Is veganism your religion? »
First, a customer service rep at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center was fired in 2010 for refusing to have an mandatory flu shot, because flu shots are “derived from eggs” (ugh) and she’s vegan. CCHMC didn’t want this lady, Sakile Chenzira, getting sick and passing on that illness to the patients. Ms. Chenzira sued, asserting that her veganism was essentially her religion, and it is illegal to fire people for their religious beliefs. CCHMC filed a motion to dismiss the suit, because veganism is a lifestyle, not a religion.
But! Late last month, a district court judge refused to dismiss, stating that
The court finds that in the context of a motion to dismiss, it merely needs to determine whether plaintiff has alleged a plausible claim. … The court finds it plausible that Plaintiff could subscribe to veganism with a sincerity equating that of traditional religious views.
Of course this doesn’t address the whole “we didn’t want her getting the flu and germing up the hospital” issue, but we are less concerned with that as with the idea of veganism as a sort of religion (obviously). Does this mean that when the office has a pizza party and doesn’t even get a meatless pizza, let alone like one half of one pizza without cheese, I can make a discrimination complaint to HR? Not that I would (scared of HR) (have a small martyr complex), but who knows what ramifications Sakile S. Chenzira v. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will have!
For more information, read Senior District Court Judge Arthur Spiegel’s opinion [pdf]. The trial date is set for July 9.
[Photo by Chiva Congelado via Flickr]
Guest post: We can have tigers as pets? WTF, right? »
Rachel wrote about the tragedy in Ohio last week; I’m sure it didn’t escape your notice—the release of 56 wild animals kept as pets before their owner Terry Thompson committed suicide, and the subsequent death of 49 of them, got a lot of media coverage. That meant that many of my friends read about it, and pretty much universally asked “How the hell did he get those animals in the first place?”
Well, the short answer is that Thompson bought them, mostly, and he was not doing anything illegal when he did. Near the end of his term, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued an order that outlawed the ownership or sale of certain wild animals—but Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources never enforced the rule, and the order expired in April when it wasn’t extended by now-Governor John Kasich.
As it stands, in Ohio you can own animals like grizzly bears and lions, as long as you house them on your private property, and aren’t breeding, exhibiting, or selling them—even if you have an animal-cruelty conviction, as Thompson had. Further, you can have those animals living on your property and don’t have to let anyone know about it. And in some states, these animals are available for sale, which is how people like Thompson got them in the first place.
I posted on Pawesome a while ago about a petition to change laws about exotic-animal ownership in Indiana; this isn’t just a problem in one town or one state. It sounds crazy that in Ohio and other states you have to license your dog and can’t own a pit bull, but you can literally have a baboon or wolf in your backyard. But it’s true.
This is not a good situation for these animals. Born Free USA campaigns against keeping wild animals like the ones at the Ohio property in captivity. Taking care of an animal like a tiger is no small feat: Think of what your cat eats in a day and multiply that by about 100 times. They need a huge quantity of food, as well as specialized veterinary care. And when they don’t have the proper environment or enough space—which is hard to provide for a large animal when it’s living on private property—they suffer physically and mentally.
Keeping these animals as pets is just cruel. Many owners of these animals claim to love them, but as Susan Orlean said in the New Yorker, love isn’t defined by a desire to possess.
It’s dangerous for people, too, when wild animals are kept as pets. Dogs and cats have been domesticated for millennia; tigers and lions and wolves are all wild, unpredictable animals. We can’t know how they’ll react, or what will upset them, and we can’t blame them when that happens. That is how they are: They’re wild. Someone easily could have been killed by one of the animals let loose in Ohio this week, and it’s remarkable that nobody was.
Want to know what the laws are in your state? Check out this Wall Street Journal interactive infograph to find out if your state allows private ownership of large cats, wolves, bears, primates, or dangerous reptiles. If you’re not happy with the answer, write to your state and federal representatives to tell them why, and ask them to change things. A reminder of the toll of this week’s Ohio deaths—and that it could have been a hell of a lot worse—wouldn’t hurt; neither would pointing out that elections are coming up.
Regardless of the laws where you live, head to Change.org to sign the petition letting Gov. Kasich know that Ohio’s laws need to change, now, before something like this happens again.
Terri Coles lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues.
Wild Animals Dead in Ohio; Cute Dolphin Photos to Ease Trauma »
You’ve probably heard all about the super-sad situation in Ohio this week, but in case not, grab a pint of Coconut Bliss for consolation (but not a spoon, because you’ll just want to poke your eyes out with it):
The worst wildlife preserve owner ever killed himself after letting 56 of his dangerous exotic pets out to roam the wild. Freakin’ lions, tigers, and leopards were all scared and miserable in Zanesville, Ohio, as were the residents of said hamlet.
Sheriff’s deputies figured the only way to solve the problem was to shoot the animals. The death toll as of 9:30 Thursday morning, according to the Washington Post, “includ[es] 18 rare Bengal tigers, 16 lions, six black bears, two grizzlies, three mountain lions and a baboon. Only six animals were captured alive.”
ARHRHGHH! This guy should not have been allowed to keep those poor animals in cages, but he didn’t have to ensure their slaughter to save them from circuses or shitty zoos.
Our hero Rachel Maddow had Jack Hanna on her show last night to discuss the tragedy.
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com]
"The Humane Society on Wednesday urged Ohio to immediately issue emergency restrictions on the sale and possession of dangerous wild animals," reports USA Today.
Now, are some pictures of a nice person helping to save an orphan dolphin that might ease the utter desolation you now feel:
Awww. So I guess that’s good, at least. Go see more dolphin pics on Buzzfeed if you need a bigger dose.
[Thanks to Kristina Bjoran for alerting me to both stories.]
Humane Society investigates Cal-Maine battery cage farm: surprise, it’s a hellscape »
This is absolutely the least disturbing photo of the 12 released today by the Humane Society as part of its 28-day undercover investigation at a Cal-Maine factory farm in Texas. Each hen is allowed “67 square inches” of space in which to live and die; the cages are stacked on top of each other; and there are approximate 1 million hens laying eggs at this place.
The investigation showed dead hens left in cages with living hens. It showed hens covered in manure from the hens in the cages above them. It showed hens with massive wounds left untreated. It showed eggs covered in the hens’ blood and manure. Eggs: “nature’s perfect food!”
Cal-Maine recalled “24,000 dozen,” which is to say 288,000 eggs on Friday, Nov. 5, because one of its suppliers had had its eggs test positive for Salmonella Enteriditis! This supplier, Ohio Fresh Eggs, LLC in Croton, Ohio, presumably still keeps its hens in battery cages, as the agreement reached in January of this year prohibits the building of new battery cages. Looking at the photos of the Cal-Maine facility in Texas, it’s not hard to see how naughty Salmonella might hop from the hens’ excrement to their eggs. California’s egg-eaters and its chickens are so lucky for Prop. 2, right? Except that one of the recalled brands sells eggs all over California, ha ha ha.
The detailed report from HSUS [pdf] is a very good, if nauseating read. It’ll be nice/depressing/appalling to see the omnivorous (food) world’s reaction to this. Meanwhile, anyone for a nice cruelty-free dessert? Or maybe wait a little while until you’ve recovered from that horror show.