Hank the cat and Mac the dog are here to help!  »

Virginia, you want a representative who won’t fuck with your rights and will fight for animal justice? Vote Hank the Cat for Senate. As a kitten, Hank was rescued from a kill shelter by Animal Allies of Fairfax Station, Va., and has grown into a happy, healthy cat who looks quite dashing in a tie. Remember this face come November, Virginians—finally you’re getting a senator who can wear whiskers!

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

Another animal coming to the aid of humans is Mac, the San Francisco Police Department’s drug-sniffing dog! He got an award last week for his work in the seizure of “over $3.75 million worth of drug money and over 500 pounds of cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, MDMA and heroin.” Way to enforce the law, pup! Mac is a three-year-old English springer spaniel who has been with the SFPD since July 2010. Also of note: He is totally adorable.

Imagine a government where animals replaced the jerks. What if the Republican candidates for president were rescued animals! What would they be? I consulted with Laura and Megan, and we say Rick Santorum would be a snake (or a weasel!), Newt Gingrich would be one of those turkeys that attacks people in their cars (or bedbugs!), and Mitt Romney would be an ostrich, or maybe just an ass.

[Hank story and video via DCist! Mac story and photo via SFist!]


A bill proposes a shark fin ban in New York State! Also: Shark fins may have neurotoxins! Whaa?  » has lots of great info in the fight against shark finning. 

Exciting news:

On Tuesday, legislators in New York State announced a bill that, following the example of Western states, would ban the sale, trading, possession and distribution of shark fins, possibly as of 2013. California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington are enacting similar bans that were passed last year, while Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia have legislation pending.

The bill in New York is sponsored in the Assembly by Alan MaiselLinda B. Rosenthal and Grace Meng, who represents the heavily Asian district of Flushing, Queens, and is the only Asian-American in the Assembly. Identical bills are expected to be introduced in both houses of the Legislature.

Yay! Let’s keep this party going! Everybody ban shark fins! Except on sharks—those are cool. 

There might be even more reason to ban shark fins, a new study says:

Researchers from University of Miami sampled fin clips from seven different species of sharks collected in South Florida coastal waters and analyzed its contents. Upon examination, they detected cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA (β-N-methylamino-L-alanine) in the fins of all species with concentrations ranging from 144 to 1836 ng/mg wet weight.

Mind you, the neurotoxin BMAA has been linked to the development of neurodegenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

The report suggests that consumption of shark fins may increase the risk for human exposure to the cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA. Until more is known about the possible link of BMAA to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet, according to the researchers.

Shark-finning is all around grody! Go New York! Read more about the bill introduction and actions you can take on the Humane Society’s website. WildAid invites you to sign their "Say No" pledge to end shark finning. You could also spread around their super infographic—everyone loves and infographic!:


Wow, the world is a disturbing place. As the video says, there’s a new bill in Idaho that would allow all kinds of fun ways to kill wolves, including luring them with live bait… as in, tied up dogs. Just wow, Idaho. The bill also has some weird vengeance loophole for killing wolves that kill your cattle. If a wolf kills one of your sheep or whatever, you have a certain amount of time to hunt it down and kill it without needing to get a permit. Dude, there is no way anyone is going to reliably identify an individual wolf that killed their animals! That’s ridiculous. You do however have to get a permit to kill wolves that are “molesting” your cattle. This part is great:

"molesting" shall mean the actions of a wolf that are annoying, disturbing or persecuting, especially with hostile intent or injurious effect, or chasing, driving, flushing, worrying, following after or on the trail of, or stalking or lying in wait for, livestock or domestic animals.

So basically you can kill a wolf that has intent to kill? OK. And really, “molesting?” Nice word choice. Very loaded and villainous. 

You may be familiar with Idaho’s lust for wolf blood, as I’ve written about it many times. It’s only recently that wolves were delisted as an endangered species in Idaho. That’s what they get for narrowly evading extinction!

But seriously, can you imagine a dog tied up with a wolf charging it? And it can’t get away? WTF. Sick. 

Defenders of Wildlife is the best site I know of to see how you can help, so check that out.

PS: Please excuse the commercial at the beginning of the video. Couldn’t do anything about it.


Toronto passes its shark-fin soup ban!  »

Want to know why that shark’s smiling?

In June I wrote a Vegansaurus post about a motion tabled before Toronto’s city council to ban the sale, possession, and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. I’m stoked to report that after a 38-4 city council vote yesterday, shark fin soup is now banned in Toronto. Woo!

The bylaw will take effect in September 2012; fines for the possession and use of shark-fin products will range from $5,000 to $100,000.

For a while it looked like the ban might not happen, when Mayor Rob Ford and a few other councillors argued that it was outside the city’s jurisdiction and instead a matter that lay with provincial authority. I suspect that similar bans in other cities helped make this happen.

It’s important to note, though, that another key factor in getting the ban through was the work of local activists. The Toronto Vegetarian Association did a lot to get the word out, as did groups like WildAid, United Conservationists, and Toronto Loves Sharks. Sharkwater director Rob Stewart also threw his support behind the ban and was on hand for today’s vote.

"Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against and illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Rob Sinclair, WildAid’s executive director.

Goes to show that groups of local people really can create change! I’m happy to live in Toronto today.

[photo by hunxue-er via Flickr]


We love Cory Booker because he loves the animals!  »

Did you see the post about Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker in the Post the other day? The Humane Society of the United States gave him the Humane Public Servant award last week for his work building Patrick’s Place, a “state-of-the-art animal shelter” named for a pit bull who was found in a Newark trash can, starving to death.

Sometime between then and receiving this HSUS award, Mayor Booker stopped eating meat, because of the animals. Part of his anti-animal-cruelty campaign is to stop eating meat! It seems like the most obvious thing in the world, but they don’t make those Shelter Pet Project commercials just for non-meat-eaters. For most of the country, there’s a huge disconnect between donating some towels to an animal shelter and actually taking preventative measures against animal cruelty. But not for Cory Booker! He gets it.

Growing up a half-New Jerseyan, I heard a looooot of Newark jokes. It’s a pit, they’d say, it’s the worst. Nothing more terrible in Jersey than Newark (the response to that is, Have you seen Trenton?). But since its citizens elected Cory Booker mayor, its fortunes have risen. Risen! I wish our young, go-getting mayor had been half as useful. I mean, sure, marry the gay citizenry, but what about infrastructure? What about jobs? What are you even doing in the Lieutenant Governor’s seat except killing time doing your hair until you can run for governor and smarmily fuck up the state GODDAMN IT.

Laura says if you want to learn more about a younger Cory Booker, watch Street Fight, the Oscar-nominated documentary about his failed campaign for mayor in 2002. It’s on Netflix instant! It’s a trifecta of awesome—a documentary whose handsome star is an idealistic politician—so watching it would probably improve your life. Especially when you remember that later, he wins! And grows into an even better person! Cory Booker, he is pretty great.

[photo by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons]


Nice one, Italy: police raid a bear-meat banquet  »

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is gross for about a billion reasons; this week, it’s his political partner in Imer, Italy, who held a bear-meat banquet as a political fundraiser/fuck-you to Italian bear conservationists.

The party, the Northern League, is made up entirely of jerks who also do things like walk a pig around a future site of a mosque in order to defile it. They claimed they had imported the 53 kg. (116.6 lbs.) of dead bear from Slovenia, but they couldn’t prove it, so the carabinieri seized the meat before it was all cooked. Neat? These people are so gross. Only 35 bears live in the Dolomites! According to the Northern League, they’re all “marauding” devils, roaming the countryside eating livestock and threatening residents, and the proper way to address this issue is to eat them. Obviously.

Some party members told the Guardian that they think members of Berlusconi’s party arranged the raid, which is possible—cabinet ministers all over the place have been condemning the banquet. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be associated with a bunch of reactionary cretins either, especially if my party and I were totally losing elections across the country. No one’s all bad, and if Berlusconi is good to bears, then maybe we can forgive him for like one bunga-bunga party.


Guest post: Toronto to ban shark fin soup?  »

Shark fin soup bans aren’t just gaining traction on the West coast—this week, Toronto’s city council tabled a motion to ban the sale, possession and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. They’re following the lead of nearby Brantford, which became the first city in North America to ban the soup. This is all pretty great news for sharks.

So why is shark fin soup so bad? Well, it kills 73 million sharks every year, to start, according to Oceana— but what’s really awful is that it kills those sharks in a terribly wasteful way. In “harvesting,” the shark’s fin is cut off while the fish is still alive. The shark then gets thrown back into the ocean to drown, bleed to death or be eaten by another creature. No other part of the shark even gets used. And shark species are increasingly threatened; when a top animal on the food chain starts to disappear, it’s bad news for an ecosystem.

Traditionally in Chinese culture, shark fin soup is seen as a sign of prosperity—serving it to your guests during important occasions like weddings is expected by many people, especially older generations. That’s made it harder to get bans in place, but things are changing: aside from in Brantford, the soup’s been banned in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, and California may be next. Some argue that the ban targets Chinese people unfairly, since many other favorite animal foods are raised or killed in nasty ways; they have a good point there, so maybe we should do something about that too!

Toronto councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker compared the killing of sharks for their fins to use in soup to hunting elephants just for their ivory tusks. “Playing the piano in the city of Toronto actually led to elephants being slaughtered in Africa. We’re learning now that simply going to a restaurant and eating shark fin soup is leading to a slaughter in the oceans and we want to have that stopped,” De Baeremaeker said.

Toronto has a large Chinese population, so the move is sure to receive some opposition. In its current form, the ban would come in gradually so restaurants can go through their existing stock for the soup—that way they can’t claim that they’ll be losing too much money on shark fins they’ve already purchased.

Moreover, the motion has the vote of another councillor, Kristen Wong-Tam, a former president of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto—her support for this ban will hopefully go a long way within the Chinese community. Wong-Tam grew up eating shark fin soup for special occasions, but stopped once she learned what’s really behind it. “We are not going to bring up a fish—a shark that’s 150 pounds—from the ocean, cut off the fins and throw the rest of it back” to sink and die,” she said. “Because we found this out, mom and dad and my sisters and I just decided, the soup no longer had taste. It was no longer something we desired. Oftentimes at banquets we’ve actually refused it.”

See? When you educate people, they can change their minds, even older generations who have been eating the soup for years. The director of Sharkwater, Toronto native Rob Stewart, also favors the ban. If a coming report on shark fin soup is approved, the city will vote on the ban in the fall. Write to Toronto’s city councillors to tell them how awesome they’ll look to the world if they make this move.

Terri lives in Toronto, Ontario, 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


Wolves to be removed from endangered species lists in five states. Go USA!  »

[PBS special: Hunting Wolves, Saving Wolves. Shows both sides of the argument. Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

It’s official: in 50-some days, five states are set to take gray wolves off the endangered species list. This is the first time Congress has removed a species from the endangered list. This is not good. You would hope that an animal’s being removed from the endangered species list would mean that the species* had rebounded something fierce—that’s not the case here. The wolf population has recovered a lot from near extinction but that’s not why the wolves are being de-listed. In this case, politics triumphs over science. The Northern Rockies has something like 1,700 wolves and they are just making it too darn hard to hunt. The federal government has relinquished control and the individual states will now “manage” the wolf population on their own. I totally trust a bunch of hunters to manage an endangered species. There are a few super-duper legitimate restrictions; for example, under the new deal, Montana, who currently has a little less than 600 wolves, would have to keep a minimum of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. That sounds totally reasonable—75 percent of the species could be wiped out. It’s like, how few can we keep around so that we can rebuild the species once we deplete it again?

The whole thing is depraved. The way they went about it is just as bad as the motivation behind the de-listing. They slipped it into the budget agreement and it’s total bullshit. Why is that legal? And we can’t have realistically expected the President to refuse to sign the budget and shut down the government for wolves. Fucking Congress. I wasn’t aware of this because I’m not that into right-wing politics but according to the Washington Post, “The endangered act has long been reviled by conservatives who see it as a hindrance to economic development.” Damn endangered species, always getting in the way of making money. I’m sure the conservatives are super excited now that they no longer have to go through the usual channels with regards to endangered species—congress has got their back.

Like I said last week, this sets a terrible precedent for other endangered species. Bison and grizzles are already in danger. I just hope there’s not a budget agreement next time polar bears get too rowdy. 

If you want to help, check out Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Justice and the Humane Society.

*I don’t generally like this word but I’ve used it because that’s the word the government uses and you know what I mean.


Save the wolves! Keep them protected!  »

This whole budget business is messy as my room. All these goddamn riders! One such rider is the de-listing of wolves as an endangered species in Idaho and Montana. This is utter bullshit and really sad. From Earthjustice via the LA Times: “For the first time in history, Congress is removing a species…from the Endangered Species Act based on political, rather than biological, judgments.” Like I explained last week, wolves are being attacked for eating livestock and competing for “game” with hunters.

I don’t really sympathize with livestock farmers but that’s a better reason than that of the hunters; at least it’s like about their livelihood (as animal abusers). It’s like I’m sorry the wolves are making it more difficult for you guys to hunt but isn’t that part of the point? If you want easy, go to the damn grocery store. De-listing an endangered species so you have an easier time hunting is just depraved thinking and sneaking it into the budget agreement is so slimy.

From Friends of Animals, here’s how you can help:

Listed below are the phone numbers and contact info for the Senate. Please call not only your own senators, but every Senate Democrat as many times as you can. Please also pass this information along to other animal advocates. Wolves need every voice possible.

Capital Switchboard Numbers: give the name of the senator and you will be transferred to their office. You will then either speak to a staff member, or to voice mail on the weekend.

When possible ask to speak to each senator’s environmental aide. This will give you a better chance to get your message across because you will be talking to someone who is familiar with the issue.

(866) 220.0044
(877) 851.6437
(800) 833.6354

The delisting language must be stripped out of the final bill:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224.3542
Toll-free for Nevadans: (866) 736.7343

Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
(202) 224.3553

Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.)
(202) 224.2441 

Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
(202) 224.3224

Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.)
(202) 224.4524

Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.)
(202) 224.5141

Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
(202) 224.4451

Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
(202) 224.6621

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
(202) 224.3753

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
(202) 224.2921

President Obama
Comments: (202) 456.1111
Switchboard: (202) 456.1414

Another important thing to note is that this isn’t just about wolves: “as [Josh Mogerman, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C.] said the rider could mean threats to additional species in the future. ‘There’s a process in place for dealing with these issues in the courts. But by Congress acting, it’s just a completely different animal,’ he said. ‘You look down the [Endangered Species Act], you see critter after critter and plant after plant that are probably inconvenient to special interests all over the  country. And what [they] have done is opened the door to removing plants and animals from the ESA by whim, rather than science.’”

To help monetarily, check out Living With Wolves, and (accepts Paypal! Paypal is my jam).

[Cartoon by me, photo from Living With Wolves]


Sharks of Kuwait, sharks of D.C.  »

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) spent the second-to-last day of the Senate before its “autumn recess” complaining about Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) attempt to pass, among other animal protection legislation,* S. 850, the Shark Conservation Act. This is the Senate’s version of H.R. 81, which passed the House in March 2009; both bills would “prohibit removal any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and discarding the shark carcass at sea,” and make even possessing shark fins unattached to shark bodies illegal. This is good stuff! But could Sen. Dr. Tom “rampant lesbianism” Coburn allow the Senate to save hundreds of thousands of sharks? What are you, new? Apparently the bill has “been proffered for special interest groups,” but not special interest groups that give Tom Coburn money, so it’s not worth his precious time.

All over the world, actually, sharks are being slaughtered at an obscene rate. In this episode of Witness, Al Jazeera’s documentary show, a small crew chums the waters of the Arabian Gulf off Kuwait looking for sharks. It’s narrated and filmed in an almost emotionless manner, but some of the scenes are heart-wrenching. Shark embryos are said to be a source of virility, so even though adult sharks aren’t usually eaten, the unborn babies are. It’s 22 minutes long, and completely astonishing. As one of the researchers says, anyone can go to South Africa and see a white shark, but who even knows to go to Kuwait? Definitely watch it in full screen.

[can’t see the video? watch it at]

For further information on international work to protect sharks, visit the Shark Alliance, or the Pew Charitable Trusts Shark Conservation campaign.

*The other legislation ol’ Harry Reid was looking to get passed was “the Crane Conservation Act, marine mammals rescue assistance legislation, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, and the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act.” Man, fuck that Tom Coburn. Fuck him right in the ear.

Update: Let’s not forget that Sen. Coburn has also placed holds on legislation that would give $1 billion to Haiti; make settlements worth $3.4 billion with Native Americans and black farmers; allow the government to purchase land to build a National Women’s History Museum; give aid to victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda; provide financial aid and training to caregivers of disabled veterans, investigate “unsolved Civil Rights-era crimes from before 1970”; help prevent veterans from committing suicide; and also, the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act. Why? Who knows? Maybe Jesus told him to be a hateful human being with no compassion whatsoever! Fuck that guy in both ears.

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