Animal Matters. No 31: 24th May, 2013

Dear Members and Friends,

In America, when the parent can't take care of herself she is usually moved to a nursing home. At my friend's 94-year-old mother Millie's posh nursing home, some of the oldsters are up in arms. They say Millie can't eat in the cafeteria anymore, because she is unable to feed herself. They don't want to watch anyone being fed. So now Millie is having a tray of food brought to her room, by staff from the facility's “Wellness Center.” Each tray delivery episode costs $7 (Rs 378). This does not include the food on the tray, this is per tray.

Humanity simply needs to start over, doesn't it? We're all mad! Could it be true that this country includes a sweeper caste? Are you kidding me? Princes and princesses every time you turn around? Around the world, we torture animals to test our toxins on them? For producing face paints? We chain up cows, drag away her new child, take the white viscous liquid from her breasts, and then kill the calf? We don't want to see an old person being fed?

It can feel like a bad dream. I'm in beachy Seattle, so I wander down to the water. It stretches all the way to the ferry docks at Lincoln Park. The waves lap peacefully against an agate-y wonderland of colourful little stones and bright green seaweed wrapped around bobbing driftwood. Not a trace of plastic. Humanity knows how to keep things clean. But we often get it way wrong, too, and try to clean up the cafeteria so no one sees the frailties of the aged. We master-hiders, we.

Puja writes: Our community of animal protectors across India has been celebrating the past week – dolphinaria have been banned in India! This is a huge victory for animals and this achievement means that dolphins are now free from the fate of capture, confinement, torment, and often death in the process of capture. Wild and free, always.
And there's another reason to celebrate – the policy goes a step further and acknowledges dolphins as non-human persons with their own specific rights. This is a landmark statement, that could be a step towards ending speciesism.
For me, this campaign has been a journey – from owning an 'I Love Shamu' coffee mug, to defending the rights of non-human animals, and I made some incredible friends along the way. Thank you, each and every one of the special people behind this historic campaign, this is only just the beginning!

Megahyala governor is promoting eating bats – because they eat flowers and thus 'clean'. We firmly believe consuming a chicken is no different than a dog or a bat, but such careless statements only result in more, needless suffering.

Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: The Pune federation (P-FAPO), which is a month old now, organised its first street dog rescue and first-aid workshop on Sunday for the benefit of all Punekars. The workshop was conducted by our own Abodh Aras and Dr. Karishma Gupte, from the Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD). There was star presence too, with Salman – the dog who calmly and dignifiedly allowed participants to muzzle him, take his pulse, temperature and even pet him! Photos here The workshop ended with the second meeting of P-FAPO, where it was decided to work on legal awareness of animal carers, regulating petshops and prioritising issues to be taken up with the Municipal Corporation. Elsewhere in the country, Jaipur is planning to conduct its first legal sensitisation workshop for police personnel and Kerala, to bring people working for the welfare of captive elephants together.

At temperatures soar across the country, here's some advice on how to keep animals healthy during the heat.

A recent circular from the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), makes import of pets regulated, and difficult for more dogs to pour into the hands of breeders.

Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: Living Free programme is here in its new avatar! Thanks to all of you who have participated in this programme. An attractive 12-page booklet, based on your suggestions, is now ready along with the essential Guide to Outreach. With the Living Free Quick Grants available too, there's nothing that can stop you now from spreading the message of Living Free! Whichever way you plan your outreach – leafleting, arranging film shows, or anything that you can think of, get in touch at for outreach material or for a discussion.

Word is that Punjab may be ‘modernising' pig farming, as Ludhiana seems all set to open Asia's first 'ultra-modern' pig farm. We can only expect it to mean intensive farming, and an unbelievable level of suffering for the animals. More here

The leather industry is complaining about the lack of 'raw material' again (and labour too). This raw material – i.e. skins off animals – is not a by-product. Recently leather manufacturers had proposed to start cattle farms for raw leather  For those interested, here's a recent report on India's leather industry

Tehelka reports on the loss of livelhood of weavers after Shahtoosh was banned, and now their struggle, as heavy snowfall in Jammu & Kashmir killed nearly 27,000 goats for Pashmina wool.  The struggle, of the goats however, does not get equal prominence; after the wool produced to keep the goats warm is stripped off them, and they no longer produce enough to be economical, they are likely to be sent for slaughter. Wool too, is no less morally unjustifiable than leather, milk, or meat.

FIAPO's member – a gaushala that does not sell milk and other animal products to care for its cows – tells how they prevent overcrowding in their shelter.

In focus: RAKSHA
A youth based organisation in Jaipur, coordinating the local federation activities in the city, leading the plastic cow campaign, and having educated nearly 20000 students in the last year, RAKSHA maybe small, but certainly packs a punch. They operate a dedicated snake-helpline, and run a shelter for birds. More about them here

The reason I moved to India about 15 years ago wasn't because of the wonder of the ancient Hindu tradition of tolerance; wasn't because of the astonishing Islamic contribution to hospitality; wasn't because of the splendor of the textiles. It was because I love seeing the animals everywhere. I am writing from America, gasping in the absence of animals on the streets.

I went for a walk. It's so cold I have to wear gloves, and the rain is pelting. I finally saw a border collie behind a wire fence, and I practically ran to her. She was barking so hysterically her guardian fell over herself trying to calm her down and assure me that all was well. I disciplined myself not to start The Story of Animal Aid, but let myself be mistaken for a kindly Seattle walker as I shoved my fingers through the cyclone fence desperately trying to make skin-to-fur contact with “Lilly.” The gardens are magnificent with rhododendron and azalea blossoms shivering in the fresh piney breeze.  But the place is empty. No street dogs, no cows, no pigs.

It is so strange to be here in neighborhoods of my youth. The sky, the water, the earth—we seem to recognize each other. But home is where the heart is, they say, and my heart is fixed on lovely India. Her rubble, her great Dwarka-like mistakes, her pushy driving manners—India is alive with change, negotiation, optimism, and the work and play of people and animals. I am happier in India. And they don't appreciate the saree here, at all.

Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small.

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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