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LCA Blog

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

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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Airline Animal Death Rates Demand Attention

Airline Animal Death Rates Demand Attention

A beautiful, black-spotted guinea pig named Oriole was traveling on a Delta flight from North Carolina to Oregon with his owner last June. But Oriole would never make his destination – his dead body was discovered during the connecting flight in Atlanta. A necropsy was immediately performed by veterinarians at the nearby University of Georgia, where it was determined that Oriole had died from pneumonia brought on by a combination of flight stress and a pre-existing inflammatory condition in the lungs.

Realated Article: Air France's Monkey Business

Believe it or not, the U.S Department of Transportation keeps very detailed records of all animal fatalities, injuries, and losses that result from travel on our nation’s airplanes.  The 2014 report was recently released, and the statistics show that we have significant room for improvement.  With 26 cases of animal injury, 17 cases of death, and 2 incidents of lost pets, most of the cases involve the transporting of dogs and cats.

5 Airlines are involved.

United Airlines reports the highest numbers with 5 pet fatalities and 13 cases of animal injuries. Alaska Airlines followed closely behind with 3 deaths and 11 injuries, while Skywest, Hawaiian, and Delta airlines were responsible for the remaining cases.  

According to the DOT, many of the incidents involved pets attempting to escape from their cages either before, during, or after the flight.  Some managed to successfully escape only to be hit by vehicular traffic at the airport afterward.  Others were bloodied or hurt during the flight, perhaps due to the fear and stress of flying in a confined space and without their masters.

While each of these airlines is committed to reviewing their current policies regarding animal travel, pet owners must remain aware of the difficulties that face dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and other companion animals.  While over 99 percent of airline pet transports result in completely safe transfers, some pets are simply more susceptible to injury or death than others.  A visit with your local veterinarian might provide some invaluable insights along with some beneficial travel tips that might reduce these health risks substantially. 

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How the LA Zoo is Hurting Elephants (And What We’re Doing About It)

How the LA Zoo is Hurting Elephants (And What We’re Doing About It)

Succumbing to loneliness, frustration, and physical ailments, elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo die an average of 10 years younger than elephants at all other North American zoos. And sadly, the facility doesn’t seem to care: they recently spent $42 million to build a new elephant exhibit that greatly enhanced the experience for visitors, but did nothing to benefit the elephants forced to live there. 

Last Chance for Animals won’t stand for this atrocity, and our legal team is fighting hard to stop it. We recently filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in an appeal that seeks to end the suffering of three elephants at the L.A. Zoo:  Billy, Tina, and Jewel. The appeal is based on a taxpayer action filed by plaintiff Aaron Leider, requesting in part that the L.A. Zoo close their exhibit to elephants. LCA's brief was filed in the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, in support of plaintiff Aaron Leider.

 At trial, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John L. Segal said, "the Elephants of Asia exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo is not a happy place for elephants, nor is it for members of the public who go to the zoo and recognize that the elephants are neither thriving, happy, nor content."

"Captivity is a terrible existence for any intelligent, self-aware species, which the undisputed evidence shows elephants are," noted the trial court. “To believe otherwise, as some high-ranking zoo employees appear to believe, is delusional. And the quality of life that Billy, Tina, and Jewel endure in their captivity is particularly poor."

The trial court found that insufficient space, a substandard living environment, and inadequate expertise of zoo personnel has caused the elephants to suffer from multiple injuries, as well as unnecessary physical and psychological suffering. The court also found that the elephants exhibit severe stereotypic behaviors of stress and psychological disturbance, such as repetitive bobbing, swaying, and rocking in place for hours (and in the case of Billy, for nearly half of his observable life). These actions stem from boredom, frustration, and isolation in a stimulant-free environment.

Forced to stand on a hard, cement-like surface, the elephants suffer chronic foot and joint problems – which are only made worse by their stress-induced behaviors.

Despite these findings, the trial court failed to apply the facts to the law, offering only limited relief for the elephants held captive at the L.A. Zoo. Specifically, the trial court ordered the L.A. Zoo to cease using bull hooks or electric shock on elephants, to exercise the elephants at least two hours a day and to rototill the exhibit's soil. Last Chance for Animals argues that the only remedy is to close the exhibit and transfer Billy, Tina, and Jewel to a sanctuary where they may live out their days without suffering.

 

UPDATE:

On 1/14/2016, the court of appeal upheld the trial court’s injunctions requiring that the elephants have specific amounts of exercise time, and requiring the rototilling of the soil in the exhibit. The trial court’s injunction prohibiting the zoo from using bull hooks or electric shocks on the elephants was never challenged by the city, so that will stand as well. Unfortunately, it rejected Leider’s cross appeal, and declined to close the elephant exhibit. 

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The Gruesome Dog Meat Festival You Need to Know About

The Gruesome Dog Meat Festival You Need to Know About

Can you imagine your loyal, beloved dog kidnapped, trucked long-distance in a cramped wire cage, then butchered for meat in a filthy market stall? This may sound like a horror movie, but the corpses of stolen pets, strays and commercially bred dogs are on full display at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China, where throngs of people gather each year to gorge on canine flesh.

The scene is hauntingly barbaric, yet the government does nothing to intervene. That’s why Last Chance for Animals has teamed up with the Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project to stop the brutality. And you can help.

If you’re in Los Angeles, join us at a rally against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. With expert speakers and a crowd of fellow animal lovers, you’ll help make a difference by speaking out for dogs who cannot speak for themselves. Here are the details:

Date: Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Time: 12 noon

Location: The Chinese Consulate General's office -
443 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90020

Once you see this video, you’ll understand why these dogs need us so badly (warning: the images are disturbing):

The Yulin festival is heartbreaking, but compassionate people are doing all they can to ease the suffering. Some people give the dogs much-needed water and affection, to make their last moments as comfortable as possible. Other activists gather in the streets holding signs to denounce the slaughter. Some even spend their own money to buy dogs from the butchers, then feed and soothe the distraught animals and send them to loving homes.

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The best way to save these innocent dogs’ lives is to convince Chinese authorities to shut down this gruesome festival for good. Help achieve this by sending a letter to the Chinese embassy urging them to stop the slaughter. You can use this sample letter – just send it to the embassy’s email or postal address, listed below:

Dear Ambassador Cui Tiankai,

I am adding my voice to thousands of other people
throughout the world in demanding that the Guangxi YuLin
government puts an end to the “Dog Meat Festival” that is
held on June 21.

I have great respect for the Chinese people and Chinese
civilization, but I am horrified to learn that the brutal
Yulin “Dog Meat Festival” still exists in a modern civilized society.
The Yulin “Dog Meat Festival” is internationally perceived as a
disgrace to China. I am adamantly stating my strong opposition to
this gruesome practice. I also urge that your office works with
China’s Department of Agriculture in passing an animal
protection law in China that bans the dog and cat meat trade.

Sincerely,

Name and City

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Postal Address:

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

Attn:Ambassador Cui Tianka

Stay tuned for more information on how to stop this festival of horrors!

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