A little serious, a little satire, and all opinion on animal welfare.
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The maniacs did it; they finally really did it!  This week the mad scientists at the National Institutes of Health announced that they would no longer fund the use of apes in scientific testing.  That means that the chimpanzees, which you and I bought and paid for with our tax dollars will spend the rest of their lives just lazing away their time like simian welfare queens.

I say to the government: Take your stinking paws off my damn dirty apes!  I don’t know who gave those elitists with their advanced scientific doctoral degrees the right to tell us what makes for good science.  I may not be able to tell you what good science is but I know it when I see it.  And smoking chimps look like good science to me.  They tell us that we can’t learn anything from testing on apes and then in the next breath tell us we shouldn’t experiment on them because they are so similar to us.  Make up your minds!

I’ve never bought that we had much in common with monkeys- except maybe for those Occupy hippies. It’s probably all their idea to “redistribute” our monkeys.  Sounds like the Soviet Union to me.  What kind of San Francisco “equality” do they have planned for these monkeys, acting like they are just our hairy brothers?  I bet the 99% think that the fact that chimps are 98% the same as us means we shouldn’t use them however we want.

Who cares that we are 98% the same genetic make up.  I don’t even know what a gene is!  But since when did something being like something else count and us being completely unqualified to make an informed decision stop us from making them? Things are like other things all the time.  I have a Sage Green fleece jacket.  I’m not going to grind it up and put in my turkey stuffing this Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, I’m not even sure those monkeys are Christian.  I think this is all another front of the war on Christmas.  You know where those chimps come from, don’t you?  Africa.  I bet they can’t even come up with long form birth certificates.

Let’s be honest, we all know that monkeys are good for only one thing other than testing toxins on- chimp hand ashtrays.  And since we know from all the reputable tobacco research done on them that smoking isn’t really bad for us (that’s just a scam perpetrated by the Nanny State), I want me one of those things for all my butts.  Besides, you can’t trust these chimps.  I know because I read that story, The Monkey’s Paw.  One minute someone’s giving you some awesome monkey paw you might make into an ashtray, the next you’ve found yourself wishing corpses back to life.  Nothing good about those monkey hands, I tell you.

Don’t call me inconsistent! I can be inconsistent all I want. It’s my right as an American and we have a proud tradition of complete inconsistency.  I’ll covet and cringe from monkey hands all I want. I’m not a slave to your logic!

The real thing we should all be afraid of, though, is the clear sinister machinations of the HSUS and that vegan George Clooney, Wayne Pacelle.  We all know what his agenda is.  It’s to serve under the yoke of our monkey overlords, eating tofu.  In his vegan nirvana we’ll all be footmen to those bears he’s keeping us from shooting in Maine who will be armed with all the guns he wants to take from us along with our foie gras, while we feed peeled grapes to all the pigeons that he wants to keep legitimate sportsmen from shooting by the thousands in Pennsylvania.  Do you know how fast pigeons reproduce?  Two pigeons turn into four million in just sixteen months.  Hand to God, it’s true.  If we weren’t shooting them we’d be waste deep in them.  Sounds like Pacelle heaven to me.

Well, I want my monkeys in shackles, like God intended.  Maybe Wayne “Ape Apologist” Pacelle wants us going down the slippery path to the Planet of the Apes, but not me.  Even if the picture of an orangutan riding a horse seems pretty funny, we all know who came up with Planet of the Apes.  A French guy, that’s who.  ‘Nuff said. Like we needed any more proof that setting these chimps free so that they can take away our jobs and undertake massive voter fraud was a bad idea.

You may think this is all crazy talk, that there’s no proof of any of this and I’m just making up weird unsupportable claims intended to frighten the uninformed and maintain the political status quo.  Goes to show what you know- I am the uniformed!  I couldn’t come up with this stuff on my own!  I get it from patriotic sounding organizations created and funded by a tiny handful of stinking rich guys and corporations who know best what I should believe and aren’t afraid to tell me or take me down at the knees if I disagree.  And if they tell me that anything the HSUS or scientists do is bad, I’m going to believe it.  And I’m not going to let reality get in my way.  Or let you have it get in your way, either.

p.s. Thanks to whoever the blog commenter I swiped that Clooney line from is! K

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That’s right, you heard me. It’s time to legalize pigeon shoots.

After yet another aborted attempt to ban pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania, an attempt which was met by the full force of the NRA and its lobbyist in their crusade to save that “proud tradition”, we are in the same limbo we have been in for years. Representative John Maher, who offered the amendment to SB 71 which would have enacted the explicit ban on shoots, was reported to have said, perhaps tongue in cheek, that the legislature itself has a proud tradition from running from the issue.

It’s not like anyone gets a benefit from advocating for an end to pigeon shoots. Maher certainly doesn’t and our organization gets our share of people wondering why we “care about vermin” instead of cats and dogs or people. The fact that we can do both seems to elude some.

And the fact is HSBC did not gleefully jump into this fight. For years we bought the line that pigeons shoots were legal, that there was decided case law. Our response was always that it fell in the realm of hunting and organizationally we have a position of taking no position on issues of lawful hunting, agricultural practice, etc. We may not have liked pigeon shoots- and we didn’t- but it wasn’t a matter of cruelty law. Or so we thought.

Then some people opposed to the shoots started putting some eye-opening information in front of me. Settled case law? No. It turns out that the single case which pro-shoot advocates point to settled nothing. In fact it opened the door for a number of ways in which shoots could violate the cruelty law even if they were legal. Pigeon shoots as hunting? No. It turned out that those in charge of deciding what was hunting and what wasn’t, the PA Game Commission, were quite clear that pigeon shoots were not hunting in their eyes. There was no “season” for pigeons. The letter of the game code and the federal laws it defers to seems to entirely contradict the use of pigeons for any sort of sport.

So if it wasn’t hunting and it wasn’t settled law, there was only one more place to turn to: the PA Cruelty Code. Pennsylvania’s own state cruelty prosecutors train officers like ours that there are only four affirmative defenses against a cruelty charge. They are standard agricultural practice, self-defense, pest control, and game code protection. Each of these has explicit and detailed definitions and pigeon shoots did not fall within any of them.

I remember the moment when I came, dumbfounded, to the realization that pigeon shoots were actually already illegal. That they weren’t protected under any statute, law or code. Because they aren’t exempt from the animal cruelty law, they are subject to them by definition, just as launching cats or dogs and shooting at them would be. Or pouring lava down a cow’s throat would be. That’s not explicitly banned under law either. But it doesn’t make it legal.

The only problem is that we have not been permitted to pursue what I believe would be very strong and persuasive cruelty charges because the ability to file these charges are subject to the will of county district attorneys. And pretty much to a one, they just don’t want to pursue these cases for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that they say the shoots are legal, although they can’t point to the law which makes it so, and I have no reason to doubt the genuiness of their belief.

So when people ask why HSBC stepped into this fray, it’s because we didn’t have any other choice. By policy we don’t get involved in activities protected by law. But shoots aren’t protected by law. By mission we prosecute cruelty. But we aren’t permitted to prosecute the case of pigeon shoots as cruelty.

The only option is to advocate for a crystal clear clarification of the law to make the shoots expressly illegal. It’s what the majority of people want, as far as I can tell. Even hunters, even the ones who say they defend the shoots, quickly back pedal and say, “Well, I think they are disgraceful and wouldn’t participate, but….” No buts. Let’s do what the majority of people want and pass a simple law which outlaws pigeon shoots.

We’ve been advocating exactly that and there have been perfect, not merely good, but perfect bills which explicitly protect hunting, guns rights, even pheasant releases. But we can’t even get these bills or similar amendments to a vote. Case in point, the Maher Amendment of SB 71 which was sent back to committee for reconsideration (killed).

Elected officials have asked me what we need to just go away. I always say the same thing. A simple up or down vote. Go on the record. If legislators think these shoots are legal and want to keep them that way, just vote the bill or amendment down. No procedural shenanigans, no double talk, no “studying of the complex issue” and all the other things which make voters distrust their elected officials. Just vote on the record, once and for all.

And if these pigeon shoots have such support among the people that their elected officials feel the need to block any attempt at clarity, I will suggest something else: Please, someone, introduce a law explicitly legalizing pigeon shoots and vote that one up or down. Legislators, you want to make HSBC go away on this issue? Make these shoots legal, just like deer hunting or agricultural meat production. As I’ve said earlier, we have an organizational policy of taking no position on legally protected activities like these. We leave that to other groups.  And then I can stop annoying our friends who like the NRA.

Do you even have the courage to do that? Is this really about anything other than avoiding a public vote? A vote which will anger animal welfare folks on one side or the NRA on the other? Do you not have the courage of your convictions? John Maher has stood up and taken a public position. The many sponsors of the various pigeon shoot bills have taken a public position. What is your position?

Ban the shoots. Legalize the shoots. Just do something. Inaction is cowardice.

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Yesterday I stared into a yawning heart of darkness. I met a man who may very well have started out very much like any of us. A man of talent and vision, man who I, maybe any of us, could become in the right circumstances, with the right motivations. A man whose goals may be truly pure in his eyes and whose tactics, while loathsome and repugnant to me, are undeniably effective. Yesterday I met my Kurtz.

I don’t bear ill will toward him for his threat. Like Coppola’s Kurtz locking Willard in a bamboo cage to provide him with the proper perspective and time to truly appreciate the wonder of his jungle kingdom, I view his threat as a gift shared with me. He selected me for this gift. I must admit when it arrived, I felt a surge of giddiness, like the prom queen had said something to me. Granted, it’s like the prom queen said, “Get out of my way, loser,” but she said it to me.

I may seem almost enamored with my Kurtz. In fact, I am. I’ve always looked toward those who are effective, even those I find personally, professionally, and politically despicable. I want to know how they have managed to succeed, how they have managed to convince so many, how they became what they are.

It’s that last one that I really study because so many of these figures did not knowingly start out down a path to what they became. Many were talented, earnest and true, but along the way those attributes were bent to something different. I have seen how easily it happens. I have seen how it happens with the best intentions. I see how it could just as easily happen to me. Each time I travel upriver into a kingdom like Kurtz’s I wonder if I will prevail or if I will be one of the heads on a pike. Or worse, will I experience that diamond shot in the head that shows me the genius behind the seeming insanity I confront and join it?

So I truly accept this threat as a gift because it made me look at myself. I know my Kurtz has seen the piles of little arms that are the result of the floundering attempts resulting from my sides desire to nanny our way through this war. I judged him. He reminded me that I have no right to judge him and he reinforced it with a strength I couldn’t hope to match. His is a clarity and purity which my grey views and equivocations cannot stand against. It is not that I do not wish to stand against it but it is that I do not have the strength to stand against it.

Kurtz has seen what needs to be done to win his war and he will do what needs to be done. I will not. So I hacked off those inoculated arms which so offended as a sign to Kurtz that I know my place, and his. I bear myself to have the pound of flesh exacted. It is a small price to avoid the pike.  My soul may wish to be an outlaw, but my body cannot be one.

In this case of David and Goliath I choose not end up like the losing end of the case of John the Baptist and Salomé. Although I may demur, I do accede. Alas, I am not Coppola’s Willard after all. I am Coppola’s Lance.

But if I am not Coppola’s Willard, perhaps he is not Coppola’s Kurtz. That Kurtz faced a broken clock and attempted to restore the order of time in its absence. Where he could not do that he smashed the clock to banish its hold on him altogether, creating a pure disorder. But my Kurtz seems to recognize that this broken clock is still right twice a day. Rather than ask us all to agree on those two righteous, reoccurring minutes, he demands that we all agree that every minute of every day is that one frozen minute of that broken clock.

Kurtz would not do that. That is not purity, nor is it even insanity. It is calculation and domination. These are the tools of clerks and debt collectors. These are not the tools of great men. No, he is not my Kurtz, he is something else. He is the Ticktockman, he is my Ticktockman.

That may seem cold comfort since a Kurtz is a man who can be battled and bested. But if you lose to a man, you have truly lost as an individual. The Ticktockman stands for a system, he a cog. When you lose to the Ticktockman you have been ground beneath the feet of something huge and there is no shame in that loss. And when you fight something huge, the crack in the smallest cog can bring the entire works of the system to a halt. And while I have lost to the cog, a system remains. It will be there later, despite it and the Ticktockman’s domination today.

So, yes, Ticktockman, look at me. I’m a little dancing funny man. I say foolish, attention grabbing things that no one could possibly take seriously. Do not be angry at me, I am a mere jester. I desire only to amuse, I weep when I offend; do not whip me for I am your little squeaky toy. Your eighty-six have been eighty-sixed. From my soundproof room, your Harlequin repents, Ticktockman. It is good to be on time.

But watch out, Ticktockman, you are running three minutes late. Mrmee, mrmee, mrmee, mrmee.

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OK, maybe you don’t. But you could.

That’s because none of these things are exactly- or at all- illegal in Pennsylvania. I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor. You read me right. It is legal to eat dogs and cats in Pennsylvania. It is legal to truck in pigeons from other states which ban pigeon trap shoots and shoot them here by the thousands. It might as well be legal to dump an alligator in the local reservoir since the law prohibiting the release of exotics is weak to the point of being meaningless. And while we recently won a ban on simulcasting of greyhound racing, races illegal in Pennsylvania, the violation falls under gaming regulations, not animal cruelty.

And these things may stay just as they are unless you contact your Representative and Senator right now- or as soon as you’re done reading this- and demand that they support the Maher Amendment to Senate Bill 71. Representative John Maher is seeking to put right the clear wrong with a single amendment and he and the animals of Pennsylvania need your help to succeed.

One would hope and wish that these straight forward, common sense changes in our state law, changes which would put us in line with most or all other states, would pass easily. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. We have to make our voices heard loud and clear before we’ll be able to saddle up.

Eating pets in the U.S. may be rare, but it's not unheard of.

Who could possibly oppose this amendment? For three portions I can’t even imagine. There’s no McDogle’s lobby demanding to serve up a Quarter Pounder McFluffy for the lunch rush. There can’t be much opposition to strengthening the milktoast rules that prohibit releasing tigers into our state forests. And since a greyhound simulcasting ban has already been passed, who would oppose moving the restriction to the most appropriate portion of the law, the animal cruelty statute?

Of course, live pigeon shoots have always had a champion in our lobbyist friends at the NRA headquartered in the Washington, DC, suburbs. They have been blocking the overwhelming support of the Pennsylvania electorate for a ban on the blood “sport” of pigeon trap shoots for years. But the shine is starting to fade from their apple as people increasingly realize that joining the rest of America in treating pigeon shoots like the animal cruelty they are is not an attack on our Second Amendment rights. Saying so is like saying that a drunk driving law is an attack on the automobile industry. They can say it all they want but it doesn’t make it true.

Releasing exotics into the wild is quite common- and dangerous for the animals, people and the environment.

But if there is little or no support for these activities in our state, if the only real support for them comes from out-of-state lobbyists, and if few or no other states allow these activities, why are they still legal? Because somehow a few well moneyed special interests are more persuasive than the millions of Pennsylvania voters who want to see these changes to our law made.

We need to make our voices heard and tell our elected officials that they answer to us, the people of Pennsylvania, and not to outside lobbyists.

We need to tell them we don’t want an environmental catastrophe such as other states have faced from exotic animals being released into the wild. We want releasing exotic animals into the wild made explicitly illegal.

We need to tell them that our cats and dogs already face enough challenges from over population and homelessness and we don’t want them to face the butchering block, too. We want the sale and breeding for and consumption of cats and dogs by humans made explicitly illegal.

We need to tell them that the cruel farce of pigeon trap shoots is one “tradition” in Pennsylvania which can go the way of other traditions like slavery and children working in coal mines. We want them to make pigeon trap shoots explicitly illegal.

And we need to tell them we think greyhound cruelty needs to be enforced under the animal cruelty statute, not under the statute that makes sure BINGO games aren’t rigged.

Fortunately, this week our Pennsylvania House of Representatives can do all these things with a single vote. They can vote for the Maher Amendment to SB 71.

This is not a partisan issue. There are Republicans and Democrats who support the Maher Amendment. It is an issue of whether our elected officials will answer to us or answer to people and corporations which want to damage our environment, damage our communities, and profit of the needless death and torture of domestic animals. There are no two ways about it: A vote against the Maher Amendment is a vote for animal cruelty.

Please take just five minutes right now to call and email your Representative and Senator. Then take two minutes more to email all your friends and ask them to do the same. When those in Harrisburg ask themselves, “Who cares?” about the Maher Amendment, they need to know you care. And while you may not have millions in the bank like some special interest groups, you have a long memory. And you vote.

And if they won’t vote for the Maher Amendment, maybe they can take a suggestion for a new political fundraiser for their lobbyist friends. They can get together to grill up some puppy burgers, shoot a few thousand pigeons, and release a few baboons and Komodo dragons into their neighbor’s yard for a laugh.

After all, it may be wrong, but it’s all pretty much legal.

Click here to find you Representative and Senator by address and ask them to support the Maher Amendment.

Have an extra minute to spare? Email or call Representative Maher and thank him for his leadership on these issues!

Are you a partisan voter? Then contact the leadership of your Party and demand they support candidates who support strong animal welfare laws. Click here for the Democratic State Committee and click here for the Republican State Committee.

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