Tag: animal welfare
I rescued dozens, possibly hundreds, of pets from certain death the other night.
But before you call me a hero, or saint, you should know I only did it on Facebook, and only in a video game.
Pet Rescue Saga is the popular new puzzle game, downloaded more than 150 million times and playable on Facebook and through apps. It’s free, at first, but then, like a drug dealer who has handed out samples to get new clients hooked, it starts charging you to play more, or play more effectively, or to reach greater highs.
The game comes from King.com, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, which is similar and reportedly equally addictive.
When invitations to play Pet Rescue Saga first started showing up on my Facebook page, I wrongly assumed — given most of my Facebook friends are die-hard, do-gooding animal lovers — that it was a game that somehow was related to, or benefited, animal welfare causes.
It’s not, and it doesn’t.
There might be some unintentional similarities to the real world of animal rescue, such as walls being put up in front of you, and things piling up faster than you can handle them. But “Pet Rescue Saga” isn’t about rescuing pets in the animal welfare sense of the word. It’s mainly about busting blocks, and then more blocks, and then more blocks, by clicking on them to ensure that the “adorable” little pets atop them don’t get squished.
Given video games have a reputation for catering to our basest instincts — chopping off heads, running people over in cars and the like – I had hopes, especially when Facebook friends kept inviting me to play, that this one might actually be about a noble pursuit, or might even be educational.
No such luck. What it teaches us about pet rescue is that we can save animals by matching two or more blocks of the same color.
Still, I ended up spending an hour playing it on Facebook, which annoyingly notified me to “share” every time I passed some friend’s record, before it got to the point where further play would require an investment of money. (That — having to fork up some money — generally prevents and/or cures any addictions to which I might fall victim.)
There are hundreds of levels of the game, and the higher you go (or the more you spend) the more tools you get to “save pets” – like sizzling rockets, hammers and exploding bombs.
In playing it, one becomes so focused on the blocks that he forgets about the animals. The endangered animals really seem a well-contrived afterthought, as if the gamemakers thought putting pets in need of rescue atop the stacks of blocks — as opposed to pots of gold or damsels in distress – might give it some relevance, or, pet rescue being a popular cause, add to its popularity.
“Wait! Don’t forget about the animals! ” says a review of the game on gamezebo.com. “Some levels of Pet Rescue Saga have dogs, pigs, and pigeons trapped on stacks of blocks, or wedged in columns. When you successfully clear away blocks, said animals drop safely to the ground. However, since many levels of Pet Rescue Saga scroll vertically, the animals on tall columns are in constant danger of getting squished on the top of the screen. Nothing ruins your day like the anguished squeal of a piglet.”
Squishing aside, it’s nice to see a game that’s seemingly about rescuing and saving, as opposed to killing and maiming.
It would be much nicer to see a game that was really about rescuing and saving animals, or that really taught compassion, or at least tried to.
I’m not necessarily saying the makers and marketers of the game are trying to capitalize on tender-hearted pet lovers, or that they mislead people to think the game might have some legitimate connection to the actual world of animal rescue.
But, after playing the game, I did start receiving emails from the gamemaker — far too many emails — with subject lines like: “Pets in danger. Help them now!” Clicking on the link in the email took me directly to the game’s Facebook app.
I don’t keep up much anymore with the latest developments in video games. So I don’t know if phony altruism is the latest video game trend: Bust up the blocks and find a cure for cancer. Bust up the blocks to feed the starving children.
Maybe there are some truly altruistic video games out there. The Game Show Network came close to that last month when it introduced Pet Pals Slots, a limited-edition game on Facebook. It earmarked a portion of money made from gameplay in November — up to $30,000 — to go to Best Friends Animal Society, providing food, medical care and shelter for animals at the organization’s Utah sanctuary. In other words, while playing a mostly mindless game, those who played Pet Pals Slots, at least in a way, were saving pets.
Video games, with exceptions, are rarely educational, and I don’t really expect them to serve as our moral compass. (More often they seem aimed at sending that compass haywire.)
And of course they’re not obligated to share the wealth they make with any deserving causes they borrow their themes from.
But how cool would it be to see — in addition to less squishing — more of that?
Posted by John Woestendiek January 9th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rescue, animal welfare, animals, app, blocks, bombs, candy crush, cause, contributions, crushed, dogs, donations, exploit, exploiting, facebook, game, games, hammers, king, levels, mission, money, pet, pet rescue, pet rescue saga, pets, philanthropy, pigs, profits, reality, rescue, rockets, share, video
Alyssa Milano, whose pleas to help feed hungry children can be seen on TV, may be responsible for a South Korean family missing a few meals.
On the other hand, she helped save a dog.
An abused and neglected dog that drew the attention of a South Korean animal rescue group — a dog that the organization said was being raised for its meat — has been flown to the U.S., her airfare covered by the actress.
The Fuzzy Pet Foundation in California acknowledged Milano’s contribution to rescuing the dog in this video , posted on YouTube last week.
The foundation learned of the dog’s situation in April of 2013 when it was contacted by CARE, a South Korean animal rescue organization that was seeking to find the dog a new home.
The dog, a Jindo who was given the name Bomi (derived from the word “spring” in Korean), was being raised by a family that, after repeatedly breeding her, planned to eat her, officials at the two organizations said.
She had been chained to a metal pole and was covered with mange and open sores, rescuers said. CARE said she had been bred several times, and that a recent litter of her puppies was found dead and frozen. CARE treated Bomi’s skin problems, and went to work trying to socialize her.
After being contacted by the South Korean group, The Fuzzy Pet Foundation began looking into shipping the dog to the U.S., and making arrangements for foster care and veterinary care.
“As responsible rescuers, we wanted to make sure we could provide Bomi with top-notch veterinary care, and secure her a forever home,” said Sheila Choi, founder and CEO of the foundation. “We also wanted to have a proper plan in place so that we were not just naively flying an animal to a different country without considering the animal overpopulation crisis happening everywhere in this world.”
Milano, whose ads for UNICEF seek to raise funds to feed hungry children, offered to pay Bomi’s airfare.
Bomi flew from Seoul to Los Angeles on November 12, and has been living in a foster home.
“This has been a magical time for all of us who have worked so hard to rescue Bomi,” Choi said. “We are truly humbled by Alyssa’s support, and honored to be in the position to save these precious lives.”
A small percentage of South Koreans still eat dog — mostly the poor, but also some well-heeled types who believe dog meat improves their health and renews their vigor. (South Korea is also the capital of dog cloning, though those efforts have been focused on pet dogs, as opposed to livestock dogs.)
Bomi, at last report, was still available for adoption. Inquiries can be e-mailed to email@example.com.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, alyssa milano, animal, animal welfare, bomi, care, cloning, dog, dog farms, dog meat, dogs, farm, farm dogs, foster, fuzzy pet foundation, jindo, korea, los angeles, meat, pets, rescue, seoul, sheila choi, south korea
Bob Barker — game show host, outspoken proponent of animal rights and a man who has been putting his money where his mouth is — turned 90 yesterday.
And he was back on TV for the occasion.
Barker, who stepped down after nearly 35 years as host of CBS’s The Price Is Right in 2007, returned in an episode (taped last month) that aired yesterday, during the show’s celebration of Pet Adoption Week. He was greeted with a resounding round of applause from the audience.
Barker was known for his tradition of signing off with the words, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” His successor, comedian Drew Carey, has continued the sign-off.
Since then he has campaigned for controlling pet overpopulation, fought for elephants and bears in captivity, supported anti-whaling efforts and funded college animal law programs.
In 1994, he established the DJ&T Foundation with the goal of helping solve the tragic problem of animal overpopulation. The Foundation funds low cost spay/neuter clinics and subsidizes hundreds of spay/neuter voucher programs across the country in an effort to help control animal overpopulation.
Barker’s involvement with animal welfare is said to have begun in 1979, the same year he became a vegetarian. He has credited his wife, Dorothy Jo, with that, and after her death in 1981 he intensified his efforts for animal rights causes.
He was named national spokesman for “Be Kind to Animals Week” in May 1985. In 1994 he founded the DJ&T Foundation, named after his wife and mother. He has contributed millions for animal spaying and neutering programs and animal rescue. In 2010, he donated $2.5 million to PETA to open a new Los Angeles office. The Bob Barker Building opened in 2012 on Sunset Boulevard.
He has also funded animal law and ethics programs at several law schools, including a $1 million donation to the University of Virginia, $1 million dollar to his alma mater Drury, and endowments to Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Columbia, UCLA, Northwestern and Georgetown.
In 2007, Barker was presented with the first ever Animal Legal Defense Fund Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of a life committed to animals and achievements made on their behalf at ALDF’s “Future of Animal Law” conference held at Harvard Law School.
In a recent interview with Parade, Barker revealed that, in addition to being a lover of dogs, bears and elephants, he also has a soft spot for rabbits.
“One day about 10 years ago, my housekeeper was coming to work and it was a cold day. And there was this little baby rabbit, sitting shivering in a yard about a block and a half from my home. She brought it home to me, and he is still thriving.
“He’s about 10 and a half years old, which is very old for a rabbit, but he’s getting good care so that he lasts long. He follows me around like a dog. He loves to be scratched, and I scratch him by the hour. I’ll scratch him until I get cramps in my hands. It’s true. He deserves it because he’s a fine, fine animal.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 90, 90th birthday, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, appearance, bears, birthday, bob barker, dogs, donations, elephants, game show host, happy birthday bob barker, neuter, overpopulation, peta, pets, philanthropy, price is right, return, spay
I’m a big fan of dogs, and not a fan of dentistry at all, so as you might expect I’ve got some problems with dogs being used to test out dental implants, in hopes of making better and safer ones for humans.
Especially considering that dogs are suffering and dying in the process, as The Humane Society of the United States says is the case at Georgia Regents University.
The HSUS last week released this report, containing undercover footage obtained during its three-month-long investigation at GRU. The experiments lead to two questions in my mind.
First, since the research is supposed to benefit humans, why not use humans for the tests? I’m sure there are plenty of people who are in need of dental implants and who, unable to afford them, might be willing to volunteer. I myself might take the risk, assuming that the researchers don’t insist on killing me afterwards to get a sample of my jawbone.
And that’s question number two: Why is it necessary to kill a dog after he’s already made an unwilling contribution to science — or at least a contribution to us humans being able to have gap-free permanent false teeth and not having to mess with things like denture adhesives?
As one dentist told the Humane Society, it’s not.
“In the two studies I reviewed, human research subjects could have been used, given that the products were already approved by the Food and Drug Administration and bone biopsies are commonly done in human studies,” said James P. Jensvold, DDS.
“Animals used in research are often ‘sacrificed’ at the end of the study, and this is accepted as standard practice without taking into consideration the unnecessary emotional and physical suffering that the animals must endure,” Jensvold added. “As a dental student and oral and maxillofacial surgery resident, I witnessed laboratory animals being treated as little different than a test tube, which is inconsistent with the values of compassionate healthcare.”
“Dogs don’t need to die for frivolous dental experiments,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. “It’s painful to watch these forlorn dogs sacrificed for these questionable purposes…”
If you tend to distrust dentists, and Wayne Pacelle, perhaps you’ll believe actress Kim Basinger, who narrates the HSUS report:
“GRU buys dogs from a Class B dealer who’s under federal investigation,” she notes. “Dogs like Shy Guy, along with others, who may have been famiily pets, were all used for unnecessary dental experiments. Their teeth were pulled out and replaced. It’s very painful, just look into their eyes.”
(Dogs used in the experiments, after having their teeth removed, are given a canine version of dental implants, not human ones, like you find in those freakish — to me, anyway — ads for Pedigree Dentastix.)
The HSUS investigator witnessed dogs having their teeth pulled out and replaced with implants. Once the experiments were over, the dogs were euthanized for a small sample of their jaw bone. GRU has been conducting dental implant research on random-source Class B dogs for years.
There are only six random-source Class B Dealers still active in the U.S. They are permitted to gather dogs and cats from various sources, including auctions, “free to good home” ads, online sources, flea markets, and even animal control and some shelter facilities — and resell them to research facilities. There have been cases of stolen pets ending up in research laboratories via ClassB dealers, the HSUS says.
The dealer who sold the dogs to GRU, Kenneth Schroeder, has previously been charged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including obtaining dogs from unauthorized sources, according to the HSUS.
Dr. Mark Hamrick, Senior Vice President for Research at Georgia Regents University, issued the school’s response to the HSUS allegations:
“As an institution, we are committed to research that will provide a direct benefit to patient lives by restoring function to damaged and diseased organs and tissues … The Food and Drug Administration, which provides oversight for medical device safety and procedures including dental implants, requires preclinical studies in animals demonstrating that the device or procedure is both safe and effective for its intended use in humans … The research being done with dogs is neither frivolous nor unnecessary, as alleged by the investigation, and is performed in order to develop safe, effective dental procedures for people.”
The HSUS says the studies are being done at the university in part to compare a dental implant invented by researchers at GRU, in conjunction with a private company, with that of a competitor.
According to the HSUS, 65,000 dogs per year are used for research, testing, and education in the U.S.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, class b, dealers, dental, dentist, dentistry, dogs, experiments, georgia regents university, gru, humane society of the united states, humans, implants, investigation, kim basinger, laboratory, medicine, pets, random source, science, teeth, tests, undercover, video
Once a week, Meredith College art professor Shannon Johnstone takes a homeless dog for a walk to the top of what used to be a landfill.
The Raleigh area landfill has a new life now, as a park.
The dogs she photographs there are still waiting for one.
They all come from the Wake County Animal Center, where, after being abandoned or surrendered, they’ve been living anywhere from a couple of weeks to more than a year.
The park, located atop a 470-foot peak formed from 20 year’s worth of Raleigh’s trash, serves as a scenic backdrop, but also, for Johnstone, as a metaphor.
Johnstone has photographed 66 “landfill dogs” so far — either on her climb up or atop the hill, according to a column in the Raleigh News & Observer.
Shot at what’s now one of the highest points in Wake County, the pictures of throwaway dogs playing atop a hill made from other things people threw away are sometimes haunting, sometimes hopeful, sometimes a little of both.
Some of the dogs she photographed have found homes right away; others remained at the animal shelter. Five have died.
Johnstone has photographed shelter dogs before. While she declined to name the city, one project she was involved in photographed animals before, during and after euthanasia.
She said the idea for the current project came from Wake County’s former environmental director, who envisioned dozens of dogs at the park.
Instead Johnstone brings them there one at a time, and doesn’t remove their leashes (except later with Photoshop).
Landfill Dogs, according to its website, is a project with three overlapping components: fine art photographs, adoption promotions, and environmental advocacy.
The project was made possible by a year-long sabbatical granted by Meredith College’s Environmental Sustainability Initiative, and with cooperation from the staff and volunteers at Wake County Animal Center.
(Top photo by Shannon Johnstone; bottom photo by Corey Lowenstein / News & Observer)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoptable, animal welfare, animals, art, dogs, environment, hill, landfill, meredith college, mountain, north wake, park, pets, photographs, photography, professor, raleigh, shannon johnstone, shelters, trash, wake county, wake county animal center
Nearly three months ago, authorities in Las Vegas dropped an investigation into a man’s complaint that his neighbor was abusing his dog.
Last week, though, that same dog owner was arrested — thanks to the persistent efforts of the neighbor who, after his earlier complaint led nowhere, went on to videotape the man mistreating his dog and than gave the evidence to officials.
Charged with felony cruelty to animals was Roy Cozart, 30, who beat his pit bull, Kilo, with a rock and the handle of a hammer and threw him against a wall, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson announced Friday in a press release.
“Animal abuse is a serious offense that will not be tolerated,” the district attorney said. “We take all allegations of abuse very seriously and pursue criminal charges when appropriate.”
But as KTNV pointed out in a news report, the initial complaint against the neighbor came months ago.
While authorities apparently didn’t see the original complaint as that serious, they now say Kilo was abused multiple times between July 15 and Oct. 13.
The difference, this time, was apparently the video.
Even after that, though, an animal control investigator who later visited Cozart’s home, reported that the dog, though he had cuts and bruises on his face, “appeared happy.”
It wasn’t until a week later that the dog was seized and examined by veterinarians who said they saw signs of abuse. Kilo is now in a foster home and is reported to be doing well, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“We are thankful the D.A. has taken animal cruelty seriously and has brought the appropriate charges against Roy Cozart,” said Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters for Animals. “We are confident that policies and procedures addressing serious allegations of cruelty will improve as more animal cruelty cases are prosecuted under Cooney’s law,” she said.
Cooney’s Law was passed by the Nevada State Legislature in 2011 making animal cruelty a felony. It’s named after a 3-year-old beagle from Reno who was killed when her owner cut her stomach open, thinking that a mouse crawled inside the dog. The owner was charged with a misdemeanor under the law in effect at the time.
Now it’s a felony, punishable by one to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
That’s progress, but only if the law is swiftly and strongly enforced.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal, animal control, animal welfare, animals, arrest, arrested, cellphone, clark county, cooney's law, district attorney, dog, dogs, enforcement, evidence, felony, investigation, kilo, las vegas, law, misdemeanor, neighbor, nevada, nevada voters for animals, owner, pets, pit bull, steve wolfson, video
You can call me Fuddy Duddy. You can call me Party Pooper. This Halloween, like every Halloween, I find myself put off by the effort, and money, we Americans put into dressing up our dogs for the occasion.
In trying to figure out why I feel that way, I can pin down four reasons.
One is the annoyance, and safety risk, elaborate costumes can cause for dogs. Two is that our dogs, though they might register their displeasure, don’t get to vote on being dressed up solely for the amusement of ourselves. Three is we’re tinkering, if only for a night, with something that’s already perfect. Dogs don’t need costumes any more than Mona Lisa needs a makeover.
And four is the pipedreamy thought that the $300 million we spend on costumes for pets every year could do a lot of good if it could somehow be funneled to some worthy dog-related cause.
A not-overly-elaborate costume, worn by a dog for a few minutes, doesn’t bother me. But we tend to take things to extremes when we get into decorating mode — resulting in using dyes to make them look like other animals, or, as in the case above, TV characters.
“Creative dog groomer” Catherine Opson appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Tuesday night, showcasing five of her designs — a dog transformed into a koi pond, one dyed to resemble a leopard, one zombie, one depicting nearly the entire cast of Sesame Street, and another depicting characters from the Simpsons.
Her work is impressive, and a small part of me thinks it’s kinda cool. She uses safe dyes, and the dogs, at least while on air, didn’t seem too humiliated (though they were mostly poodles).
But the larger part of me (and I’m not referring to my stomach) can’t help but feel a little troubled by what seems our increasing tendency to, more and more elaborately, decorate our dogs.
Every October, the news media, websites and blogs go nuts when it comes to costumed dogs, promulgating more of the activity. (ohmidog! is proud to be the only dog blog in the galaxy that has made it, until now, all the way to Halloween without doing so.)
If there is any creature that is entertaining and endearing enough just as it is, it is a dog. If there’s any creature that doesn’t need a makeover, it’s a dog. If there’s any creature we should be able to accept, savor and celebrate just as it is, it’s a dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 300 million, americans, amusement, animal welfare, animals, behavior, catherine opson, characters, costumes, creative groomer, decorate, decorating, dog, dogs, dyeing, dyes, entertainment, grooming, halloween, jimmy kimmel, jimmy kimmel live, koi pond, leopard, money, pets, sesame street, simpsons, species, spend, the barking dead, zombies