Category Archives: Animals

Protecting animal abusers: the ‘ag-gag’ legislation and how it will impact Australian animals. 

Australian animal activists are struggling to comprehend the heartlessness of the actions of our ‘leaders’. Both the South Australian Government AND the Opposition are in support of ‘ag-gag’ legislation which is expected to pass this Thursday.

From abc.net.au this morning:
“Exposing animal cruelty will become harder once a surveillance devices bill passes the South Australian Parliament, the Law Society has said. T
he legislation has Government and Opposition support and is expected to pass when State Parliament sits on ThursdayIt would become a criminal offence to broadcast any video or audio obtained by covert means, unless a court agreed it was in the public interest. In a letter to SA Attorney-General John Rau, Law Society president Rocco Perotta labelled it an “ag-gag” law. He said it would prevent stories exposing animal cruelty from being broadcast, such as the ABC Four Corners report on use of live baiting in the greyhound industry.” abc.net.au 

 
Ag-gag laws are put in place to protect companies from scrutiny, despite the unbearable consequences to the animals that this legislation with impact.

Voiceless explains that these laws generally target “undercover investigators, whistleblowers and journalists, and may take three forms:

  • They criminalise the undercover or covert surveillance of commercial animal facilities.
  • They require that any obtained footage of animal cruelty must be turned over to enforcement agencies immediately, stifling long-term investigations into systemic animal abuse.
  • They require potential employees of commercial animal facilities to disclose current or past ties to animal protection groups.”Voiceless 

  

So what can we do to combat this legislation? Plenty. 

Contact your local MP: this useful resource will enable you to find and contact your local MP.

Sign the petition: you can sign Animals Australia’s petition here.

Get informed: visit Voiceless to further your understanding of these laws and the impact they have on animals.

Utilise Social Media: you can contact your local MP publicly via Facebook and Twitter. Leaving a public message will help to inform others while simultaneously pressuring leaders to do right by voters, and more importantly, by animals.

Hashtags are greatly effective. Try to include tags such as #NoAgGag and #AgGag to anything you post/tweet on the subject.

You can also share facts/memes/links as comments on applicable articles and posts on websites and social media. Comment sections are often a hotbed for debate and contributing your informed opinion often makes a world of difference. 

Spread awareness: so many Australians are unaware of the atrocities being committed in the agricultural business and/or the fact that our representatives are acting to aid in concealing this. What’s more, a vast majority of these unaware or misinformed Australians consider themselves strongly opposed animal cruelty. 

We cannot control what is being decided on our behalf in Parliament, but we can certainly do all we can to influence it. Our silence is not acceptable when those who are facing abuse do not have a voice of their own.   

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Horse (of a horse-drawn carriage) collapsed on the streets of Melbourne: how is this justifiable? 

 

Left: Horse-drawn carriage in Melbourne. Right: Wild horses living naturally.

When I was young, I always dreamed of riding on a horse-drawn carriage through NYC. It was such an overly-romanticised idea that was irresistible to even the most cynical of people. Strangely, it was while watching the episode of Seinfeld wherein Kramer looked after one of these horses that I began to question the ethics of such a practice. It was an odd notion to me at 8yrs old to view an animal as a vehicle, let alone one that was expected to compete with cars, buses, trucks etc. on busy city roads.

Yesterday this video emerged of a horse that collapsed on the streets of Melbourne. The person who captured the video alleged that the horse collapsed due to dehydration, which would seem a more than likely scenario. Though, the owner, Dean Crichton, from Unique Carriage Hire, has since threatened that they’re considering legal action against the Melbourne teen, claiming that the horse was not dehydrated. Regardless, the scene was a horrid sight. The video did not go viral because of the concerned teen’s assumption that the horse was dehydrated, it went viral because it was a wake-up call to Australians that a most-likely terrified horse was helplessly collapsed in the street, surrounded by cars and people.

Somehow this is still an acceptable and apparently lucrative practice. Perhaps it is the lack of knowledge that leads people to believe that this is an acceptable practice, but most likely it is due to their cognitive dissonance. We’ve learned to live with the idea that animals are nothing more than tools, food, entertainment, etc. but isn’t there something wonderful in the idea of evolving beyond this? Imagine a horse in the wild – in its natural environment, roaming free. Now imagine a horse, battling traffic, breathing toxic fumes, braving the scorching heat with no respite and hauling heavy loads every single day. And for what? For a moment of perceived joy in some person’s life. I would wager that most who choose to pay for the trip wouldn’t do it twice for sheer lack of interest and would enjoy the journey for perceived nostalgic purposes only.

An injured carriage horse in NYC (click for source).


The above is devastating to me. The footage, even more painful. But what is confusing is that not everyone feels this way, and that people still continue to legally use these old-fashioned gimmicks in the streets of Melbourne. Aren’t we better than this? In an age when we are finally starting to collectively understand the cruelty involved in greyhound and horse racing, how are we not aware of the impact that pulling a heavy cart on asphalt has on horses?

Aside from the actual car vs. horse accidents that occur, the day-to-day damage to these horses is undeniable. Their legs suffer from beating the asphalt each day. It is painful and dangerous, because once their legs give out, they are deemed permanently useless.

Then of course there’s the impact on their lungs. Imagine having to walk through traffic day-in, day-out. How do you think your lungs would handle the fumes? We barely keep our windows down in traffic due to the overwhelming toxicity of petrol fumes – how we expect these gentle giants to deal with it is beyond comprehension.

In some instances, (and perhaps narrowly avoided yesterday), horses have dropped dead from heatstroke after working in harsh heat and humidity.

Many claim that the drivers of these cruel modes of transport “love and respect” these animals. I greatly beg to differ. In an article about a horse that had the carriage collapse on it when it was spooked in Manhattan traffic, the driver openly blames the horse and offered it no care or concern. To add insult to the horse’s (literal) injury, the driver was witnessed “shouting at the horse” before the crash. One witness said “it looked like the driver was having a fit. He was screaming. He couldn’t control the horse,” So much for love and respect.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2434082/Horse-flips-midtown-traffic-breaking-carriage-trapping-animal-underneath.html

What ‘love and respect’ looks like – a horse spooked and subsequently crushed by its cart in NYC (click for source).

Perhaps it’s years of conditioning – being immersed in a society where we believe that horses belong in saddles and bridles. But if you think back to what a horse is supposed to be; a gentle, free, wild beast, it is absolutely heartbreaking to juxtapose this image with what a horse is to us now.

You can take action now by signing this petition and/or joining the ‘March for the horses‘ on October 9th, 12:30pm-2:30pm at Bourke St Mall, Melbourne. If you’re a Melbourne local, it’s worth following the page Melbourne Against Horse-Drawn Carriages. You can also take a stand by boycotting this cruel and outdated practice and urging others to follow suit.

UPDATE: the teen who posted the video has apologised for the “misrepresentation” after being threatened with legal action. Somehow people view this as vindication for the carriage owner, rather than a pressured apology. Regardless of how or why the horse fell – whether it was a bite from another horse, dehydration or being spooked – people were still outraged to see this beautiful beast collapsed in the street because it simply did not belong there. Taking this post at face value is naive, just as it is naive to take the word of carriage drivers as gospel. Of course they’re defending the way they treat their horses, but that’s not the issue. Using them to fight traffic every day is, in my opinion, careless and vile. If you are curious about whether this is an ethical practice or not, don’t take anyone’s word for it, do a quick Google search. What you see might hurt you more than you think. 

Con-artist or genuine animal activist? Jaylene Musgrave under fire.

Jaylene Musgrave (from Facebook).

Last night would have been confronting for high-profile animal activist, Jaylene Musgrave as she was asked to answer to some very genuine questions about her animal fundraising. A Facebook post from a keen-eyed member of an Australian Vegan group (of which Mulgrave is a member), began the speculation in which other responses seemed to support the suggestion that Musgrave’s fundraising practices are suspicious. 

Touting herself as a “vegan warrior”, Musgrave has a highly complimentary explanation of her work as an animal activist on her own website, veganwarriors.com.au Therein she names celebrities and others of note who are her “supporters”, including Joan Jett who is named as an “ambassador”. 

Given that Musgrave’s legitimacy is being marked by supposed celebrity endorsements, it’s no wonder that there are many animal activists questioning the true destination of raised funds. Musgrave does her ‘fundraising’ solely via Facebook and receives payments only by direct bank deposit, never by PayPal. It has been noted by many that the clothes, shoes, handbags, etc that she is advertising on her pages, Vegan Warriors – Jaylene Musgrave and Fundraising for Animals are being sourced directly from eBay and other discount websites, and being sold for up to ten times the cost. The photos being used on Musgrave’s pages have been lifted directly from the original stores, indicating that stock is possibly not even in Musgrave’s possession.
One rightfully confused buyer mentioned that she had just purchased an item from Musgrave for over $130, only to be told that she will “order them now” and it would take around 10 days to arrive. Taking all of this into account, it would seem that Musgrave is selling items that she has seen online, (using the photo that the original store has used), with a hefty mark-up. Without being sure, it seems that Musgrave is then ordering the product from the actual store (for a low cost) and having it posted directly to the buyer. The buyer then receives a low-quality item for a high cost with the remainder of the money going directly into Musgrave’s pocket.

 Left – the original eBay listing. Right – Musgrave’s Facebook post. 

This apparent scamming aside, the question now is, does that money then get passed on to an actual organisation or charity, or does it remain with Musgrave? As far as I can find, Musgrave has no listing as a business or charity, and no legitimate information as to where exactly the funds raised are going. In a generic message that Musgrave sends to new Facebook friends, she mentions that “all monies to A.R campaigning”. The problem is, A.R Campaigning doesn’t seem to actually exist, and if it does, I will gladly stand corrected.

 

 

At the very least, it is almost impossible for Musgrave to know whether or not her products are ethically-made, let alone vegan. By using her name and standing within the vegan community to sell what is essentially a mystery product in terms of production, Musgrave has betrayed her own values and those who have trusted her enough to buy from her. At the very worst, she has created a trusted persona amongst the animal activism community with the intention to dupe people into believing that they’re donating funds to the most vulnerable of creatures. If this is true, it is indeed a betrayal towards the animals that Musgrave purports to protect.

It would be wonderful to be proven wrong in this instance – I would love nothing more than to discover that this is simply a misunderstanding. It is highly doubtful, however, as Jaynele Musgrave has been asked numerous times and given ample opportunity to answer the one simple question: “where is the money really going?”

Trophy Hunting: How To Kill Like A Coward

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Source: Bullet Safaris

US television presenter, Melissa Bachman recently sparked international outrage over her boastful Facebook post of a trophy kill. The image of her grinning (weapon in hand of course – a totally ‘fair’ fight) over a dead adult male lion, captioned “an incredible day hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60-yards on this beautiful male lion. What a hunt!” went viral, with stunned commenters asking “HOW is this allowed to happen?” and “surely this is illegal?”. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and while Bachman was well within the law to destroy this animal’s life, is she really within her right?

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Bachman’s photo that went viral. Source: melissabachman.com

It is important to note that this is not her only kill and that she proudly updates her website (melissabachman.com) with all of her kill-happy pursuits, from domestic to international.

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Cuddle your victim. Source: melissabachman.com

Bachman is simply the current poster-child for this disgraceful hobby. The sad reality is that she is not alone in her pursuits, with many travelling from all areas of the world to fulfil their thirst for blood and need to kill. In doing so, they have left the rest of us to ponder why anyone would have such an urge, and how they are possibly allowed to pursue their vile pass-time.

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The ultimate indignity; the weapon used for the kill, leaning against their lifeless bodies. Source: Africa Big 5’s hunting gallery.

Depending on the location, there are different types of game-hunting. One is a guided tour throughout the area for a ridiculously high fee, and the other takes place in an enclosed area of land, with practically farm-raised animals.

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Never a fighting chance – hunters use the tricky ‘kill while relaxed/eating’ technique. Source: Africa Big 5’s hunting gallery.

Prices for these ventures are sky-high, but the cost does not deter these kill-happy folk. Just one of many companies, Bullet Safaris offers a range varying prices for their assistance in making a kill, that of course includes the Government licensing fee – the reason that this is legal. To hunt a lion, an elephant, a leopard and a buffalo (all in the wild) in Tanzania, you can pay the hefty $54,850 fee, of which only $4,900 is attributed to Government costs. Or you can hunt other animals on these murder safaris, including Baboons, Crocodiles, Hippopotamus’, Giraffes and Zebras. You can view this particular safari’s fees here.

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Source: Bullet Safaris

Louis Theroux perfectly captures the barbaric ‘sport’ in his documentary ‘African Hunting Party‘. Watching Louis doing his best not to cringe as he represents the morally graced was painful. As with all of his documentaries, he exemplifies the intelligent side of the debate, while still earning enough trust to infiltrate the unbelievable an unimaginable; even coaxing them to discuss their hideous pass-time in detail while bringing him along for a kill that he of course refused to partake in.

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‘Time to kill, my baby girl’. Louis Theroux endures this unnerving scene as a child is helped by her father to kill an animal. Source: Louis Theroux – African Hunting Party

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A father describes the ecstasy of the hunt while he watches his little girl kill. Louis is doing his best not to vomit in the hut. Source: Louis Theroux – African Hunting Party.

Louis’ journey delves into the world of purpose-bred game – those poor animals raised only for slaughter, for no reason other than greed. This is of course opposed to the aforementioned wild hunts, wherein hunters – professional or otherwise – explore the arid lands with their next kill on their minds. Whichever is the most morally reprehensible is difficult to determine; killing an animal that has been raised in a comfortable farm-like existence, where they are fed and relaxed with no chance to escape, or slaughtering a wild beast on their own native land, living amongst their family – perhaps with their own young – and never expecting their life to end with a hunter’s bullet.

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Bred to be hunted – a face held in captivity, awaiting an unnecessary death at the hands of a hunter. Source: Louis Theroux – African Hunting Party.

There are of course the many deluded that will try to justify game hunting by claiming that their heavy fees are a boost to the local economy and that it has a somehow positive influence on conservation, but they have been absolutely disproven. A recent study authored by Economists at Large analysed the literature on the economics of trophy hunting and has come to reveal that “African countries and rural communities derive very little benefit from trophy hunting revenue.” – Wild Life Extra. Economist Rod Campbell (lead author of the study) commented that “revenues constitute only a fraction of a percent of GDP and almost none of that ever reaches rural communities.” While I would call the suggestion that ‘trophy hunting plays a significant role in African economic development’ delusional and a flimsy justification, Campbell puts it more kindly, referring to the idea as “misguided” – Wild Life Extra.

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“Take me on vacation honey, I want to be a killer” – couples enjoy a romantic getaway. Source: Africa Big 5’s hunting gallery.

The bottom economic line is that even pro-hunting sources found that only three percent of the claimed (by hunters) figure of $200 million a year actually reaches the local communities. The rest? Mostly of course to the fat-cats who run the hunting safaris themselves. The economic report found that “trophy hunting revenue never accounts for more than 0.27 percent of the GDP” and that “trophy hunting revenues account for only 1.8 percent of overall tourism in nine investigated countries that allow trophy hunting“. Rendering their entire (already flimsy) justification irrelevant, the report concludes that “the (hunting) industry is actually economically insignificant and makes a minimal contribution to national income“. You can read the full study report here.

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Grinning ear-to-ear – her mother must be proud. Source: Africa Big 5’s hunting gallery.

Taking a heavy steer away from the economic argument, there are of course the very real consequences of the hunting industry. Many targeted species have suffered severely due to the greed of trophy hunters; a perfect example would be the quickly lessening population of the face of Africa itself – the African lion. Wild Life Extra explains that “the number of African lions has declined by more than 50 percent in the past three decades, with just 32,000 believed remaining today.” Frighteningly, there is a strong correlation between this sickening practice and the declination of these majestic creatures, “the steepest declines in lion population numbers occur in African countries with the highest hunting intensity, illustrating the unsustainability of the practice.” – Wild Life Extra

No matter how you slice it, the barbarianism of game hunting is unjustified and unnecessary. There is no purpose for such blood-lust, other than to boost the bragging rights of these killers. Lions hunt in a pride, humans hunt in a truck – such cowardice is the furthest thing from pride.