Friday, May 25, 2012

Boycott the Circus, Save an Animal or Two

Hello everyone,
I am writing this on Thursday and Friday, as I will be away at the Ontario Nature Youth Council's Youth Leadership Retreat (ha! I love long names) for the weekend. On June 1 (my birthday), I'll be posting about how it went on my environment blog,
Anyway, today I want to let you all know about why we need to avoid the circuses that use animals...
  1. The use of animals for human entertainment is inherently wrong. Just as women were not made for men and black people weren't made for white people, animals were not made for humans. Keeping these animals locked up in cages is like keeping them as slaves.
  2. The training tactics of circuses are also very cruel. To train elephants to be ridden by humans, for example, they have to be chained down in a bowing position (this is the position they must be in for people to climb onto their backs). I can't imagine why circus visitors would find it fun to see abused animals perform tricks for them.
Instead of the traditional animal circus, why not attend the Cirque du Soleil or a similar circus, which focuses on the amazing feats of human acrobats and gymnasts? I have heard that it is truly awe-inspiring.
For those of you who want to stop the circus cruelty in its tracks, you can start a miniature protest near the entrance to a circus. Hand out leaflets encouraging visitors to attend another attraction instead (ie. going to the movies (without animal actors!), swimming in a lake, seeing a non-animal circus, etc.). You might think that this is too much work, but all you really need to do is gather some friends who care and make the signs, educate yourselves, prepare some sort of handout and alternatives to the circus, then go do it! Some peta2 teens successfully did this:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pampered Pooch... Or Not? Part III

Here is the last post of this series: about pet obesity. Not the most cheerful topic, but I'll try to inform and entertain you the best I can!
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 21% of companion animals in the U.S. are obese. A Purina survey has shown that 60% of American pets are overweight. This number is very concerning, considering that pet obesity can cause osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, pulmonary and heart diseases, injuries, kidney disease, cancer, skin conditions, and shortened lifespans.
What causes obesity in our furry friends? Can't we just feed them a little less? One of the main problems is that people don't realize when their pets are overweight. It can be hard to tell because of all their fur, and also because they are simply different species, which makes it harder to judge whether they look healthy. To find out how much your pet would weigh in human pounds, go to
Another reason is that people feed their pets too many treats. Did you know that a 40-pound dog eating a pig's ear is the caloric equivalent of a human drinking a 6-pack of Coke? And for some small dogs, a cheeseburger could amount to 5 days worth of calories!
The third reason, of course, is that many people do not let their pets exercise.
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Pet obesity does not only cause our furry friends much discomfort, but it also costs a lot of money. According to, "In 2009, VPI [pet insurance] policyholders filed more than $17 million in claims for conditions and diseases that can be caused by excess weight."
Here are some things you can do to prevent your companion animal from becoming overweight, or to help them lose weight if they need it:
  1. Only feed them the amount that they need. This can be determined by your doggie owner manuals and rabbit handbooks, as well as numerous websites. Feed them the amount recommended for their ideal weight.
  2. Keep treats to a minimum. I never feed my dog regular dog treats, even though my family has accumulated many bags of them over the years. Instead, I give him the occasional chickpea or bit of carrot that has fallen on the ground.
  3. Take your dog and cat on walks. Let your rabbit and guinea pig have free-run of the house. Give your mice a wheel to run in. Allow your horses to live in a pasture instead of stalls. Bird-proof a room and let your parrot fly/hop around in it! (Make sure you draw the curtains!)
  4. If you are worried about your companion animal's health, but you don't know whether or not they are overweight, either do the "rib test"-- you should be able to feel the ribs under a thin layer of fat without pressing-- or take him or her into the vet for a checkup.
  5. Don't starve your companion animals! That's worse abuse than feeding them too much, after all!
  6. Love them unconditionally. People are sometimes embarrassed or ashamed that their pets are overweight. But it isn't your companion animal's fault. They have genetically evolved to prepare for times of scarcity. So never treat them badly for such a thing.
  7. Offer to walk the neighbours' dogs. It will mean the world to both the neighbours and the dogs!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pampered Pooch... Or Not? Part II

The next installment in this three-part series is on the boredom and lonliness that companion animals face daily while their owners are away at work and school.
I always like to ask people how they would feel if they were treated the way humans treat animals. So let me ask you this: would you like to be locked up in a house with nothing to do all day, or worse, in a cage?
Of course not! You'd want something to do, whether it be listening to music, chatting with a friend, or hiking in nature. And that's what your pet wants, too.
Luckily, there are many options for you to provide for your pet while you are away at work or school. Here are some of them:
  1. Companion animal relaxation CDs: I found one of these at my old school's annual book sale. I didn't buy it, because it looked like it was for cats (I have a dog and a rabbit), but later on I went on their website to play a preview of the music. My rabbit loved it! (My dog was either resting, uninterested, or asleep.) Now I've put it on my birthday wishlist for my parents to (hopefully) buy! I'll be able to play it in my rabbit's room (she has a room, not a cage) when I've gone out for a walk to keep her occupied. The one I'm talking about can be found at Also try and See a list of some more at
  2.  DVDs: You can also purchase a DVD to play for your companion animal for when you're away. Try
  3. Adopt another animal, preferably of the same species as your current pet, from the animal shelter. Make sure that their personalities are compatible (and that they won't eat each other-- like a cat and a guinea pig).
  4. Give small animals chew sticks, cardboard boxes, and toys to play with. These will take up a large portion of their time.
  5. But in the end, you can't buy love! Spend time with your companion animals. That's why you have them, right?
When you are at home, be sure not to shun or punish your pets, no matter what they do. They may not recognize why you are punishing them, and they will simply believe that you are a mean person! If your cat wants to cuddle up beside you at night or during the day, please let her. She loves you. That is a wonderful gift in itself.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pampered Pooch... Or Not? Part I

"My dog is so spoiled."
"I treat him better than my own son!"
"I can't get away from Ms. Kitty without giving her at least five treats!"

No doubt, we love our dogs and cats... but do we always do what's best for them?
Is a dog spoiled when he is locked up in a crate all day while the owner is at work?
Is a cat really being treated better than a human child when he is shut out of the room at times when he doesn't make you happy-- and, when he does something "wrong", gets hit by a jet of icy water?
And I'm not going to pretend that Ms. Kitty is a happy cat if she eats so many treats she gets a whole host of obesity-related diseases.

In Part I this week, I'll discuss those infamous dog crates. Here is a video of  poor dog named Kiwi, who managed to escape her crate when her "family" was out. In the video, they say that "Crate training is recommended by the humane society and only done for the first few weeks you have your pup. Kiwi now has free access to the entire house but still sleeps in her crate because she chooses to."
To be blunt, I don't care that crate training is recommended by any humane society. You shouldn't keep an animal locked up in a cage, all alone like that! Animals can be claustrophobic, get lonely, feel depressed, etc. The real reason why people lock up their dogs in crates is for convenience. But it certainly isn't convenient for the dog to lock her up for 8 hours a day without anything to do, bathroom breaks, or a chance to take more than a couple steps. Crating can also lead to pet obesity, which I'll talk about more in Part III.
If you adopt a dog, you most certainly should have someone home for a large portion of the day so that she doesn't get lonely. Besides, Kiwi could have gotten seriously hurt while trying to escape. If giving your dog free range of the house at first is overwhelming, then keep her in a separate room for a while.

Courtesy of
Can crating ever be okay? It really depends on why you are doing it.  Never keep your dog in a crate on a regular basis, like while you are at work, or for a prolonged period of time, like while you are on vacation. Only keep your dog in a crate if he is too sick to walk around without dying. And if your dog tears apart the house if he is allowed out of his crate, you really need to reconsider your keeping this animal indoors. You can always give him a fenced-in area outside with a warm doghouse if he is too wild to have free run of the human-house.

The best things you can do to help change the crate problem are the following:
  1. Don't do it yourself! Obvious, I know. But far too many people engage in this cruel practice!
  2. Spread the word! Link to the websites listed below on your blog, website, and social networking pages.
  3. Know anyone who crates their dog? Tell them that you think it's a cruel practice. Don't give them the impression that you're just some crazy animal-rights person, though (a lot of people feel that way about us)-- instead, explain why you are opposed to crates. Send them a quick follow-up e-mail with these links:
    1. "Alternatives to crate training":
    2. "Crate training is cruel":
    3. "Pampered Pooch... Or Not? Part I":
Have fun teaching your puppy... crate-free!