“Maybe, Just Maybe, Somebody is Listening” March 11 2014, 0 Comments
Back in December, Rescued Cards learned of a coyote and wolf youth hunting derby in Idaho scheduled for the weekend after Christmas and asked you to join us in signing a petition protesting this “sport hunting” event. Despite thousands nationwide speaking out against it, the 1st Annual Salmon Youth Predator Derby was held as scheduled, resulting in the killing of zero wolves and 21 coyotes. The pro-hunting lobby has since used the fact that no wolves were “harvested” to boost their claims that “urbanites” and “radical anti-hunting enviro’s” made much ado about nothing; to them, the protestors were clueless bleeding hearts that know nothing about managing wildlife. Of course, as part of that allegedly clueless throng, we at Rescued Cards were concerned about more than just that weekend’s casualties. Many of us also questioned the wildlife “management” aspects of putting a bounty on living beings and rewarding children financially, and with publicity, for what essentially is killing for sport. To the bleeding hearts among us, making much ado about that is a far cry from making much ado about nothing.
Needless to say, the differences in opinion between the two groups haven’t been resolved. In fact, here we are a scant three months later and the ever-contentious battle over the gray wolf’s fate in the contiguous United States is again making headlines. On the one hand is Idaho, home of the aforementioned “youth derby,” recently contracting with a hunter-trapper to exterminate two entire packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. $30,000 later, 23 wolves are suddenly dead, killed in a helicopter hunting operation last month in a move that has upset even conservation groups that accept hunting as necessary. Further, Governor Butch Otter has apparently proposed allocating $2 million to the creation and implementation of a “Wolf Control Board” to oversee the further reduction of the state’s wolf population (read: it would be responsible for the killing of more wolves). The plan is controversial, even amongst some residents who are hunting-tolerant, but many Idahoans feel their resources are at risk, and feel reducing the number of wolves as quickly as possible is a needed step in the right direction.
However, the news for us clueless bleeding hearts who aren’t convinced all this killing is necessary isn’t all bad: the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has reopened the period for public comment on its plan to remove federal protection of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act. The USFWS’s decision to reopen the comment period is in response to a report by a panel of independent scientists that found the plan to delist was based on insufficient science. The panel recommended further investigation; the USFWS has decided to include public sentiment in its inquiry. However, the window for making your views known is closing quickly! U.S. residents have until March 27th to submit their comments. The Sierra Club, amongst several other agencies, has been organizing a letter writing campaign. Thanks to the Internet, it’s incredibly easy to have your voice heard. Please visit The Sierra Club's "11th Hour for Wolves" page to join their letter writing drive, and/or submit your comments directly to the USFWS by clicking here. And if you want to protest Idaho’s plans to continue hiring professional wildlife sharpshooters to exterminate wolves en masse, please sign this Center for Biological Diversity’s petition addressed to Idaho Fish and Game.
Just when it seemed the verdict was in on the USFWS’s plans for the gray wolf we learn the jury may still be out. You have a voice, an opportunity and several options, including, but not limited to, those described above. Now’s the time to share your concern for this icon of the American wilderness. Please speak out before March 27th. Who knows? Maybe this is one of those times that somebody really is listening.
“Beagles Deserve Freedom, Not Cruelty” March 06 2014, 0 Comments
When you think of animal testing – you know, those experiments that use animals as test subjects – what types of animals come to mind? Monkeys, maybe? Or “lab” rats? How about beagles, the loveable breed of dog made famous by its cartoon icon, Snoopy? Though many people do not realize it, beagle dogs are amongst the most tested-upon mammals in the world today… and they have been for a long time. Why? Well, unfortunately for the beagle, it seems some of the very same qualities that have made them a favored pet by many – their generally docile nature, amiable personality, relatively small size and adaptability – make them prime subjects for research. Because they’re small and generally accommodating, many beagles can be housed together, requiring less space and money than other dog breeds and types of animals. This combination of favorable traits has proven irresistible to researches… and lethal to beagles.
Many people are under the impression that, for the most part, testing on live animals is a thing of the past. With all of the agitating and protesting of the past several years, and what seems like so many companies printing, “Not tested on animals” on their product packaging, a certain nebulous myth has arisen that animals are used in experiments only when absolutely necessary to help cure a human disease. Unfortunately, this is far, far from the truth. All sorts of products – from cosmetics to household cleaners to over-the-counter medications – are tested on live animals before they hit the shelf of your neighborhood store. And there is great debate about the necessity and usefulness of these tests. What isn’t up for debate is that many of these tests are cruel – and beagles often find themselves subjected to the cruelest among them.
One such test is known as the LD50 (“Lethal Dose 50”) Test. This test is used to determine what single dose of a given substance is needed to kill 50% of the animals in the experiment. Generally, this test proceeds for 14 days, with up to 60 beagles in the test group. Several doses may be given over the span of the two weeks, with dogs often suffering through convulsions, difficulty breathing, becoming unable to stand, sometimes bleeding from their eyes or mouth, and often seizing uncontrollably. It is not unusual for these dogs to howl in pain, but giving any pain relief or “humanely” killing them during the experiment would be considered invalidating the results of the test, so neither is done. If a dog is still alive at the end of the 14 days, it is considered a “survivor,” though survivors may still be killed after the experiment concludes. Beagles are also subject to vivisection and also used in other toxicity tests – some that are long term and record how certain toxins build up in, and affect the dogs’ tissues. In these, the beagles will often suffer a slow and excruciating march toward death, replete with vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, hyper-salivation, extreme weight loss, kidney damage and liver failure. The test periods for these toxicity tests can range from four weeks to two years, with little or nothing done to mitigate the dogs’ suffering through the course of the experiment. The pain and suffering these dogs endure cannot be put into words, but they can be conveyed in pictures. (Several photos, some quite disturbing, exist online of beagles both during and after experimentation. A simple Google Images search will give you an idea.)
So what can be done to help the plight of lab beagles? First, become informed and let your pocketbook do the talking: several organizations provide lists like this one from The Vegetarian Site of companies that test on animals. Others, like the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, cobble lists of companies that are cruelty free. In addition, there are rescues working to help beagles that survive their tenure in a research lab have a second chance at life afterward. If you want to learn more about how you can help, please contact the Beagle Freedom Project. This organization is working on laws to ensure research facilities release beagles to non-profit rescue organizations instead of killing them after the facilities no long have a use for them. Since its inception in 2010, the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) has already successfully re-homed over 150 beagles previously used in laboratory research. That’s the great news… the not so great news is that, according to the BFP, there are still over 60,000 beagles sitting research laboratories today in the United States alone, awaiting who knows what kind of fate. Please get involved – help at least some of these escape cruelty and find their way to freedom.
“Don’t Forget the Little Guys (& Gals)” March 04 2014, 0 Comments
March is “Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month” and at Rescued Cards, we didn’t want to miss this opportunity to send a shout out on behalf of guinea pigs in need. Started in 2002 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the month-long campaign is aimed at raising awareness of guinea pigs (also known as “cavies”) in general, and especially of those in shelters and rescues awaiting forever homes. Though guinea pigs are often thought of as the quintessential pet shop animal, the fact of the matter is, you do not have to purchase one from a store if you want to add one to your family. “Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month” is an attempt to correct the misperception that rescue is not an option when it comes to the loveable guinea pig.
Photo: "Mr. Tinks" Rescued by Cleveland Animal Protective League - Cleveland, OH.
Artwork Illustration: Zachary Pryor
If you have never had the opportunity to hang out with a guinea pig, they domake wonderful pets. In fact, the subspecies of cavies we commonly know as guinea pigs, “Cavia porcellus,” is not found in the wild: its domestication has been traced back as far as 5000 BC in South America and it was documented as a popular exotic pet in Elizabethan England, even being favored by Queen Elizabeth I herself. Today, especially in Western society, they remain a popular family pet due to their easy-going temperaments, curious and affectionate personalities and their relative ease of care. Because cavies are generally fairly docile and rarely bite, kids and guinea pigs are usually fast friends (though we’d still recommend, like with all new pets coming into a home, children are educated on the do’s and don’ts). They are low cost to maintain, feed and entertain and live a relatively long time for a small mammal: 5-7 years on average. And it doesn’t hurt that as traveling with pets go, it doesn’t get much easier than hitting the road with a guinea pig. In short, in the hustle and bustle world many of us live in, guinea pigs check many of the boxes on the list for “ideal family pet.”
However, despite these great qualities and their popularity as pets in some parts of the world, guinea pigs do face challenges. First, just think about why we refer to someone being experimented on as a “guinea pig,” as in, “You want to try out your new sugar-free cookie recipe? Sure, I’ll be your guinea pig.” Guinea pigs have a long history of being tortured subjects in medical, scientific and commercial testing. In the past couple of decades they have largely been replaced by other small mammals in these experiments, but still serve as test subjects, primarily in the study of human medical conditions. Second, guinea pigs do not enjoy “beloved pet” status with everyone: cavies have long been raised as a food staple in places like Peru and Ecuador, a practice that is becoming more popular in the U.S. and around the globe. And lastly, irresponsible pet ownership has led to countless guinea pigs ending up in a shelter, at a rescue, being euthanized due to lack of shelter space, or being left to fend for themselves in the wild. Unfortunately, either inadvertent or intentional breeding leads many overwhelmed guinea pig owners to become overwhelmed guinea pig owners to either dump their unwanted cavies in a vacant field (where they are unlikely to survive for long) or to bring them to a shelter.
Fortunately, these tragic stories need not all have tragic endings – there are shelters and rescues working to provide cavies with a second chance. If you think a little guy or little gal might make a good pet for you and your family, PLEASE forego the breeder and the local pet store and investigate the possibility of rescuing one instead. Chances are very good there is at least one guinea pig rescue or an animal shelter with cavies in your general vicinity. To learn more about guinea pigs, “Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month,” or how to sponsor a rescued guinea pig, please click here.
"Forever Means... FOREVER" February 27 2014, 0 Comments
Dear Potential Adopter,
Congratulations on your decision to expand your family by rescuing a homeless animal! Trust me when I tell you this is one of the best decisions you will ever make. And I’m not just saying this as someone who volunteers at a rescue; I’m speaking from experience. As someone fortunate enough to have adopted some truly amazing pups from rescues and shelters, I can’t put into words how much fuller my life has been thanks to my dogs. And it may be entirely in my imagination but I swear they know I was their ticket away from “death row” at a shelter, or away from a prior life of abuse and neglect. The bonds I’ve shared with each of the five dogs I’ve adopted are like no other bonds I’ve ever experienced, and that's something that you have to look forward to if you choose to provide an animal a forever home.
But before you submit that application to a rescue and let your heart settle on that perfect new companion, let’s talk about that word, “forever.” Though you might not guess it, “forever” apparently means different things to different people. For the vast majority of rescues, “forever” generally equates to a lifetime. That is, when a rescue entrusts one of the souls it has been caring for to an adopter who promises to provide that animal with a loving, nurturing “forever home,” the rescue is expecting that animal will live with the adopter until one of them dies. That’s the understanding and often, that understanding is conveyed somewhere in the adoption contract/paperwork.
Unfortunately, some adopters have a vastly different understanding of what is meant by “forever home.” I first learned this in an extremely heartbreaking way, when I took a summer job at an animal shelter during my college years. During my first week I was being trained in the “Intake” area when the manager training me described a case that occurred just a scant week before (thankfully it was before) I started: a woman relinquished her twelve and a half-year-old, partially blind Lhasa Apso that she’d raised from a puppy because she had gotten her furniture reupholstered and the colors in the dog’s coat no longer matched the furniture. The dog had done nothing wrong and, despite having slowed down a bit, apparently had plenty of life left. But the woman felt she’d done enough, providing a home for twelve years, and she was done. She left her blind, senior, somewhat tough to re-home dog at our shelter -- a shelter that is not a "no-kill" facility, by the way. For that woman, “forever” was as long as her dog didn’t clash with the couch.
Clearly, that is an extreme example (and yes, it IS a true story), but it taught me about the really broad spectrum that exists in terms of how people come to define the animals in their lives. And that’s a definition, dear Potential Adopter, which you want to give A LOT of thought to before adopting. Because, though they will probably be more pressing than color schemes in your living room, challenges will come. Maybe you’ll have a baby in the next year or two and the demands on your time and finances will change… will the pet still be welcome? Maybe your employer will transfer you across country… will you be willing to search for pet friendly housing? Maybe the shy puppy you adopted will grow into a dog that pulls you down the street on walks and wants to chase the mail carrier… will you work with a trainer to help correct problem behaviors? And be willing to keep working, and working and working on them? More than likely, challenges will come; the question as you ponder rescuing an animal today is, when they do, how will YOU define “forever?”
Look, Potential Adopter, I’m not trying to scare you away from rescuing an animal. I love volunteering for a rescue and by far the best decisions I’ve ever made were when I decided to bring home the dogs I’ve adopted. I just want to help make sure you and the rescue (or shelter) you deal with are on the same page. When those of us in rescue use words like “forever home” or “family member” in reference to the animals we’re trying to re-home, we mean those things in fairly literal ways. And just as you wouldn’t give away your daughter because you developed an allergy to her hair, we expect you’d exhaust every conceivable option before giving up on your Himalayan mix under similar circumstances. From the rescue’s perspective, an animal is a life – not an object, not an accessory, not a possession and not a matter of convenience. Bringing such a life into yours IS a huge commitment, but having that level of investment – of commitment – is also what makes being a pet parent great. It’s what lays the foundation for the incredibly joyful, incredibly intense bonds many of us have formed with the animals in our lives.
So… if you’re truly ready to put the “forever” in “forever home,” then thank you for choosing rescue! And thank you for being prepared to go all in!
“It’s World Spay Day – Vow to Save a Life” February 25 2014, 0 Comments
Today marks the 20th anniversary of “World Spay Day.” World Spay Day is a joint campaign of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Humane Society International (HSI) that aims to raise awareness about the importance and accessibility of spaying and neutering companion and community animals (such as street dogs and stray/feral cats). As part of the campaign, HSUS and HSI coordinate with veterinarians and animal care clinics worldwide to provide free or low cost spay and neuter surgeries today and throughout the month of February. In addition, several organizations and businesses host fundraisers to support low cost spay and neuter services and provide educational materials. Over the past two decades, World Spay Day has grown from an event coordinating a handful of agencies to having several hundred animal welfare organizations, vet clinics, pet-related business and individuals participate this year. While the increased participation is fantastic, the fact that such a large, coordinated effort is still so badly needed illustrates the urgency of the world’s homeless pet problem.
Photo: "BUDDY" an alumni from The Barking Lot Dog Rescue - San Diego, CA
If you’re reading this blog chances are pretty good that you’re already fairly aware of the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten the message. According to the HSUS, there are roughly 3500 animal shelters taking in somewhere between 6-8 million cats and dogs yearly in the United States alone. (This number does NOT include other companion animals such as rabbits, hamsters and birds.) Of these, about 2.7 million healthy, but unclaimed, pets are euthanized annually. Odds are particularly bad for cats: the HSUS estimates that only 2-5 percent of shelter cats get reclaimed by owners. Even with these staggering numbers and with increased efforts to educate owners about the pet overpopulation problem, chances are very good you know someone who refuses to spay or neuter their pet. If that’s the case, several organizations including, but not limited to, the HSUS, HSI, the ASPCA and The Anti-Cruelty Society all provide lists of solid reasons supporting spay and neuter. A few of the most common arguments:
1) Neutered male dogs are less likely to roam and more likely to be better behaved.
2) Spayed females won’t go into heat. This generally means less mess and less misery.
3) Spaying and neutering is good for your community. Stray dogs and cats pose various problems; if they are unaltered, that list of problems becomes longer. Unaltered pets have a tendency to be more aggressive and of course, often find other unaltered animals and produce unwanted/unplanned for litters. And of course, unaltered pets are more likely than altered ones to become wanderers in the first place.
4) Generally speaking, neutered males and spayed females are healthier and live longer than unaltered pets. For instance, neutering your male puppy before 6 months of age will basically prevent him from getting testicular cancer.
5) Spaying and neutering is cost effective. Regardless of the cost of the surgery, it’s less than the cost to care for, and find new homes for, a litter of puppies or kittens.
If you or someone you know remains unconvinced, please see more good reasons to spay or neuter on this ASPCA web page, or on this handout from HSI. Or, just take a moment to imagine what it must be like to be an animal shelter worker responsible for euthanizing healthy pets because you need to make space for other animals that may have a better shot at being reclaimed or adopted into a new home. You have to walk a perfectly healthy animal (maybe one of your favorites that you play with often) into a room and watch the life drain out of it. And that scenario happens day after day, across this country and around the world. But it doesn’t have to… if we all take a vow to spay and neuter our pets and help others spay and neuter theirs.
For information on World Spay Day events, on how you can support World Spay Day, or to learn how you can take advantage of low cost or free spay and neuter services, please visit the official World Spay Day web site.
"Whatever Became of...?" February 20 2014, 0 Comments
Over the course of the past nine months, we’ve covered dozens of topics in this blog. And judging from the numerous emails, comments and Facebook posts we’ve seen in response, several of those posts have piqued the curiosity – or in some cases, kindled the outrage – of many of you. Several readers have reached out wanting to know how things have turned out or how to become more involved, so we thought we’d revisit a few of our past posts. Here is an update on some of our most asked about topics:
1) Horse slaughter in New Mexico
In the July 2, 2013 post entitled, “What Goes Around…” we reported on how the United States Department of Agriculture had approved the opening of the first horse slaughterhouse for meat production to operate in the United States since such facilities were effectively banned by Congress back in 2007. Valley Meat Company had planned to turn its recently shuttered beef “processing” plant in Roswell, New Mexico into a horsemeat processing facility, with the first slaughter planned for January 1, 2014. While equine meat for human consumption remains illegal in the United States, it is not illegal in many other nations and Valley Meat Company looks to profit from that industry. Where it stands now: The ASPCA mounted a petition campaign, which Rescued Cards joined, protesting legalized horse slaughter in the U.S. Several other agencies and advocates, as well as a few politicians, including NM Attorney General Gary King, have also joined the fight. Last month, a Santa Fe district judge issued a preliminary injunction against Valley Meat Company, at least temporarily stalling the opening of the slaughterhouse, and buying the 20 horses slated for the initial slaughter a bit of a reprieve. Almost simultaneously, President Obama signed a budget measure that prevents the U.S.D.A. from funding necessary inspections for these plants, further fortifying the efforts to halt horse slaughter in the United States. Still, the fight in New Mexico goes on. To join the fight, please see the ASPCA's page on horse slaughter.
2) Bullfighting in Tijuana
The August 1, 2014 post – “Help Tijuana Become a Bullfighting Free Zone” – detailed the efforts of our rescue partner, Friends of the Humane Society of Tijuana (HSTJ), to bring an end to that brutal blood sport. At the time HSTJ was asking people to take a short survey that they hoped would demonstrate that bullfighting is not a big draw for visitors to Mexico. Where it stands now: Unfortunately, bullfighting remains legal and prized in Tijuana – local hotels and tourism agencies are publicizing that fights will return to Tijuana’s two main bullfighting arenas come this spring. However, all is not lost: in 2013, Sonora became the first state in Mexico to ban bullfighting as part of a larger law against cruelty to animals. If you’d like to take action against the incredibly inhumane practice of bullfighting, please click here.
3) Rhino Hunt Auction
On November 14th, we asked if auctioning off the chance to hunt an endangered black rhinoceros as a fundraiser for rhinoceros conservation was a “Moral Dilemma? Or Moral Delusion?” In one of the stranger and more disturbing stories we came across last year, the Dallas Safari Club had announced plans to auction a permit allowing someone to hunt and kill one of the rarest mammals on earth – the extremely endangered black rhinoceros. The twist: proceeds from the auction were to go toward conservation efforts aimed at protecting black rhinos. Where it stands now: Despite immense outrage and several petitions attempting to block the auction, it went off without a hitch last month. Corey Knowlton, a Dallas-based hunting consultant, paid $350,000 for the right to go to Namibia and kill a black rhinoceros in the wild. Protests continue; Knowlton claims those upset about the auction have threatened him and his children. He also claims that his hunt will help protect rhinos across Namibia and is a smart and necessary conservation strategy. While that is clearly open to debate, one thing that isn’t is that we haven’t seen the last of this rationalization for trophy hunting.
4) Million Pibble March:
We’re happy to report that plans for Rebecca Corry’s upcoming event to call attention to the abuse of, and discrimination against, pit bulls – aka the “One Million Pibble March” – are coming together. As we noted in our post on December 18th (“Who Knew $1 Could Go So Far?”), Corry is trying to get people to pledge their support $1 at a time. Where it stands now: So far, her Stand Up for Pits Foundation has reached 53% of the amount needed to fund the One Million Pibble March, scheduled for May 4, 2014 in Washington, D.C. This is an incredibly important event, aimed at raising awareness about the awesomeness of pibbles and the ineffectiveness and unfairness of breed restrictive legislation. If you have a dollar or two to spare for this worthy cause, want to learn more about it, or want to purchase an über-cool One Million Pibble March t-shirt, please click here.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on these and other important issues; if you have questions on other topics we’ve touched on in this blog, leave a comment and let us know!
"Make this YOUR Olympic Moment" February 18 2014, 2 Comments
Quick: what do you remember most about last year’s Boston Marathon? The anguished faces of those injured in the bombing? The news footage of the bomb going off near the finish line? Seeing the entire Boston metro area on lockdown as officials zeroed in on the accused bombers? While I vividly remember all of that, none of it is what stands out about that tragic event. Instead, when I think back on the 2013 Boston Marathon what comes to mind first and foremost are the reports of runners crossing the finish-line, exhausted and dehydrated, and running on to the nearest hospital to donate blood for the victims. I have no idea who won the marathon, how many people finished or why, for that matter, anyone would do something as awful as bomb the race. But I do know that everyone who chipped in that day to help others – especially those who ran to a hospital after already running 26.2 miles – won the day, regardless of where they placed in the race.
And maybe that helps explain why Lindsey Jacobellis has emerged as my favorite U.S. Olympic Athlete in Sochi, despite not even getting close to winning a medal. See Jacobellis, a snowboarder who won silver at the 2006 Games and who was the favorite in Snowboard Cross this year, failed to earn a medal a few days ago when, leading in her semifinal heat, she fell… and subsequently fell out of medal contention. A bitter blow for perhaps the most dominant woman in snowboard cross history, made all-the-worse by the fact that she suffered a similar fall four years ago at the 2010 Vancouver Games when, again, she was in the lead and the gold medal favorite. And while some athletes (understandably so) might be swallowed by the disappointment of the moment, here’s what Jacobellis is doing instead: she is adopting one of the stray dogs of Sochi and bringing it back to Connecticut with her. Far from leaving Russia empty-handed, Jacobellis is joining teammate Gus Kenworthy (who, in addition to winning silver in Slopestyle Skiing, is adopting four puppies and their mother), in becoming an Olympic hero of a different kind: she’s saving a life and in the process, bringing home something even more valuable than Olympic hardware.
Of course, the fact that Jacobellis and Kenworthy are Olympic athletes is helping to bring attention to the shame of Sochi: Russian authorities decided to exterminate thousands of stray dogs prior to, and during, the Winter Olympics. Sochi city officials contracted with a company to poison and shoot the dogs, many of which became homeless when their family homes were demolished so that venues housing Olympic events could be built. Fortunately for some of the dogs, at least, the international press arrived for the Games and began reporting on the plight of Sochi’s strays. Since then, rescuers have descended upon the town, desperately trying to help find homes or temporary housing for the dogs before they’re killed. The situation is as dire as Sochi’s extermination plan is reprehensible. But… just as was the case amidst the chaos of the Boston Marathon bombing, the worst of circumstances often brings out the best in people. Certainly, we’re seeing that in the efforts of the rescuers, the actions of Oleg Deripaska, the Russian billionaire who is funding an impromptu shelter on the outskirts of Sochi to help some of the strays find new homes, and in the willingness of Lindsey Jacobellis and Gus Kenworthy to adopt and fly a few of the homeless pups halfway around the world. Talk about having the hearts of champions.
They’ve done their part; now it’s up to the rest of us. According to several media outlets and animal rights organizations, hundreds of dogs have already been killed, but there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of Sochi strays that can be saved. If you are interested, Humane Society International has prepared an informational page with suggestions about the adoption process. But even if you’re not prepared to bring a dog home from Sochi, you can still help. You can donate to Humane Society International or other organizations that work to protect “street dogs.” You can also join Rescued Cards in pledging to keep an eye on future Olympics. The Sochi Games were billed as the most environmentally friendly Games in history – and in just the area of animal rights (wild orcas caught and exhibited in a small tank, an endangered dolphin forced to “entertain” audiences in the opening ceremony, and hundreds of dogs brutally killed) they failed miserably. Please contact the International Olympic Committee and let them know we demand better for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. You may not win an Olympic medal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in the Games.
"Add Mother Nature to Your Valentine's List" February 14 2014, 0 Comments
Looking for a last minute Valentine’s Gift? Whether your Valentine is a romantic partner, a friend, a family member or a grade school classmate, they’re sure to appreciate you throwing a little love their way. However, if you’re going to celebrate this February 14th, you might as well show Mother Nature a little love as well. Here are a few suggestions for making this Valentine’s Day not only special, but also cruelty-free:
Home Cooking: Is the way to your Valentine’s heart through their stomach? If so, there are several delicious and eco-friendly ways to win them over. If you like to cook or bake yourself, check out these tasty recipes for all sorts of sweets, from Red Velvet Cupcakes to Chocolate Cashew Tarts. If you need more inspiration, try one of these "sinfully good & cruelty-free" treats courtesy of One Green Planet or one of these cookie recipes from Om Nom Nom Cookies. Prefer to focus on meals as opposed to desserts? One Green Planet again has some suggestions that might help: start Valentine’s Day off right with one of these 25 Vegan Breakfast in Bed Recipes.
Sweet Treats: If you’re somewhat of a Valentine’s traditionalist, you may be nervous that your efforts to be environmentally conscious will limit your options when it comes to candy, chocolate, etc. But never fear! There are PLENTY of healthy, cruelty-free treats to choose from -- here are a few suggestions:
For a variety of candies, try the Natural Candy Store.
Did someone say (vegan) cheesecake? Try these from Vegan Treats.
Make a chocoholic’s day with organic and gourmet chocolates from The Vegan Store.
Don’t forget your furry Valentines! Max & Ruffy's makes some great vegan dog treats!
Gifts for a Cause: Okay, if you order one of these, it’ll probably reach your Valentine a little late. Who cares? This is one of those times when late really is (MUCH) better than never. First, you’ll be doing a good deed. And second, your Valentine is bound to be impressed by said good deed. It’s truly a “win-win:”
Vegan Valentine's Chocolates courtesy of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Adopt a Wild Animal through the Sierra Club. Your Valentine will receive a plush toy version of the animal; the Sierra Club will use your donation to help protect your chosen wild animal.
Support vegan-friendly businesses by ordering a Snack Box subscription from Vegan Cuts and have a monthly box of plant-based snacks delivered to your Valentine’s door.
Tried & True E-cards: At the end of the day, it’s awfully hard to go wrong on Valentine’s Day by giving a Valentine. Fortunately, several eco-friendly organizations are offering FREE Ecards this year:
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! If you’re still brainstorming what to give, hopefully the above has proven helpful. Remember, every day – Valentine’s Day included – is the perfect day to embrace eco-friendly ways. As you’re celebrating your loved ones, don’t forget to show Mother Nature a little love as well!
"Happy Black History Month!" February 12 2014, 0 Comments
February is Black History Month, a time when the history, culture and contributions of Blacks from throughout the African diaspora are studied and celebrated. Consequently, this is the perfect time to shine the spotlight on some of the activism that Blacks worldwide have done on behalf of animals, animal rights and the environment. Unfortunately, a misperception has evolved that Blacks have not been active in animal and environmental welfare movements – nothing could be further from the truth. So, in celebration of Black History Month, here are three Black activists whose animal/environmental-friendly exploits are to be commended, learned from and shared:
Alice Walker – If you didn’t realize that the Pulitzer Prize winning author is a longtime vegetarian who has written (and spoken) extensively on animal rights, that may not be by accident: Walker is one of the United States’ most celebrated, and most banned, authors. In some cases, that’s specifically because of her efforts to get humans to rethink their relationships with animals: her essay, “Am I Blue?” for instance, was removed from the 10th-grade California Learning Assessment System exam in part because it was perceived possibly to advocate a meatless “nutritional lifestyle.” But if you haven’t read this essay, which is the story of a horse, Blue, who experiences what most people consider very “human” emotions and pain, it’s a beautifully written plea to extend our humanity to the animals around us. In addition, Walker – clearly not afraid of controversy – has waded into the ever-contentious waters of comparing human and animal slavery. In her Foreward for Marjorie Spiegel’s book, The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery (1997), Walker argues passionately against the type of rationalization that places humans at the top of an illusory hierarchy of importance: "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men." Some consider her stances on issues such as these “radical,” but for both reasoned and emotional/empathetic arguments in favor of animal rights, Alice Walker’s writings are tough to beat. (“I Am Blue” is available for free online and The Dreaded Comparison is available in many libraries and bookstores, as well as at Amazon.com).
Dick Gregory – The longtime Civil Rights activist, comedian and prolific author has been considered controversial for almost as long as he has been in the public eye. Known for politically oriented humor, as well as for being outspoken on issues such as racism, classism, sexism and U.S. domestic and foreign policy, Gregory has also been a strong proponent for animal rights for decades. His work in this area has not garnered as much attention as has his advocacy on these other issues, but it is not for lack of trying. Gregory has been a vegetarian for over 50 years, started his own vegetarian health food company in the 1980s, and has both penned a letter to KFC and shot an anti-animal cruelty TV spot on behalf of PETA. He has spoken and written extensively on how, to his mind, vegetarianism is a logical extension of his nonviolent civil disobedience: “Under the leadership of Dr. King, I became totally committed to nonviolence, and I was convinced that nonviolence meant opposition to killing in any form. I felt the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' applied to human beings not only in their dealings with each other -- war, lynching, assassination, murder and the like -- but in their practice of killing animals for food or sport. Animals and humans suffer and die alike….” If you’d like to see and hear Gregory speak on health, vegetarianism or animal rights, there are several video clips to choose from up on YouTube, and his book, Dick Gregory's Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin' With Mother Nature! (1973) is considered an early classic in the raw foods/plant-based diet movement.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was the first ever Black Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa and who originally rose to prominence as a relentless opponent of apartheid, has since continued advocating not only for human rights, but for animal rights as well. Considered a global leader in confronting issues such as oppression, discrimination and exploitation, Tutu has spoken about challenging injustice in all its forms for years. But recently, the activist has decided to take the fight further, issuing what has been called his first major written declaration regarding animal welfare. A major, new, multi-disciplinary collection of essays, collected and edited by Andrew Linzey, director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, was published just this past December. The Global Guide to Animal Protection offers essays and insights from some of the world’s leading scientists and animal welfare advocates – and includes a Foreword by Archbishop Tutu imploring people to view the fight for human rights and the fight for animal rights to be similar, intertwined struggles: “But there are other issues of justice – not only for human beings but also for the world’s other sentient creatures. The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked.”If you would like to read the entirety of Archbishop Tutu’s Foreward, The Global Guide to Animal Welfare is available at Amazon.com.
Happy Black History Month, everyone!
"Before it's Too Late" February 06 2014, 0 Comments
Pinta Island Tortoise. Western Black Rhinoceros. Caribbean Monk Seal. Canarian Oystercatcher. Javan Tiger. Mariana Mallard. Dusky Seaside Sparrow. Pyrenean Ibex. Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Japanese Sea Lion. Golden Toad. Poʻouli or Black-faced Honeycreeper. Liverpool Pigeon. Alaotra Grebe. Zanzibar Leopard. Platypus Frog. Cape Verde Giant Skink. Holdridge's Toad. Baiji Dolphin. Round Island Burrowing Boa. Japanese River Otter.
For those of us who are “Gen Xers,” the list above represents just a few of the species that have been declared extinct during our lifetimes. In fact, about half of these species have disappeared just since the turn of the century. While, tragically, there is nothing we can do to save and revive these animals, there is a species we can prevent from joining their ranks: the beautiful, but greatly imperiled, Florida panther. But if we’re going to save the panther, we have to act fast – as in NOW!
While biologists continue to debate whether the Florida panther is a truly distinct subspecies of North American cougar or not, there is at least one fact about the big cat that no one disputes: it is now so critically endangered that it has become one of the rarest mammals on earth. Despite once being common throughout the Southeastern United States, experts now estimate that only 100-160 panthers remain in the wild. It’s range has dwindled from several states to just a few pockets of mostly swampland in southern Florida (with young males occasionally roaming into the northern part of the state). In 2013, several organizations including Defenders of Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation, amongst others, all made the Florida panther a top conservation priority and again called upon local, state and federal officials to do more to protect the species. And now, at the beginning of 2014, the call to action is even more urgent.
So what happened to the Florida panther? Many of the usual culprits have posed threats: hunting, depletion of traditional food sources, pollution and toxins (including documented cases of mercury toxicity beginning in the 1980s), fatal run-ins with humans and loss of habitat. Unfortunately, despite being Florida’s official state animal, the Florida panther has, until relatively recently, been considered more of a nuisance by its home state than a treasure. In 1832, a bounty was placed on the panther by every county in Florida, and several other areas throughout the South followed suit. In addition, due to a breakout of disease, the Florida legislature passed a bill in 1937 to eradicate the white-tailed deer population in the state, decimating a main food source. However, since the panther was listed as “endangered” under Florida state law in 1958 and gained federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1973, the two biggest threats to panthers that remain, BY FAR, are loss of habitat and disease.
Because the numbers of wild panthers have dwindled to precariously low numbers (experts estimate as few as 20-30 panthers remained in the wild in the 1980s before Texas cougars were relocated into the region in an attempt to increase the number of mating pairs and introduce some genetic diversity), scientists warn that Florida panthers are extremely vulnerable to feline diseases and other environmental hazards. Increasing genetic diversity is key to strengthening the panthers’ immune systems, so introducing similar subspecies into the breeding population is a strategy that is gaining momentum. Probably even more pressing is the issue of habitat loss, both to housing/structural development as well as to transportation development. Over the past several years, vehicles have killed more panthers than anything else; according to the Sierra Club, 18 Florida panthers lost their lives to cars in 2012, which is three times higher than the next closest cause of death (“intraspecific aggression,” or run-ins with humans).
The Florida panther is a beautiful animal, important to Southeastern ecosystems, that prefers remote wilderness, and that poses nowhere near the risk to humans that we pose to it. We have almost doomed this species to the fate of the Dodo bird, but right here, right now, we have a chance to save it. Please get involved. Please alert your representatives in Congress that you want more done to protect the Florida panther and its habitat, join Defenders of Wildlife's efforts to convince the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to set aside critical panther habitat, and see Defenders of Wildlife’s Florida panther page to learn more about this elusive creature and what you can do to help it survive.
Been wanting to make a difference? NOW is your chance… before it’s too late.
“Time for the Big Game – Puppy Bowl X!” January 30 2014, 0 Comments
"McKenna" from The Barking Lot Dog Rescue. Available for adoption.
Grab your chips, your dips, your bowls of pretzels and M & M’s and stake out your favorite seat in front of the TV, because this coming Sunday, Feb. 2nd, is all about the annual Big Game – Puppy Bowl X! Apparently, there’s also this other game that will be broadcast on Sunday, but, with all due apologies to serious gridiron fans and people who love over-hyped commercials, only one of these contests consistently lives up its billing, year after year… and that’s Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl.
In the back "Brucey Boy" and in the front "Booger (Trumpet)" from The Barking Lot Dog Rescue. Available for adoption.
If you’ve never tuned in, you’ve been missing out. The Puppy Bowl brings together puppies from shelters and rescues around the United States, throws them onto a make-shift football field and let’s them do what puppies do – mainly play. There’s a referee, countless toys, a “water bowl cam,” and basically one rule: when a puppy crosses a goal line while carrying a toy, that pup is awarded a touchdown. (An MVP is named at the end of the game and generally the pup that scores the most has a leg up, so to speak, in the voting.) In addition to the on-field competition, this year’s game will again feature the kitty halftime show and hamster-piloted blimp for overhead shots, and will also be adding penguin cheerleaders, interactive MVP voting and live viewer Instagram submissions. If it sounds chaotic, it sort of is… but it’s a somewhat controlled chaos that generally results in plenty of hilarity and cuteness.
In the back "Shep" and in the front "Cassidy" from The Barking Lot Dog Rescue. Available for adoption.
"Rosarita" from The Barking Lot Dog Rescue. Available for adoption.
However, at Rescued Cards, we’re not just fans of the Puppy Bowl because of its entertainment value. Funny as it often is, this event actually serves a couple very serious, important functions. First, all of the pups showcased are from shelters and rescues, which raises awareness about adopting versus purchasing pets and provides these organizations much-needed publicity to help them place their other animals. Also, several of the puppies that participate are purebreds. This helps dispel the myth that those interested in a specific breed must get their dog from a breeder or pet store. Many rescues and shelters adopt out purebred dogs – even those that are “all-breed” agencies will often get in purebred dogs and puppies. We hope potential adopters will take a cue from the Puppy Bowl and turn to rescues and shelters for their furry family members, whether looking for a mixed breed or a purebred.
"Boomer" from The Barking Lot Dog Rescue. Available for adoption.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Puppy Bowl is that it just keeps on going and growing. Now in its tenth year, it has even garnered the attention of the White House: first Lady Michelle Obama and the presidential pups, Bo and Sunny, hosted a training camp for Puppy Bowl participants last October. Clips from the session will air during this Sunday’s broadcast, and hopefully the additional attention will help Puppy Bowl X pick up where Puppy Bowl IX left off: last year’s version brought in over 12 million viewers over the course of its 12-hour marathon (Animal Planet re-broadcasts the game throughout the day). Its formula isn’t complicated, but it sure seems to be effective.
In preparation for the Big Game this Sunday, visit Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl X page and learn about the starting lineup, back up players, the kitty stars of the halftime show, numerous rescues and shelters that help re-home these animals and more. Most importantly, get the word out and support this rescue and adoption friendly event! The premiere broadcast begins on Animal Planet at 3pm Eastern/Pacific time (check your local listings in other time zones). Tune in, sit back and enjoy the fun!
“Giving the Condor a Fighting Chance” January 28 2014, 0 Comments
It’s 2014 and if you’ve got a keen eye, happen to be in the right spot in southern California, Baja California (Mexico) or in the Grand Canyon region and get a little bit lucky, you might just see a California condor in the wild. And if you don’t know anything about this majestic and resilient bird’s tragic history, you may not realize how incredibly improbable that statement would’ve seemed just a few short years ago. After decades of steady decline in their population numbers, only 22 California condors were known to exist in the world by 1987 – and the last of those that were free flying were taken into captivity in an effort to save the species from extinction. The thought of seeing a California condor in the wild? For most of the past quarter century, you had a better chance of seeing Bigfoot.
Fortunately for the California condor and for all of us, really, its march into the annals of extinction has been interrupted, hopefully indefinitely. From that low of 22 known condors, the species’ number has grown to approximately 435, with 227 of those living in the wild. This is the result of a multi-pronged approach to recovery, including an aggressive captive breeding program, intense research into potential threats, legislated protection of condor habitat, medical intervention for poisoned and unhealthy birds and advocating for condor-friendly regulations for hunters, farmers and pesticides. After more than four years without a single known free flying California condor, a few were reintroduced into the wild in 1991. Though 227 may not seem like an overwhelming number, given that condors only lay one egg per reproduction cycle, there seems to be reason to be cautiously optimistic about the condor’s prospects for recovery.
However, this is clearly a work in progress – which is why paying attention to ongoing efforts is of paramount importance. Condors are not only incredibly impressive birds, with the ability to soar up to altitudes of 15,000 feet, life spans up to 80 years and wingspans often stretching over nine feet, they are also integral parts of the ecosystem. They consume carrion, and as efficient scavengers, they help break down organic material so that ultimately, the nutrients therein can be released back into the environment. While this is essential in the food chain, it also puts the condor in a precarious position. Condors are susceptible to the chemicals and toxic materials eaten by the animals they consume – poisons such as Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (“DDT”) and lead. Several studies suggest that, in addition to loss of habitat, toxic chemicals have posed, and continue to pose, the greatest threat to California condors, with lead poisoning being a leading concern. Consequently, many wild condors are trapped, tagged and have blood tests about twice a year. Those that test positive for lead poisoning receive chelation therapy to remove the lead. And unfortunately, though DDT was banned as a pesticide in the United States in 1972 and worldwide under the 2001 Stockholm Convention, it is very persistent in the environment: research from the last few years suggests that DDT used long ago is still negatively impacting condor eggs to this day.
So what can be done now to help California’s most recognizable bird as it fights its way back from the brink of extinction? An important step was taken this past fall when California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law banning the use of lead ammunition by hunters. (The law is scheduled to take effect in 2019.) Continued advocacy on the regulation and reduction of harmful pesticides will help, as will respecting and protecting condor habitat. Defenders of Wildlife provides information on making rural areas and new development more condor-friendly, as well as on how to ensure that condor country consists solely of lead-free zones. Equally important, but even simpler to do, we can all focus on reducing, reusing and recycling – the less plastic and other trash that ends up in our environment, the better off California condors will be. Remember, condors are scavengers – they rarely walk away from trash, though plastic and other human-created debris often prove fatal for these birds.
With just a bit of diligence and some concerted effort, we can help these striking birds have a fighting chance. The California condors’ story is one that is begging to be considered a successful conservation story – it’s off to a good start. But it will take all of us to make sure this saga has its proper ending.
"Stop the Hunts!" January 24 2014, 0 Comments
This past Wednesday, January 22nd, the eyes of the global dolphin conservation community once again fell upon Taiji, Japan. That’s because the annual mid-season slaughter of bottlenose dolphins took place in Taiji’s infamous cove on Wednesday, resulting in over 500 dolphins being rounded up, their individual fates still to be determined. Japanese officials claim fewer than 100 will be killed or sold into captivity, with the others being released. Conservation and animal rights groups challenge that relatively “high” release rate, claiming that generally a higher percentage of the dolphins Taiji fishermen drive into the cove end up dead or injured. Either way, the number of dolphins terrorized annually by drive hunts like this latest one in Taiji, then killed or doomed to a life of misery in captivity is too high. And it’s time this practice was stopped.
Unfortunately, dolphins do not share the same international protections that whales do (though Japanese fishing fleets often ignore the international ban on whaling as well); the International Whaling Commission (IWC) does not regulate the hunting of dolphins and other smaller cetaceans. Consequently, dolphins are hunted and captured largely at will around the globe. While several countries and cultures engage in the fishing of dolphins, large-scale, brutal drive hunts have become a favored method of hunting in Japan (as well as a few other places such as the Faroes, Islands in Denmark). Boats and divers chase pods of dolphins into an enclosed space – such as a cove – using sounds, tarps and other means to confuse the animals. Netting entangles them, and separates pod (i.e. family) members. This is particularly hard on dolphins – they aren’t only “social” animals, as they are often described in the media. As extremely intelligent and, many scientists now agree, emotive beings, they seem to form strong attachments to other members of their pods. Scientists have observed dolphins mourning the death of a “loved one,” and the protectiveness of this species for one another, especially when one is in distress, is well documented. To liken the chase, physical abuse and forced segregation these animals endure in a drive hunt to a form of torture is no stretch.
And of course, the actual killing is anything but painless. Japanese officials have stated fishermen are now using a more “humane” method of killing: they are now severing the spinal cords of the dolphins, causing instant death. (This contention of instant death, by the way, is challenged by numerous parties – some conservation groups claim this method generally results in paralysis, not death, and that the dolphins are still fully aware until they slowly drown or they are gutted.) Note to defenders of this practice: if the cornerstone of your “improved humanity” is the ramming of a metal rod into a fully aware being, followed by the hammering of a wooden plug into the hole left when the rod was removed, “hoping” that the rod’s insertion will kill the animal, but knowing there is at least a decent chance it will not, you need to review the meaning of “humane.”
This newer, allegedly less brutal method of killing has been adopted as a response to the international outrage expressed after Louie Psihoyos’s documentary The Cove was released in 2009. In it, covert cameras captured the bloodied waters of the Taiji Cove as the dolphins were killed primarily by multiple spear thrusts. The severed spinal cord method produces less blood… it is entirely debatable as to whether it results in a sizeable increase in the humaneness of the whole process.
If you are interested in learning more about the drive hunts in Taiji, please visit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s page dedicated to this issue, see the videos and Tweets the Sea Shepherds Cove Guardians have posted from the hunts, and/or watch The Cove, which is available for streaming at Amazon.com Please note: this is NOT an easy movie to watch, which speaks to why we probably all need to try to make ourselves watch it. Even though the actual mode of death has largely changed in Taiji, these brutal drive hunts remain. We implore you to get educated, agitated and active. PLEASE join Rescued Cards in supporting Sea Shepherd’s efforts to bring an end to dolphin drive hunts – all the information you need to contact the appropriate authorities is listed here.
“Martin Luther King Jr. and Justice for ALL” January 16 2014, 0 Comments
Yesterday was famed Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and this coming Monday, January 20th, we’ll celebrate the annual national holiday in his honor. Every year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a catalyst for celebrating progress in civil rights, exploring issues of social justice, assessing the state of race relations in the United States and revisiting transcendent moments in U.S. history. While people confronting issues such as racism, poverty and war often seek the counsel of King’s wise words, many of his quotes can be applied to the fight for animal rights, as well. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and for a slightly different take on his legacy, here are some quotes by the late Civil Rights leader that have inspired us here, at Rescued Cards, in our pursuit of creating a just and humane world for all.
1) Yep, working to make this planet a more animal-friendly place can be both exhausting and overwhelming. But as MLK, Jr, pointed out, progress is rarely easy:
“… progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
2) Inevitably, you’ll have your detractors: those individuals, sometimes well meaning in their admonitions, who question why you work so hard for the rights of animals. After all, they’re “just animals.” Fortunately, MLK Jr. provided a quick and effective retort; even if the person challenging you doesn’t value animals, they probably purport to value justice:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
3) Frustrated by the U.S. Congress’s 2011 decision to remove wolves from the Endangered Species list? Or by the fact that relatively lax laws and even more lax enforcement allow blood sports such as dog fighting and cock fighting to continue to thrive in the United States? Well, when is the last time you actually did something about it – sent your congressional representative an email or joined a protest? Let this well-known sentiment from MLK Jr. serve as motivation:
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
4) Wait… that last point was a really important one to MLK Jr., as is evidenced by the fact that he spoke to it on several occasions. Need more motivation to let your voice be heard? No problem:
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
5) As a vegan or a vegetarian or someone who harps on environmental stewardship and sustainability, do you ever feel like you are perpetually swimming upstream? Keep swimming… as MLK Jr. explained, our collective future depends on it:
“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”
6) Why get involved with rescue? Because abused, abandoned and exploited animals need more than just pity. We agree with MLK Jr, that it’s through the expression of true sympathy that you’ll make your greatest impact:
“Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one's soul.”
7) Finally, if you read enough of MLK Jr.’s writings and read/hear enough of his speeches, you’ll inevitably conclude he truly believed we’re all in this together. Given that his son, Dexter, has described his own veganism and his animal rights activism as growing out of his father’s ideals, we – like Dexter – believe MLK Jr. truly meant all. Regardless, we certainly feel a kinship with all of the other sentient beings around us, and accordingly, see a self-evident wisdom in this final quote:
“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”
Hopefully, at least some of the above has provided you with food for thought, and with new ways to engage MLK Jr.’s ultimate legacy/legacies. Have a great holiday weekend and a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday!
"A National Symbol in More Ways than One" January 14 2014, 0 Comments
This coming weekend, January 18 and 19, Keokuk, Iowa will celebrate its 30th Annual “Bald Eagle Appreciation Days.” Keokuk is just one of many locales along the Upper Mississippi River that bald eagles – many of them migrating from colder northern regions – have come to call home during the winter months. Consequently, several towns strewn along the Mississippi hold festivals in January and February celebrating this majestic bird. And why not? The American bald eagle is easily one of the intriguing animals in North America, part national emblem, part spiritual symbol… and all “Comeback Kid.”
Seeing the numbers of eagles that now hunt, fish and nest throughout the Upper Mississippi River Valley it’s hard to imagine that just four decades ago, the imminent extinction of the bald eagle was a very real possibility. Thanks to various threats to eagles’ food sources and habitats and to the widespread use of the highly toxic pesticide Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (“DDT”), the number of mating pairs of eagles in the contiguous 48 states had plummeted to around 400 by 1963. Compounding that problem, because of the way DDT builds up in eagles’ bodies, more and more mating pairs were producing fewer and fewer viable offspring: eagles typically produce two eggs each year and DDT-impacted females were laying eggs with shells too weak and brittle to survive the hatching phase. Drastic measures were needed if the U.S. National Bird was going to avoid becoming extinct by the end of the 20th century.
Enter the collective, cooperative efforts of biologists, conservationists, politicians, wildlife management departments, public service advertising campaigns and nature/animal/eagle lovers across the country. First, the Environmental Protection Agency finally banned the general use of DDT in 1972. Next, the bald eagle, already protected to a certain extent by both the Migratory Bird Treaty Art (1918) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (1940), became one of the original species protected under the Endangered species Act in 1973. Aggressive captive breeding programs and public awareness campaigns were launched, and organizations (such as the Audubon Society) and individuals alike joined state and federal agencies in counting and tracking adult birds, while also attempting to protect eagle nesting sites. In other words, folks from countless corners of U.S. Society came together to save one of the country’s most beloved animals and the rest, as they say, is history. With over 10,000 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states as of 2007, the bald eagle is now much more than a symbol of national identity and of cultural/religious reverence for Native Americans. The bald eagle now represents one of the greatest comeback stories in conservation history – and illustrates the power of collective action toward a worthy goal.
Thanks to the efforts of many, eagle populations have rebounded significantly in the continental United States, and in June, 2007, then U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne emphatically declared, “… the eagle has returned,” and officially removed the bald eagle from the Endangered Species list. Clearly, this is cause to celebrate – and many of the Bald Eagle Appreciation Days festivities seem poised to highlight the various aspects of the eagles’ “Against All Odds” recovery story. Several festivals offer not only a chance to view bald eagles in the wild, but also provide information about eagles, their habitats and continuing conservation efforts, as well as education about the eagles’ history as a national symbol and its importance in many Native American cultures. If you’ve never seen eagles in their natural habitats, or if you just want to learn more about these fascinating birds, try to get to the Keokuk, IA, the Prairie du Chien, WI or the Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, WI festivals this winter. And if that’s impossible, you can always get your eagle fix via this LIVE streaming Eagle Nest Cam, courtesy of the American Eagle Foundation.
Happy bird watching!
"A Plant-Based Reboot" January 10 2014, 0 Comments
January is, at its heart, a 31-day-long contradiction. On one hand, it’s absolutely the dead of winter, a season we generally associate with very little growth or change. But on the other, it’s also a time of renewal. A new year represents a chance for fresh starts, new goals and re-definitions. And for many of us, it’s a time we take stock of our health and pledge to make changes. If you’re one of the many looking for a way to jumpstart your 2014 health resolution(s), why not start with a vegan cleanse that’s good for you and for the planet?
There are about as many cleanse/detox programs and products on the market as there are people willing to try them. However, not all cleanses are created equal: some work better than others, depending on a person’s aims and current health needs. Consequently, please be sure to check with your health care provider prior to beginning any new fitness or detox program. If you are looking to nurture a healthier you in 2014, you are cordially invited to consider joining this intrepid blogger in trying the cleanse described below.
3-Day Plant-Based Detox
This cleanse was suggested by a nutrition and fitness consultant and is healthy, quick (just three days!), and easy to prepare. Its main aim is to help people detoxify in preparation for new, healthier eating routines. It’s also 100% vegan, which means it is extremely animal and planet friendly. Even those of you who do not identify as vegetarian or vegan should give it a try – what have you got to lose (other than some internal toxins)? It’s only three days, right?
Morning Drink: Lemon-Ginger Detox Drink (Make fresh daily)
This is a “wake-up potion,” designed to get all of your organs and systems going. Ginger and lemon are both natural detoxifiers, and lemon works as a diuretic, which helps flush toxins.
- Half a lemon
- ½ inch knob of ginger root
- 12 ounces of water (room temperature)
Grate the ginger using a zester, then add it and the juice of half a lemon to the water. Stir and enjoy!
Breakfast: Steamed Vegetables
This may sound strange, but vegetables help reduce inflammation and boost your fiber intake, which helps keep you feeling full and satisfied. Some veggies to consider are yams, carrots, kale, squash and zucchini. Limit your portion to roughly 1 cup and follow with plenty of water. In fact, one of the best things you can do to help your cleanse be more effective is to stay hydrated: avoid caffeinated and sugary beverages, but be sure to consume at least 48 ounces of (preferably) filtered or distilled water daily.
Late Morning Snack: Almonds and Fruit
Almonds – either raw or dry roasted – are an excellent source of nutrients, while simultaneously acting as detoxifiers. A handful of almonds, paired with a half-piece of fruit (half of an apple, plum, pear, orange, nectarine, etc) make an excellent pick-me-up.
Drink: Green or Herbal Tea
Green tea is renowned for its detoxifying properties worldwide. Find a time in the late morning or early afternoon to drink a cup of green tea or, if you prefer, a milder herbal tea such as chamomile. (If you choose green tea, keep in mind it often contains caffeine, but several caffeine-free options exist.)
Lunch: Detox Salad
You may want to try a different salad for lunch each of the three days you are on the cleanse. Here are four healthy, detoxifying recipes to choose from:
Mid-to-Late Afternoon Snack: Almonds OR Fruit
Grab either another handful of almonds OR the other half of the fruit you ate earlier. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Dinner: Vegetable Soup
Prepare this once, and make enough to last three days. This is the step in the cleanse that will take the most time, and even this can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. Here are two recommended recipes – choose one:
That’s it! 72 hours of simple, healthy, flavorful, animal-friendly recipes en route to a healthier, more balanced life. I’m going to put these suggestions to the test – and a brief review of this vegan reboot will be included in the January 21st blog post. If you care to join me, please post a comment to this entry or to the January 21st entry letting us know your experiences with this cleanse.
Here’s to improved health in 2014!
"The Weather Outside is Frightful..." January 07 2014, 0 Comments
Much of the United States right now is either hunkered down, trying to stay warm, or attempting to dig out from back-to-back significant snowstorms. Or a little bit of both. This stretch of weather has brought air travel to a standstill along the East Coast, has closed roads and highways across almost half the country and has shuttered businesses and schools from Minnesota down to the Deep South. But it’s not only caused immense inconvenience and slowed down early-in-the-year commerce; this blast of winter has also been as dangerous as it has been record-setting: as of this writing, forecasters are warning Midwesterners to avoid spending more than a few minutes outside as wind chill temperatures may dip as low as 65 below zero. Here’s an additional warning: in weather like this, don’t forget the pets.
Don't be fooled by the thought they have fur coats: dogs, cats and other pets suffer in severe weather just like their human companions.
If you’re in a part of the world that sees cold weather in the winter, please keep in mind that the animal members of your family are affected by the weather, too. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help them get through the harshest of conditions both healthy and happy:
1) Bring the animals that can come inside, inside. Plenty of dogs like to romp in the snow – there’s generally no problem with that. But keep an eye on both the temperature and their paws. Humans are susceptible to frostbite and the onset of hypothermia after just a few minutes in temperatures between 15-30 degrees and dogs can also be victimized by these afflictions. Keep bathroom breaks brief in freezing temperatures and even if you have “outdoor” cats, bring them in during cold spells. If your pets have spent time outside in sub-zero temperatures, check their paws, ears, nose and other areas where fur is thin or non-existent for signs of frostbite: skin will often look pale, white or blue-ish, and will get swollen and red as circulation begins to return. For assistance diagnosing or treating frostbite, please reference Pets-WebMD and/or call your veterinarian. If you want to be able to walk your dog in snowy conditions and believe temperature sensitivity may be an issue, you have options. Investigate insulated vests or sweaters, especially for shorter-haired or older dogs. Also, several pet stores sell dog booties such as these PAWZ Boots, or offer paw protection balm like the highly-regarded Musher's Secret.
2) Some shelter is better than no shelter. For animals, such as horses or chickens, that live outside, providing even a little bit of shelter can prove to be a life-saving measure. Rounding chickens up into a coup, or getting horses, goats and other farm animals into a barn, will at least protect them from wind and additional precipitation. Wet cold is far less tolerable for most animals than dry cold, so a shelter with a roof – and towels or blankets – can do wonders.
3) Don’t forget the water! Though it may seem counter-intuitive in some ways, winter is often a dryer season than the other three. Don’t be fooled by snow – animals will need just as much, if not more, fresh water than they need at other times of the year. If you have animals outside, remember that their water may freeze – check and replace it often. (Keep in mind that plastic bowls are a better choice than metal ones to keep water from freezing.) Dehydration is just as dangerous for animals as it is for humans – and the energy pets burn trying to stay warm speeds up the dehydration process.
4) Pets don’t hibernate. Don’t expect your pet to want to sleep by the fire all winter long – consistent exercise is still key for your pet’s mental and physical health. Clearly, sub-zero temperatures and blizzard-like conditions don’t lend themselves to outdoor play, but when you can get your dog safely out for a walk, do. Keep in mind, even if you are in warmer climes, there are fewer hours of daylight in the winter – take this fact into account as you plan your busy days, so that you still find time to get your dog(s) out for some exercise. For cats, and days that you’re all stuck indoors, it’s time to get creative. Even a few minutes of playing with some toys can make a huge difference for your pet’s mood (and yours, too, for that matter). Also, dog treat games like the Kyjen Treat Wheel Dog Puzzle available at Petco can provide much-needed stimulation for a pooch with cabin fever.
Trinity doesn't just look good in her beanie, she's prepping to face the elements. Protecting ears, paw pads and other parts of the body where fur is absent or thin is a good place to start.
These are just a few tips to help you and your pet successfully navigate the winter months. There are several more issues to consider, from differing dietary needs to being protected from salt and other chemicals used in snow/ice removal. For more ideas on keeping your pets safe and happy when the temperatures outside plummet, please review these tips from the ASPCA and these suggestions from the American Humane Association.
Stay safe and warm out there!
“A New Year’s ‘Rescue-lution’” January 03 2014, 0 Comments
The dawn of a new year is upon us: time to renew, refresh and regroup. And if you’re like millions of others worldwide, time to make – and work hard to keep – some New Year’s resolutions. I have to admit, I don’t normally partake in this particular annual custom, but this year I decided to give it a go. While I’m still formulating a couple of my goals, there’s one I’ve been kicking around for quite awhile that for whatever reason, I just dragged my feet on. But today’s a new day and this is a new year – now’s the time to act on my “rescue-lution.”
You never know when a furry friend, like Nina here - who was rescued by Basic Alliance for the Rescue of K9s and ultimately adopted into a new home - might need a helping hand. Why not make sure your car is as ready as you are?
I refer to it as a “rescue-lution” because it’s a resolution that’s directly related to rescue. In fact, it’s clearly a Rescued Cards-inspired resolution; between writing for RC and volunteering for The Barking Lot, I find my mind wandering to ways I can help/rescue more animals quite a bit. And here’s an idea that strikes me as something many of us can do without too much trouble: I’m (finally) going to “rescueize” my car. See, last year alone, I came across three stray dogs and one cat that I stopped and spent time trying to help. However, I wasn’t always prepared. I’ve long driven around with things like an extra leash and a towel or two in the trunk of my car, but when dealing with a cat or if I have my dogs in the car already and want to try to drive a stray dog with a tag back to its home, those few items don’t cut it. So I made a list, and taking these simple and fairly affordable steps to make my car a rescue-friendly one:
1) Spare collar and leash. I already had a spare leash – I found a spare collar at a local thrift store. It’s medium-sized, so it won’t fit every dog, but it’s better than nothing. And… I stopped by a local shelter and asked for a lead – the type you can slip over a dog’s head when it doesn’t have a collar and they were happy to give me one for free.
2) Collapsible cat carrier.Sometimes cats are “outdoor” cats and just running around their own neighborhoods. Other times, they’ve been dumped or otherwise need help. In that latter case, it may be necessary to transport the cat somewhere and driving around with a cat (especially an unfamiliar one) loose in your car is not a wise practice. So I contacted a couple of local vets and asked if they’d be willing to sell me one of those collapsible, cardboard cat carriers. When I explained I was on a mission to fulfill my “rescue-lution,” the vet donated two collapsible carriers. They take up next to no room, even in my small car – perfect.
3) Travel bowl and water. Distressed animals often want or need water. I purchased a travel bowl (the kind that’s made of nylon and collapses) for $4.99 and always keep a gallon of water in the car.
4) First aid kit. I’m still working on this one. There are several pre-made kits you can purchase online, but I’m a fan of the self-made kind. It takes a little more time, BUT a) you can customize it as you like, and b) if you already have a “human-oriented” kit, you can save yourself some money by not doubling up on many medical items. I’m building mine based off of the these recommendations from The Humane Society of the United States.
5) Towels and blankets. You never know what circumstances you and an animal in need may find yourselves: it could be rainy, cold, snowing (depending on where you live, of course) – or the animal may be drenched or covered in mud, dirt, etc. It’s a good idea to keep a spare blanket in your car regardless – to that, I’ve added a nice, big beach towel.
6) Having helpful information on hand. Most of us spend the bulk of our time in the same geographic area – we travel familiar roads to familiar locales, like our workplaces, our homes, our friends’ neighborhoods, etc. If you have a home base, why not have a few handy, local phone numbers programmed into your phone just in case? I’ve got the numbers for my regular vet, two nearby emergency vets, animal care and control, two animal shelters and one local all-breed dog rescue in my cell. I just added a few of these recently; fortunately, I already had animal control in my phone and assisted them in getting a German shepherd terrified by a thunderstorm back to its home last spring.
These are the items I’ve identified thus far to “rescuize” my car, but I’m open to more ideas so if you have suggestions, please post them in a comment. I hope you’ll all join me in making it a goal to be as prepared as possible to help an animal in need this year. If we all make, and keep, “rescue-lutions,” we’ll make a big difference in 2014!
"When the Clock Strikes Midnight..." December 31 2013, 0 Comments
Well, here it is... that moment when old melds into new and people in various places around the globe somewhat spontaneously burst into energetic renditions of "Auld Lang Syne" without any idea what that saying actually means (or how to spell it). Some of you will look back on 2013 fondly while others wish the calendar could've magically been downsized to eleven months because this year can't possibly end fast enough for you. As for us here at Rescued Cards, as much as we're looking forward to the New Year, we can't help but look back on 2013 and smile. Here are just a few of the many reasons:
First and foremost, we went "Live" in 2013, meaning each and every image you see above -- and then some -- appeared on Rescued Cards that were for sale via RescuedCards.com.
We were happy to be invited to share the stage with none other than Lilly Tomlin at the Petco Foundation's Gala in San Diego last May. The "Hope" Card above was designed specifically for the Gala's gift bags.
May proved a HUGE month for us as, one week after the Petco Foundation Gala, we held our official Launch Party at Mission Brewery. With the support of great organizations and...
... an awesome turnout...
... how could it result in anything other than an amazing night?!
Rescued Cards became part of a world-record effort when RC's "Team Rayne" joined four other teams in The Barking Lot's 2nd Annual Dog Wash-a-thon. Over 200 baths were completed in just one hour! By the way, our favorite TBL pooch, Rayne, still awaits adoption - if you're interested in starting 2014 off by adding a new family member, click here to learn more about Rayne.
Definitely one of the highlights of 2013 was meeting new rescues, like American Bulldog Rescue, and learning about the many wonderful animals whose lives were saved thanks to these rescues' efforts. Rescued Cards was happy to feature both American Bulldog Rescue...
... and Suncoast Basset Rescue, Inc. in the 6-card pack we were chosen to design for the Petco Foundation's 2013 "Breeds in Need" fundraiser!
The growth of Rescued Cards this year has allowed us to learn about, and spread the word about, many causes that are near and dear to our heart. Chief amongst these are the various challenges facing endangered and threatened wild animals. Some of the issues that we asked you to join us in taking action on included the hunting of endangered black rhinos, the exploitation of orcas and a weekend set aside as a coyote-and-wolf-killing "youth derby."
As a full supporter of of Rebecca Corry's Stand Up for Pits (SUFP) for the past three years, Rescued Cards was honored to be a photography sponsor at the November SUFP event at Largo in Los Angeles. We joined actress Kaley Cuoco, Rebecca's pibble Angel, and...
... other talented folks like the hilarious Cheri Oteri at the star-studded show.
You can join movement and Stand Up for Pits yourself by supporting the upcoming One Million PIBBLE March on Washington, D.C., scheduled for May 3, 2014. To learn more, please click here.
2013 gave us ample opportunity to tie two issues we're passionate about -- good health and working toward cruelty-free living -- together. If you're still searching for a worthy New Year's Resolution, look no further: now's a great time to focus on a plant-based diet. It's good for you and for the animals and environment you care about. Here are a few resources:
Get started with the Compassionate Cook's 30-day Vegan Challenge.
Recipes, resources and even a film: Forks Over Knives
For a free starter kit from Peta, follow this link.
And for the latest in vegan/vegetarian news, too: VegNews.
As you can see 2013 has been a very busy and rewarding year for us at Rescued Cards, but we couldn't have done any of it without a little help from our friends. So please join us in a little New Year's (Apple Cider) toast, as we send special thanks out to all of our amazing rescue partners, to the ever-supportive Petco Foundation, to the tireless and inspirational Rebecca Corry and Angel, to all of our irreplaceable fans and families for your love and support, and finally, to our endlessly talented Rescued Cards contributors: without you, Rescued Cards would not be possible.
In 2014, you can look forward to seeing Rescued Cards grow. We plan to expand our card selections, offer more holiday choices, launch ecards, provide selling tools for rescues to make money directly through fundraising with us, and to be selling Rescued Cards in stores on a national level. It's a long road getting your product in the retail world and building an inventory, as we've learned, but we are committed to our mission of supporting all the people and establishments that are doing good by way of animals. We are forever grateful for their efforts and will continue to find ways to support their endeavors.
Adios 2013! May your 2014 be guided by the wise words of Albert Einstein: “Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
Happy New Year from Rescued Cards!
"A Toast to Those Who Made 2013 Great" December 27 2013, 0 Comments
Can you believe it? Another year has come and gone, and with it, all the attending ups and downs you’d expect with the passage of 12 months. But in looking back over 2013, we realize there’s plenty for animal lovers to celebrate, from San Diego and other cities banning the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores to President Obama speaking out against breed specific legislation. Yes, the fight continues on behalf of animals on multiple fronts, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t strides made and victories won. Here’s just a glimpse of some of the amazing feats and milestones some of our rescue partners enjoyed in 2013:
Colorado Greyhound Adoption (CGA)had a lot to celebrate this year, especially as 2013 came to a close. CGA is an all-volunteer organization that helps retired racers and other greyhounds in need find forever homes. Vet bills can run pretty high over the course of a year and that’s why they worked hard to make this year’s “Colorado Gives Day,” held on Dec. 10th, especially successful. All the effort paid off: we’re happy to report that CGA raised over $10,000 in the one day fundraiser, eclipsing last year’s total by more than 60%. This means more resources for deserving greyhounds and more medical care that can be funded. Well done, CGA!
Colorado Greyhound Adoption is celebrating another successful year of finding homes for, and raising funds to serve, greyhounds in need like CGA alum Kramer, pictured above.
Friends of the Humane Society of Tijuana (FHSTJ) continued their work of transforming the lives of thousands of pets and pet guardians in Mexico and the San Diego area. FHSTJ provides much of the funding for the Humane Society of Tijuana, which provides services, medical care and food for lower income families with pets and for homeless animals living on the street. As of this writing, the Humane Society of Tijuana had performed 803 low cost or free spay/neuter surgeries, provided medical services for almost 3400 pets and distributed over 75,000 lbs of pet food in 2013 alone. And not be overlooked, after years of lobbying by FHSTJ, amongst others, the first animal cruelty case finally made its way to court in Tijuana. Thanks, FHSTJ, for all you do!
2013 saw the Friends of the Humane Society of Tijuana again provide resources to help care for thousands of needy and homeless animals like Vika, above, in Mexico and the San Diego area.
Villalobos Rescue Center (VRC)– you may recognize VRC from the popular Animal Planet television show, Pit Bulls & Parolees. We’re happy to report that Tia Torres, her family, and the parolees who help her run and maintain VRC all seem to have made a relatively smooth transition from southern California to New Orleans. 2013 brought more than just new surroundings, though – it also brought a new title: Rhino, one of VRC’s adoptable pit bulls, signed a contract to be the official mascot of the New Orleans Voodoo Arena Football League team. Beyond simply being a cool story, we appreciate the Voodoo giving Rhino such a prominent platform from which to be an ambassador for the bully breeds. Hats off to the New Orleans Voodoo and congrats, Rhino – you look GREAT in your football uniform!
It's true: some guys do look even better in uniform. Certainly that's the case for Villalobos Rescue Center's Rhino, who joined the New Orleans Voodoo Arena Football team in 2013.
The Barking Lot (TBL) is having another record-setting year in its efforts to find forever homes for all sorts of homeless dogs. As of this writing, TBL, an all-breed rescue that saves the majority of its dogs from death row at area shelters, is just eight adoptions short of its own 2012 record of 504 dogs adopted out in one year. Four days left to complete nine adoptions to set a new record – our money’s on TBL!
The Barking Lot is SO close to breaking its own 2012 record for number of adoptions in one year that even some TBL alums are on the edge of their seats in anticipation!
Seattle Persian and Himalayan Rescue (SP&HR)is a small, all-volunteer rescue up in the state of Washington that fosters, provides medical care for, and places Persian and Himalayan cats in forever homes. Generally, this rescue relies on adoption fees to cover expenses. But a generous donor stepped in this fall and pledged to match donations during the rescue’s “Noah’s Ark” fundraiser up to $5,000. SP&HR’s supporters came through: they met the $5,000 goal and earned SP&HR an additional $5,000 in matching funds. Not too shabby for the organization’s first ever fundraising campaign! 10,000 kudos to SP&HR and to all the supporters who are helping SP&HR save so many cats’ lives!
SH&PR alum Snow, pictured above, had much to be proud of in 2013 as her rescue turned its first fundraiser into a huge success!!
And a final, quick shout out to the Cleveland Animal Protective League (CAPL)for winning a $25,000 grant in the Petco Foundation's “Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign.” Celebrating its 100-year anniversary (originally incorporated in 1913), CAPL has reached a laudable 100% adoption rate of healthy, friendly dogs and is nearing that with cats as well. For these reasons, and many others, the Petco Foundation grant is well deserved – Congratulations!
Thumper, a Cleveland Animal Protective League alum, stole our hearts and landed himself his own Rescued Card in the process. Now it seems the rest of CAPL is winning folks over, too -- to the tune of a $25,000 grant from the Petco Foundation!
This is just a quick sample of what some of our rescue partners have been up to in 2013 – many of our other partners enjoyed astounding accomplishments this year as well, but we haven’t the room to report all of them here. We’re happy and honored to support these efforts, but there’s much more where that came from: for even more inspiration, please visit these organizations’ websites, or learn more about our other rescue partners by clicking here. As 2013 draws to a close, why not pledge to make 2014 the year you get even more involved with animal rescue?
“Santa Knew What He Was Doing” December 24 2013, 0 Comments
Have you ever wondered why Santa is carted around the globe by eight… no wait, I mean nine reindeer? (Sorry, Rudolph.) Prevailing wisdom suggests that he recruited reindeer (or “caribou” as their non-domesticated brethren are known in the far northern climes) because that’s all he saw around him up there in the Arctic Circle. But c’mon, he’s Santa: the guy’s kind of known for whipping things up out of thin air, so I’m thinkin’ he could’ve built his wish-fulfilling fleet out of any animals he wanted to and made it work. Clearly, Santa’s got it like that. So contrary to popular belief, I’m betting reindeer weren’t chosen simply out of convenience; they were chosen because they may well be the coolest animals north of the Equator. Don’t believe me? Well, here are just a few of the reasons reindeer are the chosen ones… and that we should celebrate them now and all year long:
- Reindeer, even the non-flying type, spend much of their lives on the move. Some North American reindeer migrate up to 3,000 miles in a year, more than any other terrestrial mammal.
- They’re all about gender equality. Reindeer are the only type of deer in which both the males and the females grow antlers. And by the way, the males shed their antlers during the autumn while the females keep them through the winter, meaning… you guessed it! If the Santa sightings we know of are to be believed, his is probably an all-female flight crew.
- Caribou can fly! Well, I mean, we all know Donner and Blitzen and the rest of Santa’s crew can go airborne, but other reindeer can really fly – if you put them in a 100-meter dash. Reindeer can reach speeds of 48 miles per hour when galloping, which means they can cover a lot of ground very quickly.
- Reindeer have an amazing sense of smell. They’ve been known to uncover lichen and other plant materials that are buried under two feet of snow or frozen tundra.
- They’re highly adaptable. Though most often associated with arctic climes, caribou have historically flourished in lower latitudes, including a subspecies that up until the 19th century called the state of Idaho “home.” Plus, their bodies adjust for the temperatures they find themselves in: in summer, their hooves expand to provide more stability on softer ground and shrink in winter when the ground is hard. And in frigid temperatures (like those found when flying on cold winter nights), their noses are designed to warm the air they inhale before it reaches their lungs.
- They’re not easily lost. Some subspecies have a mechanism in their knees that clicks when they walk so that the herd can stay together by sound even in a blinding blizzard.
- They possess super hero capabilities. Reindeer are the only mammals that can see ultraviolet light. It’s not quite the same as x-ray vision, but it’s pretty dang close – and clearly gives them bragging rights around the watering hole.
They're as majestic as they are magical: reindeer possess no shortage of unique and impressive traits that make them the perfect complement to ol' St. Nick.
Unfortunately, though reindeer possess all of the above awesomeness and more, even they aren’t immune to the effects of global climate change. Several studies suggest that warming temperatures will negatively impact reindeers’ access to food (higher temps generally = higher precipitation, which means increased snow and thicker, more problematic ice crusts for caribou to dig through in the winter). So even if you’re spending this holiday sipping eggnog at your favorite beach, remember that Santa’s flight crew and all their relatives could really use you keeping their habitat in mind when you make your New Year’s Resolutions this year.
If your interest is piqued and you want to learn even more about Santa’s reindeer, check out the book, Flight of the Reindeer: The True Story of Santa Claus and His Christian Mission by Robert Sullivan (illustrated by Glenn Wolff). It’s well researched, extremely engaging and answers some questions that may still be needling you like, Which subspecies of reindeer, exactly, can fly? Or, How fast do they have to travel to get all the presents delivered in one night? Sullivan interviewed everyone from George H.W. Bush to Al Roker to get to the truth of Santa’s legend – even the most cynical among you might be surprised by what you learn. You’ll find Flight of the Reindeer, by the way, in the non-fiction section of most bookstores.
Contrary to what naysayers will have you believe, recent research suggests that reindeer noses sometimes do actually glow. Of course, Santa figured this out a LONG time ago.
Merry Christmas from Rescued Cards!
"Ill Will Hunting" December 21 2013, 0 Comments
I have a true love-hate relationship with writing for Rescued Cards. Don’t get me wrong, I mostly love it: I team up with incredibly talented and passionate people and work on, and write about, issues I really care about. We use art and words and the web in an attempt to get people to really think about their relationships with animals and the environment. And of course we’re all in when in comes to supporting animal rescue – it’s paradigm-shifting stuff, in many ways. That’s the up side. However, here’s the thing about trying to change the world: it’s often messy. Sometimes, in an attempt to learn as much as we can about an issue, what we learn is pretty ugly. That’s the part of this gig I kind of hate.
On November 17, 2013, Layne Spence went cross-country skiing with his three pet Malamutes on a closed road just outside of Missoula, Montana. It’s something he did often, both he and his dogs enjoying getting out for some fresh-air-exercise in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, this day didn’t end as so many before it had. This day ended with Spence’s youngest dog, “Little Dave,” dead – shot to death by a hunter who claimed he mistook Little Dave for a wolf. The hunter, who Spence estimated was within 20 yards of he and his dogs at the time of the shooting and who fired at Little Dave six or seven times, attempted to speak to a distraught Spence at the scene, but then left and has not been identified publicly (though the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department apparently did question the man). However, because wolf hunting is legal in Montana, the hunter will face no criminal charges and no further investigation is expected.
Nothing says "nature" or "wilderness" quite like the howl of a wolf.
Clearly, this is an anecdotal story, albeit a tragic one, and yet it’s hard not to see it as more than simply a singular, heartbreaking tale… it’s hard not to consider it an ominous exemplar for all that is wrong about the “sport hunting” of wolves. And it makes the announcement of the following all the more troubling: on Dec. 28th and 29th, Salmon, Idaho will host a “Wolf and Coyote Derby” – for kids. That’s right, prize money will be up for grabs – including a top prize of $1,000 – for children as young as 10-years-old in the Salmon Youth Predator Derby. Prizes will be awarded in several different categories, including largest wolf, largest male coyote, largest female coyote and most female coyotes killed. Idaho for Wildlife, the sportsmen’s group sponsoring the derby, bills the contest as an educational event, one geared toward introducing kids to safe and responsible hunting practices. They call it “education;” we call it (with all due respect to Matt Damon & Ben Affleck) “ill will hunting.”
Why ill will? Because here we are again, pondering the morality of killing a sentient, feeling, beautiful wild animal for a trophy, prize money and some bragging rights. Except this time, a point is also being made to glorify the act to the youngest amongst us, “educating” children about the virtues and honor of blood sports. Idaho for Wildlife joins countless other sportsmen’s groups in suggesting that hunting predators such as wolves and coyotes is imperative in “managing” wildlife. That’s debatable, to say the least. Ecosystems did a remarkable job of keeping themselves in balance for eons before humans eradicated the large predators and significantly imperiled things like natural migratory paths, breeding grounds and fresh water sources. Now, with wolves being reintroduced to their historical territories in several western states (but also being taken off the endangered list), the debate regarding the need to hunt them for population control rages on. BUT… that’s not what the Salmon Youth Predator Derby is about, really. At its heart, the derby is really about encouraging and rewarding youths to kill wild animals for sport – period. And if that thought doesn’t warm your heart this holiday season, nothing will. Let’s just hope that none of the rookie hunters, in their zest to “win,” mistake someone’s family pet for their potential trophy-winning target. It’s pretty easy to see how this horrible idea can get even worse.
Wolf packs operate as highly evolved social structures, with adults sharing responsibilities for the raising and protection of the pups.
There are, of course, those who are challenging the derby, but the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is not among them. The department has a policy of neither supporting nor opposing such events – but it has gone on record as considering the derby “perfectly legitimate.” If you beg to differ, please click here to join the thousands who have already voiced their opposition to the Salmon Youth Predator Derby.
"We have doomed the Wolf not for what it is, but for what we have deliberately and mistakenly perceived it to be..the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer..which is, in reality no more than a reflexed image of ourself." -Farley Mowat
Whatever happened to the good ol’ days when families spent the weekend after Christmas putting toys and bikes together and returning unwanted gifts?
"Who Knew $1 Could Go So Far?" December 18 2013, 0 Comments
‘Tis the season for caring and sharing and… saving lives. As you consider your end of the year donations, we hope you’ll join Rescued Cards in literally paying it forward. See, if you donate $1 today to the One Million Pibble March hosted by actress and comedian Rebecca Corry, you can help bring about this amazing event in support of pit bulls five months from now. A single dollar in December (or even better, a dollar-a-month from now until the March) can make a BIG difference in 2014. Here’s how:
If you’ve read this blog at least semi-regularly over the past six months or so you already know that here at Rescued Cards, we’re huge pibble supporters. Consequently, we’re also huge supporters of Rebecca Corry and all she does through her non-profit, Stand Up for Pits (SUFP). A much sought after actress and stand up comedian, Corry has used her notoriety to help advocate on behalf of pit bulls, raising awareness about abused dogs and challenging breed specific legislation (BSL). The Stand Up For Pits shows she has hosted all over the country have featured top-notch comedic and musical talent, as well as pit bull-related information and adoption events. Rescued Cards has been fortunate enough to be invited to photograph a few of the SUFP shows, and we remain committed to the cause. That’s why we’re excited about Corry’s next project: The One Million Pibble March, scheduled for May 3rd, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Contrary to how it may sound, Corry is not attempting to gather a million pit bulls on The Mall in our nation’s capital. However, she is trying to round up as many pibble-loving, animal cruelty-loathing, breed specific legislation-hating humans as she can to help her make a statement: that pit bulls, and other much-maligned members of the bully breeds, deserve a lot better than they’re getting. From breed specific legislation that most often targets (unfairly, mind you) and consequently bans bully breeds to the epidemic of dog fighting, in which pit bulls are mercilessly exploited and abused, pibbles have been getting the short end of the stick in the U.S. for decades. The very same dogs that were once prized as “nanny dogs” for their protection of, and gentleness towards, children, that hung out with the “Our Gang” kids on the popular old TV show, and that continue to post some of the highest scores among any breed on temperament tests – those dogs have somehow become Public Enemy #1 in the minds of far too many. The One Million Pibble March is out to change that – actually, to end it – and you and George Washington can help.
Why George Washington? Because it will only take a one dollar bill on your behalf to help fund the March. Corry is attempting to raise $40,000 in support of the event – an event aimed at raising awareness and creating, as she explains on the donation page, “safe and humane communities for humans and pets.” As Corry sees it, this isn’t simply an issue that affects pibble lovers; it affects everyone, as we all have a vested interest in creating optimal living environments. Unfortunately, we currently have municipalities that over-react with hypersensitive BSL, when the much more sensible and effective response would be to address the issues of the troubled individuals who abuse and fight these dogs. That’s the national conversation Corry hopes is catalyzed by the One Million Pibble March.
It’s a lofty goal, but it doesn’t take a lofty sum to start this effort on its way. In fact, as Corry pointed out, if everyone who follows her on social media and everyone who has already voiced support for SUFP or the One Million Pibble March were to donate a single, tax-decuctible dollar, the entire event would already be funded. So what do you say? Will you join us at Rescued Cards in supporting this amazing event and attempting to make 2014 the year the tide really starts to change in favor of humane treatment of pit bulls? We can all be part of the solution. And to echo Corry herself, “It’s just a dollar!!” But as every great journey starts with a single step, think about what the return on investment here might be.
For more information on The One Million Pibble March and/or Rebecca Corry’s Stand Up for Pits Foundation, please click here.
"In Search of the Olympic Spirit" December 06 2013, 1 Comment
Sixty-three days from today the Games of the XXII Winter Olympiad will begin in Sochi, Russia. Generally, I’m a fan of the Olympics: I love the competition, I love seeing events and parts of the world I don’t often see otherwise and I love when a little-known athlete rises to the occasion and makes the most of her moment. In the past, I’ve been fortunate enough to watch personal friends take the medal stand and to rejoice with them in their victories. And looking forward, I’ve already started making plans to attend the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil – I’m excited by the prospect of making that trip.
Unfortunately, drumming up similar enthusiasm for the Sochi Games is proving more difficult, primarily for one reason: the decision by Sochi Olympic Committee officials to catch and import live, wild orcas for a tourist attraction. (Because apparently, an olympiad isn’t enough of an attraction on its own.) The young orcas, or “killer whales,” were recently taken from their family pod off the coast of Far Eastern Russia. According to several media reports, the two whales were among seven or eight captured at the time by White Sphere, a company that provides whales and other marine life for amusement parks. The Sochi-bound orcas are being kept in captivity ponds until they are forced to endure an arduous, 4600-mile flight across Russia to the small exhibit tank that awaits them.
For those of you who aren’t that familiar with killer whales, they are incredibly intelligent and sensitive animals that many animal rights advocates and marine biologists alike argue are not at all suited for captivity. Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist, succinctly detailed the myriad of ailments and troubles that plague orcas in captivity in this 2010 piece for CNN.com. And Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s powerful documentary, Blackfish, released earlier this year, is a compelling – and often haunting – interrogation of human’s insistence on defining these animals as props for entertainment. As both Dr. Rose’s article and Blackfish suggest, captivity generally represents misery – and a shortened lifespan – for orcas. Why the officials of Sochi want that reality to be a part of the legacy of their Winter Games remains a mystery.
Doubtlessly, many of you reading this are fans of places like the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, the various SeaWorld Theme Parks, and other such facilities. That’s understandable: many of us recall having fun in, and learning a lot from, these venues. This blog post is not trying to invalidate or dismiss those associations. But it is asking that you consider, At what cost should those lessons and happy memories come? And even if we are going to debate the amount and value of scientific contributions coming from places like SeaWorld, is that really what we’re talking about in Sochi… where the officials themselves refer to the orca exhibit as a “tourist attraction” aimed at increasing profits?
What is even more distressing and disappointing about the needless exploitation of these two young whales is that it’s decidedly anti-Olympic Spirit – especially the alleged spirit of these Olympic Games. Beyond the oft-repeated platitudes about the Olympics bringing out the best in humanity and emphasizing ethics and fair play and social responsibility, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had renewed its commitment to sustainability, conservation and environmental stewardship – via its own Environmental Mandate – just last year. Consequently, the Sochi Games have consistently been referred to as “the games that respect the environment.” How are they choosing to demonstrate this respect? By not only snatching two wild orcas and putting them on display for tourism dollars, but by also using an endangered, wild-caught Black Sea dolphin as part of the opening ceremonies. If the exploitation, captivity and abuse (because let’s face it – snatching them from their lives is, in and of itself, a form of abuse) of these mammals for the purpose of momentary amusement is how the IOC emphasizes “respect” for the environment, I’m afraid to know what went on before the IOC became "environmentally conscious."
The Olympics, as I understand it, is about striving to be the best one can be. Is this the best the IOC and the officials of the Sochi Games can be? If you want to join Rescued Cards and thousands of others in pressuring them to do better – and to do right by these whales and this dolphin – please sign this petition. Together, maybe we can put the Olympic Spirit back in the Games.
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