Category Archives: animals

The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

Switching to Cruelty-free

There was a time in my life where I was a hardcore beauty hoarder. My obsession began in 2010 when beauty revolved around makeup, hair products and skin care. I was that girl who bought any beauty products advertised by the social media, especially if it was advertised by beauty gurus on YouTube or Instagram. I would also spend my most of my evenings at my local drugstore or Sephora to see if I can catch any clearance items. I was very satisfied with my lifestyle of hoarding beauty products. I loved the feeling of being proud of my work when I walk to into my bedroom because it looked like a beauty boutique. I thought life couldn’t get better at that time.

I was scrolling through my suggested videos on YouTube one day and I came upon a video on how some beauty products are being tested on animals. I saw the way rabbits were tested, tortured, and killed; and I also saw the way rabbits lived when they’re not being tested. I exited halfway through video because I was saddened and disgusted, but that didn’t change the way I buy my beauty products.

I was actually buying them more than ever, especially on skin care products. I still bought whatever was advertised by my wonderful gurus. It wasn’t until the end of 2015 when the video really started to bother me. The reason why is because I became a pet owner that year. I adopted a rabbit named Bunzy, and not long after him came Midnight.

Bunzy and Midnight became a huge part of my life. I love them as much as anyone would love their pets; however, my guilt grew because I knew I was still using stuff that are tested on animals. I was tortured by my own desires because I couldn’t choose which one to give up on. I would always imagine Bunzy and Midnight in the lab being tested on. I vision them screaming out of distress and eventually die or get killed. Why do I have nasty thoughts like that? I love my pets, but I also love my beauty products so how do I balance the two? I switched over to cruelty-free products!

I donated all of my existing animal tested products to my premature beauty hoarding sisters. They all laughed at my decision on going cruelty-free and the most annoying question I got from them was “Why do you want to go cruelty-free when you’re not even vegetarian or vegan?” Well hello, it’s my decision! Animals are already being sacrificed to feed us so I’ll do my part and appreciate my food by not wasting it; however, I do not need to sacrifice animals for my beauty. There are many products in the market that are cruelty-free and even vegan that I can hoard on.

What do you all think about cruelty-free? Do you think one shouldn’t use cruelty-free products if they still eat meat?

Another question I got was how do I know if a product is cruelty-free? The best way is to email the company directly to ask them. Otherwise I found a few resourceful website that lists most of the brands of cruelty-free products.

http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/list-of-cruelty-free-brands/

http://www.peta.org/living/beauty/completely-vegan-beauty-and-body-product-brands/

Back then I thought life was good, but life is better now because longer feel guilty loving my rabbits.  Am I still a beauty hoarder though? I think I am, but this time is definitely on a smarter and crazier level.

 

By Ka Xiong

The Gorilla and the Boy

You can’t go too many places right now without hearing people talk about the little boy who “slipped” into a Gorilla cage at the Cincinnati Zoo recently. Depending on where you read your news, you could be hearing many accounts on this event. The accounts that really have my blood boil revolve around statements stating this is all the mom’s fault. The article on CNN included in their headline, ‘critics blame mother’. Really? Whether reports are true that this woman had 4 or 5 kids at the zoo with her that day, when a 4 year-old child gets something on his mind it is difficult to stop him from doing that so-called thing. If you turn your back for a second to, I don’t know, sneeze or attend to another child that may need a moment of your time, a 4 year-old on a mission can be yards away before you turn back around. In this case, this boy jumped himself right into the Gorilla habitat.

gorilla

As I read some of the comments on Facebook or other sites covering this story, I can’t help but think, I wonder if the people making comments against this mother ever had any children themselves. I know, before I had a child, I was one to say, “When I have kids, my child will never…” or “When I have kids, I will be the most attentive mom and my kids will NEVER…” Well, I had a kid. All the mistakes that I said I would never make or things I said MY kid would never do…they happened. So, I reference the verse in the Bible, John 8:7, “Let he without sin cast the first stone.” Therefore, I will NOT be quick to judge this poor woman, who is already beating herself up about this, and I will remember until I walk a mile in this woman’s shoes, I will not assume her parenting, or lack of parenting, is at fault in this situation.

Media’s Spin on Things

One other thing that bothered me about this particular coverage is the quote: “It is unfortunate that to save the life of a child, an animal had to be sacrificed.” I understand that there are animal activists that may just turn against me here, but when did animal rights become more important than the rights of humans? I understand this species of gorilla is an endangered species, but the zoo officials did what they deemed necessary. In a post by Amanda O’Donoughue,  an expert in zoology, she gives a good account of why the zoo had to make the decision they made. Wild animals are unpredictable and don’t rely on logic when spooked. I am sad that we lost another silverback gorilla and that the gorilla was only doing what he knew to do to protect himself, but if it were my kid that jumped overboard, I know what I would encourage the zoo officials to do.

Amanda O'Donoghue
Amanda O’Donoghue  feeding silverback gorilla (Facebook page photo)

As humans, we are pulled in by sensationalism. Stories like Cecil the Lion, Pit bulls that attack kids, and now “Gorilla-gate” are reported in a way where we don’t get all the facts at the beginning. People with cellphones are capturing video and posting them before police investigations are completed. Accusations are thrown out at the people in these stories before they have any time to share their side. I would love to see a day when the news is covered as just that, news, without the dramatic music, the sensationalism and the replay upon replay of devastating images that make my stomach turn.

Poor Killer Whales by: Camila Mercado-Michelli

quote

Since I was a young child I had a passion for animals. There was an immense curiosity in me for animals I can’t quiet explain. I admire how animals live in harmony and don’t create wars and kill for land, and how they accept life just the way it is. Humans in the other hand are very different. For many humans success means the failure of others. Some humans have even developed ways in where they can use animals to make money for themselves.  One of the ways they have decided to make money is by providing “Animal Entertainment” for high prices. Animal entertainment is when humans can incarcerate animals (until they are unable to perform anymore, which sometimes means death). One huge example and pretty famous in fact is Sea World. Sea World right now is the company that has more orcas captive than any other company in the world. They have 23 captive orcas at the time all scattered throughout three of their locations; Sea World Texas, Sea World Orlando, and Sea World California. From the 23 captive orcas, five of them are wild caught. Wild caught means they were captured, stolen from their families and then placed in a tank isolated from their home for ever. These unfortunate wild orcas will never be exposed again to their loved ones or ever swim free in their waters again. To me this is heart breaking but to others this is a money making machine. Tons and tons of people go each year to Sea World with their families to watch these magnificent creatures jump and splash right in front of their eyes. These events are truly mind blowing but at the same time they are cruel and inhumane. A lot of us do not know or even begin to comprehend the magnitude of torture these poor marine mammals go through in order to perform. Their whole life is taken away from them. I’ve been reading a lot about Orcas and how they behave in the wild and to my gathering of knowledge I have come to the conclusion that there is no way that a tank in Sea World could even get close to what it would feel to live in the ocean. A tank cannot mimic the wild standards of the ocean, not in this life or the next; tanks are just pools that have the basic necessities to just keep them alive, alive enough to make them perform until they die. Is this the way these animals should live? All their lives confined to a tiny space, a space that will never expand, a space they will never be able to leave. Imagine a human confined to his/her room for the rest of their life, and then been thrown raw meat to survive and supplement vitamins to substitute the lack of food that they can’t provide. How would this human feel? We don’t know he/she only interacts with the team that keeps him/her alive; he/she is only permitted to be exposed to those who “care” for him/her. That’s exactly how Sea World and other companies function, they say people express feelings for animals and they talk for them, but if you think about it, no one can go interview a Killer whale, no one can go up close and see how the killer whale feels. We all follow facts, scientists have placed facts out there for people to read, and people can inform themselves that the healthy living of these creatures will never be justified in captivity. A lot of people won’t agree with me or will try to find some justification to the practice of having animals’ captive, but no matter how you phrase it, animal captivity is horrifying. Just merging myself into that situation makes me shiver, being stolen from where I was born, and forced to perform for the rest of my life just sounds horrifying to me. Not only does this impact wild caught orcas but it also affect the ones that are a product of artificial insemination;  created in captivity. The killer whales that are conceived in captivity suffer a lot as well. So now that I have written about this, I want people to reflect and think about not just the whales but how are humans being allowed to do this. Who’s is given them permission to have animals in captivity in order to provide animal entertainment? Humans have to come together and boycott companies that provide these services, companies that make profit by keeping animals captive for the rest of their lives. The companies rely on us to survive, so if we the customers make the right choice, we can help the whales and shut these companies down. #killerwhales #orcas #captivitykills #seaworldmustclose #iloveorcas #freetheorcas 

http://www.seaworldofhurt.com/features/8-reasons-orcas-dont-belong-seaworld/

http://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/case-against-killer-whale-captivity/

http://us.whales.org/wdc-in-action/orcas-held-at-us-marine-parks-seaworld-and-miami-seaquarium

http://uk.whales.org/sites/default/files/orcas_currently_in_captivity_1013.pdf (pdf file of orcas held captive) 

Beagle Freedom Project

My dogs, incluidng my Beagle Elijah
My dogs Elijah and Olivia

Last summer I adopted a 2 month old Beagle puppy that we rescued from a puppy mill here in Minnesota. I did not know much about Beagles at the time, I just knew I wanted a medium sized dog and once I saw this cute puppy on the Wags & Whiskers adoption website I was a goner!

 When my co-worker (a dog lover like myself!)  found out I had adopted a Beagle, she told me I had to watch this video  from the Beagle Freedom project that showed Beagles who had lived their whole lives inside a research lab confined to metal cages, seeing sunshine and grass for the first time.

Saddened by this video, I started to do my own research and what I found out was startling!  There are many animals used for testing, but Beagles are the most common due to their good tempered nature. Many common products are tested on animals before being introducing to the general population. But many of these dogs are forced to live in very inhumane conditions, left in cages, abused, even having their vocal chords taken out so they do not disturb the lab workers. In my search I have seen countless photos of Beagles wearing gas masks, burnt, and bloodied.

This article from the Huffington Post chronicles just one story of abuse from a lab in North Carolina where 4 lab workers were charged with 14 felonies of animal abuse.

I realize that testing on animals has contributed to many life-saving cures and treatments, but there has to be a better way. There are many alternative testing methods such as In vitro (in glass) testing, where cell cultures are studied in a petri dish, and can produce more relevant results than animal testing because human cells can be used. Furthermore the FDA does not require testing on animals in order to develop products.

Animal testing is cruel and inhumane and only we can make a difference to put an end to Beagle torture by asking companies to stop using them (and other animals) to test their products!

 There is currently a Beagle Freedom Bill movement happening right here in Minnesota! This Bill will ensure that tax-payer funded laboratories in MN offer up the dogs and cats for public adoption through rescue organizations at the end of research.  Today, standard procedure is to summarily euthanize (destroy) all of these animals. 

To learn more and to join the movement, check out the Beagle Freedom website for more information, including a list of companies that test on Beagles.

 

Home 4 Life

Home 4 Life is a no-kill animal sanctuary located in the St. Croix Valley of Minnesota. They take on cats and dogs that are elderly, handicapped, ill or have behavioral challenges and provide them with shelter and medical attention for the duration of their life. They also do community outreach programs in the Twin Cities. This connects the dogs with people in nursing homes and hospitals. Home 4 Life is funded solely by donations. I ask you today to visit the site, browse some of the different animals stories, and consider donating your time or money to this wonderful organization.

Watch this short video to learn more

Donate!