The ridiculous, cruel and anachronistic opossum “drop” in Andrews, North Carolina, went ahead last night as planned (video).
Our hearts go out to the little one who was abused as this sad public “tradition” continued.
In his or her honor, I’ll humbly suggest we all think hard about how our own behaviors – our private “traditions”, perhaps – might harm others.
Is our own entertainment truly cruelty free? Any circus involving animals is not. Nor is any zoo or aquarium. Any movie involving actual animals likely was unpleasant for them; many have been downright cruel or indeed deadly.
The food that sustains us? Are we eating in a way that causes the least harm, to both animals and to the planet?
Our household products? Are we still buying products “tested” on animals? They’re certainly still being produced!
Our investments? Are we supporting companies that exploit natural resources?
Are we cutting back on plastics? Even just a little?
In a room full of antagonists (say, NYE revelers), the persecuted protagonist (opossum) is easy to spot and easy to sympathize with.
Profound change starts with the more difficult recognition of when we ourselves are causing problems. And profound change can be gradual. A little less meat in our diets. A reusable drink container. A little more attention paid to our animal companion…
We have a whole year to stop the next opossum “drop”. Imagine all the other positive changes we can make during that time!
Yesterday on my way into Boulder on Highway 36 I noticed a person with a net looking through deep grass off the road’s shoulder. I figured she was looking for an animal of some sort, so I stopped to offer my help.
And there was my friend and fellow advocate, Nicole. And sure enough, she was looking for animals – specifically, ducklings. She had been on that stretch of road earlier in the day and saw a mother with eight or nine babies, walking along the shoulder. By the time she could turn around and get back to where they were, the mother and several of the babies had been hit and killed.
Like so many thoroughfares, Highway 36, which links the Colorado cities of Denver and Boulder, becomes a gauntlet of death for wildlife each spring and summer.
No safe wildlife crossings are to be found, and those who attempt to cross must navigate 4-6 lanes of incessant traffic. Even birds and foxes and other nimble animals who have adapted to high speed vehicles are likely to die when faced with the reckless driver traveling 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.
At this time of year especially I try not to schedule anything that absolutely positively requires me to be on time. This allows me to keep my eyes open for anyone who has been injured or is trapped along a median, and to stop and try to help when needed.
I’m not virtue signaling. I don’t relish this in the least. I hate that animals who have evolved over millions of years – even dinosaurs, for Christ’s sake – are getting violently injured and killed by the millions on our roads each year. I hate that their deaths are barely noticed, if noticed at all, by their killers and by passersby. I hate that the person who hits a deer is more concerned about the damage to their vehicle than the pain, the death, the injury they caused, or the fact that the mom or dad or sibling or friend who went out that morning will never be seen again, leaving at best an emptiness that humans can and should understand – and at worst dependent young, robbed of their birthright and sentenced to a frightening and protracted death.
I hate that humans have normalized being in a hurry and that our own evolution has led to an insane separation from nature and an all-costs pursuit of comfort and convenience.
Millions of years of evolution will not prepare a vulnerable animal for an encounter with an uncaring human.
Nicole was able to save four of the ducklings, delivering them into the good hands of a nearby wildlife rehabilitation center. Because she cares so deeply, she had returned that afternoon to see if she could find any others who may have survived. After a thorough search, she was packing up when I arrived. She hadn’t found any more ducklings, but she wasn’t leaving empty handed, as she’d picked up some recyclables, likely tossed from vehicles by uncaring humans.
Here’s to you, Nicole, and to all with wide and welcoming circles of compassion. You are this planet’s hope.
Notes If you encounter a wild animal who needs your help or if you have a “conflict” with wildlife at home or work, use Animal Help Now to find the nearest assistance.
It’s always smart to have a box or carrier of some sort in your vehicle. Click here to see what Animal Help Now recommends for a full rescue kit.
To support Animal Help Now’s work, please visit www.AHNow.org/donate.php.
Until Google develops a better system of communicating to Android app users about the various ways that apps interact with a user’s list of contacts, Animal Help Now is pulling its “Add Helper to Contacts” functionality from its Android app. We are doing this because a few of our users have expressed concerns about Animal Help Now invading their privacy.
This, despite the fact that Animal Help Now cannot access their contact lists. All we can do is add a helper to their contacts – at their behest.
** The pre-digital analogy: Animal Help Now tells you about a wildlife rehabilitator. You ask, do you have their card? We hand it to you. **
We are saddened that governments, for-profit corporations and even some non-profit corporations have violated the public trust, that public trust in general is evidently eroding as we move further into the 21st Century and that these dynamics together are making the world even more dangerous for the most vulnerable in our society, including our animal friends.
** The pre-digital, post-truth analogy: Animal Help Now tells you about a wildlife rehabilitator. You say, I’d ask for their card, but then you’d insist on seeing my Rolodex. **
It’s enough to drive us mad.
Here is the letter we are submitting to Google (purveyor of Android) in response to this debacle:
Our nonprofit organization helps people with wildlife emergencies find the nearest professional help. We recently added a feature that allows users to add a wildlife emergency professional’s contact information to their contacts.
We are now hearing from the public that they will not download our app because Google is telling them we need “Access” to their contacts and they do not trust that we will not violate this access. If Google were to make it very clear that the access we need is “write only” and that we cannot see the users’ contacts, we likely would not be losing users and users’ trust.
Further, if Google were to allow a person to download the app while exempting the contact access, this would also solve the problem.
As it is, the existing solution is untenable and, unfortunately, in this age of distrust, indefensible. One must, as has been said, avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
ORIGINAL BLOG POST (3/30/18)
Animal Help Now received an email today from Mike M, who wrote: I like your app, but I won’t be using it any longer or recommending it because the latest upgrade wants to access my contacts. Respect user privacy.
I can see where Mike is coming from. He went to update his Android app and saw that we now request access to his contacts.
After all, why on earth would the Animal Help Now Android app need access to Mike’s contacts? Before your imagination gets on a plane to Russia, allow me to give you the quick and complete answer.
The Animal Help Now app needs access to Mike’s contacts because we now offer a new feature that allows Mike to save a wildlife rehabilitator’s contact information in his contact list (see image).
This does not mean we can see Mike’s contacts. We cannot.
Let me say that again: We cannot see Mike’s contacts.
We added the “Add Helper to Contacts” functionality because we want to make it as easy as possible for Mike and our other users to contact his area wildlife rehabilitators today, tomorrow, anytime.
That’s what we do.
Unfortunately, Android doesn’t give us the opportunity to explain that we are not asking for permission to access our users’ contacts, unless the person downloading the app happens to read the “What’s New” section in our store.
What’s worse, it’s an all-or-nothing thing. If Mike doesn’t want Animal Help Now to be able to his contacts helpers of his choosing, Android won’t let him upgrade his app.
Thankfully, Apple takes a more reasonable approach. The company doesn’t even ask for your permission to let Animal Help Now add a helper to your contacts until you try to do so, and it certainly doesn’t require you to give us this access before downloading our app.
Recent events have heightened privacy concerns. Facebook and so many others have shown themselves to be untrustworthy. As a result, people seem warier than ever about others’ intentions.
Animal Help Now’s December Animal Hero award goes to Jasmine Fletcher Glaze, director of A Soft Place To Land in Graham, Washington. Jasmine has been working with animals since the age of 14 and rehabilitated 300 – 350 mammals a year at her home-based facility … until now.
Last month, a WA wildlife rehabilitation facility that Jasmine respects suffered a seizure of animals by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW). A former volunteer at For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation (FHSARR) told WDFW that the deer and elk being cared for at the facility had been exposed to excessive human contact, which caused them to become habituated to humans.
WDFW officials visited FHSARR Nov. 9 and tranquilized a young elk and three bottle-fed fawns onsite, then took them to another location and killed them. Officers also tried to capture 11 additional deer as they fled into the woods. The agency will evaluate these animals for release by March.
Jasmine notes this was not an isolated incident and that the agency has taken and killed animals from other wildlife rehabilitation facilities. WDFW declares that the state owns all state wildlife and is charged with managing them. Others state that wildlife belong to the public and that the agency is mismanaging them.
Jasmine knew she would be devastated if the state ever killed the animals in her care, and the fact that officials can take such drastic action without due process was too much to bear. She wanted to effect change in WDFW, but like other rehabbers around the country, she knew the agency could act with impunity and without what a reasonable person would consider to be due process.
Jasmine figured out a way to be heard. She took the bold step of closing her facility when the last animal was ready for release and requested WDFW deactivate her wildlife rehabilitation permit, effective Dec. 1.
Jasmine is now working with state officials and commissions while raising public awareness of the regulatory and due process challenges faced by rehabbers nationwide. In a letter to the agency, she wrote, “My concerns are that there is not an official process for a fair hearing or a review board for wildlife rehabilitators who have been accused of violating the standards of wildlife rehabilitation.”
As Jasmine told us: “Once we establish effective oversight, I’ll be right back to rehabbing. I don’t want to stop. I just don’t want to worry something like that could happen again – to me or any other rehabbers. I’m hoping if we can get Washington to change, other states will change as well.”
We encourage the WA public to request an overhaul of the agency’s approach. The WDFW Commission is meeting Dec. 8 and 9.
Jasmine’s sacrifice and efforts could have enormous implications. We don’t want the FHSARR elk and fawns to have died in vain and hope WDFW will agree to allow release of the 11 remaining deer it has targeted come spring. We support and commend Jasmine for speaking out as we award her Animal Hero of the Month.
Among the several reasons to enjoy July 4 in the United States is the calm that comes about when this country takes a collective recess from work. Not a collective meditative calm, which is hard to even imagine, but at least a recreational calm.
Everyone’s playing. Or eating. Or chilling. Or whatever.
To be sure, the commutes are light. And there’s a welcome stillness in the air.
Which makes tonight all the worse. That stillness – not to appear overly dramatic here, but that’s the calm before the storm.
Tonight’s fireworks are going to create an unfathomable amount of duress across wildlife communities and of course among domestic animals. We all know dogs and cats who run and hide at the sound of the first firework, some who shake uncontrollably for hours.
Surely many pigs and chickens and cows suffer likewise, though being out of sight, their plight is unnoticed. It’s not hard to imagine that many animals in laboratories are adversely affected, too.
“Ralphie” the buffalo mascot of the University of Colorado will be trotted out for the amusement of the crowd at tonight’s event at the campus stadium. Buffalo and bison are known to be highly sensitive to sound.
I remember seeing a fox absolutely disoriented and terrified outside the stadium at a celebration many years back. She somehow found herself in the middle of the huge crowd of people agog at the flashing lights and loud bangs. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an animal so alone.
The companion animals inside our homes are the best off. They are less likely to get physically hurt. They won’t be running into traffic or fleeing blindly into the night.
Those who are terrorized or made anxious by fireworks may be helped by wrapping a towel or sheet around them (or using the popular Thundershirt, which operates on the same principle).
Some will benefit from pharmaceuticals or natural remedies.
Many will benefit if you close your windows and turn up the volume a bit on whatever it is they like hearing. Keep them busy. Keep them inside.
Tomorrow Facebook, Nextdoor.com and other sites will be rife with reports of lost and found animals. Animal shelters will see an increase in the number of lost animal companions. (If you’re in CO or TX, you can use the Animal Help Now website or phone app for guidance if you find or lose a companion animal.)
I feel, too, for the veterans and others among us humans for whom fireworks are traumatic.
I know how I sound, but give me a magic wand, and I won’t make fireworks go away; I’ll make them enjoyable for everyone.
Such wands being in short supply, I’ll hope for the best tonight, and I will welcome tomorrow’s light, though with the sad knowledge that our celebrations resulted in so much trauma to our animal friends – domestic and wild, alike – and in countless of their lives being lost or shattered.
Today is World Wildlife Day, as designated in 2013 by the United Nations, and all of us are encouraged to do one thing today to help the world’s wildlife.
Not sure what that might be? Well, we at Animal Help Now have a few suggestions:
Eat a plant-based dinner tonight, preferably one sourced close to home. The ways in which our diets impact wildlife are too broad and too complex to go into here. We hope it suffices to say that feeding plants to animals so that we can eat those animals requires a whole lot more land than eating plants. The less land we use to feed ourselves, the more land will be available for wildlife. Recipes
Order “treatments” for any windows at your home or office that birds mistake for flight paths. You’ll find options here.
Download the free Animal Help Now app so you will be prepared to assist the next injured or distressed wild animal you encounter. iPhone | iPad | Android
This year’s theme is “Listen to the Young Voices”, a great reminder about not only the importance of youth – but also the importance of respecting youth (and future generations) – as we work together to make the planet a better place for everyone.
Editor and Social Media Director, Animal Help Now
Cute animal videos have long been an internet sensation, and many sites have profited from their popularity. But much of that “cute” footage actually features animals who are being harassed, abused or otherwise placed in harm’s way. We at Animal Help Now sometimes see our friends and colleagues sharing videos and photos of animals who, upon close inspection or investigation, turn out to be in distress.
We all know that a wild animal whose head is stuck in a discarded yogurt container is no laughing matter. But what about a dog dressed up like a pirate or a bear playing with human toys in someone’s yard?
Before liking or sharing an animal photo or video, it’s important to view it critically and ask yourself whether the animals are part of the fun or in fact apart from it.
Your red flags should be raised, for instance, when you see:
Baby animals in a human’s environment. More than likely, baby animals are the result of humans breeding them. With few exceptions, it’s detrimental for humans to breed other species.
Wild animals in human, nonrehabilitative environments or recorded in a manner that by all accounts would not be possible by a caring human who respects the animals’ wildness. Some wild animals cannot for various reasons live in the wild, and some thrive in human company. We need to do our best to determine whether or not what we’re viewing is OK.
There’s an extensive history of animal abuse in film and video – see this short piece by one of our co-founders, written 26 years ago! Since then we learned that The American Humane Association’s definition of “harmed” is different from ours. We are so relieved that CGI is now replacing live animals in many productions.
Nearly two million people have viewed a bear video shared on the Animal Kingdom & Wild Life Facebook and Instagram pages (screen cap shown in this blog’s featured image). But in this and another video of the bear, it appears she is performing and may lack teeth. It’s common practice to remove the teeth and claws of wild and potentially dangerous animals to more easily manage them and force them to perform. Although thousands of people have shared this video for its “cute” factor, we and others question why the bear appears to lack teeth and consider her likely to be leading an unhappy and unhealthy life.
Examining rabbit videos alone, a couple that have gone viral in recent years include a rabbit being bathed (rabbits can become hypothermic when submerged in water) and a baby rabbit named “Wheelz” who was left in freezing temperatures, injured and then attached to a handmade skateboard by farmers raising rabbits for slaughter.
Yet another shows hundreds of domestic rabbits chasing a woman who bears food on Japan’s “Rabbit Island.” The viral video incited tourists to flock to the deserted, barren island to feed the hungry bunnies, causing a population boom that harmed both the rabbits and the ecosystem. The video also promotes the myth that domestic rabbits can thrive in the wild, teaching people that it’s OK to dump rabbits outdoors – where they quickly fall prey to predators, illness and the elements.
It can be difficult to discern the difference between cute and cruel, but any person who loves and/or respects animals knows they are never the same.
The next time you see a video featuring an animal, consider the source and whether it truly advocates for animals. While the Dodo and One Green Planet are sensitive to this issue, sites such as Bored Panda and Buzzfeed promote videos depicting cruelty to animals even after abuse has been shown.
Try also to discern the circumstances. Abuse isn’t always obvious. If anything looks suspicious, it’s wiser to play it safe and not share it. Sharing “cute” videos of animals in harmful situations rewards and teaches irresponsible behavior. Instead, leave a comment asking probing questions, or if you’re certain the video depicts abuse, call it out wherever it occurs and ask that it be taken down.
Let’s acknowledge but set aside for this brief piece the soul-crushing fact that most animal cruelty is institutionalized and profit driven.
Let’s look instead to Richard Adams, someone who got it right. Adams was the author of several important books, including his seminal work of animal rights fiction, Watership Down, which describes the plight of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to live while under constant threat from humans.
I finally opened this book when I was forty-something. And its pages quickly enveloped me, resonating not only with my empathy and respect for animals, but also with my experience advocating for another ground-dwelling species – the black-tailed prairie dog.
Adams put into words what I could only feel. In telling the story of Bigwig, Hazel and Fiver, the author articulates the horrors of misappropriated and abused power – horrors that indeed continue to surround animals including humans every day, threatening us, threatening our future, though hidden like a trap they may be.
The best use I can put to my keyboard at this moment is to express my profound gratitude to Richard Adams and encourage you to avail yourself of his story and his works.
And as to that “difference” thing, as Adams himself wrote in Plague Dogs, “It’s time people started thinking of Man as one of a number of species inhabiting the planet; and if he’s the cleverest, that merely gives him more responsibility for seeing that the rest can lead proper, natural lives.”
Richard Adams passed away on Christmas Eve at the age of 96, leaving behind a wife, two daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – and generations of readers born and unborn who have been, are and will be better people for having read his works.
It’s official. Over the next several years, the State of Colorado will kill hundreds of mountain lions and bears in a tone deaf, misguided effort to increase deer populations for hunting.
With its December 14 decision, the Colorado Wildlife Commission continues its lockstep march with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, as the two move forward with yet another lethal, ill-conceived and anachronistic attempt to make the state more hunter friendly.
The commission voted unanimously – unanimously! – to allow trained killers to use cage traps, culvert traps, foot snares and hunting dogs to immobilize mountain lions and bears. Then those caught would be shot. Dependent young likely will die of starvation.
Several things of interest here. 1) In the continuing Orwellian tradition, the media is widely referring to these killings as euthanasia. 2) The Colorado Wildlife Commission is an unscientific body, mostly appointed by the governor and heavily skewed toward “consumptive” use of wildlife. 3) Governor Hickenlooper, despite a demonstrable history of understanding the plight of wildlife, continues to stack the commission with anti-wildlife appointees.
This aggression may stand for the time being, but this decision may well sound the death knell for business as usual for the governor and the state’s wildlife agency. The time has long passed for those who love/cherish/respect wildlife and wild places to have a voice in how Colorado – and indeed states across the country – manages its wildlife.
Nothing less than the soul of this state is at stake.
A certain presidential candidate was certainly right when she said it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to do a lot of things, including raising a nonprofit.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to give you a quick tour of Animal Help Now’s village.
Let’s start with that smart-looking bunch heading into the office building. That’s the Holland & Hart team. They give our nonprofit pro bono advice on legal matters. Lots of it.
And that guy with the glasses, over there by the barn. That’s Frank Vernon. Genius. Nice guy, too. Created our iPhone app from scratch, and maintains it to this day. Never charged us a dime. The barn? Well, that belongs to Frank and his wife Dorothy. They let us pack in there now and then for a little dancing and downtime.
Frank didn’t do the app singlehandedly, of course. He had the help of a bunch of folks here in the village. Elena Rizzo, for one. She signed on as an Animal Help Now volunteer in the early days and worked her way up to director of research, a nearly full-time, paid position.
Karl Hirschmann did the graphics for the user interface. Karl and his wife Beth are raising two kids, and at the time we brought him on Karl was paying big rent for his little shop off Pearl, so he couldn’t afford to donate his time. But he does give us half off. Sometimes, I think, much more. You do like our logo, I hope.
Speaking of art. Andrea Metzger. Good heavens, how long has she been devoting her spare time to the animals? Andrea always comes through for us with compelling, elegant images in a style all her own. There’s this, for example:
There are so many artists in this village. Have you seen Kevin’s work at FernLakePhotography.com? Kevin has been quite generous with Animal Help Now, providing virtually unlimited access to his catalog. He hasn’t yet reached the fame of a Tom Mangelsen. Not sure he wants to. Tom’s in the village, too, though – did you know?
Hometown boys Dan Ziskin and Bob Rose have played a big part getting us to the present. They were there at the start. Founders. Board members. Their technical expertise has been indispensable. Brian Field has been with us forever, too. He’s worn a lot of hats here. All three of these guys have integrity, drive, and talent in equal and large measures.
All told we have about 35 people working for the group right now. Seven are part-time and paid. The other 28 are volunteers. Our volunteers alone put in hundreds of hours every month.
My mom, bless her soul, wrote generous checks that were necessary to get AHNow off the ground and through the lean times. Scott Keating wrote some, too, as did David Worthington and Julie Staggers. Ted Wood-Prince and Dara Shalette are with us year in and year out. The Bosack and Kruger Foundation has steadfastly funded AHNow through these formative years.
So many in this village have helped us financially. Donations big and small. And to be sure, there are two ways to use those terms. We recognize that $20 can be a big donation. Some of you know one of the village’s animal heroes, Bernadette. Bernadette gives generously to a dozen or more causes every fall. A few years back she wrote the whole check just to us.
The list of good neighbors goes on and on. (I’ll stop soon.) Karen Dawson makes sure our finances are in order. Jill Bielawski makes sure our grammar’s good.
Leslie Irvine teaches at the university down the road. Big friend of animals. Writes books about them! Leslie has provided us with a good dozen or so interns through the years. A few of those students have absolutely inspired us older folks with their brilliance, goodness, and work ethic. I can say they’ve bolstered my hope for the future. Their parents must be proud.
That group of thinkers there in the coffee shop – that’s our advisory council. They’ve all signed on in just the past six months. Our business experts, Alan and Tania. Our wildlife folks, Donna and Ann-Elizabeth and Dr. Reading. Oh, and Dr. Klem, of course. He’s the country’s – maybe the world’s – leading expert on bird window strikes.
Down the street there’s PC’s Pantry for Dogs and Cats. Marylee, Colleen, and the crew have hosted AHNow donation containers on their counters for years and years. Whenever Colleen sees a loose bill on the ground with no one to claim it, she drops it in.
Our village isn’t geographically constrained. Our vol Danielle is going to school at Cornell. She makes time every week to work on improving our Google search results. Successfully, I’ll add. Neeharika is from the Bay Area. She and the analysis team are helping us better understand how people use our program. And there’s Katherine in Texas, Kelly in Wisconsin, Glenn in New Mexico, … It occurs to me I’m not even certain where a few of our villagers reside.
Our peers and partners are integral to our success, too. The folks at the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council take our calls. The Dallas/Fort Worth Wildlife Coalition picks up, too. We’re making friends with animal emergency professionals all over the country. You can’t do what we do without those relationships.
We’re certainly humbled by the support we get from our community. I like to think people recognize that we’re just as committed to our village as they are. It’s pretty obvious they appreciate that the little nonprofit they’re nurturing already is saving lives and spreading love and hope and compassion all over the land. : )