An animal research scientist ponders sentienceï¿½
LAB ANIMAL is a professional journal for the industry that uses
non-human animals in laboratory experimentation. It is often filled
with tightly focused findings from practitioners in that field. But
the October, 2008 issue contained a surprise. ...
Talking to the Animals
Remember the song from the original movie “Dr. Dolittle,” which
wondered what might transpire “If we could talk to the animals”? A
recent Associated Press-Petside.com poll  reports that 67 percent
of companion animal guardians claim to ...
A Fools Prediction on the Economy and Animals
Only fools make predictions for a new year. I thought I'd join them
as I qualify. Life is made up of little things except for when the big
stuff gets in the way. It's not particularly clever to predict the
economy will be a big thing in 2009. But ...
Viva la Differance: Human gender and animal issues
Anne Norton Greene’s _Horses at Work: Harnessing power in
industrial America _(Harvard University Press, 2008), which I highly
recommend, prompts reflection on the role of gender in animal issues.
Greene describes a shift in horse-human relation...
Animals in Presidential Politics 2.0?
The election and impending inauguration of a new president who ran on
a platform of change, coupled with the explosion of interactive
communication and social networking opportunities, has resulted in
unprecedented interest by various social justi...
The wolf in all of us
There were over two hundred people in the auditorium when the
presenter, Dr. L. David Mech, ordered the lights turned completely
off. "Imagine we are sitting on a hill above a vast snow covered
plain," he said. The world is so quiet you think you...
If companion animals can share our lives, why can't they share our
That's the gist of a question being asked by a state senator in
Washington who has introduced a bill  that would require cemeteries
to allow animal remains to be bu...
Animal Concern and Mental Illness
Throughout the years, I have been surprised by some of the more
bizarre ideas about who we - animal advocates - allegedly are and what
we supposedly believe. From my observation over the years of some of
the more extreme proponents of animal explo...
Deer in the Crossfire
Our house is located in a wooded area on an unpaved road, and many
deer live nearby. We enjoy watching them, and one neighbor leaves
straw bedding for them when the weather is frigid. If I come home at
dawn or dusk, or look out the window at that...
Proposition for sanity?
Even if you don’t live in California you should pay attention to
the passage of Proposition 2 in that state. Titled Standards for
Confining Farm Animals, Proposition 2 requires that egg-laying hens,
calves raised for veal and pregnant sows have ...
Joy Has Flown the Coop
Earlier this month the world (or at least a small part of it) bade
farewell to a rooster named Mr. Joy. He was different from most
roosters, not so much in appearance but in life experience. You see,
he _had_ a life. Nine years of it, to be exact....
To Be is to Suffer
We use animals as accessories to the character we play on life's
stage. We show off our wealth when we wear an expensive Russian sable
fur coat. We show off our style when our furniture is made of the
finest Italian leather. We show off our taste ...
Animal Encounters by Tom Tyler and Manuela Rossini
_Animal Encounters_ is the sixth title in the Brill Human-Animal
Studies Series, which ASI is proud to edit. Tom Tyler is well known to
ASI as a fellow in our first HAS summer fellowship and as a
contributing author to _Society and Animals. _
Frogs and Goldfish and Bears -- Oh My!
Establishing and advancing the study of our complex relationships
with animals in colleges and universities is a major program  of
the Animals and Society Institute. But these relationships are all
around us, if one is receptive to them: many s...
Truth In Education?
Thanks to humane educator Zoe Weil calling attention to it I have
just read the children’s coloring book _The Lucky Puppy _which is
published by the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research
 along with other industry groups. This at...
The Circus on the Street
As is custom and humane obligation, I attended the opening night
protest of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus when it came
to town this weekend. Many familiar faces lined the sidewalk outside
the arena entrance, with a stack of somewha...
The Worship of Prophets and the Pursuit of Profits
We are born. We live. Then, we die. This much we know. Along the way,
we cause suffering and we receive it. We also know that some suffering
may be unavoidable, even inevitable. But there can be no doubt that
some suffering is preventable. Inescap...
"... Cats Nobody Wants"
Today at the cat shelter where I volunteer, that phrase was ringing
in my ears.
This is a story about two male cats, each about 11 years old. One
black, one white. Both had been in homes for many years, ten in one
case, eight in the other. Each ...
Good news for all species! United States Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and
Elton Gallegly (R-CA) have announced the formation of the
_Congressional Animal Protection Caucus _(CAPC). Moran and Gallegly
will co-chair this “bipartisan organization committ...
When recent headlines screamed news about a “pet” chimpanzee
named Travis  who was shot dead after attacking his guardian’s
friend, analysts were quick to remind the public that captive chimps
were known for being “unpredictable.” But...
British Animal Studies Network
The last British Animal Studies Network  meeting took place on
Saturday, February 21 at University College London. BASN was organized
by Erica Fudge (Middlesex University) and author of such books as
_Animal_ and _Perceiving Animals_. Her lates...
The Soup of Life
How do we achieve the basic cultural changes that we seek as animal
protectionists in which other animals would not be exploited for our
ends? One general strategy addresses current popular views of the
distinctions between human and other animals...
Is it love or is it Oxytocin?
A recent book by Meg Daley Olmert, _Made for Each Other: The Biology
of the Human-Animal Bond_ (DaCapo Press, 2009), provides an
all-encompassing explanation of why we humans have formed such
powerful bonds with other animals. It is the hormone ox...
For Wolves, Delisting Means Destroying
The expression “letting the fox guard the henhouse” refers to
allowing a vested interest to control the object of its exploitation,
but in an unfortunate real-life wildlife policy twist, it’s wolves,
not foxes, in question and it’s they wh...
Rocking Our Assumptions
Santino throws rocks at people. So far he hasn’t seriously injured
anyone as his aim isn’t great and he doesn’t have much force
behind each launch. But luck could change and someone could get hurt.
So, should Santino be arrested and put in j...
Objective Scientific Research or Subjective Scientific Propaganda?
Researching my book about what it means to care deeply about animals
I came across "Analysis of Animal Rights Literature Reveals the
Underlying Motives of the Movement: Ammunition for Counter Offensive
by Scientists" by Charles S. Nicoll and Sharo...
Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save
"I was always interested in doing things that would contribute to
public debates about ethical and political issues," philosopher Peter
Singer told me in our 1994 interview in New York City for _The
Animals' Agenda _magazine and included in the an...
Animal Law: Alive and Well in Michigan
Amy Slameka and Raj Prasad work in the Wayne County Prosecutor's
office. As Assistant Prosecutors in the county which includes Detroit,
the two veterans - both with 10 years' experience - prosecute felonies
up to and including murder. But Amy and ...
For the second time, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has
introduced the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment
Act of 2009 ” in the House of Representatives. Her legislation
addresses an industry practice of loading ...
Walking the Dog: Part 2 -- A New Leash on Life
In an earlier blog, I described a dog-centered style of walking with
Tosca, a rat-terrier/beagle mix that joined our family almost two
years ago. A recent observation does not quite fit that idea.
First, I need to say something about the sense...
Whales Eat Fish, Don't They?
Some whales do eat fish, and in quantities appropriate to their size.
These mammals are decimating local fish populations say the
governments of Japan, Norway, and Iceland. They say this is because
ill-advised bans on whaling have created an overp...
The Omnivore's Rationalization
I’ve been perusing the gardening catalogs that are filling my
mailbox almost as quickly as dandelions are filling my lawn. As any
catalog shopper knows, once you get on one mailing list, you’ll soon
find yourself on several others. But they al...
The Misanthropic Bunker
From across the proverbial pond, I've been watching with interest,
personally and professionally, the quick succession of recent
victories in Vermont and Iowa legalizing same-sex unions. By the way,
the British Labour Government made legal civil p...
For those of us involved in animal protection and animal services,
the death of a companion animal is a major event. We immediately
understand the suffering of a colleague whose companion animal is
terminally ill or has recently died. It is expect...
Animals: Past, Present and Future
A group of scholars gathered at Michigan State University (MSU) for
three days last week to explore the varied and complex relationships
between human and non human animals.
Billed as providing "an intellectually rich and diverse discourse in
Summer Reading List
The approach of summer in my college days was always marked by a
diversity of faculty-generated reading lists. These recommendations
were seductive. They offered visits with intelligent minds and a
shortcut to wisdom. Not all of thoseexpectations ...
If Swine Flew
Few of us in the animal protection community will be surprised to
hear that the current swine flu outbreak that’s feverishly in the
news was first detected in a Mexican village known for its stinky pig
manure. The Times  in London is reportin...
Treating Animal Abuse: Online Courses
Animals and Society Institute and Arizona State University are once
again partnering to provide two online courses: TAA1, offered Fall
2009, focuses on human-nonhuman animal relationships, both positive
and abusive; TAA2, offered Spring 2010, is a...
Another Kind of Property Rights?
The following news items caught my eye recently:
* 21 polo ponies die suddenly; an investigation reveals that a
"simple" mistake in compounding the vitamins given to the animals so
that they will race better caused the tragedy. Days later, a me...
“WE NEED ANOTHER AND A WISER AND PERHAPS A MORE MYSTICAL CONCEPT OF
ANIMALS…. THEY ARE NOT BRETHREN, THEY ARE NOT UNDERLINGS; THEY ARE
OTHER NATIONS, CAUGHT WITH OURSELVES IN THE NET OF LIFE AND TIME,
FELLOW PRISONERS OF THE SPLENDOR AND TRAVA...
Watching Animal Cruelty
I used to be able to watch films and videos that document the
violence we inflict on animals. I particularly recall the profound
impact of "The Animals\' Film " when we screened the final rough
cut at a Coordinating Animal Welfare public meetin...
As supporters of Animals and Society Institute are aware, one of the
primary areas of our work is on the relationship between human
violence and animal abuse. On the occasion of completing two AniCare
workshops in Detroit, I would like to summariz...
Dolphins: From Mythology to Public Policy
In time for the upcoming summer vacation season, the ASI has just
published _Dolphin-Human Interaction Programs: Policies, Problems and
Alternatives_, authored by Kris Stewart and Lori Marino, the 5th
volume in our series of policy papers. The pap...
When the "swine flu pandemic" began grabbing headlines, the meat
industry (oops, sorry, they favor protein industry, because it sounds
healthier) shifted into hyperdrive. Using their political influence,
they persuaded government agencies to create...
An Unhappy Birthday
A chimpanzee named Wenka  turned 55 years old this week. She lives
not far from me in Atlanta, but exists a world away, locked inside the
Yerkes National Primate Research Center . She began her life in a
laboratory and that’s where she rem...
Life is the most important thing there is. Everything else is
relatively unimportant. Absent life, there is only death. Why is life
held so cheaply when the only alternative offers literally nothing? I
make no claims in knowing whether there is li...
No Sugar-Coating This Study
A recent Gallop Poll has disturbing implications for animal
advocates. The annual "Moral Acceptability" study , conducted from
May 7-10, 2009, asked Americans whether they personally believe
certain social and policy issues are "morally accepta...
The Durable Bridge
Facts. Reasoned, linear truths were the foundation that Plato
envisioned for his Rational Society. Literature, he felt, is
disorderly; it dulls our senses and seduces us away from logical
thinking. The arts did not have much traction in Platoland....
Because the scientific skirmishes over the use of animals in
experiments never end, I find it worthwhile to regularly check in and
check up on the organizations that promote vivisection. One of the
most vocal is the National Association for Biomed...
How did we survive without computers? They are a wonderful invention.
A glorious empowering tool. But a big pain in the ass when they don't
How did we get by without social networking? I don't know about you
but I can't live without RSS, ...
On Sunday afternoon this past weekend, I was at a Menards home repair
store in Hammond, Indiana, some 231 miles from home. My husband was
inside buying a drop cloth. I was outside in the parking lot with
Marjorie, a volunteer from the St. Louis Ho...
Looking for a good laugh? Just ask Marina Davila Ross and her
co-researchers. They’ll tell you to go tickle someone. These
fun-loving researchers did just that and their paper,
“Reconstructing the Evolution of Laughter in Great Apes and
Cut and Died
Cats and their guardians near Miami are relieved to hear that a
suspect has been arrested regarding a sadistic spree of nearly two
dozen cat killings and mutilations. The suspect is an 18-year-old high
school student, Tyler Weinman, who is charged...
The Face on Your Plate
In my review  of _The Face on Your Plate_ by Jeffrey Mousaieff
Masson I concluded
“We must remove ourselves from whatever blind hides our vision,”
Masson concludes, “and look out at the horizon to face what we see
there. We owe animals...
One of my favorite web sites is Accidentally Vegan . The premise
of the site is to invite the compassionate eater to "take a stroll
through your local grocery store, ... [y]ou may even be surprised to
find that a few of your favorite indulgence...
Research, in a Nutshell
Academic research drives much of our work at the Animals and Society
Institute. It is, as our motto goes, the "knowledge and science" that
combines with ethics and compassion to promote policies that improve
how animals are treated. We publish stu...
Exemplary Work for Animals
I am constantly amazed by the range and diversity of individuals and
organizations that care deeply about animals and strive to make a
difference. In virtually every case, the odds to achieving change are
formidable, not least because of our indif...
Called "the Woodstock of the animal rights movement" by Prof. Dale
Jamieson of NYU, the Minding Animals Conference is the "largest and
most eclectic celebration of animals that has ever occurred." It
begins this weekend in Newcastle, Australia....
Minding Animals Conference
Day One: 13 July 2009
Despite a bad economy which has caused many conferences to cancel,
Minding Animals has drawn over 400 delegates from around the globe to
its Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia venue. It is a huge
affirmative message for...
Day One - continued
In this second blog reporting from the Minding Animals Conference
here down-under, I want to report on a series of six talks on a topic
very important to ASI's projects - the development of the field of
Entitled "Animal an...
Country -- a poem
This poem was inspired by a presentation on Indigenous views of
animals at the Minding Animals conference in Newcastle, Australia.
In late afternoon crocodile comes to take
a fish on our side of the river
I tap ...
What do they know and when do they know it?
The conference is now in its third day and John Thompson and Ann
Philips, both president of the board and board member, and I really
are enjoying the conference -- aside from a mild case of "brain
deadness" in the case of yours truly.
Here are ...
Three prominent philosophers in the animal awareness world joined a
panel discussion at the Minding Animals Conference
(www.mindinganimals.com ) in Australia. BERNIE ROLLIN led by
explained that the role of philosophy in shaping an ethic is to
The Rights of Animals Symposium 1977
The Minding Animals Conference  in Australia is over. I regret
very much I was unable to attend. I enjoyed the reports posted here by
my colleagues, John Thompson and Ken Shapiro. I'm thrilled to learn
that a new conference, Minding Animals 2: ...
Minding Animals Conference Postscript
At my final day at the conference, I had an opportunity to meet with
the several informal human-animal studies groups mentioned in my first
blog and to present again in a session on journals -- on the topic of
the development of the field of human...
A Tourist's View of Human-Animal Relationships in Australia
Here are snippets from my recent tour of the east coast of Australia:
--Sydney Morning Herald article, entitled "Australia one of worst
animal destroyers." "... [T]hroughout Oceania more than 1200 bird
species have bec...
These Animal Care Standards are a Cruel Hoax
Imagine you are the owner of a large industrial farm in Michigan, one
of approximately 250 that have moved into the state. Let's say you
have 5500 dairy cows (or, in industry parlance "animal units") in one
facility. Or, 4000 pigs confined in seve...
Watch and Learn
Recently I've watched two important documentaries every consumer,
citizen and/or activist should see: "Food, Inc."  and "The Cove."
 They're in limited release across the country, but are well worth
seeking out. One looks at modern agricultu...
Connecting Nature's Dots
I confess up front to stealing my title from Tom Friedman\'s* August
23, 2009 New York Times column . Friedman recalls a time when
humans pragmatically understood that life depended upon knowing the
ways of nature, and how its many components, ...
Michael Vick's return to professional football has drawn criticism
from some and standing ovations from others. Sports writers and
everyday fans have weighed in on whether or not he should have been
reinstated to the NFL after being convicted of s...
(_Photo from Harvard Law Web site_)
The next "regulatory czar" is an "animal rights activist" with a
"secret animal rights agenda" who is "Obama's Dr. Frankenstein" and
wants to "harvest your organs."
Let's take a deep breath, ratchet down t...
Into the Mouths of Babes
Last week I watched as conflict erupted around President Obama's
televised address to schoolchildren like a zit on prom night. Parents
were screaming about children being "indoctrinated" and "brainwashed"
by a message (or was it the messenger?) th...
Two Elephant Anniversaries
Two anniversaries involving the deaths of elephants 31 years apart
occur within two days of each other in September. The first was a
lynching; the second a tragic accident. On September 13, 1916, the
elephant who became known as Murderous Mary was...
Lying Down, Standing Up, Fully Extending Limbs, and Turning Around Freely.
It's not perfect and it still must pass the Michigan Senate, but the
amended bill on farmed animal care standards that the House of
Representatives passed last week is a vast improvement over the bill
that was originally introduced in June of this...
When Species Collide
Deer, people, and ticks. This lethal combination was the subject of a
September 5, 2009 New York Times report  about Nantucket, Mass.
There, a population of deer (some call them aliens because they are
not native to the land) is multiplying. Pe...
Do You Want to Know?
One of those colorful graphs in _USA Today_ caught my eye on
Wednesday. It illustrated the results of a survey  that asked, "Do
you want to know where your food is from?" It wasn't clear whether the
"where" referred to origins in the animal sen...
Who Are You Going to Call?
In the film Ghostbusters they call, well, the Ghostbusters to
exorcise ghouls from an apartment building on the Manhattan Upper West
Side. Now, this isn't as much of a stretch as it would seem because
who are you going to call - not a paranormal e...
Although most of us animal advocates work locally on a limited set of
issues, it is helpful occasionally to take a bird's-eye view. So soar
with me for a moment.
At this height, it is apparent that the underlying basis for our
exploitation of o...
Cruelty and Censorship
This week the United States Supreme Court will consider a case which
involves the issues many of us grapple with daily: the role of animals
in our world, our relationships with them, the cycle between animal
abuse and other violent behavior. The j...
The Price of Eggs
The United Egg Producers trade organization is playing its own
version of Chicken Little. They're not concerned about the sky
falling, but of prices rising, specifically egg prices. UEP announced
in a press release  this week that "consumers wo...
Idle Thoughts About Vegetarianism
In an idle moment (admittedly not as a rare as I would like to think
they are but still rare nonetheless) I found myself deducting the
number 1974 from 2009 and thinking about the result: 35. This is the
number of years I've been a vegetarian; 33 ...
The Future of Eating Animals
Let's take the long-view for a moment regarding the issue of farmed
animals. Where are we headed: more wide-spread carnism, pockets of
locovorism, the predominance of vegetarianism, or, dare we hope, of
Another prospect is now on the ...
Toward an Awareness of All Victims
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Just as domestic
violence crosses socioeconomic lines, it also crosses species lines.
Companion animals who are members of a family touched by violence are
not immune; and because most shelters aren't ...
Flatulence, Breathing, and Climate Change
This morning I received an email from WorldWatch Institute's
ever-on-top-of-it-all Julie Tier who attached a surprising new study.
Written by two World Bank officials, the report suggests that we have
grossly underestimated how much greenhouse gas...
Last weekend I had the opportunity to tour the Shambala Preserve 
wildlife sanctuary in Acton, California. It is operated by the Roar
Foundation, founded by actress Tippi Hedren in 1983. The woman perhaps
most famous for the movie "The Birds" h...
Stern Words About Vegetarianism
Further to my ASI colleague, John Thompson, and his recent post 
about a Worldwatch Report which calculated that 51 percent of annual
worldwide GHG emissions come from livestock, among the leading news
stories of this week in Britain was one ab...
A Fresh Perspective: Life after People
I don't believe in miracles but I do believe in the wonder-ful, the
awe-some. And what is more wonderful or miraculous - a bush that burns
without being consumed and from whom a god speaks to a man who alleges
to be his messenger; or billions of p...
(Not) Eating Animals
Just in time for Vegan Awareness Month comes publication of a new
book about factory farming and vegetarianism. Simply titled _Eating
Animals_ , the book takes a somewhat different approach and tone in
the ongoing diet wars. It was written by a...
Oxytocin is not Enough
It is work break time and I take to my recliner for a mini and,
‘imagine my surprise,' before I can wink off, Tosca, bless her
canine heart, comes for a rub, snuggle, and mutual snooze. What is
going on here: (1) there is nothing to explain - as...
Bright Spots in My Not-So-Favorite Holiday: 2009 Edition
It's getting to be something of a tradition, but isn't that what
holidays are about? On Thanksgiving Day 2007  and again last year
, I posted blogs about the challenges vegans and vegetarians face
in slogging through, let alone enjoying, "Tu...
The Cycle of Violence, Circa 1751
The series of prints immediately caught my eye. I was visiting the
newly remodeled main library at the Ohio State University last
weekend; an exhibition in the main floor gallery featured a wide
variety of objects with no decipherable theme. I cer...
'Tis the Season
The odd juxtaposition of hunting season with the holiday season is
made even more bizarre by the availability of hunting toys for
children. At a time when many sermons and civic projects tout "peace
on earth" and good will toward others, some chil...
The latest "animal news" floating across the world media concerns a
clever species of octopus that uses coconut shells as a shelter. Far
from being just an opportunist, this cephalopod nests two shells
together, straddles them so that his/her eigh...
AS WE SCATTER TO OUR CHOSEN SANCTUARIES AND HAUNTS IN THIS HOLIDAY
SEASON, I TAKE A MOMENT TO EXPRESS MY APPRECIATION ON BEHALF OF ALL OF
US AT ANIMALS AND SOCIETY INSTITUTE FOR YOUR SUPPORT IN 2009.
If I had to select one achievement of the a...