thus should not be killed for food. But recent editorials in the Tokyo and Asahi Shimbuns, prompted by the Kennedy tweet, downplay the cultural-chasm theory. Asahi says it is more about “how we want to live as human beings.” Why are dolphins special? The feeling is that there is “less distance” between our two species because dolphins are biologically equipped to “communicate,” thus giving them the means to display “intelligence.” And the more an animal “fulfills the condition of being human,” the greater its right to be treated the same way, meaning they should have similar rights as people do in a given society.

However, the logical pillars of this argument as erected by the Asahi were designed to be knocked down. The paper interviewed Koichi Tagami, a lecturer on ethics at Rissho University, who says human rights stem from self-consciousness, which implies “independent reasoning.” If other animals manifest self-consciousness in some way, they deserve to have their rights protected, including the right not to have pain inflicted on them. So if we grant those rights to dolphins, Tagami argues, then all animals that feel pain should have that right, including cows and pigs. Even robots, he reasons, have the right to object to being “controlled” by humans.

The editorial quotes other scholars who point out differing attitudes toward animals in other countries, and how certain animals are protected while others aren’t depending on the culture. The point seems to be that it is impossible to formulate legal guidelines that cover all aspects of animal welfare when there is no global consensus on what is basically a philosophical issue.

But the Asahi’s academic approach conveniently avoids touching on the most important aim of the animal welfare movement, which is to prevent suffering. Tagami’s theory about freedom from pain is merely a talking point. Though the average person may find advocacy of animal rights too intense at times, the worldwide trend is toward less suffering. Slaughterhouses in Europe must anesthetize livestock before they are killed. Most in the U.S. slaughter animals only after they are stunned. Last week, Denmark outlawed meat-processing techniques used for halal and kosher food, which dictate that animals be conscious when they are slaughtered. The move was met with condemnation from Muslim and Jewish groups. Even nonreligious people wondered about the law after a Danish zoo killed a perfectly healthy giraffe and fed it to lions because the giraffe could not be bred. Its genetic material was already over-represented in the captive environment.

Tokyo Shimbun’s editorial enters this realm by tying animal welfare to commerce. What’s cruel is the mass-production methods of most meat-processing businesses, which are designed to be cheaper and more efficient. Filmmaker Aya Hanabusa made a movie about a Japanese butcher that showed how he raised his livestock from birth and personally killed the animals before processing their meat for sale. She told Tokyo Shimbun that before you can call dolphin culls cruel, you have to apply the same ethical criteria to animals raised “as industrial products.”

In this regard, Taiji fishermen say they have adopted “slaughterhouse methods” to make sure the dolphins they kill “die instantly,” an assertion that anyone who has seen “The Cove” may have a problem with. In any event, they invited Kennedy to witness the cull and see for herself, since what galled them was her suggestion that it is “inhumane.”

Semantics mean something here, and both sides stretch points to their advantage. Taiji claims outsiders are interfering with their “traditional way of life,” but the town didn’t start the drive hunt until 1969, when it needed live animals for its recently opened whaling museum. The anti-cull activists, on the other hand, insist that dolphin meat is dangerous due to high levels of mercury, a contention that is incidental to the cruelty argument. In a world where meat-eating is common, it’s unlikely either side is going to budge unless the Japanese media joins the discussion in a meaningful way.