Yesterday, an Animal Control Officer in Port St. Lucie rescued a raccoon who had been caught in an illegal leghold trap. The poor animal’s front paw had to be amputated (a report by Fox 29 News features a photo of the raccoon’s horrific injuries).
In 1972, Florida banned the use of steel-jaw leghold traps, but they are still widely used by trappers in other states to catch raccoons, coyotes, bobcats and other fur-bearing animals. When an animal steps on a leghold trap, the trap’s jaws slam closed on the animal’s limb. The animals efforts to escape often lead to serious injuries.
If you ever hear someone defend trapping as humane, or if you’ve ever considered purchasing a coat with fur trim, please remember the sad photo of this raccoon.
By coincidence, the National Trappers Association Southeast Regional Trapping & Outdoor Expo, hosted by The Florida Trappers Association, was held last weekend in Live Oak, Florida.
April 30th, 2013 by admin
The headlines of stories this week about the Cracker Day rodeo at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand were about a woman who was trampled and gored by a bull, but what we found more interesting was a statement by a spectator.
John Weideman-Beal told WESH Ch. 2 that before the bull was released from the chute he saw something odd: “I saw one of the handlers reach down in there, and I don’t know if they cattle-prodded it or what, and it went from a little ornery to bucking, kicking and shewing, and I said, ‘That is one crazy bull. Somebody is going to get hurt.’”
It’s common for rodeo organizers to talk about “mean bulls” and the bucking “instinct” of bulls. It’s less common for a member of the public to spot the bucking straps, electro-shock prods or the tail-twisting that provoke animals into displaying wild behavior.
Visit ARFF’s website to learn more about the violent abuse of animals in the rodeo.
April 24th, 2013 by admin
Today is World Day for Animals in Laboratories, a day to remember the millions of animals who suffer and die in labs in Florida and around the world.
One way to evaluate the impact of campaigns against animal experiments is to look at the reaction of campaign targets. Earlier this month, the following message was posted on a laboratory animal listserv by Matt Block (firstname.lastname@example.org). Block runs Worldwide Primates, a Miami company that imports and sells monkeys for use in research and testing. He was sent to federal prison in the 1990s after being convicted of smuggling endangered wildlife. We’ve written about Matt Block previously on this blog (here).
“An additional meeting is being planned in the South Florida area to discuss current and upcoming matters relating to animal rights groups and local activism. Anyone interested in additional information and for information on attending, please contact me directly off list. I would encourage all of you from the South Florida area to make time to attend this important meeting. It is critical to the safety and security of your research, staff, and facilities.
If you are unable to attend, perhaps forward to your Security staff or local law enforcement for their consideration.
Worldwide Primates, Inc.
Suppliers of Cynomolgus/Rhesus/Caribbean Greens/Marmosets/Squirrel
The meetings to discuss animal rights activism in South Florida (an initial meeting was held in February) can be seen as an encouraging sign that anti-vivisection activists, such as South Florida Smash HLS, are making an impact!
April 23rd, 2013 by admin
Last week, a man in Lee County was arrested on animal cruelty charges after it was discovered he had branded his dog and docked the dog’s tail without anesthesia. Lee County Domestic Animal Services veterinarian Suzanne Vazzana explained that branding can cause “considerable pain and suffering.”
We hope that if this individual is found guilty that he receives the maximum penalty and loses custody of the dog. But it is a sad reflection on how society views animals that tail docking and branding are among the painful mutilations commonly suffered by cows in the beef and dairy industries in Florida, without any action from law enforcement.
Cows, like the dog in Lee County, suffer third-degree burns from branding. Cows, like all animals, are protected under Florida’s anti-cruelty statute (828.12). Unfortunately, it would be very difficult to convince a prosecutor to file criminal charges against a farmer for branding or cutting off the tail of a cow.
We look forward to a day when dogs and cows are no longer treated differently under the law.
April 12th, 2013 by admin
We were shocked this week to see the news that an elephant traveling with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had been shot during a stop in Tupelo, Mississippi. Thankfully, the injury was not life-threatening and Carol the elephant is expected to recover. We hope those responsible for this horrible crime will be quickly identified and arrested.
Animal activists in South Florida may recognize the elephant victim. Carol was one of three elephants who, beginning in 1989, performed daily at the Swap Shop flea market in Fort Lauderdale. After 15 years, the flea market ended its financial support and the circus was evicted in 2005. The campaign against the Swap Shop circus was one of ARFF’s longest.
In 1990, Carol crushed a circus worker to death in the parking lot at the Swap Shop.
When Carol recovers, we hope that she does not rejoin the circus. Carol has suffered long enough. She deserves a peaceful retirement, free from constant travel chained in the back of a truck, and safe from random shootings!
This week there will be speeches, unveilings of statues and a commemorative stamp, historical re-enactments and other events to mark Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s arrival in Florida on April 2, 1513. The Florida Department of Agriculture is celebrating the introduction by the Spanish of horses, cattle and oranges to Florida. Ponce de Leon can also be credited with first introducing wild pigs to Florida.
Today, wild pigs are considered non-native, despite the fact that they were in Florida several decades before the City of St. Augustine was founded, and over 300 years before Florida became a state.
The non-native designation may not mean much for cracker horses or oranges, but it has been used as justification for horrible acts of cruelty against wild pigs.
In Florida hunters use packs of dogs, and primitive weapons like knives and spears, to chase down and kill wild pigs. Such cruel acts would not be allowed in the pursuit of deer or other ‘native’ animals in Florida.
ARFF is calling on the State of Florida to end the use of dogs to hunt wild pigs, prohibit the use of inhumane weapons, such as spears and swords, and prohibit castration by hunters of young male pigs without anesthesia. Visit ARFF’s website for more information about wild pigs in Florida, and to learn how you can help.
March 22nd, 2013 by admin
This week it was announced that circus owner Hugo Liebel had agreed to pay $7,500 to settle charges that he repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act in his treatment and handling of animals, including an elephant named Nosey. It was a case that ARFF had been closely following. It’s hard not to be discouraged by such a small fine.
But there are signs that people are becoming more aware of the suffering of elephants and other animals in traveling circuses. Last weekend, ARFF protested the Cole Bros. Circus in DeLand. Following one of the shows, a man who went to the circus with his son spoke on camera about the elephants. “It seemed a little awkward to see them being controlled like that, out of their natural environment,” the man said, and added that he went online during the show and learned that the circus has a horrible history. He thanked activists for being there. View the video here.
March 11th, 2013 by admin
Last October, the monkey known as the “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” was captured after at least three years living free in the suburbs of Tampa/St. Petersburg. At ARFF we had mixed feelings about his capture, and we weren’t thrilled when the state wildlife agency turned him over to Dade City’s Wild Things, a private zoo in Pasco County that we’ve written about before on this blog. But we’re confused and concerned that the zoo is now considering purchasing companions for the monkey from an unnamed company in South Carolina that sells animals for research and testing. “It can come in with Cornelius rather than going into a research lab,” Randy Stearns, the zoo’s president, told the Tampa Tribune.
“Cornelius” (the zoo named the monkey) is currently living in an enclosure by himself, so it’s a good thing that Dade City’s Wild Things is looking for companions for him. But purchasing monkeys would give the laboratory animal supplier exactly what they want– income to continue their cruel business. “Saving” animals by purchasing them puts money into the hands of animal abusers.
Contact Dade City’s Wild Things and urge them NOT to purchase companions for Cornelius. Urge them to adopt a needy animal instead, such as a neglected “pet” monkey or an unwanted, “surplus” monkey from a research laboratory.
Phone: (352) 567-9453
Online comment form
In 2008, ARFF objected when the City of Orlando announced plans to import a group of swans to Lake Eola Park to be added to the already large number of swans on the lake. ARFF criticized the plan as irresponsible, primarily because Lake Eola is a busy, urban park that is a poor environment for captive animals. Park visitors feed the swans everything from white bread to Cheetos, and the birds are susceptible to becoming victims of human cruelty (the swans have had their wings clipped, a permanent amputation that prevents them from flying very well and escaping from danger).
This week we learned of another in a long list of incidents in which swans at Lake Eola were victims of cruelty. Orlando police are looking for a man who released his dog from its leash to attack a swan. The bird was euthanized after suffering severe injuries.
In January 2012, a man was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals after he grabbed a swan and carried the bird out of Lake Eola by the neck. In July 2011, police followed a trail of feathers to the home of a man who had taken a swan from
the lake. In October 2010, at least six swans were stolen by a man who had intended to sell the animals. In June 2009 police arrested a man at the park for grabbing two swans by the neck. We could go on…
It’s clear that the City of Orlando is unable to protect the swans at Lake Eola Park. Contact Orlando’s Mayor and ask that the city never again purchase swans for Lake Eola.
Mayor Buddy Dyer
Please share with us any responses that you receive!
February 21st, 2013 by admin
Last week the “Python Challenge” wrapped-up without making much of a dent in the population of snakes in the Everglades. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hasn’t said if they’ll hold the event again next year. But unless the agency changes its hands-off approach to the exotic pet trade, there may be a “Tegu Challenge” or “Tarantula Challenge” in Florida’s future.
While Florida struggles with already established populations of reptiles such as pythons and iguanas, pet stores and breeders continue to carelessly sell exotic snakes, lizards and spiders to anyone who wants to buy them. Because of Florida’s subtropical climate, animals like the tegu, a lizard native to South America but popular in the pet trade, are able to thrive in the wilds of Florida after escaping from captivity or being dumped by irresponsible pet owners.
It is clear that the pet trade is at the root of the problem, and any real solution must target the source. It is time to ban the breeding and sale of exotic animals as pets in Florida. The FWC might argue that they could not have foreseen the Burmese python problem, but there is no excuse not to act to prevent future problems.
You Can Help
Please contact Florida’s state wildlife agency and urge them to ban the breeding, sale and private possession of exotic animals– to protect animals and the environment.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Online comment form