Nov 19, 2014 - Animal Welfare    No Comments

The winner? The carriage horse, of course!

This may be last month’s news, but still worth a look:

Central Park horse carriage rated as better ride than electric car in Car and Driver magazine

As any city carriage driver could have told him, the buggies are surprisingly compact, light and make tight turns. When they’re pulled by one of the placid, experienced horses the drivers barely have to lift a finger to direct them. The hefty horses are adept at speeding up and slowing down their buggies, while the cumbersome electronic car couldn’t quite cut it in the city’s fast-moving traffic.

[…]

The aura of faded gentility, however, is part of what gave the horse carriage experience the most points: authenticity.

The e-vehicles lacked soul and history, Huffman said, and there’s no replacing that no matter how many bells and whistles a vehicle designer adds on.

Aside from the impressive tight turns, the environmental angle, the sense of authenticity and history, there’s something deeper to consider: the connection between horse and driver, the wonder of these incredibly strong and healthy animals doing what they love to do, and of course — the fun (which was ultimately the main reason the Car and Driver reviewer preferred carriage ride). You just can’t replace a good horse.

Definitely a fun little read — our only quibble is that it would have been nice for the review to cover the welfare of the carriage horses as well; the drivers are people who clearly adore their horses and treat them very well, and no matter how many experts speak to the excellent care and treatment these majestic animals receive, it always helps to have another voice countering the anti-horse carriage propaganda machine!

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Nov 12, 2014 - NAIA Conference    1 Comment

NAIA 2014 Annual Conference: Thank You!

It is hard to come up with enough superlatives for this year’s NAIA Annual Conference. Every year, we are blessed with speakers possessing expertise, passion, and a gift for explaining the importance of their work — and every year, the event grows and improves.

Our conferences consist of people from such varied backgrounds: agriculture, science, hobbies and sports, rescue, public health, and business owners just to name a few. But they are all brought together by their dedication to the animals in their lives and their desire to share their stories in a way that empowers others.

This year was no exception: topics as varied as the chilling effect of activists on animal science, indigenous hunting rights, the fight for the carriage horse industry, food freedom, the landmark $25 million settlement paid by HSUS, ASPCA, et al. to Feld Entertainment, the current state of animal activism (“anarchy”) in the UK, and HBO’s hit piece on the AKC (Unnatural Selection), there was indeed something for everybody!

To everybody who presented, attended, and volunteered: thank you! We can’t do it without you — and we can’t wait to see you again next year!

 

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Oct 27, 2014 - Animal Policy    No Comments

If you can’t debate the experts, silence ‘em!

What is an anti-hunting animal activist to do when educated, hands-on experts wearing *gasp* uniforms come out in opposition to their upcoming anti-hunting referendum?

Why, they run to the courts and try to silence the experts, of course! In Maine, the HSUS-supported coalition group, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting filed an injunction that would order the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) to butt out of the discussion before the election — despite their background and expertise on such issues, despite the fact that being involved in such issues is kind of their job.  If the injunction succeeded, there could be no opinions on Maine Question 1 on the IFW website, no campaigning or participation in television ads. No voice for the trained experts on one of the very issues they are supposed to be involved in.

It may sound ridiculous, but when you’ve poured more than million dollars into the state trying to push your referendum, winning at any cost probably becomes second nature. Fortunately for the sake of common sense and freedom of speech, Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler did not support the injunction:

“Restricting speech on contested public issues is directly contrary to the public interest, which favors a robust and dynamic public discourse,” Wheeler said in her 15-page decision. “It is [for] the voters, not the plaintiffs or the courts, to assess the relative merits of conflicting speech.

[…]

Wheeler said that DIF&W is “mandated to ‘encourage the wise use of [wildlife] resources.’ Thus, DIF&W is statutorily required ‘to attempt to persuade’ the public to make wise use of these resources, or to make wise use ‘more appealing or more likely to happen.’”

Regardless of how you may feel about this particular referendum or even hunting in general, attempting to silence those who disagree with your viewpoint before an election is pretty low down behavior. And in this case, given the IFW’s background and expertise, it belies a fear of honest debate — something you should never be afraid of if you are running a campaign based on substance, facts, and the public’s best interest.

Oct 24, 2014 - Animal Science    No Comments

Three Deaf Mice? Not Anymore!

Some amazing results from the world of animal science: scientists have successfully restored hearing in deaf mice!

By inserting and activating certain genes:

The mice that produced extra NT3 regained their hearing over a period of two weeks and were able to hear a lot better than mice that did not have extra production of the protein.

Next stop: humans suffering hearing loss from noise exposure or aging. It really wasn’t that long ago that people looked to instrument makers and ear trumpets for relief — a bulky, imperfect solution; actually recovering hearing is simply an awesome feat!

Don’t forget to hug a scientist (and a mouse) this weekend!

Oct 22, 2014 - Education    No Comments

Life… Finds a Way!

What happened when Cornell University tried to reign in an out of control deer population by performing tubal ligations on the does?

Well, as you’d expect, the birth rate went down, but the problem wasn’t solved: the population stayed the same, as it was maintained by mature bucks …

Something was attracting an abnormal number of mature bucks. Cornell’s biologists realized that the reproductive cycle of the ligated does was to blame.

Under normal conditions, all female whitetails go into heat within several weeks of each other and become pregnant at around the same time. This annual event is called the rut. However, if a doe is not impregnated during the rut, it will enter heat again the following month and again the month after that. Because the ligated does were unable to become pregnant, they continued to produce chemical signals of readiness to reproduce — signals that can attract bucks from miles away.

At $1,200 per doe, that’s an expensive surprise!

DeerCrossingRoadMed

Cute, but catastrophic when mixed with traffic.

 

Volunteer hunters (who would eat or donate deer meat) are a proven inexpensive and effective way to reduce the population, but the university continued to seek out a nonlethal solution to the “deer problem.” So they began surgically removing ovaries from does, and were yet again quickly met with another unbelievable surprise:

Even after the surgical removal of their ovaries, one of the three deer became pregnant again. It is not clear how this was possible. One supposition is that some ovarian tissue may have escaped the scalpel and regrown into a functioning ovary.

Of course, this reproductive tenacity is probably a lot more fascinating (and amusing) to people who don’t have to deal with deer eating their gardens, causing auto accidents, or Lyme disease, but it does serve as a valuable lesson of the things that can go wrong when we try to outsmart nature. The ovaries win this round!

Sep 10, 2014 - NAIA Conference    No Comments

Sign Up Today for the 2014 NAIA Conference!

Spots are going quickly for this year’s NAIA Conference — sign up today to reserve your space!

As always, this will be a fascinating and inspiring event for all animal lovers with unforgettable, world-class presentations from experts. There will also be a strong focus on workshops to help you make a difference in your community with the knowledge you have gained!

List of featured speakers and topics:

  • Robert Guyer, Founder and President of The Lobby School:  Effective Grassroots Lobbying;
  • David Jentsch, PhD, Neuroscientist and UCLA Professor: Seeking cures in an age of extremism;
  • John Simpson and Michelle Pardo, Attorneys at Law and Partners, Norton Rose Fulbright, Washington, DC: Insights gained along the way to the landmark $25 million settlement paid by HSUS and the ASPCA to Feld Entertainment.
  • Cynthia O’Connor, DVM, Chris Walker, AKC VP of Communications, Patti Strand, NAIA President: The anatomy of a TV hit piece: HBO’s Unnatural Selection.
  • Theresie Tungilik, Dept. of Economic Development, Gov. of Nunavut: The impact of propaganda and international law on our traditional and modern economy;
  • Thomas Albert, VP Gov. Relations, Feld Entertainment, Janice Aria, Director of Animal Stewardship, Ringling Brothers Center for Elephant Conservation: From the courts to city hall, the extremist’s campaign to ban the circus continues;
  • Baylen Linnekin, Executive Director, Keep Food Legal, Adjunct Faculty at American University: Food Freedom;
  • Steve Malone, Horse Carriage Owner-Operator, Teamster Delegate: The campaign to end the horse carriage industry; and
  • Cindy Buckmaster, PhD Neurobiologist, Chair, Americans for Medical Progress, Director, Center of Comparative Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine: Speak now or forever rest in peace.

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See you there!
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Sep 2, 2014 - Animal Policy    No Comments

Report on 2014 NCSL Conference

By NAIA Board Members Patte Klecan and Caren Cowan

That famous line from Field of Dreams – “Build it and they will come” is the best way to describe our experience at the 2014 NCSL. NAIA took the plunge and purchased a booth display that was without a doubt one of the most attractive in the Exhibit Hall. The bright colors, the logo front and center and the message all worked together to draw people in. Of course, George Washington was strategically placed and people were forced to stop to admire. This allowed us the opportunity to explain that George was the originator of the American Foxhound which he needed to pursue his hunting adventures. The Legislators from Virginia were especially intrigued and one even took my card and asked if we could help him promote the American Foxhound which is the official dog of Virginia!

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It was somewhat amusing to watch the reactions of our visitors when they realized that NAIA was not affiliated with HSUS or any of the other radical fundraising groups. Once we explained that NAIA was the “reasonable alternative to the extremists,” the Legislators and staff members breathed a visible sigh of relief, relaxed, and said they were excited to know we were available to assist them. One staff member, who is the Research Director for his state’s Ag & Natural Resources Committee, asked if we could come and testify before the committee on animal issues!  All those that we were able to engage in conversation eagerly accepted our literature. A Senator from Mississippi returned the next day to tell us that he had read our material and was going to check with his staff to see if he was available to attend our conference. A behavioral researcher also returned the next day to say how much she learned from our handouts, delighted that we were a research based group and that she was also considering attending our conference.

Our visitors weren’t just Legislators and staff. We had other exhibitors come by as well. Two women were quite upset when they realized that the tote bag they were carrying with the elephant on it was from Ringling Bros. until we explained to them the facts about Feld’s conservation efforts on behalf of the Asian Elephants. They thanked us and left with a different opinion.

The biggest reaction was to our handout about the unregulated importation of stray dogs. Nearly every visitor was impressed to learn the key roles NAIA plays with state and federal agencies in developing regulations to protect people and pets.

Granted not everyone was thrilled we were there. One woman passed by and in response to Caren’s greeting said she didn’t know about NAIA, but, she didn’t agree with us. Can’t win them all!  The most amusing encounter occurred Thursday afternoon when the MN Director of HSUS stopped by. He stood just outside the booth, read our values statement and snickered. He then proceeded to verbally assault me with his ranting about anti-trapping of Bobcats in MN. I explained to him that trapping was not my area of expertise and I wasn’t interested in standing there debating with him. He proclaimed that we weren’t interested in facts. I responded that we were indeed interested in facts, just not emotional rhetoric. After a second invitation, he left.

2015 NCSL will be in Seattle. Having a booth at these types of events is extremely important so that we can provide Legislators and others with an alternative perspective on the issues. They want to hear from us and NAIA needs to consider expanding its presence at other venues in order to spread our message.

Aug 28, 2014 - NAIA Conference    No Comments

See You at This Year’s Conference!

Just a reminder: the early bird rate for this year’s NAIA Conference won’t last much longer. Sign up today!

As always, this will be a fascinating and inspiring event for all animal lovers with unforgettable, world-class presentations from experts. There will also be a strong focus on workshops to help you make a difference in your community with the knowledge you have gained!

List of featured speakers and topics:

  • Robert Guyer, Founder and President of The Lobby School:  Effective Grassroots Lobbying;
  • David Jentsch, PhD, Neuroscientist and UCLA Professor: Seeking cures in an age of extremism;
  • John Simpson and Michelle Pardo, Attorneys at Law and Partners, Norton Rose Fulbright, Washington, DC: Insights gained along the way to the landmark $25 million settlement paid by HSUS and the ASPCA to Feld Entertainment.
  • Cynthia O’Connor, DVM, Chris Walker, AKC VP of Communications, Patti Strand, NAIA President: The anatomy of a TV hit piece: HBO’s Unnatural Selection.
  • Theresie Tungilik, Dept. of Economic Development, Gov. of Nunavut: The impact of propaganda and international law on our traditional and modern economy;
  • Thomas Albert, VP Gov. Relations, Feld Entertainment: From the courts to city hall, the extremist’s campaign to ban the circus continues;
  • Baylen Linnekin, Executive Director, Keep Food Legal, Adjunct Faculty at American University: Food Freedom;
  • Steve Malone, Horse Carriage Owner-Operator: The campaign to end the horse carriage industry;
  • Cindy Buckmaster, PhD Neurobiologist, Chair, Americans for Medical Progress, Director, Center of Comparative Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine: Speak now or forever rest in peace; and
  • Janice Aria, Director of Animal Stewardship, Ringling Brothers Center for Elephant Conservation: Animal care at the Greatest Show on Earth, perception vs. reality.

NAIA2014ConferenceCover
See you there!
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Aug 21, 2014 - Animal Welfare    No Comments

Animal Welfare is not Appeasement

“In a perfect world, we would not keep animals for our benefit, including pets,”

Animal rights proponent Tom Regan, emeritus professor of philosophy at NC State University and author of Empty Cages – March 3, 2004


When trying to understand the animal rights mindset, and why they are never satisfied with improvement in animal care and welfare, it is important to remember the above quote.

Because it has never been about humans taking better care of the animals they keep, it is about humans not keeping animals for any reason whatsoever.

So of course it comes as no surprise that SeaWorld’s Larger Killer Whale Habitats Fail To Appease Animal Rights Advocates

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But the idea that they are trying to appease animal rights advocates misses the point. Animal welfare is not about appeasing ideologues and extremists who will never be happy with you. If that is what you make it about, you’re doing it wrong: the only form of appeasement that works with them is not to keep any animals at all.

Animal welfare is about making sure the animals you care for are not hungry, thirsty, or afraid. It is about providing comfort and preventing pain and injury. And (as in this case) it is about providing an ever-improving environment for them. Animal welfare is for people who actually care about animals.

These are the kind of things normal people care about, and these are the standards being addressed by SeaWorld.

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