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Tag: protests

City of Eugene ends downtown dog ban

ban1KEZI

City councilors in Eugene have opted to let lapse a ban on dogs in part of downtown — but at the same time many of them are saying the ban “worked,” that it was never intended to be permanent, and that it may be back someday.

Yes, they are all over the place, those councilors. But as of Nov. 1 dogs can return to the center city area bounded by Lincoln Street to the west, Eighth Avenue to the north, Pearl Street to the east and 10th/11th Avenue to the south.

The ban did not apply to owning a dog within the boundaries, just to those visitors who brought their dogs along to walk the streets or dine in restaurants.

Critics maintained the ban, approved by the city council in April, was actually aimed at homeless people and their dogs and encourage them to — if they wanted to keep their dogs — relocate elsewhere.

The ban was one of several initiatives the city launched over the summer to try to make the area safer and more welcoming, such as an increased police presence downtown, more programs and events in public spaces within the area and “expanded outreach” to chronic offenders on the streets.

Some councilors, and the organization that pushed for the dog ban to be enacted — The Downtown Stakeholders Group, made up of downtown business and property owners — say they could still seek to get it reinstated.

The ban was passed with the understanding that it would expire in six months if the council didn’t vote to extend it.

eugeneweeklyNow, the council has opted, after the ban met with much protest, to let it expire.

After it does, on Nov. 1, reinstating would require the council to hold a public hearing and two public votes.

Councilors say that, taken together, the initiatives improved the atmosphere downtown and attracted more people to public spaces. But they say measuring which particular initiatives were most responsible for that is difficult.

The city has yet to compile information on how many citations were issued for dog ban violations, or whether they were more often issued to the homeless, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

During a council meeting last Monday, three people encouraged councilors to let the ban lapse, and one compared it to racism.

Eugene resident Mel Hite accused police officers of stopping and ticketing dogs controlled by the homeless and ignoring dogs controlled by “housed owners … It appears this is doggy racism based on the class of the person holding the leash,” she said.

(Photos of Eugene protests, from KEZI (top) and Eugene Weekly)

A kind of ban may kind of be in effect at next month’s Yulin dog meat festival

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It might not be permanent, and it might not be too strictly enforced, but Chinese authorities have banned dog meat sales at this year’s upcoming Yulin dog-eating festival, according to two U.S. nonprofit organizations.

Thousands of dogs are slaughtered, cooked and served each year at the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival festival in Yulin to mark the summer solstice.

This year, though, amid growing protests and international opposition, the Yulin government has, at least reportedly, banned the city’s dog meat vendors from selling the meat for one week starting June 15.

That’s according to several animal welfare organizations who say they’ve received “word” — if not documentation — of the ban.

The 10-day festival is slated to begin on June 21.

The Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project and Humane Society International (HSI), both based in the U.S., said in a joint statement that they’d confirmed the ban through unidentified local contacts.

“Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade,” Andrea Gung, executive director of the Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project, said in the statement.

The organizations attributed the change to Yulin’s new Communist Party secretary, Mo Gongming, who reportedly wants to improve Yulin’s national and international image.

The ban will carry penalties, with fines of up to $14,500 and jail time for violators.

Yulin officials are not verifying the report, but they say they’ve never officially sanctioned the festival in the first place, and some apparently decline to acknowledge it exists.

“There’s never been a dog meat festival in Yulin,” the Los Angeles Times quoted a municipal official as saying this week.

While some media outlets are reporting the festival has been cancelled, that doesn’t appear to be the case, National Geographic reports.

“The Yulin dog meat festival is not over just yet,” Peter Li, a China policy specialist at Humane Society International, said in a statement. “But if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolize China’s crime-fueled dog meat trade.”

People in parts of China, as well as other Asian countries, have prized dog meat for centuries, though its consumption has been on the decline as pets become more popular, especially among younger people. Some older residents still consider it a delicacy with health benefits.

The dog meat festival, on the other hand, is relatively new, having started in 2010 and quickly become an object of international scorn.

The festival’s dog meat sales have dropped each year since 2014, according to Li. He expects, even with the ban, such sales will be going on during the festival.

“It won’t be public resistance … they’ll probably do it secretly,” he said. “They’ll probably sell it at night, or they’ll supply dog meat to restaurants. They just won’t sell it at the market.”

While he hadn’t seen anything documenting the ban, the organization heard about it from local dog meat traders, as well as three visitors to a local market, he said.

Most Chinese people would like to see an end to the festival, according to a survey cited by China’s official New China News Agency.

“It is embarrassing to us that the world wrongly believes that the brutally cruel Yulin festival is part of Chinese culture,” Qin Xiaona, director of the Capital Animal Welfare Association charity, a Chinese animal welfare group, told the agency. “It isn’t.”

(For more stories about the dog meat trade, click here.)

(Photo: A vendor waits for buyers at a market in Yulin during last year’s festival; by Wu Hong/ EPA, via NBC)

“Dog’s Purpose” has solid opening weekend

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“A Dog’s Purpose” opened over the weekend to protests, mixed reviews and box office receipts that, while impressive, were slightly less than those it expected before controversy arose over the treatment of one of its canine stars.

The film pulled in $18.4 million over the weekend — less than the estimated $24 million expected before a video was leaked showing a German shepherd resisting efforts to have him perform a stunt.

After the video appeared on TMZ, PETA called for a boycott of the movie.

Initially, many of those involved in making the movie — including its director and actor Josh Gad — said the video was disturbing.

Gad, who supplies the voice of the continually reincarnating dog in the movie, posted on Twitter that the footage left him “shaken and sad … As the proud owner of a rescued dog and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.”

The days leading up to the movie’s release saw a scheduled press preview canceled, Gad go silent, and a well choreographed defense of the movie that included appearances by its star, Dennis Quaid, who insisted no animals were harmed and that the video was misleading.

Even the American Humane Association, which monitors the treatment of animals in TV and movie productions — after suspending the monitor assigned to the film and before its investigation was finished — came out in support of the movie in a PETA-bashing letter published by its CEO.

The studio provided additional footage of the dog willingly performing the stunt during rehearsals to support their stance that he was not being mistreated. The movie’s makers also questioned why the video was leaked a year and a half after it was made — and the week before the movie’s opening — suggesting something nefarious was going on.

Dog lovers, generally a united bunch, found themselves on both sides of the issue — some saying the video showed the dog was pushed too far and supporting the boycott; others saying the leaked video lacked context, that the stunt was eventually called off for that day after the dog resisted, and that nothing cruel took place.

For many fans of the best selling book, there was a feeling that the movie’s sweet, dog-loving message didn’t deserve to be tarnished by a video they viewed as dubious.

Forty-five seconds of the video shows the German shepherd being urged to get into the pool, and dipped into it against his will. Another shorter piece of the video — believed to have been recorded on a different day — shows him struggling in the water and going under.

The water in the pool was being churned by outboard motors to create the effect of river rapids.

While the dog had willingly jumped into the pool during rehearsals, the location of where he was entering the pool was changed on the day of filming.

On opening night, there were small protests, including one outside the Arclight theater in Hollywood. Dozens of protesters held up signs that read, “A dog’s purpose is to be loved. Period” and they chanted “There’s no excuse for animal abuse! Dog’s aren’t props!”

PETA and others argued that the effects the movie makers were after could have been achieved with computer graphics, but the movie’s makers said that would have been too expensive.

Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media’s film was released by Universal Pictures, and its weekend receipts were nearly enough to cover the estimated cost of making it, about $22 million.

“A Dog’s Purpose” came in second to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split,” which tells the story of a man with dissociative identity disorder who takes three teens hostage.

Industry consultants say the leaked video and boycott had some impact on the film’s opening, but apparently a minimal one.

“A Dog’s Purpose is based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, which has spent longer on USA Today’s best-selling book list than any dog book since “Marley & Me.”

(Photo: Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)

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.

Plans for whale meat dog treats dropped

A Japanese company has canned its plan to buy the meat of endangered whales killed in the waters around Iceland and sell it in the form of luxury dog treats.

An Icelandic firm, Hvalur hf,  set to resume commercial whaling next month, had planned to kill up to 174 endangered fin whales and sell the meat to Tokyo-based Michinoku Farm, the Telegraph reported.

Protests from environmentalists prompted the Japanese company to cancel its order, but the whale hunt is still on.

“It’s outrageous,” said Claire Perry of the Environmental Investigation Agency. “It is grotesque to kill an endangered species and then ship it half way around the world in order to feed it to dogs.”

Takuma Konno, head of Michinoku, confirmed that plan has been scrapped.

“Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan,” he said. “We just wanted to supply a wide variety of food for them. We consider dogs as just as important as whales. But it’s not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people.”

That hasn’t changed plans for whalers in Iceland, who, after a three year break, will resume hunting for fin whales next month.

Iceland, along with Norway and Japan, refuses to abide by the moratorium on whaling.

Let us prey: Pastor wants church stray shot

A pastor in Dallas who apparently thinks that “do unto others” stuff doesn’t apply to canines is drawing criticism for how he’s handling the matter of a stray dog who has taken up residence behind the church.

For several months now, local rescuers have been trying to help the dog and animal control officials have been trying to capture it. That’s not good enough for the pastor, who reportedly says he plans to hire someone to shoot it, and who scolded a 70-year-old woman who showed up to feed it.

Let’s stop for a moment and ponder who’s acting in a more Godly manner here.

Pastor Joseph Stabile says the dog is aggressive to parishioners of the Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church, at Midway and Northwest Highway. Others dispute that, saying the dog is shy and avoids people, according to a report by Examiner.com’s animal rescue blogger Rebecca Poling in Dallas, who is also a member of the Metroplex Animal Coalition, one of the organizations raising questions about the pastor’s behavior.

Poling points out that no parishioners have come forward to back up the pastor’s claim the dog is aggressive.

Dallas Animal Services has tried to capture the dog, even using a tranquilizer gun at one point. A group of well-intentioned dog lovers have joined in the cause, trying to humanely catch the dog, known as John Wesley, but he continues to elude everyone.

The group has started a Facebook page, a Care2 petition and has written letters to church and city officials. They also plan Sunday morning protests outside the church to let parishioners know what their pastor is doing.

Update: Rebecca Polin reports that Dallas Police accompanied rescuers to the church this week. Officers spoke to the pastor by phone, and persuaded him to give the rescuers access to the property so they can continue trying to catch the dog. In return, rescuers have called off the protest.

Hawaiians protest proposed pit bull ban

Dog owners and advocates in Hawaii are rallying in protest of a proposed state law to ban pit bulls.

In the first of several protests planned on Oahu, dozens of dog owners called Sunday for state lawmakers to dismiss a bill that would ban pit bulls, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported.

Hundreds of Oahu residents signed a petition started by several community members at a rally at Magic Island  to protest the bill, as dozens of residents, wearing shirts that protest breed-specific legislation, lined Ala Moana Boulevard to draw awareness to their cause.

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