See May 11, 2018 Ocala Star Banner on not guilty finding in animal cruelty case

A Cautionary Tail, er Tale.

In an extraordinary decision, a jury in Marion County recently found a man not guilty of animal cruelty. The basic facts are not in dispute. The defendant amputated the tails of five one-month old kittens who belonged to another person. The law is also not in dispute. Florida statute 828.12 states:” A person who…unnecessarily mutilates..any animal… commits animal cruelty”

I am hard pressed to view tail amputation in this instance as anything other than unnecessary mutilation. Indeed, a website hosted by a DVM who specializes in cats provides the following information:” The tail is an important part of the feline anatomy and is actually an extension of the spine. The bones of the tail (vertebrae) are bigger at the base and get smaller toward the tip. Soft discs cushion the spaces between the vertebrae and allow flexibility. The tail muscle and nerves facilitate tail movement and play a role in bowel control. This complex tail structure of bone, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels can easily be injured. “ Accordingly, save for a medical issue with a cat’s tail that should always be addressed by a licensed vet, the amputation in question certainly appears to meet the definition of cruelty to animals. On what basis, then, did the jury return a verdict of not guilty?

Only the jurors themselves can answer that question, of course, so in the absence of their clarifying statements we are left with conjecture. Here’s my guess—the jurors, similar to the defendant, are adherents of and acculturated to the philosophy of animal welfarism. That philosophy is simple and prevalent: animals are here for human use and amusement, and humans are obligated to treat animals only as humanely as is convenient to us. So if in my culture we always amputate tails of cats (as the defendant’s sister testified), and I poured Iodine in their open wounds (don’t try this at home!), that is acting humanely. After all, they’re only cats!

Let’s give the jury the benefit of the doubt and opine that, had the defendant cut off the ears or noses of the cats, or gouged out their eyes, or amputated their legs, the decision would have been different. Let’s hope so! Here’s the problem. Once you admit and allow any unnecessary harm as being humane, there is no stopping point. What is needed is a philosophy that not only prescribes any unnecessary harm to any animal, but one that pushes humans to cherish the lives of all animals, enhancing lives and avoiding harm at all costs. We need a philosophy that recognizes the worth and integrity of all life, that views all life as a miracle and that seeks to alleviate suffering and want wherever possible.

This philosophy is Schweitzer’s reverence for life, best articulated as:

A man is ethical, only where life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellowmen, and where he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.”

Animals, especially domesticated animals that humans have caused to be bred, must be viewed as precious lives with a right to be here, with a right to expect human stewardship of their existence. We humans must alter our view of animals to one where we use our intelligence and organizational capacity to make animal lives, all lives, better, to enhance and promote life, and to work to alleviate and eliminate suffering wherever possible.

It is too late for the jury to overturn its verdict, and for the defendant, what’s done is done. The only thing left is to examine what happened and learn from it. Any culture that acquiesces in the slightest harm to animals must be modified, as that acquiescence inevitably leads to an acceptance of greater harm to animals as being the permissible norm. We see this today in our state where animals are bred for human caprice, often illegal, mistreated and then cast aside or killed when they no longer serve a human purpose.

From this day forward, may the jurors and defendant, may all of us view all harm to animals as something to be avoided at all costs, and may everyone, by the adoption of a reverence for life as an ethos, seek to remediate harm to animals and through our words and deeds help prevent future pain to innocent creatures. Their lives are in our hands—may we seek to serve them with compassion rather than subject them to brutality. The needless suffering of any creature diminishes me, for I am involved with life. Therefore never ask for whom the bell of accountability tolls, as it tolls for us all.

Time for humane education

Two Florida statutes mandate that humane education be taught in public schools.  They are reproduced below.  Far too many counties merrily ignore this requirement, as of course, there is nobody who can or will enforce it.  It is high time to teach a reverence for life, all life, in our schools.  Only when we reinforce the notion, again and again, of how precious life is, will we make strides in eradicating the mass slaughter that too often occurs in our schools and in our lives.

An allegory?

Found this handsome guy caught in the net over my goldfish pond today.  Finally found something that allowed me to cut him loose while staying out of reach of his talons.  He flew away, seemingly unharmed.  Became clear to me, though, that this encounter was an allegory for  human intervention in nature.  The fish were saved from lives as feeder fish and allowed to prosper in size and number in the pond. Prosperity attracted predators, and my solution was a net over the pond.  In saving the fish I endangered another creature.  And so it goes.  Starting to believe Edward O. Wilson is right: humans should stay out of nature–simply creature large swaths of habitat off limits to us, for we are not intelligent enough to predict all the repercussions of our acts.  Well–at least this guy lives to hoot another day! 

A good start for Florida

Florida strikes a shrewd blow for civilization and decency–this is just the first step, but in November Florida voters may have a chance to demonstrate a reverence for life, to show the world that we view these magnificent creatures as precious lives worthy of our care, not as commodities to be used and abused for our vile purposes until they die.

From the Palm Beach Post 3-22-18

UPDATE: The Florida Constitution Revision Commission on Tuesday night gave preliminary approval to Proposal 67, which would phase out commercial greyhound racing in the state by 2020. The proposal will now go to the Style and Drafting Committee before returning to the full CRC for a final vote. If approved, it will appear on the November ballot. 

New Animal Shelter is well on its way!!

First $25K in the books!  Fofta proud to be a sponsor and donor to the new Williston Animal Shelter.  This will be a shelter designed to foster love and compassion to any animal housed there.  Every domesticated animal deserves a chance at a good life in an environment with loving humans , and I know all of us involved will do their damnedest to adopt out as many animals as we can.  May we indeed share the blessings of the merciful.

Florida must do better for grey hounds!

I am ashamed to be a human.  The following comes from grey2k usa.

This week, the saddest records crossed my desk. According to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, ten racing greyhounds died in October.

BS Jarrod “snapped his spinal cord,” while racing at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. FGF Josie was struck by another dog and suffered a “ruptured organ” due to “blunt trauma and rotation of abdomen causing internal bleeding.” She got up and tried to finish her race but collapsed and died alone on the sand and dirt of the Daytona Beach dog track. ​

Flippin Bubba broke his back. Scottish Scourge broke a leg and was summarily destroyed. Both of these died at Orange Park on the same day, six hours apart. ​

Of all the death notifications I read, the saddest one involved a nameless puppy who was just one year of age. Fresh off the breeding farm, she had never raced and was still “in training” at the Florida Kennel Compound. Her death on October 10, 2017 at 8:30 am is described on a single piece of paper, consisting of hastily written notes. The kennel hand who watched her die that morning wrote the following:  ​

Schooling – Fell into the rail and I assume got electricity. She was deceased immediately afterwards (sic)

Levy County TNR Project–from the Williston Pioneer–Feb 14, 2018

Spay, neuter program enjoys successful launch

  • Sean Arnold

Staff writer

Levy County Animal Services is introducing a free trap-neuter-release program in an effort to rein in the county’s feral cat problem.

The program had its first run Jan. 25, and it was more successful than Darlene Esler, DVM, LCAS staff veterinarian, could have imagined.

With help from a couple of volunteers, the team spaid 10 females and neutered three males. One of the females was pregnant, and more were in heat, reported Esler, indicating the program is already making a modest dent on the large problem. LCAS is euthanizing around half the feral cats that are brought in. It hopes to hold a spay-neuter date at least once a month, possibly more in the summer, for feral cats.

The program is aimed at treating what are commonly referred to as “community cats” or “neighborhood cats,” which includes cats that are feral but are being fed or cared for in some capacity. Those who participate can pick up traps from Animal Services, for a $25 refundable deposit. The cats are brought in the day before the surgery and picked up the day after.

Esler said there are procedure dates planned for Feb. 22 and March 22, and most or all of the available slots have been taken already. She said her group will increase the number of cats it spays and neuters as the program continues. They worked on 10 cats on Jan. 25, and handled a few more on previous dates.

“We’re going up to 15 the next two months to see how that goes with the staff and volunteers that we have,” said Esler, who commended the work of her two volunteers, who also help with socializing and walking dogs and other weekly tasks. “We expect the next one will go even more smoothly, but there will be problems that come up along the line, that’s just inevitable.”

Esler said that For Our Friends the Animals provided a $4,000 grant for surgical packs. She also noted that the next pet adoption event will be held March 10 at Tractor Supply Co. in Chiefland from approx. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

IFAS can do better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s hope IFAS can do better.

Today’s Ocala paper carries a short letter from one of the senior people at the U. of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Studies (IFAS).  He announced the creation of a doctoral program designed to teach students how to head off some of humanity’s most profound social challenges.

May I respectfully suggest that IFAS tackle the most pressing social challenge, and one that confronts us daily in Florida; namely, the enormous problems caused by factory farming and animal Ag.  Among these problems are:

use of antibiotics and other drugs in animals;
farm waste leading to air and water pollution;
harm to humans from meat consumption;
waste of food and water to care for animals ;
and last but certainly not least, the vile treatment accorded animals bred solely for slaughter and human consumption

Wouldn’t it be marvelous for a university Ag department to lead the way to a plant based diet and away from the many ills (only a few of which are noted above) involved with the slaughter of innocent animals.

Please start now.

Time to stop animal ag

What to do about animal Ag?

The penultimate question in this series is this: should humans breed animals for our own consumption and other purposes, i.e. fur, horns, fins, etc.?

My answer is no.

Let’s go through the analysis. First such breeding clearly violates the dictate to do no harm, as these animals are harmed and killed in the most painful, egregious fashion.

Second, breeding animals for use and consumption violates all of the Five Freedoms.

Third, this breeding is the antithesis of a reverence for life, as the animals are treated as mere, money-making commodities, not as precious lives with an equal right to their own existence.

Finally, there is no need for such breeding, as alternatives exist for our diet to provide proteins (without the deleterious consequences that ingesting animal products brings), and rhino horns and shark fins are neither indicated nor needed to increase a man’s virility. Even if proven scientifically, torturing animals for a portion of their bodies to increase a person’s libido is beneath contempt. We have enough humans as it is.

Whether animals can be raised without slaughter and torture and still provide us milk and fur I do not know; frankly, given the many alternatives now available, there is no need to engage in any further dialogue.