Sustainability, Ag-Gag, and the Fight to End Animal Cruelty

If you haven’t seen it, Rolling Stone has released a disturbing but well-done piece of some of the horrors of large scale animal agriculture, as well as considerations of sustainability and the menacing threat of ag-gag, which I previously declared war on. The piece is titled “Animal Cruelty is the Price We Pay for Cheap Meat” (click title to access the article). Thanks to Paul Solotaroff for this effective piece of journalism and bringing attention to one of society’s most threatening social problems in a mainstream magazine. Its a sad read and feel free to avoid the videos if you don’t care for graphic content, the words are enough. Share this with who you think would benefit. This article explains a lot of the motivations for why I am who I am today.


Some Animal Welfare Hits

Hi all,

Happy humpday, I hope you are all surviving! A few articles came my way today that I felt spark interesting debate and bring perspective. The first being from the Detroit Free Press, which discusses the approval of two animal abuse bills in the Michigan Senate, which will increase the penalties for animal abusers, including a five year adoption ban for convicted individuals. I have always pushed, along with many other Michigan-based animal protection agencies, the implementation of a public registry of animal abusers. This could thus be used to protect animals and citizens who are seeking to adopt animals or seeking adopters for their current pets, as well as for those who are looking to hire caretakers. Although these bills do not appease me entirely, I believe they are a step in the right direction and am happy that these protections are being discussed.

Secondly, here is a sad, but important, piece on animals who have drowned in natural disasters, due to being locked up in the basements of medical and/or university laboratories. The authors offer some possible solutions to the problem. 

Finally, here is an interesting piece on the impact of global warming on big game in Michigan, which is relevant for many other states.

There is a lot of news flooding in and I felt the need to share some, but it is great to see all the wonderful and compassionate work people and organizations are doing! Cheers!


My amiga at Farm Sanctuary!

Image: Mark Suchyta, Urban Hermits


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!

Calling All Hermits: Fight Animal Cruelty!

Sim LakeMy fellow hermits,

I come to you with a heavy but important topic. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has “filed a brief in a landmark federal case against a couple accused of making graphic animal torture videos for viewers” (ALDF 2013). As this article explains (WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT), a Texas couple was arrested earlier in the year for producing home videos of animals being tortured for what they considered a pornographic enterprise. However, ALDF explains, “On April 27, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake, in the Southern District of Texas, ruled that the conduct in the videos was not obscene and the Act infringed upon the First Amendment rights of the defendants. Last Friday, federal prosecutors filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit. ALDF’s amicus brief supports this appeal, arguing the Act is limited in scope to obscene videos of animal torture for the sexual gratification of viewers.” It is up to you if you would like to read the ALDF article, as it is very disturbing, but I am providing  you here with what you need to know. If you would like to fight against this cruelty and support ALDF’s drive for justice, consider making a donation here. If you would like to let Judge Sim Lake know how you feel, you can reach his Houston office at 713-250-5177 and leave him a message, as Lauren and I both did today. Finally, let your lawmakers know that you demand protections against this cruelty by singing ALDF’s Animal Bill of Rights.

Hopefully, I have something more upbeat for my next post!

For now, you know what to do,



Ag. Gag and my Declaration of War


Wow, I just read this article from Mother Jones this past week. It was written by Zaineb Mohammad and was published on July 25th. I found this to be a powerful and infuriating piece that touches up on the current state of the meat industry and its lack of transparency. It also makes points about the abuse animals experience, as well as the humans that have essentially no choice but to work in this degrading industry. Please take the time to read this article, I couldn’t recommend it more:

These injustices against human and non-human animals alike remind me why I have chosen the path in life I have. With grad school beginning, articles like this help me refocus. Needless to say, I am declaring war on any representative, corporation, or group that supports ag-gag and seeks to further prevent transparency and compromise the first amendment.

If you are unfamiliar with Ag Gag laws, check out this site from the Humane Society of the United States. If you’d like, take the pledge to fight Ag. Gag laws here.

That being said, enjoy your weekend!


Image: Mother

Cows Overjoyed to See Grass

This video was posted on Youtube by a small family run dairy farm in Gloucestershire, England. These cows are so excited to be let out of their holding after a long winter that they literally frolic out into the pasture. This should an insight that animals feel the same stress of being pent-up as we do. For those who consume dairy or beef, please conscientious of where your produce comes from, how the cows have been cared for, whether they are in confines, the amount of produce they are forced to create, and their general welfare.

Here is a link to the ASPCA’s fight on farm animal cruelty, covering major issues with cow factory farms.

Source: thefunkyfarmer, Youtube, 3 April 2012.

FOX News Headlines “Shark Wrestler” of Threatened Species, Receives Social Media Backlash

1071159_10151525178291336_2068094968_oYesterday, FOX News circulated a video of a fisherman wrestling a 200-pound shark that he dragged onto land. The Sand Shark, listed as Threatened on the protection status scale, is known to be docile and non-aggressive unless persistently aggravated. The FOX News Insider article quotes phrases such as, “Check out the battle and Sudel’s interview above!”, and ,”…even after the seven-foot, 200-pound shark was on the line, Sudel had to literally drag the beast to the shore so he could get some pictures.” It is unfortunate and quite embarrassing that a major news channel has displayed this as news-worthy material and promoted it as respectable. The FOX News Facebook page has seen much backlash resulting from the posting as seen below:

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Of course there is always another side to a story, with supporters counteracting the backlash. This looks very bad on both the collective mentality of our culture and FOX News itself.

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Sources: Sand Tiger Shark, National Geographic, 2013; ‘The Battle Was On’: Watch Fisherman Wrestle 200-Pound Shark, FOX News Insider, 17 July 2013

The King Amendment

Following up on the 2013 Farm Bill – its rejection was not all bad news. An amendment on the bill, created by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, had the potential to nullify numerous state animal protection laws, including those regarding factory farm confinement, food safety, environmental protection, and worker safety. This has been coined the “King Amendment”.

The Senate version of the Farm Bill did not contain any language similar to the King Amendment.  The Humane Society of the United States and other groups strongly advocated to remove the King Amendment from the House Farm Bill on the floor, where the Farm Bill was rejected.

Hopefully, the next version of Farm Bill will be more sound in its entirety.

King’s amendment would have overturned voter-approved animal welfare ballot measures such as Proposition 2 in California (banning extreme confinement crates for pigs, veal calves and laying hens), Proposition 204 in Arizona (banning veal and pig gestation crates) and Amendment 10 in Florida (outlawing pig gestation crates). Photo by ASPCA

See current legal protections for farm animals here from ASPCA.

Sources: Anna West, The Humane Society of the United States, 16 May 2013; ASPCA, 2013