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Talk Back

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blog Favorites So Far in 2010

I’m always curious about which blog posts resonate most with you—the readers. Traffic to my blog is a good indicator of what subjects are top of mind for animal advocates. So, below, I list the top ten most popular blog posts so far for the first half of 2010. In first place (by a mile) is my January blog on the release of our 2009 Humane Scorecard. Many of you want to know where your legislators stand on key animal protection issues—and our annual report card is a great place to start. My take on a major cockfighting raid earlier this year in Texas, and the lawmaker who derailed legislation to upgrade the state’s anti-cockfighting law, came in second, followed by my post on Animal Planet’s airing of the 24th Genesis Awards, an uplifting celebration of the people in the news and entertainment industries who use their extraordinary talents to advance animal issues.

You’ve enjoyed the Q&A interviews with advocates who are making a difference for animals, such as Angela Moxley of Small Angels Rescue and Sarah Baeckler of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, as well as hearing what other blog readers had to say in the “Talk Back” entry. The critical public policy issues for animal protection in Congress caught your attention, whether it’s our work to promote the development of alternatives to animal testing, crack down on the brutal practice of shark finning, or strengthen penalties for the killing of federally protected raptors. Finally, rounding out the list is my post about the extraordinary benefits of factory farming reforms—for both animals and rural communities.

  1. Hot Off the Press: The 2009 Humane Scorecard
  2. A Taste for Cruelty
  3. Watch The Genesis Awards this Weekend
  4. A Pathway to End Animal Testing
  5. Even the Smallest Creatures
  6. Talk Back: Greyhounds, Puppies and Acts of Kindness
  7. The Lucky Seven: Q&A with Sarah Baeckler
  8. Increasing Penalties for Killing Protected Birds
  9. The Finning Must End
  10. How Farm Animal Reforms Also Benefit Residents

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Talk Back: “Crush” Videos, Protecting Missouri’s Dogs, and the “Little” Guys

Here’s a selection of comments that have come into the blog lately. I recently wrote about the efforts to end cruel animal “crush” videos. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed a bill by Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., to crack down on traffickers of these videos of extreme animal cruelty. Many of you are angry about these sick videos, too:

Thank you for being brave enough to bring this topic to light. Before reading this post, I had NO clue how sick and twisted some people are when it comes to animal cruelty. Your post was informative, factual, compelling, and eye opening. Thank you. Good luck to all fighting the battle to end cruelty on all levels.—John M.

While citizens have the right to freedom of speech, explicit videos that expose animal crushing and all other kinds of animal cruelty are disturbing and offensive. Redistributing such vile videos for a profit should not be allowed.—Wendy F.

It is well known and proven that this kind of behavior can often lead…to human abuse.  Why is it even considered a valid form of free speech? It isn't. Inflicting pain and suffering upon another living creature, human or not, is definitely a perverted form of expression of any kind. Ban it.—Michael R.

This bill must pass, if we are to consider ourselves a civilized nation. We cannot allow these demented depraved evil people to entertain each other using vile videos depicting unconscionable acts of cruelty to animals. I support the bill 100%.—Mrs. Saldivar

If you are as concerned as these readers, please ask your U.S. Senators to support legislation aimed at cracking down on depraved animal “crush” videos.

I also wrote about the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which would close a loophole in the nearly 60-year-old federal fur labeling law that allows many fur-trimmed jackets and other apparel to be sold without labels:

Thank you, sir, for being a voice to those who have no voice. These are God's creations and deserve to be treated as such. Thank you again.—Roxann E.

And I told you about Small Angels Rescue, an organization working to promote small animal care and adoption:

Great article, or should I say interview. Angela seems to be the genuine caregiver when it comes to the "small guys." Great work! Keep it up. Any animal deserves its day in the sun. Thanks again. Hope there is more to come.—Brian

It is amazing and heartwarming to know that there are many shelters for small animals like hamsters, gerbils, rats, guinea pigs all around the world. I agree that there is no need to purchase a hamster from a pet shop. There are plenty of them up for adoption.—Rachel, the Hamster Lover

Finally, I also told you about efforts underway in Missouri to crack down on abusive puppy mills and hopefully turn around the Show Me State’s reputation as the puppy mill capital of America:

A lot of time people are very discouraged when legislative efforts fall short. Though success is very important, we can't lose with these ballot measures because they force people to think about a subject that many would prefer to ignore.—Stephen K.

Thank you all for submitting these comments, and, as always, please keep the feedback coming. If you have a question or comment and would like to join the conversation, please send me an email. Thanks for all you do for animals.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Talk Back: Greyhounds, Puppies and Acts of Kindness

Today I’d like to post a selection of comments that have come into the blog. I recently wrote about the declining dog racing industry and the work of GREY2K USA, a greyhound protection organization which has helped to shape the debate on dog racing in the past decade:

Hi Michael, I just read your article “Heroes for Greyhounds” in Animals & Politics. I enjoyed it, Michael, it was concise and to the point. I live in a state that has 13 live racing tracks. You mentioned the number of injuries suffered by the racing greyhounds in Massachusetts at just two tracks. It is distressing to imagine how many racing dogs are being injured and killed at the 13 tracks in Florida. GREY2K USA has advocated record-keeping in Florida and will be legislatively seeking its approval. When we get record-keeping in place, it will heighten public awareness and help speed up the demise of this anachronistic industry.—Kathy P.

Thank you so much for this article—this is a subject especially near and dear to my heart. I have been involved with greyhound rescue and adoption since 1997 with an Illinois and Southeastern Wisconsin group, Greyhounds Only Adoption and Rescue. Before adopting my first greyhound in 1997, I did not know of the atrocities associated with this industry and since learning, I have worked to make people aware and promote adoption of these wonderful animals. Thank you for helping with this cause (as with all the animal issues).—Mary R.

We are badly in need of legislation in Arizona for the welfare of our animals. Arizona has very few laws on the books for the protection of the greyhound. Everyone I talk to here in Tucson acts like they are afraid to get legislation on the books. We need to get the dog tracks shut down SOON.—Shirley B.

With our recent kick-off meetings in Missouri to place the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act on the November 2010 statewide ballot, advocates have expressed their enthusiasm and support for cracking down on abusive puppy mills:

How can anyone look at these beautiful puppies and treat them inhumanely? I am praying for the pain to stop.—Cecile J.

I attended the kick-off meeting today in St. Louis. I really enjoyed your speech. You are a very inspirational speaker. I am eager to get started on this initiative! Thanks!—Lisa R.

We need to get the legislature to pass a law about puppy mills and the bad treatment they are receiving. They need health care, a place to play and run, good food and water to drink, a warm place to sleep at night when it's cold, and a cool place to sleep during the summer. I don't like hearing about the abuse of animals, the owners need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent.—Terri M.

We’ve also received feedback in response to my post highlighting recent acts of kindness for animals in Haiti and here at home:

Hi Mike: This is good to hear, but what about saving cats?—Carolyn

Thanks for your question, Carolyn. We’re working to help all animals in Haiti. I have five cats of my own—Georgia, Lexi, Mario, Misty, and Oliver—and it’s a cause close to my heart. One recent effort I’m very proud of is The Humane Society of the United States’ work to save the feral cats on San Nicolas Island. Click here to read about these rescued cats and their brand-new shelter at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center.

The Haiti earthquake is devastating, but honestly, after hearing the news and thinking of the people, the NEXT thing I thought of was the animals. If I didn't have to make money to pay bills, or if I was rich, I'd get on a plane with one of the rescue groups and go to help the animals, and to build a humane infrastructure. The animals are always the worst to suffer and the last to receive help or consideration.—Dyan K.

Thank you all for submitting these comments, and please keep the feedback coming. If you have a question or comment and would like to join the conversation, please send me an email. Thanks for all you do for animals.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Your Favorites of 2009

I’m always excited to gauge reader feedback on the blog, and as we look back at 2009, I’ve taken a look at which of the year’s postings resonated the most with you—whether it’s through the reaction each post receives, a surge in traffic, or the number of times the blog is shared (using the “ShareThis” button at the bottom of each posting).


One of the watchwords of 2009 was “change,” and it’s no surprise that the top two blog entries were about personal change and policy change. But the rest of the top ten list reflects a mix of high-profile animal issues like poaching and puppy mills, the year’s headlines like the economy and the Supreme Court’s first animal protection case in fifteen years, new tools for our cause like the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, and the stories of dedicated animal advocates like Ben Byrom and Cheryl Woodcock.

Here’s a look back at your favorite blog posts of 2009. Please keep the feedback coming in 2010.

  1. Our Change Agenda for Animals
  2. A Chance to Change
  3. Missing the Mark on Anti-Cruelty Law
  4. There Oughta Be a Law: Q&A with Cheryl Woodcock 
  5. The Creatures’ Caucus
  6. NRA Has No Dog in This Hunt
  7. Animal All-Star
  8. Healing Heroes and Helping Hounds
  9. A Double Whammy for Shelters
  10. Wildlife Pays the Interest on Credit Card Reform

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Talk Back: Wolves, Wags, and Warming

Today I’d like to share some of your comments in reaction to my recent blog entries. We received many comments in response to my post regarding the killing of Yellowstone’s most celebrated wolves:

I am so saddened by this. I have visited Yellowstone three times and was so happy when wolves were reintroduced. —Mary R.
This is so upsetting. Where is the common sense? This is what put them on the endangered species list in the first place, and now they will probably have to be put back on it, just to save them again. I'm so angry about this. What can we as American citizens do about this? —Karomy H.
How disgusting. Sarah Palin's slaughter of wolves from the air and on the ground was sickening and now our government killing innocent, helpless wolves in Yellowstone Park. Will we never learn that we have to co-exist with the rest of nature or simply wipe each away a step at a time? —Katherine N.

I enjoyed interviewing the winner of HSLF’s first-ever “There Oughta Be a Law” contest. Her concept will create a tax credit for spaying and neutering pets to help curb pet overpopulation and euthanasia:

This is awesome. I would be ecstatic if this bill passed! —Sandra D.

We also received feedback to the hostile maneuver by Congress giving another free pass to factory farms and putting a major roadblock in the way of efforts to combat global warming:

Agribiz cooked this highly deceptive strategy up because they know that the results of the simple reporting will be a revelation that would force every clear-headed citizen to drive "every American farmer out of business." —Louche
What discouraging news. Thank you for your work and for this exposé. —Alex

Thank you all for submitting these comments, and please keep the feedback coming. If you have a question or comment and would like to join the conversation, please send me an email. Thanks for all you do for animals.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Talk Back: Thanks and Spanks

I always like to hear your thoughts on my blogs and today I’d like to post a few reader comments to recent posts.

I’ve received many comments praising Ben Byrom, a 14-year-old Californian, who has been a stellar advocate for animals.

Awww, kids like Ben are very inspiring to me. As a teacher, I deal with a lot of apathetic and narcissistic kids. Hearing stories like Ben's reminds me that there are nice and caring children around the world who take the initiative to end injustices when they see them. Thank you for your good heart, Ben!—Sara N.

Ben has touched my heart and gives me hope because children are our future and their voices do count. He is an inspiration and a real hero!! Way to go Ben!!!—Lisa K.

Last month, The Ad Council, The Humane Society of the United States, and Maddie’s Fund launched The Shelter Pet Project, a national public service advertising campaign urging pet lovers to make shelter adoption their first choice.

It’s always good to hear about new pet programs but I really am only concerned with ones that actually do something to increase ownership responsibility. We need to pass a breeder permit law for everyone who wants to keep their pet from being fixed. We need to stop the selling of dogs and cats in all flea markets, newspapers, and out of their cars. I want to see every pet owner commit to keeping their pet for their entire life and if they must relinquish their duty, a system is in place to keep accurate records of where this animal goes. It should be the same responsibility one would have if they had a child.—Michael A.

Virginia state Sen. Ken Cucinnelli is an apologist for cockfighting and has a record of extreme opposition to animal protection policies. This November, he is running for attorney general in Virginia.

This person is a disgrace to the human race. How on earth he could be elected is beyond me. Thank you for exposing him and his philosophy to the voters in Virginia. I have faith in them; now that he has been exposed. I have faith he will be defeated.—Penny B.

A federal court in Kentucky made a step in the right direction this week when it upheld nearly every component of Louisville’s animal care and control ordinance, which protects pets and their owners.

A kennel club tried to overturn prohibitions on animal cruelty? What on earth is wrong with them? Good for the courts for not giving in to temptation to demonize a whole breed of dog. The owner should bear responsibility for how the dog was trained (or not!). Every pet deserves a loving home and a chance to be valued as a living family member.—T.A. P.

Thank you all for submitting these comments, and please keep the feedback coming. If you have a question or comment and would like to join the conversation, please send me an email. Thanks for all you do for animals.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Talk Back: Dogfighting, Toxic Lead Shot, and Animal Cruelty

Today I’d like to share some of your comments to recent blog posts. I recently wrote about Michael Vick working to steer at-risk youth away from dogfighting:

Nobody despised Michael Vick more than myself but HSUS is making a smart move by allowing him to speak on what he has learned (hopefully) in the dogfighting business. The younger generation who is involved in this “form of activity” will pay more attention to what a famous athlete has to say than to anyone else. Someone who has been there, done that, but discovered the cruelty in it. Better late than never.—Pam N.

The mourning dove hunting season has now begun in many states, and even though there are plenty of nontoxic alternatives, many hunters will spew toxic lead shot and ammunition into our environment:

What an excellent blog. It is only reasonable that if hunters must slaughter these little birds, they can, at the very least, do it in a less polluting way than spewing lead all over the environment. I can’t see how anyone can possibly object to that, although it doesn’t surprise me that the NRA does. They think any legislation at all, even the most reasonable kind that even hunters agree with, is an attack on their precious (and totally outdated) second amendment. Thanks for the info.—BanWolfHunting

I grew up with hunters and fishers, who participate in a better sort of conservation and knowledge of natural resources than most folks. So, it’s great to see the Humane Society helping to make the connection between how hunting can be harmful to the environment, and the reasons why. The lead-based ammo is something I don’t know if many people consider.—Ginevra

In response to a recent blog regarding the major U.S. Supreme Court case to determine whether to uphold a federal law that bans the commercial sale of videos depicting illegal acts of animal cruelty:

Some human behavior is so sick and twisted, so aberrant and dangerous, that there can be no question but that it should be outlawed and severe penalties imposed on those who commit such heinous acts. There simply is no excuse for allowing anyone to inflict such abuse on any sentient creature. Reading this makes me feel ashamed to be considered a part of any culture that allows such unthinkable acts to continue!—VR

Thank you all for your comments, and please keep the feedback coming. If you have a question or comment and would like to join the conversation, please send me an email. Thanks for all you do for animals!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Talk Back: First Ladies, Vick and Veterans

Today I’d like to share some of your comments to recent blog posts. I recently wrote about First Ladies Michelle Bruni-Sarkozy and Michelle Obama, and their fur-free fashion statements:

The media’s fixation with Michelle Obama’s clothing has always unsettled me, in light of her incredible achievements. I feel like it diminishes her to little more than a clothes hanger. Thank you for reminding me that the personal is political, and that clothing critique can serve a purpose. If Michelle Obama is anti-fur, than I will join others in lauding her as a style icon!—SB

For the first time in more than 15 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a major animal protection case to decide whether to uphold a federal law that bans the commercial sale of videos depicting illegal acts of animal cruelty:

Great report—blogged on the topic...made me ill just reading the words describing the other extreme cruelties inflicted on puppies kittens and other small animals.—Mary H.

In legislative news, a bill has been introduced in Congress to help provide service dogs for wounded warriors and disabled veterans. Pets are good for our emotional and physical health, and studies show that having a pet can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels:

What a wonderful idea, all returning soldiers, etc. should be able to bring back their dogs or cats. These animals served their time over there helping our guys survive and they deserved to come home also, with the person they love most. The idea about shelter dogs is so wonderful. I think all pet stores should have to get the animals they sell from shelters. Man, there would be a run on shelters which would eliminate some of the animals killed ever year because they don’t have homes. It would also eliminate the puppy mills and cat dungeons.—Johnnie W.

I’ve also received a flood of comments in response to my post about Michael Vick reaching out to young men in community-based programs to steer them away from dogfighting:

At first I was really disgusted to hear that the HSUS was partnering with Michael Vick. Then, I listened to Wayne Pacelle say that the Humane Society is about change. Vick has a long road ahead to prove himself worthy of association with the Humane Society. The HSUS and Michael Vick share a pragmatic point of view. Street kids WILL listen to him. I just love the wonderful pictures of the anti-fighting team. It’s fabulous to know these guys are on our side.—Georgette

I applaud HSUS’s courage in handling the Vick situation. How much easier it would be to boycott Vick, call him a barbarian and judge him as an immoral unsalvageable human being. HSUS had not given up on Vick and the countless others like him who perpetuate these abominable practices. Instead, the work HSUS is doing has the possibility of saving the lives of pit bulls who are so brutally exploited. By doing so, there is a chance of helping change cultural practices that arise from a culture of poverty and deprivation.—Jean B.

Thank you all for your feedback, and please keep the comments coming. If you have a question or comment and would like to join the conversation, please send me an email. Thanks for all you do for animals!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Talk Back: Wildlife Abuse, Fur and Turtle Safety

Today I’d like to share some of your responses to past blog posts. I recently wrote about the Sportsmanship in Hunting Act, which would ban the remote shooting of live animals over the Internet and the trophy shooting of exotic mammals held captive inside fenced enclosures:

I am sickened to read that people actually consider it a sport to shoot and kill an animal that is held captive in a pen. How could a person take pleasure and pride in killing something they were too lazy to chase? I'm also shocked at the cowardice and cruelty of those who use remote-controlled weapons for sport. This is just not acceptable.—Leigh

The polar bear was recently listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. But Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has introduced a pair of bills that would undermine this listing and allow for the importation of sport-hunted polar trophies from Canada:

What are the names of the bills introduced by Congressman Don Young, regarding allowing polar bear trophy hunters to bring bear parts into the US? All HSLF members need to know so we can contact our own Congress reps.—Susan

Thanks for writing, Susan. It's important for legislators to hear from constituents who want to make a difference for animals. I encourage all readers to contact their U.S. Representative to urge opposition to these bills.

The Lake Jackson Ecopassage, a community-based project in Florida, would help turtles and other animals cross a busy and deadly stretch of U.S. Highway 27 in Tallahassee:

It's a nice change to see someone actually report the facts. Why does the media keep parroting Coburn's misinformation? Finally, we have someone who accurately reports about the project. Kudos to you - let's hope the rest of the media will actually do some leg work and report what the project is really about. After all, there's a reason the ecopassage has 13 million supporters. It's a great project! Read more by going to the project's web site.—Bob

We've also received feedback in response to yesterday's posting on the approval of the fur labeling bill in New Jersey:

Great news. I live in NJ and noticed this practice is flagrant. I brought the false advertising to the attention of the salesperson when I was shopping at Chicos. She was very reasonable and agreed to pass along my complaint.—Georgette

Thank you all for submitting these comments, and please keep the feedback coming. If you have a question or comment and would like to join the conversation, please send me an email. Thanks for all you do for animals.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Talk Back: Wildlife Abuse, Dogfighting and New Books to Check Out

Today I’d like to share some of your responses to past blog posts. I recently wrote about the National Rifle Association’s defense of poaching and its efforts to derail anti-poaching legislation in Pennsylvania:

I like this tough release, putting us on the side of law enforcement, game rangers & "responsible" hunters & NRA on the side of criminals.—Lew

Congress took a step backwards for animals when it approved a provision attached to the credit card reform bill, which would allow visitors to national parks to carry loaded weapons. A rule that struck a nerve with many blog readers:

What a sad state of affairs when we allow concealed handguns in our national parks. As stated, there is already a big problem with poaching, and now this! Where has all the common sense gone?—Karomy H.

The HSUS recently expanded its End Dogfighting campaign, which began in Chicago in 2006, to Atlanta and Los Angeles. The official kickoff event, “Casino Royale: Playing for Change,” was held on May 9th in Hollywood:

Thanks for reminding me and everyone else of this program—it doesn't get enough play, so I investigated the Chicago program, shot several street video interviews in the training center's Austin neighborhood with the "boots on the ground" people: Tio, Anthony and Antonio Pickett, Sean Moore, the reformed dog fighter, and did a phone interview with the trainer, Jeff Jenkins. I put it on my blog, as well as in my column. It is good to highlight positive programs that are having success—so often the news on Pits is pretty bleak!—Mary H.

We also received feedback on the recent Q&A’s with AdVocacy Guru, Stephanie Vance, and Marilyn Greenwald, author of the new biography “Cleveland Amory: Media Curmudgeon and Animal Rights Crusader.”

In response to Vance’s new book, “Citizens in Action: A Guide to Lobbying and Influencing Government”:

I enjoyed this book very much. Communicating (just trying to stay informed about) even "local" government can be frustrating and intimidating. I often think that aspect of "the system" is intentional! It's useful to have a source such as this one, which can be used as a sort of virtual "cheerleading" squad to encourage you in your advocacy efforts.—Peter

In response to Greenwald’s critical biography:

Thanks for pointing this book out - I had not known about his animal rights background as I'm fairly new to the formal world of animal activism. I'm picking this up this weekend.—Frank

Thank you all for submitting these comments, and please keep the feedback coming. If you have a question or comment and would like to join the conversation, please send me an email. Thanks for all you do for animals.

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