Tennessee Enacts Animal Abuse Registry…But Now What?

Folks, its been too long, but I knew I was setup for a comeback to the Interwebs. While my inspiration is diffused over many of the topics I have been thinking about since I last wrote, today I was motived by a story out of the Volunteer State.

Today, Tennessee made history by becoming the first US state to enact an animal abuse registry. This registry would work like many other criminal registries (think the sex offender registries many states require). In this specific case, individuals convicted of crimes related to animal abuse are required to self-register or face further penalties. First time offenders are registered for two years, and I am assuming repeat offenders are required to register for life.

Many organizations and governments have discussed animal abuse registries in recent years as a means to appropriately punish offenders of crimes against animals and to also provide a publicly accessible list of individuals who are unfit to care for or work with animals. Possible benefits could include shelters knowing which individuals are not suitable for adoption, who not to employ in an animal-based business enterprise, or simply making an informed decision as to hiring a petsitter.

While Tennessee is the first state to enact a registry, which is expected to go online in January, 2016, various other states such as California, Colorado, and New York have seen activism, both among government and non-government organizations, promoting a registry. In fact, in 2014, New York City approved an animal abuse registry. These accomplishments seem to be the beginning of a larger movement that will likely catch on in other cities and states.

While this is at face value a big win for animals, agricultural and laboratory animals continue to be left in the dark. The Tennessee animal abuse registry only applies to companion animals (and possibly wildlife…although not clearly specified at this time) and this appears likely to be the case for future animal abuse registries. This sets a dangerous precedent where the majority of the animals that we interact with in our society are being further excluded from legal protections. Obviously, this is done intentionally; the cost and resources needed to enforce animal abuse laws in animal agricultural industries, particularly industrialized operations, is high. It also challenges our often taken for granted relationship with agricultural animals. Finally and most importantly, preventing abuse in industrialized animal agricultural industries or laboraties is not simply a matter of prosecuting rogue workers; the whole system is abusive, providing inadequate care and fitness, both physical and mental.

More work is needed to be done on the behalf of not just companion animals, but those in industries, laboratories, and anywhere else where they are defenseless and subjected to human will. Extending legal protections to companion animals is a victory, but only a first step into awarding necessary protections to all and for becoming a more compassionate and just society.

To those dedicated to these goals, keep up the good fight.

A closing note: If you take an interest in Animal Rights issues, check out a book review I wrote for the open source (but peer-reviewed) journal Between the Species.

And for more stories related to animal abuse registries, check out the Huffington Post’s archive.






NY Times Publishes Stunning Article on Meat Animal Research Center; Consider Signing Petition

Hi folks,

Just a quick but timely post. The New York Times has recently published a stunning article about some of the concerns regarding animal welfare at U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska. What these animals have had to go through in the name or productivity is repulsive and arguably, not justifiable. Take a read regardless of where you stand on the issue and if you feel that the reports are unacceptable, consider signing this petition from the Humane Society of the United States to halt research at the facility.

Also, if it interests you, check out HSUS’s “State of Animal Union”, a parallel to the President Barack Obama’s recent “State of the Union”.

Until next time, fellow Hermits.

Federal Judge Overturns Foie Gras Ban; You Still Don’t Need to Eat it

In a setback for animal advocates, a federal judge struck down California’s Foie Gras ban this past Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that the ban was unconsitutional because it clashed with existing federal laws on poultry products. Foie Gras is a product that has been under fire due to its controversial and cruel method of production: force feeding a duck or goose until it develops liver disease, resulting in a fatty liver. Considered a French delicacy, California was the first and only state to ban the production and sale of Foie Gras through a bill passed by its state legislature in 2004. The bill went into full effect in 2012.

A Goose being force fed for Foie Gras.

A Goose being force fed for Foie Gras.

One example of a dish using Foie Gras.

One example of a dish using Foie Gras.

This ruling raises concerns regarding the future of California’s battery cage egg ban. The LA Times states that, “Experts said the ruling would have no bearing on California’s new egg law, which requires more space for laying hens, because eggs aren’t covered by the Poultry Products Inspection Act.” However, an issue around the 2013 Farm Bill (read our article about it here) was the King Amendment, which although not ultimately passed, attempted to regulate states’ ability to regulate any agricultural products that impacted interstate commerce, such as egg production. This bill was introduced by Iowa Senator Steve King. This is no surprise as California, the most populated state by far, consumes an enormous amount of eggs while Iowa produces the most. Back in 2013, I went back and forth with Pennsylvania (another large egg producing state) U.S. Rep Glenn Thompson on this issue.

There is hope, however. While there is reason to be skeptical that voters and representatives can regulate agriculture in their own communities, the Foie Gras ban, as well as other organizations, have brought light to this issue. If you oppose Foie Gras, you probably won’t eat it. Individual decisions can have just as strong of an impact as any state law. Refuse Foie Gras and avoid establishments which serve it.

And if you do eat it, well, you’re just an asshole.

Sources: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-foie-gras-ban-lifted-20150108-story.html




Support Elephants – iWorry March

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has created the campaign iWorry, a global effort to bring awareness to protecting elephants. At the current rate of poaching, African Elephants could face extinction in the wild by 2025.

Take a look at the website and join a peaceful march in one of 15 cities around the world on Friday 4th October. You can also show your support by joining the digital march for elephants if you are unable to attend the march!

Gaia Ascending

Hello everyone! My name is Ben, and I’m excited about getting the chance to write for Urban Hermits.  My love for the planet and excitement of writing will finally be able to come together in a harmonious effort.  There is much to discuss! There are some magical things to be said about the Earth.

Natural remedies and herbs can be gathered and created from nature to bring healing to our bodies. The fact that this planet, a ten trillion in one chance, exists the way it does at all; able to nurture and support the seeds of life.  What about the fact that plants also feel? That’s pretty incredible. Most of us don’t take the time to see these magical things though.  In our modern day society, we are ruled by time, and labor.  Day in and day out we work for the almighty dollar.  Not because we want to, but because this is simply how things are.  It’s how we are able to survive.  That’s how it is in the concrete jungle.

When did we lose our connection with all things mother nature? Why is its value so little, to so many?  We can all say how much we don’t support the destruction of the rainforests, but what are we really doing about it?  A few of us might give some cash to WWF, or another environmental agency; more of us will do nothing.  And every day that passes, our planet loses another piece of its magic; the soul that binds us all.

Medicine is derived from nature itself; so why do we profit off the sick with synthetics; Chemically based derivatives that bear only little semblance to their natural counterparts.  Why still, do we taint our food with the use of pesticides, and how long will it take for the pests of today to become super bugs immune to everything thrown at them.  How long before Roundup comes around with an even more powerful and agriculturally damaging toxin?

Worse yet; why has the American populace allowed this to take place?

My theory is simple. In today’s world, most people only do what is convenient for them. Recycling is an easy example I can use.  We are no strangers to recycling.  We are aware that these services exist, and they exist for a good reason.  And yet, their importance in an ever evolving green world is vastly understated.  I am currently living in Chicago and it is beyond me why recycling is not utilized throughout the entire city.  My apartment complex has no recycling bins of any kind, and all I can think of when I’m dumping my recyclables into the neighbors bins is how much re-useable stuff is going to the garbage.  And actually, we can uncover more flaws in the recycling dilemma by looking at materials beyond plastics, cans and bottles.

You have batteries and electronic pieces of random junk getting thrown away all the time, things that lack a proper recycling method because what the trucks come to pick up varies from place to place, and most pickups won’t accept batteries, you have to drop them off at special locations.  What about copper wiring, how much of that can be reused?  There are surely a great many materials everybody throws away daily.  But there is nothing accessible to recover those materials.  You have to go completely out of your way to take care of these kinds of things, and usually it’s only so you can get rid of one small item, and no one wishes to hoard useless junk until it’s convenient enough to get rid of it.

The world is in a state of upheaval.  Now, more than ever, it is important that the people begin to recognize the disharmony and strain we are putting on our planet.  We need to live by the words “Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.”  This is a statement I learned in a persuasion speech class that addresses the morality of the art of persuasion, but I believe that you can apply it to many instances in our daily lives.  And we can certainly apply it to environmental awareness.

We can use it to say, that consumers have the real power, and to make real change happen the consumers must band together and really choose the best course of action.  We can say that there are better energy sources than oil and coal, and choose to invest in those.  Even if they take a little more cash out of our pockets, we are making a direct statement with that money.  That’s when our words truly transform from just words, to direct action.  We call forth our will by choosing what to support, and justifying what we believe in.

And this is what I want to explore in my time with Urban Hermits.  I want to bring ideas forth, and highlight the ways in which we can all not only help our planet, starving for a little attention, but also help ourselves.  By changing our world for the better, and leading happier, healthier lives.

There are multiple ways we can live out our lives; why are we settling for this one?