Thursday, April 28, 2005

SHOOTING DOGS IS WRONG

Recently, the Denver Post published a front-page story about Dan MacEachen who operates a sled-dog service titled "Krabloonik Kennels." Dan had a disgusting and morally repugnant habit of shooting his unwanted sled dogs in the head and burying them in pits filled with excrement. The practice of shooting domesticated pet dogs is legal in Colorado, and is considered a legitimate form of euthanasia by some depraved people.

After much negative publicity, brought on by local TV news stations and newspapers, Dan MacEachen said he would no longer shoot his unwanted sled dogs, but instead, he would try to have them adopted or have them euthanized by lethal injection. Congratulations, Dan, for joining the 21st century and abandoning the barbaric practice of shooting innocent dogs in the head. MacEachen seems to have serious psychological problems regarding animals - and God knows what else - and their proper treatment.

In a related story, the Rocky Mountain News ( "Man who burned puppies receives 10 1/5 years in prison," April 30, 2005), ran an article about a puppy killer. The article states: " A man who told investigators he got a sexual high from hearing the screams of puppies he set on fire was sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison on Friday.

Ryan Tortura, 20, broke into the Colorado Humane Society shelter several times in February 2004, stealing four puppies in two break-ins Feb. 16.

The defendant told investigators he got a rush from setting these puppies on fire, that it was almost orgasmic for him, said prosecutor Kathy Sasak, who called Tortura a deranged and dangerous young man."

The decision of Dan MacEachen, who runs Krabloonik Kennels, to euthanize unwanted dogs by lethal injection is less abhorrent than shooting them and throwing them into excrement-filled pits, but certainly leaves a lot to be desired.

Shooting dogs should not be legal; it should be a felony. Consider too, that some sick creeps may actually enjoy killing dogs. In his hyperbloodthirsty book about God, guns and hunting, Ted Nugent states that "sportsmen" knew "instinctively" that stray cat and dog populations had reached "epidemic proportions" in 1970, and that their numbers had to be reduced.

Recently, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources let hunters vote in favor of shooting stray cats, although this depravity probably will not be signed into law. Apparently, there are people who enjoy killing cats and dogs, and they see nothing wrong in doing so. Organizations such as PETA believe that animal cruelty is a hidden epidemic, and all animals - not just domestic dogs - deserve to be treated humanely. PETA is right on, as usual.

Sadly, it has taken negative press coverage - rather than his own sense of humanity and compassion - to make MacEachen realize that shooting his dogs is not acceptable. Worse still, the underlying issue remains unaddressed. These dogs appear to be a major cornerstone of his business. His success hinges on their service. Unfortunately, the decision to kill them (no matter how humane the method) when they are unwilling or unable to pull a sled is representative of how our society treats companion animals; that is, as disposable "things" to be tossed aside like old clothes when they are no longer useful or entertaining.

Marie Belew Wheatley, head of the American Humane Association, says shooting domestic dogs is barbaric. She promises to do everything she can to outlaw what MacEachen did. Wheatley launched a crusade against pet shooting last week after hearing of a sled-dog owner near Aspen who euthanizes with a gun. Wheatley, based in Denver, says she'll start her campaign in Colorado and then take it national. "It's inhumane and not necessary," Wheatley said. "Sodium Pentobarbital is so immediate. In three to five seconds the animal is dead."

Wayne Laugesen, who writes for a Boulder, Colorado newspaper titled "Boulder Weekly," actually wrote in favor of shooting domestic dogs in the head ("Shooting your dog," April 14, 2005). Wayne apparently believes that a bullet to the brain is better than lethal injection because when his friend brought his dog to the animal shelter, the technician could not find a vein and poked the dog several times causing the poor creature to snap angrily.

Wayne stated in his column that companion dogs are shot in the head every day in rural America.To ranchers, hunters and other like-minded people, animal "problems" should be taken care of using lethal means. And, of course, some people favor violent euthanasia over more humane, civilized methods.

I strongly disagree with Wayne, and Boulder Weekly published my letter (Shooting dogs is wrong, April 28, 2005 ) which reads as follows.

Wayne has an affinity for shooting animals. A few months ago, he wrote in favor of blasting prairie dogs, and now he advocates legally shooting domestic dogs. Shooting dogs is violent and morally repugnant, and it highlights the wretched treatment that many animals endure in our society.

People often kill animals for incredibly trivial reasons. Legalized dog-shooting is morally problematic. Because it's cheaper and more convenient than giving animals sodium pentobarbital, some people may simply shoot their pets. Puppy mill owners, sled-dog owners, and others who abuse dogs as resources can arbitrarily decide to shoot their animals.Dogs are killed for not behaving improperly, or because they cannot be trained, or they're too expensive, etc. Shooting companion animals should be outlawed because it allows pet owners to shoot their animals for any reason whatsoever. Furthermore, a shot to the head does not guarantee a quick or painless death. Eye witnesses to Mac Eachen's dog-shooting sessions stated that they saw dogs' eyes and legs moving after being shot in the head. Does it get any more sadistic than this?

Sodium pentobarbital is the method of choice of virtually 100% of veterinarians, and is considered the most humane method of euthanasia. A professional veterinarian - as opposed to a technician - should be skilled enough to locate a vein and administer an injection properly. Some animals may need to be sedated before the injection. A properly performed injection of sodium pentobarbital is the morally right choice for companion animals - not shooting them in the head. - By Scott Palczak

Sunday, April 03, 2005

CLUBBING BABY SEALS IS BARBARIC

The world's largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals has begun. Canada's government is allowing fisherman to kill 975,000 harp seals - mostly pups - off Canada's East Coast.

I will spare readers most of the ghastly details of the hunt, but some details are necessary. Seal killers typically club, shoot or hack baby seals that are between the ages of 12 days to 12 weeks old. According to the Humane Society of the United States, an alarming number of seals are skinned while alive. Yet, none of this obscene animal cruelty is necessary, and the pelts provide minimal income.

Only about 4,000 people participate in this sickening carnival of carnage, and it has been determined that killing seals generates very little revenue for those who partake in this butchery. There is also no evidence that seals are jeopardizing the Canadian fishing industry: It appears that humans are the culprits, causing fish populations to decline because of over-fishing. The notion of "exploding" seal populations is another bogus rationale used by some people, but here again, there is no evidence of enormous seal herds rampaging out of control.

It is truly amazing how remorseless and vicious some people can be in their maltreatment of animals, and in some cases, other humans. Is it asking too much that seal killers control themselves enough to spare the lives of innocent seal pups? The Canadian government could - and should - outlaw this appalling event. Dozens of animal rights and environmental protection groups are opposing the seal hunt. For more information about the Canadian seal hunt, visit http://www.protectseals.org.