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22 posts categorized "Animals" Feed

January 19, 2012

Ag Activist Balks at Popular "Working Lands" Bill


Top among Vermonters’ values is this: Ninety-seven percent of residents in the state say the “working landscape” is key to Vermont’s future. 

That’s according to questions asked in 2008 and 2009 by the Council on the Future of Vermont, which conducted what they’re calling the most comprehensive survey of Vermonters’ values in the state’s history. More so than any other value, Vermonters could agree on the fact that supporting farm- and forestland is important. Now, champions of the new “Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bill” are parlaying that support into a plan that backers say could revitalize Vermont’s farm and forestry economies.

The bill (known by Statehouse followers as H.496/S.246), is currently being reviewed by the House ag and commerce committes and the Senate ag and economic development committees. When the bill cropped up for a public hearing last night in Montpelier, the mood in the Statehouse meeting room was overwhelmingly supportive.

Groton farmers market manager Mary Berlejung said she’d watched farmland disappear first on Long Island, then in Fairfax County, Va., and didn’t want to see the same thing happen in Vermont. Montpelier resident and well-known writer Tom Slayton called the bill a “bold step” that would protect the working landscape that he called a signature of the state. From Bethel resident Carl Russell came this: “It’s about time.”

So… what’s not to like?

Continue reading "Ag Activist Balks at Popular "Working Lands" Bill" »

January 14, 2012

Temple Grandin to Speak at Vermont Grazing and Livestock Conference

GrandinThere’s exciting news for the ag aficionados out there: Temple Grandin is coming to town.

Well, she's coming to Fairlee, Vt., which might be a bit of a hike for some. But the trip is worth taking: Grandin is a pioneering thinker in livestock handling, behavior and processing — in other words, the real deal (and something of a rock star, in my humble opinion as an amateur cattle farmer).

Grandin is speaking on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the 16th annual Vermont Grazing and Livestock Conference. (If you're not interested in attending the whole conference, you can buy a $10 ticket to Grandin's talk.) Perhaps best known for her work in slaughterhouse innovation — equipment she designed is used in half of all cattle processing facilities in North America — Grandin has written bestselling books on animal behavior, consulted for corporations such as McDonald’s on animal welfare, and inspired the excellent HBO biopic Temple Grandin.

Continue reading "Temple Grandin to Speak at Vermont Grazing and Livestock Conference" »

January 12, 2012

Going Once, Going Twice! Mobile Slaughterhouse on the Auction Block

Auction1In the market for a slaughterhouse? You’re not alone: As of Thursday morning, the website Auctions International had logged 152 bids — and counting — for the state of Vermont's mobile poultry-processing unit.

Think “Pimp My Ride” gone poultry: Custom designed and built for the state, the 36-foot trailer comes with kill cones, an eviscerating trough, turkey broiler shackles (whatever those are) and a giblet station, to name just a few features.

The state purchased the unit in 2008 for $93,000, using $85,000 in legislative funding, in addition to private foundation money. On Thursday morning, bidding hovered around $19,100 — but it’s too early to call the auction a fire sale.

Continue reading "Going Once, Going Twice! Mobile Slaughterhouse on the Auction Block" »

January 10, 2012

State Police Seize Six Malnourished Horses From Jeffersonville Man

Rick Fletcher's Horses 090911 (20)

**Updated Below With New Photos of Seized Horses**

State police and animal welfare agents seized six horses from a Jeffersonville man over the weekend. The action follows a December 14 story in Seven Days about the malnourished draft horses and the lack of good enforcement in large-animal cruelty cases in Vermont.

Vermont State Police spokesperson Stephanie Dasaro confirms that authorities executed a search warrant on Sunday and several of the horses were seized. Their owner, Rick Fletcher, was charged with animal cruelty.

Fletcher was first investigated for animal cruelty in July after the Vermont Humane Federation passed on to police an anonymous tip about the starving horses. A large-animal vet found the horses malnourished and covered in botflies (indicating a lack of deworming), but determined their lives were not in jeopardy.

Police said the horses would be monitored, but it was a month before anyone checked on the animals again. In September, the VHF received new, anonymous photos (above and below) showing the horses thinner than ever — and again passed them on to police.

Continue reading "State Police Seize Six Malnourished Horses From Jeffersonville Man" »

September 01, 2011

Taking Stock Of Vermont's Pets And Farm Animals Affected By Irene's Flooding

 As state and federal disaster-relief workers shift from rescue to recovery mode in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, officials from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, as well as nonprofit animal-welfare advocates are only now beginning to assess the full scope of the impact on the state's non-human victims.

Due to limited communications in the initial days after the storm, little was known about how Vermont's animal population fared. However, reports of dairy farms and livestock affected by the flood waters are on the rise, as is the need for critical supplies such as feed, generators, fuel and temporary fencing.

"We have barns that are completely gone and no shelter for the animals," says Koi Boynton at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. "People have to get water to animals, get milk trucks to dairy farms and people who don’t have feed because it washed away. You name it, we’re dealing with it."

Thus far, there have been only scattered reports of animals lost in the floods, among them a dairy farm in southern Vermont that lost seven heifers, Boynton says. Jericho Settlers Farm in Richmond (pictured above) reportedly lost 15 pigs when the farm was washed out.

"Those numbers are fairly small right now and we’re hoping they stay that way," Boynton adds. "But we still need the opportunity to go out and assess, so we don’t have the full picture yet."

Continue reading "Taking Stock Of Vermont's Pets And Farm Animals Affected By Irene's Flooding" »

August 16, 2011

VT Fisherman Caught With Radio-Tracked Atlantic Salmon in Freezer

Atlantic SalmonA Bethel angler was busted for reportedly taking home a 31-inch Atlantic salmon he caught in the White River, and reporting it as a brown trout.

Brown_troutRyan McCullough faces a $1500 fine and loss of his fishing license for three years for not accurately identifying his catch, according to Vermont Fish & Wildlife. A press release states that McCullough was fishing downstream of the federal fish hatchery in Stockbridge on July 25 when he hooked and landed a 9.5-pound, 31.5-inch-long fish that turned out to be an andromous Atlantic Salmon (top). He reportedly "misidentified" it as a brown trout (bottom) and took it home to have it stuffed.

How did McCullough get caught? In a press release, Fish & Wildlife offers this (perhaps) unintentionally hilarious explanation:

"A photo of the fish appeared in the local newspaper. Fisheries biologists who had previously put radio transmitters in Atlantic salmon that had migrated upstream in the Connecticut to spawn noticed the photo. They also discovered one of the two salmon they were monitoring in the White River was now transmitting its signal from dry land in Bethel. ...The missing salmon was located in a freezer in Bethel."

Continue reading "VT Fisherman Caught With Radio-Tracked Atlantic Salmon in Freezer" »

August 15, 2011

Actor Needed: Calm Demeanor, Good Stage Presence, Current Distemper Shot a Must

200px-OfMiceAndMenThere have been times when Green Mountain thespians have complained that Vermont theater is going to the dogs. This week, that's not an entirely unfair observation.

The Middlebury Actors Workshop has put out a casting call of the four-legged variety. Specifically, they're looking for a mangy old mutt for an "important role" in the upcoming production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

"We are looking for an extremely old, docile shepherd or mutt, although any medium- to large-breed dog would work," the notice reads. "The dog is described in the script as being on its last legs. Most important is that it is calm and not too distractible. No appointment necessary."

What constitutes an "important role" for a canine that doesn't involve sniffing out explosives on planes or finding lost children? As Director Melissa Lourie explains, Steinbeck's classic novella, about Depression-era fieldworkers George Milton and Lennie Small, includes an old ranch hand named Candy, who has just one hand. Candy has an ancient, smelly dog who is stinking up the bunkhouse. Eventually, the other ranch hands force Candy to put the old dog out of its misery.

"It's kind of a foreshadowing of the death of Lenny and hits on those themes that when you're old and useless, you get taken out and shot," Lourie explains, "which is what Candy is afraid will happen to him, too."

Continue reading "Actor Needed: Calm Demeanor, Good Stage Presence, Current Distemper Shot a Must" »

August 09, 2011

Alice Eats: Stowe Dogs

1880 Mountain Rd. at the Gale Farm Shopping Center, Stowe, 253-7785

IMG_2624 You'll see plenty of dogs eating outdoors on Church Street in Burlington, but to enjoy air conditioning with your pup, there's only one eatery that I know of. I don't have a dog, but when I hit Stowe Dogs this weekend, I befriended several, and got a tasty lunch out of the deal.

As indicated at right, nearly every surface at Stowe Dogs, including walls and tables, is loaded with photos of pups who have visited from as far away as Chile and the Netherlands. I looked at them all and have a favorite, but I'll never tell...

The one bit of wall not dog-eared is the white-board menu. Naturally, dogs are the focus there, too.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Stowe Dogs" »

July 27, 2011

State Police and Humane Society Workers Raid Unlicensed Bakersfield Puppy Mill

PUPPY_MILL__2 Vermont State Police and an animal rescue task force from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) seized 54 dogs Tuesday from a Bakersfield puppy mill, where the animals were allegedly being housed in cruel and unsanitary conditions. (Watch an HSUS video of the rescue here.)

Police and animal welfare workers arrived at the Bakersfield home of Karen Maple, 48, to find scores of Labrador retrievers, both adults and puppies, crowded into small, wire, feces-encrusted pens, as well as numerous dogs running free. Many were malnourished and suffering from a variety of medical conditions, including dehydration and untreated wounds. The HSUS alleges that the property owner was illegally selling puppies over the internet and via local classified ads to unsuspecting consumers. Maple now faces charges of animal cruelty as well as assault on a police officer.

"I can’t tell you what the scene was like. Words just fail me," says Tom Ayres, president and CEO of the Chittenden County Humane Society, which participated in a rescue operation that stretched from Tuesday morning until late in the night. "The conditions that these dogs were in and the condition of the property was just horrific."

Continue reading "State Police and Humane Society Workers Raid Unlicensed Bakersfield Puppy Mill" »

April 14, 2011

Bernie Sanders: Man of the people...and other two-legged primates

Never let it be said that Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont's self-described socialist and man of the people, doesn't give a damn about all working stiffs, be they human or tree-swinging variety. On Wednesday, Sanders was one of the lead sponsors of S.810, also known as the "Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act," which would ban "invasive research" on chimpanzees and send all government-owned chimps into early retirement at private sanctuaries within three years.

The bill, introduced yesterday, enjoys broad bipartisan support and had nearly 170 cosponsors when it was first introduced last year. Its backers include the Physician’s Committee on Responsible Medicine, as well as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Sanders joins Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) who are also looking to protect humanity's closest genetic relative.

At a DC press conference yesterday, Michael Markarian, HSUS's executive vice president of external affairs, reported that between 80 and 90 percent of the chimps currently in U.S.-run labs are no longer being used in active research, but are essentially warehoused at taxpayers' expense.

Under a federal law passed in 2000, government-owned lab chimps must be cared for throughout for their entire lives and cannot be euthanized. The price tag for Uncle Sam's simian safety net: about $44 per day, per chimp, or $25 million to $30 million annually. That'll buy a shit-ton of bananas.


In 2009, The HSUS released the results of a comprehensive undercover investigation of the New Iberia Research Center, part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the largest chimp lab in the world with more than 325 chimpanzees. This investigation revealed the psychological and physical suffering that chimps are forced to endure every day — some for more than 50 years. According to Markarian, one elderly chimp, named Karen, was captured in the wild in the 1950s and has been languishing in the lab since Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House. Another, named Kitty (seen here in an HSUS photo), was caught in the wild and estimated to be 49 years old. For most of her life, Kitty was kept in captivity and used to breed as many as 14 babies, which were taken from her and later used in animal experiments.

Continue reading "Bernie Sanders: Man of the people...and other two-legged primates" »

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