Sunday, September 26, 2010

Costumes Mask Suffering in Puppy Mills, Dairy Industry

As my husband and I drove down a busy four-lane road yesterday, I saw someone in the parkway dressed as a dancing puppy. At first I thought it was cute. That is, until I saw that the sign he was holding advertised puppies for sale at Petland.

Just a bit down the road and on the other side, someone stood dressed as a cow. The cow advertised an Oberweis ice cream shop, a local chain related to Oberweis Dairy, which gets its milk from 40 dairy farms in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Unfortunately, these costumed characters entice people to patronize these businesses and hide the reality behind them.

Each cute puppy in a pet store comes from parents who spend their lives in cages, unsocialized and unloved.

Each milkshake, ice cream cone or gallon of milk one buys comes from cows who are impregnated for the sole purpose of lactating. Their male calves are taken from them and usually sold for veal. Their female calves are destined to repeat their mothers' cruel fate. When a cow's milk production wanes and she's no longer profitable, she's sold for hamburger.

I admit it -- I'm a sucker for animals, even costumed ones. But I'm no longer a sucker when it comes to cruelty to animals. Don't you be one either. Don't be taken in by cute images of animals that only serve to mask the suffering behind animal industries.

Two Suburban Chicago Restaurants Worth Checking Out

A vegan restaurant is scheduled to open in my hometown next month.

Featuring raw foods, smoothies, teas and desserts, Vegan Cafe is the work of two women, Linda Merkle and Laurie Sloan. Merkle credits her raw diet with alleviating her rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Vegan Cafe's proceeds will benefit Sloan's Thanks Jordan Foundation, a non-profit that helps families of children with cancer.

Although I'm not a fan of raw foods -- although I do believe in their healing properties -- I'm excited to try this new restaurant. When I grew up there, Lockport (Ill.) had few restaurants to choose from: two typical Greek restaurants (with American food), a hot dog stand, some pizza places, McDonald's, Burger King, a Chinese restaurant, an expensive French restaurant. Now that the town has grown, more restaurants have opened, namely a Popeye's and a Sonic. Vegan options (aka healthy food) are still hard to come by.

Opening any restaurant is a huge risk, a raw one even more so. But I hope the community sees what a positive change this is for Lockport and supports Vegan Cafe. I wish both women the best of luck.

Naf Naf Grill
Moving from the southwest Chicago suburbs to the western 'burbs, I wanted to give a shout-out to a restaurant in Naperville. While it's not vegan, it is vegan-friendly.

Naf Naf Grill, which recently moved to a new location on Freedom Drive, has yummy falafel pitas and lentil soup. The pita is so big that I typically have to take part of it home. And the staff is incredibly friendly. (I'm not receiving anything for writing this.)

Unlike Lockport, Naperville has oodles of restaurants from which to choose. But if you're in the area and are looking for something different, check out Naf Naf.

(Photo courtesy of The Herald-News. Credit: John Patsch/Staff Photographer.)

Dairy Worker Gets 'Slap on the Wrist' in Cruelty Case

A worker caught on tape punching calves on an Ohio dairy farm has been sentenced Friday to eight months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Billy Joe Gregg had been charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty but pleaded guilty to just six misdemeanors. He's already served four months since his arrest after Chicago-based Mercy for Animals released its undercover footage of Plain City's Conklin Dairy Farms in May.

The tape showed workers
  • Violently punching young calves in the face, body slamming them to the ground, and pulling and throwing them by their ears
  • Routinely using pitchforks to stab cows in the face, legs and stomach
  • Kicking "downed" cows (those too injured to stand) in the face and neck – abuse carried out and encouraged by the farm's owner [emphasis mine]
  • Maliciously beating restrained cows in the face with crowbars – some attacks involving over 40 blows to the head
  • Twisting cows' tails until the bones snapped
  • Punching cows' udders
  • Bragging about stabbing, dragging, shooting, breaking bones, and beating cows and calves to death
As part of his sentencing, Gregg is not to have contact with animals for three years and is required to receive counseling.
"Gregg's punishment is a slap on the wrist compared to the unimaginable suffering endured by the animals who were victims of his malicious abuse," says MFA's Executive Director, Nathan Runkle. "It's an outrage that in Ohio it's a mere misdemeanor to sadistically punch, beat and stab farmed animals, break their bones and otherwise torture them. This case should serve as a wake-up call to all compassionate citizens that Ohio must do more to strengthen its animal cruelty laws."
Gregg was the only employee charged. In July a grand jury failed to indict Gary Conklin, the farm's owner, saying he had acted appropriately in kicking a cow to get her up.

Related Posts

Dairy Employee Charged with Misdemeanors

Dairy Owner Kicks Sick Cow; Employees Punch Calves

(Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tweets Trip up Animal Protection Chief

The chief investigator for Colorado's Bureau of Animal Protection is being criticized for thousands of tweets he's made on state time -- many against animal rights in general and against The Humane Society of the United States in particular.

In the past 18 months Scot Dutcher (aka Skinnyhorse) has published nearly 4,700 tweets, half at his Department of Agriculture job overseeing 100 animal-cruelty investigators.

Dutcher is part of a group on Twitter, mostly involved in animal agribusiness, who have been bashing The Humane Society of the United States for the past couple of years. The HSUS became their target when it became the target of the deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom.

The HSUS is fighting back, though, giving Denver media outlets the scoop on Dutcher.
"Colorado animals and taxpayers deserve better than this," said Holly Tarry, the state director of the Humane Society of the United States. "A state employee charged with protecting animals that clocks in and spends his day churning out anti-animal protection tweets."

Tarry points to one tweet that compares the inability to shoot owned animals to the inability to destroy inanimate objects.
"In another tweet, the state's principle animal cruelty investigator criticized the felony charge for a woman who taped a dog to the fridge."

Denver's Channel 9 news reported that in one tweet "he sarcastically called on people to 'eat more polar bears.' In another he mentioned 'that success over animal rights is the best revenge.'"

Unfortunately, the Department of Agriculture protects its own. Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Jim Miller gave him a talking to and reminded employees about the department's social-networking policy, but Dutcher still has his job.
"There really should be no reason why organizations shouldn't trust him," [Miller said].
But large animal-advocacy groups, like The HSUS, work with state agencies all the time on animal-cruelty cases. If Dutcher dislikes these groups so much that he spends hours a day criticizing them, how can he work with them to help animals?

Dutcher's Twitter profile says he's "Anti-animal rights, pro animal welfare. Support animal use in ag, exhibition, sporting, and med research." While readers of this blog know that animal welfare means very little, he may be even less than an animal-welfarist. In July he retweeted and commented on a post.
While we bicker about animal welfare... RT @AmericanHumane @DenverPostPicks: Child-poverty rate increases 50% in CO
The HSUS's Tarry called him on it on Denver's Channel 7 news.
"I think it's one thing to be concerned with child poverty, but to pit it against animal protection is a really strange position for the chief of animal protection to take."
(Image courtesy of

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CCF, Martosko Buy Support for HumaneWatch

The Center for Consumer Freedom must be desperate for people to leave comments on its HumaneWatch site.

It's begun rewarding two commenters a week $100 each, to go to their favorite animal shelter. The "Comments of the Week" contest runs through October.

Given the number of Facebook followers HumaneWatch appears to have -- although there's no telling how many were duped into thinking HumaneWatch actually cares about animals -- the contest hasn't been very successful.

Perhaps David Martosko's ploy hasn't worked because HumaneWatch supporters don't actually care about animals.

If Martosko wants more people to comment on the HumaneWatch Web site, maybe his lackies should approve everyone's comments, even the ones that disagree with him.

I commented twice in the past several months, following the commenting guidelines.
Comments are moderated, and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. Extremely lengthy comments and those that contain obscenities may be edited before they are posted.
Not surprisingly, neither of my comments made it past moderation.

Or maybe the CCF is using this "contest" to claim that it donates money to animal shelters. Regardless, $1,600 or so to help dogs and cats is nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands it spends to keep the cruel animal-agribusiness industry afloat.