A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Apr 25, 2010

spcas - Stand Up And Light!

Just a thank you to spcaLA's  individual and corporate constituents, particularly Pacific Park, Lax and the Coliseum for their "Go Blue for spcaLA" light support and celebrations.

They stood up for your spcaLA  against the misconception that aspca is a national/umbrella organization, and, the resultant divergence of funds, needed by abused pets here, to New York. In response to aspca's  request that cities all over the country  light up landmarks orange for them - the NY spca -your landmarks lit up blue for spcaLA and the animals here who need our help.  Knowing where your funds are going and intending them to actually go there is all we ask. There is nothing I can say to someone who says - "I already gave to your national office." - except there is no national office. This exchange leaves us both upset with no help for the pets here. Furthermore, it is my opinion, that donating locally and keeping our communities strong is the key to building strong cities, then states, then our nation.

I call upon spca's across the country to ask their landmark buildings to light up in each of their respective spca colors to stand up for local shelters, and to present the rainbow of organizations that are truly caring for our lost, abandoned, and abused pets across this country -and leave orange in NY - where it belongs.

Thank you again.

Apr 21, 2010

What to with the US Supreme Court Animal Cruelty decision

The Supreme Court in U.S. v. Stevens struck down a federal statute that would criminalize certain depictions of animal cruelty. The genesis of this law was to prevent the distribution of crush videos, a genre of film where women in sexy shoes and lingerie stomp, crush and kill a small animal. The reason, very generally stated, was the law was written in such a way that it was too broad and could capture conduct either legal or unintended. Additionally, there is always scrutiny where a perceived encroachment upon first amendment rights occurs with the additional imposition of criminal liability resulting from the behavior.

spcaLA was involved in crush video cases, and I can tell you, the evidence was very difficult for me to watch. I fear that this decision will send the message that one can produce these and other horrendous animal snuff films at a substantial profit. Whether I agree or not with the decision, (I have argued both sides at various forums) I find it important that the Supreme Court is vigilant in guarding against any erosion of our first amendment rights.

Rather than whine about a “set back”, blog about the disappointment and tweet about “bad” judges let us draft a federal statute that will pass constitutional muster, using the guidelines provided by this decision. If our federal lawmakers don’t wish to do so – let us pass laws state by state similar to California Civil Code 3505, which addresses the showing of programs involving animal cruelty, to force those who would like to engage in such behavior to litigate in all fifty states. Please also remember, that in all states, catching the act of cruelty during filming is still a crime.

Apr 19, 2010

Amazon Kindle Needs to Grow a Pair!

I am really irritated with Amazon and the Kindle,

As an extremely busy CEO who loves to read but has precious little down time, I use technology to help. Though a devout paper lover - the smell of a newly opened hard covered book is divine - I supplement with technology rather than read less. I therefore owned a Rocket Book - one of the first E readers - which allowed me to travel with numerous texts sans weight, and now I  use a kindle, ipad and ipod to read everywhere.

In Los Angeles - this means the car! Hours of traffic and freeways available to a readaholic. To that end I listen to Audible.com books as well as Kindle books through the text to speech option. There is a difference - the former is a performance, sometimes with actors and music, the latter is a computer reading in a monotone. It is impossible to confuse the two. Yet - amazingly, Amazon is allowing publishers to disable the text to speech feature as they feel their Audible.com sales could be threatened.

Nonsense - by that logic I couldn't have the passenger in the car read a book to me,  read to my kids or read to the visiually challenged. This is stupid, not legally necessary -  yet - Amazon caved to this silly demand.

Really - Amazon needs to grow a pair and support the text to speech option it promised consumers.

Apr 11, 2010

Just Say No to the Circus

This week a circus trainer in Pennsylvania was killed by an elephant. Another avoidable tragedy. In response to this news, my twitter friend, DrBuzziBoomBatz in essence said to leave the creatures alone and ban all animals from circuses creating more jobs for trapeze artists. An excellent suggestion!

Why do we insist on supporting an industry that shackles, chains, contorts, and breaks wild animals until they submit to wearing rhinestone hats and sitting on a stool. Does anyone think this is ok? Does anyone not know of the long days cramped in train cars, endless hours chained to posts, and grueling "training" sessions topped off by a performance under bright lights, in front of thousands of screaming people which are constantly suffered by elephants, lions, tigers, horses and other circus animals? Does anyone think this is ok? Do we require this form of amusement? Are we still searching for a King Kong to hawk as another wonder of the world and to, of course, make a promoter rich? Does our happiness depend upon an elephant walking on hind legs or a tiger jumping through a ring of fire? I surely hope not. Can our children grow to be fine adults without witnessing this? I surely hope so. Make no mistake. It is not magic. These animals aren't born wanting to perform those tricks. They are forced, hurt, bullied and can't call for help. They have no choice.

We do have a choice. We don't have to watch. If we can't ban animals in circuses - we can ignore the circus to death. If it is no longer profitable to enslave and destroy the spirit or our wild animals - maybe they will go away.  Just say no to the circus.

Apr 4, 2010

I Finally Met a Donation I Didn't Want

A friend called me dumbfounded. She was speaking to a person who was planning a vacation, could not find a sitter for the family cats, and did not want to spend the funds to board them. She then announced to my friend that she would do the right thing and "donate" them to a local shelter. She and her children would then get new cats upon their return from vacation. Problem solved.

I realize that not everyone is as immersed in or educated about the animal welfare business as those of us directly involved - but - really?  We hope that a commitment is made when adopting a pet that is for the life of the pet and includes food, medical care and boarding when necessary.  I understand that people don't always choose the correct words when speaking - but - "donate"?  We seek donations to  care for and educate about unwanted and abused pets with the hope that someday we won't have anymore of them.  I believe that it's commonly felt that providing children with a pet can be an invaluable experience - but - what is the real message to her kids here? That pets are disposable and there are always more?  In fact - most children witnessing such behavior wonder if they will be turned in should they become too expensive or inconvenient.

Clearly, we have a lot more work to do. And I finally met a donation I didn't want!