Saturday, February 21, 2009

We Need MORE of These in Our Schools!

(the kid in the pic looks JUST like my kid at that age. Too cute!)

Kindness Pays With the Be Kind to Animals™ Kid Contest

Contest Opens Today!

Once again, it pays to be a kind kid. During American Humane’s 95th annual celebration of Be Kind to Animals Week®, May 3-9, 2009, we will recognize young humanitarians whose work exemplifies humane principles and extraordinary compassion for animals. Grand prize winners will receive $1,000 and runners up will receive $500!

We are looking for kids between the ages of 6 and 17 whose love for and dedication to animals deserves national recognition. Past winners have included dedicated animal shelter volunteers, young entrepreneurs who help animals with their proceeds, and kids who educate others about respect for animals. If this sounds like a kid you know, please nominate him or her by April 15. Visit for more information.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Under New Management, Animal Sanctuary becomes Killing Field

Sanctuary becomes killing field

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 10:34 am

Squirtle, rescued as a foal by sanctuary founder Sue Stiles, was only 8 years old.


A husband and wife team of internationally known environmentalists, paid handsomely to oversee a San Luis Obispo County sanctuary for infirm animals, has ordered the accelerating slaughter of many of their wards.

Former and present employees of the Dancing Star Foundation claim that its top officers, Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison, intend to focus on endangered animals. They say the pair has commenced the systematic elimination of aged and infirm farm animals under the foundation’s care, contrary to the foundation's purpose.

Tobias and Morrison have reportedly told employees that economic issues prompted the kill policy.

According to the foundation’s 2007 IRS Form 990 filed Oct. 6, 2008, the group had more than $43 million in assets. Tobias, as president, receives a yearly salary of $285,500; Vice President Morrison, $244,000; and Vice President of Finance Don Cannon, $240,000.

The foundation was created by Sue Stiles in 1993 with a focus on providing a refuge for elderly and handicapped farm animals. She opened one sanctuary in Paso Robles for burros, and another in Cayucos which hosts horses, cows, dogs, burros, pigs, and a goat. In January, more than 200 animals were cared for at the Cayucos sanctuary, situated south of Harmony on 700 rolling acres along U.S. Highway 1. A herd of burros wandering among the oak trees is often visible from the highway below.

“Stiles took care of animals in dire need,” said Kathy Duncan, a Morro Bay resident who took her 27-year-old horse to live out its days at Dancing Star. “Sue knew all the animals by name. She asked me to visit when I could, bring carrots, and pet the animals.”

Dying of cancer, Stiles choose Tobias to preside over her non-profit foundation. Tobias is a world traveler and author of 35 books and numerous documentaries focusing on environmental history and animal rights. In 1996, Tobias received the “Courage of Conscience Award” for his commitment to animals. His wife and vice president of the foundation, Morrison, is an ecologist and filmmaker.

The IRS statement claims the foundation spent $2,552,939 on the animal sanctuary in Paso Robles. However, the summary of charitable activities does not mention the Cayucos sanctuary.

“Tobias is stating that the foundation does not have the funds to support these animals that Sue had taken under her wing,” an employee said. “He and his wife have ordered the mass killing of horses, burros, and cows. Originally, it was 20 animals. Then it was five cows and five horses or burros every week until we reached 50 animals. We are nearing that number. Now, there is a new list. We feel this will continue. We also feel their intentions are to close the sanctuary.”

The first round of animals “were stacked like cord wood, until they were bloated, before they were hauled away,” an employee said.

Dancing Star managers informed veterinarian Gary Evans and numerous employees that adopted animals will reduce the numbers slated for execution. Officials claim they investigate possible adoptive families before releasing the animals. Employees state that animals are handed over to anyone with a trailer.

“Employees and friends in utter desperation are allowed to adopt these animals without any paperwork or inspection of the living conditions of where these animals are going,” an employee said. “These employees are making $9 an hour. They can barely feed themselves. It is total chaos.”

Next week, five cows are slated to be killed on Monday, and five horses are on the list for Thursday. The next wave, reported to be 30 animals, is supposed to drag out over a few months.

“Because of the economy, they say they can’t afford to feed the animals and provide medications,” ex-employee Sheldon Rowley said. “Then others say it is quality of life. Now these animals have to look perfectly healthy or they are dust.”

Two local veterinarians have been hired to perform euthanasia. Both horse veterinarian Tristen Weltner and cattle veterinarian Gary Evans assert that all the animals that have been put down have had health problems, though both have also noticed a change in the treatment of animals at the sanctuary during the last month.

“I was told they were out of money,” Evans said. “Sue Stiles would not approve of the way things are being done. Her whole deal was rescuing animals. There were a number of animals born and raised there.”

Both Evans and numerous employees noted that while foundation officials are firing staff and eliminating animals, they are spending funds on the construction of new barns and upgrading existing facilities.

“They built a new barn for $120,000 then killed the animals in the barn below,” Rowley added. “They are building shelters with no limits. However, they are putting down the animals with health problems and the older ones. You can see were the money is going.”

Sources claim the last round of killings included a group of viable animals.

Carmel was a wild horse and as such required the use of a squeeze (a cage that tightens around an animal’s body) to put her down. Carmel fought and fell in the squeeze, her legs caught in the bars. Her eyes were wide and wild with fear. The vet tried to inject enough drugs to drop the winter-coated mare, but Carmel continued to fight and only part of the killing drugs could be administrated on the first try. During Carmel’s long and painful death, employees stood by weeping.

An 8-year-old paint, Grace, was on and off lame due to a leg deformity. The spirited mare ran back and forth while her barn mates were slaughtered, unaware of the fate she faced. She loved to play and appeared not to be in pain.

Grace didn’t fight as her caregivers stroked her neck to distract her from the prick of the veterinarian’s deadly needle. She fell to the ground amidst the tears of Dancing Star employees.

Both Grace and Amigo, a gelding his caregivers said “was full of life and not ready to go yet,” received a shot of poison through a vein in their necks during the last round of animal eliminations.

“I think they are trying to close the sanctuary,” an employee said. “They are killing healthy animals. It is a sanctuary; all the animals have some problem. We signed on for an animal sanctuary, not a cowboy slaughter ranch. We love the animals; they don’t care.”

When the soft-spoken Tobias took over after Stiles’ death, he promptly banned volunteers and fired all employees hired by the sanctuary’s founder, an employee added. New employees sign an agreement they won’t tell anyone anything about the sanctuary, including that they work there.

“We signed disclosures that we can’t talk to the press,” an employee said. “They can fire without cause. We know we are going to lose our jobs. Two ladies were pushed out for going on maternity leave. Jerry (Smith, sanctuary manager) wants to shoot all the animals. They want us to go away so they can do what they want to.”

During the past month, as Dancing Star officials exterminated animals, they also initiated the staged firing of employees. Smith laid off four caregivers last weekend, bringing the total of dismissed employees to more than 14.

“These questions have nothing to do with you,” Dancing Star manager Smith said when asked by a Cal Coast News reporter why sanctuary officials are systematically killing off their charges and firing employees. “This doesn’t concern you. It is none of your business.”

President Tobias, vice president Morrison, and vice president of finance Don Cannon did not return requests for comment.

Sources claim that after receiving an inheritance of more than $60 million, Stiles chose to dive into philanthropy with a focus on providing a safe haven for aged and infirm farm animals.

“She told me she had inherited money from her aunt who was one of the owners of the [McClatchy] Bee newspapers,” Duncan added. “Sue thought the need was a sanctuary for farm animals. She had a board of directors who were supposed to keep the sanctuary running. This is not what she would have wanted.”

“The foundation mission is to promote and safeguard the earth’s biodiversity, including respect for and the protection of animals. The foundation provides aged, disabled, infirm, or unwanted animals with food, shelter, and veterinary care,” according to the foundation’s 990 form.

Jane Goodall wrote in a preface to Tobias’ book, World War III, “I hope that those reading this book will join Tobias on the path toward the more sustainable and compassionate future, trying to live again as we once did, in harmony with nature, and no longer at war.”

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"The fate of animals is of greater importance to me
than the fear of appearing ridiculous;
it is indissolubly connected with the fate of men."
- Emile Zola (1840-1902)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"MuleKist" gets a new nickname.....

One of our newest rescues, Paco, a standard size spotted ass. Gee, I have always wanted a spotted ass! Paco has never been abused, just neglected and underweight,....he hasnt got a mean bone in his body. A real sweetheart. Nobody dosent like Paco.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Your Horse: "Livestock" or "Companion Animal" and Who Should Decide?

Article Idea: What is all this hub-bub about the horse as "livestock" or companion animal?

1. Define "Livestock"

2. States that have re-classified horses from livestock to companion animals.

3. Conclude: Owners should decide

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mayor cuts zoo budget, gets bit

How's this for a warning? Groundhog Staten Island Chuck bites Mayor Bloomberg on big day

Sounds like they were rough handling the animal. Naturally, he is going to bite.
Listen how they treated him (the groundhog)

Updated Monday, February 2nd 2009, 7:12 PM

Chuck predicated that winter will soon end - then he bit Mayor Bloomberg.

Maybe it was revenge.

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg took a bite out of the Staten Island Zoo's budget.

Monday, the zoo's weather-predicting groundhog, Charles G. Hogg, took a bite out of Hizzoner.

"He got my finger pretty good," Bloomberg allowed, as he held the recalcitrant groundhog up in the air and declared spring on the way.

The Groundhog Day mayor-nipping came just three days after Bloomberg chomped 15% out of the zoo's budget, reducing it to $1.3 million from $1.6 million.

Sticking tongue firmly in cheek, the mayor, who was wearing black leather gloves, said his injuries weren't life-threatening and made clear he didn't buy the revenge theory.

He thought it might be more geopolitical.

"Clearly in this case, a terrorist rodent that could very well have been trained by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. I'm not at liberty to say anything more than that," he said.

Asked if Staten Island Chuck might be tossed into groundhog jail, Bloomberg quipped: "If the district attorney wants to press charges, I'll leave it to the Staten Island district attorney to do so."

Chuck clearly wasn't thrilled about the whole business of being pulled out of his warm wooden home and having his food ripped away.

He seemed happy to let his more famous competitor, Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil, have the glory.

So Bloomberg tried to lure him out with a corn cob.

The 10-pound critter just snatched the cob and retreated into his home.

There then followed an undignified tussle over the corn cob between mayor and varmint.

The mayor gave Chuck the cob. The varmint scurried into his hut. The mayor grabbed it and tried to lure Chuck out. The critter came out, grabbed it away and went back in. This happened a few times.

Finally, a zoo worker reached in and gave the rebellious rodent a discreet shove from behind. Bloomberg grabbed him - and Chuck chomped.

Later, Bloomberg quipped, "whenever the people of Staten Island are at risk, the mayor is willing to put himself and his physical well-being in harm's way to protect them."

The mayor wrapped his left index finger in a napkin until a doctor looked at it and a Band-Aid was applied.

An aide said the bite carried no risk of rabies because Chuck has been kept in captivity since birth.

"Rarely do you ever run into a woodland animal and its lifelong veterinarian is there," the aide said.

John Caltabiano, executive director of Staten Island Zoo, said, "The mayor handled [Chuck] with determination and vigor."

He did not mention cuts to the zoo budget or threaten to sic the beast on the mayor again.

Mayors of New York have had rocky relations with members of the furry rodent world. Mayor Giuliani famously declared war on ferrets, but was never actually attacked by one.

While Chuck predicted an early spring, it was not clear if his violent outburst presages four more years of Bloomberg.'s%20your%20warning!%20Groundhog%20bites%20mayor

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Citifield Stadium & Your BailOut Money

The Mets begin playing at Citi Field in just two months

A deal is still a deal.

Citigroup is right to honor the $400 million contract for naming rights of the new Mets stadium even if the bank is receiving billions of bailout money.

That does not mean the bank has to stick with the name Citi Field.

One righteous alternative that comes to mind is Taxpayer Field.

Better yet, make a random pick of one individual out of the millions of beleaguered taxpayers chipping in to bail out Citigroup and all the other bungling financial institutions.

You could just extend an index finger to make a closed-eye choice from the phone book, but that could produce an Obama appointee.

The lottery is a better model, though any choice would still need vetting, and by folks more astute than those who served our new President so poorly.

Once approved, the lucky taxpayer would see his or her name go up on the new stadium in time for the April opening.

Whoever it is, Citigroup would acquire something its own name could never generate amidst the current crisis, something as rare as a clean balance sheet for a big financial institution these days.

This rare something is goodwill.

Citigroup could even present it as a way of saying two words no bailed-out bank has uttered:

"Thank you."

Of course, a thank you and a goodwill gesture do not begin to excuse the recklessness of the top executives who led Citigroup to near ruin.

Instead of those subslimes, we should think of the thousands of lower-ranking employees.

Even with the huge lay-offs, the bank continues to employ thousands of decent, hardworking and blameless souls who have families to support.

And, as galling as it is to fork over hard-earned tax billions to save a bank from the consequences of its own greed, the fact remains that Citigroup's profits and payroll were a big source of tax revenues in recent years.

Indeed, all the big financial institutions have poured tax money into the city's coffers, sums that kept us in relatively good fiscal shape.

The budget cuts that loom because of the collapse are a measure of how much we need Wall Street to prosper.

I keep thinking of the Bronx hardware store owner who cheered when the rich lost their shirts in the stock market crash of 1929 only to lose his business in the ensuing Depression.

The present crisis should make all the more clear the need for the city to diversify and become less dependent on the financial industry.

In this regard, we might look to Pittsburgh, which was even more dependent on big steel than we are on Wall Street.

Once all but a ghost town, Pittsburgh is a winner in many more ways than its football team.

As The New York Times has noted, salaries and property values there are actually on the upswing. Unemployment is 5% there, while hitting 8% here.

Part of the secret is investing in higher education and technology research, which spurs the entrepreneurship that is the start of new wealth.

And nobody is richer than New York in new scientific and technical talent.

Just consider this year's finalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search for high school students. Only 16 states had any at all. All of Pennsylvania had one. Massachusetts with its great tradition of education had one. California, home of Silicon Valley, had five.

We had nine.

Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan had two, more than all but nine entire states. Anissa Yuenming Mak's project was called "A Certifying Algorithm for the Modular Decomposition of Undirected Graphs." Classmate Adam Benjamin Sealfon was chosen for "Complexity Gap Between Adaptive and Nonadaptive Algorithms for Property Testing of Hypergraphs."

Too many of these young stars end up in labs in other states. The trick is to make NYU and Columbia the places for a Mak or Sealfon to be.

Meanwhile, we should all hope that Wall Street somehow bounces back. Citigroup could at least earn a little goodwill by naming the field in honor of those hardworking, honest souls who came to its rescue.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wyoming Cowboy Ticketed for "Drunk Riding"

Guess he didnt have any friends to drive him home. Remember, "Friends dont let friends ride drunk!"

Man accused of drunken horse riding in snowstorm

CODY, Wyo. - A man has been cited for public intoxication while riding a white horse during a snowstorm in the northern Wyoming town of Cody.

Police say they cited 28-year-old Benjamin Daniels after they received a call Sunday afternoon from a motorist concerned that a man was creating a road hazard by riding his horse on a street in conditions with poor visibility.

Cody Assistant Police Chief George Menig says officers noticed Daniels was intoxicated after they stopped him to explain that drivers were having difficulty spotting his slow-moving white horse.

Menig said Thursday that Daniels was detained Sunday and released the following day. He will go before a municipal judge later.

A friend of Daniels picked up the horse.

There was no telephone listing for Daniels.