Animal Issues Bulletin January 12, 2010 ** Can You Say Michael Vick and Courage in the Same Breath! -** Help "Buddy's Law" Get Enacted in Colorado ** DC Woman Allegedly Starved Puppy To Death ** Court Confiscates Thousands of Animals in Texas Warehouse ** Update on Planned Monkey Farm in Puerto Rico ** Sea Shepherd Boat Rammed by Japanese Whaler ** Latest from Fur*thermore ============================================================== -- Michael Vick Defines Courage! Really? -Readers are sure to remember Michael Vick’s guilty conviction of “Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture.” He admitted to financing dogs for fighting, sharing the profits, and horrendous crimes such as hanging, drowning, and electrocuting dogs. Vick served his (some may say too short) time in prison and returned to society hoping for a “second chance.” He found that opportunity with the Philadelphia Eagles. After several protests and countless letters to the Philadelphia Eagles’ management to have him removed from the team, Vick was allowed to stay. Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles continue to shock the public, this time by awarding Vick with the Ed Block Courage Award given by the Ed Block Award Foundation. This is an annual award given to NFL players who are voted as role models for courage. Sponsorship profits help to raise awareness of child abuse and aid agencies that provide assistance. Aileen Gabbey, Executive Director of the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stated that her organization is "shocked and appalled" Vick would be awarded for anything: "I fail to see how he has done anything courageous. He did time. He's lucky to be employed. I don't see anything courageous about that. I'm particularly concerned about the message this award sends to kids: that a man who was convicted of severe animal cruelty gains not only a lucrative job nut is specially honored as well." The Ed Block Courage dinner will be held on March 9, 2010, at Martin’s West in Baltimore Maryland. Messages of protest are needed to: Ed Block Courage Award Foundation 8808 Orchard Tree Lane Towson MD 21286 Phone: 410.821.6252 Fax: 410.821.6240 Sam Lamantia – Chairman [email protected] Dave Copenhayer – Manager [email protected] Sample Message: Michael Vick is certainly not worthy of an award for courage. His involvement in animal fighting was despicable, and he simply served the sentence he so justly deserved. In the opinion of many people, his “apology” leaves much to be desired. When notified of receiving this reward, his words were self-centered and whiney. Now Vick is back in the limelight and making money hand over fist. What a tough life! To give Vick a reward for courage is to insult those who truly display courage and gallantry. Honoring Vick with the Ed Block award for courage is an affront to those who have received this award in the past and dishonors the intention of this honor. Whoever made this decision, and the NFL players that supported this decision, should be ashamed of themselves. [your name and contact information] Remember to personalize this message for maximum impact. Many thanks to animal activist Frank Branchini for providing information on this aware and also to Ivy Collier for contributing this story as well as the one below on Shakata Richardson to this issue of the Bulletin. ============================================================== -- Support Buddy’s Law in Colorado -On December 31, National Park Service rangers arrested a Grand Junction man accused of dragging a dog to its death at Colorado National Monument. Federal prosecutors charged Steven Clay Romero, 37, with the felony of animal cruelty. His arrest came a day after a German Shepherd-Blue Heeler mix was found with a rope around its neck along Rim Rock Drive, the main road through the park in western Colorado. Rangers said the dog, named Buddy, was stolen by others from downtown Delta earlier in the week. The dog was tied to a pickup truck and dragged for about 3 miles up the steep and winding road. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, a witness wrote down the license plate of a vehicle that stole the dog. Romero appeared in Mesa County court Thursday on unrelated charges and was arrested as he left the courtroom. On January 7, Romero was back in court for a preliminary hearing on felony animal cruelty. His appearance brought out protesters, including members of PETA. The U.S. Attorney called a park ranger to the stand to identify a possible motive for the dog’s theft, torture, and death. The ranger said that Romero’s sister, Melissa Lockhart, who was also arrested in connection with Buddy’s death, told Romero to get rid of Buddy after he apparently mauled a family cat. Melissa Lockhart faces felony theft charges for stealing two dogs from a pick-up truck the day before her brother reportedly killed Buddy. Lockhart turned herself in and has been released on $5,000 bond. At Romero’s preliminary hearing the judge ruled that there is enough evidence to go to trial later this month. If convicted Romero could face 3 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. He is being held without bond. Currently there is a petition circulating to make any form of animal abuse or neglect in Colorado punishable as a felony. To help enact “Buddy’s Law” in Colorado, people can sign a petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/buddys-law---help-enact-it To demand justice for Buddy, sign the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/6/demand-justice-for-buddys-killer. The petition goal is 100,000 and as of January 11, almost 72,000 people had already signed on. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michelle Heldmyer is prosecuting this case. You might send her a note encouraging a vigorous prosecution. Email Heldmyer at: [email protected] ============================================================== -- DC Woman Arrested for Animal Cruelty -On January 14 of last year, Washington Humane Society’s Deputy Director for Humane Law Enforcement responded to a call on the 4000 block of Kansas Ave NW in the District of Columbia to find a dead four month old female puppy on the back porch. An investigation discovered that the dog was starved to death over several weeks by her owner, Ms. Shaketa Richardson. An arrest warrant was issued for Ms. Richardson but she had fled to an unknown location in Virginia. But nearly a year later, on December 30, 2009, Metropolitan Police responded to a domestic disturbance at the previous location on Kansas Ave involving Ms. Richardson. A warrant check revealed that she was wanted for animal cruelty and she was taken into MPD custody. According to a D.C. Superior Court docket, Richardson has been released temporarily under the condition she not “own, purchase or assume responsibility for the care of an animal.” If convicted of animal cruelty, Richardson—who has entered a not guilty please—faces up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $250. For more information, see http://washhumane.typepad.com/blog/2010/01/year-long-search-for-animalabuser-ends-in-arrest.html. ============================================================== -- Largest Animal Confiscation in History -A PETA undercover investigator spent seven months working at U.S. Global Exotics, owned by Jasen and Vanessa Shaw, and documented horrifically cruel conditions for animals. For years, the company has imported and exported hundreds of thousands of animals every year for eventual sale at major pet stores and pet store chains all over the world, including at U.S.-based PETCO and PetSmart. On December 15, Arlington, Texas, officials and humane agents rescued more than 26,000 animals, including wallabies, sloths, ringtail lemurs, kinkajous, coatimundis, agoutis, hedgehogs, chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, flying squirrels, guinea pigs, sugar gliders, prairie dogs, ferrets, snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, spiders, crabs, and scorpions from this facility. This seizure is believed to be the largest animal confiscation in history. Judge Michael Smith's decision to award custody of the animals to the city of Arlington comes on the heels of a seven-day hearing during which lawyers for the exotic-animal dealer tried every trick in the book to downplay the Shaws's failure to provide animals in their care with basic, minimal necessities such as food, water, and adequate housing. However, the evidence meticulously documented by PETA’s investigator while inside U.S. Global Exotics' facility—as well as the evidence gathered on the day of the seizure— could not be refuted. For more details, go to http://blog.peta.org/archives/2010/01/us_global_exotics.php Also in Texas earlier this month, local sheriff's deputies and Humane Society officials coordinated a raid on a large cockfighting pit in rural Poolsville, breaking up a cockfight in progress. The raid resulted in the arrest of 176 people and seizure of 118 birds, with 15 children taken into custody. For more details, see http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2010/01/texas_cockfighting_010410.html ============================================================== -- Update on Puerto Rico “Monkey Farm” -Readers will remember a story that appeared in the Bulletin several months ago concerning a Mauritius-based company, Bioculture, that wants to construct a facility in Guayama, Puerto Rico, to breed and sell monkeys. Bioculture ships macaque monkeys around the world for use in product testing. Local residents opposed the venture, raising serious health and environmental concerns. After nearly six months of pressure from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and other organizations, on December 30 a judge ordered a temporary halt to construction of the facility. Judge Juan Frau Escudero’s ruling follows a report from the Puerto Rico Senate that found strong evidence that Bioculture supplied misleading and contradictory information to obtain permits for the project. Read all about this decision in the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) press release at http://www.pcrm.org/news/release091230_pr.html. PCRM credits this victory to citizens the world over who joined local Guayamans in opposition to Bioculture’s plans. The judge’s ruling is a significant victory, but it may not be the last word in this fight. Please continue to let Puerto Rican officials know that you support the international campaign to halt the construction of Bioculture’s monkey farm. You can send a quick on-line message to Governor Luis Fortuno by visiting: https://secure2.convio.net/pcrm/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserActi on&id=271&autologin=true&JServSessionIdr004=v2q9naw2b4.app202b And speaking of primates, the Charles River Laboratories in Reno, Nevada, has been fined $4,500 by the USDA for leaving a macaque in its cage while the cage was sent through a mechanical washer, killing the primate. The research facility also paid more than $10,000 in fines in 2008 for the deaths of 32 primates killed by extreme heat. See http://www.rgj.com/article/20100106/NEWS/100106014/1321. ============================================================== -- Japan Whalers 'Ram' Activist Boat -The “Whale Wars” have really heated up since the beginning of the year. Anti-whaling activists have accused a Japanese vessel of ramming their high-tech speed boat, the Ady Gil, during a confrontation in the Southern Ocean. All Sea Shepherd crew members were rescued, but the Ady Gil eventually sank after its run in with one of Japan’s whaling vessels. Many videos of the incident are on the Internet, including YouTube. For example, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bbuq0YEIPNU. Each side is blaming the other for the collision. Sea Shepherd spokesman Paul Watson said the incident had turned the confrontations between the whalers and the activists into a "real whale war." A statement on the Sea Shepherd website said a Japanese vessel that was accompanying the Nisshin Maru whaler "deliberately rammed" the Ady Gil, a high-tech speed boat that resembles a stealth bomber, shearing off its bow. Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), which conducts the country's whale hunt, accused Sea Shepherd of using the Ady Gil to attack its vessels. They alleged the trimaran speedboat came dangerously close to the Nisshin Maru, trying to entangle its rudder and propeller with a rope and launching stink bombs at the vessel. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard ordered the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to investigate the incident, which occurred in Australia’s area of responsibility for search and rescue. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society kept up the pressure on the Japanese at a protest held in Auckland, Australia, on January 11. The protest, held outside the Japanese Consultae, was against the illegal slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary and the inaction of Japanese, Australian and New Zealand Governments to intervene and shut down the whaling operation. Sea Shepherd also filed a piracy complaint in the Netherlands last Saturday against the captain and crew of a whaling vessel involved in the Ady Gil collision. The complaint argues the whalers are guilty of piracy because they served on a vessel that was used to commit an act of violence and it urges Dutch authorities to take action within two weeks. Sea Shepherd is also considering filing charges of attempted murder in New Zealand, where the Ady Gil was registered. Glenn Inwood, the New Zealand-based spokesman for Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, which oversees the whaling fleet, dismissed the complaint as a publicity stunt. As Bulletin readers probably know, Japan abandoned commercial whaling in 1986 after agreeing to a global moratorium but international rules allow it to annually kill hundreds of whales under the auspices of a research program. Conservationists say the whaling is a cover for the sale and consumption of whale meat. For more on this story, go to http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-whale-boat10-2010jan10,0,3650455.story, BBC News at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8445504.stm or to keep up with this constantly developing story go directly to http://www.seashepherd.org/. ============================================================== -- The Latest From Fur*thermore -Ginnie Maurer’s latest story in Fur*thermore is a heartwarming and fun tribute to the lighter side of life with pets. You can find “Animals Do Some of the Funniest Things” at http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/529645.html. So have fun!