It’s Paul Shapiro’s weekly Animal News You Can Use!  »

Want to read a great AP story about the proponents of anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bills getting part of their bodies (I’ll let you be the judge) handed to them at a legislative hearing in Nebraska yesterday? Also, the ag-friendly Bakersfield Californian editorial board slammed the supporters of a similar California bill this week, saying how they’re “amazed by the audacity of the cattle industry.”

Good week in statehouses for farm animals, with a New Jersey ag committee passing a bill to ban gestation crates and a Colorado committee doing the same on a bill to ban dairy cow tail-docking. We’ll continue working hard to further advance these bills.

There’s a fascinating story out today about a meat industry front man who admits he created a fake Facebook profile posing as an animal activist in order to criticize HSUS and encourage other animal activists to do the same.

After extensive dialogue with HSUS, Bob Evans is the latest food giant to announce it wants to phase out gestation crates. And the National Pork Board did a survey with promising results about the changing attitudes of pork producers to the gestation crate issue.

Think you’re the only one who finds promise in plant-based products? These billionaires are with you.

Finally, students! If you want “Skinny Bitch” Rory Freedman, VegNews editorial director Elizabeth Castoria, and HSUS’s Kristie Middleton to read your essay, enter HSUS’s Meatless Monday essay contest now!

Video of the week: Justin Timberlake on SNL singing about vegan eating. Words can’t describe how great it is.

Photo of the week: My cats enjoying their catio!


Go to Sacramento next Tuesday (free transportation!) to support biggest animal protection bill of the year!  »

This is from the good people at HSUS! There’s still time to plan this into your schedule so please come to Sacramento to help bears and bobcats!

Just a reminder that on Tuesday April 24, one of the biggest animal protection bills of the year, Senate Bill 1221, is up for a vote in committee. This bill would prohibit the cruelty of bear and bobcat hounding—an unnecessary and unsporting practice where packs of hounds chase down bears and bobcats. This cruel practice is still legal here in California, despite the fact that it is criminalized in the majority of states. We really hope that you’ll be able to attend this hearing to show your support for this important bill! The fate of bills like this one can literally be decided by the number of people who show up to a hearing. We’re sure the opposition will be there; we hope you can be there.

The hearing will be held at the State Capitol 11th and L Streets Sacramento, CA 95814. If you need help with transportation from the Bay Area, please contact Elise Traub at Elise is organizing carpools and rides to Sacramento. The hearing will be from 7:30 AM - 10:30 AM, and if you can attend, please RSVP.

If you can’t attend the hearing, please call ALL members of the Senate Natural Resources committee BEFORE APRIL 24 and urge an AYE on SB 1221. You can say “Hi, my name is _____________ and I live in California. I know Sen ______ is going to be voting on SB 1221 in committee soon and I want to urge him/her to represent the view of 83% of California voters by supporting SB 1221. Thank you.” It’ll only take a few minutes!

If you happen to live in any of these Senator’s districts (find out here!), be sure to emphasize that you are a constituent.

Senator Fran Pavley (Chair) (916) 651-4023 
Senator Doug La Malfa (Vice Chair) (916) 651-4004 
Senator Anthony Cannella (916) 651-4012 
Senator Noreen Evans (916) 651-4002 
Senator Jean Fuller (916) 651-4018 
Senator Christine Kehoe (916) 651-4039 
Senator Alex Padilla (916) 651-4020 
Senator Joe Simitian (916) 651-4011 
Senator Lois Wolk (916) 651-4005

OK! Everyone call and/or go! Let’s do this for the animals!!!


Good job, Irvine: City Council bans sale of dogs and cats!  »

Last night the Irvine, Calif. City Council passed some amazing legislation: They banned the sale of dogs and cats, rodeos, and animal circuses! Irvine has us all beat, California! Money quote:

Society is “moving toward a more thoughtful and conscientious approach to animals,” speaker Claire Kim said Tuesday night. “This ordinance responds to the spirit of our times.”

It totally is! It totally does! Next for the city: Mandatory spay/neuter laws, which the council decided to further study.

Three cheers for Irvine!

[image of Banky’s Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill by jmm via Flickr]


Big news! Major HSUS egg legislation now supported by United Egg Producers!  »

Animal rights advocates and animal-eaters agree: Chickens on factory farms have horrible lives. Today, however, brings news that might changes those birds’ lives for the better. United Egg Producers has come out in favor of a bill promoting humane conditions for factory-farmed chickens! The Humane Society now has a major partner in presenting this legislation to Congress.

This isn’t an official bill, but proposed language would make it “the first federal law relating to chickens used for food, as well as the first federal law relating to the on-farm treatment of any species of farm animal.” It would eliminate battery cages. It would prohibit “starvation-induced molting,” which yes is as gross as it sounds. It would require living conditions that allow chickens to perform natural behaviors like, you know, moving around—also perching, nesting, and scratching. And the biggest egg lobby in the country supports it!

If you care about this issue, let your Congressional representatives know. Reducing so many millions of animals’ suffering! So important!


Guest post: Calling all California voters! Support SB 917!  »

[Olivia, celebrity pig!]

In 2004, a teenage girl witnessed the sale of potbellied piglets in a parking lot. Concerned, she approached the individual and inquired about the pigs. The man stated some were sold for pets, a couple for meat, and the last one would possibly be purchased by someone who would eventually eat her. Appalled, the girl implored the man to give her the piglet. Moved by her emotional response, he obliged, and the young woman left with a squirming, screaming pig.

Later, she and her parents called Animal Place and shared the story of the piglet. The sanctuary, already home to seven potbellied pigs, agreed to take in the animal. She was later named Olivia and is a crowd favorite at tours, with her rotund belly and drama-queen personality.

When the family asked us about the legalities of selling animals in parking lots, Animal Place explained it was allowed in California. In fact, animals can be sold alongside highways, at carnivals and boardwalks, and at any public right of way. There is no legal oversight or protection given to these animals.

In 2009, Animal Place, along with several other animal welfare organizations, worked with then-California state Assemblyman Ted Lieu to ban the practice of selling animals at flea markets and in parking lots. Unbeknown to us, there is a flea market coalition in California that apparently has more clout than an association of animal advocacy groups—the bill ended up failing.

But Mr. Lieu did not give up. This year, as a senator, he has introduced SB 917, which not only bans the sale of animals in certain areas but also tightens up the penalties for animal abuse. The bill would prohibit puppies and kittens from being sold out of boxes in supermarket parking lots. It would stop the practice of selling amphibians, reptiles and other species alongside highways and streets. It is sadly ridiculous that this law needs to be introduced at all—every city and county should have already banned these practices in the state.

It exempts livestock auctions, 4-H/FFA events, public/private animal shelters, state/county/city fairs, and live animal markets. Which is great for shelters, so they can continue offering meet and greets for adoptable animals, not so great for farmed animals and smaller animals who will still be sold with no legal protection at auctions and flea markets, but it’s a great start to solving a serious animal welfare problem.

Passing a bill is no easy task, and this bill will face its own hurdles. Californians can help by voicing their support for SB 917—that is a very simple thing to do!

If you can only write one letter or make one phone call, make sure to contact Senator Lieu and thank him for introducing SB 917, providing such basic, commonsense protections to the animals:

The Honorable Ted Lieu
State Capitol, Room 4090
Sacramento, CA, 95814

Phone: (916) 651-4028. All you need to say is that you are a registered California voter and want to express your support of SB 917, done!

Want to make more of an impact? ContactPublic Safety Committee Chair Senator Loni Hancock and urge her support of SB 917:

The Honorable Loni Hancock
State Capitol, Room 2082
Sacramento, CA  9581

The first hearing for SB 917 is scheduled for Apr. 12, so get your letters and phone calls in soon! It’s so easy to make a difference for animals, all you need to do is pen a short letter or make a brief phone call! Olivia thanks you—but only if you give her vegan cupcakes first.

Marji Beach is the ridiculously awesome Education Manager for Animal Place. She’s super smart, so you should listen to her.


Guest Post: Help ban importation and distribution of shark fins in California!  »

As a volunteer and activist for Sea Stewards, I was thrilled to attend the official press release for AB 376 at the California Academy of Sciences. What’s AB 376 is and why do you care? It is the California Shark Protection Act, which would stop the importation and distribution of shark fins throughout the state. The time is now California! Hawaii already passed a similar ban and other states are starting to move towards a ban.

First I want to commend and thank Assemblymembers Paul Fong and Jared Huffman for backing this bill. For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Senator (and mayoral candidate) Leland Yee of San Francisco came out swinging against it, calling the bill an attack on cultural heritage.

I call bullshit, Mr. Yee. I find it disgusting that we are even having this debate. This movement has the support of many Chinese people, including celebrity Yao Ming and Master Chef Martin Yan, and of the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance. These people and groups realize sustainability is more important than a bowl of soup. They want their heritage to be saving this species, not damning it to extinction.

Finning a shark alive is torture. Once the fins are removed the shark is thrown back into the ocean and sinks to the bottom, where it either bleeds to death or drowns because it can no longer swim. Because the entire body of the shark is not brought on board the fishing vessels can load their boat up with fins, which can fetch up to a $1,000 apiece (what I hear is the going rate for a whale shark fin).

Sharks play a vital role in the ocean. They are the tigers of the sea, and when you take the apex predator out the whole ecosystem collapses. They are being fished at an alarming rate. About 100 million are killed annually and about a third of the species are now threatened. In the last 15 years, species have declined by 50 percent. This has to stop. Either take it off the menus now or be forced to when there are no sharks left.
So what can you do to help? Please call or write your district representatives and ask for their support on AB 376. If you’re Asian American, you can also join the group Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance. Please check out Sea Stewards and Wild Aid for more info, and attend the Ocean Lovers Film Festival! [Ed.: And check out previous shark coverage on Vegansaurus! Because sharks are fucking rad and we love them.]

Caitlin Ryan is a supporter, volunteer, and activist for local conservation group Sea Stewards where her focus is on shark conservation as well as creating a healthy ocean. Photo from SeaPics.

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