A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Aug 10, 2015

In the echo of Cecil's final roar

Aaron Blaise's (Lion King animator ) tribute to Cecil the lion,
who was killed recently.
The utter tragedy of Cecil’s’ death notwithstanding, interesting things have resulted. 

Air lines have announced a refusal to ship such animal trophies from Africa. The list includes JetBlue, CargoJet, Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Comair, Delta Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Ethiopian Airways, Etihad, IAG Cargo, Iberia Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas, Qatar Airways Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, and WestJet with hopefully more to come.

Newscasters pundits, celebrities, and corporate executives have loudly denounced the "sport" of trophy hunting. People around the world through petitions and social medial have condemned the practice as well.

So - what have we learned? We learned that ideologues aside, the enlightened position of this country is against trophy hunting and for the protection of wild animals. This bodes well for legislative and, perhaps future behavioral changes on behalf of and by the citizenry. Consumers are also understanding the power of their shopping dollar and reward those who peddle their goods with a conscience. Public and peer pressures works! Just look at the SeaWorld, puppy mill and circus cases.

We have also learned 2 more things. First, steady, rational, articulate advocacy on behalf of animal welfare is working and effectuating positive global change. Second, criminals, idiots, abusers and offenders almost always hang themselves and help our cause!

Someday, maybe we can effectuate positive reforms without the prerequisite of a horrific act.

Jul 29, 2015

Cecil the Lion

Cecil, a beloved lion, known by all for his black mane was lured out of his protected habitat in a Zimbabwean national park by a Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, and his guides, and killed. Not just killed - but shot with a bow and arrow and left in pain for 40 hours until put out of his misery via gunshot. 
courtesy google images

The fact that Cecil was used to tourists and trusted them to some extent, relegates this heinous act to that akin to those characteristic of a canned hunt, which is not even considered a sport by other sport hunters, and an act of extreme cowardice and overcompensation. It is certainly not a fair fight.

What is really disturbing is his defense. In a statement to the media, Palmer claimed that he didn't mean to kill Cecil specifically, and that, whoever he killed, he killed legally. As to the latter, not so fast- as his guides were arrested for poaching. As to the former - unbelievable! 

How many prosecutors would release a murderer from culpability because he said "I intended to kill someone, just not the guy I killed". The answer is the precise amount of tolerance and leniency the world should give for such behavior.

Jul 23, 2015

Charges Filed Against Holiday Humane Society Fake Veterinarian

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has brought charges against Hector Antonio Menjivar, of Holiday Humane Society, for allegedly posing as a veterinarian and operating an unlicensed after-hours veterinary clinic in Van Nuys. The amount of pain and suffering caused to the pets and their human companions is unimaginable. 

It is particularly despicable, if Mr. Menjivar was using the humane society as a shield to deflect suspicion. My heart goes out to those pets and families who were caused pain by this organization and urge anyone else who may have so been harmed to contact the City Attorney. It is, of course, a good idea to research a veterinarian or clinic before bringing in your pet, especially if you are quoted a price that is too good to be true.

We commend Mike Feuer and Deputy City Attorney Don Cocek, Supervising Attorney of the City Attorney’s Animal Protection Unit, for protecting our animals from harm as well as those of us who love them.

Jul 13, 2015

My first haiku - maybe!

After a weekend of watching too many news shows - the following haiku came to mind:

Self deport, Self heal, Self fund - Selfish

Once so declared, government and charities can just pack up, and I can go back to watching television.

Jul 8, 2015


Courtesy google images
Like most "sport" hunting and canned hunts, there is no "sport" or real bravery in bullfighting. The bull is weakened, confined, repeatedly stabbed (causing great blood loss) by a group of picadors, and practically dead before the matador even enters the arena to finish the job. The matador dances around and essentially kills the pre-killed blood soaked bull. It is not about sport or bravery but show business and bloodlust as evidenced by the fact that there is a premium on fights involving white bulls as blood shows up better on their skin. After all, the color of the bull should not matter if the "fight" were about skill and not the summary killing of a pre-killed animal.

Contrast this with the running of the bulls going on now, where the bulls are healthy, very much alive, blessed by the clergy and startled into running through city streets where civilians, not matadors, engage with them. Of course there are always goring incidents and other injuries. So the trained brave matador takes on a virtually dead bull, where an untrained college student takes on a full strength herd of charging bulls. You know the matadors would never do that!

Now, let's look at California, where bullfighting, both regular and bloodless (Velcro tipped "swords" stick to a corresponding Velcro blanket on the bull) are illegal. Both are considered cruel as even in the bloodless fight there is a lot of tormenting and pain caused notwithstanding the fake swords. Yet, in California, a bloodless bullfight can (and does) occur every year"in connection with religious celebrations or religious festivals". (Penal Code 597m)  Ergo -bloodless bullfighting without religion is a crime. Bloodless bullfighting with religion is a family outing.

Every legislative season I try to find a lawmaker willing to repeal the religious exemption as the relationship between religious practice and the activity seems tenuous at best. None are up to the challenge as there are heady constitutional arguments involved and no guaranteed kill.

Clearly, we need a college student and not a matador for this fight.

Jul 6, 2015

Protect your spcaLA donor dollars from "poachers"!

spcaLA officer to the rescue!
We are now seeing ads for an aspca event in Los Angeles and other cities. Understand that it is not connected to your spcaLA and our pets, and that your funds will go to New York. In fact, this is true anywhere in the country. They are not an umbrella organization with "chapters" anywhere, but they do poach support from the local spcas everywhere.

place your spcaLA friend for life here!
None of this would be so bad if the aspca put a meaningful disclaimer on their ads and fund raising materials so that the public would not continue to be misled. They have been repeatedly asked to do so and have refused. On the other hand HSUS, also not an umbrella organization, did the honorable thing. They have put such a disclaimer on their ads! aspca should learn from this.

What is the aspca afraid of? Is nearly 200 million dollars in the bank not enough? Is the only way they acquire donors is to fool them into thinking they are a national umbrella? Are they worried that if donors knew that they stopped investigating animal cruelty, that they payed 9.5 million dollars to Ringling Brothers in a law suit for improperly paying a witness, or that they count on this misconception to raise funds, that people will donate locally instead?

The only way to overcome this is to be informed and therefore not fooled. Perhaps asking them nicely to follow the example set by HSUS could work too - miracles do happen.

Jun 26, 2015

Stop Playing Three Card Monte With Our Pets

this is what no-kill should look like
The term "no-kill" was abandoned years ago by enlightened and legitimate organizations as it became synonymous with horrific and sometimes hoarding conditions, as well as touted  by ignorant politicians, less than savory “rescue” groups and fundraisers to assuage a concerned public that all was well with the animals. After all, it's a catchy, quick concept phrase that achieved its original purpose of sparking an aspirational dialogue which advocated that all animals able to be physically and mentally rehabilitated should be placed into homes. (Even San Francisco, the birthplace of the term ceased its’ use a decade ago.) 

this is often what no-kill looks like
Unfortunately, mayors using the term to set goals, "rescues" promising life to a heartbroken pet owner who can no longer keep a pet, or city pound struggling to reach said no kill goal, are perpetuating a major fraud on the humane, well-meaning public. (Nothing here is intended to criticize those legitimate rescue groups without whose help we would be lost.)

 A major "adoption" festival in Los Angeles, where most of the pets were simply moved to "rescues" and could well be condemned to live out their lives in agony in an airline carrier is disgraceful. These are not adoptions into loving homes but rather a Three Card Monte game with our pets. Un-vetted "rescues", often just hoarders, some who may have already been convicted of animal cruelty, may be holding your former pet in miserable cesspools of anguish while advertising and soliciting funds for their “sanctuaries”. Other "sanctuaries" are simply warehousing our pets in crates in places where they will never be seen by potential adopters and will never find a home. 

The shell game of moving pets from location to location solves nothing - except maybe soothing the collective consciences of the perpetrators and the uninformed public. I don't expect that the public be knowledgeable in the nuances and ins and outs of this business. I do expect that they be told the truth. I am also not talking about legitimate transports such as our Air Chihuahua™   program where our excess of little dogs is sent to a state with no little dogs and is greeted by a line of adopters awaiting their arrival. I am speaking of removing animals from the shelters and stashing them in the dark corners and recesses of our city.
or this - from a no-kill location

Finally, those vestigial clingers to this sham suggest they are the righteous and the rest of us are - what - pro-kill? 

It is time that we expose this for what it is and commit to treating our animals humanely, to finding them forever homes, to educate those who know not what they are saying, and to prosecute those that deceive us and harm our pets.