Tuesday, November 24, 2009


My friend Dan Murphy shares with us here at Chore Time now and again, and because it is just past our Thanksgiving and just before the American one he has contributed this piece. Thanks Dan!

I know what I am thankful for...and being able to share with you all on Chore Time is one!



Animal, Vegetable, Pitiful

The vegan argument against Thanksgiving turkey is half-baked and tough to swallow

By Dan Murphy

’Tis the season, apparently.

It’s Thanksgiving, so get set to be treated to another ride on the vegan Guilt-O-Rama, this time courtesy of a New York Times op-ed piece (www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/opinion/22steiner.html) from avowed vegetarian Gary Steiner, professor of philosophy at Bucknell University. Steiner asks, “Is it wrong to kill animals for human consumption?”

For never-say-die vegans, that’s a rhetorical question. Of course they think it’s wrong! In Vegan World it’s wrong to kill anything (including nonsensical debate over meat eating). Nevertheless, Steiner rolls out the usual chestnuts about, “Eating animals for food is mass murder,” and, “The practice of delivering animals to the table abhorrent and inexcusable,” and decries the folly of those who offer “impassioned calls for more ‘humanely’ raised meat.”

But his most revealing point comes when he argues that, “People who are ethical vegans (as if there’s some big splinter group of outlaw vegans) believe that differences in intelligence between human and non-human animals have no moral significance whatsoever.” Which means that killing an animal for food would be morally indistinguishable from killing another human being. And that’s the principle upon which Steiner and those of similar beliefs base their vegan credo.

He concludes his piece with a final stick-in-the-eye rejoinder: “Think about [animal suffering] when you’re picking out your free-range turkey, which has absolutely nothing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. All it ever had was a short and miserable life, thanks to us intelligent, compassionate humans.”

I’ve got news for Steiner: There are a whole lot of wild birds who also had a short, miserable life. It’s called Nature. Look into it.

Of mice and men
In truth, it is a fairly straightforward process to refute the vegangelical assertion that humans who eat animal food are somehow morally circumspect. Since he’s a classic example, let’s deconstruct Steiner’s rationale, starting from a philosophical standpoint.

To adhere to the vegan doctrine, one must believe that all animal life is morally equivalent. And if it is wrong on principle for humans to kill and consume animals, then it must be equally wrong for any animal to kill and consume other animals. By that standard, then, billions of animals would be morally culpable.

But that makes no sense, nor is it what vegans believe. They argue that it’s only wrong for humans to eat other animals. Nobody in the veggie community would ever voice criticism of a wolf pack for running down and slaying a pregnant moose, or a hungry group of crocodiles for picking off dozens of terrified wildebeests as they struggle to cross a rain-swollen river. That’s what they do.

The rules are different for humans, however. Why? Only one reason: Because we are different from and superior to other species. Otherwise, since all life is ultimately based on a kill-and-be-killed model, the entire planetary ecosystem would be judged immoral. So if humans are different from other animals, then we’re back to comparing whether our consumption of animal foods is any different from the cruel and often savage tactics used by virtually every carnivore and omnivore who walks, flies, swims or crawls upon the Earth.

I would argue that it is very different, and when animal husbandry is practiced wisely and compassionately, far better.

The wisdom of the ancients
Next, the naturalistic perspective. This piece of the vegan doctrine posits that vegetarian foods represent our natural lifestyle, as if we were biologically hard-wired to live off processed soybeans, tropical fruits and jet-freighted, out-of-season produce, today’s modern veggie staples. But if we’re seeking the sources of what could be understood as a natural diet, shouldn’t we access the wisdom developed over many millennia that our ancestors used as the foundation of civilization itself? There isn’t an indigenous tribe or people on any continent in any time period in history that didn’t hunt, fish or trap wildlife or make use of domesticated animals as a principal food source.

Native American folklore and spiritual teachings are filled with songs and prayers of gratitude to the Great Spirit who provided the game and fish upon which the people depended for sustenance. Are we to assume that hundreds of sophisticated societies across the eons were all inherently misguided? That every tribe we’ve ever studied somehow got it all wrong?

Of course not. There has always been a natural symbiosis between humanity and the natural world, even though that has been sadly subsumed in our modern urban lifestyles. As do virtually all species at the top of the food chain, early humans learned to co-exist with other animals, capturing and eventually domesticating the wildlife whose flesh, organs, fur, hides, bones and antlers provided not just nourishment, but shelter, tools, medicines and clothing.

Vegans like Prof. Steiner will argue that we have “evolved,” that we are no longer primitive people living in the forest or on the plains, dependent on the vicissitudes of drought, blizzards or natural disasters to survive. But such thinking implies that we have cut our ties with Nature, that by harnessing science and technology we have fundamentally altered our relationship with the ecosystem we share with all life on the planet, that we no longer need to worry about consuming a “natural” diet.

Show me the vegan who buys that belief and I’ll give up meat eating for good.

Truth is, we are creatures of Nature, as surely as every other member of the animal kingdom that vegans pretend is so sacred. So my challenge to Steiner, et al, is this: Either embrace the omnivorous diet to which our human biology has adapted over the last 30,000 years, or admit that the very existence of a vegetarian option is purely a product of recent scientific and technological progress—which means accepting production agriculture, mechanized food processing and complex distribution infrastructure as normal and necessary components of life.

Answering the carbon question
Finally, let us examine the validity of a vegan lifestyle from a sustainability perspective. Even if there weren’t 6.2 billion people alive today—with another three (or four) billion more expected by mid-century—the challenge of providing sufficient food for everyone on Earth would remain a formidable one. As enlightened citizens of the Third Millennium, we now understand the importance of our carbon footprint and its impact on everything from global climate change to conservation of energy to the limits on critical food production resources, such as arable land and irrigation water.

But would a wholesale departure from eating animal foods help or hurt the cause of conserving resources and reducing carbon emissions? Several high-profile studies by activist groups, think tanks and the United Nations suggest that livestock production is a major contributor of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Even if that were true—and the calculations in such studies are invariably based on meat production models that require the maximum possible inputs—we have to consider the alternative. What would happen if all beef, pork, chicken, turkey, mutton and all other animal proteins were taken off the menu?

For one, we’d need billions more acres of land to be cultivated to replace even a fraction of the calories supplied by meat, poultry and dairy, assuming that most of the replacement food value would have to come from grains and legumes (they’re a complete protein—ask any veggie). That would seriously devastate enormous swaths of precious wildlife habitat, consume vast amounts of water in precisely the regions that could least afford it and displace multi-millions of indigenous people from a livelihood of herding, ranching and meat production without much in the way of viable alternatives.

The problem with even considering putting more land to the plow is that fully one-third of the arable land on Earth is suitable for grazing animals but unfit for non-irrigated cultivation of cereals (and you might want to consider where the fertilizer needed for all that natural, organic farming is supposed to come from). Science and technology, in the form of genetically engineered crops, might mitigate that hurdle, but there isn’t a vegan alive who thinks that GMOs are the answer to feeding the world on a vegetarian diet. They cannot and dare not embrace even the thought of biotech, because it’s “not natural.”

Just like the highly processed, soy protein-extruded, artificially flavored analog meats and faux foodstuffs that occupy the center of the plate for vegans like Prof. Steiner. But on Thanksgiving, they’d think nothing about enjoying a big bowl of “vegetarian ice cream,” made from the following ingredients:

·         Soybeans, likely grown in Brazil (one of the world’s top producers) on land where rainforests once stood
·         Palm or coconut oil, grown on massive, mono-culture plantations carved out of jungles across the Philippines, Indonesia and India
·         Brown sugar, which is white sugar spray-dried with molasses, a by-product of the refining process and the substrate for the rum-making that fueled the colonial slave trade and made millionaires out of Prohibition-era gangsters
·         Cocoa, the dried, fermented seed of the cacao tree native to the Andes, for which the veggies who want to eliminate factory farming can thank the Conquistadors for exporting cacao trees to colonies in the Caribbean and Asia, becoming yet another cash crop that displaces native agriculture, requires destruction of indigenous vegetation and ends up as a commodity that can’t feed the local population

And eating veggie ice cream is supposed to be morally superior to the real stuff made with eggs, milk and cream produced on farms right here in the United States? Please.

As if all that isn’t enough, that natural veggie dessert is processed in high-tech, automated plants, shipped thousands of miles via an energy-intensive frozen food chain and marketed aggressively by the very corporations responsible for the destructive production practices required to produce the raw materials in the first place.

Vegetarian? Sure. Humane? Hardly. Ecological? Not on your life.

If deep thinkers such as Prof. Steiner truly want to address such issues as food security, agricultural stewardship and sustainable food production on a moral basis, there is no better model than small-scale, multi-species animal husbandry practiced by more than a billion people across the world today.

But raising animals for food just wouldn’t be enlightened, would it?

—Dan Murphy is Strategist + Owner of M-PhaticComm, a marketing consultancy specializing in communications for food and agricultural organizations

M-Phatic Communications 2116 Cedar St. Everett WA 98201 425.359.3425 danielmurphy1@msn.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Remembrance Day Shame

When I was growing up today was one of the most embarrassing school days of the year. I didn't understand why there was no part in the day for me. No one in my family was listed on the plaques. No one was on a memorial. No family stories. I remember going home to ask why we didn't have any 'heroes' in our family, soldiers who fought for our freedom, people who did their part for the greater good in time of war. When I was young I didn't understand what I do now - that my family, and my husband's family, contributed to the war efforts here on the 'home front'. Heroes can be anywhere, and ours were in the fields and community halls.

I grew up thinking we played no part, for some mysterious reason, in what we were remembering on Remembrance Day. It wasn't until I was older that my Grandpa told me the stories of how he and his friends supported those fighting the war in the fields growing grains, supporting the soldiers on leave with their band that played on the weekends.

I am proud to be the granddaughter of a farmer who worked hard during lean times to provide for his family, the families of his friends who were fighting overseas and in his time off the fields played in his band to raise spirits of those who had returned home. I am proud that they changed the name of their band often for a 'new look' and that they always played the old favorites and welcomed their friends home again with a bounty of love, food and music. I am proud that they worked hard in the fields - horses and men - to grow the crops that ensured that the mess halls had what they needed to feed the men and women seated there.

I am proud of Earl's grandpa who did the same, just on the other side of the prairies. I'm proud of everyone who stayed and worked in the farms and factories, took care of those who came home wounded and ministered to those who had no one coming home at all.

When I look at the poppies I remember the poem, I remember the images of crosses and poppies, of fields of dead. But I also look at the poppy and remember the tillers of the land, the workers who packed, shipped, ministered, sewed and laboured to support our troops.

The old generals said an army travels on its belly, and I'm proud to say that our family helped keep that belly full. I'm not ashamed on Remembrance Day anymore, I'm proud of my friends that serve and have served, I'm honoured to know their families and I will always remember the farmers who fought the odds and the weather to get their crops in on time - not just for themselves but for everyone.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Another TV Tackle on Animal Welfare

I admit, I do love certain shows, and as my husband will attest some will draw me in and won't let go until the final credits roll. But sometimes I am intrigued by other parts of the show. A while back Numb3rs covered animal rights and a university setting, this time it is Bones dealing with animal rights and animal welfare at a broiler 'farm' and the spin-off of cute pig faces. The show handled as many angles as they could with their usual science, caring and humorous ways.

The reason I am blogging about this episode is to talk about how I felt regarding their key messages and the points they put forward - which, by the way, I thought was brilliantly done - regarding the changing face of agriculture, the onward march of urban into rural areas and the changing views we have about animals and how they are cared for or used and how our perceptions can become our reality. If you have not watched it and are going to I won't give anything away like a spoiler. If you farm, if you care about animals this is one episode to watch - if for nothing else to see how our 'reality' is seen in a 'fictional' world.

Some questions asked, and perhaps fictionally answered but also posing real world questions included: long term exposure to confinement housing without proper PPE (personal protective equipment), how communities change when a farm becomes more urban than rural and is surrounded by other urban dwellers, how technology can remove the animal and our humane reaction to them through 'assembly line' processes, how people can work at a job or in a place which does not match their social, emotional and spiritual needs because it satisfies (even marginally) and economic or foundational need.

The questions raised by the lengths to which people will go to make a point and how far does that point go after you've made it. It also questions the 'face of food' and the 'face of farming' issues that we face in all sectors from farmers to processors to consumers.

I found it very heartening that the questions were raised, the issues were posed and the responses were not 'global' messages but became personal and interpersonal responses. What we believe and what we choose to act upon are personal choices based upon our beliefs whether they be science, emotional or socially based. The fact that people can come from different places and find common ground is the basis for all movement and growth forward. How fundamental is that?

I don't have to agree with the practices of 'modern' dairy, hog or poultry production. I can ask, and reasonably expect, that the standards for welfare will continue to be improved upon and that our concern for animals will continue to grow as our knowledge and understanding of their needs and our wants can come together.

I, as a consumer, can speak with my buying choices. I, as a voter, can speak with my election choices. I, as a farmer, can choose to promote and advocate for the highest standards I am able to achieve. I, as a person, can be empathetic, and understanding of people who do not feel the same way as I do. I can hope, as a person, to be treated with the same respect in return.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What's going on?

A copy of an editorial from The Beef Site on welfare for farm animals...read and share what you think...

Editorial: Animal Welfare Questioned?

Animal welfare was highlighted at the Worldwide Food Expo, with Temple Grandin addressing the issue of vigilance regarding welfare on farm and in the slaughterhouse. This comes as a report in the US shows abuse on infant veal calves, which has shocked the industry.

A Canadian MP in now fighting for animal welfare rights in transit. Currently ruminants can be confined up to 52 hours without food or water. Alexandra Mendes, Quebec MP is asking for this to be lowered to 12 hours.

In the US, a coalition of food and consumer groups, backed by McDonald's Corp, the nation's largest restaurant user of beef, has asked the Food and Drug Administration to ban the practice of feeding poultry litter to cattle. The group believes this practice increases the risk of cattle becoming infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

In Northern Ireland beef prices paid by some processors have increased, however, there is still a difference of 33 pence a kilo between NI and mainland UK prices. The National Beef Association has said that they have tried numerous methods to increase income to beef farmers in NI, however, plans are thwarted by processors and the government. Ulster Farmers' Union recently met with Sainsburys to highlight the difficulties faced in the NI beef industry.

With the past few disastrous months for the Australian beef industry, it is little surprise, that AAco, Australia's largest cattle company has said that they do not expect any significant earnings this financial year. The company says each one per cent fall in AAco's herd valuation costs it A$4 million.

Charlotte Johnston

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We are in a crisis...

Warning: This is a long one, but if you get through it and comment you'll be rewarded :-)

We are facing a crisis…

In the early days of certain fictional Churches a situation called a “Crisis of Faith” brought together all of the leaders of the church, the community and the wisest people in the land. They put aside their distinctions, their badges and robes of office and sat down in a plain room to fight for the future of their faith and their people. There were no egos, there were no semi or outright secret agendas – it was about the crisis and how to deal with it. Today, in the real world, we face these types of situations more often than we would like, but because we are trained and accustomed to allowing ‘leaders’ to handle these things for us we do not demand results that are for our benefit. We do not demand, and speak with our votes, that they be accountable to the majority who tend to remain silent rather than a vocal, visible minority with a small, highly personal agenda.

The ‘Crisis of Faith’ that I’m talking about people is not one of organized religion, although I would love for those leaders to step up. It is the ‘Crisis of Faith’ in farm country, and we are in the middle of a fight for our very lives, our very culture and heritage – for our right to do the jobs we love on the land we love and provide for people safe and affordable food. The rhetoric is ramping up. The sides are being chosen, sadly, by default for many. We are being lied to, accused of crimes we did not commit and being pursued in a manner that if we were any other cultural group in the world would make headlines for the pursuit. But our pursuers make the news, our pursuers are in the ‘good guy’ cape and tights. We, the agriculture community, are still trying to figure out how to work together, let alone fight together. And that is why we will always bring a knife to a gun fight, we’ll always be 101 miles from the 100 mile diet and we will always be without an advocate voice on the most critical days of our industry.

Advertising won’t cut it – cute kids and pigs or men hugging chickens can’t compete with the videos and bloody photos of the few choosing to do their jobs badly. A pig hanging to death from a tractor bucket or a barn of barely recognizable hogs, burned after death in a barn fire. (BE SURE YOU KNOW THIS: the VAST majority of animals in a barn fire are dead from the smoke before they even know there is danger.) We cannot provide enough free recipes to counter stories of hidden BSE, of unsafe meat leaving the packing rooms. There are no good enough reasons to debate the lack of uptake on the higher welfare systems we have available, that the very researchers are throttled from speaking about. There is a simple reason we cannot win this fight on their grounds – the agriculture industry will attempt to fight emotions with science (a basic no win), they will hide from the fight behind the skirts of commodities, government bailouts and advertising and they will never come together as a SINGLE INDUSTRY and say, “Hey! You! BACK OFF! I know there is a better way, they have proven it just down the road, I’m getting there.”.

The simple fact of the matter is EVERYONE eats farmed foods. Period, end of discussion. The simple fact is MEAT is part of our diet. We are omnivores – teeth for eating variety of foods, eyes in front (predator faces) and guts that are built for variety. Some people choose another diet, and that is simply a CHOICE. And on they are welcome to make for themselves, but don’t try to bully me into sharing it. Another simple fact is that NO ANIMAL deserves to be treated other than with the highest welfare possible. This is a moral law, this is a code that even the very earliest of domesticators learned – if you don’t care for your animals they cannot provide the materials that will keep you alive. Bad farmer, bad caretaker used to equal dead or dying farmer or caretaker. We have welfare laws in Canada, and we are working on making the enforcement of them better, and the weight of their charge more hefty. It takes time for people to care about things differently – it wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t wear seatbelts and smoked in their cars. We know that’s not a great plan anymore, but it took time to change.

This past week we lost a great voice in Agriculture, for the world, and I’ll bet you didn’t even notice the passing of the man who for most of his career chased one singular goal – keeping people from starving to death. This great Aggie knew we weren’t going to ‘feed’ the world from our fields and farms. He knew that we were going to feed the world by showing them how to feed themselves. Norman Borlaug (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Borlaug) won a Nobel Peace Prize for contributing to world peace through increasing food supply. He worked his whole life in creating ways for food to be grown (as a food for people or for animals) in places that would challenge even the most dedicated Canadian or American farmer. He embraced technology and the culture of agriculture to help find ways to help people feed themselves. Who from PETA, HSUS or any other group has done that? Show me their Wiki listing! How much of their 9 million dollars pushing for Prop 2 in California actually got California food on to the tables of Californians who were going without? NOT ONE CENT! Guaranteed. The same can be said for the 9 million spent fighting Prop 2. It wasn’t spent supporting the distribution of farm products to areas which lack access and means to find nourishment.

We have known for a while that the HSUS and its partners have decided to expand, and in the US states are fighting or falling as they determine the economics of fighting an organization with a huge budget and a very ambitious agenda to stop certain types of animal agriculture. Not for the animals, you cannot you believe they care about animals, but for the agenda of controlling an industry they feel cannot be operated, even after thousands of years of production, within the confines of their social conscience. It is hard to argue with the HSUS, they are not as rabid or as ‘out there’ as PETA, but they still hold to the same hard line.

They just deliver it in a more reasonable and hard to argue against tone. They sound like they really believe that our industry, our culture, would be much better off if we did things their way – their way being that of a non-farmer in an urban world trying to justify their political agendas. It isn’t about the welfare of the animals, it is about a conception about meat and meat production that vilifies farmers and divides agriculture against itself. And it is a winning strategy. Because when farmers do bad, when workers are cruel, they get caught. No one shows videos of happy animals, abundant fields and farm families. They show barn workers doing horrible things because that gets attention, that gets airplay and ink. The face of farming that we see isn’t a face we recognize because it isn’t the one out in the fields and barns every day.

Yep, I said it. A winning strategy. They will win, because the agriculture industry will never stand up with a unified voice, with an advocate voice, to stop them. There will never be poultry, egg, dairy and hog producers standing side by side, arm in arm, in front of their elected leaders saying, “STOP!” They won’t put aside their own ‘save your own skin first’ attitudes long enough to realize that divide and conquer works well. Always has, always will – randomly pick a show off of History Channel tonight and tell me you don’t see the message?

What would happen if all the farmers quit – if the grain guys and the animal production guys and the oilseed guys (and gals) said, “I’m done.” That means no more tofu, no more soy milk, no more veggie burgers either folks. No one is going to start eating their lawns and foraging in national parks. No one is eating petroleum by-products, not every day and staying alive. We know farmers won’t quit – they didn’t in the ‘30s when the land dried up and blew away. They don’t when their land is underwater, when they have no sun or no rain, or too much of either. They didn’t during the wars around the world when their fields were torn apart and bloody with war. They didn’t stop when they had to send their children out to guard the animals from predators and thieves while they tended the fields. They won’t now, but by making it harder for farmers to farm we make it harder for us to maintain our source of food which we take so for granted.

We have legislation in Canada for the welfare of animals, researchers are getting better at making systems which work for the care of animals. Supporting their work, providing resources to help farmers transition into new, higher welfare systems, would seem to be a great way to spend 18 million dollars. Not fighting to pass legislation that once signed, becomes a dead document which cannot change or grow to reflect increasing knowledge and understanding. Support researchers who believe in animal care, and not hobble them with commodity agendas and rhetoric. If our agriculture industry is stifled enough we’ll end up importing our products, potentially from countries over whom we have no control for quality or safety. And no political way to make them ‘shape up’ to the ‘standards’ which crippled our own industry.

I would like to take a poll of the animal rights activists who are so against primary production – stand up if you are a) a farmer b) ever farmed c) ever been on a working farm d) ever worked to save an individual animal in crisis. Funny I don’t think anyone is standing up, okay the guy from R-Calf, you can sit down. Okay, people, now it’s your turn. Stand up if you are a) eating food today b) enjoying that food c) found shelves full of food at the store d) never had to worry about empty shelves. Hmmm…being since you are all STANDING already, why don’t you stay standing up for the farmers that provided the answers to a through d?

I advocate for animal welfare, I do not believe that welfare should be something that is negotiable. I believe that we have the right to farm, and we have the obligation to do it well. For our families, for our animals and for our future. I do not believe animals are ‘people in animal suits’, nor do I believe that they should be used without regard for their welfare (familiar with the Five Freedoms? Google that right now). I don’t believe that doing something well and right should be legislated when there are far better ways to encourage and move towards better and more humane production systems.

If you believe in doing things better, then put your money where your mouth is and start an Animal Husbandry & New Age Welfare training centre. Invite farmers to learn from you, if you think your message can bear the strain of ‘in field’ testing. Build some production systems, have some taste tests, invite people over for supper. Put your money where it will do some good for the animals and for the people who are raising your food. If you believe that ‘science’ is not compatible with animal care, prove an alternate and make it work. (oh wait, that would be science wouldn’t it?) Put your money where the animals live and breathe. Not in a political war chest to make a political point that ‘we changed the world’ through legislation that cannot be cost effectively utilized, is not sustainable and meets the emotional needs of a small group of people but not address the great needs of agriculture in our ever changing world.

Activists - I respect you for caring, but I cannot support your methods because they do not raise a hand to help animals in crisis and they do not embrace welfare as a long reaching goal.

Agriculture – we have to stick together or we’ll fall one by one. Just because you are the last one standing doesn’t mean you’ll stay that way.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let me be clear...

This is my blog, where we talk about animal welfare - for all animals - but mostly we have talked about farmed animals and companion animals. Today's blog, which is actually way over due, is simply to state a response to the situation in Steinbach, Manitoba.

Clearly, if you know me at all, you'll know I am not an activist but a welfare advocate - much different. That said, read on and see what you think at the end...then search Google News for the stories and let the Mayor and the media know what you think...someone has to speak for the animals, will it be you?


Talk it up on Facebook, www.winnipegdogs.com or contact the Mayor himself, I'm sure he would love to hear from you. Show your support for the Steinbach Humane Society so they can feel strong enough to be an effective voice for animals in that community.

I was one of the people who brought a situation to the attention of the media, which of course did get a lot of attention both positive and negative. It brought some pressure for change, and an expression of a strong desire to maintain the status quo. The key point to remember here is that the media notification was one of the last steps we took in trying to resolve the situation. We had spoken to the Mayor, we had called in to the Welfare Vet for the province, we did talk to people in high places...and NOTHING was happening!

So a friend who is a reporter (Richard Cloutier from CJOB) came out one day, and talked to some people and the agreement was if there wasn't a story, then there wasn't a story - no pressure to 'make' news. But lo and behold, there was a story, and it was one no one wanted to hear told...too late! Other media picked it up but it didn't even make the news in the city it was centred on...

Gunfire euthanasia for animal control, with the exception of vicious or dangerous animals, is not a recommended practice ANYWHERE in Canada or pretty much the U.S. or the E.U. You don't just get to shoot them in a kennel next to other dogs. Not to mention on a concrete pad, in a semi-urban neighborhood without a backstop or other safety measures. Not to mention no chips were checked, no tattoos registered, no 'found' postings put up on the city website (which woulda been FREE)...nothing. There are vets in the area, like Pet Vet and Old Country Vet who would help out if asked, but no one ever asked. EVER. We checked.

Then there is the issue of a grossly out of date animal control by-law (circa 1986) that wasn't even being upheld in it's own jurisdiction. Clearly stated in the bylaw were the measures and actions to be taken by Animal Control. There is the issue of a job description that does not include the work being done by the Animal Control officer. Nothing directed at the peopleinvolved, they are 'just doing their jobs' but at the actions of the elected leaders of this community who choose to let them do a job incorrectly..

They misquoted guidelines, they misstated intentions and the very group that should be speaking out for animals is trying to 'back door' their way in by grabbing some stones and lobbing them at those who would speak out. Hey, you do what you gotta do, but don't get mad if someone speaks up while you remained silent.

Is this community alone in their penchant for the easy way out by shooting dogs? Heaven's no! Many rural municipalities do it, sometimes too freely, but that doesn't make it right. Sheer numbers of people or organizations doing the wrong thing don't make it right by volume.

That being said, are there other issues? Of course - housing, care, re homing, disposal of carcasses, licenses and training for animal control and funds. Support is needed for a Humane Society in one of the last hold out cities in Manitoba where there could be better care for animals and better chances for owners to be reunited. This isn't a small farm town (as if that should be an excuse) it is a city which does business as a city, has an urban population and serves a market that is both urban and rural.

There is lots of finger pointing, blaming and misleading statements going around. That's fine, if you have to make noise to avoid the issue at hand then do so, but when there is a quiet moment the questions will still be there:

1) Are the animal control by-laws going to be reviewed, updated (1986), upheld and enforced?
2) will there be a modern, inspected animal shelter for the animals lost in this city?
3) will the practice of gun shot euthanasia for animal control be banned, except in exceptional circumstances?
4) will there be visible support for the establishment of an animal shelter and humane society within the city?

Will the mayor call anyone back if they don't have a Steinbach prefix? Will those who care for animals be labeled 'activists' just because they refuse to accept the status quo? Will anyone care, at the end of the day, that it took people from the outside looking in to notice there was something not right happening? Will the people with pets care enough to speak out or is the desire to be a 'closed' community too strong?

Don't be angry that outsiders are asking these questions, don't tell people who care to 'butt out'...some day you might need their help. Will they say no? If they did, could you blame them?

If you get caught, smoking gun in hand, with a dead dog at your feet, don't say, "Hey you don't live here, never mind!" The laws in Canada and in Manitoba for animal welfare do not exempt anyone based on municipal boundaries. The Animal Care Act in Manitoba even demands that their shelter facility be inspected and licensed. That doesn't even begin to address the care practices absent and that's a whole other story.

So if you want to be upset because someone told you something you didn't want to hear, that's your right, but you cannot expect them to remain quiet while you enjoy a nice trip down 'denial'!


Here are some facts:

Gunshot SHOULD NOT be used for routine euthanasia of animals in animal control situations, such as municipal pounds or shelters. – CVMA Euthanasia Guidelines 2007

The intravenous injection of a concentrated barbiturate with prior sedation is widely considered the most humane method for euthanizing animals. It causes a comparatively aesthetic death, is rapid-acting, reliable, and effective. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that animals killed with barbiturates are disposed of in a responsible manner since such animals can be a significant source of environmental toxicity. Improper disposal may result in the illness and death of scavenging animals (1,5).

CVMA (Canadian Veterinary Medicine Association) Guidelines

When other methods cannot be used, an accurately delivered gunshot is a conditionally acceptable method of euthanasia.

CVMA Euthanasia Guidelines

The too often misquoted CCOC guidelines are firstly for experimental animals only - and they do not advocate gun shot euthanasia for dogs at any rate.http://www.ccac.ca/en/CCAC_Programs/Guidelines_Policies/GUIDES/ENGLISH/V1_93/APPEN/APPXIV.HTM

Monday, June 29, 2009

Money, Rodeo, Summer Heat

Money Driving Animal Welfare
Coulda told you this, but it is interesting in the context of China which has been working to enact their first animal welfare legislation.

Vancouver Humane Society Shunned in Alberta Over Stampede Campaign
For anyone who is interested there has been animal welfare monitoring of the rodeo events in professional rodeo for literally decades...including the Calgary Stampede and Cloverdale.

Young Turks Discuss Animal Welfare and Animal Pain
Although it has a very small response the poll at the end shows an interesting trend amongst this blog's readers...

Education Needed For Animal Welfare
Educating people and changing attitudes is the best way to improve animal welfare...not by legislating change, but creating an understanding of change and leading the way through education...

Next Generation Trailers in USA
Based on EU humane transportation standards, these units will be made available in the USA - getting better but don't forget in Canada we have CFIA, provincial laws and the Certified Livestock Transport training program to enhance the TQA. Google for more details...or click the links above...

All animals require food, water, shelter and care to have a healthy happy life, but sometimes people don't think about the weather conditions and how that impacts the animals in their care. The most caring person can, sometimes, forget and others while seemingly interested in their animal's welfare tend to think nothing of their actual impact on the animal's well being. Many sites offer care tips for summer (and the other seasons)...check some out and remember they can apply to farm animals as well. Take care of our animals, it is the right thing to do!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mixed Bag

My last attempt to update Chore Time was crashed by a router on strike, so we shall try again, and the latest today is this:

H1N1 May Have Had Asian Origins
Untested theory but it does have points that make sense.

Tasmania Cracks Down On Welfare Breaches

EU Adopts Slaughter Regulations

Dealing with Animal 'Welfare' Groups - Op Ed Ill.
Op Ed Piece concering the activities of pseduo welfare groups like the HSUS in farm country.

Changes to Regs in Ohio Challenging Farmers?
If a Prop 2 type legislation is passed in Ohio, can the states farmers remain competative or will it 'shut' down confinment agriculture...is this part of a national plan by the HSUS to impact all of American animal agriculture? The answers are blowing in the wind...or rather on their website!

IDF Joins FAO in Online Farm Animal Welfare Project

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today's News

The news today has some pretty interesting, and significant stories. There is a theory that when we do not value human life we are not able to value animal life, if human welfare isn't important then it follows that animal welfare is not valued. When you see a country, like China, taking care of not only it's human citizens but its animal ones is is heartening. See the stories below:

China Plans First Animal Welfare Law

Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare

Heavy Sentences in UK Horse Abuse

Farm Break In Defended

Monday, June 15, 2009

PETA Fish Protest

Our friend Dan Murhpy has done a commentary for us on a recent protest by PETA. It may surprise you, certainly did me!

PETA fish protest has dangerous hidden agenda

It’s pretty easy to trash People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as a collection of overreaching, attention-hungry media hounds who personify the old show-biz adage that any publicity is good publicity.

Witness the recent protest PETA launched against the Americ

an Veterinary Medical Association, whose members have the option to enjoy a “fish tossing demonstration” put on by the fish mongers from downtown Seattle’s landmark Pike Street Market. For the uninitiated, fish tossing is a tourist-only sideshow during which vendors at the Pike Street Fish Market sling around whole salmon, the “eye candy” in the c

old case that draws crowds to their seafood stand.

The century-old Market itself is a charming mix of shambling wooden stalls and staircases, an indoor boardwalk filled with restaurants overlooking nearby Pu

get Sound, eclectic little trinket shops and countless street hawkers hustling everything from kitschy Americana to fresh produce to overpriced souvenirs of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle.

The fish tossing is of much more recent origins, and the King and Chinook salmon getting slung around these days are no longer pulled from Puget Sound, but instead are shipped in from Alaska (mostly) or flown in from Iceland, Norway and points even further east.

No doubt tourists have come from equally distant places, in large part to witness the Pike Street boys and their flying fish. As a result, the seafood vendor has created a motivational skit to inspire business audiences at conferences—such as the AVMA’s meeti

ng next month—to “take the challenge” of catching a slippery 30-pound salmon (thankfully cleaned and gutted) as a metaphor for succeeding at the equally challenging game of customer service.

Or public persuasion, in the case of PETA. In fact, I don’t doubt their staff has seen or even attended one of the Pike Street Fish Market’s presentations and came away with a different inspiration: Here’s a new way to guilt trip even the enlightened souls who’ve switched from bloody red meat to healthy fresh fish. As PETA’s letter to the AVMA stated, “People who care about animals are appalled that a veterinary organization would promote an event in which animals are treated so disrespectfully and are handled as if th

ey were toys.”

Except . . . they’re dead. Which would make a protest over humane treatment moot, one would presume.

Only PETA doesn’t want the Pike Street boys to cease and desist tossing their wares around the stall. As the national media coverage has connected their phony outrage with a fish tossing stunt most Americans never even knew about, it becomes a wonderful emotional trigger to remind people of the many causes—and the endless fund-raising opportunities—PETA continually conducts. On behalf of poor, defenseless animals, of course. Dead or alive.

Predictably, most folks in Seattle have reacted with a fond invitation for PETA to drop dead, like the salmon at the center of their protest. “PETA is a joke and a farce, as usual,” one letter to the editor stated. “They never cease to amaze me at how stupid they are,” another read. Another asked, “Why don’t they take up a real cause, like saving the whales or protecting other endangered species?”

Even The Seattle Times opined that calls for the Pike Place Fish mongers to substitute rubber fish in their presentation were misguided. “Do the presentation as is—with all its slimy charm,” the editors wrote. “Let this hissy fit about absolutely nothing run out of steam.”

That’s probably the attitude of most industry folks, as well. Let the idiots at PETA spout off about mistreating dead fish. Who cares? Most people reject such an idea out of hand.

True enough, but the danger here isn’t that PETA will soak up another 15 minutes of media attention for yet another ridiculous protest 99% of Americans find absurd. PETA isn’t interested in “awareness” about animal issues, as their legions of apologists always insist. Bemoaning the

tossing of dead fish isn’t about publicity, or even awareness. It’s about credibility.

That’s why these tactics are so insidious. Publicity is one thing; credibility is quite another. PETA’s ultimate objective isn’t visibility, it’s coronation by the mainstream media as the go-to group on the animal rights debate.

So rather than merely chuckling at the absurdity of a protest over dead fi

sh, those who work for, believe in or who wish to continue patronizing the meat and seafood industries ought to take a moment to share their thoughts about whether PETA deserves its self-anointed status as standard-setters on animal welfare.

If you believe campaigns to protest somebody tossing dead fish are ridiculous, imagine if they were in charge of writing the regs on animal rights.

Dan Murphy

Rescue Ink & Monday Headlines

Chore Time started, originally, to share news, commentary and information on farm animal welfare. Because my personal concern for animal welfare is not limited to animal agriculture I also, from time to time, try to share information, news and stories on a broader scale. There are animal care groups and organizations around the world that care for the welfare of all animals, and others which have specialites. Some have broad geographic reaches and others are regional, but each is doing their part to forward the cause of welfare for animals. Many on the front lines, others in less 'frontal' areas that are just as important.

There are many groups, and if you know of one that our blog readers would be interested in knowing more about, please message me. I'd love to share and raise awareness.

Rescue Ink

(see link at bottom of Chore Time for book details!)

Head Lines

Iowa State: Sending A Message for Farm Animal Welfare

H1N1 (Nope won't call it Swine Flu here!) Across the Country (Canada)

UK's Farm Animal Welfare Council - value?

Tuft's Vet School Cited by USDA

UK Farming Minister A Veggie!

Jail Term: Powerful Message to Abusers (UK)

More Than Laws Uphold Animal Welfare

Jakarkta NGO Calls For Animal Welfare Law

Alberta Swine Flu Mystery Deepens

Ohio to Have Farm Animal Cruelty Legislation?

HSUS Fired Up in Ohio?

Factory Farms NOT To Blame For Flu Pandemic

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


H1N1 Up-Date

There is some new information and news today that I wanted to share.  Be aware, be prepared and be informed.

Additional Cases Confirmed
This site has some very key areas to check out, look for the links there or click on some below:

Country by Country H1N1 Roll Call

Nunavut Hit with 19 New Cases

First Nations At Risk
For those of us in Manitoba this story has some significant information and numbers. 

Monday, June 8, 2009


As the song goes, "Monday, Monday" and here we are with the headlines that are in the news for animal agriculture around the world.  Popping up as usual is the H1N1 situation worldwide, and the issues we may be facing this fall with the full blown flu season.  Other animal agriculture headlines from around the world are here too...check them out...

Farm Animals Moving Science Forward

Alberta Farmer Culls Entire Swine Herd
This herd is the only example, worldwide, of human to swine infection of Type A H1Ni.  Well it was, as the farmer has chosen to cull the entire herd to hopefully aid the industry. I wish him well as he starts again.

H1N1 On The Rise Worldwide

Egyptian Pig Cull May Impact Tourism

Study Shows Farmers Importance

Mass. Making More Room for Animals

Op Ed - Toronto Star: Canada Lags behind EU on Farm Animal Welfare Reform

Aussies Revamping Animal Care Codes

US Race Horses At Risk of Slaughter in Japan
And surprise, surprise PETA isn't helping, nor are they making it easy for the people who are to do their jobs. Sadly, PETA has decided to enter into the horse slaughter arena...will it help or hurt horses?  Anyone who knows their track record will have the answer...

Pint Sized Beef Cows = More Good Cuts

Guard Donkeys Do Their Work for Farmers

Pigs Tattooed In Beijing 'Art Farm'
This is where I tend to have a problem - tattooing an animal, as conceptual art, then once they have been euthanized for meat, selling the hides to collectors as 'art'...anyone have a problem with this? Anyone think that you could do this anywhere BUT China?  Be sure to NOT skin off and frame my tattoo(s) after I die...

Fascinated by Farm Life

Groups Applaud FAO Animal Welfare Portal

A few headlines affecting all animals and their welfare:

What about the Animals?

Sad Reasons We Need Shelters

Animal Care Group in Kuwait

Odyssey with Animals - looking at rights and welfare for animals

Animal Welfare Officer Saved by Vest

Rescue Ink Steps It Up in Long Island