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Archive for the ‘animal welfare’ Category

You’d be amazed at the exotic information information one can find on breeders’ sites.  Lots of people think their chosen breeds are somehow different species, and they tend to weave such bizarre lore about them that one wonders if any of it is true. The two best cases I can think of are the story that chihuahuas are derived from fennec foxes— based upon nothing more than possessing a superficially similar phenotype– and the desire for New Guinea singing dog fanciers to have their dog declared an entirely different species– based upon their supposedly unique howls and the fact that bitches scream when the males penetrate them.

But nothing compares to the “wolf breeder” site that Pai sent to me last night. I use “wolf breeding” in quotations, because as you will see, these “wolves” are quite interesting. First red flag, is that some of them are black and tan or have German shepherd masks. Others are long-coated, like a collie or Shiloh shepherd. Red flag two.  (Warning: this site plays annoying religious music.)

Now, you think that would be enough to discredit the veracity of the claims that these animals are actually wolves, but the information provided on the site is more than a little bizarre.

This person isn’t just a “wolf breeder.”  This person is a wolfaboo. What is a wolfaboo? Basically, a wolfaboo is someone who thinks wolves are so awesome that if you say anything negative about them, you are evil and want wolves to become extinct. Wolves are naturally gentle animals that live on rats and mice, which they kill only when hungry. Any evidence one provides that wolves may have killed people is derided as folklore or is blamed upon rabies or predation by dogs or wolfdogs.  The wolf is kind of like the noble savage myth. It is pure and natural, unlike dogs, which are poor substitutes for wolves.

This breeder shows off her wolfaboo sensibilities with this statement:

Wolves are not natural born killers, they only kill to eat. Since our wolves eat puppy food they have no need to hunt and so show no signs of aggression towards other animals. When a wolf shows signs of aggression towards a person all they really want is the person to stop what they are doing and go away. Some wolves that show signs of aggression may have been traumatized or they may have dirty blood lines or have been inbred, which will never be the case with our wolves.

Although I have written that some wolves can be as docile as domestic dogs, I don’t mean to imply that they all can.  The average wolf, especially one from modern populations, is too emotionally reactive for the average family to keep. When I say reactive, I mean aggressive at times. Even wolves that show no aggression towards adults in the family might be stimulated into predatory behavior by children. This also happens with some domestic dogs.

I also think it’s simply silly to say that wolves have never killed people. Wolves have killed people, though some of the claims made about their depredations have been exaggerated.  If you’d like to see examples of wolves hunting people, check out The Wolves of Paris, The Wolf of Ansbach, this fatal wolf attack in Alaska, and the story of child snatching wolves in India. The last two involved modern wolves of both the northern and southern wolf subspecies, which were pure wolf, rather than wolf hybrids.

This “wolf breeder” thinks that any time a wolf attacks someone, it’s because they are “inbred” (becoming like dogs) or because they are crossed with dogs.  Wolf hybrids can be quite aggressive, but they can be quite docile, especially if the dog content is really high and the dogs used in the cross are particularly docile. Pure wolves can be quite easily tamed and kept with people, but these are the exception rather than rule– at least now.

This “wolf breeder” thinks wolves are so nice that anyone can own one.

WE HAVE SOLD WOLF CUBS TO:

· Day Care Centers

· The Elderly

· People with kids that have ADD (the cubs calm them down)

· To the blind

· People in wheelchairs, so they can help them get things.

· The deaf

I don’t know if any of this is true, but one might create a successful relationship through selling a very docile German shepherd or German shepherd cross, even one with trace wolf ancestry, to some of these people. My guess is that selling a high content wolfdog or a wolf hybrid to a daycare center is probably an accident waiting to happen.

This “wolf breeder” also recommends these animals for long-haul truck drivers. Great idea!  “The wolf is kept fed by its feet, ” says a Russian proverb, which points to the simple fact that wolves like to range long and hard,  often traveling many miles in a single day. If these animals were wolves, they would be positively barmy after two or three hours in the cab of a truck. However, some lines of German shepherd and the Shiloh shepherd are noted for their calm behavior.

One wonders if some of the facts stated on this breeder’s site are even remotely true, for as we shall see, it gets even more bizarre than the information I’ve stated so far.

On another page on the site, the breeder states that wolves have some amazing adaptations:

Wolves can also hear about 6 miles away, smell about 4 1/2 miles away, jump and climb. You could be blocks away and they can still get to you in time. Nothing can stop them from coming to your aid to help you not even a chain. You are safe with a wolf, it is part of your family. It is like having a safe gun, it only goes off when it is necessary.

So a wolf can break a chain to save you!

But I thought they were never aggressive and never hurt anybody.

Wolves can hear up to six miles away, but I’ve not been able to verify if wolves can smell something four miles away. It is believed that polar bears possess the greatest olfactory abilities of any Carnivoran. They can smell seal carcasses from several miles away, but it isn’t clear if wolves have anything like their scenting abilities. Wolves are thought to be better at smelling and hearing than dogs are, but no one has empirically tested if this is so. If true, this could explain why wolves might have larger brains in proportion to their body sizes than dog. They need the bigger brains to hold all the “hardware” that comes with these increased sensory abilities. (One reason why humans in Northern Europe and the arctic have larger brains than those living in the equator that people living in northern latitudes had to survive the northern winters, which are quite dark. To survive in the darkness, these humans evolved larger eyes and larger brains that can process visual material. It has nothing to do with actual intelligence.)

But even if wolves can smell and hear from that distance, I don’t think they would be of that much use to save you from a dangerous situation. Pure wolves are notoriously bad guard dogs.

Strangely, this breeder thinks that ranchers should be getting wolves to guard their stock, when we all know that ranchers are getting large guard dogs to guard against wolves. This breeder claims that ranchers are buying her “wolves” for protection:

We have been selling to more ranchers lately because snakes, coyotes and vermin will not come around where wolves urinate. Since our wolves are raised on dog food they don’t kill to eat. In the wild they only kill when hungry. A hand raised wolf will not kill the owners stock, they see the animals as part of the pack. A wolf will not go in to another wolfs territory, so if you have a hand raised wolf around your cattle, no wolf pack will come in where your wolf urinates, it’s now your wolves territory. Your animals will be safe, I have seen this with my own eye’s over and over.

Well, that’s nice, but my guess is that most pure wolves would not be of any use guarding livestock.  They might be able to, but it seems to me that the would be more likely to kill stock, even if they were raised with them, than most domestic dogs. Because these “wolves” are low content wolfdogs or German shepherd crosses, I don’t really see them as being a major threat to stock.

However, these “wolves” have an even more amazing ability. Guard dogs can only keep the varmints out of your stock, but these wolves can take out the flies and “tics”:

Wolves could even take care of a fly and tic problems. A wolf has the ability to soak up moister through their skin. When the fly or tic get on the wolf the moisture is sucked out of pests which kills them.

These “wolves” are so amazing that they can suck the ticks to death! Either that or they are born with flea and tick treatment on their skins.

Now, if all of this wasn’t enough, you get a choice in what kind of “wolf” you can buy.

Yes. This breeder offers several different varieties of “wolf.”

Here are the varieties:

Mexican Gray: 25″ at shoulder 250 lbs

Tundra: 22″ at shoulder 150 lbs

Canadian: 26″ at shoulder 200 lbs

Mckenzie Artic: 30″ at shoulder 300 lbs

Look at those sizes!

No wolf in history has weighed 300 pounds. None has weighed over 200. Only one wolf in history weighed over 150 pounds, and that was a wolf that was killed in Alaska that weighed 176 pounds. It is very rare for even a large wolf to exceed 130 pounds.

Miley is 23″ at the shoulder, and she weighs 73 pounds. She’s a relatively large dog. The “Tundra wolf” this breeder is offering is roughly the same height at the shoulder as Miley, but it almost twice as much.

The 250-pound Mexican wolf is also a fiction, for Mexican wolves are one of the smallest wolf subspecies, weighing only 60 to 80 pounds– golden retriever-sized. However, this breeder thinks she is contributing to Mexican wolf conservation by breeding these so-called “Mexican wolves.” 

 

 

The government has reported that 2008 there are only 52 Mexican Gray Wolves remaining in the wild and at government facilities. We are trying to change this.

Yeah. Never mind that a whole line of Mexican wolves was euthanized because they looked like they might have some dog characteristics.  These wolves were deemed hybrids solely by appearance, and they were euthanized for that reason. These ‘wolves” really have very strong dog characteristics and are definite hybrids or dogs that look like wolves. Exactly how are these animals ever going to contribute to Mexican wolf conservation?

Oh. And did you know wolves are hypoallergenic?

I’m telling you these animals are magic.

The breeder claims that one of these “wolves” now lives with the trainer of the wolf in Dances with Wolves:

The lady that owns the wolf two socks,from the movie “Dances With Wolves” just bought a wolf from us, a Tundra male. She said that while they made the movie Kevin Costner and her slept outside with the wolves. Still to this date Kevin Costner visits her every now and then.

According to Christopher Landauer, who saw a behind-the-scenes commentary on the film, Kevin Costner didn’t like the wolf at all. He didn’t like trainer either. Of course, considering all the other exotic information on this site, what else would we expect?

My guess is that these “wolves” aren’t all that healthy. In a wolfaboo litany on another page, the breeder makes this admission:

WOLF HISTORY

The wolf is the lion of the North. They are called that because they are descendants from the same lineage as lions.

Their eyes are that of a lion brown color and a thick mane runs around their neck and down their back. Females have shorter hair than males.

They also have a cat-like bone structure. They can collapse and dislocate their joints.

They can climb, jump up to 6ft.(or higher) from a standing position and can run up to 40 mph.

Because they are 98% wolves they are not aggressive, but protective when needed. They have to be threatened or feel you are being threatened before they react.

When you hear of a wolf being aggressive, it is more than likely mixed with a dog. When you mix a wolf with a dog you pass on the aggressive traits, brain imbalance and the health problems of a dog.

What she’s actually saying is these wolves have joint problems, like hip dysplasia!  But they are healthier than dogs are.

Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Of course, this person also thinks that dogs were created by inbreeding wolves. Actually, as a population, dogs retain 95-96 percent of the genetic diversity of the wolf. Dogs were created through inbreeding tamed wolves. The inbreeding in domestic dogs is really quite recent, something that has happened within the past 150  years. The idea that dogs have brain imbalances is part of the appeal to nature and noble savage-esque nonsense that is so commonly held by wolfaboos.

As to the ancestry of these “wolves”:

 

Our wolves are 98% wolf, the game and fish her in Texas have told us to say they can only be 98% or 99%. This is because if you say 100% then they are led to believe you took them right out of the wild, we received ours from other breeders..

The game and fish here know what we have, I can tell you they are 98% and 99% and them as such. I have to put down 98%, but if you know any thing about percentages, 98% is very close to the real thing it is all in how you raise them. They are first generation and second .. now saying 98% and 99% is not a enough. They say we have to say high bred so people will not call them. I say the nuts out there will still call no matter what.

My guess is that Texas will let you put down any percentage you want, but if you look at these “wolves,” they don’t look anything like 98 percent pure wolf.

After all, this person has made some dubious claims about the size of the “wolves” they are offering, and puppies are available now, which should tell you a lot. Wolves don’t have puppies any time of the year. Oh, I forgot, she calls them “cubs.”

So you can order 300-pound, black-and-tan wolf that will protect you and your livestock and will kill flies and ticks that land on it.  Damn. That’s a hell of a deal for a really magical animal. The lion of the North. Or maybe that’s the “lyin’ of the North.”

Some of these wolves are particularly fertile. One had 20 “cubs” last year.

And, of course, everyone wants a “wolf cub” sired by a “Mexican wolf” named “Poncho Via.

So this is what happens when a wolfaboo gets into the puppy milling business.

It ain’t pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dancing bear in Pakistan

Source.

I don’t believe all Pakistanis support this practice. I’m fairly certain there are people in Pakistan who are working to end bear dancing.

This bear appears to be dancing.

It’s actually being strung up by a rope attached to a ring that has been driven through the septum of its nose.

It’s trained using negative reinforcement.  Jerking on the rope causes pain, which the bear releases when it stands up and dances.

Although this appears to be cute, this makes me a little sick in my stomach.

This bear is a from a subspecies of brown bear, which is the same species as Bart the Bear.

Bart the Bear was trained using entirely different methods, and he performed a whole many more complex behaviors than this “dancing.”

These bears are very intelligent, and it is beneath them to expect them to “dance” while being strung up by the nose.

 

 

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Remember that PETA actually stands for “People Euthanizing Thousands of Animals.”

But here’s the petition on the White House website:

Every year in the United States, an estimated 6 to 8 million lost, abandoned, or unwanted dogs and cats enter animal shelters and nearly half of these animals—many of them healthy, young, and adoptable—must be euthanized because there are too many animals and not enough good homes.

This tragedy occurs because people don’t spay and neuter their animals and because greedy breeders continue to churn out more puppies. Because all dogs and cats are precious and because no more animals need to be bred when so many others go without hope of being adopted, PETA is calling for a mandatory spay-and-neuter law until all dogs and cats in the United States have a home to call their own.

Sign the petition calling for a mandatory spay-and-neuter law to help end the animal overpopulation crisis.

See any problems with the facts on this petition.

Well, they overestimate the number of pets killed in the United States by shelters– by quite a lot.

Now, I don’t think that feral cats should even be counted as pets, and I vehemently opposed to TNR.  From a wildlife management persepective, it These cats should be treated as invasive species and every single one of them that cannot be socialized to people euthanized. If we did that, it would definitely pare back the numbes of “pets” being killed in shelters. That’s sounds extreme, but that’s the policy we had for arctic foxes on the Aleutians  and that Texas has for feral pigs.

That’s a very different question from euthanizing adoptable pets, which is something that should be regarded as a scandal. The demand for pet dogs and cats continues to rise every year, and all that is needed to take care of the bulk of this problem is some adjustments in how these pets are marketed. It’s an issue, but it’s hardly a crisis.

However, if you look at the the bottom line of such a policy, it is very simple:  Let’s end dog and cat ownership in one generation!

To implement such a policy nationwide– where there are 70-80 million dogs and 80 million or more pet cats– you would have to hire something like a national animal police to keep everyone in line.

Never mind that the AMVA is opposed to compulsory sterilization for companion animals. And it is the AMVA that is the governing body over the people who would actually be performing the sterlizations.

Never mind that spaying and neutering have definite risks as well as benefits, and these risks and benefits can vary from breed to breed and from animal to animal.

Never mind that the president has never stated support for this policy, and it is likely unconstitutional.  The commerce clause has been made elastic over the years, but I doubt it can be bent to fit this craziness.

PETA is proposing an extreme solution to a problem that can be solved, a problem that is closer to being solved now than it was twenty years ago.

The solution is for another problem that PETA has:  That people actually own dogs and cats. And that dogs and cats exist as domestic animals.

These laws are designed to stop people from breeding dogs and cats, so that people will adopt every animal they own. And those animals will be spayed and neutered. And within a generation, the domestic dog and cat will disappear.

PETA wouldn’t tell you this of course. But this is the logical end of mandatory spay and neuter nonsense. Keep in mind that even if we keep PETA inflated figures for the number of dogs and cats euthanized, these animals represent an extreme minority of the dogs and cats living in the United States every year.  And if we look at the number of dogs and cats that are actually being euthanized, and correctly discount all the adult feral cats, which will never be pets by any stretch of the imagination, the number becomes quite paltry indeed.

 

 

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I came across lines from Farley Mowat’s Whale for the Killing (1972), which I think truly reflects the fundamental problem of our species. We think we’re not part of it all. We think we’re separate and above all the rest of the living things. And in creating this delusion, we have sequestered ourselves from the reality that is existence on this planet.

In 1967, an 80-ton fin whale became stranded in a saltwater lagoon near Burgeo, Newfoundland. She had come in on an unusually high tide.  She had been following an unusually productive herring run, and when the tide went out, she was stuck. The local people, mostly young men who had been working in Ontario during the summer and making quite a bit of money, went out on small motor boats and started shooting the whale with their rifles. Then, they ran over her back with the propeller of a boat.

Mowat did all he could to try to stop the torture, even appealing to the Canadian national media for support.  When he appealed to the national media, the locals were portrayed as barbarians, which certainly didn’t help Mowat’s standing in the community.

Because whales have not been widely exposed to terrestrial bacteria, their immune systems have not evolved to fight them. When the bacteria on the bullets hit the whale, she became infected with bacteria that her immune system simply couldn’t handle. There also wasn’t a lot of food in the lagoon, and she began to weaken.

And then she died.

Mowat was so upset with all of this. He had failed to save the life of the whale, but in his attempt to do so, he had alienated himself from Newfoundland, a place he loved deeply. He knew that he was no longer welcome.

But in his alienation, he recognized something deeper and more profound, for just as he was alienated from Newfoundland, he began to realize that this was symbolic of man’s estrangement from the planet in which he evolved.

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Dave, who writes the wonderful Prick-Eared blog, has just posted what I think is one of the best analyses of the dog and human relationship from a Darwinian perspective.

It is rather foolish to think of humans domesticating the dogs. In fact, it would be more accurate to say they engaged in a pact with us. Now, in order to explain this, one must first dislodges the Judeo-Christian view-point of the world where mankind has domain over nature.

For eons, we have a self-centric view of the Universe which has been proven to be false: the Earth is at the center of the Universe; mankind is the only one capable of developing tools, languages and cultures; humans are the only sentient beings; and we are the only one who broke free of the shackles of evolution. Of course, none of this is true: Johannes Kepler debunked the geocentric view of the solar system; chimpanzees are also capable of fashioning tools; dolphins and whales have complex way of communicating in compositions of low-frequency sounds; elephants have been shown to recognize themselves in mirrors; and the war on viruses and micro-organisms is a constant reminder we are still at the mercy of nature. Let’s go one step further: the delusion of domestication is dependent on who view themselves as gaining the most benefits.

Dog and man have co-evolved together, however neither one of us actually see it this way. From our point of view: we dominated the wolf; employed them to share the load and search games; sculptured their flesh and bones; manipulated their behaviours in our favour; and they are objects of status-elevation. From the dog’s point of view, they domesticated us. The hounds see us as an asset in a hunt, delivering the killing blow to the boar or the bear. The team of huskies request us to hunt for them, to partition the shot moose or caribou, and load up the sled with our opposable thumbs to haul the meat back to their dens. The farm collie struck a bargain with the farmer for a bed’n’breakfast deal in exchange for manual labour. The Chin leads a lofty lifestyle sitting in the imperial palace as a figurehead, with servants swooning all over him; and he is protected from the elements by the sleeves of the kimonos of his escort in the outside world. From their point of view, we are the ones who have been domesticated by the dogs.

With the alliance forged between wolves and humans several millennia ago, a contract has been signed and the two of us has been bound ever since. Once in awhile, the contract is re-negotiated. In the last 200 years, dogs have agreed to an addendum allowing show breeders to sculpt their offspring to be reimbursed with a guaranteed sex life. In the last 50 years, a clause was written in, asking the dogs to become surrogates in absence of kinship among our own kind. No longer are dogs and humans comrades working toward a common goal, but rather as brothers or sisters; or daughters and sons. While they are not our blood relatives, the relationships have manifested as such.

This sort of relationship likely started out in this fashion, but in the past 200 years, the Industrial Revolution has changed it all.

By and large, domestic dogs are not needed to provide vital services to the economy, but the dog exists now in greater numbers than he ever did before.

With the dual forces of increased wealth through industrial production and the democratization of society, a middle class was built. In every country that has adopted industrial production, these forces act upon society to create it.

And this middle class has both money and leisure time, which they very often spend on pets.

In the old days, a dog was kept according to its utility. Only nobles could keep specialized hunting breeds or cute little lap dogs.

But with the rise of a relatively affluent middle class across the West, the market for these sorts of dogs was suddenly open to more people.

For example, during much of the eighteenth century, everyone wanted a Newfoundland dog, even if they lived miles from the coast. Newfoundlands had been widely popularized in literature for their intelligence and gentle natures, traits that everyone wanted to have in a family dog. The dogs were derived from the working water curs of Newfoundland, but in nineteenth century Europe and North America, they evolved into the giant family dogs and the retrievers, which were one of the most specialized hunting dogs. (The idea that they are necessarily specialized is, of course, wrong, but tradition says their only utility was in picking up game. Having such a large dog that did only one thing was a symbol of one’s own wealth and prestige, which is why they were kept primarily for that purpose.)

But this renegotiated contract, which took the dog from the totally utilitarian being that it was, laid the seeds for the ultimate perversion in the relationship. Dave continues:

In the new draft two centuries ago, several groups of dogs forefeited their liberty for promise of safety. In the virtue of selfishness of propagating their genes, several breeds have gone to the extremes; and the English Bulldog has been very selfish indeed at the expense of their own health. The Bulldog sold the ability to cool themselves to capitalize on the tendency of humans equating anything with a squished-face as infantile. The appeal to flat face is so successful, no longer are the Bulldogs required to birth naturally as they can only exist through Caesarean sections; and once civilization crumbles, the bulldog is extinct. The dependence on technology will either be pivotal to their existence or their very undoing. In fact, the fate of Bulldog is so intertwined with technology, we believe they are worth propping up on a pedestal. Truly, the Bulldogs are the master of manipulating the middle-class.

In a way, the bulldog is like the flower that can only exist when a certain species of bee pollinates it. If that bee were to become extinct, the flower would die. Nature creates these specialized alliances, but we fail to recognize that human agency can also create them.

We humans are doing unbelievably stupid things in regard to our “junior partner.”

We see them as nothing more than a medium of sculpture in which we can mold  into whatever esoteric and bizarre forms. They become nothing more than living works of art, even though they are still a biological entity. They have genes. They have behavior. They have instincts and drives.

We have renegotiated the contracts so much that one begins to wonder which species is truly benefiting here. The human drive to stroke the ego becomes embedded in the dog’s very existence. The dogs might get free room and board and plenty of opportunities to breed– if they are of sufficient quality. But their essence as animals– as beings– is not fully appreciated. I don’t think the majority of pet owners approach this aspect of the dog. Too often the relationship becomes anthropomorphic projections and– even worse– projections of human parental behavior and attachment.

We just lost sight of what a dog is.

They are not just dogs.

They simply are dogs. They do not crave our domination or our constant affection.

All they ask is to be taken on their own terms, as the beings that they are.

But too often we lack the empathy to step back a give them what they truly deserve.

 

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What a croc!

From Yahoo! News:

Villagers and veteran hunters have captured a one-ton saltwater crocodile which they plan to make the star of a planned ecotourism park in a southern Philippine town, an official said Monday.

Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said dozens of villagers and experts ensnared the 21-foot (6.4-meter) male crocodile along a creek in Bunawan township in Agusan del Sur province after a three-week hunt. It could be one of the largest crocodiles to be captured alive in recent years, he said, quoting local crocodile experts.

Elorde said the crocodile killed a water buffalo in an attack witnessed by villagers last month and was also suspected of having attacked a fisherman who went missing in July.

He said he sought the help of experts at a crocodile farm in western Palawan province.

“We were nervous but it’s our duty to deal with a threat to the villagers,” Elorde told The Associated Press by telephone. “When I finally stood before it, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

After initial sightings at a creek, the hunters set four traps, which the crocodile destroyed. They then used sturdier traps using steel cables, one of which finally caught the enormous reptile late Saturday, he said.

About 100 people had to pull the crocodile, which weighs about 2,370 pounds (1,075 kilograms), from the creek to a clearing where a crane lifted it into a truck, he said.

The crocodile was placed in a fenced cage in an area where the town plans to build an ecotourism park for species found in a vast marshland in Agusan, an impoverished region about 515 miles (830 kilometers) southeast of Manila, Elorde said.

“It will be the biggest star of the park,” Elorde said, adding that villagers were happy that they would be able to turn the dangerous crocodile “from a threat into an asset.”

Despite the catch, villagers remain wary because several crocodiles still roam the outskirts of the farming town of about 37,000 people.

They have been told to avoid venturing into marshy areas alone at night, Elorde said.

If only Steve Irwin were alive today…

I can see him standing next to the great crocodile.

Eyes large with excitement.

“By crikey! What a little beauty!”

***

There have been claims of much larger crocodiles being captured, but it seems that 21 feet is as long as this species gets– at least whenever one of these large crocodiles is captured near a decent tape measure.

When they are captured in some remote part of Northern Australia or some fishing village on the Bay of Bengal, their size tends get a bit inflated. Through the rumor mill, 21-footers magically turn into 30 footers– the creatures of nightmares and bad horror movies.

Let’s hope that this big crocodile, whose only confirmed crime was that he killed a water buffalo, is used to the betterment of our understanding of this species. This part of the world isn’t known for its tolerance and understanding of wildlife. This is the same country where tourists can get their photos taken with “the world’s smallest monkey,” which are actually the Philippine tarsier.  Tarsiers aren’t monkeys at all, but they are haplorhine primates– just like monkeys, apes, and us.  Tarsiers are nocturnal, but they are kept awake during the day for the tourists to have their photographs. The smallest monkey is actually the pygmy marmoset of South America, and the smallest primate is Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, which, like all lemurs, is found only in Madagascar.  A 4 ounce Philippine tarsier would dwarf this diminutive creature, which tips the scales at a measly 1.1 ounce.

One can only imagine that at tarsier would face if it were forced to stay away all day. For a nocturnal creature, it could be one of the worst things that could happen to it in a captive situation. And then it is forced to share space with strangers, who flit in and out and flash bright lights from their cameras right into those amazing globular eyes, which are perfectly adapted to helping the tarsier find its way in the darkness.

It is not a good life for any wild creature, but one that likely to stress a poor tarsier to death.

Let’s hope that the crocodile keepers who have this monster have more expertise than the cheap tarsier tourist attraction. Let’s hope that this big crocodile gets a home where no longer has to worry about other male crocodiles challenging him and where he’ll never have to worry about a water buffalo stabbing him with its horns as he pulls it from the bank. Let’s hope that he has access to females, where he can pass on his gargantuan genetics onto a new generation of crocodiles.

Let’s give this old boy the retirement he deserves.

No longer king of the marsh, let’s hope he become king of the crocodile park.

That is what this creature deserves, if we have decided, as these people have, that it is too risky to allow him to live in the marsh where people and their livestock frequent.

It’s not the best decision, but it may be the only good compromise out of the whole deal.

21-foot crocodiles don’t show up every day.

He’s as unique as he is magnificent.

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The above image is of a bulldog in Northeastern Ohio who is suffering from the recent series of heat waves.

It is supposed to be a funny image. It’s cute, isn’t it?

Well, I don’t think it’s so much cute as it is a tragedy.

I live in a state adjacent to Ohio, where it also gets hot and muggy during the summer.

I have always had dogs that didn’t much like the heat at all. The golden retrievers, for example, always suffered a bit whenever the mercury rises above 75 degrees. If they were outside, they always solved this problem by diving in deep mud puddles or ponds.

Even though the golden boxer hated to swim, she would submerge herself in mud puddles to keep cool.

However, I do remember trying to get the dogs to lie down on some ice in the same way as this bulldog.

They refused.

It may have kept them cool, but they weren’t about to sit on ice like some Atlantic salmon at a fish market.

Even in the most extreme heat, I don’t think most normal dogs like the texture of ice cubes, and they would avoid sitting on it at all costs.

This poor bulldog, however, has a very hard time keeping itself cool. Bulldogs– and all brachycephalic breeds– have issues dissipating heat. Dogs pant to cool themselves. Panting passes air over the mucous membranes in the back of the mouth, throat, and trachea, which causes the moisture on those membranes to evaporate. This evaporation cools the animal. Bulldogs and other dogs of this type have a harder time passing air over these membranes when panting. They have a lot of issues with their soft palates, and most bulldogs never have fully open airways at all.

So even though a bulldog is a single-coated dog, it suffers much more in the heat than a double-coated golden retriever, which has a relatively long muzzle and open airways.

That’s why this bulldog has plowed headlong into this pile of ice.

To some it may be cute.

But for those of us who understand dog anatomy a bit, it is something quite sad.

We have bred bulldogs to have such extremely flatten faces that they really can’t function in the heat. Now, it is true that dogs are less tolerant of heat than humans are, and it is silly and quite dangerous to expect even a normal dog to be happy in 95 degree heat. However, through very silly breeding practices, we have  further hampered the bulldog’s ability to cool itself.

And I don’t find it all that funny.

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From a Life Magazine article called “Death of a Bobcat” (3 December 1945).

There is a whole photo montage of these hounds baying up a bobcat ion Oregon.

The title of the article sort of gives away the ending.

Yes.  Old Spot dispatches the bobcat.

So if you’re a little sensitive about dogs killing things, I would suggest that you not go to the link to the Life article.

Such an article would not appear in a national magazine like Life today.

If it did, there would be a very negative tone to the whole piece and either the HSUS or PETA (People Euthanizing Thousands of Animals) would be quoted.

This bobcat suffered very little in its life– no more so than any wild animal would.

Its death at the jaws of a dog is no more horrific than if it had been killed by a natural predator, which in Oregon at this time, would have been the cougar.

In terms of the amount of suffering the animal experienced in its life, it suffered far less than most farmed animals– certainly less than the bobcats and lynx that are farmed for their fur.

Today, if Old Spot were still alive, he would be deemed a vicious animal, even though he was most likely a friendly old Walker hound that had no more interest in biting someone than he would in driving a car.

Dogs and humans have become “more domesticated” since then– at least in the eyes of too many.   The same too many who have spent their lives too far away from the natural world. The natural world is violent by necessity. It is not moral in its violence either.  It is simply violence– poetic and sweet in its timelessness and amorality. For it will be the same when our species, the species that actually has power to destroy the whole of animate creation in a nuclear holocaust, becomes extinct.

Too many people think that predatory behavior by either is inherently evil. Too many people believe that hunting is a form of sadism. And to hunt with dogs is somehow analogous to Michael Vick’s dog fighting escapades.

It simply is not.

The bobcat had ample opportunity to avoid the hounds. Perhaps it could take to the trees or double back on its trail to fool the hounds. Hounds are not infallible in their sniffing. If they were, every hound would bag something every time he gets taken out.  If the hounds are timorous, a bobcat can bluff its way out of the situation, or cat could box some ears and send the dog back home in disgrace.

Dog fighting has as much to do with this type of hunting as the Roman circuses did.  Gladiatoral events aren’t about fair chase. They were always about guaranteed pain and suffering.  That is not the case in a fair chase hunt with hounds. There is always a very good chance that the prey will escape.

Bobcats evolved to experience some level of predation. They are mesopredators, generally living on diets of rabbits and small game. Some, like the ones in West Virginia, do eat a lot of deer.  Before colonization and European settlement, the bobcats had to worry about both wolves and cougars. Now, they worry about nothing. A coyote might take a kitten here and there, but they have no real predators once they reach adulthood.

Hunting these cats allows something like natural predation to occur.  Numbers get checked a bit.

Hunting them with hounds also put the fear of God into all the bobcats that escape the dogs, teaching them to avoid people and dogs at all costs.  Bobcats can become nuisances around poultry, kids, and lambs, but if they are hunted with both dogs and people, they learn to stay away from us.

That reduces conflict between agricultural enterprises and wildlife– always a positive thing for those of us who truly appreciate nature.

To defend hunting is not to say that one is a Republican or a conservative. I am neither of those things.

But one thing I do resist is this sort of “cultural imperialism by yuppies” that is being waged in the post-materialist West.

If such a thing were done to traditional hunting cultures in other parts of the world, the very same people would be crying foul. How can Israel ban hunting with Salukis? That’s so disrespectful to the Bedouin culture!  How can the government of Brazil ban aboriginal hunting?  That’s cultural imperialism!

I agree with those sentiments in both of those cases, but I apply the same standard to my own society.

And for that, I probably won’t get a lot of plaudits from some sectors.

But it is morally consistent.

One cannot obsess over the life of every animal.  Having different standards for different species appears to be something like racism. The analogy is false, of course, for we do recognize that some animals have value as individuals (dogs and cats) and others have value as species (livestock and wild animals). Humans have always categorized animals in such ways, and we have good reasons for doing so.

The animals we love have intrinsic value as individuals because they do not exist a ecological or biological entities. They exist within the frameworks of our societies.

Livestock also exists within human society, but the purpose of their existence is also fundamentally different. They have been developed to be a food source. Not every person can be a vegan and thrive. Not every person wants that lifestyle.  Thus, we have to have a different category for livestock, and livestock must exist.  There will never be “animal liberation.”  If humans were like gorillas in their dietary needs and desires, maybe.

The animals we keep for vivisection also have an important reason for being. There are simply no alternatives to vivisection in every circumstance, and if I have to choose between a cure for Alzheimer’s and cancer and the lives of any animals, I choose the cure. The danger in choosing otherwise is to diminish the value of human life, which we recognize has value simply because each of us understands and values our own existence. When we diminish the lives of our fellow humans, we diminish the value of our own existence. Thus, if we are to truly value ourselves and others, we have to accept that some vivisection has to happen– and we must categorize these animals differently.

Wildlife also has a distinct category for a good reason. Wild animals exist beyond our strictures. There was a time in human history when we viewed wild animals according to the value or cost they provided to our civilization. Fish stocks were valued because they provided cheap and readily accessible protein. Wolves were hated because they killed livestock– a cost to our society. Now, we view these animals differently. We still have those metrics, but those metrics are checked and distorted by our conscious effort to preserve wildlife. I do not view this development as a negative aspect at all, but it is still a far cry from valuing these animals as individuals. Nature never valued these creatures as individuals. The ecosystems in which they exist values them in what they provide to the whole. The species matters, not the individual. Thus, when we rationally discuss managing wildlife, we think about ecosystems and species, not individual animals. If we did, we would be wasting a lot of time and energy, and we’d run into conflicts:  Should we cull the introduced arctic foxes on the Aleutians to save the seabird colonies? If we value the foxes as individuals in the same way we value dogs, we cannot value the ecosystem at all. The foxes would have the same right to exist on the islands as the seabirds and could not be killed.

Because we have different values for different animals and have very good reasons for doing so, there are very good reasons why we view different animals differently. It is entirely rational– and entirely acceptable from a moral sense.

Some animals are more equal than others for a very good reason.

And we should accept it.

 

 

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In case you haven’t heard, Japan is having several crises at once. A massive earthquake, a killer Tsunami, and the possibility of multiple meltdowns at their nuclear facilities.

The death toll is estimated to be around 10,000 people. It is a tragedy we cannot possibly imagine.

And while we should be concerned about helping the people of Japan, we should also be concerned about the animals. The Japanese people are noted for their love of dogs and cats, and I am certain that many Japanese citizens need us to help with make sure their beloved animals are safe.

If you would like to help, please visit this link at the Pet Captain blog for links to various animal rescue groups that are operating in Japan.

This is a major tragedy.  And the people and animals of Japan need all the support we can offer.

 

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I don’t like people who keep dogs like this:

People who mass produce dogs for the pet market are scum.

One can mass produce eggs, dairy, or meat, but one cannot mass produce quality pets or working dogs.

You just can’t.

To produce quality puppies of any sort, one must slow down. One must be selective in planning breeding and careful in rearing puppies.

You cannot do this at the volume that many mass producers breed.

I hope everyone understands these simple facts.

If you truly want a dog, don’t buy from a pet store or an online broker. Those entities prop up the mass production industry.

The mass production industry would die if people just stop buying  puppies from pet stores and online dealers.

That would solve the problem.

However, whenever authorities raid particularly egregiously cruel mass production facilities, there are always calls to “end puppy mills.”

And the way they intend to do it is through law. Various states, including my own, are considering legislation that strictly limits the number of intact dogs a breeders has. These laws have regulations about puppy rearing that are not based upon any careful consideration about socialization. They almost always require that puppies be kept separate from other dogs, which is not wise.

Breeders with established breeding programs are punished. People who actually have well-thought out breeding plans are penalized.

Penalized because we simply want to stop cruel breeding practices.

I would be the first to tell you that domestic dogs, from a population genetics perspective, are very much in trouble. We need more  dogs breeders, and more dogs being bred.

These laws are a direct affront to this necessity.

For that reason, we should oppose the mass puppy production industry, but we should do it by drying up the demand for these dogs.

Don’t be a stupid dog buyer.

How many times have you heard or read that dogs that come from pet stores or online brokers have health problems? How many times have you heard that dogs kept in these facilities are not treated well?

I have heard these claims hundreds of times.

I’m sure you have, too.

But we should not cut off our nose to spite our face.

We should simply our powers as consumers to put an end to puppy mills.

We don’t need to punish thoughtful breeders. We don’t need more stumbling blocks that prevent more people from getting in the game.

It is easy to say “There oughta be a law.”

But laws often have unintended consequences.

And sometimes, when we consider the total ramifications of a bill in question, we come to the conclusion that maybe there oughtn’t be law after all.

I think that this is the case with many of the HSUS-backed puppy mill laws.

We should enforce laws against animal cruelty to stop the bad guys.

But we also have responsibility in this matter, and that responsibility is that we must carefully consider the sources we use to procure dogs.

It’s just that simple.

***

This post was inspired by this wonderful piece at DesertWindHounds. This is an example of an ethical, well-informed, conscientious breeder whose program will be ended if HSUS-backed legislation is passed in Texas.

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