A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Sep 18, 2017

California's Foie Gras Ban Reinstated by US Ct. of Appeals!

Courtesy google images
In 2004 a law was passed in California that would ban foie gras if the pate was made from force feeding the birds or obtained by a company that treated the birds that way. The effective date of law was delayed almost 8 years to allow producers the time to convert to a humane method of feeding the birds.

On the eve of July 1st 2012, the day the ban would become law, the litigation began, unsuccessfully, to seek to overturn it. Foie gras was off the menu. In 2015 the ban was defeated on the theory that it was preempted by federal law which would prohibit states from imposing "ingredient requirements" that differed from or added to the federal regulations. Foie gras has been on the menu again since then.

The United States Court of Appeals, finding no violation of federal law, has just reversed the lower court and reinstated the ban finding that there is no ingredient issue regarding the liver, but rather, the issue is how the birds are treated while they are alive!

This ruling will not take effect in order to allow the exhaustion of the appellate process, but it is certainly directionally correct!

Foie gras is already banned in other countries such as Argentina, Israel, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Italy, and Prince Charles has banned it from all his events. Let's hope we can keep the momentum up....

Aug 23, 2017

Is roadkill cuisine on the menu?

If you have ever hosted a dinner party or planned an event, you know that food issues can make you crazy. Besides allergies, gluten, special diets as in Paleo, Mediterranean, and unique eccentricities, vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians must not be permitted to leave hungry.

Now, there is a trend toward legalizing the procurement and the eating of road kill. Newsweek  is reporting that about 20 states allow this with Oregon joining that club this year. Arguments in favor of this practice tout the millions of animals left on the side of the road each year that could feed hungry people for free, or for a cost of a permit, point out that these animals are grass fed, free of antibiotics and hormones, and are not subject to the horrific conditions of factory farms.  

Arguably, if you don't eat food that is a product of a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) for humane reasons, roadkill is considered a good option. If you believe that people should not eat animals at all, this new source of meat won't affect you.

Before you run off to harvest a deer or a rattlesnake for dinner, you must check the laws in your state as they differ substantially. I would also check with a gastroenterologist near you!

Is it okay to ask your host if they are serving roadkill before accepting a dinner invitation? Etiquette experts?

Jul 24, 2017

"No-Kill" does not mean no death - It's often worse

A puppy is born with a swollen head and no chance of survival as so decreed by a veterinarian. Because the shelter alleges that it is "no-kill", a shelter employee, a "no-kill" ideologue, insists on fostering the puppy with hopes that he will be all right. This employee has no medical knowledge or ability to soothe this baby as there is no treatment for the condition and his system is too frail to survive pain killers. The puppy, however, is suffering horribly. He screams when touched and his breathing is labored. The zealot, bathed in self-righteous glory, watches the puppy die slowly, unable to touch him, for 15 tortuous hours, proud to worship at the "no-kill" ideology altar. The employee returns the little body to the shelter, where his death is classified as "died in care", or lack thereof, rather than "humanely euthanized".

"Died in care" has become the new statistical catch-all for permitting animals to suffer in agony and die while perpetuating the lie that the euthanasia rate is low or non-existent. In other words, if cages are overloaded and animals kill each other, if animals are allowed to die like this puppy, if animals are given to hoarders or incompetent/fake rescues in an endless game of three card monte where they live for years cramped into feces filled airline crates, the shelter administration can statistically present the shelter to the public as "no-kill", thus turning their back on the suffering thereby condemning these pets to a fate worse than death. It is shameful, cruel and conscience shocking.

Of course, the politicians want the lie and demand to be lied to, psychopathic fanatics monetize their no kill behavior to fund themselves and shame others, and the public begins to believe that all is well with the world while also withdrawing support from shelters who won't play this game, classifying them as pro-kill. Shelters themselves have become the hoarders and as such can neither prosecute a hoarder who they continue to supply with animals nor rescue animals from harm because of lack of space.

It is quite clear what the result of this diplo-feculence means. Our pets our being victimized both by animal abusers and those charged with protecting them. How would you feel if your pet ended up grieving and pain ridden in an environment like this? How can the same person claim to be an advocate for life while compliant in such misery and anguish?

I, for one, am sick of this. We need to expose this for what it is and stop the enabling.

Jun 30, 2017

Declare independence from FRAUD this 4th!

The July 4th holidays often result in an increase of pets, disoriented and scared by fireworks, becoming lost on the streets and hopefully ending up safely in a shelter. It is also an opportunity for FAKE RESCUES to pick up these pets and deprive both the pets and their humans of a happy reunion. I am already seeing Facebook posts of found pets, some with unregistered microchips begging for funds - for what - to help them with these pets - to do what?

Don't enable this crime by donating, thereby making you a crime victim of fraud as well.

If you find a loose pet it is the law to turn that pet into a shelter unless you have an arrangement of notifying and sending photos to your shelter in lieu of actually relinquishing the pet. This is so the pets' family, who could one day be you, can find him or her.

The existence of an unregistered microchip or lack of a tag does not mean the pet has no family who is frantically searching but rather could mean that the dog got out of his home where he does not wear his collar or is a new pet whose chip has not been registered, or a new owner does not know there is a chip, or someone did not fully understand the way the chips work. The bottom line is that these nefarious "rescuers" might be holding your dog, in substandard conditions, and by violating the law deprives you of an ability to find him. They are not well meaning people but rather con artists who use your pet to raise funds for themselves.

The problem is so bad that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office issued a FRAUD ALERT about these scammers. They raise funds ostensibly to help care for a pet or to help a shelter care for the pet. Neither is true. The funds are their income!

The best thing that you can do is to safeguard your pets as best as you can, report those you discover on social media to local law enforcement, the IRS and your state Attorney General, and spread the word about this situation that can condemn a pet to cruel treatment, deprive both pet and family of each other, and steal precious funds that are much needed to protect animals. Also - check with your local authorities before donating to determine the legitimacy of the group. Don't enable these criminals.

Finally, in the internet world in which we live, impulse donations to a Facebook post creates many victims - a pet who truly needs help, a shelter whose survival depends on donations, a family who will never see their pet again, and YOU. 

Jun 9, 2017

FRAUD ALERT issued by LA County District Attorney re animal rescues

Courtesy LA County DA
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office issued a FRAUD ALERT warning people of predators trying to scam well-meaning consumers of funds to the detriment of animals in real need and legitimate charities who need those funds to help animal victims. These predators and fake rescues exploit benevolent citizens by stealing funds, lying about a need and, in some cases pretending to be a legitimate charity. We saw an example recently when a KCBS investigative report exposed a rescue who advertised as but was not a legally compliant charity.

The District Attorney's FRAUD ALERT says in part: (Click on the words FRAUD ALERT above for the entire alert and video.)

"The image of a sad puppy in a cage at a shelter will inspire many animal lovers to donate money to rescue organizations but scammers may be preying on their compassion.
In the animal shelter scam, crooks will post pictures of the animals with false information about “high kill” shelters and imminent death unless they immediately receive money to rescue the pets.
Consumers may be contacted on social media, email, phone or U.S. mail seeking donations to rescue an animal.  In one common scam, fraudsters post old pictures of animals or that are not in our region or local shelters and indicate they are legitimate charities when they are not. 
The money raised by scammers doesn’t go to the care of the animal, sheltering agencies or to the adopting party or organization." 

It is always a wise idea to check before you donate as even legitimate charities can mislead or not actually provide the services that you want to fund. Or, as you know, many donate to the New York aspca thinking that they are an umbrella organization that is connected to your local spca which is not at all the case. Finally, in the internet world in which we live, impulse donations to a Facebook post might create at least 3 victims - a pet who truly needs help, a shelter whose survival depends on donations, and YOU. 

May 17, 2017

Largest Cockfighting Bust in U.S. History

Over 7000 fighting birds, paraphernalia and other related items were seized in what is purported to be the largest cockfighting bust in U.S. history.

Spearheaded by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Blood Sports Unit, spcaLA elite Humane Officers, Los Angeles County Animal Control officers and helping hands from hsus volunteers entered a property in Val Verde which hosted the birds, mobile fighting arenas and other combat accessories. There was an excess of 100 deputies on the scene along with support personnel, such as crime lab experts, veterinary support, and over 100 other people provided by the involved organizations to assist in this massive raid.

It is spectacular to see this level of commitment from law enforcement here in Los Angeles as there is a recognition that these crimes never exist in a vacuum, often involve minor children as spectators, and is an absolute painful, cruel and often fatal experience for the birds. Additionally, the sheriff's department took extra steps and planned to make sure that numerous loose dogs on the property, used to guard the birds would be handled gently and without the need of lethal force. To that end, spcaLA officers entered in the lead with the first team to ensure that neither humans nor dogs would be harmed as a result of this criminal operation. The plan worked beautifully, and all officers could then turn their attention to collecting evidence and processing the crime scene.

I would just ask you to believe me when I say that this type of enlightenment and commitment to crimes against animals is special and not typical either in California or in other states.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Blood Sports Unit!

May 1, 2017

Fakers, Frauds and "Fonies" Oh my ...

UPDATE: California Attorney General issued Cease and Desist order to Saving Spot. They are also prohibited from reincorporating under a different name. They are no longer in operation.

KCBS news investigative reporter David Goldstein did an expose on a "fake animal rescue charity". In the piece, we learn that the "rescue" Saving Spot is advertising as a charity, soliciting donations and advising people that the 450 dollar price tag for a dog was deductible. Upon further investigation it is revealed that it is not true, and that their charitable status was actually suspended due to noncompliance. More alarming was the fact that in Los Angeles, 29 out of 66 "rescues" were also not proper nonprofit charities who were likewise soliciting funds.

Fake charities, fake net-workers and fake internet fund raising pleas have sprung up in epidemic proportions and capitalize on the kindness of human beings who want to help. Some may even be in cahoots with backyard breeders or puppy mills.

Make no mistake. It is a crime to take funds under false pretenses. Worse, it takes funds away from legitimate shelters, and those, both private and nonprofit entities that are in compliance with the law.

It is bad enough that there are real charities that don't act very charitable or, as in the case of the aspca (New York's spca) a real charity that refuses to correct the misimpression that they are a national umbrella organization thereby receiving funds from those who believe that it will be distributed locally, we now have to deal with outright frauds, all of whom are taking food out of the mouths of animals residing in shelters who need financial support. Some of these "rescue net-workers" simply use a public picture of a shelter dog and raise funds on line to care for him or her. In other words, your 5 or 20 dollar donation on Facebook is supporting a person who doesn't even have an animal.

Please, don't just give funds without checking, don't just buy a dog believing that you are helping a rescue when you might be purchasing a dog from a breeder, and please, donate locally so you can see your donor dollars at work.

This is just the beginning of this story. Stay tuned and stay smart!