I read a bizarre, upsetting story in the headlines last week. Terry Thompson of Zanesville, Ohio was found dead in his home from an apparent self-inflicted wound on Tuesday, October 18. The kicker, you ask? He released more than 50 exotic animals from their cages and set them free before his apparent suicide.
Ohio authorities were ordered to shoot any animals and did so, resulting in 49 fatalities–including 18 rare bengal tigers, an endangered species. Police captured and killed lions, tigers, bears and other beasts. They also searched for a monkey believed to be carrying the HIV virus, but later confirmed he had been eaten by one of the other animals.
Thompson, 62, was known as an “animal lover” to the community who knew of his 72-acre exotic-animal farm. Sure, if the definition of an animal lover includes multiple animal-cruelty convictions including having an animal at large and two counts of rendering animal waste without a license. In 2008, Thompson was also charged for weapon violations after authorities found more than 100 guns on his property. I’m sure these weapons weren’t just chew toys for the kitties.
The state of Ohio is known for it’s weak laws on animal protection and is one of the easiest states to “lawfully” keep and maintain exotic animals in a residential environment. Thompson ran an exotic animal exhibit on his farm and cared for all his animals, but how much attention could he possibly give to just one animal with such a large amount running around? For someone who seemed invested in the care of animals, he must have known that a confined space in a rural area was not an ideal living environment. It also presented dangers for the community that had dealt with escaped lions and tigers before.
In love, there is a saying that goes, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were.” An animal lover should know better than to confine nature’s creatures. The truth of the matter is that wild animals will never come back if they’re set free–because that’s what they’re meant to be.
p.s. The state of Ohio has agreed to take action and enact stricter regulations on wild animals. Help make sure they keep their promise by signing this petition!
I received an upsetting text message last week from my good friend, 44144. “Cove Update: Dolphins killed in Taiji last week. But we won’t give up! Text COVE to 20222 to donate $10 to Save Japan Dolphins/Earth Island.” I replied. But the minimal gesture of responding just didn’t suffice.
I came across a documentary a few years ago that really struck a nerve. The Cove brought light to an extreme case of animal abuse occurring every year in Taiji, Japan–a town that vows to have an affixation for dolphins, and yet is their greatest nightmare. Every September, the crisp-blue waters of the Taiji coast turn a dark and deep red after fishermen literally take a stab at the dolphins they’ve managed to lure into a hidden coast off the small island.
Fishermen aren’t looking to kill all the dolphins they capture, but rather pick out a select few to be sold for entertainment to aquariums, resorts and theme parks around the world. This special breed of “show” dolphins is worth thousands of dollars and investors have no problem paying the price despite the inhumane manner in which they are captured.
Dolphins are sensitive creatures that cannot survive if they are not in their natural habitat. Much like elephants, dolphins are emotional animals and captivity brings them down. Dolphins in captivity constantly die of “unknown” causes, even in state-of-the-art aquatic environments like SeaWorld. Their will to live dwindles in a tank.
The hundreds of remaining dolphins not suitable for the entertainment industry aren’t set free but rather slaughtered for their meat. Dolphin meat has toxic mercury levels that are extremely harmful to people and yet their meat is packaged and sold as “whale” meat. Dolphins are technically part of the whale family so industry tycoons can get away with the false advertising. However, these same dolphins aren’t protected under the same law that prohibits the fishing and slaughtering of most whales.
Ric O’barry essentially created the dolphin-entertainment industry when he successfully trained five dolphins and starred in the hit series, Flipper. Ric now dedicates his efforts to putting an end to the capturing , selling and training of dolphins. His efforts have been recognized around the world, but progress has been slow. Despite the mass attention “The Cove” received, including an Academy Award, the people of Taiji are still getting away with murder in that small cove that holds the secrets of fishermen and the final breaths of innocent animals.
Image from HubPages
If you throw a dog a bone, he will fetch it and run right back. It’s that same natural instinct that has trapped thousands of dogs in a life of abuse and confinement. Greyhound racing is a “sport” in which dogs race against one another on a track…much like horse racing. However, horses aren’t nearly as subjected to the pain and torture that greyhounds endure while in training.
According to GREY2K USA, a national non-profit organization dedicated to passing stronger greyhound protection laws and ending the cruelty of dog racing, thousands of dogs are seriously injured each year at commercial racetracks–often they are killed when they are injured or no longer fast enough to race. An estimated 50,000 puppies are bred for the industry each year and only a small portion even make it to the track. Most are abandoned or euthanized at a young age if they are deemed non-profitable.
Greyhound-racing tracks hold hundreds of dogs at a time in small, dark cages–sometimes for days on end. These dogs are fed contaminated meat products and steroids to strengthen their muscles at an accelerated speed. (GREY2k USA) Greyhound Pets of America has worked hard to free the caged dogs and find homes for them across the country. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of what goes on in these tracks. In fact, only four states in the United States have outlawed this means for gambling. Arizona is not one them.
Image from HubPages
The Tucson Greyhound Park “has been providing family entertainment to Southern Arizona for over six decades.” Aww, thanks. The park is run and operated 7 days a week and is ‘home’ to thousands of neglected greyhounds. The overall loss of interest in the sport has left Tucson Greyhound Park as the sole racetrack in the entire state, but it still generates enough revenue to stay afloat.
I recently joined the SunDevils for Wildlife Conservation, an organization on campus that aims to bring awareness to the mistreatment and abuse of animals. Their first initiative is to write a petition urging to shut down TGP and outlaw greyhound racing in Arizona. I’m excited to be part of this effort and will even be attending a protest in Tucson sometime next month (stay tuned for pictures…if I make it through my first protest).
The decline of investors for the sport has been great for future dogs, but still leaves thousands of greyhounds left without anyone to care for them. I encourage anyone who is interested in having a lovable companion to consider adopting a homeless greyhound. All they want is a backyard to run around in…not a race track.
The major damage left behind by Hurricane Irene last week has the East Coast in frenzy. Many residents are just now getting water and electricity back in their homes and for those who have lost loved ones, recovering will take more than a reinstallation of a utility.
Irene wasn’t polite to any animals in its path either. Rescue teams such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and The Humane Society have had their hands tied since the storm hit the Atlantic Coast. Domestic pets were left homeless, large amounts of farm animals are in need of medical attention and even the rodents under New York City have been threatened. (Click here for photos of animals during Irene, compliments of LIFE.com)
Animals tend to get the short end of the stick in the aftermath of natural and human disasters. Forest fires across the country have burnt through acres of land, leaving animals homeless and left with limited resources. It was estimated that 8,000 animals were rescued after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf Coast also threatened the lives and mere existence of hundreds of species—both on land and in the water.
It’s unfortunate that the catastrophic oil spill did not receive the necessary attention for the right reasons. After mourning the loss of the 11 people who lost their lives in the rig explosion, politicians focused most of their time and energy on the financial aspects and not necessarily the natural damages. Thousands of fish were exposed and killed and hundreds of birds were caught drenched in oil. Volunteers worked quickly to clean the birds and rescue them before the oil affected them but for many, it was too late.
The point of all this oil-spill rambling is that a natural disaster isn’t just tragic to people, but to animals. The oil spill may not have been a cause for evacuation, or really a safety concern at all for most people, but it was still a disaster that took its toll on many lives. It’s important to realize that animals are vital for human survival and they should be valued for that.
Just remember, Dorothy didn’t leave Toto behind when the Twister hit Kansas—and neither should you.
I cried the first time I saw Airbud. Yes, Airbud—the movie about the dog that plays basketball. It was on this day that I realized how sensitive I was not only to K9’s, but all animals. My name is Jessica Peraza and I am an animal lover. Forgive me if I pet your puppy before acknowledging your child.
I grew up in Nogales, Arizona—the town borders Mexico so to say there is a Hispanic influence in my life is an understatement. My mom and dad are the mostly-proud parents of four children. I’m the second and my personal favorite is number four. My little brother is the funniest person I know.
My dogs have me wrapped around their little paws. Both of them live a life of luxury with my mother catering to their every need. The trade-off is all the laughs we get from them in return. Last December my sister gave me a beta fish for Christmas. I loved that fish like no other. He would travel with me on weekends and keep me company when I was home. Unfortunately, the fish-tank lifestyle got to be too much for him and he jumped. I found him on my kitchen counter. I’m still traumatized by that.
I am pursuing a career in public relations and currently attending Arizona State University at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The fact that I chose ASU over the University of Arizona was shocking to my family of die-hard wildcats—but they’ve learned to love the Sun Devils…or maybe they just fear the fork.
I have decided to dedicate my blog to raising awareness on animal cruelty throughout the world. Last year, I watched a documentary that really struck me: The Cove exposed the awful truth of the abuse and killing of dolphins. The film made me realize just how terrible the mistreatment of animals is and how unaware most people are of what’s going on. I hope to inspire action through my writing and just maybe, save an animal life here and there.
For the record, I still cry every time I watch Airbud. Never give a golden retriever pudding and ditch him on an island.