Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Coffee and Provocation

Ellen DeGeneres' Problems Explained:
The news this morning is that TV host-comedienne Ellen DeGeneres adopted a dog from some crazy canine rescue called "Mutts and Moms." The dog did not work out for Ellen due to conflicts with her cats, but she placed it with her good friend and hairdresser whose family was delighted to have a second dog to play with their first. "Hold on," said the Mutts and Moms folks who also run a "canine boutique. " "We are the deciders of what a good home is," and we have very narrow definition of who qualifies. And a hairdresser with 11- and 12-year old daughters does not make the cut no matter what Ellen DeGeneres (a huge donor to animal causes) may say about the matter. And so they are yanking this small dog from its new home where it is well-loved. Whoa! Is someone power-tripping or what? Well yes, but it's actually a bit more than that. Gina Spadafori explains all in this delightful piece that was written several days before the Ellen blow up. This one is strongly recommended reading, and it's not just about dogs, is it? Read it, read it, read it!

Bully Good News I:
Remember Michael Vick's dogs? The good news is that 49 of the 50 dogs are going to be adopted out after temperament testing was done on them. Hmmm. Makes one really wonder about two things: 1) the notion that all pit bulls are dangerous (especially the ones that have been fought), and; 2) that no pit bull is dangerous. Nice to see common sense at work here, and in the end it is common sense that is always a benefit to the dogs. For the record, you might remember that Humane Society of the United States President Wayne Parcelle said "Officials from our organization have examined some of these dogs and, generally speaking, they are some of the most aggressively trained pit bulls in the country." HSUS advocated killing all of the dogs. In fact, no one from HSUS had even seen the dogs. Apparently at HSUS the standing policy is: Kill 'em all, sight unseen. Later HSUS sent out a direct mail letter saying they were raising money to "save" the dogs which, they said, were in their care. In fact, the HSUS never had anything to do with these dogs at all, and they were never in their care for one second. Which is why they are still alive. The FBI is reportedly investigating the Humane Society of the United States for their scam of a fundraising appeal.

Bully Good News II:
The Washington Post reports that a judge has ruled that the Loudoun County, Virginia Animal Shelter cannot euthanize a dog based solely on its breed type. It's amazing that a court had to actually rule on this, since Virginia's Comprehensive Animal Laws specifically states that "No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed." But never mind the law: the Loudoun County Shelter wants to kill all pit bulls, and they have been killing pit bulls and other dogs even when they have lots of empty cages at hand. The good news it that Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell put a hitch in their giddy-up when he stepped in and issued a nonbinding opinion that publicly funded shelters could not legally euthanize dogs based solely on their breed. Now a judge has said the same thing, while the Animal Rescue League of Tidewater has filed suit to force the Loudoun County shelter to allow adoption (and transfer) of pit bulls.

Virginia's Attorney General Rides Again:
Virginia Attorney General McDonnell is not just stepping in to combat craziness in Loudoun County (see above story), he is also trying to prevent craziness in Norfolk where the City Council, at the behest of PETA, has tried to make it illegal for pet owners to dock puppy dog tails and remove dew claws. Virginia's Attorney General correctly notes that in Virginia the owner of an animal or the owner's employee are exempt from state requirements that they be licensed by the Board of Veterinary Medicine -- a common sense policy in an agricultural state where farmers routinely dock sheep tails and turn bull calves into steers. For more on the general topic, see this previous post from this blog.

I Like Kate Middleton Already:
It seems that Prince William's girlfriend, Kate Middleton, has PETA's underwear in a knot. Her transgression (and I could not make this up) is that she shot a gun at a metal silhouette target. No matter: Kate Middleton looks pretty nice in camouflage and one has to laugh at the idea that the so-called "League Against Cruel Sports" would have the temerity to lecture anyone about deer management considering their own deer herd is starving to death and riddled with disease. Check out that footage!

Deer Management Works in Pennsylvania:
In Pennsylvania the push to shoot more does and allow more bucks to get bigger has had a tremendously positive impact on hunting in that state. The average Pennsylvania buck used to weigh just 100 pounds field-dressed, but deer processors are now complaining that hunters are bringing in such large animals they have to be quartered in order to carry them to the cooler. Meanwhile, the state rack size has jumped an average of more than 7 points. For more on this topic, see this older post from this blog.

Ban Pointy Knives!
"British Medical Experts Campaign for Long, Pointy Knife Control." No, I did not make this headline up. The original editorial in the British Medical Journal concludes "The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime. We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect." Right. Got it. And no, they are not kidding.

A Siegfried Line for Wildlife?
In Germany, the latest controversy is whether the 400-miles of broken rubble and pill box shelters which are the remains of the "Siegfried Line" of World War II, should be carted off to make it easier for farm machinery to move about and to avoid liability from children playing on the ruins. The push back comes from those who say the ruins are now wildlife habitat. But, as Sebastian Schön of Friends of the Earth International explains, "It's been hard for us to deal with this issue because in Germany you're immediately labeled as some kind of neo-Nazi if you say anything positive about the bunkers." And perhaps with cause: badger, fox, and feral cats hardly need concrete rubble piles to make their way in the landscape -- even in Germany.

First Ida Hurt Memorial Hunt:
Matt Mullenix reports that the First Annual Ida Hurt Memorial Hunt went off without a hitch, with two falconers, one whippet and a Harris hawk in attendance. Somewhere, on the edge of the wind, Ms. Ida is smiling.

Bigger than McDonalds:
A report from the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation says that America's 34 million hunters and anglers spent $76 billion last year on ammunition, land leases, fishing hooks, dogs, guns, and decoys. Some other stats:

  • More people hunt and fish in the U.S. than watch the nightly newscasts of the three major networks - ABC, NBC, and CBS (34 million vs. 27 million).
  • Spending by hunters is greater than the revenues of McDonalds ($23 billion vs. $20 billion).
  • In 2007 hunters and shooters paid $233 million in Pittman-Robertson excise taxes for hunting and fishing land conservation.
  • Eighty percent of sportsmen are "likely voters," and 8 in 10 hunters always vote in presidential elections. Approximately 20% of the entire population of major swing states hold either a hunting or fishing license, or both.
He's Kind to Animals:
Over in Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has managed to combine the dog pound with the prison, to the benefit of both. Prior to Sheriff Joe taking it on, the County was spending approximately $18 million a year on stray animals. Now the Sheriff has the prisoners taking care of the animals which are housed in an older cell block that is no longer used. The result: the price for running the shelter has dropped to $3 million a year. A hat tip to Ann Kim for sending this one.

Getting Rich at the Dog Pound:
While doing a little background research on animal control in Maricopa County, Arizona (see story, above) I came across a 2001 article in the Phoenix New Times entitled Pet Peeves, in which Maricopa County, Arizona Humane Society Director Ken White is reported to have stubbornly refused, for more than a year, to sign off on to efforts to obtain a $10 million grant that would have ended the euthanasia of dogs and cats in Maricopa County, Arizona. What the hell? Curious, I looked up Ken White to see what he's doing now. It turns out he is President of the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA in San Mateo County, California where he makes ... wait for it ... $303,000 a year for killing dogs and cats. For those who have not yet read Nathan Winograd's excellent book Redemption (review and summary at link), the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo, California is the place that killed five cats and three dogs on television -- a public execution that was applauded by Ingrid Newkirk of PETA who said, "We're hoping that this sort of approach is going to catch on." Uhhhh, right. No need to even try to adopt out any of those dogs and cat, eh? Kill them all! A close reading of the Peninsula Humane Society web site finds that the shelter has a policy of killing all unweaned kittens and puppies, and also kills any dogs or cats it deems to have "behavior" problems. No numbers are given as to how many dogs and cats that actually is, but since the Humane Society and SPCA have, in the past, routinely said that 60 percent of all dogs and cats are "unadoptable," that could be a very high number indeed. What we know for sure is that the Peninsula Humane Society takes in only about 15,000 animals a year, according to their own web site. What that means is that Ken White's salary works out to his personally getting $200 for every dog and cat "handled" by the shelter. But wait, there's more. It seems Mr. White also lives rent-free in a $1.5 million house paid for by the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA. Unbelievable. But true.


Anonymous said...

And perhaps with cause: badger, fox, and feral cats hardly need concrete rubble piles to make their way in the landscape -- even in Germany.

But I'm sure the bunkers are helpful to the bats.

PBurns said...

I was trying to avoid writing about bats, as that takes more space and detail :)

Most bats live in hollow trees, in attics of buildings, and under overhangs. Natural stone caves have always been rare and rarely go away; in fact thanks to mining, bridge construction, tunnel construction, large sewer pipes, and building attics, there are now more good places for bats to live in than ever before.

The chief causes of bat decline in Europe and the U.S. are pesticides (both direct poisoning and starvation due to less insect food), deforestation (you need large trees to have hollow trees), and loss of hedgerows and ponds which bats typically use as locations to forage. Toxins and food are the main issues with bats, not places to roost.

The particular problems of hibernating cave-dependent bat species is that they cannot be disturbed in winter, which means that people have to be forcibly kept out. That might be possible for any large sections of tunnel and extent pill boxes left over from the Siegfried Line, but in fact there are very few of those --perhaps 40, and only a small fraction of those have bats at all. Most of the S-L was hard concrete tank barriers (now rubble piles) and keeping the concrete rubble as "habitat" is really a stalking horse for keeping some land out of agricultural production. Nothing wrong with that (we do it here in the U.S. all the time), but the badger, fox and rabbits will be fine regardless.


Anonymous said...

Grat post full of provocation and more! And thanks for the hat tip!


Jerry said...

RE Kate at Balmoral.

Interesting that the rifle had a muffler and the news article didn't even comment on it.
Wonder what would happen if Cheney was shown using one over here.