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March 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Oh Canada...How Could You?

Today, Canadian fishermen on the Atlantic coast set out on their annual ritual of killing hundreds of thousands of baby seals for their fur pelts. One of the world’s most beautiful nurseries—as vulnerable seal pups, just weeks old, emerge on the ice floes—will be stained red in the world’s largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals.

Seals What’s worse, the Canadian government delayed granting permits for humane groups and journalists to be present on the ice bearing witness and reporting on the carnage. It was a cruelty cover-up, and effectively barred any observation on the opening day of the hunt. They don’t want the world to see the images with their own eyes—to know what’s happening behind the Ice Curtain. 

Last summer, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution—led by the late Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)—calling on the government of Canada to end its commercial seal hunt. A similar measure has been introduced in the Senate—by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.)—and now has 13 cosponsors

It’s time for the Senate to join the House in condemning Canada’s cruelty. As the blood flows on the ice floes today, ask your Senators to speak out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And the Cockers' Red Glare

An article by Winston Ross in the web edition of Newsweek reports on the trend of increased lawmaking and law enforcement actions to crack down on the cruel and bloody sport of cockfighting. Because state and federal legislators have upgraded the laws to root out this criminal enterprise, and because police and prosecutors around the country are aggressively enforcing those laws, the so-called “cockers” are waging a futile war to repair their public image. Ross quotes the mantra of the website “No sport can be higher than the class of people that support it. Do your part to popularize cocking.”

It’s no surprise, then, that the cockfighters are trying to hitch their wagon to the heroes of American history. As I wrote last week, a resolution in the Hawaii state legislature imploring the United Nations to commemorate cockfighting as a “global sport” opines that “even the American Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson recognized the value of cockfighting, as participants in that sport.”

They’d have us believe that cockfighting was as important to the fledgling nation as the Declaration of Independence—as if Mount Vernon and Monticello preceded Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels as the hotbeds of Virginia animal fighting. But it’s wishful thinking at best, and simply doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny. It’s time to set the record straight.

Several years ago, Eric Sakach of The HSUS set out in search of documents and records regarding the oft-repeated claims that four American presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln—were cockfighting enthusiasts. After consulting several historical sources, here’s what we know:

Georgewashington_2 John P. Riley, historian for the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, indicated that he was aware of only two references to cockfighting among Washington’s many writings, diaries, and correspondence. “By the numerous references in his diaries and letters to foxhunting, card playing and attending the theatre, we know that these were some of Washington’s favorite amusements,” Riley wrote. “The two references to cockfighting in his voluminous writings and the absence of documentation or physical evidence of any cockpit at Mount Vernon leads me to believe that it was not an entertainment in which he participated in any great way.”

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation’s director of research, Lucia C. Stanton, noted that “we have found nothing in the documentary record to indicate that Jefferson either attended cockfights or raised fighting cocks. His interest in raising poultry was evidently just for culinary purposes.” She added, “I am confident that if Jefferson had had any interest in cockfighting I would have come across some reference to it in my twenty-five years of working with his documentary archive. Our former Director spent over thirty years studying Jefferson and also found no references to cockfighting.”

Regarding Andrew Jackson, the Ladies’ Hermitage Association located only one reference in his papers putting him on the scene of a cockfight near Nashville in 1809. Sharon Macpherson, the deputy director of research, noted that “cockfighting became one of the issues in the campaign of 1828. The anti-Jackson forces published a number of broadsides attacking his character and trotting out all the fights, canings, stabbings, duels and other unsavory events of Jackson’s past.” They apparently accused him of being a cockfighter, too, and a letter in Jackson’s own handwriting denied the charge: “It is a positive falshood that Genl Jackson has been either at a cockfight or sports of a similar nature for the last thirteen years.”

Lincoln The Illinois State Historical Library reports that cockfighting occurred in Lincoln’s home village of New Salem, but there is no evidence that Lincoln was involved in any way. Thomas F. Schwartz, curator of the Henry Horner Lincoln Collection, observed, “His love for animals is well documented and it seems unlikely that Lincoln would endorse cock fighting. In his autobiography, Lincoln indicates that he gave up hunting after shooting a turkey.” Schwartz further refuted the notion that Lincoln earned the nickname “Honest Abe” from judging cockfights, pointing out that Lincoln’s moniker came from his dealings as a storekeeper and his fairness in judging horse races.

Although it’s harder to prove inaction than action—that eighteenth and nineteenth century leaders did not routinely participate in cockfighting—there is evidence that they also actively sought to root out the cruelty. In the colonial era, cockfighting was under pressure thanks to a combination of Puritan, Calvinist, and Quaker influences, and then the notion that such frivolous games detracted from the seriousness of the Revolutionary War effort. The First Continental Congress passed legislation in 1774 to “discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, and all kinds of games, cock fighting, exhibitions of shows, plays, and other expensive diversions and entertainments.”

Over the centuries, horse racing and theatre came back into popular and political acceptance, but cockfighting never did. Most states formalized the prohibitions against staged fights in the 1800’s, yet there were a number of states where cockfighting was not criminalized.  The practice had its devotees and an industry developed, but the public always remained dubious and when citizens had a chance to outlaw the practice, they've always done so.

The founding fathers, it seems, had it right: Cockfighting had no place in the United States then, just as it has no place in the United States now. Whether the First Congress or the 110th, passing laws is the way to make cockfighting history. 

Monday, March 24, 2008

Poaching Under the Gun

Last week, the Associated Press and other news outlets reported that a park ranger was arrested for masterminding the illegal massacre of endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park in eastern Congo.  Only about 700 mountain gorillas remain in the wild, and most of them are in the conflict-ridden Virunga range which straddles Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. The ranger apparently orchestrated the slayings to deter and demoralize environmentalists who are working to preserve the gorilla’s rainforest habitat.

Ap_gorillas_080319_ms The political motivation for assassinating these rare creatures was nefarious in the extreme, but the photo accompanying the news story—showing four dead mountain gorillas tied to makeshift stretchers—was even more haunting. It’s a stark reminder of the many perils that wild animals face, whether here or abroad, and whether their species are imperiled or abundant.

Globally, the illegal killing and smuggling of wildlife is taking an astonishing toll. A few years ago, 25 tons of live turtles were exported from Sumatra to China every week.  That’s just one species from one country to another, and it gives you some idea of what is happening worldwide. From the killing of sharks for their fins, to the killing of elephants for their ivory tusks, to the killing of bears for their gall bladders, the cruelty for profit knows no boundaries.

Here in the U.S., some estimates indicate that for every wild animal legally killed by a sport hunter—tens of millions each year—another animal is illegally killed by a poacher. With strained budgets for law enforcement and countless acres of open land difficult to monitor, many poachers get away with their crimes and only a handful are brought to justice. The Humane Society of the United States and its Wildlife Land Trust are working with hunting groups and state wildlife agencies to take a bite out of poaching, offering rewards for tips on illegal activity and publicizing hotlines and websites for reporting poachers.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is urging Congress to take action on an important anti-poaching bill, too. Last week, the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans held a hearing on H.R. 5534, the Bear Protection Act, introduced by Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and John Campbell (R-Calif.). The bill would bar the interstate and foreign commerce in the internal organs of bears, and would deter poachers from killing these creatures for the lucrative black market in bear bile, gall bladders, and other viscera.

Bear_1_2One principle of modern wildlife management is that wild animals are a public resource, and should not be killed for private commercial gain. That’s why market hunting ended in the early twentieth century, and why state wildlife agencies established hunting seasons, bag limits, and other checks on excessive practices. A bear’s gall bladder is not sought after for sport or trophy, but only to make a buck by selling it for Asian apothecaries and aphrodisiacs. And the gall bladder of a black bear looks identical to that of a more vulnerable polar bear or Asiatic bear, so there’s no telling what species the organs came from.

Many hunters rightly support strict policies to curtail poaching and conserve wildlife resources from illegal trade. Ray Schoenke, president of the American Hunters and Shooters Association, was among the supporters testifying in favor of the Bear Protection Act, and he wrote a blog on Daily Kos about the subcommittee hearing. Schoenke—a lifelong hunter and former Washington Redskins player—was attacked by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) for supposedly not being enough of a hunter. It’s ironic that Young would take such a position and squabble over an anti-poaching bill, since Alaska is one of the 34 states that already ban the commercial sale of bear parts.

The Bear Protection Act has passed the U.S. Senate unanimously in previous Congresses, but has always been blocked in the House by the likes of Don Young and former Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). With new leadership of the House Natural Resources Committee, it’s time to pass this anti-poaching policy and protect bears from illegal killing—a goal shared by animal advocates and hunters alike.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Purrs

Following up on yesterday's photos of our legislative award winners, I want to share with you another set of winning photos. The HSUS's Spay Day USA Pet Photo Contest has come to a close, and the winning shots are touching and outstanding. (The four Markarian kitties—Georgia, Mario, Misty, and Oliver—were in the running, but were apparently disqualified due to bad behavior.)

More than 30,000 people submitted photos of their pets, celebrating the human-animal bond and writing about how their companion animals have impacted their lives.  The stories are inspiring, and the images even more so.  From the grand prize winner—Gomer (below), a rescued cat in Walnut Creek, Calif.—to the dogs, cats, rabbits, and even a baby rat, every picture reminds us of the joy and happiness that animals bring to our lives.

You can see the grand prize winner, along with the ten finalists and 25 honorable mentions, by clicking here. If you entered your pet's photo or voted for your favorite candidate, whether you're a "Demo-Cat" or "Re-Pup-lican," thank you for participating in the "Pet-toral College."


View Spay Day contest winners

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Images of Leadership

Earlier this week I wrote about the awards that The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund presented to members of Congress, honoring their leadership on animal protection protection issues in the 110th Congress.  Today we've created a photo album of many of these lawmakers who received humane awards, and I invite you to check out the photos.

It demonstrates how far the animal protection movement has come on Capitol Hill, when dozens of legislators—Democrats and Republicans alike—are honored for their achievements and accomplishments in promoting the humane treatment of animals. With their help, and the help of all their constituents, we will truly make change and create a kinder and more merciful world for all creatures.

Michael Markarian, Nancy Perry, and Wayne Pacelle present
the top annual honor
the 2007 Humane Legislator of the
Year Award
to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)

View the Photo Album


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Honoring Our Leaders

Last week, as members of Congress and their staff worked to take care of business before leaving town for the spring recess, Capitol Hill was buzzing with recognition for lawmakers who also take care of animals. The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund held two awards receptions in the U.S. Capitol, honoring members of Congress who have been leaders in the cause of animal protection.

HSLF President Michael Markarian with Sen. Mary
Landrieu (D-La.), the prime sponsor of legislation to stop
horse slaughter for human consumption.

The HSUS and HSLF jointly gave their top annual honor, the 2007 Humane Legislator of the Year Award, to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). Blumenauer was the co-author of the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which was signed into law in 2007 and strengthen the federal penalties for dogfighting and cockfighting. He is also leading efforts to secure more funding for the enforcement of animal welfare laws and to establish charitable pet trusts for the lifetime care of companion animals. And he will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Taking Action for Animals conference in Washington, D.C.

In addition to Blumenauer, we honored 131 other members of Congress who were the prime sponsors of animal protection legislation or who scored a perfect 100 percent on the 2007 Humane Scorecard. My colleagues and I were joined by dozens of lawmakers who found time to stop by an evening reception in the U.S. Capitol Building to accept their awards and visit with HSUS and HSLF staff. The honorees—31 Senators and 100 Representatives covering 38 states—make up nearly one third of the Senate and one quarter of the House.

HSLF Political Director Richard Patch with Rep. Walter
Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.), who successfully pushed for the
establishment of a National War Dog Memorial.

Finally, The HSUS bestowed its highest award, the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal, on Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.) and posthumously on Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). In surveying the field of people in political life, no one could deserve a lifetime achievement award for animal protection more than these two individuals. Byrd and Lantos were the 40th and 41st recipients of the prestigious honor, and the first legislators ever to receive it. Previous recipients have included such luminaries as Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Richard Leakey.

Sen. Byrd is the longest serving member of the U.S. Senate, but he is also the only current member of the Senate who was in office when Congress voted on the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958. He is still fighting for that cause a half century later, and as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has allocated millions of dollars to improve the enforcement of animal welfare and humane slaughter laws. He is a leader in the fight to stop horse slaughter and to promote the adoption of working horses, and he frequently uses his remarkable oratory skills on the Senate floor to praise his dogs, condemn dogfighting, or raise awareness of the inhumane slaughter of poultry.

Krutch Ceremony
HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle presents the
Krutch Medal to Dr. Katrina Swett, the daughter of Rep.
Lantos, and Joe Stewart, former Secretary of the Senate
and longtime friend of Sen. Byrd.

Rep. Lantos, until his death last month, was also a lifetime leader for animals. He founded the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus, holding briefings to inform members of Congress and their staff about dogfighting, farm animal welfare, and other important issues. He led the successful passage of animal protection measures, most recently the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act to require disaster planning for pets in 2006, and a House resolution condemning the Canadian seal hunt in 2007. As the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he was an ambassador for humane treatment around the globe, and used his voice to advocate for animal protection in other countries, such as calling on China to stop its misguided policy of rounding up and killing pet dogs.

Every year, more and more legislators of every political stripe are leading and supporting efforts to implement humane public policies. Animal protection is more than ever being treated like the serious moral issue it is on Capitol Hill, and lawmakers are debating policies that have enormous implications for animals. We congratulate this year’s award recipients, and thank them for speaking out and fighting for the creatures who need our help.

Monday, March 17, 2008

'Aloha' Should Mean 'Goodbye' to Cockfighting

As the 2008 Summer Olympics approach in Beijing, it’s hard to imagine that cockfighting will ever be up there with gymnastics and swimming. But one state lawmaker is imploring the United Nations to “officially commemorate cockfighting as a global sport.” Hawaii Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D-42nd) has introduced two resolutions, HR 153 and HCR 180, which wax poetic on the Founding Fathers’ supposed affinity for fighting cocks, and the valiant cockfighters of present day who are “unwilling to lose or forget that tradition.”

281x196_cockfighting_poster_3 Cabanilla, of course, is swimming against the tide. Even before the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal jolted the American conscience, there had been a steady and methodical upgrading of our nation’s laws to combat animal fighting. Dogfighting and cockfighting are now banned nationwide, with dogfighting punished as a felony in all 50 states and cockfighting a felony in 37. What’s more, it’s now a federal felony to move animals across state or national borders for the purpose of fighting, or to traffic in cockfighting weapons.

In Hawaii, cockfighting has been banned since 1884, during the reign of King David Kalakaua. But the law is plainly out of date. Indeed, Hawaii has one of the weakest anti-cockfighting laws in the U.S., providing only misdemeanor punishment, a maximum $2,000 fine and one year in prison. There are no sanctions against possessing fighting birds and weapons, or for attending cockfights.

Sen. Will Espero (D-20th) is rightly working to put teeth into Hawaii’s feeble law, and has introduced SB 2552 to make cockfighting a felony. Rep. John Mizuno (D-30th) and Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (D-13th) have introduced another pair of bills, HB 2476 and SB 2133, to strengthen the anti-dogfighting statute. This collection of anti-crime and anti-cruelty bills would bring us one step closer to eradicating the dogfighitng and cockfighting industries in Hawaii, and—unlike Cabanilla’s proposal—that’s a goal that cannot be achieved too soon.

It’s likely that Cabanilla’s entreaty to the UN will just fizzle and die. According to State Net’s Capitol Journal, “This isn’t Rep. Cabanilla’s first venture into controversial legislative waters. A few years back she proposed a bill that would have forced teachers to be weighed every six months, with sanctions against those deemed to be too heavy. That one didn’t go anywhere either.”

281x144_rooster_istock_2 The last time someone in Hawaii tried to make cockfighting a “global sport,” in fact, he was arrested at the Honolulu airport. Joseph Marty Toralba returned last month from an international cockfighting derby in the Philippines, and tried to smuggle 263 long knives—three-inch, razor-sharp, steel blades that are strapped to the birds’ legs—in his luggage. He didn’t win the gold medal, but he did earn the honor of being the first person indicted under the new federal law barring interstate or foreign transport of cockfighting weapons.

At the time of the arrest, U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said, “A cockfight…pits two fighting birds against each other in order for them to effectively duel to the death. We must act, and we will act whenever we find this type of illegal activity.” Now that’s a message worthy of being broadcast worldwide—that we have zero tolerance for staged animal fights, at home or abroad.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Trumped Up Charges—And a Feckless Act

Generally speaking, state governors are making great strides in 2008.  Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal made their states the 49th and 50th with felony penalties for dogfighting. Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a bill making it a felony to be a spectator at a dogfight. And Virginia Governor Tim Kaine enacted bills making cockfighting a felony and prohibiting the use of gas chambers at animal shelters.

Cougar But yesterday, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire took a major step backwards for animals.  She approved House Bill 2438, backed by trophy hunters and opposed by animal advocates, expanding the use of dogs to hunt cougars. She took a position at odds with scientific wildlife management, humane treatment of animals, and the will of Washington citizens.

In 1996, Washington voters approved Initiative 655 with a landslide 63% to 37% vote, putting an end to the baiting of bears and the hound hunting of bears, cougars, bobcats, and lynx. The electorate weighed the practices of chasing animals with packs of radio-collared dogs and shooting them from tree branches, and gunning down animals with their heads buried in piles of rotting meat and jelly doughnuts, and saw them for what they were: unsporting, inhumane, and unnecessary. 

Over the last decade, trophy hunting groups have tried again and again to repeal I-655, and they’ve succeeded in chipping away at some of the law's core provisions with trumped up charges against cougars.A few years ago lawmakers approved a four-year pilot project restoring the hound hunting of cougars in five counties. The bill signed by Governor Gregoire yesterday extends that project for three more years, and what’s worse, expands it statewide. 

A seven-year pilot project spread across the state is no longer much of a test study—it’s all but a blanket repeal of the ban on hunting cougars with dogs.  If the legislature simply keeps appeasing the handful of trophy hunters and extending the project year after year, it’s little different than hound hunting of cougars in perpetuity.

While the governor defended the bill as a way to protect public safety and livestock, it’s a solution in search of a problem. Existing law already allows for the removal of individual cougars to protect animals, private property, or public safety—far more precise and effective than indiscriminate hound hunting of random animals. Hound hunting focuses state resources on scattershot killing at the expense of conflict resolution methods that actually work.

Cougar2 This comes at a time when the Department of Fish and Wildlife indicates that cougar populations may be in jeopardy, writing in its report to the legislature that “cougar density in the 5-county area appears to be low compared to other populations in the West and further declines may impact the population stability of cougars.”  And Washington State University researchers working on the project say that it’s exacerbating, not mitigating, cougar conflicts:  “Our management actions are achieving the exact reverse of what is desired. It’s the shift in the age structure that results in the increased complaints. It’s just disastrous. The heavy hunting that we’re doing in Washington State is causing increased human-cougar conflicts. The putative solution is causing the problem.”

It strains credulity that the state would even contemplate expanding a project that has been a complete failure. The department says that data collected from other counties won’t be useful for the study, so not only does the hound hunting of cougars have no practical value, but it doesn’t even have any research value, either.

When Gregoire ran for election in 2004 against Republican Dino Rossi, she had the support of animal advocates in the state, who rallied for her and pounded the pavement on her behalf.  On election night it appeared that Rossi had won, but after three recounts, Gregoire emerged as the victor by just 129 votes.

Nearly two-thirds of Washington voters approved I-655, providing a much greater mandate for protecting cougars than they provided for Gregoire’s role as chief executive. She has now substituted her judgment for the judgment of the voters, and when her name is on the ballot again this year, the people just might remember.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Humane Scorecard is a Powerful Tool

After the Humane Society Legislative Fund published its new Humane Scorecard a couple weeks ago, bloggers ranging from the Baltimore Sun’s Mutts to Dogster’s For the Love of Dog Blog have commented on this resource that rates members of Congress on animal protection issues.

110_humanescorecardBut a tool is only as good as the person who wields it. The scorecard is designed to help you assess the performance of your federal lawmakers, determine whether they are representing your interests, and communicate with their offices. I hope you will not only study the scorecard, but also will take action after you do.

First, find out who represents you in Congress, and then, review their scores for 2007. If your legislators had high marks, it’s important to call and thank them, and let them know you appreciate that they are standing up for animals. If they did poorly, let them know you are watching and you expect them to do better in 2008. Mention specific animal protection measures that you want them to co-sponsor and support.

You can call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 225-3121 to ask for your representative’s and senators’ offices. You can also send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper praising or criticizing your lawmakers for their ratings on animal issues, and spread the word to your friends and family.

Finally, Congress is on spring recess for the last two weeks of March, so be sure to find out if your legislator is holding a town hall meeting or open office hours in your district. It’s a great opportunity to visit him or her in person, with the Humane Scorecard in hand, and deliver the powerful message that constituents care about public policies to protect animals from cruelty and abuse.

Email me and let me know how you are using the Humane Scorecard, and I may publish your comments on the blog.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Help Your Favorite Animal Shelter Win a Million-Dollar Makeover

I visited Buffalo, N.Y., last August for my niece’s first birthday party, and during the outdoor festivities (yes, you can go outside in Buffalo during the summer) I found a baby squirrel who was stranded on the sidewalk and had fallen from a tree. He was chirping, a sign of hunger, but was unable to climb on his own. After I put him back in the tree to wait for his mom to come feed him, it became obvious that there were no adult squirrels in the vicinity.

Squirrel1_3 This little guy, just a few weeks old, was an orphan—his mother possibly killed by an automobile. I took the squirrel to the SPCA Serving Erie County, which in addition to operating the Buffalo area’s shelters for dogs and cats, has one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation centers in New York State, caring for thousands of wild animals each year. The dedicated staff bottle-fed the orphaned squirrel until he was healthy enough to survive on his own, and later released him back to the wild. 

It’s one of the reasons I joined Zootoo, so I could help the SPCA Serving Erie County compete in the extreme shelter makeover contest sponsored by Zootoo and The Humane Society of the United States. Zootoo is an online community for pet lovers, where you can post photos of your pets, comment on animal-related news, offer honest and unbiased reviews of pet products and services, and much more. Simply by signing up and choosing your favorite animal shelter, you can earn points for that shelter every time you rate pet-related items or refer friends to join.

Squirrel2_2The animal shelter with the most points will win a full shelter makeover valued up to one million dollars, while nineteen other shelters will win cash prizes to upgrade their facilities. More than 900 shelters across the country have signed up, and the contest ends on March 31.

The shelter makeover contest is the perfect way to show your appreciation for your local animal shelter. I hope you will join Zootoo today and earn points over the next few weeks for the shelter of your choice. It's a free, easy way to help make a million-dollar difference for a shelter in need.

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