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The Nutmeg Cookery in Hartford, Connecticut
Mar03

The Nutmeg Cookery in Hartford, Connecticut

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Hartford for Voices for Animals Day at the State Capitol Building, organized by the ASPCA. Connecticut citizens gathered to speak with their individual legislators in support of prohibiting the sale of puppy-mill puppies in new pet stores (and phasing out sales in the sixteen pet stores that still have them). The day started with a welcoming breakfast and — wow — what scrumptious vegan goodies The Nutmeg Cookery had put together for us. A perfect start to the day while people mingled before the press conference and presentation. If you’re in the Hartford area, I hope you’ll keep in mind The Nutmeg Cookery if you’re looking to bring a little extra special vegan love into your home or office. Jenny and her husband mostly work as personal chefs but, as you can see, they are a dynamic duo for events, too. Voices for Animals Day and other “Lobby Day” Events If you have yet to participate in a Lobby Day event at your state capital, I highly encourage you to do so.  They are so uplifting — how inspiring and empowering when kids and adults come together for a few hours to lend their voices on behalf of the voiceless. For kids and adults alike, it also can be both fun and educational. Most of all, it’s incredibly rewarding to meet with your local representatives or their staff members in person. So how do you know when events like these are happening in your own community? Here’s one easy way: sign up for the ASPCA’s Advocacy Brigade. And, if you’re in New York, you can count on seeing me in Albany in...

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Whale Watching, Cape Cod
Oct07

Whale Watching, Cape Cod

During my travels, I’m always looking for ways to interact with animals — whether it’s by visiting a local animal sanctuary, hiking through the woods, or walking along the beach. When in Cape Cod, one is almost certain to feel the pull of the whale watching opportunities. I was just a young girl the first time I experienced the thrill of the whale watch, with my family during a a stay on the Cape. A little later in life, I would be privileged to receive a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to spend the better part of a summer researching and discussing with a select group the different aspects of Herman Melville’s work — Moby Dick, of course, a focal point of our work. The magnificent white whale. Mythic. Epic. And, just as in literature, sighting a whale is among the  most mesmerizing and humbling experiences in life. Responsible Whale Watching: WhaleSense.org We know too much about the horrors of Sea World or other similar entertainment parks to partake in those kinds of interactions. However, it’s also important to do a little homework before signing up for a whale watch. As always, the idea is that we want to observe wildlife without being disruptive; and whale-watching is largely a self-regulated industry with few laws looking out for the welfare of the mammals. I was happy, then, to discover Whale SENSE, an organization whose mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of the whales and other sea animals while allowing us to enjoy these commercial whale watches. Participating companies agree to: Stick to responsible whale watching guidelines Educate naturalists, captains and passengers to have SENSE while watching whales Notify appropriate networks of whale problems (injured or entangled whales) Set and example for other boaters for responsible whale watching practices Encourage ocean stewardship Check out the Whale SENSE web site to look up the company and see if it is a participant. The site lists whale watching companies in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. You’ll also find some great information about the different species of whale and dolphin there.  ...

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Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen
Aug08

Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen

It was a special treat to visit Farm Sanctuary and participate in the annual Hoe Down weekend. Farm Sanctuary has been doing amazing work on behalf of farm animals for more than 25 years — rescuing animals who often have been left to die in stockyards, working to educate the public and promote the plant-based diet, and contributing to legal efforts on farm animals’ behalf. The hoe down is a celebration that brings advocates together to discuss what’s happening, celebrate recent milestones in animal rescue and protection, and spend time with the animals that call the sanctuary their home. What Came Before In addition to all the wonderful activities of the weekend, my husband Seth was honored with this year’s “Friend of Farm Animals” award for his work as producer of the short film What Came Before. The number of viewers is now in the millions, and the film is currently being translated into several languages. Over and over, we’re hearing from people that say this film was what made them decide to go vegan. WOW. While visiting the sanctuary this weekend, we were able to meet two of the three animals featured in the film — Fanny the dairy cow and Nikki the pig (and three of Nikki’s piglets!). If you haven’t watched the film yet, I encourage you to do so and please share: the stories of these three animals are so extraordinary, and they’re also a reminder that each animal has a story all her own. Turkey Time! Which brings me to to the highlight of all the highlights of the weekend: meeting Victoria, my little girl! Each November, we adopt a turkey through Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey program. Our Kima is no longer in Watkins Glen, and our Raphael lives at the California sanctuary; but what a treat to hold out my hand and offer my little one a clump of grass. Loved loved loved my “mama” time with her. Watkins Glen travel tips: Although most of our time was spent on the sanctuary premises, and lots of delicious vegan food was provided for everyone throughout the event, we did venture out into the surrounding area towards the end of our stay. Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake are absolutely gorgeous country, and we discovered a couple of great little local spots: House of Hong is a Chinese and Sushi place with lots of vegan options. We were pleasantly surprised that such a quaint little town could have such a happening place. Our table of friends enjoyed the steamed vegetable dumplings, edamame, and a couple of specialty rolls before our entrees. Glen Mountain Market is...

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Animal Law Committees, and current issues in New York
Apr12

Animal Law Committees, and current issues in New York

One of the ways law students and practicing attorneys can stay current on the issues and contribute to the local animal law community is by joining an animal law committee or animal law section of the state or local bar association. It’s also a wonderful way of connecting with other like-minded individuals. While in Tucson, I served as student representative on the Executive Council of the State Bar of Arizona Animal Law Section. During that time, the section organized everything from social happy hours to animal law-focused CLEs and presentations at the annual State Bar convention. When it came time to organize my family’s return to Manhattan, I joined the New York City Bar Association as a recent law school graduate, specifically to connect with its Committee on Animal Law. I’ve already marked April 25th on my calendar: there will be a presentation and discussion at the House of the Association on 44th Street entitled “Sunset for Elephants and Rhinos in the Wild? Illegal Trafficking, Inadequate Enforcement, and Lack of Political Will.” This program is free of charge, open to all members and the general public. In addition, anyone interested in Animal Law can join the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, which includes animal law topics. To get a further glimpse into the kinds of issues such a committee tackles — and a look at what is currently happening in New York — here’s an excerpt from the March issue of the NYC Bar newsletter: Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill The Committee on Animal Law expressed support for A.775/S.1776 (the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill), which would relocate many of the criminal provisions currently found in the Agriculture and Markets Law to a new Title Q in the Penal Law. The bill also re-defines statutory terms, creates new statutory terms, re-titles animal crimes offenses, reclassifies existing animal crimes, delineates sentencing provisions, and introduces various new animal crimes offenses and creates a hierarchy of offenses for charging, plea-bargaining, and sentencing purposes. The Committee believes such a change would clarify, modernize, and restructure the animal crimes law of New York State and promote greater enforcement and consistent interpretation of animal crimes. Humane Education In a joint report the Committees on Animal Law, Children and the Law, and Education and the Law expressed support for A.2484, which would require the Commissioner of Education to notify every school district of the existing requirement that elementary schools provide instruction in the humane treatment of animals, their importance in the environment, and the importance of spaying and neutering programs. The amendment also authorizes the Commissioner to appropriate grants to teachers for training, workshops, videos, and other...

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Beagle Freedom Project
Apr05

Beagle Freedom Project

When I adopted my beagle Pushkin, during one of our initial meetings with the veterinarian at the Bideawee center, a nurse casually asked me: “Is that one of the beagles they rescued from the lab in Pennsylvania?” I never did confirm this possible backstory, but it stuck with me; eventually, having a beagle as a family member and the thought of other beagles in laboratories was what prompted me to oust all animal-tested products from my home. The sad reality is that beagles are the most popular breed for lab use, specifically because of their gentle and forgiving nature. Beagle Freedom Project was founded by Los Angeles attorney and animal advocate Shannon Keith. Its mission is rescuing and finding homes for beagles that have been used in laboratory research. And, just so you don’t confuse BFP with more radical groups — visions of laboratory break-ins dancing in your head — BFP works directly with laboratories, who often attempt to find homes for adoptable, healthy beagles once they’re no longer needed for research. Here’s a video of BFP’s most recent rescued beagles, from a lab in the Midwest: [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1Dc2Wy9bo4&w=600]   Meeting Frederick & Douglass, Two Very Special Beagles During our most recent trip to Los Angeles, my husband and I had tons of fun catching up with friends Kezia Jauron and Gary Smith — otherwise known as the power couple behind the public relations agency Evolotus. Kezia and Gary have been amazing in helping us spread the word about Letters To Pushkin; business aside, they’re just two great people doing incredible things on behalf of animals. Among their many efforts, they are huge supporters of Beagle Freedom Project. Having dinner at their home, we had a chance to enjoy great food and drinks… and the company of Frederick and Douglass, two beagles rescued by BFP from a lab in Spain that have become part of the family. LOVE!   Support Beagle Freedom Project If you’re interested in fostering or adopting a lab beagle, please contact Beagle Freedom Project. Another easy way to support BFP is by purchasing the 2013 Beagle Freedom Project calendar, which features one adorable picture after the next of the rescued pups. Or shop at BFP’s online store for other merchandise, such as t-shirts, posters, and totes — great ways to give this organization a few dollars and spread awareness. Update 11/19/13: The 2014 Calendar is now available! Today I say Happy Birthday, Douglass, and also want to let you know that the new Beagle Freedom Project Calendar for 2014 is now available. Beagle Puppies! Click HERE for more info and to...

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Genesis Awards, 2013
Mar26

Genesis Awards, 2013

This past weekend, I was in Los Angeles to attend The 27th Genesis Awards held at The Beverly Hilton. Each year, The Humane Society of the United States hosts a star-studded event that recognizes the contributions by major news and entertainment media in raising public awareness about animal issues. Proceeds from this year’s gala benefited three of HSUS’s campaigns: Pets for Life, Farm Animal Protection, and Chimps Deserve Better. Saturday night’s program was hosted by Carrie Ann Inaba of “Dancing with the Stars.” I was at the awards last year when she hosted for the first time; once again, she did a fantastic job. The evening began with cocktails before sitting down to a 3-course vegan meal, followed by the awards show. Celebrity presenters included Wendie Malick, Pauley Perrette, Charlotte Ross, Kaley Cuoco, Owain Yeoman, Hal Sparks, and Michael Vartan. All of the nominees deserve a standing ovation for their work on behalf of animals. Here’s a list of some of the night’s winners: Feature Film Big Miracle TV Documentary Ivory Wars – Discovery Channel Dramatic Series Harry’s Law – “Gorilla My Dreams” episode – NBC Reality Series Wild Justice – Nat Geo Channel National News ABC World News, Diane Sawyer – downer cow video Print Magazine National Geographic – “Rhino Wars” by Peter Gwinz; “Cheetahs on the Edge” by Roff Smith; “Ivory Worship” by Bryan Christy Columnist Roy Exum, The Chattanoogan.com – multiple part series on Tennessee Walking Horse soaring The Wyler Award & The Corporate Award Pop star Ke$ha received this year’s Wyler Award, given each year to a celebrity or public figure who has raised awareness of animal issues via the media. As the Humane Society International’s first Global Ambassador for Animals, Ke$ha has spread the word about street dogs, trophy hunting of endangered lions, shark-finning, Canada’s commercial seal slaughter, dogfighting, and cruelty-free cosmetics. She also features a different animal issue each month on her web site and urges her fan base to take action for animals. This year introduced a new award, The HSUS Corporate Award, which was given to Lush Cosmetics, for creating handmade products with all-vegetarian ingredients and adhering to a “no animal testing” policy. With its ingredients and packaging, LUSH creates products that also have a minimal impact on the environment and comply with high labor standards. Furthermore, the company exemplifies corporate responsibility in its activism, as it engages both consumers and legislators in advancing animal protection, environmental, and human rights causes. Silent Auction & After-Party In addition to dinner and the show, there’s also a silent auction and a high-energy after-party. The auction is a smorgasbord of cruelty-free products, beautiful artwork,...

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