Animal welfare

Unlucky black? Not in my book

I’m including two posts that pertain to the misfortune black dogs and cats sometimes suffer when it comes to public perception.  Most humane societies will tell you that it’s harder to find homes for black dogs and cats.  This post discusses the Black Dogs Project, whose goal is to feature photographs of black dogs in order to dispel some of the biases they face. The infographic below lists some of the difficulties that black cats experience when it comes to finding forever homes:



I have been fortunate and lucky to have shared my life with a number of black animals:

  • Lady, my childhood dog
  • Kim, the black cat I had as a teenager
  • Lucy, the black and white tuxedo rabbit I had as a teenager
  • Mikey and Cleo, two black cats I had as an adult
  • Atticus and his mother Calpurnia, whom I adopted in September (see picture below.  Atticus is on the left).1441381_701421776534847_1409201841_n

I think I’m the luckiest person alive to have had these black beauties in my life.


Animal welfare, Veganism

Pigs are friends, not food

This video by The Farm Sanctuary,  highlights pig intelligence based on a 1997 study that showed the animals were just as adept at learning how to play a video game as chimpanzees. The animal advocacy group launched “The Someone Project” last year to point out the discrepancy between those animals humans hold dear and those we eat, despite emotional and cognitive similarities.



Why I am vegan, via Moby

In an article published in Rolling Stone, musician Moby explains why he is vegan. Moby sums up his epiphany: Sitting on the stairs I thought, “I love this cat. I would do anything to protect him and make him happy and keep him from harm. He has four legs and two eyes and an amazing brain and an incredibly rich emotional life. I would never in a trillion years think of hurting this cat. So why am I eating other animals who have four (or two) legs, two eyes, amazing brains, and rich emotional lives?”

Moby’s article describes almost perfectly my journey as a vegan.  Like Moby, I was born into a household of animals.  I still remember the orange tabby cat that lived with us when I was a baby and toddler.  The animals in the household grew over the years to include a dog, a pet tortoise, a rescued bird, budgies, rescued rabbits, adopted cats, and so forth.  My parents always lived in fear of what stray animal I would bring into the home next. I always assumed the responsibility of caring for them, and they all became part of the family.  As a child and teenager, I ate meat, but deep down, I never felt comfortable doing so, as I always pictured the face of the animal I was consuming.  When I moved out on my own, I decided that I could no longer eat animals because I loved them too much.

It’s difficult to explain the bond I feel with animals.  I am reminded of the line from Jane Eyre, where Mr. Rochester tells Jane that It feels as though I had a string tied here under my left rib where my heart is, tightly knotted to you in a similar fashion.  I feel this bond with every animal I encounter, however briefly.  Because I live with cats, people refer to me as a cat person, but I’m not; simply, put, I’m an animal person.  I love all animals, whether they are covered with fur, feathers, or scales.  Like Moby, I first gave up eating meat, but continued to eat fish and seafood; I stopped eating the latter two, as I realized that they are living creatures too.  The next step was to embrace veganism, as I could on longer participate in any practices that involved , or contributed to, the suffering of animals, no matter how humane these practices are purported to be. I have followed this lifestyle for twenty-eight years, and have never looked back.

Like Moby, I try not to proselytize or to force my views on others.  In this blog, I certainly do make my feelings known about veganism and animal welfare, but it’s because I want to raise awareness, not because I want to preach. I know that my veganism can make some people uncomfortable, but I know that this discomfort is usually more about them rather than me.  I have been blessed with family and friends who respect my choices and accept me for them. Not following the norms of behaviour tends to make you an outlier, but when I look at the eyes of animals, as cliché as this sounds, I know that it’s all worth it.

Animal welfare

Be cruelty-free week: Musings on cosmetic testing in Canada

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the European Union’s ban on the testing of cosmetics on animals.  To celebrate the event, Humane Society International has dedicated this week to highlight the issue of cosmetic testing.  In this article, Rebecca Aldworth discusses the continued use of animal testing Canada, which she declares is “distinctly un-Canadian.”  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m disappointed that Canada still lags behind other jurisdictions (e.g., Europe, Israel, and India) who have banned cosmetic testing.  Speaking on behalf of the Humane Society International, Aldworth hopes that Be Cruelty-Free Canada week will spur Canadians to demand action:

It is our hope and goal that by this time next year, with the support of compassionate Canadians, the Government of Canada will introduce an amendment to the Food and Drugs Act that bans both the testing of cosmetic products and ingredients on animals, as well as the sale of cosmetic products or ingredients subject to new animal tests after a fixed cut-off date. If it does, Canada will join the growing number of countries turning their back on beauty through cruelty, improving consumer safety and animal welfare in one go.

Readers are encouraged to sign this pledge. I know that people can be cynical about the effectiveness of such pledges, but they have been proven to be successful for other animal welfare campaigns.



Animal welfare

The Five Freedoms for animals in Canada

Ziyaad Mia

Ziyaad Mia, Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, writes this thoughtful piece on the treatment of farm animals in Canada. Mia references the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s Five Freedoms for farm animals:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst;
  2. Freedom from discomfort;
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease;
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour; and
  5. Freedom from fear and distress.

Mia posits: We’ve conveniently arranged our affairs to avoid seeing the chickens behind our omelettes, the cows behind our quarter-pounders. Our wilful blindness is enabled by removing any trace of animal identity from the food and products they provide for us: instead of being cows, chickens and pigs, they are juicy steaks, crispy nuggets and sizzling bacon.

Mia concludes with this statement: Finally, moral progress requires each of us to seriously consider the lives of animals and the complex roles they play in our own lives, whether as food, entertainment or companions. By doing this, animals may begin to become visible to us; they may matter. That is when we can aspire to make choices about them based on respect rather than utility.

I would argue that the five freedoms should apply to all animals.

Animal welfare

The Body Shop pulls its products from duty-free stores in China

According to this post, The Body Shop has removed all its products from duty-free shelves in China after it was revealed the ethical company’s products were at risk of testing on animals by the country’s authorities. While I am, of course, pleased about this news, and congratulate The Body Shop on doing this, I can’t help but wonder why the company didn’t realize that cosmetic testing is mandatory in China.  The Body Shop’s parent company, L’Oreal, is selling products to China, so there should certainly be an awareness of this country’s position on mandatory animal testing on cosmetics.  The Body Shop could have done rather more research into this matter.  China is prepared to introduce legislation in June that would not require animal testing for products produced domestically; testing would still be required on imported products. Given L’Oreal’s stance on animal testing on products (outside of Europe, where this is illegal), I don’t buy from The Body Shop any more, since I am not convinced that the policies of the former do not filter down to those of the latter.