A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Feb 24, 2012

Lion Slaying Fish & Game Commissioner Must be Fired

Courtesy Google Images

The President of the California Fish and Game Commission, Dan Richards, whose mandate it is to protect native species, killed a mountain lion in Idaho and posed grinning with the carcass. It has been against the law in California to hunt mountain lions since 1990 so Richards is reported to have paid about $7000 to hunt this cat.

Today, outraged by this behavior, 40 members of the California State Assembly, led by Assembly-member Ben Hueso, called for Richards' resignation in a letter. In addition to expressing their outrage in his exercise of judgment and resultant behavior, the lawmakers went on to say:
 "Your actions have raised serious questions about whether you respect the laws of the people of California and whether you are fit to adequately enforce those laws. Without the proper credibility to hold such an important representative position as the one you hold, you can only succeed at one outcome, eroding the public's confidence and trust in their government."

To say the least! The people of California have led and continue to lead the nation in animal protection initiatives. I and many other animal protection advocates have come before the Fish & Game Commission to plead for the lives of bears offered up to hunters, to stop the imports of frogs and turtles that decimate California's native species and to increase humane protections for our captive wildlife.  It was us, the people of California who passed Proposition 117 which actually banned the hunting of mountain lions. Commissioner Richards knew that when he signed up for his hunt and essentially gave us the "Bronx Cheer" while flaunting his trophy. This is who is supposed to serve as guardian of our native wildlife. 

The legislature has the authority and must so exercise it to immediately remove this man from his position. I would also like to see an investigation into whether or not he brought the $7000 body back with him to California which is also illegal.

It is irrelevant whether his acts were legal in Idaho or not. What is relevant is the act itself. It speaks volumes about Richards' attitude towards protecting wildlife. It shouts his lack of regard for the opinions of the California public and it has, in the end, killed a lion.
"I'm glad it's legal in Idaho," said Richards. 

"Shame on you" said us. 

Article first published as Legislators Demand Resignation of California Fish & Game Warden Who Killed Lion on Technorati

Feb 14, 2012

Westminster Dog Show Disallows Shelter Pet Message

courtesy spcaLA

The exclusive Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) Dog Show has banned the mere mention of shelter dogs at its event.

They have dropped Pedigree, a long term dog food sponsor, because they didn't like Pedigree's ad campaign which encouraged people to adopt shelter pets. David Frei, a spokesperson for the show is reported as saying:
“Our show is a celebration of dogs. We’re not promoting purebreds at the expense of non-purebreds. We celebrate all dogs. When we’re seeing puppies behind bars, it takes away from that. Not just because it’s sad, but it’s not our message.”

Really? Pedigree, though often marketing to pure breeds, hence the name Pedigree, does not feel compromised in also addressing the plight of shelter pets. Shelters, do not feel their message is undermined by ministering to the needs of homeless pure breeds -often about 25% of their residents -and I believe a message that advocates the humane treatment, appreciation and respect for all dogs is one that truly celebrates dogs.

In fact, I get sad when watching the fancy breeds in the dog show and imagine them living in puppy mills, and wonder, how many of these less than fortunate members of this exclusive club will end up in my shelters sad, sick, and homeless.

Now that takes some of the enjoyment out of  it for me.

Feb 9, 2012

When Was the Last Time I Asked the Government to do Nothing?

courtesy Google images
In 1999, an animal shelter mandate known as the “Hayden Bill” was enacted, among other things, to increase holding periods for stray cats and dogs in shelters, create behavior assessments for cats appearing to be feral, and to extend these holding periods to pocket pets as well. In exchange for performing these additional “mandates”, the state was required to reimburse cities and counties for these extra costs.

Against the landscape of a poor economy, these mandates have been suspended as a cost savings measure since 2009. Now, in his FY 2012-13 Budget, Governor Jerry Brown has proposed to permanently repeal them. Many of you have been subjected to hysterical calls for action and misinformed assertions by the media and concerned citizens that animals will be euthanized en masse upon repeal of these sections of the law. I am sure most of you didn’t know that California shelters have been struggling to operate without being reimbursed for these suspended mandates for the past few years.

Your spcaLA, and its president, who also serves as the legislative chair of the State Humane Association of California (SHAC), have been working closely with Sacramento to protect the remaining language in the law and to ensure that minimum holding periods be added back into the bill text. California Animal Directors Association (CACDA) has also been part of these negotiations. SHAC represents the collective voice of California’s humane societies and societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCAs), while CACDA represents the municipal shelters in California

That said. I strongly urge that the governor maintain the status quo and not permanently repeal these mandates. I remain confident that our economy will eventually improve and enable these protections for our pets to revive as well. 

The stewardship of our stray, abused and unwanted pets should be a priority in this state – the first to be funded and the last to be cut. Sadly that is not the case.

Please call ((916) 445-2841) and/or email our governor and tell him that we are sure he will turn California’s economy around and to not repeal these mandates.

Feb 7, 2012

Trying a Chicken McBite is Less Risky than Being Struck by Lightning

courtesy google images
The omnipresent fast food chain, McDonalds, in an advertisement designed to introduce a new menu item, the chicken McBite, claimed "Trying a new menu item at McDonald's isn't risky. You know what's risky? Petting a stray pit bull". 
To those who understand that not all pit bulls are dangerous, though some pit bull owners are, the ad seemed like a cheap shot against an already disparaged and beleaguered breed of dog.  These dogs are banned, euthanized, disallowed under home insurance policies, and automatically assumed to be vicious, just because they appear to be pit bulls. In two instances, pit bulls working as service dogs were prohibited from performing their functions in what is currently being litigated as a violation of the American with Disabilities Act.  McDonalds in playing to their “unsafetiness” perpetuates a stereotype and reinforced the seeming unsuitability of every pit bull dog as a possible family pet.
McDonalds also crowed that it is less risky to try the chicken dish than "naming your son Sue", again suggesting acceptance of the routine tormenting and bullying of boys with any effeminate trait!  At a time when we are trying to teach open mindedness and tolerance these ads just ring flat.
Ironically, it was also reported that a carcinogen known as tertiary butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ) is used in another McDonalds ‘chicken treat  called the McNugget, ostensibly to preserve freshness.  Unlike pit bulls who can be nurtured to be loving and loyal pets, and children who can be educated not to taunt those perceived as different - carcinogens can’t be taught to be safe!
A corporation with the financial resources of McDonalds, that is able to fund slick “ad men” and purchase expensive air time might think about using their resources to eliminate carcinogens from their food and donating to organizations that teach responsible pet stewardship and respect for diversity.
McDonalds did apologize and did halt the pit bull advertising spot. But they need to put their mcmoney where there mcmouth is.