This category contains 24 posts

Bullfighting Ban Proposed in Spain

A 'noble art'

UPDATE: The ban was passed into law by the Parliament of Catalonia on the 28 July 2010, coming into full effect in 2012. The final vote was 68 for the ban, 55 against, with nine abstaining. On 28 October, the conservative nationalist, People’s Party lodged an appeal with the Spanish Constitutional Court on the grounds that the regional parliament has exceeded its powers in banning a practice of national cultural significance. For more detail, see our posts here and here.

Bullfighting afficianados have been treated to some spectacularly gory action in 2010. In Spain, in a widely-publicised incident in May, bullfighter Julio Aparicio’s jaw and lower throat were pierced by a bull’s horn which emerged from his mouth. Only one month earlier, Spain’s most charismatic and popular bullfighter, José Tomás, suffered a severe goring in Mexico which required a transfusion of eight litres of blood. The human body normally contains five litres.

But despite the inherent risks, only fifty-two toreadors have died in the ring since 1700. Continue reading

Dog Killers Set for Trial

The two men charged with the dog killings in Wellsford have now appeared in court. It was pretty much a standard appearance to enter a plea, and they won’t be back in court for a few more weeks, when a pre-commital hearing will take place.  The surprising piece of information coming out from this appearance was that the two defendants have elected a trial by jury.   Had anyone asked beforehand, I would have bet heavily that they would have gone for trial by judge alone.  Seems to me that their only chance of success in this case is showing that the dogs didn’t suffer sufficiently during the killing spree, and were killed quickly.  As hard as that sounds to believe, it would have a better chance of success before a judge, who would have a strong understanding of the prosecution’s burden of proof, and would be less likely to be swayed by the emotions of the situation.  I struggle to believe a jury will care about technicalities in light of the number of dead dogs, the “massacre-like” nature of the killings, and the sheer craziness of it all.

The defence’s most likely strategy is to put the dog owner on trial, suggesting that he had too many dogs, that their own dog was killed by his, and that he consented to the killing and is the real person to blame.  They may well be able to weaken his credibility as a witness, and perhaps sway a few jury members who worry about dangerous dogs.  As I’ve indicated in prior posts, Mr. Hargreaves is no choir boy, and has a lot to answer for himself – but I still don’t see how attacking him buys an acquittal.

This case should be won or lost on the basis of the scientific evidence, and the SPCA’s ability to show that the dogs suffered.   Regardless of the reasons for the killing, it was done in a manner that the SPCA should be able to show was detestable, and the owner’s actions will not be enough to legally absolve the defendants of responsibilty for what happened.  Still, with a jury involved, it should be a rousing trial, and an interesting one to follow.

The Triumph of Team Vegan

Earlier this month Team Vegan had an impressive showing in the Oxfam Trailwalker. Our team of four walked 100km in 22 hours and 26 minutes – coming in 64th out of 265 teams. This photo shows our boundless elation at having finished such a mighty walking challenge. Not only did we give vegans everywhere a good name, we raised $3,320 for Oxfam New Zealand. Go Team Vegan!

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The Trials of Moko the Dolphin: But not of anyone else

Over the Summer months, as well as writing a Masters thesis, I’ve been following the rather sad and brutal tale of Moko the bottlenose dophin.

He is but one in a long succession of “lone” dolphins who have actively sought the company of humans around coastal New Zealand. Two of the better-known since European settlement are Pelorus Jack (in the early 1900s) and Opo (1955-6). A common denominator in both of these stories is unprovoked human aggression toward intelligent animals who sought and enjoyed human company. A passenger on the Penguin took a shot at Pelorus Jack (follow the link for the tale of the sad fate of that ship) and there was strong suspicion that Opo was killed (whether deliberately or inadvertently) by an explosive charge set off in the water.

In the present day, scientists have pointed out in a recent study that of the 30 lone dolphins identified around the world in the last decade, 14 had already been injured or had died as a result of their interaction with humans. Continue reading

Guest Post: Christian Vegetarianism: Misconceptions and Common Grounds

by James Morrison

James is a relatively recent graduate of the University of Auckland, who admits to an imprudent admiration of St Francis alongside a prodigious capacity for cognitive dissonance. He is currently researching the history of education law in New Zealand while contemplating matching words with deeds.

I am an amateur rather than a scholar of moral theology and the Bible, but I hope that by commenting on the relation of Christianity to veganism or vegetarianism, I can contribute to a more reasoned discussion of this topic than comes from some quarters whose enthusiasm can obscure accuracy.

The first point that I want to make has to do with ‘animal rights’ and ‘animal welfare’.  Christianity does not support animal rights.  It does support animal welfare.  This may well disappoint the more hardcore vegans and vegetarians. Continue reading

Charges Finally Laid in Wellsford Killings

Well, it took awhile, but charges have been laid in relation to the Wellsford dog killings.  Stay tuned for more details.

Animal Abuser Registry?

California State Senator Dean Florez has proposed creating an ‘abuser registry’ for serious crimes involving animal cruelty. If it becomes law, this bill would place animal abusers on par with sex offenders and require the publication of abusers’ names, photographs, addresses, and other information. A draft copy of the proposed bill can be found here.

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A few more thoughts on the Wellsford Massacre…

As more details emerge from what happened in Wellsford two days ago, the whole picture gets a great deal grimmer.  In New Zealand terms, this was a huge story, splashed all over the front page of the Herald, and it has garnered considerable attention.  Sadly, it says a lot about our view towards animals, and highlights some of the weaknesses of the existing animal welfare system.  Incidentally, if you haven’t done so, it’s probably worth reading what I had to say on this yesterday, as I don’t plan on repeating any details of the case that I talked about then.  But here are six additional things to think about:

First, the horrors of the incident should not be underestimated.  When SPCA inspectors, who see plenty of awful things done to animals every day, are left speechless – it’s pretty bad news.  The perpetrator of the act deserves the condemnation he’s getting now, and hopefully the jail time he deserves.  Let’s be honest.  That’s one pretty sick guy. Continue reading

2010 – The International Year of Biodiversity

Last week, British environmental critic and guardian journalist George Monbiot  posted on the newly state-sanctioned ‘pro-active non-selective badger cull‘ in Wales to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis, despite ample scientific evidence suggesting that this practice actually increases its spread, sardonically reminding us that 2010 is indeed the International Year of Biodiversity. In many ways, it seems funny that 2010 should be the one we choose to be the year of biodiversity, given that there has never been a year in human civilisation with a lower number of species across the planet. In light of this contradiction, I thought now might be a good time to remind ourselves of the link between meat eating and biodiversity. Continue reading

My Upcoming Date with Bob Barker…

I won’t lie.  I’m a HUGE Bob Barker fan.  Most New Zealanders probably have no idea who Barker is – though you may have seen his cameo in Happy Gilmore, where he beats up Adam Sandler (apologies for the poor video quality) –  but as a  boy growing up in Canada, Bob Barker played a big role in my early life. Back when our television only picked up 3 or 4 channels – in the 70s and 80s – Barker was the host of one of North America’s most famous game shows: The Price is Right.   Barker was an institution, hosting the show for thirty-five years.  My grandmother – like many grandmothers – was a big Price is Right fan, as well as a huge Barker fan, and I have fond memories of watching the show with her as a child.

Of course, that’s hardly the only reason for my being a big Bob Barker fan.  He was perhaps the first prominent celebrity to take up the animal cause, ending every one of his shows with a plea to pet owners to get their pets ‘spayed or neutered’.  But Barker went much further than that.  He put his money where his mouth was, and unlike many celebrities who offer time and energy regarding specific causes, Barker’s focus has been animal law, with him correctly reasoning that we need lawyers who understand how animals are treated by the law in order to move the movement forward.  In addition to numerous other donations to animal related causes, Barker has stimulated the study of animal law in the USA, and inferentially, around the world.  From the ALDF web page: Continue reading