A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Jan 27, 2010

Call to Action: Tree Frogs, Bull Frogs and Turtles - Oh My!

The California State Fish and Game Commission, at their FEBRUARY 3rd meeting, is proposing to ban the importation and/or sale of live frogs and turtles for human consumption .

Over the past decade spcaLA has shared with and submitted to the commission a catalogue of some of our findings regarding the importation of red eared sliders, soft shelled turtles, and other reptiles into California. We shared the details of an spcaLA cruelty case where the importer was operating with a forged Fish & Game permit, was in possession of prohibited/endangered species and applied for and was granted a new permit while incarcerated on our case! (This was corrected!) We shared lists of numerous diseases found in these animals upon necropsy and veterinary findings which supported the theory that these animals were not hatched from farms but rather poached from the wild. We offered verification to the Department that there is ongoing depletion of these species in other states such as Louisiana, Arkansas, and Florida.

Yet, over two million live bullfrogs, turtles and other animals continue to be imported into our state each year, and continue to spread diseases to our native wildlife and to humans. Additionally, these animals are subjected to acts of cruelty from capture to market.

Existing laws designed to protect the public from disease and the animals from acts of cruelty are ignored and there are insufficient resources to enforce all the laws. A ban, sure and simple is the only true and effective solution.

Please write, fax or email John Carlson, Executive Director, State Fish and Game Commission, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento CA. 95814. Fax: 1 916 -653- 5040. fgc@fgc.ca.gov.

Jan 18, 2010

Casting Pearls and Swine in Hollywood Swag Fest

The stark contrast of unemployment and homelessness on “Main Street” against the glut and excess in Hollywood is most pronounced during award seasons. It is, at this time, vendors compete with each other to give away their wares to those who need it the least – successful celebrities. This display of greed and extreme materialism occurs at gifting suites where television and movie stars arrive expecting swag i.e. free clothing, cameras, jewels, purses, haircuts, massages etc. for simply being famous and on the slight chance that they plug the item on the red carpet. Each year, suite organizers try to outdo each other by offering bigger, better and more outrageous gifts to lure in the “A-listers”, who, really, can afford to purchase whatever they wish. (Can Paris Hilton not afford a new dress or scented candle?)  

This relentless display of avarice, at a time when so much philanthropy is needed, is disturbing under the best of circumstances - but this year - the GBK suite actually offered live pigs as swag. These pigs, though adorable, require food, veterinary care and constant maintenance. As, is the case with any pet, they should neither be an impulse acquisition nor a prize. Most important –they are not accessories or earrings!  When the attention span for these new “toys” wanes – it is the non-profits, who must clean up the mess, bear the costs of caring for them, and, who can least afford to do so.

We consequently find ourselves in a place where the wealthy receive free pearls, the needy get nothing and the tiny pigs are left holding the swag bag.

Jan 11, 2010

Charity Word for 2010 -LOCAL - Thank You Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington’s move your money idea is brilliant. It urges us to move funds from the “too big to fail” banks into community banks in an effort to stimulate local lending, job growth and neighborhood services. Stronger communities result in stronger cities, states and countries. In fact, they are the foundation of the solid edifice we call the United States. The ancillary benefit is to remove the means from the hands of those motivated by greed, ego, and selfishness, to feed their narcissism at the expense of ordinary people. Essentially, to eliminate a black hole, where resources go in and nothing comes out.

The non-profit world can learn a lot from Ms. Huffington’s thought. There is a lot of money held by and donated to charities. It should come as no surprise that the same issues would arise. There are those that are not legitimate institutions who scam empathetic citizens for cash as well as those that are real charities that raise funds to pay the costs of making more money. Services, however, are not funneled back to the expectant recipients. The street is one way and ends in the same black hole. For example, there are two entities in the animal welfare business, one in New York and one in Washington DC that can be used to illustrate this point. They each shamelessly market nationally, hopeful that uninformed donors will think their funds will help in their respective zip codes. Not so. The sad reality is that sending funds under such a misimpression simply enables them to buy more television ads and does nothing to help homeless and abused animals locally. There are numerous other local charities eclipsed by “national” corporations, even some who have been shuttered in the last two years, with the attending result of leaving the needy in need.

The solution is to move your money to local charities. The resources, new jobs, services and aid to victims will boost the local economy thus strengthening the community’s ability to thrive. As an auxiliary benefit one can actually visit the charity, see and participate in the work, rather than relying on the appearance of a web site or glossy media appeal. Charity begins at home. It is only when we stand strong that we can lift another. Thank you - Arianna Huffington.

Jan 5, 2010

It's Nothing Personal, Just Business

The real end to the pet overpopulation problem and its attending euthanasia rate can be brought about quite simply. By melding the laws of supply and demand with the practices of non profits, rapid change, on a grand scale can be achieved almost immediately.

Los Angeles has a glut of Chihuahuas while Denver has none. In our care they could wait for months for a home. In Denver – they could be adopted in days. Rather than forcing those in Denver who want this breed to essentially have more “made”, at an exorbitant cost, courtesy of puppy mills, unscrupulous backyard breeders and the like, spcaLA , Denver Dumb Friends League and a philanthropist joined forces and flew 35 Chihuahuas from Los Angeles to Denver this past New Years Eve.

Imagine if this were done routinely. The supply of existing homeless pets would be relocated to where the demand existed thus eradicating the market for those who would abuse animals for profit. We would be finding homes for existing pets while simultaneously drying up the need for unprincipled breeders to produce more. Intelligently managing this would rapidly reduce the shelter populations, the euthanasia rates, and satisfy our clients as they would receive the pet they desire. An ancillary success would be to ignore dodgy breeders out of business and perhaps force pet shops to fill their inventory with shelter pets. Finally, it would eliminate the need to spend resources dealing with poor puppy mill legislation drafted by clueless organizations that even if perfect would target one offender at a time.

Let us resolve together to do this. The CEOs of legitimate shelters across the country can communicate easily to assess supply and demand. Philanthropists can be individual, school groups, block associations etc that can fund the transfers. Together we can find every adoptable pet a good home – wherever that may be. Could this not be a truly great New Years resolution?