Scientists, Poets, Changemakers and Heroes (Volunteer Opportunities & Action Alerts)

Monday, October 26th, 2009

There are several “actionable items” – not quite action alerts, but rather opportunities for participation, if that makes sense – I’ve been meaning to share, but just haven’t had the time to blog about in depth. Rather than neglect these projects altogether, here’s a handy-dandy roundup. Please scan through each item and help out where you can; these virtual volunteer opportunities are perfect for activists who have more extra time than they do money!

1. Science

It really chaps my rotund hide when speciesists claim that animal advocates are “anti-science.” Being all diverse and stuff, I’m sure the animal rights and welfare movements are home to a fair share of science-averse humans, but for the most part, we’re hardly anti-science. On the contrary: many of us harness the power of scientific research to demonstrate that veganism is a healthier alternative to “meat” and dairy consumption; that nonhuman animals can experience complex thoughts and emotions; that our exploitation of nonhumans animals is both unnecessary and harmful; etc., etc., etc. (you get the idea). On the whole, I don’t think we’re any more anti-science than our omni counterparts.

Personally, I love science; once upon a time, I wanted to be a clinical psychologist, specializing in anthrozoology and world vegan (then vegetarian, but wev) domination. I still peruse research articles and scientific journals (of a social nature) on occasion, just for the fun of it. No, it’s not science per se that I take issue with. Rather, I object to the imprisonment, torture, killing and exploitation of sentient, non-consenting animals, usually for redundant and frivolous research.

So I’ve become increasingly interested in “vegan” science, particularly in supporting such endeavors whenever possible. For example, I would love to donate my body to science when I die. The thought of spending my “afterlife” rotting away on a body farm somewhere brings a smile to my face; doubly so if my remains can save a nonhuman animal from being birthed, tortured and killed in the name of science. Oooh, Dr. Brennan, pick me, pick me!

Anyhow, when I saw an ad for research volunteers in the latest issue of Best Friends magazine, I immediately fired off an email to Dr. Frank McMillan to see how I might help. He pointed me to five open surveys, all of which are related to studies he’s conducting at Best Friends (as described here):

Dr. Franklin McMillan has been the director of well-being studies at Best Friends since October 2007. As director of well-being studies, Dr. Frank assesses and studies the mental health and emotional well-being of animals who have endured hardship, adversity and psychological trauma. Through these studies, he hopes to learn what the effects of trauma are – the psychological injuries and scars – and how best to treat them in order to restore to these animals a life of enjoyment rather than one of fear and emotional distress.

He is currently conducting such studies on cats from the Great Kitty Rescue in Pahrump, Nevada – an institutionalized hoarding situation – and the fighting dogs taken from the estate of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

(More below the fold…)

"…even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings…"

Thursday, May 21st, 2009


Sound of a Battery Hen


You can tell me: if you come by the
North door, I am in the twelfth cage
On the left-hand side of the third row
From the floor; and in that cage
I am usually the middle one of eight or six or three.
But even without directions, you’d
Discover me. We have the same pale
Comb, clipped yellow beak and white or auburn
Feathers, but as the door opens and you
Hear above the electric fan a kind of
One-word wail, I am the one
Who sounds loudest in my head.

Over the past few months, I’ve written a series of posts on the themes of motherhood, maternal exploitation and deprivation, and the intersection of speciesism and sexism in Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals. Previously, I discussed examples of these vis-à-vis “pork production” and the “dairy industry.”

While Masson also explores the exploitation of sheep, goats, ducks and chickens in The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, the mother-child bond between a mother hen and her chicks receives the most attention of these remaining groups – so I’ll conclude my discussion with a look at “egg production.”

Photo via Jeanette’s Ozpix

In previous posts, I noted how female non-human animals (like their human counterparts) are especially vulnerable to exploitation because of their reproductive systems. Their ability to give birth – oftentimes referred to as a “miracle” in humans – makes them particularly valuable as the producers of future “commodities.” Their value, unfortunately, does not lead to preferential treatment from their captors. Instead, they suffer especially brutal and prolonged abuse.

As such, females become machines, assembly lines, destined to produce milk, eggs, flesh – and a replacement generation of baby-, milk- and/or egg- machines:

By the mere fact of their sex, sows, hens, ewes, does, nannies, cows and heifers – not to mention mares, bitches, jennies, jills, etc. – are ripe for especially brutal and prolonged exploitation. Oftentimes, this involves a constant cycle of pregnancy, birth, nursing and baby-napping, culminating with the female’s own death when she’s no longer able to breed or “produce” to her “owner’s” satisfaction.

Certainly, we recognize that the theft of a mother’s child is an atrocity when the victims are human mothers and children. At the same time, we argue that non-human animals deserve no rights because they are mere brutes, “lesser” beings, ruled by instinct and instinct alone. Yet, what is the drive to reproduce and parent if not an evolutionary instinct? And if we follow the popular line of reasoning – i.e., animals are creatures of instinct – does it not stand to reason that the maternal instinct is especially powerful in non-human animals?

Many – if not most – non-veg*ns find it difficult to relate to non-human animals, who (supposedly) are so different from us. At a fundamental level, our differing modes of communication make cross-species communication more difficult, particularly when one species (that would be us) has little interest in communication (and mutual understanding and respect) to begin with. Even so, many humans live with “pets,” the majority being dogs and cats; and, as we’ve come to recognize certain expressions and non-verbal cues in these mammals, such empathy can be extended to other, similar species – such as cows and pigs.

(More below the fold…)

To Kaylee, Our Sweetest Girl

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

I was looking back through some of my babydoggy posts, and realized that I forgot to share the poem that Shane wrote for Kaylee last September. (Here are Ralphie and Peedee’s odes; O-Ren and Jayne are still waiting on theirs.) So here it be, along with some photos of my babygirl. Sweetest dog ever, she is. And shiny, too!


2007-07-17 - Dogs Outside - 0029

Kaylee the sweet with the very big teeth,
Come sit here and stay very near
I’ll pet your head, as you go to bed

Kaylee the wise, with your soulful eyes
Let me feed, and give what you need
I’ll give you dinner, so you stay thinner

Kaylee the mother, like no other
Go outside and run, and have some fun
I’ll watch you close, forgetting my woes

Kaylee our friend, a rat terrier blend
Time to scratch your ears, throughout the years
I’ll always praise, those adoption days

Kaylee our girl, running around in a whirl
I’ll put you on the bed, pat your head
I’ll drift asleep, with Kaylee in contented sleep

– Shane Brady, September 3, 2007

(More below the fold…)

Happy Birthday, SweetPeedee Monster!

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Even though Shane wrote this poem to our “second-born” (adopted, really…he’s only the third-oldest, after Ralphie and Kaylee) months ago, today seems a fitting day to crosspost it here. Our little baby turns five (!) today! Seems like only yesterday, he was a wee little pup, peeing on my doormat at 2 in the morning, while I struggled frantically to get my shoes on and let him and his untrained bladder outside. Sigh. Them were the days.

Happy birthday, Mr. Peedee.


2004-01-11 - PeedeeTable2-009

Peedee is bright eyed and full of bark
Just looking at him you know he’s smart
Opening doors to get at his treat
He knows a hundred words on when to eat

He runs as fast as the wind goes
Stops and checks the air with his nose
He knows things are about to go down
His mind sparks and covers all ground

He looks at other dogs and scoffs
Only he knows the toys and payoffs
He can see where he last left them
And if someone moves them, mayhem

He jumps to the window at the slightest sound
Looking for any living creature around
Sometimes it’s kids, sometimes it’s a bunny
To Peedee, trespassers aren’t funny

He checks out every window knowing each view
He’ll double check each one before he’s through
His bark and howl, bring all dogs to his spot
He’s in command of the canine onslaught

Cunning he leaves the dogs behind
He has his mother to search and find
Hopping onto her lap, he curls into a ball
Once again, he outsmarted them all

– Shane Brady, June 18, 2007

(More below the fold…)

Shane Worships the Wiener

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Not that I blame him, when said wiener looks this good.

2004-08-06 - RalphieBikini-006

Yes, our wiener dog sure is some kind of stud. Yes, I said “dog”. Now get your mind out of the gutter, ya perve.

Seriously, though, Shane has taken up penning poetry dedicated to our canines in his spare time. Which is totally awesome – I love critter lit! Doubly so when it’s dedicated to my very own furbabies.

So here’s Shane, worshiping Ralphie the wiener dog. More gratuitous wiener shots after the flip. (What? Throw enough “wiener-minus-the-dog” phrases in there, and the traffic on this post will, errr, “shoot” through the roof. Come for the porn, stay for the animal rights activism?)


2004-01-11 - RalphieTire2-010

He never sees a hole not to dig
He never stops his breakfast jig
His bark is loud, constant, and deep
He gives us so many memories to keep

His snout slightly grayed and covered in mud
His body, long and lean, a true canine stud
He loves to sleep , curl up and snore
Taking care of him is never a chore

He loves to take walks, and trot along
He’s great on a leash, never does wrong
Just say “Walk” and that tail wags
His nose to the ground, he never lags

He grunts, and snarls, to rule the home
He’s the king of where he roams
Sitting on the top of his sofa throne
Keeping all away from his treasure bone

Then at night, he runs on ahead
In the room, up the ramp, onto bed
He puts his head down for a dream
As quiet and content as he ever seems

He softly barks at dreamland prey
Never catching what he sees every day
We always smile at Ralphie at rest
Of all our dogs, he sleeps the best

– Shane Brady, May 31, 2007

(More below the fold…)

Boy Anachronism (Or, "What, us? Sick of WAR?")

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Living Graves

We are the living graves of murdered beasts,
Slaughtered to satisfy our appetites.
We never pause to wonder at our feasts,
If animals, like men, can possibly have rights.
We pray on Sundays that we may have light,
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread.
We’re sick of war, we do not want to fight –
The thought of it now fills our hearts with dread,
And yet – we gorge ourselves upon the dead.

Living Graves (PETA2)

Like carrion crows we live and feed on meat,
Regardless of the suffering and the pain
we cause by doing so, if thus we treat
defenceless animals for sport or gain,
how can we hope in this world to attain,
the PEACE we say we are so anxious for.
We pray for it o’er hecatombs of slain,
to God, while outraging the moral law,
thus cruelty begets its offspring – WAR.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)



Voice of the Voiceless

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Voice of the Voiceless

So many gods, so many creeds,
So Many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.

I am the voice of the voiceless:
Through me, the dumb shall speak;
Till the Deaf world’s ear be made to hear
The cry of the wordless weak.

From street, from cage and from kennel,
From jungle and stall, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
Of the mighty against the frail

For love is the true religion,
And love is the law sublime;
And all is wrought, where love is not
Will die at the touch of time.

Oh shame on the mothers of mortals
Who have not stopped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
The sorrow that has no speech.

The same Power formed the sparrow
That fashioned man-the King;
The God of the whole gave a living soul
To furred and to feathered thing.

And I am my brother’s keeper,
And I will fight his fight;
And speak the word for beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)

Picture by ~OM~ Bhardwaj



On Christmas Morning

Monday, December 25th, 2006

On Christmas Morning…

I wish,

For every dog
searching trash cans for breakfast,
a filled bowl with his name printed in bright letters.

For every dog
who slept fitfully last night, chained in a frozen yard, a soft, warm
bed with a person snoring gently nearby.

For every shelter dog,
spending Christmas morning in a soiled run, a forever home, filled with
sounds and smells of family.

For every “Christmas” puppy given today,
a tolerant, caring owner
who won’t abandon you
as you grow into a real dog.

For every ailing pet,
enough money for your owner
to pay the bills to make you well.

For every lost dog,
a clear, safe road, and well marked path,
to lead you home.

For every old and tired friend,
a warm fire, and a soft bed,
to ease your aches and pains.


For every Heart Dog at the Bridge,
a moment when you know that you
are remembered today,
missed again,
and loved forever.

– Author unknown




On Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

A Rescue Pet’s Animal’s Christmas Poem

‘Tis the night before Christmas and all through the town,
every shelter is full – we are lost but not found.
Our numbers are hung on our kennels so bare,
we hope every minute that someone will care.

They’ll come to adopt us and give us the call,
“Come here, Max and Sparkie – come fetch your new ball!!”
But now we sit here and think of the days
we were treated so fondly – we had cute, baby ways.

Once we were little, then we grew and we grew,
now we’re no longer young and we’re no longer new.
So out the back door we were thrown like the trash,
they reacted so quickly – why were they so rash?

We “jump on the children:, “don’t come when they call”,
we “bark when they leave us”, climb over the wall.
We should have been neutered, we should have been spayed,
now we suffer the consequence of the errors THEY made.

If only they’d trained us, if only we knew,
we’d have done what they asked us and worshiped them, too.
We were left in the backyard, or worse – left to roam,
now we’re tired and lonely and out of a home.

They dropped us off here and they kissed us good-bye,
“Maybe someone else will give you a try.”
So now here we are, all confused and alone,
in a shelter with others who long for a home.

The kind workers come through with a meal and a pat,
with so many to care for, they can’t stay to chat.
They move to the next kennel, giving each of us cheer,
we know that they wonder how long we’ll be here.

We lay down to sleep and sweet dreams fill our heads,
of a home filled with love and our own cozy beds.
Then we wake to see sad eyes, brimming with tears,
our friends filled with emptiness, worry, and fear.

If you can’t adopt us and there’s no room at the Inn,
could you help with the bills and fill our food bin?
We count on your kindness each day of the year,
can you give more than hope to everyone here?
FEMA 17806
Please make a donation to pay for the heat
and help get us something special to eat.
The shelter that cares for us wants us to live,
and more of us will, if more people will give.

– Author Unknown




Now *that’s* rich.

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

A little holiday ditty via the ACLU. You know – the so-called “defenders of civil liberties” who, shall we say, “tacitly” supported the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).

An Overdue Visit

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the nation
Friends of Freedom knew it was a special occasion.
Lady Liberty stood taller just off the shore
Her torch shining brighter than a few weeks before

But it wasn’t the flame turning her cheeks all rosy
It was thoughts of Snowe, Feingold and Nancy Pelosi
And leaders from every side of the aisle
Who would soon bring the Bill of Rights back into style.

The Amendments had all hurried out of their beds –
Which was no easy task, they were nearly in shreds –
And they rushed to the window on papery feet
As a jolly old man flew right over their street.

“Could it be!?” they inquired as the roof shook and trembled
And they crept toward the mantle, peaceably assembled,
Just as someone emerged from the chimney with flair
In a shiny red suit, with a shock of white hair

And a top hat, and pants all in red, white and blue –
“Wait a minute,” the Amendments exclaimed, “Who are you?”
“Don’t be frightened my children,” he said, “it’s no scam.
“You can’t have forgotten your old Uncle Sam!”

“Holy crap!” said Free Speech. “Stop right there!” yelled Bear Arms
And Privacy cried “Who shut off the alarms?!”
The Fifth remained silent, but Uncle Sam said
“We’ve been having some trouble, but Freedom’s not dead.”

The Amendments were cautious. “It’s just been so long
“We’ve seen Liberty lost, we’ve seen so much go wrong.
“The President’s trying to mangle and warp us,
“The Fourth is in tatters, so’s Habeas Corpus!”

The old man sat down – he had had quite a ride –
But he told them “Don’t worry, the Law’s on our side,
“‘Cause the nation’s fed up and more people are crying
“For Justice and an end to illegal spying,

“And secret abductions by the CIA,
“And laws that would take women’s choices away,
“And Gitmo tribunals and secret detention,
“And other intrusions too numerous to mention – ”

“Not so fast,” said a grinchity voice from above
And Don Rumsfeld pushed past the Fourteenth with a shove.
He was covered in soot and he looked kind of scary.
It seemed like his Christmas had not been so merry.

The Amendments said they weren’t happy to see him:
“You tried to throw all of us in the museum!
“You’ve done so much the Constitution forbids!”
“And I would have gone on, but for you meddling kids!”

Uncle Sam told him “Rummy, your plans just won’t do,
“So we’ve got a brand new timetable for you!”
And as Rumsfeld retired and crept into the night
The Amendments cried out “Have a good secret flight!”

From the distance they heard him reply with a snort.
“Bye-bye, Rummy!” they answered, “we’ll see you in court!”
Uncle Sam rode the chimney up out of the room
And, like Frosty, he said “I’ll be back again soon.”

But they heard him exclaim “Oh, and just one more thing!
“This year, when the holiday bells start to ring,
“Try to honor religion. Honest faith can’t be wrong.
“It’s America, can’t we all just get along?

“So, on Christian,” he cried, “Muslim, Hindu, and Jew!
“On Quaker! On Shaker! And Atheist too!
“On Buddhist! On Taoist! And to show we’re not chickens
“We’ll file a few lawsuits defending the Wiccans!

“Your belief is your right, so get out there and savor it.
“Uncle Sam’s not a preacher, and he doesn’t play favorites!”
So this holiday season, whatever you do,
Warmest wishes for Freedom, from the ACLU.

Just as long as you don’t – *gasp* – agitate for animals.
In that case, g’luck at Gitmo, sucka.



Today, I Give Thanks… by Brenda Shoss

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at]
Date: Nov 23, 2006 4:17 PM
Subject: Today, I Give Thanks…

Permission to cross-post

11/23/06: Today, I Give Thanks…
From Kinship Circle

By Brenda Shoss

Today I give thanks for each faceless victim pulled from dark waters…

For fluids and needles poked through paper skin.
For infinite food left in forgotten cities…
And the glimmer of foil pans filled with water.
For recognition of life in vacant eyes.
Love revisited…
And the promise of a warm lap.
Today I give thanks to rescuers
And recall untold mercy, selfless and vast.

Today I give thanks to those who inhabit my home…

One born in a puppy mill
Another dumped on a road
A kitten retrieved from floodwaters
And a cat claimed from death row.
For bottomless love…
Left in whispers upon my face
Wound around arms and legs
Sloshed in wet kisses
Asleep at my feet.

Today I give thanks for the blessed few among billions…

Freed from sunless warehouses
To flutter a wing
Stretch a leg
And peck warm dirt
Curious eyes over blunt, severed beaks
Once factory-farm trash,
Now someone’s treasure.

Today I give thanks for a world…

Where laws can change,
Views transform…
And hope rebounds in the eyes of an animal.
Where tumult, pain, joy, courage and stamina
speak inside a single creature’s eyes…
Crushing indifference
Rousing nameless deaths
And stirring empathy
Where there once was none.

Today, I give thanks for miracles…

Born in a son
Who is compassion and light.
Innocence unearthed,
With no distinction between animals on a leash,
in a stall, a lab or a cage.

For his love of “effa-lants”
And creepy-crawlers…
For ordering the birds to spare the worms…
And simply asking,
“Mommy, why do some people hurt animals?”

And I give thanks everyday, for each one of you…



In unity with animals,

Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle