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Unleashed, NY: Young Girls Helping Puppies
Nov30

Unleashed, NY: Young Girls Helping Puppies

As a former educator, I get super-excited whenever I hear about programs that are empowering children and teens. So Unleashed, an after-school program in NYC that pairs middle-school girls and puppies who need help finding their “furever” homes, is something I’m overjoyed to spread the word about! This 12-week program gets the students involved with all aspects of puppy rescue. In doing so, the girls are becoming aware of the need for animal advocacy at an early age, and they are  learning how to be effective advocates. In addition, they’re gaining confidence and upping their own self-esteem at an age when girls typically start becoming overcritical of themselves and look to society’s superficial values for self-validation. A young girl participating in this program will look into a puppy’s eyes and see the unconditional love and trust, and she will know she’s made a difference in that puppy’s life. What an amazing way to to help young girls realize they each have the capacity to contribute, and to encourage each of them to demonstrate compassion throughout their lives. The positive impact of a program like this, therefore, is both immediate and far-reaching. And, of course, there is the life-changing impact the program has on all the lucky pups that are rescued and adopted. The Unleashed program started by partnering with a few different New York schools, including The Nightingale-Bamford School in Manhattan. Having taught several years ago at another Upper East Side private school, I have to add that I’m especially pleased to find out about this program happening in the old neighborhood. Here’s a quick look at the program that’s sure to brighten anyone’s day! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pDP4fyYvjME&noredirect=1&w=600]...

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The Kindness Collective’s Win-Win
Nov01

The Kindness Collective’s Win-Win

I’m super-excited to share a new non-profit organization with you, The Kindness Collective. The organization works at the intersection of human and animal welfare, seeking to improve the lives of all creatures through programs encouraging plant-based diets and other acts of compassion. I love this effort on a few different levels. First, I’m always enthusiastic about what I call “win-win” projects, where humans and nonhumans benefit. Second, the Collective’s first project involves fundraising for shelters helping domestic violence victims, so that their animals can find a safe haven with them as well. I’ve previously written about the need to include animals in domestic violence protection orders for their own sake and also because, when protection isn’t extended to a person’s animals, she often won’t leave an abusive situation. Third, this non-profit is the baby of a fabulous lady and friend, Amber McDonald. I met Amber when I was working in D.C. for Compassion Over Killing and we went down to City Hall to celebrate its commitment to Meatless Mondays. Good times! Last week, The Kindness Collective celebrated its launch at The Montserrat House, an art gallery and experimental performance space in D.C., with an acoustic concert and book signing by musician Moby. More than 100 attendees enjoyed vegan foods from Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, as well as drinks from Vegan Vine wines and Chocolate City Beer. Swag bags were provided by Relan, made from recycled billboards (I have one of their totes myself!); goodies inside included cruelty-free items from Herbivore Clothing Company, au naturale make-up line, and Cavi-Art vegan caviar. Although I couldn’t make the soiree in D.C., I was there in spirit! I’m looking forward to watching this organization grow and being a part of it whenever the opportunities...

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The Social Vegan: “Vegan Drinks” events
Oct18

The Social Vegan: “Vegan Drinks” events

A simple idea that is SO great! Although Vegan Drinks just started a few years ago in New York, now there are similar events in at least twenty-four different cities. Over happy-hour drinks, happy vegans swap business cards as well as flyers and brochures about their own projects. Not only do these gathering give people a chance to connect with other like-minded people around town, but they also have become a way to raise money for various efforts: part of the bar proceeds usually are donated to a worthwhile cause. If there isn’t a Vegan Drinks happening where you live, why not be the toast of the town by hosting an event? You also can join Vegan Drinks on Facebook and follow on Twitter. Cities with a Vegan Drinks group include: Atlanta Austin Baltimore Boston Boulder Burlington, VT Cleveland Dallas Fort Lauderdale Las Vegas Los Angeles Nashville New Orleans Philadelphia Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco Seattle Minneapolis-St. Paul Washington, D.C. New York  Cheers!...

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In Portland for the Animal Law Conference
Oct14

In Portland for the Animal Law Conference

This weekend, I’m in Portland for the 19th Annual Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark. The conference is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Lewis & Clark’s student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF). Each year, law students and lawyers come together to explore a wide range of hot topics in the field of Animal Law. This year’s theme is “Standing Up for Animals: Can a Bad Economy Inspire Greater Goodness?”  Topics include: Human Science: Is the End of Testing Within Reach? International Voices in Animal Law: Canada & Mexico Enforcement: Building a Case Against Cruelty Drawing Connections Between Animal law & Other Disciplines Whose Case is it Anyway? Animals’ vs. Owners’ Interests in Litigation International Voices in Animal Law: Switzerland & Egypt Using Your Law Degree to Help Sanctuaries Animal Shelters, Humane Societies, & Rescues: When Funding Dries Up Exotic Pets, People, and Public Policy Global Animal Concerns Making Cultural Judgments: Animals We Eat, Animals We Love Wolf re-Introduction, Management, and Protection Private Prosecutions & the Enforcement of Canadian Animal Protection Legislation As you can see, it’s a weekend packed with thought-provoking topics. It’s also a wonderful weekend of catching up with friends who, during the rest of the year, are scattered around the country — all doing amazing things on behalf of animals everywhere. Extra special for me this year: Joyce Tischler, who was my instructor for the law class on Farmed Animals this past summer, will be the keynote speaker at tonight’s reception. The conference is sold out, but you can view most of the sessions through the live webinar option available on the conference’s web site. If you’re a law student or lawyer, mark your calendar for next October so you can join us!...

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3-Dog Roadside Rescue This Weekend!
Oct03

3-Dog Roadside Rescue This Weekend!

This weekend, I was teaching teenagers at Pima County Juvenile Detention Center. Among the activities, we did some poetry reading and writing, and I taught them some breathwork that they could use in the future to calm themselves down and reduce stress:  it was wonderful to spend some time getting back to my literary roots and flexing my yogini muscles. And, naturally, we talked about animals and animal law quite a bit, too. At the end of Saturday, I was escorted out of the building, where I waited for my husband Seth to pick me up. Apparently, he was running  a little late. So I waited for another fifteen minutes while the sky grew darker and the raindrops started falling. Hmmm… Finally, I saw Seth walking towards me from a distance. In his arms, a little scrappy terrier. By his side, without leashes, two larger dogs followed. All three dogs had been wandering around the parking lot together, less than fifty yards from a very busy road. The freeway was just a little further on up the road. Seth had been unable to get all three dogs into our car but realized they would follow him; the first step was just about getting them as far away from the street traffic as possible. Together, we were able to coax the three dogs into the entrance of the detention center. However, with visiting hours approaching, the staff couldn’t keep them in the area. We urged them not to call Pima Animal Control Center,which euthanizes up to 70% of the animals that come its way.  So we called Humane Society of Southern Arizona. The Humane Society’s office wouldn’t close for anouther twenty minutes, but we needed to get them into our own car and take them there. Unlike Animal Control, the Humane Society ensures adoption for animals given to them in good health (and of good temperament). These dogs were not only beautiful, but they were also very gentle and love-y. In the backseat of our car, the little guy actually climbed onto the back of his reclining big sister and started falling asleep. Unfortunately, these dogs had no collars, no tags, and no microchips. We had to pay a fee when we dropped off the dogs, but it was well worth saving them from the horrors of the pound. It breaks my heart that this little family most likely will be separated. But at least I know that tonight they are safe, that none of them will find death on the freeway, and that they will be given the time for their new families to find them. These dogs will have...

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Efforts to Ban NYC Horse-Drawn Carriages
Sep23

Efforts to Ban NYC Horse-Drawn Carriages

Just last month, there was a rally outside City Hall for individuals to speak out against NYC’s carriage-horse industry. From its inception during the time of World War II until the 1980s, the horse-drawn carriage industry in NYC went virtually unregulated, a classic example of politics at play. But as automobile traffic increased and accidents started happening in the streets, people started taking notice and advocating for a ban on horse-drawn carriages. Other cities already have done so – including London and Paris. The New York City Bar Association has been among the ban’s supporters. In New York, approximately 200 horses are subject to walking the asphalt up to nine hours a day, seven days a week, even in extreme temperatures. Helplessly mixed in with cars and trucks, they are exposed to fumes all day long (“nose to tailpipe”) and can become spooked by the city’s noises and general chaos. Even if the carriages were limited to Central Park, as they have been in the past, the horses still have to navigate the traffic-heavy streets while getting to and from work. And, when a carriage and a car collide — as they have numerous times — the result is never anything short of heart-wrenching. Beyond the working conditions and safety issues while the horses are in the public eye, at the end of the workday, the conditions these horses have at “home” are just as dire: the multi-storied stables of Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues are not the happy pastoral settings we tend to envision. Furthermore, when the horses have become too old to be of use to the industry, they are sold for slaughter. The industry’s response has been to suggest that, rather than a ban, all that’s needed is more effective regulation. The latest legislation regarding the industry in New York was Law 35-A, enacted in April 2010. The law, on its surface, looks promising from an animal welfare perspective, offering the horses five weeks each year outside of the city, fewer working hours, better living conditions, and restrictions in terms of acceptable “working” outside temperatures. Unfortunately, the purpose of Law 35-A was mainly to placate the public and take the media’s focus off the industry following a series of accidents and negative publicity. Not only are the regulations not enough, but they also are not well enforced. For a comprehensive look at the history of New York’s horse-drawn carriage industry, see Katherine Hutchinson’s “Should They Go the Way of the Horse and Buggy?” in Animal Law, volume 17 (2010). Also, a news report by HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell that aired this summer highlights the most recent efforts by citizens and legislators...

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