Category: Uncategorized

USA: New Slaughterhouse Investigation Reveals Critical Lapse in Federal Law.

New Slaughterhouse Investigation Reveals Critical Lapse in Federal Law

By Ingrid L. Taylor

September 7, 2021

In the same month the U.S. Senate recognized August as National Catfish Month, Animal Equality, an international animal protection organization that has conducted hundreds of investigations into slaughterhouses and industrial farms, released disturbing footage of an undercover investigation at Simmons Farm Raised Catfish. Simmons, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, is one of the largest USDA-inspected catfish slaughterhouses in the U.S. and a supplier for Cracker Barrel and Captain D’s restaurant chains, as well as Kroger, Save A Lot, and Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. 

Video footage revealed catfish piled on overcrowded conveyor belts slowly suffocating as workers take lengthy breaks, fish returning to consciousness after electrical stunning and beheaded while fully awake, and undersized, deformed, or parasite-scarred fish languishing in bins without water for hours before being ground alive and turned into feed for growing catfish. A turtle, bycatch from the netting process that removes the farmed fish from ponds, was tossed onto a conveyor belt loaded with severed fish heads and tried to escape being shredded alive. 

The month-long investigation further revealed that these were not isolated incidents, according to Animal Equality’s Director of Investigations Sean Thomas, but that catfish, turtles, and other bycatch fish were routinely left to suffer out of water before being killed. 

Pressing for Criminal Animal Cruelty Charges 

Animal Equality presented evidence to the Yazoo County Sheriff’s Office and County Prosecutor alleging that Simmons had violated Mississippi law against animal cruelty, which does not exclude fish from legal consideration, according to Kathy Hessler, Director of the Animal Law Clinic at Lewis and Clark School. Hessler further stated in a memo that “scientific research indicates that fish and turtles can suffer and feel pain, and that animals who live in water, fish, in particular, suffer when taken out of water.” Thomas points out that catfish are “robust” fish and can survive for prolonged periods out of water, making their slow suffocation even more excruciating. 

The slaughter process itself also causes pain and suffering. The catfish pass through an electrical stunning device intended to incapacitate them prior to decapitation. The fish are heaped on top of each other, and the stunning relies on the current being carried from fish to fish through their crowded bodies. However, videos of the slaughter line show catfish flopping, gasping, and moving their fins after stunning, and many appear to be fully conscious when beheaded and may even maintain consciousness for some time after decapitation. 

In one haunting scene, the severed head of a catfish gasps slowly as the conveyor belt passes. Studies in other species of fish have shown that respiration and gasping can persist for up to eight hours after decapitation, and research in rats suggests that brain death does not occur for a least a minute after decapitation—raising questions about how much suffering these conscious catfish endure, and for how long. To that point, Thomas cites a 2020 study showing that catfish are resilient to electrical stunning and most immediately regained consciousness. 

The organization has also reached out to companies that purchase catfish from Simmons, and Kroger has initiated an independent investigation into the allegations. Animal Equality also filed consumer complaints with Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee state attorneys general, stating that Simmons’s claim of “swiftly processing” catfish constitutes unfair or deceptive trade practices. In response, Simmons removed the claim from its website that the fish are processed “within 30 minutes.”

A Unique Opportunity to Demand Federal Oversight  

While catfish are not excluded from local animal cruelty laws, they are excluded from the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, originally passed in 1958 and the only federal legislation overseeing animal welfare during slaughter. This act requires the “proper treatment and humane handling” of all animals slaughtered in USDA-inspected facilities but omits chickens and fish. According to Hessler, “fish and aquatic animals have no legal protections during transportation to, or within, the slaughter process. Methods of slaughtering fish and other aquatic animals can be quite gruesome, painful to the animals involved, and take significant periods of time.” In 2021, over 193,000 tons of catfish (measured in live weight) have already passed through slaughterhouses, with no oversight for their humane handling or welfare. 

However, catfish do hold the unusual status of being the only fish species inspected by the USDA, the federal organization responsible for enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act. This unique regulatory situation was implemented in 2016 to undercut foreign competitors to the U.S.’s home-grown catfish industry. Producers hoped that adding USDA certification to their products would give them an edge in the market. In the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas, which collectively use 53,200 acres of water surface for catfish farming, catfish production is frequently marketed as “sustainable, traditional family farms” rather than as an industry bringing in significant sales, to the tune of 371 million dollars in 2020.  

Despite catfish’s special status, USDA inspectors don’t assess live fish in slaughterhouses. As Thomas explains, “it’s just for the sanitary conditions under which the fish are packaged. So, if a piece of that fish fell on the floor they would inspect it, but they’re not going over to the other side and watching where the live animals come in and seeing if stunning is occurring or anything like that.” Thomas points out that this sends a potent message to the industry “where the USDA doesn’t recognize them [the catfish] as animals deserving of even the most basic protections.” 

But, because USDA inspectors are already present in these facilities, Animal Equality sees this as an opportunity to press for federal oversight of catfish being slaughtered. And as Hessler states, the legislative framework is already present, and “these animals now vastly outnumber their mammal counterparts in the slaughter process, and scientific evidence has clearly shown that they can feel pain and suffer. It is therefore incumbent on us to protect them from unnecessary suffering during the slaughter process.” 

To this end, Animal Equality is petitioning Congress to include fish in the Humane Slaughter Act. Thomas admits that this is only a first step in humane oversight for farmed fish, but it would be a crucial move toward recognizing their capacity for pain and suffering and their need for federal protections. 

Simmons Farm Raised Catfish and The Catfish Institute could not be reached for comment. 

Read More

Fish Farming Giant Faces Animal Abuse Allegations

“If the Industry Won’t Tell the Truth, We Will”: Animal Equality’s Fight Continues

Factory Farming: Shedding Light on the Highly Secretive Industry

Regards Mark

The Unemployed Epidemiologist Who Predicted the Pandemic.

The Unemployed Epidemiologist Who Predicted the Pandemic by Stacey

With thanks to Stacey at ‘Our Compass’ as always;

Regards Mark

This is a 5 page post – pages can be selected from the numbers at the end.

Source The Nation

By Eamon Whalen

In early March 2020, Rob Wallace, an evolutionary biologist who had been adrift after an unceremonious exit from the University of Minnesota, flew to New Orleans and then got on a bus to Jackson, Miss., where he was scheduled to speak at an event on health and racial injustice. Wallace, who turned 50 this summer, has been studying and writing about infectious diseases and their origins for half his life. For almost as long, he’s been warning that the practices of industrial agriculture would lead to a deadly pandemic on the scale of Covid-19—or worse. “A pandemic may now be all but inevitable,” he wrote of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in 2007. ”In what would be a catastrophic failure on the part of governments and health ministries worldwide, millions may die.”

Before his trip to Jackson, Wallace had been closely monitoring the outbreak of a novel virus in Wuhan. Though he’d been spooked by a news report that showed a delivery driver in China practicing extreme social distancing, he went ahead with the trip. As an underpaid academic, he needed the money, and as an American, he didn’t expect anything to happen to him. “I too had been infused with a peculiarly American moment, wherein financial desperation meets imperial exceptionalism,” he wrote.

When Wallace returned from his trip, he threw himself back into writing and research with such fervor that he managed to ignore a pounding headache. When the shortness of breath started, his teenage son yelled at him through the computer screen to see a doctor. After he filled out an online questionnaire, Wallace was diagnosed with Covid-19 over the phone.

He’d been infected with something he’d been warning about for years, and like so many around the country and the world, all he could do was to hope to keep breathing. “No test. No antiviral. No masks and no gloves provided. No community health practitioner stopping by to check on me,” Wallace wrote.

“You can intellectually understand something but still not assimilate the oncoming damage,” he told me later, as he recalled the “sour vindication” of having his worst fears come true. “So there’s an aspect of rage, and an arrival at an understanding.”

I met Wallace for coffee on an afternoon in late June. We sat on benches under the shade on the campus of a liberal arts college near his home in St. Paul, Minn. He was dressed in a pale-red short-sleeve shirt, dark jeans, and sneakers. He wore rectangular black-rimmed glasses and a Minnesota Twins baseball hat and had a five o’clock shadow

Wallace looks more like a dad on the way to his kid’s Little League game than a lab-coat-wearing scientist who used to consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations. That could be because he hasn’t had a job in academia for more than a decade, a circumstance he attributes to his decision to take the implications of his scholarship seriously.

That’s why the book Wallace published last October came with a provocative title—Dead Epidemiologists: On the Origins of Covid-19. Though there are many “brilliant, bright, amazing, and hardworking” epidemiologists whose work he cites, their impact is limited, Wallace said: “They are in the business of cleaning up the mess the system brought about, and that’s the extent to which they’re willing to go.” In his first essay on Covid, “Notes on a Novel Coronavirus,” published in January 2020, Wallace wrote that an epidemiologist is like a “stable boy with a shovel following around elephants at the circus.”

“As an epidemiologist, you’re supposed to want to put yourself out of business,” Wallace said. “Everyone has bills to pay; I understand that. But the extent to which your corruption might lead to a pathogen that could kill a billion people—that’s where my line is.” While he’s not the only Cassandra whose warnings of a pandemic like Covid-19 went unheeded, there are few as clear-eyed about where to direct the blame. “Agribusiness is at war with public health,” he wrote in the March 2020 essay “Covid-19 and the Circuits of Capital,” and if no serious action is taken, the interval before the next pandemic will be “far shorter…than the hundred-year lull since 1918.”

Serbia: Serbia – Brussels Walk To Promote Serbian Stray Animal Abuse.

Hi all;

WALK FOR HAPPY BARK

9/9/21 – today I was contacted by an old Serbian campaigner friend, named Goran.

We have both campaigned in the past for Serbian animals; especially regarding stray dogs and cats.

It was this issue which led me to setting up ‘Serbian Animals Voice (SAV)’ back in 2005.

Link:

Main link – Serbian Animals Voice (SAV) | a voice for the voiceless

About Serbian Animals – legislation etc – About Serbian Animals. | Serbian Animals Voice (SAV)

About Us – About Us. | Serbian Animals Voice (SAV)

We were both campaigner friends of the late Dr Slavica, who campaigned tirelessly for better animal welfare in Serbia.

In memory of Slavica Mazac-Bešlić – World Animals Voice

for Slavica Mazac-Bešlić – World Animals Voice

You can see a lot here about our campaign work:

Dr. Medicine Slavica Mazak Bešlić – A Dear Animal Campaigner Friend Lost Today. – World Animals Voice

We do not have much info at present and have asked Goran for more.  All we know is that it involves a walk for animals from Serbia to Brussels, Belgium, where formal letters of protest, demanding action in Serbia, will be handed in.  This will probably be late in the year – awaiting response for confirmation.

Serbia is not an EU member state yet but is a ‘candidate country’ to join up.

This is all we have at present, but will publish more when we have further info.

The situation for strays has always been bad for in Serbia, and still is; here below is a video made by Goran which shows a Serbian street dog which HAS been sterilised by welfare group Vier Pfoten and has been fitted with a red ear tag to clearly show this.  As the animal cannot reproduce more strays, it should be left alone.  But you can clearly se in the video that the dog has been darted by ‘shinters’ (dogcatchers) who are wearing balaclava masks and are opposite the dog, waiting to collect it and take it away to be killed.  As it is sterilised, and is clearly identified as such with the ear tag the shinters should leave animals such as this alone.  They do not – they kill everything.

We also have a SAV Facebook page with many hundreds of members.  It is a ‘talk shop’ for Serbian activists, as well as showing shelters and animals up for rehoming.

You can visit SAV Facebook at:

(20+) Serbian Animals Voice | Facebook

Learn more about the suffering of Serbian animals by visiting the sites;

Regards Mark

England: 9/9/21 – Geronimo postmortem results negative for TB, say owner’s lawyers.

Photo – Independent

9/9/21

Geronimo postmortem results negative for TB, say owner’s lawyers

Defra denies claim and says culled animal has ‘TB-like lesions’ and awaits further investigations

A fresh row has broken out between the owner of Geronimo the alpaca and the government over the results of an initial postmortem examination of the culled animal.

Lawyers acting for Helen Macdonald have said the preliminary gross postmortem findings, reviewed by veterinary surgeons, are negative for visible lesions typical of bovine tuberculosis (TB).

However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said a number of TB-like lesions were found in Geronimo and will be further investigated, adding the full postmortem results will not be concluded until the end of the year.

The dispute is the latest in a long line of battles between Macdonald and the government over the fate of Geronimo, who was put down last week.

The eight-year-old animal, who had tested positive twice for bovine TB and whose fate triggered heated debate across the country, was taken from his home at Shepherds Close Farm in south Gloucestershire on 31 August and later put down.

Lawyers acting for Macdonald, a veterinary nurse, said she had received a letter from the government’s legal department containing the preliminary findings of the postmortem. These findings were reviewed by veterinary surgeons.

In a statement, the lawyers said: “As reviewed by Dr Iain McGill and Dr Bob Broadbent, the preliminary gross postmortem findings are negative for visible lesions typical of bovine tuberculosis.

“For clarity there are no white or cream caseous, enlarged abscesses typical for bTB in alpacas whether in the lungs, bronchial, mediastinal or retropharyngeal lymph nodes.”

Macdonald has formally requested the full findings of the postmortem report and the results of further tests on tissue samples, blood, serum or plasma taken from Geronimo, and other additional test results.

Defra appeared to directly contradict the claims. The chief veterinary officer, Dr Christine Middlemiss, said: “We have completed the initial postmortem examination of Geronimo. A number of TB-like lesions were found and in line with standard practice, these are now undergoing further investigation.

“These tests include the developing of bacteriological cultures from tissue samples which usually takes several months – we would expect to complete the full postmortem and culture process by the end of the year.”

Geronimo was brought to England from New Zealand by Macdonald in August 2017 and tested positive for TB in the same month. He had been living in isolation ever since; he could see some of the other 80-odd alpacas on the farm but was separated from them by a fence.

In July 2018, a court order for the animal’s destruction was sought by the government and he was given a stay of execution, to be slaughtered by the end of August that year.

Macdonald mounted a legal challenge, pleading with the UK government to allow Geronimo to be retested.

Regards Mark

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/08/geronimo-the-alpaca-postmortem-results-negative-for-tb-say-owners-lawyers

England: On Day of Defra Demo; Post Mortem Results Show ‘Geronimo’ DID NOT Have Bovine TB.

Breaking 8/9/21

Shit really hits the fan now;

On the day of the Defra demo in support of Geronimo and opposing the badger cull because of bovine TB; we are just hearing that from the post mortem on Geronimo, he DID NOT HAVE bTB.

This throws a total new light on the whole issue now.

More to come later

Regards Mark

https://inews.co.uk/news/geronimo-the-alpaca-bovine-tb-death-post-mortem-1188682

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/geronimo-alpaca-tb-test-death-b1916326.html

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9969559/Geronimo-did-NOT-Bovine-Tuberculosis-claims-owner.html

USA: Horses Reportedly Kept for Illegal Slaughter and Stored With Decomposing Animals Deserve Justice – Petition.

Petition Link:

Horses Reportedly Kept for Illegal Slaughter and Stored With Decomposing Animals Deserve Justice – Animal Petitions

Target: Chandler, Arizona City Prosecutor Elizabeth Herbert

Goal: Ensure man charged with cruelty to horses faces maximum punishment.

Three horses were reportedly neglected and starved until they became so malnourished that they needed immediate medical attention. Police reportedly found the unfortunate animals on a ranch belonging to Taha Hussain, after receiving a tip from a concerned neighbor. Hussain has since been arrested on six total counts of alleged animal cruelty offenses. After obtaining a proper search warrant, the police reportedly went back to seize the horses and examine the rest of the property. During this investigation, they claimed to have additionally found multiple animal remains and tools for slaughtering, leading them to believe that Hussain had been slaughtering animals for profit without a license.

The horses, all aged 17-20, are currently under the care of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, where they are being treated for their injuries and nursed back to health. They were apparently forced to live in dangerous and unsanitary conditions near other animal remains, creating multiple small wounds across their bodies and a breeding ground for possible infection. Hussain was taken by officers to the Maricopa County Jail for alleged animal cruelty crimes and slaughtering without a license.

The animals will be re-homed and allowed to live out the rest of their lives in peace. The same cannot be said for the other animals allegedly slaughtered, who’s improper disposal appears to be nothing short of cruel. Sign the petition below to demand that, if found guilty, Hussain will face the maximum penalty for the animal cruelty charges.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prosecutor Herbert,

As prosecuting attorney in Chandler, you are in a unique position to help with an important case. Officers in your district recently arrested Taha Hussain on six counts of alleged animal cruelty, reportedly finding his property covered in animal remains and tools for slaughtering, for which Hussain reportedly does not possess an official license. They also seized three apparently neglected horses, transporting them to an animal hospital for immediate care.

While it is too late for any slaughtered animals to be saved, the three remaining deserve justice for what they apparently went through. They were reportedly found in unsafe conditions, covered in surface injuries, and emaciated from hunger. Please do everything in your power to ensure that Hussain receives the maximum penalty if found guilty and is banned from further animal ownership in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Chandler Police Department

Regards Mark

England: (South London) – Motorists Patiently Wait For Ducks To Cross Road At Formal Crossing Point. Cool !

Aisling Roche-Morris, a NHS Senior Clinical Psychologist, filmed the moment while out cycling on the morning of August 28

Pretty cool – when in London, …….

Quack march!

Moment ducks stop the traffic as they waddle across a zebra crossing in single file

I am pleased to say that all the motorists did not seem to have a problem waiting for the ducks to cross – this would not have happened everywhere in the world.

But then, they were using the ‘zebra crossing’; the official crossing point for pedestrians to use when wanting to cross the road.

Seems like they have all got the road sense they need.

Watch the video at:

Regards Mark

A jogger seems unfazed as he runs past the flock of ducks on Blackheath in south east London

England: 8/9/21 – Badger Cull and ‘Geronimo’ Justice Demo at Defra HQ, London. Lets Get The Cull Stopped.

Following on from the latest article on UK badger culling by Venus –

Hunt Sabotage: “it’s a class war”! – World Animals Voice

Here is more news of a demo organised in London on 8/9/21 regarding the badger cull and in memory of Geronimo.  Get the re and support if you can !

JUSTICE FOR GERONIMO & STOP THE BADGER CULL DEMO

1pm, Weds 8th September outside Defra HQ, 17 Smith Square, SWIP3JR.

Helen Macdonald, Dom Dyer + special guests speaking. Let’s make this huge & let Defra know the strength of global feeling & disgust at the execution of Geronimo

WAV articles associated with this issue:

England: Geronimo, Serbian Strays and Badgers. All Policy Victims Of Governments That Will Not Accept The Evidence. – World Animals Voice

England: Bovine TB Up By 130% – Higher Than When Badger Culls Began. Badgers Being Killed To Pacify Farmers; While They Take No Responsibility for Biosecurity. – World Animals Voice

England: What Good People Do For Wildlife – New Artificial Badger Sett Made For Schoolchildren; So They Can Learn About Badgers. – World Animals Voice

England: “Killing Geronimo is a PR Disaster for Defra” – Article By National Newspaper ‘The Independent’; London. – World Animals Voice

England: ‘Geronimo’ Has Been Murdered By The British Government and Sucked Up To By Ministry Vets. A VERY Big Mistake For The Future, And Government Hopes Of Re Election. George Eustace and Vet Middlemiss Need Their Butts Kicked Hard – And They Will Get It. – World Animals Voice

England: The Badger. – World Animals Voice

England: The Link Between Serbian Strays and UK Badger Culling – Killing Does Not Work, Despite What Governments Say. – World Animals Voice

Regards Mark

Bulgaria: Have you met CAAI ?

Have you met CAAI? | Eurogroup for Animals

Have you met CAAI?

2 September 2021

CAAI

Interview

The “Have you met” is a monthly interview to raise awareness for our Member Organisations, their work, main battles and achievements for animals.

This month we had the pleasure to interview Stefan Dimitrov, animal welfare advocate and activist for Campaigns and Activism for Animals in the Industry (CAAI).

Tell us a bit about Campaigns and Activism for Animals in the Industry (CAAI) and its main battles.

CAAI is a Bulgarian non-profit organisation founded in 2017. Our mission is to end as much of the suffering of as many animals as possible in all fields of human activities with the limited resources at our disposal. Our group is roughly 30 activists on Slack, five of which are employed part- or full-time through grant projects.

We started our work four years ago with the launch of our fur campaign, including the first ever national investigation in a factory farm, and a National Citizens’ Initiative that got 35 thousand people to sign for a ban on fur farms. These signatures were gathered by 200 volunteers all around the country. This was the second-largest petition of its kind here.

Since then we’ve been working with politicians, the media, scientists and experts, celebrities, local environmental NGOs, and organising demonstrations to get the ban into national legislation, and to keep the topic of fur farming in the public air. A group of MEPs tabled the bill in late 2019, and, after parliamentary elections, now again in early 2021.

In the meantime we became members of the Open Wing Alliance in early 2020 and have been working on corporate cage-free campaigns since then. Our group began working on cages before that as well, during 2019 as part of the End The Cage Age ECI. We’ve also been active members of the Fur Free Alliance, and joined Eurogroup for Animals in early 2021.

In which countries is CAAI present?

In Bulgaria only.

What about you? Tell us a bit more about your role within CAAI and why you joined.

I’m currently in charge of communications on our cage-free campaign. More generally, I take care of IT and social media. I’ve also done volunteer recruitment and coordination, and work on developing our culture, values, and work practices.

I’ve been working as a volunteer since January 2018 and have been employed part-time since March 2020. I joined a couple of years after becoming vegan and realising that I needed to join a group and get organised with other people if I really wanted to impact the fate of animals in farms. I was in my first year in university back then, so I had time to spare and enthusiasm to use.

When did CAAI join Eurogroup for Animals and why?

CAAI joined Eurogroup for Animals in March 2021. Our partnership with Eurogroup for Animals was something we had been looking for since mid-2020. We believe it’s highly important both in terms of spreading vital knowledge, resources, and experience, as well as for synchronizing our efforts and increasing the effectiveness of collective actions.

What are CAAI‘s main achievements this year?

A couple of months ago we organized a key demo in front of the building of the Council of Ministers, while the new government was being sworn in. Numerous politicians and MEPs from 6 different parties joined us and we managed to secure widespread media coverage as well as personal meetings during the protest with the two new ministers of agriculture and health. These led to advances against the fur industry here in Bulgaria with the exposure of numerous scandals and corruption schemes surrounding the largest fur farm in the country, and allowed us to secure commitments from parties and MEPs in support of the ban.

We secured tens of cage-free commitments from local businesses, as well as translations and publications of global and regional commitments locally, in addition to running a large-scale online and offline ad campaign around Easter that garnered significant attention and thousands of signatures on our petition.

How can the public act for CAAI?

We all started as volunteers at CAAI and so volunteering is the lifeblood of the organisation. We recruit volunteers for multiple roles, especially skilled volunteers, with whom the organisation can grow. 

We also accept donations and sell merchandise

The most widespread support we receive from the public directly is signing petitions, attending protests, taking part in our online actions, and spreading the word to raise awareness.

Word to live by / Inspiring quote you like

Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not This is misfortune, but To bear this worthily is good fortune.” – by Marcus Aurelius

Regards Mark

Back To Normal A Bit ?

Hi all;

Hope you are all ok.  Well it has been a bit mixed up this week – the issue of ‘Geronimo’ here in England ended up with us getting more involved than we first thought – see:

England: “Killing Geronimo is a PR Disaster for Defra” – Article By National Newspaper ‘The Independent’; London. – World Animals Voice and

England: Geronimo, Serbian Strays and Badgers. All Policy Victims Of Governments That Will Not Accept The Evidence. – World Animals Voice

Have all taken up a bit more time for us, at the expense of other things.  But we don’t have a problem with this as he was used as a scapegoat by Defra.

Now we are trying to catch up with some posts and hope to get them out this weekend.

There are a few new posts for you to see, and all being well we will be back and running ok next week.

Regards Mark (and Venus)

Check this out for some amazing photos;

Funny Finalist Photos from the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (mymodernmet.com)

https://mymodernmet.com/category/photography/