Watch your step! In 2018 more than ever.

It’s a cold, sunny day, and you’re strolling alone on a sidewalk in an unfamiliar neighborhood in an unfamiliar town. Enjoying the new sights and sounds, you don’t notice the black ice patch until it’s too late. You hear your forearm break as you hit the frozen concrete. You cry out.

The fracture is compound. There’s a new bend just above your wrist. The pain hasn’t yet hit, but you feel sick.

The sound of hurried footsteps offers some relief, as you try to breathe and gather your thoughts.

You look up to see a person quickly approaching. He looks a bit panicked and before you can warn him, he too slips on the ice. Thankfully he isn’t hurt and is quickly back on his feet, but when he sees your injury he gets woozy and takes a knee.

Another person arrives. This one is a bit circumspect. She too kneels next to you, but her countenance is one of calm and concern. She looks you in the eye and asks if you have injured anything other than your arm. Thankfully, you don’t think so.

She then removes her coat and wraps it around your shoulders. She directs her attention to the other person, asks him if he’s OK, tells him to take some deep breaths and then directs him to attend to you while she gets her car.

Now, in case you haven’t guessed, this is a bit of a parable. In the context of Animal Help Now, it can be read rather literally, which is to say if you come upon an emergency, keep your head. But I mean it also in a larger sense.

Person walking with AHNow logo
AHNow: Dispassionate, Considered, Expert.

An argument that the entire world is in a state of emergency is fairly easy to make (wars, famine, ocean plastic, catastrophic climate change, etc.). As to Animal Help Now’s particular corner of the world – the interface between humans and individual wild animals – this argument is easier still. Billions of wild animals are injured or killed in the United States alone every year, from cat and dog attacks, window strikes, vehicle strikes, etc. And as humans continue to leave their mark on the planet, wildlife impacts still do not factor in as they should. Witness this deliberate construction of a bird death trap.

Your broken arm is best addressed through dispassionate, considered, expert care. Helping a bird injured in a window strike is best addressed through dispassionate, considered, expert care. Helping address the myriad and increasing anthropogenic threats to wildlife is best accomplished through dispassionate, considered, expert care.

While concern for others is the font of so many good acts and good efforts, untempered it can lead to incautious and inexpert action.

Which is all simply to say, to those of you who act on your concern for others, please join Animal Help Now in our pledge to do our best in 2018. Watch your step! Those “others” are counting on us like never before.

Happy New Year!

The Height of Injustice? Animals Saved From Death Summarily Killed

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.

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife officers with a fawn and elk calf at For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, © 2017 KING-TV

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.

Following a raid at For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue, WDFW transported these sedated fawns and elk calf in the back of a trailer before killing them because they deemed them too friendly with humans. © The Chronicle

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 Fletcher Glaze:
AHNow Hero of the Month

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.

Hurry July 5

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 the evenings of the 3rd and 4th all the worse. That welcome stillness – not to appear overly dramatic here, but that’s the calm before the storm.

Fireworks 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 of whom will 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.

If history sadly repeats itself, “Ralphie,” the buffalo mascot of the University of Colorado, will be trotted out for the amusement of the crowd at the university and city’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.

On July 5, 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. (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 for all those impacted by the unnecessary violence of this holiday, and I will welcome the July 5 morning 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.

We Mother

mother vt to give birth to, to give rise to, to care for or protect like a mother

Is it wrong for me to expand the concept of Mother’s Day? I hope not, ’cause here I go!

First off, a happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers in the conventional sense. May your special day be filled with peace and love, and may you know your hard work is appreciated.

A happy Mother’s Day, too, to all of you who have found other or additional outlets for your maternal instincts. To you who work to make the world a better place. To you who mother the world or even the tiniest part of her as if she were your own child, day in, day out, year upon year upon year.

Animal Help Now is building out its board of directors and advisory council. We need mothers! We need people to care for our fledgling organization and nurture it into adulthood. We need leaders, workers, people with vision and determination.

Animal Help Now is more than a service that connects people who need help with animal emergencies with people who can provide such help. We are more than a wildlife 9-1-1.

Yes, Animal Help Now is the best service of its kind. But the organization also plays a crucial role in educating the public about mitigating threats to animals and strengthening the increasingly important bond between humans and wildlife and indeed all animals.

The organization this year is ramping up its collaborative work with humane wildlife conflict resolution professionals to teach and empower people to live more harmoniously with wildlife.

Just as sure as the world needs the best kids, the world needs the best nonprofits. And the best nonprofits have the best mothers.

Is your nest empty? Does it have room? If so, please let us know! And if another person comes to mind who might be good for a leadership role in Animal Help Now, please forward this email to her or him.

As always, thank you for reading and for your kind consideration. Have a great weekend!

Spiders!

Sorry. I mean, spiders.

I’ve seen two in my bathtub now in the past several weeks. Both times were when I’d forgotten to put up their escape “ladder” – that is to say, the hand towel I keep draped over the edge of the tub.

Yes. The two times I’ve failed to replace the towel after using the tub, I’ve found spiders stranded in the basin.

I scooped them up with a postcard and deposited them into a nearby corner on the bathroom floor, so they could return to exploring or hunting or whatever it is spiders do when they’re not sleeping.

Which is to say that (a) spiders seem to enjoy forays into my bathtub and (b) when I find them there they likely aren’t lying in wait.

And more to the point, it’s to say that I live with spiders and everyone seems to get along OK.

I understand the fear. And some spiders definitely evoke it in me more than others. So I understand the desire to deposit them not on the bathroom floor but outside the house. Whether or not this sentences many of them to death or hardship, I do not know, but I do care, and so I err on the side of caution (though, black widow, you shall go outside).

Note that these words are being written by a person once so frightened of spiders that he took an aerosol can and a lighter and torched one whose only crime was being in a place in my apartment where I couldn’t easily capture or otherwise kill him.

This same person who committed that awful act would many years later relocate a brown recluse and what appeared to be hundreds of her babies.

So things change, and that’s part of the point. The arc of one’s respect for others is long, but with any luck it bends toward an increase.

The other part of the point is to imagine for just a second the likelihood that a being as tall as a skyscraper would shiver or cower when encountering a tiny little human. Right? Get it?

Life is precious. Spiders are amazing. If you don’t want to see them, though, stop trapping them in tubs and sinks. A hand towel will do the trick.

World Wildlife Day: Ooh! Call on me! Call on me!

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.

Happy World Wildlife Day!World Wildlife Day

Women’s March Brings Love and Hope

The Denver Women's March, in Animal Help Now's backyard.
The Denver Women’s March, in Animal Help Now’s backyard.

We stand in unity with the Women’s March today – and each day forward as we move into these increasingly challenging times.

With the current power structure in the United States – that is to say, with the federal government working hand in glove with corporate America and with media no longer playing a watchdog role – Animal Help Now’s work promises to become more difficult in the years ahead.

Even so-called progressive governments in the United States have tended to overlook the needs of animals. We see no signs from the White House or Congress that animals will benefit under the new administration. In fact, recent legislative efforts, recently published policy statements and indeed a simple look at the power roster in Washington leave the animal advocate wondering who exactly is representing her.

Still, we are undeterred. And today, buoyed by outpourings of love and passion across the globe and inspired by the wisdom and creativity and community demonstrated at these magnificent marches, we have new hope that the world can move toward greater justice rather than less.

May those common values ascribed to the feminine – empathy, love, radiance and generosity – hold the day, and may the strength, endurance and determination demonstrated by our sisters (and brothers) today and in all times past serve as both model and motivation as we move into and through the long struggle ahead.

Denver march participant

Beware what you share! “Cute” videos are often cruel.

Guest Blogger
Jill Bielawski
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.

A loris being tortured. Click image for associated ABC News feature, including expert commentary on "cute" animal videos.
A loris being tortured. Click image for short ABC News feature on “cute” animal videos, including expert opinions.

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.

For information on what to do if you see or suspect cruelty to animals, visit Animal Help Now’s Resources page.

Thank you, Richard Adams

Recent research showing bats quarrel and confirming rats are ticklish further erodes the already staid position that humans are so very different from other species.

This position, of course, is the refuge of scoundrels who assert that human otherness (read: superiority) justifies just about any human activity involving other animals, whether that’s force-feeding a new and improved bleach to helpless mice in a laboratory or keeping sows in criminally confining cages.

Copyright: The Guardian

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.

Colorado Government to World: We Kill Mountain Lions and Bears

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.