As the second half of the 2003/2004 Washington State Legislative session nears, PAWS is working hard to bring about final passage of House Bill 1151, our legislation to restrict the private ownership of wild animals. At the close of the first half of the session in April, HB 1151 had passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 60-34. We received a hearing before the Senate Health and Long-Term Care committee and although compelling testimony was provided and the bill was well received by the committee members, we were unable to move the bill past that point. "We look forward to continuing to work with supportive legislators to make the necessary amendments and are confident that we will come back with a stronger version that will pass next year," said Jennifer Hillman, PAWS Advocacy Campaign Coordinator.
Animals such as tigers, lions, cougars, wolves, bears and monkeys are inappropriate as companion animals. Wild animals held captive as "pets" often experience extreme suffering as a result of improper habitat and diet and complete lack of physical and mental stimulation. And because they are wild animals, they can present a serious safety and health risk to the public as they behave unpredictably and can carry deadly zoonotic diseases that can transmit to humans. "Because PAWS operates a highly successful companion animal shelter and a wildlife rehabilitation center, we are in a credible position to argue the inappropriateness of wild animals kept as pets," explained Hillman. "It's time to pass this legislation in Washington State."
It is imperative for supporters to contact their State Senators and Representatives and ask them to please SUPPORT HB 1151. Find out who represents you in the state legislature –visit www.leg.wa.gov or call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Sign up to be kept informed and take action on HB 1151 through PAWS Legislative Email Alert list, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAWS has benefited from the skill and generosity of several groups of volunteers who have come to improve our facilities and grounds. From corporate groups to Boy Scout troops, civic organizations and singles groups, all have helped with rebuilding our dog walking trail, cleaning and reorganizing spaces, painting and beautifying our campus. If you have a group of adults who wish to donate their time in a similar team-building event, please contact PAWS at 425.787.2500 x270.
PAWS Dog Behavior Helpline has highly-trained volunteers ready to answer questions about problem behaviors people are experiencing with their dogs at home. This excellent resource can be accessed at www.paws.org/cas/helpline/, or for people without internet access, at 425.787.2500 x852. The cat behavior helpline is being developed now. If you have knowledge about and a love for cats and are interested in volunteering in this important way, please contact Hilary at 425.787.2500 x828.
PAWS Animal Shelter and radio station 98.9 FM Smooth Jazz KWJZ joined forces to help our feline friends find a new home. Each week during the promotion five cats were featured and many of our long-timer kitties found adoring homes. Adopters received gifts, including CDs and concert tickets. Thanks to 98.9 FM Smooth Jazz KWJZ and especially on-air personalities Dianna Rose and Carol Handley, who created a buzz for PAWS and our special kitties by "talking up" the promotion and the joy they experience spending time with their own feline friends.
In October, the Ould Triangle in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood was packed with PAWS supporters enjoying a good pint, great company, vegetarian food, and a raffle. The event raised $1,700 for the wildlife center's raccoon cage project. Thanks to pub owners Tracey and Finbar Woods and Ray Carney, to the bands Raybone Experience and Klondike 5, and to Maritime Brewery, Hale's Brewery, Western Washington Beverage, and Ron Anderson, chef at Molly Maguire's.
Barb Kivi, fondly known as the "the quilt lady," has over the last few years sewn hundreds of beautiful hand-made cat "quilts" for our feline friends at Cat City. These colorful soft blankets, in various sizes and colors, are perfectly sized for the cats. We send purrs to Barb for sewing her way into our hearts.
Thanks to the generosity of one of our foster care parents we purchased several digital thermometers for our foster care and medical programs. Hundreds of tiny foster kittens have already benefited from these frequently used, high-quality pieces of medical equipment.
Rachelle Anderson, another kind foster parent, gets a special nod for recently assisting us with some late-night arrivals. Three baby kittens were brought to the wildlife center well after the shelter was closed for the night. Rachelle agreed to come to PAWS after 9:00 p.m. to take these little charges home. Since April, Rachelle and her daughter have fostered 34 bottle feeders, including these late night arrivals. Many thanks to Rachelle and all of our wonderful foster homes for helping our most delicate of patients, day and night!
Dr. Anand Ramanathan, veterinarian and emergency relief manager for the Wildlife Trust of India, spent several weeks at the PAWS Wildlife Center during September. Dr. Ramanathan worked with PAWS wildlife staff veterinarians, observing prodeedures and gaining some experience with North American wildlife species. He also gave an interesting presentation about the Trust's work in India and the unique issues they face.
Twenty years ago World Farm Animals Day was launched as a day dedicated to exposing and memorializing the suffering and deaths of 50 billion innocent, feeling animals in the world's factory farms and slaughterhouses (10 billion of which are in the U.S. alone). WFAD is held every year on October 2nd, chosen specifically to coincide with the birthdate of Mahatma Gandhi, who was an active promoter of vegetarianism and kindness to all animals. To observe the day, PAWS staff and volunteers enjoyed vegan culinary delights, and educational exhibits and material related to vegetarianism and the effects of the meat and dairy industries on animals, health and the environment. Promoting vegetarianism and thereby improving the quality of life for animals is central to PAWS' mission. PAWS also participates in other events during the year that encourage people to forego meat-based diets in favor of animal-friendly diets, such as Turkey Free Thanksgiving (an annual potluck dinner in Seattle sponsored by EarthShare) and The Great American Meatout (encouraging people on the first day of Spring each year to kick the meat habit, at least for a day). To learn more about the treatment of farm animals and how you can pursue an animal-friendly lifestyle, visit PAWS advocacy information at www.paws.org.
PAWS believes that animals have as much right as humans to live lives free of pain and suffering. It is important for all of us to sincerely understand the conditions experienced by millions of animals in America's research facilities, for the reality is disturbing and grim.
First, we must distinguish between medical research and the frivolous, wasteful testing of consumer products and industrial chemicals. Regardless of the public's view of using animals to save human lives, many reasonable people are understandably opposed to animals being tortured in the testing of cosmetics and household products, especially when they learn that such research is often not required by law, and that viable non-animal testing methods have rendered the most inhumane procedures unnecessary. The majority of people would probably be willing to forego adding yet another kind of scented bleach or a thirteenth brand of drain cleaner to supermarket shelves if they knew those products were routinely put into the stomachs and sensitive eyes of rabbits and other animals.
Second, we must acknowledge the fact that beloved companion animals are sold by the millions into laboratory testing. According to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), "About half of the dogs and cats used in laboratories are former pets who have been taken from animal shelters (known as "pound seizure") or purchased from brokers who acquire the animals at auctions, from newspaper ads, or from various other sources." PAWS has knowledge of such animal brokers, known as “bunchers,” who are operating in the Puget Sound area. These unscrupulous brokers have been known to pose as loving adopters, even bringing children with them when responding to “free to good home” ads in local newspapers.
Thirdly, we must banish the myth that all animals used in research are spared undue pain and suffering because they are always provided anesthesia… we sadly know this is also not the case. Government statistics provided on research conducted in Washington State indicate that 30.4 percent of the testing conducted on animals involves unrelieved pain. Because the introduction of pain-relieving drugs into the suffering animal's bloodstream might skew the results of certain invasive experiments, anesthetics are withheld nearly one-third of the time in our state (more in some other states).
Society will continue to grapple with the ethical implications of using several million animals in biomedical and product testing each year. As the debate over how much pain and distress our species should be allowed to inflict on other creatures continues to play out, the public deserves an accurate picture of the widespreadand unnecessary suffering that is endured by animals in the name of science. According to a survey conducted for The HSUS by an independent polling firm, 75 percent of Americans disapprove of animal testing that causes the animals to suffer. PAWS will continue to advocate strongly and passionately for these animals and bring voice to their suffering. For details please visit www.paws.org/work/advocacy.
Dr. Liz Helmer, PAWS Companion Animal Shelter veterinarian, works long hours and still has time to volunteer in the community. Over the past year she assisted at a low-cost microchipping clinic sponsored by Safeway and was a guest on “Ask the Vet,” a Sunday-morning radio show on KVI, where she discussed PAWS' work and various aspects of shelter medicine. Dr. Liz also volunteered at the Doney Clinic, a non-profit free veterinary clinic for homeless, low-income and elderly of downtown Seattle.
Dr. Liz is but one example of how the volunteer efforts of our staff extends compassion and caring throughout the community.