L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Animal Rights

Paul McCartney asks India's prime minister to declare a national Vegetarian Day

Macca NEW DELHI — Outspoken vegetarian Paul McCartney is urging India to declare a national Vegetarian Day to celebrate meat-free living and compassion toward animals.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said McCartney sent a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying such a day could save animals while helping to protect both the environment and people's health.

McCartney's letter said "it would be a celebration of life."

The United Nations food agency in 2003 estimated that 42% of India's 1.2 billion people are vegetarian, mostly because of financial and religious concerns. Strict Hindus and Jains do not eat meat.

Singh's office could not immediately confirm receipt of McCartney's letter Tuesday.


-- Associated Press

Photo: McCartney in 2001. Credit: Jan Bauer / Associated Press

Clothing chain Papaya to stop selling fur

Papaya Add another retail chain to the ever-expanding list of stores that don't sell fur: Papaya, a clothing company with more than 90 stores around the U.S., has recently pledged to go fur-free.

The company made the decision to stop selling fur and fur-trimmed garments after receiving graphic videos about the fur industry from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, The Times' business blog Money & Co. reports.

Other popular clothing companies that have taken a similar stance on fur include Limited Brands, Wet Seal, Jones Apparel Group and Forever 21. The latter company has also partnered with the Humane Society of the United States to produce a line of T-shirts featuring animal-friendly messages about pet adoption, dogfighting and more.

According to Money & Co., Papaya will sell the fur products it currently has in stock but will no longer order fur items after the remaining ones are sold.


-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Papaya

Investigators recommend changes at Virginia factory farm where Humane Society alleges abuse against pigs

Pig Farm

RICHMOND, Va. — An independent investigative team is recommending changes aftermistreatment of breeding pigs at a Virginia farm operated by a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc., the world's largest pork producer.

The recommendations include reviewing training programs and euthanasia procedures, initiating unannounced inspections by third parties, and increasing the number of site visits by corporate management of the Smithfield, Va.-based company.

Smithfield released the independent investigators' recommendations late Wednesday and said each will immediately be addressed, although the statement did not say if or when they would implemented.

The Humane Society of the United States last week released results from an undercover investigation that showed breeding pigs abused and crammed into small gestation crates at the Waverly farm of livestock production subsidiary Murphy-Brown.

Photos and video from the Humane Society's investigation showed about 1,000 large female pigs crammed into metal crates that severely limited their ability to move. The pigs stay in the crates, also called sow stalls, during their four-month pregnancies. Afterward, they are moved for about three weeks to a crate large enough to nurse their piglets before being artificially inseminated and placed back into the gestation crates.

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Pigs subject to abuse at Virginia factory farm, Humane Society of the United States says


RICHMOND, Va. — The Humane Society of the United States said Wednesday that an undercover worker at a farm owned by the world's largest pork producer saw breeding pigs abused and crammed into small gestation crates.

The animal welfare organization released the results of a monthlong undercover investigation at a Waverly, Va., factory farm owned by Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc. Murphy-Brown is Smithfield's livestock production subsidiary and is the world's largest producer of pigs for slaughter. The Humane Society called on Smithfield to renew its commitment to phasing out the crates.

Photos and video from the investigation showed about 1,000 large female pigs crammed into metal crates that severely limited their ability to move. The pigs stay in the crates, also called sow stalls, during their four-month pregnancies. Afterward, they are moved for about three weeks to a crate large enough to nurse their piglets before being artificially inseminated and placed back into the gestation crates.

Seven states have passed laws banning gestation crates, and the European Union is phasing out their use by 2013. However, the crates are legal in Virginia.

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NYPD wins PETA award for switching from glue mouse traps to spring ones

Mouse NEW YORK — The New York Police Department has been commended for a new method to catch trespassers -- the small, furry ones running loose at the headquarters of the nation's largest department.

The strategy? Spring-loaded mousetraps.

The department had been using glue traps, on which mice get stuck and can live up to 24 hours, to get rid of the rodent problem at 1 Police Plaza. On Oct. 12, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals received an anonymous complaint about the traps.

"We immediately conveyed our concerns to Police Commissioner [Raymond] Kelly and asked that they ban glue trap usage," Martin Mersereau, the director of PETA's emergency response division, said Thursday.

The department responded in November. Chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Thursday that the traps were replaced with two types of professional-grade traps PETA recommended, created to kill mice instantly. The department spends about $100,000 annually on extermination, using the Brooklyn-based company KingsWay, whose motto is "We kill with skill."

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PETA's 'Be Proud of Your Body Scan' ad rejected by major airports

Peta Major airports in New York, North Carolina and Las Vegas are rejecting a proposed ad campaign from PETA that makes light of body scan machines used at airport security checkpoints.

The ads from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals features a scan of a curvaceous woman in lacy underwear with the message: "Be Proud of Your Body Scan: Go Vegan."

Major airports in Las Vegas, Charlotte, N.C., and New York City refused to display the ads designed to entice holiday travelers waiting in security lines.

Officials with McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas said its policy prohibits political ads.

PETA Vice President Dan Matthews said the ads were meant to be humorous. He said PETA has not taken a political position on airport security measures.

PETA offers to help foot Lindsay Lohan's rehab bill if she goes vegan
PETA to Pope Benedict XVI: Veganize the Vatican

-- Associated Press

UCLA neuroscientist receives threatening package apparently sent by militant animal-rights group


UCLA neuroscientist J. David Jentsch received a package containing razor blades and a threatening note this month, the university confirmed Tuesday. According to a statement from UCLA, both university police and the FBI are investigating the incident, as well as another claim from a militant animal-rights group that it sent a similar package to a graduate student researcher who works in Jentsch's laboratory. There is no evidence to suggest that the latter package was received.

A group called the Justice Department has claimed responsibility for the incident and alleged in a statement that the razor blades were tainted with the blood of an AIDS-infected person. That statement, posted on a website maintained by the group Animal Liberation Front, accused Jentsch of "addicting primates to phencyclidine known on the streets as PCP and other street drugs using grant money from the federal government."

On its website, the ALF distanced itself from the Justice Department, stating that the latter group doesn't adhere to the ALF's principles of "avoiding harm to all animals, including human ones, and [instead] adopted guidelines more similar to those of the Animal Rights Militia (ARM)."

Jentsch uses vervet monkeys in experiments that have "provided critical insights into the biochemical processes that contribute to methamphetamine addiction and tobacco dependence in teens and the cognitive disabilities affecting behavior, speech and reasoning in schizophrenia patients," UCLA's statement continued. Jentsch -- who organized a rally on campus in favor of animal experimentation last year after his car was set on fire, allegedly by opponents of biomedical research on animals -- has said that animal testing is necessary to save human lives

Learn more about the incident at The Times' local news blog, L.A. Now.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Jentsch in an April 2009 demonstration in support of animal experimentation at UCLA. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

Michael Vick's Monday night performance didn't impress everyone

While many were marveling at Michael Vick's Monday Night Football heroics, some were wincing at it all while never forgetting about the victims.

One of those who was wincing was L.A. Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke, who wrote an emotional column that has quickly become one of his most popular screeds. An excerpt:

If he continues playing this well, he could end up as the league's most valuable player. In six games, he has thrown for 11 touchdowns, run for four more touchdowns, committed zero turnovers and produced nearly 300 total yards per game. Heck, at this rate, with his Eagles inspired by his touch, he could even win a Super Bowl, one of the greatest achievements by an American sportsman.

And yet a large percentage of the population will still think Michael Vick is a sociopath. Many people will never get over Vick's own admissions of unthinkable cruelty to his pit bulls -- the strangling, the drowning, the electrocutions, the removal of all the teeth of female dogs who would fight back during mating.

Some believe that because Vick served his time in prison, he should be beyond reproach for his former actions. Many others believe that cruelty to animals isn't something somebody does, it's something somebody is.

"Dog owner can't forgive Michael Vick" has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, shared over 51,000 times on Facebook, and has received over 500 comments. A small sampling of those comments can be seen after the jump.

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Farm Sanctuary asks Obama to send pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys to its rescue facility


The humble turkey's connection to American politics dates back at least as far Benjamin Franklin, and more recently, of course, it has figured prominently in an event that has become political tradition: The President's annual pardoning of a bird otherwise destined for human consumption.

Although many animal lovers can get behind the idea of sparing a bird, one advocacy group, Farm Sanctuary, is asking for an adjustment in the turkey-pardoning protocol. Farm Sanctuary, which operates two large-scale rescue farms, is asking President Obama to allow this year's pardoned turkeys to be moved to its Watkins Glen, N.Y., sanctuary, rather than to a Disney park as planned.

According to Farm Sanctuary, it is uniquely qualified to provide care for turkeys bred for food, which are a far cry from their wild ancestors and often experience leg problems and other maladies as a result of breeding programs that emphasize fast weight gain rather than long-term health. "At Disney theme parks, which have been entrusted with the care of pardoned turkeys since 2005, many of the birds have died within one year," a petition circulated by the group reads in part. "At Farm Sanctuary, these birds can live happily and comfortably for many years."

Farm Sanctuary isn't the only animal advocacy group to have qualms about the pardoning ceremony. Jennifer Fearing, California state director for the Humane Society of the United States, told Unleashed last year that she sees the ritual as "an odd one, in that it suggests that turkeys have committed some offense for which they can be pardoned. In reality, these turkeys have done nothing to deserve the punishment we force them to endure on our nation's factory farms."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has previously urged President Obama to send pardoned turkeys to an animal rescue farm instead of a Disney park.

Your morning adorable: Rescued turkeys' pre-Thanksgiving spa day
Thanksgiving good deeds: Farm Sanctuary offers turkey-sponsorship opportunities

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Former President George W. Bush pets a turkey named Flyer after pardoning him in a 2006 ceremony. Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Animal rights activists detained in South Korea over demonstration about vegetarianism

PETA SEOUL — Police detained two scantily clad female animal rights activists for staging an unauthorized protest near the Group of 20 summit in South Korea's capital, a police officer said Tuesday.

The activists -- wearing shorts and bras and painted from head to toe to resemble planet Earth -- jumped out of a black van near the venue Tuesday and held signs promoting vegetarianism.

Police officers quickly threw blankets over the women and escorted them into a police vehicle.

"Save the planet, go vegetarian!" Ashley Fruno, a 24-year-old Canadian who is a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, shouted as officers hauled her away from a crowd of photographers and cameramen.

Fruno and Han sae-mi, a 33-year-old South Korean member of the Seoul-based Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth, were under investigation, said police officer Park Ho-hyun, declining to give further details.

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