Fortnightly Commentary No 41: 11th October, 2013 circ. 2250 people

Dear Members and Friends,

When I was 10 I broke my arm at the start of summer vacation and had a plaster cast and wasn't allowed to run or jump or swim. We spent every summer at a remote beach. My sister Katie and our only friends, Jeanne and Donald, spent the whole of every day doing all the things that I was forbidden to do. I had to stay home while Katie, Jeanne and Donald spent the days riding horses.  I read, built houses made of playing cards, took long walks along looking for snakes coiled up in the sun, or along the beach searching for agates and watching small white hermit crabs who lived in seashells.

One day when my sister and Jeanne and Donald came home from their day of play with horses and other reasons to run and jump, we went to the beach at low tide and they commenced making sand castles before their afternoon swim. I watched them. I could stand on a sand bar but not go in the water. I couldn't dig properly with just the one hand, and I accidentally knocked down a balcony of sand. Katie and Donald screamed at me for being clumsy. Consumed by self pity and real loneliness I ran up to the house to tattle on them to my mother. Knowing I'd spent the long day waiting for the kids to return, she pitied me, called Katie home and sent away Jeanne and Donald, bringing a fresh round of hostility.

Jeanne died a month ago, age 61. She was four years older than me. She had not yelled at me for knocking down the sand wall but stayed quiet, submitting to my mother's anger as if she had done wrong, but she had not. I knew she was being wrongly punished, and that she had borne the injustice with inexplicable grace. I chose not to exonerate her, because my heart had swelled with the vindication of getting all three kids in trouble.

Fast forward 47 years and now, improved by my contact with many of you readers who fight against injustice for animals, I regret who I was to stand by while an innocent friend took blame.
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Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: The last two weeks have been about planning for and understanding our local federations better. From a survey of organisations doing stray dog related work in Kerala, we now have a better picture of their challenges and areas where they need assistance. The Pune organisations participated in the Joy of Giving week and got tremendous positive response from IT professionals for their work. Volunteers did livingfree outreach at the event too. Jaipur has also been abuzz with activity, with finalization of dates for a workshop with post graduate veterinary professionals later this month and the Compassionate living festival in December.
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Bad news from Kochi, with news of dog poisonings – http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12877 Our work in Kerala confirms the sheer lack of numbers – the burden of such huge problems, rests on a few shoulders.  But there is some positive news too, as PFA Kollam sets up a facility with kennels and ambulance. See http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12876
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Holy Cow…
Shweta writes: Last week, I was at the Civil Society Dialogue held by MARAG and FAO at Ahmedabad – an effort to work towards sustainable livestock development. It was disappointing. While stress was laid on accepting different modes of production and maintaining bio-diversity, the welfare of animals was not included. Increasing productivity, as the gap between demand and supply increases, is on everyone's mind. However, increasing productivity means every cow should be kept in a continuous cycle of pregnancy and lactation – see http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12883
Meanwhile, in the world of chickens, social activist Swami Agnivesh has demanded a ban on confining egg-laying hen inside 'battery' cages, which typically give each space equivalent to an A4 sized sheet of paper! Read more at http://www.livingfreeindia.org/
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With Bakri Id around the corner, activists are vigilant to prevent illegal killing of animals. AWBI has written to Chief Secretary and Director General of Police in all the States besides the Animal Husbandry Departments. http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12878 Meanwhile, in Hyderabad 16 October will be observed as anti-cow slaughter day in protest of lack of enforcement of existing legislation http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12880
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Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: A few days back I was at the India International Vegan Festival held at the Sthitaprajna Vegan Center at Byndoor, Karnataka. There were people who had quit using animal-based products long back, people who have done so recently and people who are still trying to do that. But even more heartening was that these people were also trying to make their points across into their peer groups and circles they know – spreading the message of compassion. A thought perfectly in tune with Living Free (www.livingfreeindia.org). Glad to have met so many co-walkers in the journey to make this world a better place. And waiting eagerly for the next year's festival.
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Canine Capers…
Sudhersena writes: As we begin the gigantic effort to collect data and information on the welfare of dogs in India to support ongoing litigation and to help inform our efforts better, the first step is to listen to what activists across India have to say about the problems. And so, we've held two sessions so far – in Goa and Chennai – to facilitate such a process. We will publish results soon, but meanwhile, the key insight is the negative public attitude that seems to be to blame for several problems.

To fix this problem – the wish list from our activists includes educating all stakeholders like the general public, government officials, police officials, breeders, veterinarians and animal welfare organizations – humane education is essential for removing myths and wrong beliefs. More awareness programs on dog welfare and behaviour in schools, colleges, residential associations, social media and vaccination camps! What do you think? Email me at sudhersena@fiapo.org
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In focus: PFA Morena

Set up in the year 2000, this organisation has been focused on preserving the national bird of our country. From poaching to habitat loss and conflict with humans, there are numerous threats the peafowl faces and PFA Morena has been striving to preserve the grand bird and Morena's grandeur. For more info- http://www.fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12891
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My family and our five cats moved house this week although the new house is not complete. It has meant total chaos, and since the main gates to our new house must be opened and closed dozens of times each day by construction workers we have put each cat in a portable kennel during the days, til evening, when all but one can roam around the house. Only one is not in a kennel; she has a small room to herself because she's feral and we can't catch her, and she fights with the other cats. She has semi-paralysed hind legs.

At night I visit her in her 8×10' room.  She is desperate for interaction and stimulation. This is the 7th day in such condition and I see the signs of stress in her: more sleeping, reduced appetite, depression in her eyes.  Last night I just sat there for a half hour and experienced the choking claustrophobia of life through Priti's experience of morbid boredom.

Animals in zoos know this as their permanent condition, not a stop-gap measure to get by during a week or two. I read recently on one of the international websites an opening to their page about zoo animal welfare. It opened with the phrase “Zoos are a fact of life.” This is an unacceptable tenet. Zoos are NOT a fact of life, they are a well-intentioned DEAD WRONG and CHANGEABLE invention of humans. The FIAPO community has the means to agree that for animals, the greatest “fact of life” is their need of freedom from confinement.

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

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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