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Blog for Last Chance for Animals, an international non-profit dedicated to ending animal cruelty and exploitation.

New Avian Flu Outbreak Plagues Butterball Farms in Arkansas and Missouri

New Avian Flu Outbreak Plagues Butterball Farms in Arkansas and Missouri

A highly contagious new form of avian flu has infiltrated Arkansas and Missouri farms, many of which supply turkeys to the Butterball brand. Butterball is one of the world’s largest turkey sellers, and this discovery has led to a nationwide panic as farmers rush to protect their flocks from possible infection. This new strain of bird flu is also drawing unwanted international attention as countries like China and Mexico demand harsher trade restrictions on U.S. poultry products.

A spokesperson for the Butterball Corporation confirmed that a “limited number” of turkeys from some of their supplying contract farms have indeed contracted the H5N2 avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also confirmed, stating that one particular flock of over 40,000 commercially raised turkeys has been infected in Arkansas, with another similarly sized flock having already contracted the disease in Missouri.   

Smaller outbreaks in recent months have already been confirmed in several other states. Previous cases were reported in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, and California. States such as Alabama and Georgia are watching this story particularly closely, as their farms produce the largest numbers of broiler chickens in the U.S. Arkansas is also home of Tyson Foods, the third-largest supplier of chicken products and the second-largest of turkey. If H5N2 were to infect these flocks, the entire poultry industry could be affected.

This wave of sickness comes just as the Arkansas House has proposed a bill  that would make it more difficult to expose wrongdoing at poultry farms and other businesses. HB1774 would make it illegal to record audio in the workplace without the expressed consent of all parties involved. If passed, the new legislation would make investigations into worker or animal abuse extremely difficult to conduct in the state.  

Arkansas is not only the home of Tyson Foods, but of Walmart as well; both corporations have been exposed for animal abuse violations at supplier farms. This latest outbreak of bird flu highlights the need for these undercover investigations, as they are often the only way safety violations are exposed.

In response to the bill, animal advocacy group Last Chance for Animals is circulating a petition to stop the proposed bill and protect the right to record misdoings at factory farms and other businesses. The petition, as well as more information, can be found at endaggaglaws.com.

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The Ugly Truth about Marineland of Niagara Falls

The Ugly Truth about Marineland of Niagara Falls

Once a vibrant sea creature with an infectious personality, Larry the Harbour Seal now sits nearly lifeless in his cage with red, swollen eyes. Housed at Niagara Falls' Marineland's Marine Park, Larry is now blind after repeated neglect and exposure to terrible living conditions that include filthy pool water and poorly maintained cages. Staff and visitors alike are in an uproar.

And Larry isn’t alone. Some eight different Marineland employees have been complaining for several years about the harmful living conditions of the majestic animals suffering within the gates of Marineland. Top Trainer Phil Demers recently quit after 12 years as chief caregiver to the beloved Swooshi the Walrus over his concerns about the park’s management and cleanliness policies. Demers and others complain of both staffing shortages and poorly trained employees as contributing factors to the diminishing health conditions in Marineland.

John Holer, owner of Marineland for some 51 years, denies any wrongdoing. When asked to respond to allegations of misconduct, Holes simply states, “All our facilities are legal.” But Canadian regulations for sea mammal captivity are all but non-existent. According to many of the park’s employees, the question of legality is not the issue. Marineland has a moral obligation to these animals.

  • In October of 2011, five dolphins named Tsu, Lida, Sonar, Echo, and Marina were forced to swim in a cramped concrete pool filled with murky, green water for months on end. Former staffers talk of the dolphins either laying at the bottom of the pool or thrashing about wildly in reaction to the infested water. Over the next eight months, their coloring began to change, their appetites decreased, and massive chunks of their skin began to peel off into the water. The water in their concrete pool was finally changed in May of 2012.
  • On May 28, a baby beluga named Skoot died in the park after a continuous two-hour assault by two adult male belugas. The entire event was witnessed by a single helpless tour guide. She immediately alerted two trainers who were away from the property at the time. During the two hours that it took for the trainers to arrive to help, Skoot’s head and body were badly bitten by the older belugas who then spun her round by the tail before smashing her into an adjacent rock wall where she lay lifeless. When the trainers finally arrived to intervene, Skoot began to convulse and immediately died in their arms.
  • Sea lions Sandy and Baker are also going blind. In 2011, they had to be pulled from the water completely and placed into dry cages to prevent further damage occurring to their eyesight. Baker completely lost the lens in his left eye, and Sandy is often seen sitting in a corner of the cage still and statue-like. A video even exists of them writhing in pain, racing to place their tiny heads into a nearby bucket of pure, clean water.

Many trainers and employees feel that they can no longer stand by and watch these poor creatures suffer. Many feel as if their inability to help affect positive change to the living conditions in Marineland is only enabling the situation to further escalate out of control. As a result, employees like Phil Demers have chosen to leave the facility altogether where they will be free to shine a brighter spotlight on the neglect and abuse going on inside the park. Conditions are slowly improving, but there is still a very long way to go.

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Over Two Dozen Dogs Rescued on the ‘Underhound Railroad’

Over Two Dozen Dogs Rescued on the ‘Underhound Railroad’

Recently, an Atlanta-based television company headed to Dothan, Alabama, to film a rescue mission of nearly 30 puppies and dogs in need. This is the first of many future rescues to come, each falling under the lifesaving coordination efforts of an inspirational program called “The Underhound Railroad.” 

Related Article: Animal Cruelty = Human Cruelty 

Many of these poor pooches had been sitting on death row inside area animal shelters for quite some time, sadly awaiting their fate.  So an Atlanta veterinarian named Dr. Michael Good came up with an ingenious plan.  Why not rescue these precious pups from these small rural communities and bring them back to the bustling metropolis of Atlanta, where they’ll have a much better chance of being adopted?

“All Aboard!”

Dr. Michael Good is partnering with Ed Coughlin of Chet Burks Productions to film the first of many rescue missions in hopes of drawing national attention to this important cause.  The first stop for The Underhound Railroad was Dothan.  As Dr. Good gently rubbed the head of a beautiful golden lab, the lifelong animal lover was heard saying, “You’re going to have a good time in Hotlanta.”   

Now official Georgians, the rescued dogs are pampered and nurtured by Dr. Good’s team of do-gooders, collectively known as the Atlanta-based Homeless Pet Foundation. 

Next Stop: Hollywood

Dr. Good is quick to heap praise on the Dothan Community for all of their hard work and dedication to the stray animal problem in Alabama. Shelter administrators and the Atlanta Doc have the same end goal in mind: to rid the country of pet euthanasia once and for all.  Both Good and Dothan officials believe that public awareness and education is an important first step in the process.  And how better to educate the public than with an inspiring and life-affirming pet rescue show on the Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet?

The filming of the Dothan visit is the subject material for the pilot episode.  While there is no guarantee that the Animal Planet will pick up the program, Dr. Good remains optimistic.  After all, who would pass up a puppy rescue show with a host named Dr. Good?

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France Finally Admits that Animals are ‘Sentient Beings’

France Finally Admits that Animals are ‘Sentient Beings’

Pet-lovers of France are banding together and demanding positive changes in animal rights law. And thanks to their efforts, the legal status of all animals nationwide will likely be reclassified to “sentient beings” very shortly. Prior to 2015, an archaic law from several hundred years ago still refers to members of the animal kingdom as “movables.” This essentially gives dogs, cats, and all other living creatures the same rights and privileges as the family coffee table or the proverbial kitchen sink.

Related Article: Animal Cruelty = Human Cruelty 

To put this legal jargon another way, the precious pooches and furry felines are legally considered merely personal property in the eyes of the French government, even though our family pets eat, drink, and snuggle with us on a daily basis. But thanks to an organization called 30 Millions d’Amis (Translation: 30 Million Friends Foundation), this antiquated law is currently under advisement to be completely rewritten.

Advocates of the non-profit group surged to record numbers in recent months. Several noted members of the French scientific community, numerous highly regarded professors, and even a former member of the French Parliament threw their unyielding support behind the bill. It didn’t take long before nearly 700,000 French citizens were demanding a new law. The National Assembly took notice, immediately approving the proposed legislation. And if all goes as expected, the French Senate will soon sign off as well, and animals will officially be considered sentient, living beings.

Animal Rights Groups want even more change

While most activist groups consider this new change in legal stature a considerable positive step forward for the animals of France, a significant portion believes that the new legislation doesn’t go far enough. The newly standardized wording may have awarded animals a proper legal distinction, but many activists believe that the proposed legislation says nothing about the possible exploitation and abuse that animals face every day. And isn’t this the real issue?

Green Party MP Laurence Abeille is offering a more ambitious form of new law. Abeille’s bill will not only award animals the legal status of sentient being, but will also make the harmful actions inflicted against sentient beings illegal, such as cockfighting, bullfighting, and puppy mills. Of course, with every newly proposed change in law comes a surge of unwanted opposition.

Many in the French government are concerned about a possible flood of extra rights being bestowed to the animal kingdom. After all, cats and dogs can’t vote or pay taxes – like cattlemen, farmers, and the lobbyists who work for them do. So why should lawmakers even bother? As with any new change in legislation, money is a big part of the picture. But animal activist groups like the Brigitte Bardot Foundation are not giving up quite yet. Even though the new bill only changes the legal status of animals in France,  it is still concrete progress on which more positive change can be built in the very near future.

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China Joins Fight to Protect African Elephants; Bans Ivory Imports for 1 Year

China Joins Fight to Protect African Elephants; Bans Ivory Imports for 1 Year

An estimated 100 African elephants are killed by poachers each and every day, leaving this majestic breed on the brink of extinction.  That’s about one elephant every 15 minutes.  By current estimates, only 400,000 of these beautiful animals remain on the entire planet.  If the massacre continues at this rate, the species could be wiped out in several regions of Africa within only a few years.  


Why are these elephants dying? Because the insatiable demand for their ivory tusks, particularly in the Asian markets, has led to the illegal trafficking of ivory products becoming increasingly more profitable.  In reaction to this global dilemma, the Chinese government has just imposed an immediate one-year ban against imported ivory in all its forms. This comes amid growing worldwide criticism that Chinese consumer demand is a significant driving force behind this escalating violence.  

At LCA, we applaud this new ban – and we hope it is well enforced.

The announcement was posted on the website of the State Forestry Administration on February 26, 2015.  A follow-up statement was issued by a government official stating that China would increase its efforts to prosecute those involved in illegal tusk smuggling to the highest extents of the law.  While the capital city of Beijing has consistently campaigned against illegally acquired ivory, China still remains the world’s leading importer of smuggled elephant tusks.  Over 6 tons of illegal ivory were seized just last year in the city of Dongguan alone.


In 2008, China legally acquired over 60 tons of precious ivory which has only increased consumer demand even further.  

Products that contain ivory have long been considered a type of status symbol among the more affluent communities in China, which is only fueling the poachers’ greedy ambitions to higher and higher levels.  The world has been watching as the African elephant has been slaughtered by the thousands, all in the name of status-conscious consumerism.  
In an open letter signed by several highly regarded conservationists including David Attenborough, a global call-to-action was made to Chinese President Xi Jinping to put an end to the mass killings.  Many are crediting this letter as the final push that resulted in the recent legislation passed in China, outlawing the buying and selling of all forms of imported ivory completely. 


Meanwhile, London’s Environmental Investigation Agency recently issued a scathing report that accuses certain officials of the Chinese government of direct involvement in the importing of smuggled ivory tusks.   Many in the activist community fear that the recent announcement for a one-year ban may only be a political smokescreen.  Is the Chinese government truly committed to ending this murderous rampage against the African elephant?  The world is watching.

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