Archive for March, 2011

Helping Animals in Japan–Update

March 31st, 2011 No comments

From WSPA: A man carries his dog in the city of Ofunato on March 15, 2011.

Two weeks on from my original post Helping Animals in Japan in which I conducted an admittedly unscientific review of Web sites of animal advocacy organisations and their response to the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, this report, Helping pets in post-disaster Japan, from the Los Angeles Times sums up well the current situation and the challenging situation for all concerned.

From their reports, various groups are now active, including WSPA; the IFAW video below reports well on the situation and its challenges; and HSI. Also, if you’re on Facebook, an excellent source of information is Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS), which also has its own Web site and is a collaboration of three established and registered no kill animal rescue NPOs in Japan.

One outcome from the disaster is its impact on Japan’s whaling industry. The New York Times reports

Japan’s tsunami seems to have succeeded — where years of boycotts, protests and high-seas chases by Western environmentalists had failed — in knocking out a pillar of the nation’s whaling industry. Ayukawahama was one of only four communities in Japan that defiantly carried on whaling and eating whales as a part of the local culture, even as the rest of the nation lost interest in whale meat.

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Virginia Woolf

March 28th, 2011 No comments

This bust of Virginia Woolf stands in the garden at Monks House where her ashes were scattered.

Seventy years ago today Virginia Woolf drowned herself. It would be remiss not to remember a writer who continues to inspire probably more than any other.

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Japan Earthquake Panda Photo Challenged

March 28th, 2011 No comments

Frightened Panda clings to Policeman's leg after the Earthquake in Japan.

This photo, which I originally published here, is challenged.

It’s not a fake, exactly; the image is real, but it’s five years old, and was taken at a panda research center, and not in Japan but in China, and the guy isn’t a policeman, he’s a keeper, and it was feeding time, and the panda wasn’t terrified but hungry.

Read more here.

Thanks to those who got in touch about this.

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Police Inquiry into Elephant Anne Beating

March 27th, 2011 1 comment

BBC report the Northampton Police and RSPCA are investigating the beating of elephant Anne at Bobby Roberts Super Circus. What a shame the last Labour government didn’t have the conviction to deal with the issue of animals in circuses when it had the chance. Perhaps the ConDem Coalition will act. Stranger things have happened.

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UK Elephant Abuse in Bobby Robert Super Circus

March 26th, 2011 4 comments

WSPA Animals in Disaster Japan Video Blog

March 18th, 2011 No comments

Link to WSPA Animals in Disaster Video Blog.

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Frightened Panda in Japan after Earthquake

March 18th, 2011 4 comments

Frightened Panda clings to Policeman's leg after the Earthquake in Japan.


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Helping Animals in Japan?

March 17th, 2011 2 comments

I completed this morning a quick survey of some of the Web sites of some of the world’s leading animal protection/welfare/rescue/rights organisations to review their activity on rescuing animals in Japan following on from the earthquake and tsunami that occurred one week ago tomorrow. The following organisations did not include anything about the crisis.

  • Animal Defenders International
  • Compassion In World Farming
  • Eurogroup for Animal Welfare
  • Humane Society for the United States (see below HSI)
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare (both UK and International Web sites)
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (see below WSPA Animals in Disaster blog)

The following organisations included information about the crisis.

  • American Humane Association: Links from home page to AHA blog dated March 16 which states their position on the crisis (see extract below).
  • Humane Society International (HSI): Mention on home page with link to secondary page with statement dated March 12. HSUS links from its home page to this HSI page.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Link from home page to PETA Blog which includes a post (time of post is indicated but not the date) which states its activity on the crisis.
  • WSPA Animals in Disasters blog: Linked from WSPA home page. Date of last entry on blog is March 14.

Admittedly, this is not a scientific assessment. It is a quick review of the Web sites of these organisations nearly one week after the crisis occurred as they appeared this morning. I note the American Humane Association published an informative explanation of the challenge they face to the crisis, which I assume is also pertinent to the other organisations included in this brief review as well as others. (See extract below.)

Notwithstanding these formidable obstacles as well as the challenge of dealing with a complex situation that continues to develop in unprecedented ways, the response to this disaster does not appear to be a significant issue for some of the world’s leading animal advocacy organisations if their Web sites as they appeared this morning represent their interest and involvement.

Further, if these groups are active in helping to mitigate the crisis in Japan they are not sharing with their supporters, the public and the media information about their activities. I invite them to get in touch with their comments and any relevant information they would like to share.

In contrast, humanitarian non-governmental organisations, including the coalition Interaction, document their involvement in Japan as well as other world crises such as those occurring in Libya and the Ivory Coast. Whatever the challenges animal groups face in dealing with this crisis in Japan humanitarian non-governmental organisations do not appear to be constrained similarly.

Extract from AHA blog:

Due to the safety risks and the primary focus on saving people’s lives, the Japanese government has not yet allowed even Japanese organizations to begin large-scale animal rescue operations. However, discussions are currently ongoing between our international partner organizations and the appropriate governmental agencies to obtain invitations to deploy to the stricken areas with animal rescue teams. It is the policy of American Humane Association and other legitimate animal welfare organizations to not deploy without a formal invitation from the responsible government/agency. This policy is for the safety of the people who risk their lives to save people and animals in disaster situations, as well as for the safety of the human victims who are still awaiting help from rescuers.

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Animal Rights Debate–Second Review

March 16th, 2011 3 comments

This second review of The Animal Rights Debate by Gary Francione and Robert Garner is by Carlo Salzani and is published on the Humanimalia Web site. Again, a thoughtful review. This time, however, a third book is also considered: Beyond Animal Rights: Food, Pets and Ethics by Tony Milligan (Continuum), which I’m not familiar with. Salzani concludes

Unlike Francione and Garner, whose disagreement is internal to the animal ethics camp, Milligan opens up the discussion to a greater range of inputs, which help nonetheless to locate the debate against a wider background. What Milligan does not offer, unlike Francione and Garner, is a political strategy: he proposes a personal analysis of a number of issues based on a pluralist set of considerations, which however ends up often in an argumentative stalemate or in a sort of situational ethics. Unlike Francione’s and Garner’s, his voice is not that of an activist, but rather that of a philosopher, sometimes too detached and doubt-ridden to be able to offer the simplification that action requires. His book is therefore to be read in the context of a wider discourse. Together with Francione and Garner, Milligan provides some coordinates to orient the reader within the current philosophical and practical debate concerning animal ethics.

Regrettably, The Animal Rights Debate frames the discussion about strategy as an either/or. Either it is animal rights or it is animal protection. Salzani appears to position Milligan’s Beyond Animal Rights as not providing direct insight into this dispute but nevertheless a worthwhile contribution to the overall discussion. I look forward to reading Milligan to form my own opinion.

Salzani, like Mepham, makes an interesting observation about the different approaches taken by Francione and Garner.

Robert Garner begins his chapter on an apparently more restrained tone: he does not want to criticize animal rights per se, and even states that “a great deal of the ethics of animal rights is convincing” (103). However, soon after he adopts a language that is not second to Francione’s in harshness and condemnation: what he opposes is the “abolitionist” version of the animal rights theory, which he characterizes as “fundamentalist,” “inflexible,” and “dogmatic”; like a fundamentalist religion, it is based on “essential truths” and on an “unwillingness to compromise” in order to achieve incremental short-term goals that fall short of the ideal end point; as such, it is irreconcilable to the “political art of the possible” (104). Garner advocates the position Francione called “new welfarism” but that he prefers to label “animal protectionism,” which defends a “politics” of incremental and “feasible” legal reforms aimed at ameliorating the conditions of animals.

I say regrettably The Animal Rights Debate frames the discussion as an either/or because I believe a smart social justice movement for animals is one which matures sufficiently to understand and appreciate the differences between them. These differences can be irreconcilable opposites if we want them to be. They can also be a clever coordinated strategy which utilises the strengths and weaknesses inherent in each. The strategy I advocate is one which balances the utopian vision of animal rights with the pragmatic politics of animal welfare. Many if not all social movements struggle under a tension of fundamentalism and pragmatism. A smart social movement is one which learns how to deploy both simultaneously. I first made this case in my paper, Utopian Visions and Pragmatic Politics: Challenging the Foundations of Speciesism and Misothery, was published in Animal Rights: The Changing Debate edited by Robert Garner (Macmillan, 1996).

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Animal Disaster in Japan

March 16th, 2011 No comments

Here’s an informative overview published on March 11 providing an initial overview on the status of animal welfare on the day of the earthquake. It would be good to see an update posted here. Here’s a further report published by Animals Asia.

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