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Tag: festival

LA supervisors condemn dog meat trade

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Los Angeles County Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday to call on the Chinese and South Korean governments to stop slaughtering canines for human consumption.

With the annual Yulin dog meat festival approaching, the supervisors added their voice to the growing international chorus of opposition to the 10-day celebration of dog meat in the Guangxi region of China and to the dog meat trade in general.

“Los Angeles County is home to millions of people who care deeply about preventing animal abuse and suffering,” Supervisor Hilda Solis wrote in her motion. “On behalf of our residents, I ask the Board of Supervisors to join me in condemning the Yulin dog meat festival, and the rampant abuse and torture of dogs and cats for human consumption in both China and South Korea.”

The festival, which has faced growing protests, takes place in June.

The resolution is similar to one passed last year by the Berkeley City Council.

In January, a resolution was introduced at the national level by Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) that asks the U.S. government to condemn the festival.

“My legislation condemns the festival and calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to impose a ban on the killing and eating of dogs as part of Yulin’s festival, enact anti-animal cruelty laws banning the dog meat trade, and enforce China’s food safety laws regulating the processing and sale of animal products,” Hastings said.

An estimated 10,000 dogs are skinned alive during the 10-day Yulin festival, then butchered and eaten as a way to mark the summer solstice. Some of the animals are pets that have been lost or stolen.

An estimated 2 million dogs are slaughtered and eaten each year in South Korea.

“Anything you can do to help us fight this … most people don’t know about it,” Valarie Ianniello, executive director for the Sherman Oaks-based Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation, told the supervisors. The organization is one of several that work to raise awareness about and help rescue dogs from farms and festivals in China, Cambodia and South Korea.

“It’s important for everyone to get involved in the anti-animal abuse and torture movement,” Solis said in an e-mailed statement Monday. “This isn’t about a cultural difference. This is about pets being stolen and slaughtered in an inhumane way.”

(Photo: Reuters)

China’s dog meat festival opens to protests

The annual dog meat festival in the Southern China city of Yulin opened yesterday — despite what was probably the heaviest barrage of criticism and protest in its history.

As vendors slaughtered dogs and cooked their meat in dozens of restaurants across the city, animal welfare activists attempted to disrupt the opening of the 10-day festival.

Some bought dogs from dealers to save them from being slaughtered. Others argued with local residents, and police were intervening to prevent physical confrontations, according to news reports.

“We came to Yulin to tell people here dogs are our friends. They should not kill dogs in such a cruel way and many of the dogs they killed are pet dogs,” said Yang Yuhua, a volunteer from the central city of Chongqing.

While most of the meat used at the festival comes from farm dogs raised for that purpose, critics say strays and stolen pet dogs often end up in the mix.

One day into the festival, local residents were complaining that outsiders were ruining the tradition.

“It’s been a tradition for years for us to celebrate the festival. We can’t change it simply because they (animal lovers) love dogs,” a local resident told The Associated Press. “They don’t want us to eat dog meat. We eat dog meat to celebrate the festival, but since they’ve come here, they’ve ruined our mood completely.”

Promoters say eating dog meat during the summer helps ward off the heat and maintain a healthy metabolism.

More than 10,000 animals are killed each year for the summer solstice festival, which has become a focal point for those seeking to halt the tradition of eating dog in China and other Asian countries.

An estimated 10 million to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China.

This year, the list of celebrities speaking out against the practice grew.

Matt Damon, Pamela Anderson, Minnie Driver and Joaquin Phoenix were among those appearing in a video (above) produced by the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation.

Yulin’s local government has sought to distance itself from the event, forbidding its employees from attending and limiting its size by shutting down some dog markets and slaughter houses.

“The so-called dog-meat eating festival has never been officially recognized by government or by any regulations or laws,” said an official reached by telephone at the city government’s general office.

“We hold meetings every time before the so-called festival, discussing counter measures such as deploying local police, business and sanitary authorities to inspect and deal with those who sell dogs,” he said.

Between those efforts and the international criticism that seems to increase every year, some organizations say the number of dogs killed for the event might be decreasing.

Doggin’ it at the Black Walnut Festival

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Ace dragged me down to Bethania’s annual Black Walnut Festival over the weekend, but I don’t think the nuts were the reason he was pulling so hard on the leash.

More likely it was the smell of barbecue that had been wafting up the street since the night before.

blackwalnutfestival 046On the two block walk to Bethania’s Visitor Center, he exhibited more determination in his stride than usual. Once we got there — nowhere near quickly enough for him — he got his reward.

We both ate well, him especially.

In addition to getting half of my barbecue and half of my cole slaw (but none of my macaroni and cheese), Ace worked his magic to get frequent hand-outs from the crowd of festival goers — everything from Moravian sugar cake, to slow-cooked pork and beef, to hamburger buns, four of the latter from one table alone.

He got to meet a few dogs, including Roxy, shown above, who is the mascot for Pooch Couture, one of the vendors on hand for the festival.

Wearing sunglasses and a tutu, Roxy immediately attracted Ace’s interest.

blackwalnutfestival 051So did a poodle, at least until Ace realized she was made of wood — one of many arts and crafts on display.

Walking through the crowd, his eyes would latch on to anyone carrying a plate. Every time someone stopped me to ask what breed or breeds he was, he’d get tired of hearing the explanation — it takes a while — and tug me toward the barbecue tent.

blackwalnutfestival 058Bethania, the second oldest Moravian settlement in North Carolina, holds the Black Walnut Festival every fall.

Based on the amount of food and attention he got, I’m sure Ace will want to go back next year.

“Last Minutes wih Oden”

The short documentary above — and, be warned, it will make you cry — chronicles the last minutes of a dog named Oden.

One of more than 6,500 submissions from thousands of artists and filmmakers, “Last Minutes with Oden” won top honors in a video contest sponsored by Vimeo, the online video sharing website.

The video focuses on Jason Wood and his dog Oden, who got cancer and had a leg amputated last year. But the cancer spread, leading Wood to make the anguishing decision to put down the dog who taught him how to love.

The video by Eliot Rausch documents the last day of Oden’s life. Vimeo’s panel of judges named it the best documentary, and the best video, and Vimeo presented the owners with a grant of $25,000. The awards were presented last month in New York City.

Jeremy Boxer, Co-Director of the Vimeo Festival + Awards called the video “one of those rare, intimate shorts that leads with its heart and soul.”

Take another little piece of my heart

Already on this trip — with more than four months and 14,000 miles logged so far — I’ve left my heart in a number of places, and we haven’t even gotten to San Francisco yet.

To name just a few, Bandera, Texas, Best Friends in southern Utah; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Provincetown, Massachussets; Bar Harbor, Maine; and now, Saugerties, New York.

The latter, being my grandparent’s hometown, already had a piece of it; and, to be more accurate, I didn’t really leave my heart in any of those places, they just got it purring and pumping again.

When one leaves my grandparent’s former house, they can — and I’d recommend doing it very carefully — turn left or right on Highway 212.

Left is Saugerties, a tidy little village that’s like stepping into the distant past. Its main claim to fame, nowadays, is antiques. Every block downtown seems to have several.

Turn right and you end up in Woodstock, an art colony that gained more fame when its name was used for the legendary 1969 concert, which was held 40 miles away. “By the time we got to Bethel” wouldn’t have sounded nearly as cool.

Once I was 9 or so, I’d visit Woodstock whenever we went to visit my grandparents — first at the urging of my sister, who once persuaded my brother and I to walk there (it was about six miles), later on my own volition.

There we could see art, and funky shops and hippies — a world far removed from the quiet one my grandparents lived in, whose beat never varied, muted and steady as the tick-tock of the grandfather clock in the dining room.

I’m sure they looked at Woodstock’s transition as if it were an alien takeover, and annoying, too, what with all the added traffic, including lots of Volkswagen vans, that zoomed by their house once Woodstock became a destination — first for artists, later for hippy pilgrimages.

On our visit last week, Ace seemed to take Woodstock — still an artsy place, since the 1970’s a souveniry one as well — in stride. He’s actually yawning in the picture above, as opposed to singing along with Janis Joplin, whose cardboard cut-out stands behind him.

We spent a couple of hours there, and can report its still a great place for people watching — the real ones, anyway. The cardboard ones get boring pretty quick.

We spent a couple of hours on the quieter, non tie-dyed streets of Saugerties and made a quick visit to the Saugerties Lighthouse, whose bright beam of light  guided ships along the Hudson River from 1869 up until 1954.

Then the lighthouse keeper was replaced by a machine, and later the lighthouse went into disuse.

It was scheduled for demolition until residents got it listed as historic in 1979. Now fully restored, it serves as a bed and breakfast (pet-friendly, but it costs $200 a night, and rooms need to be booked at least a year in advance.)

Getting there by land requires a half-mile walk through marshes — recommended at low tide. It was quiet but for woodpeckers pecking, birds chirping and squirrels scurrying.

After that, we went back to our campground, located just across the street from “grandpa’s fire house,” as we called it.

Rather than put out fires, as my grandfather did, I started one, then circled around it, thinking about all the memories the day brought back as I tried to find a spot where I could get the heat without the smoke. I popped open my can of Spam, and cut it into big chunks. I slid a stick through the middle of each piece and held them over the fire a few minutes to give the flavor a little more character.

Ace drooled as he watched. (Of course he got some.)

I went to bed early, under my sleeping bag and two of Ace’s blankets, thinking warm thoughts on a cold night.

Mountainside Encounters: Dog Mountain

Names: Too many to mention.

Breeds: Too many to mention.

Encountered: At Dog Mountain, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Backstory: Despite the death this year of its founder, Dog Mountain held its annual Dog Fest over the weekend — this time making it a celebration of not just dogs, but also of the life and art of Stephen Huneck.

Hundreds showed up for the event.

“We know he would have wanted everyone to have a great time,” said Gwen Huneck, widow of the artist who commited suicide earlier this year. “That is, after all, why the artist created Dog Mountain and the Dog Chapel. Stephen wanted families with their dogs to have fun and enjoy nature in a place where they can bond with their furry family members as well as other dog lovers.”

We brought you the story of artist Stephen Huneck and Dog Mountain in a post earlier today. But these photos from Sunday’s festival may best explain what it’s all about. In a word, dogs.

“Stephen believed having dogs in our lives encourages us to love,  laugh and play more often, all qualities that are good for the soul,” she added.

“He also believed being around dogs makes it easier for people to interact with each other and make new friends.” 

 

Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of “Travels With Ace” — the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing the country.

To see all our roadside encounters click here.

Rescue group calls shooting unwarranted

A D.C. police officer shot and killed what law enforcement authorities described as a pit bull during a festival in Adams Morgan on Sunday afternoon — an action the dog’s caretaker said was uncalled for.

Aaron Block, 25, of Dupont Circle, said he was walking 2-year-old “Parrot,” who he described as a Shar-Pei mix, up 18th Street when the dog suddenly turned around and bit a poodle that was passing by.

Block said he managed to separate the two dogs, and was subduing Parrot when police arrived. A police officer took over, putting his knee in the middle of Parrot’s back while the dog was on the ground.

According to Block, the officer then grabbed Parrot by his neck and threw him over a banister at the Brass Knob antique store. Block said the dog was getting up when the officer shot him.

“The officer drew his gun in an unnecessary act of cowboy gunslinging law enforcement and shot my dog amidst a crowd of thousands,” said Block, who was fostering Parrot while he was waiting to be adopted through Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “The problems here are almost too numerous to count,” he told the Washington Post.

The Post, which ran this photograph of the incident, by Dylan Singleton, also published the full police report, which was obtained by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

The officer, 25-year-veteran Scott Fike, fired one shot, fatally wounding the dog.

Jacob Kishter, commander of the 3rd Police District, said that the dog was running at the officer, and called the shooting justified.

Tony De Pass, 67, a former D.C. police officer who lives in Northwest, said that the dog was charging directly at him when Fike drew his gun and fired and that “if the officer hadn’t shot the dog, the dog would have got one of us, either me or the officer…What he did, I would have done the same damn thing.”

Block said Parrot was a “very people-friendly dog, with absolutely no bite history.”

On it’s website, the rescue organization called Parrot’s death tragic and unwarranted: “We have received numerous questions about the incident, and, because news outlets have varied significantly in recounting what happened, we have spoken to as many eye witnesses as possible, and have requested and obtained the official police report.”

“According to multiple eye witnesses, Parrot had already been subdued and was being held securely by his foster, Aaron Block, when the police arrived on the scene.  Parrot was not ‘out of control.’

Lucky Dog also disputes that the dog was charging at the officer. “A witness who was standing on the Brass Doorknob’s porch saw what transpired in the stairwell.  He told us that Parrot was stunned from the fall and had only just gotten to his feet when the officer drew his gun and opened fire without provocation.”