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IDA eNews: 3/14/07
by Mat Thomas (mat [at]
Wednesday Mar 14th, 2007 8:19 PM
IDA eNews: 3/14/07
1. Egg Farm Cruelty on Trial
2. Tell Panasonic to Stop Sponsoring the Iditarod
3. Stop Increased Subsidies for Factory Farms

1. Ruby the Elephant Will Go to a Sanctuary!
2. Meatout 2007 is coming March 20th
3. Protest Experimental Exploitation during WWAIL


1. Egg Farm Cruelty on Trial
Undercover investigation leads to cruelty charges against Pennsylvania egg farm

The horrors of egg production on modern factory farms have gained national attention with the prosecution of one of the nation's top egg producers on animal cruelty charges. Stemming from an undercover investigation by a worker affiliated with the Washington, D.C.-based group Compassion Over Killing ( ), the manager and owner of Esbenshade Farms have each been charged with 35 counts of animal cruelty. For each count, the two men face up to 90 days in jail for the treatment of hens on their Pennsylvania farm. These are the first animal cruelty charges ever brought against a factory farm regarding the everyday living conditions of egg laying hens.

After obtaining a job maintaining a hen house, undercover investigator John Brothers worked from November 30th to December 9th, 2005 documenting conditions inside Esbenshade Farms. In graphic detail, the footage taken at the Mount Joy, Penn. farm shows thousands of birds in overcrowded cages so small they cannot spread their wings; hens with wings, legs, or feet entangled in wire cages; birds left in the aisles to starve to death; chickens impaled cage wires, and living hens confined amongst the decomposing bodies of dead ones. COK presented the disturbing footage to a local humane officer who initiated the criminal prosecution, triggering this landmark legal case. Successful prosecution would be a precedent-setting victory for the 347 million hens confined by the egg industry, making factory farms legally culpable and publicly exposing an industry that would rather keep its secrets hidden.

Sadly, animals raised for food are most often exempt from cruelty statutes. Agribusiness is responsible for both breeding the majority of animals born in the U.S., and for inflicting the most widespread cruelty upon them. Of all farmed animals, chickens raised for eggs are the most intensively confined, with the average laying hen crowded into an 18" x 20" cage so small she cannot even lift a wing. Typically, seven or eight birds are kept in a space barely larger than the size of half a sheet of newspaper. In these horrific conditions, birds generally live two years before being sent to the slaughterhouse. The investigation of Esbenshade farms may mean trouble for an industry that depends on secrecy and has brought nothing but misery to millions of animals for so long.

This case is expected to be decided in mid-April. For the animals, a courtroom victory next month could lead to many more against other factory farms. This is a rare chance for the story of animal agriculture's most abused captives to finally be told in a courtroom, bringing legal accountability to factory farmers and justice to their victims.

2. Tell Panasonic to Stop Sponsoring the Iditarod
Cruel Alaskan dog sled race is murder on helpless canines

The Iditarod is an annual dog sled race in which teams of canines are mushed across 1,150 miles of frozen Alaskan tundra. While race promoters and much of the mainstream media portray the Iditarod as a glorious race pitting "man and animal against nature," the reality is that dogs are routinely abused and even killed in this cruel competition. This year's race already started on March 3rd, and the first team crossed the finish line on Tuesday, March 13th.

Corporate sponsors associated with this death race are also complicit in the killing, and support the patently false view that the Iditarod epitomizes courage rather than carnage. The dog teams tied to sleds pulling human mushers are forced to run for 8 to 16 days over harsh terrain, and many of them simply don't make it to the end. Over the Iditarod’s 34-year history, at least 130 dogs have died while racing, and untold numbers die beforehand in training or afterwards as a result of the physical strain on their bodies.

Iditarod veterinarians betray their oath to protect animals by pumping dogs full of drugs to keep them running instead of humanely removing them from the race. Many survivors suffer frostbite, lung damage, bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, ruptured discs, pneumonia and paralysis. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 81% of the dogs who do finish the race suffer lung damage.

Mushers also practice "culling" (i.e., killing) dogs deemed unfit for racing, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness as racers, are shot in the head, or dragged or clubbed to death. Mushers also routinely starve dogs to maintain their most competitive racing weight.

Dozens of corporations sponsor the Iditarod, thinking that their association with this race will gain them new customers. As long as they think that people believe the lies of race promoters, businesses will continue to financially support this cruel event. Panasonic is the latest company to subsidize the exploitation and death of dogs, and therefore the most likely to choose to back out if they understand that consumers oppose this commercialized form of animal abuse.

What You Can Do:

Please "Take Action" to politely let Panasonic know that the Iditarod is not an appropriate activity for them to sponsor, and that you will avoid buying their products as long as they continue to support such cruelty ( ). Also follow up with a letter, phone call, fax, or personal email.

Bob Greenberg, VP Brand Marketing
Panasonic USA
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Tel: (201) 348-7000
Fax: (201) 392-6007
Email: greenbergr [at]

Also contact the Iditarod's other corporate sponsors with a similar message ( ).

3. Stop Increased Subsidies for Factory Farms
H.R. 1217 seeks to increase taxpayer handouts to cruel and inhumane animal industries

Already heavily subsidized by the government, factory farming is set to receive another handout at the expense of taxpayers next month. U.S. Representative Adrian Smith has introduced H.R. 1217, a bill that would provide tax incentives to owners of "concentrated animal feeding operations" (CAFOs), also known as factory farms. Unless concerned citizens make their voices and those of the animals heard, the House may hand even more subsidies to a financially-pampered industry that is responsible for the most widespread abuse of animals in the world.

H.R. 1217would give factory farmers financial rewards merely for complying with existing environmental laws. To pay for the cost of Environmental Protection Act (EPA) code compliance, the government seeks to give animal industries tax breaks of up to half a million dollars apiece. H.R. 1217 seeks to offset the costs of running an inhumane, environmentally destructive, and tax-revenue-draining business with another tax break, rather than insist the costs of raising animals for food be passed on to those consumers who buy animal products.

Factory farming is an economic, environmental, and ethical nightmare. The level of intensive confinement forced upon billions of chickens, pigs, and cows in CAFOs would be illegal if inflicted on dogs and cats. At least 50 times more fossil fuels are required to produce a meat-based diet than a plant-based one, and CAFOs consume over half of all water used in the U.S. Because it is so resource-intensive to produce, hamburger would cost $35 a pound if not for government subsidies. For our health and the welfare of animals, there is no greater liability than CAFOs. We are asked not only to accept the destruction of our environment and the animals, but to help foot the bill.

H.R. 1217 gives more support to industries that abuse animals, threatens the survival of already endangered family farms, and yields to pressure from lobbying by big corporations that seek to lift money from taxpayer's pockets to line theirs. Compliance with the law should be a cost of business, and animal agriculture is no exception. CAFOs are and should be compelled to act within the law without having to be financially coddled by the federal government. Keep the cost of exploiting animals from going down by voicing your opposition to these financial rewards for legalized animal abuse.

What You Can Do:

1) Please "Take Action" ( ) to urge your Representative to oppose H.R. 1217, which provides unfair financial payoffs for exploitive animal industries. For best results, edit the sample letter to express your personal perspective. Also politely contact your Representative by postal mail or phone ( ).

2) Write, call, or fax the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and urge him to reject H.R. 1217:

Chairman Charles B. Rangel
Committee on Ways & Means
U.S. House of Representatives
1102 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Tel: (202) 225-3625
Fax: (202) 225-2610
Web mail:


1. Ruby the Elephant Will Go to a Sanctuary!
IDA and other animal advocates applaud compassionate decision

IDA and Los Angeles Alliance for Elephants ( ) are hailing the decision to transfer Ruby, a 46-year-old elephant who has been the center of controversy since 2003, from the Los Angeles Zoo to the PAWS sanctuary ( ) in Northern California. Advocates and citizens -- including California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine ( ) and TV game show host Bob Barker ( ) -- have long urged the move. Barker has pledged $300,000 in matching funds to support Ruby's transfer and care at the sanctuary.

"Ruby was the first elephant to bring national attention to the suffering of elephants in zoos," says veterinarian and IDA president Elliot Katz. "We are pleased to have played a part in encouraging the decision to move her to the sanctuary. It's the right thing to do."

Ruby gained worldwide attention when, in 2003, the L.A. Zoo separated her from Gita, her companion of 16 years, and sent her to a Knoxville, Tenn. zoo. The zoo was unable to integrate her with its elephants, forcing former L.A. mayor James Hahn to call for Ruby's return. L.A. Zoo has held Ruby off public display since her return in 2004.

Ruby must leave L.A. Zoo because, as an African elephant, she has no place in the Zoo's planned Asian elephant exhibit. She has been held in solitary confinement since the death of Gita in 2006, even though elephants are highly social and should never live alone.

At the PAWS sanctuary, Ruby will be able to roam more than 70 acres of natural landscape with other African elephants. The facility will give Ruby more than 500 times the space of her current enclosure. PAWS has received elephants from zoos in Detroit, San Francisco, and Milwaukee.

"We are pleased to see the City, the L.A. Zoo and Mayor Villaraigosa recognize that it's best to send Ruby to a sanctuary, which, unlike any zoo, can provide the vast space and natural conditions elephants need to thrive," said Catherine Doyle of Los Angeles Alliance for Elephants.

One elephant remains at L.A. Zoo, a 21-year-old male Asian elephant named Billy. For more information on IDA's years-long campaign to move Ruby to a sanctuary, please visit . Also read the article "Ruby to leave L.A. Zoo for greener pastures" in the L.A. Times (,0,5416526.story?coll=la-home-local ), which quotes IDA elephant campaign director Catherine Doyle.

What You Can Do:

Please "Take Action" to thank Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for sending Ruby to a sanctuary ( ). Then follow up with a phone call, email, fax or letter. Your message can be as simple as: "Thank you for making the compassionate decision to send Ruby to a sanctuary. It's the right thing to do."

It doesn't matter if you are a citizen of Los Angeles or not: what's important is that the mayor receive a huge amount of comments thanking him not only for the decision, but also for sticking to his progressive belief that elephants belong in sanctuaries and not zoos. He reiterated that belief at the press conference announcing Ruby's release, and also commented that there is an ongoing conversation about this issue. We need to keep that conversation going!

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
200 N. Spring St., Room 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 978-0600
Fax: (213) 978-0750
Email: mayor [at]

In your message to the mayor, please save your comments regarding Billy and the planned exhibit expansion for another time. Rest assured, we'll be providing plenty of opportunities to take action on those issues in the near future, as our work at L.A. Zoo is not yet done!

2. Meatout 2007 is coming March 20th
Get quick & easy ideas for hosting your own event

The first day of spring is just around the corner, which means it's time once again for the Great American Meatout ( ), an international educational campaign sponsored by the Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM) ( ) and co-sponsored by IDA.

Every year on March 20th, thousands of caring people of different ages and walks of life from all 50 states celebrate Meatout by educating their communities about the joys and benefits of a compassionate plant-based diet and ask their friends, families and neighbors to "kick the meat habit" (at least for a day). This year marks the 22nd consecutive annual Meatout, making it again the largest and longest-running annual grassroots diet education campaign in history.

What You Can Do:

Though Meatout is just around the corner, there's still time to take part. First, find out what events are scheduled for your area ( ). If nothing is planned for your area or you have your own idea, plan and register your own event ( ). Here are some quick and easy ways to host a Meatout event:

- Send Meatout e-cards ( ) with the Meatout message and your personal greetings to family and friends.

- Host a Meatout Snack at your school, workplace, or social event by picking up some vegan snack foods.

- Arrange a food sampling to make visitors aware of the delicious meat and dairy alternatives available in stores.

- Set up an information table or an exhibit at your local library, park, university, or any other busy public spot.

- Arrange a video screening of "Healthy You, Healthy Planet" ( ) or "An Inconvenient Truth" (rent or buy from, and explain the link between animal agriculture and global warming.

Please take a look at the 2006 events report ( ), and then register your event ( ), even if your plans are only tentative.

3. Protest Experimental Exploitation during WWAIL
Participate in or organize an event between April 22nd and 28th

This year's World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL) begins on April 22nd, so start making your plans now to take part in this global consciousness-raising event. IDA has acted as the international coordinator of WWAIL since 1986, and each year sees more activity aimed at ending the suffering of animals used in experiments.

While tens of millions of animals are killed in medical experiments and products testing every year, the public knows little about what goes on behind locked and guarded lab doors because the research industry deliberately hides their animal abuse and portrays themselves as dedicated to the humane treatment of animals. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Some recent scandals that have come to light show just the tip of the iceberg, and call activists to take action to expose the cruelty of animal research during WWAIL and throughout the year.

In late February 2007, IDA's Rita Anderson, director of the Committee for Research Accountability (CRA), discovered that at least 18 dogs and 191 pigs were killed at the University of Colorado at Denver Health Sciences Center (UCDHSC) since 2000 during training workshops for the sales staff of Valleylab, an electrosurgery systems manufacturer ( ). Valleylab paid UCDHSC to train its staff in the use of the company's medical equipment using their staff and facilities, where about 100 of these sales training labs were held.

Not surprisingly, UCDHSC, a public university funded by taxpayers, kept these activities secret. Anderson had to review about 350 pages of documents obtained from an open records request to find out that they were even taking place, following which she immediately notified three University of Colorado Regents. In response, the university announced they would permanently end the labs. In an email forwarded by a CU Regent, the university’s attorney stated, "The campus has decided to stop these activities because it is not part of UCDHSC's core mission. Therefore, the campus will no longer allow our facilities to be used for programs where the sole purpose is the training of sales personnel."

UCDHSC's arrangement with Valleylab is reminiscent of another recent incident at the Cleveland Clinic in which a neurosurgeon killed a dog as part of a medical device sales demonstration of a machine manufactured by Micrus Endovascular Corp. ( ). IDA and other animal protection organizations argued that the dog's life could have been spared if the doctor had instead used a high-tech silicone model that is equally or more effective for training people in the use of medical equipment. Unlike UCDHSC, Micrus has yet to denounce the killing of live animals in sales demonstrations of their medical equipment.

For the past several years, Rita Anderson has spearheaded a much-publicized campaign to end widely criticized primate experiments taking place at UCDHSC led by researcher Mark Laudenslager. Her efforts bore fruit in September 2006 when 11 of the "CU-34" bonnet macaque monkeys used in these studies were sent to a Texas primate sanctuary ( ). "In light of years of maternal separation and alcohol studies on monkeys and now this Valleylab issue," said Anderson, "my concern is that we do not know what else is being done behind the locked doors of CU's laboratories. Since neither the Health Sciences chancellor nor the Regents were aware the sales labs were taking place, we can only wonder what other activities university officials are hiding from the public. People have a right to know, and I intend to do everything I can to find out."

Tragically, such cruelties are taking place in university labs and products testing companies throughout the U.S. and abroad. WWAIL provides animal advocates with an opportunity to make the public more aware that animals are being abused every day in experiments and to hold researchers accountable for disregarding the lives of other species.

What You Can Do:

Visit to learn more about animal experimentation. Then visit to find out whether an event has been planned for your area and to organize and register your own WWAIL event.

Bid for Awesome Items in IDA's eBay Auction for the Animals

IDA's eBay Auction for the Animals is going on now, so be sure to visit and click on the Auction for Animals button to see and bid on the exciting items we have to offer. And remember, every item purchased helps animals by supporting IDA's important work.

IDA is also still accepting items for the auction. To donate items or for more information about the auction, please contact Nicole Otoupalik at (800) 338-4451 or via e-mail at nicole [at] . All donations are tax deductible.

The Cat Therapist

Once a month, Carole Wilbourn, the Cat Therapist, answers questions and offers advice on how guardians can enrich their relationships with their beloved feline companions. Click here ( ) to read the latest Cats on the Couch column. Also visit Carole's Cat Store ( to purchase a copy of her classic book, "Cat Talk: What Your Cat is Trying to Tell You."