L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: PETA

North Carolina animal testing facility surrenders animals after PETA's release of undercover video

PetaVid1 A North Carolina lab has stopped doing research and is surrendering all of its animals a week after an undercover video showed what activists allege were workers cruelly treating dogs, cats and rabbits, federal regulators said Wednesday.

U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman Dave Sacks said officials are trying to find new homes for more than 200 animals that were at Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. He said it was the company's decision to give them up and stop research. The USDA inspected the site this week and has started a formal investigation.

The developments come after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video of conditions at the lab. PETA contends that workers violently handled the animals and violated laws.

"I think it's imperative that all the animals go to good homes," said Kathy Guillermo, vice president of laboratory investigations at PETA. "They've suffered enough. This is a chance for them to know for the first time in their lives some joy and some peace."

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'Dancing shrimp' are off the menu at Sacramento seafood restaurant after PETA raises objections

Spot Prawns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Sacramento restaurant agreed to stop serving live shrimp after an animal-rights group said the practice was cruel to the shellfish.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the restaurant, Nishiki Sushi, suggested squeezing lemon juice on the shrimps' exposed flesh so they would writhe as they were eaten. The dish is commonly referred to as "dancing shrimp" and is considered a delicacy in Japan.

PETA contacted the restaurant after receiving dozens of complaints about the practice.

The animal rights group objected to the practice based on a 2007 study that explored shrimp pain from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

The researchers found that prawns acted as if they had an injured paw when acid was dabbed onto an antennae, and the crustaceans also responded to numbing effects of painkillers.

"Because we received so many calls, we contacted Nishiki and told them every animal feels pain, and we have the scientific evidence to back that up," said Amanda Fortino, a campaign coordinator for PETA. "They agreed to not sell the live shrimp anymore, and we really appreciate that."

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OSHA fines SeaWorld for worker safety issues following orca trainer's death


Months after SeaWorld Orlando marine mammal trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed in an incident involving a 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that it has cited SeaWorld for workplace safety violations.

According to OSHA, it found three specific violations in SeaWorld's conduct, most notably one it classified as a "willful" violation for "exposing [SeaWorld] employees to struck-by and drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

OSHA also noted two lesser violations, one "serious citation" for "failing to install a stairway railing system on the front side, left bridge of the 'Believe' stage in Shamu Stadium" and one "other-than-serious citation" for the Orlando, Fla., park's failure to place weatherproof enclosures over outdoor electrical outlets in the stadium. The agency fined SeaWorld $75,000 in total for the three violations.

SeaWorld quickly issued a statement calling the OSHA findings "unfounded" and announcing the company's plans to contest the citation. "OSHA's allegations in this citation are unsupported by any evidence or precedent and reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the safety requirements associated with marine mammal care," the statement continued.

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Dodge removes Suzie the chimp from its Tent Event commercial [video]

A few weeks ago Unleashed broke the story about the curious case of a Dodge tent event commercial starring Suzie, the young chimpanzee, which was pulled after the car manufacturer received complaints from animal activists about their use of such an animal to hawk cars and trucks.

"Most top ad agencies in the country won’t even consider producing an ad featuring a great ape these days given the well-documented abuse that young chimpanzees and orangutans suffer in the entertainment industry," PETA's primatologist, Julia Gallucci, told The Times.

Dodge acknowleged that they heard and understood the complaints, and promised to change the commercial to appease the outraged groups. "The ad was an innocent act only trying to be humorous," Kristin Starnes, head of Dodge car brand communications, wrote us in an e-mail. "In no way did the brand intend to promote any questionable practices. With the planned modification, we are simply taking some sound advice and altering direction in respect of PETA's initiatives."

So how would they modify a tv commercial? To refresh your memory, here is the original spot:

After the jump see how Dodge changed the ad to remove Suzie.

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'American Idol' star Kristy Lee Cook's reality TV show about hunting doesn't sit well with PETA

KristyLeeCookWhen former "American Idol" contestant Kristy Lee Cook's new reality TV show, "Goin' Country with Kristy Lee Cook," launched on the Versus sports network earlier this month, the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was quick to state its disapproval.

Cook's eight-episode show documents her travels to hunt whitetail deer, turkeys, pheasants and even black bears throughout the United States, all while trying to score a recording contract.

"Instead of angering thousands of would-be fans by killing helpless animals on camera in an attempt to get her '15 Minutes of Shame,' Kristy Lee Cook's fame crusade would be better served by following in the footsteps" of "Idol" stars such as Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Simon Cowell, who have used their celebrity as a platform to speak up for animals, PETA said in a statement.

Underwood and Pickler are both vegetarians, and Cowell is a supporter of animal rescue and has previously worked with PETA to record a public service announcement about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars.

Cook, who has put her love of horses to work by founding a charity to rescue them, insists that hunters "have done more for American wildlife conservation than any other group in history" and that the sport is "more about being with friends and family and having a good time." She said in a statement to Fox News that all the meat from that animals she kills is either eaten by her own family or donated to charities. "The meat is going somewhere and it is great because I get to feed all these people," she told Fox News. "Whether you like hunting or not, I know I get to help people eat."

Learn more about Cook's new show at The Times' outdoor sports blog, Outposts.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Kristy Lee Cook attends the BMI Country Awards in Nashville in 2008. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press

Pamela Anderson helps canine victims of oil spill (and returns home with two new rescue dogs of her own)

PamelaAnderson NEW ORLEANS — Most of the roughly 50 abandoned dogs parading under the oaks at New Orleans City Park on Monday were bound for a pet adoption program in Virginia, but two were headed for California with their new owner, actress Pamela Anderson.

"My son was hoping we could take all 50," Anderson said before latching on to her two new charges -- small brown dogs tentatively identified by shelter officials as Chihuahua mixes. Anderson named them in honor of fellow actresses Gina Lollobrigida and Brigitte Bardot.

Anderson helped walk the dogs as part of a news conference calling attention to a program aimed at helping deal with an overflow of abandoned pets since the BP oil spill.

"We couldn't find homes for all the dogs that were being surrendered before the spill," said Bridgette Verdin of the Humane Society of Louisiana, which is working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and several New Orleans-area shelters to find homes for the dogs. Verdin said the spill, which has caused people to lose jobs and income in southeastern Louisiana, only made the existing animal adoption problems worse.

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July in animal news: Five questions with PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman

Prominent members of the animal-protection community are sharing their insights into the latest animal-related news and what their organizations are up to. Here, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman offers her take on Catalonia's recent bullfighting ban, bringing vegan hot dogs to Capitol Hill, keeping dogs safe during the summer and the chicken that changed her life. Reiman's responses represent her own views and not necessarily ours.

Tracy-Reiman Unleashed: What do you view as the most important development in animal news to happen in July?

Tracy Reiman: The biggest news of the month has to be Catalonia's ban on bullfighting. Catalonia is the first mainland Spanish region to ban bullfighting (It has already been banned in the Canary Islands and in several Spanish cities), and this news shows that the tide has finally turned.

PETA and our sister groups in Spain and throughout Europe have been campaigning hard against bullfighting for several years. Early in July, PETA's U.K. affiliate teamed up with the Spanish group AnimaNaturalis to hold a huge protest in Pamplona against the Running of the Bulls and the daily bullfights that are part of the San Fermin Festival. During the protest, demonstrators lay down and formed a bull with their bodies. A couple of weeks before that, Charo led an anti-bullfighting rally in Los Angeles and debuted her new video for PETA. We're now calling on people to write to Spain's prime minister and ask him to ban bullfighting nationwide.

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Animal rights activist advocating vegetarianism in a lettuce gown is briefly held in Jordan

PETA's lettuce lady AMMAN, Jordan — An animal rights activist caused a stir in Jordan's capital Sunday by covering herself in lettuce in a quirky attempt to persuade Middle Eastern meat lovers to go vegetarian.

Crowds quickly gathered to gawk at the lettuce lady, but police were not amused.

Officers arrested the Jordanian activist, Amina Tarek, and a colleague from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and held them briefly.

The pair stood in a square along one of Amman's trendiest streets and held a placard reading "Let Vegetarianism Grow on You."

Tarek says she wanted Jordanians "to turn over a new leaf."

Police held them for three hours, saying they had not obtained permission for the protest. The activists say they had approval.

PETA to Pope Benedict XVI: Veganize the Vatican
PETA members stage short-lived protest outside KFC restaurant in Damascus

-- Associated Press

Photo: Tarek wears a full-length lettuce gown in Amman on July 25. Credit: Jamal Nasrallah / European Pressphoto Agency

Catalonia becomes second Spanish region to ban bullfighting

Anti-bullfighting activists

Animal advocates in the Spanish region of Catalonia and around the world celebrated a decision Wednesday by the regional assembly to outlaw bullfighting there.

The vote brought to a close a long and often contentious debate between pro- and anti-bullfighting factions that began more than a year and a half ago. A group that opposes bullfighting, Prou! (translation: Enough!), circulated a petition with the goal of receiving 50,000 signatures; in the end, it received more than three times that goal.

The ban, which will go into effect in 2012, will cause the few remaining bullfighting rings in the region to close, including one in its capital, Barcelona. Catalonia is the second Spanish region to outlaw bullfights, which have long been decried as cruel by animal advocates. The Canary Islands banned the blood sport in 1991, but Catalonia is the first region on the Spanish mainland to do so.

Supporters of the ban insist their concern is for the welfare of the bulls, which die bloody and violent deaths in the bullfighting ring, but some opponents argue that the move was a political one designed to bolster the Catalan nationalist movement. 

Among those celebrating the ban is the always-entertaining Charo, who said she is "more proud to be Spanish today than on any other day of my life. This shows that the new generation in Spain wants to lose this barbaric tradition." (The star recently teamed with PETA to narrate an anti-bullfighting video, which is available for viewing on PETA's YouTube channel, but is very, very graphic.)

Learn more about the bullfighting ban in Catalonia and its political implications for Spain in reporter Henry Chu's recent story in The Times.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Animal rights activists celebrate Catalonia's bullfighting ban in Madrid on July 28. Credit: Daniel Ochoa de Olza / Associated Press

Dodge pulls chimp from its 'tent event' ad


The other day I was watching television and I saw a car commercial that made me laugh.

The announcer in a disarmingly low-key delivery explained how Dodge was having this great promotion where if you bought one of their three selected vehicles you could drive it for two months, and if you didn't like it you could return it.

"They'll even cover your payments," the voice, belonging to "Dexter" star Michael C. Hall, said. "This event could not be more amazing."

The camera then focused on a small chimp wearing an Evel Kneivel-esqe jumpsuit walking over to what appears to be a dynamite detonator.

"Oh wait, there's a monkey," Hall said. The chimp pushes down on the bar of the detonator and instead of a huge explosion, a puff of confetti showers a few cars.

"I stand corrected," Hall deadpans.

Funny. Witty. And not a bad car promo.

But being someone who has shared an office at work with someone who has educated me over the years about the things that animal groups and activists are sensitive about, I wondered if a group like PETA would object to such a seemingly innocent spot. The next day I came in and showed Unleashed's Lindsay Barnett the video and asked her if she wouldn't mind writing to PETA and asking them what they thought.

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