Animal Advocacy

Barry Switzer – ‘No’ on SQ 777

posted September 6th, 2016 by
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Animal Lovers

Thanks to our friends at https://nondoc.com

Letter: Barry Switzer and his wife voting ‘No’ on SQ 777

Barry Switzer

To the editors:

My passion for the gridiron is well known. What a lot of people don’t know about me is my love of animals.

My wife, Becky, and I own several dogs and they are a big part of our life. We have trained working dogs, and we own others that are being trained for search and rescue missions. We’ve also rescued many dogs over the years who were abused or neglected and we do whatever we can to elevate animal welfare, including facilitating adoptions. Our passion for animals is just one of the reasons we oppose State Question 777.

If SQ 777 passes, it will make it easier for puppy mills to exist. Puppy mill operators will be able to classify themselves as farmers and their animals as livestock.

Puppy mills are atrocities where neglect, disease and abuse is rampant. Animals are caged 24-7 and some live their entire lives in wire cages, never once touching or rolling in the grass. Adult dogs are often debarked, which involves ramming a steel rod down their throats to rupture their vocal cords.

I could go on with the atrocities, but you get the point: puppy mills are an abomination.

Another reason Becky and I are voting no on SQ 777 is because it threatens Oklahoma’s ability to maintain clean water and air for our grandchildren. Instead, it gives constitutional protection to corporations who profit off industrial farming, entrusting them, and not local and state officials, to decide what’s best for Oklahomans’ public welfare.

These corporations are trying to mislead voters by painting SQ 777 as “right to farm” and using wholesome imagery of family farmers and Oklahoma landscapes to lure votes to change our state constitution. This is a problem because SQ 777 isn’t about family farmers; it’s about big-time corporate agriculture wanting fewer and fewer restrictions on how they operate.

Oklahoma’s family farmers have always been good team players, taking care of land, water and air. Big Ag doesn’t have the same game plan and winning record.

Big Ag is trying to represent itself as the underdog, as the little team being blitzed. They’re actually going town to town across our state saying they’re in danger of being sacked and that our food supply could be compromised.

I’m not making this up. That’s what they’re saying to scare Oklahomans into voting yes. Football coaches would call this a trick play, a tight end around, and we shouldn’t be fooled by it.

Consider this football analogy: One team is Big Ag. The other team is natural resources and animal welfare. The referees are state and local officials who make sure both sides play fair. But a “yes” vote for SQ 777, gives Team Big Ag the referees, too.

If this happens, it’s game over. Big Ag will “hang half-a-hundred” on us.

Join me in voting “No” on 777.

Looking Back – Going Forward

posted September 5th, 2016 by
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Holiday Gift

Looking Back – Going Forward

Looking BackOne year ago, we had tentatively entered the world of transfer out-of-state. Looking back, we had no idea how successful it would be – nor how many lives would be saved. The first few trips were filled with apprehension, worries – – that were never justified – and success we could not have imagined.

It’s hard to wrap our minds around 750+ dogs living the good life out-of-state. But that’s 750 dogs that have been “fixed” – – no more litters — – in forever homes.

Every Tuesday evening, our van (full of wagging tails) heads down the road. Yes, we all wait for the phone call that says they’ve arrived safely. Then we breathe for a few days and start the process over again. It’s encouraging that several rescues/shelters have now partnered with us, so we know we are making a difference in other towns as well.

It’s also rewarding to know that some of our dogs that have a visual history of abuse will find a loving, safe, home. Two of our most recent ones are Hank and Kaiya. They’re both in training with inmates at NOCC and will graduate Canine Good Citizen Certificates. Hank had a severe chemical burn on his side, but like many dogs, his ability to forgive is amazing. Kaiya came from a hoarding/abuse case and she, too, is at NOCC getting her certificate.

Going forward we know our transfer program will grow. More dogs will be saved, “fixed” and find new homes.

For cats, the answer is local. Consistent affordable spay/neuter programs will be the most important element in the solution. There is no out-of-state demand for cats or kittens. The immediate and long-term solution for cats is different than for dogs – – but the important fact to remember is there are solutions, they do work and lives are saved.

For all the rescues/shelters who work with us we say THANKS – – we’re glad you’re part of our solution. Our mission remains – saving hundreds of lives in Northeast Oklahoma. The only thing that has changed is their destination.

Good weeks, like this one, make the hard times bearable.

Kay Stout, Director

PAAS Vinita

[email protected]

918-256-7227

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Somewhere in the Middle

posted August 13th, 2016 by
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Holiday Gift

Somewhere in the Middle

Like many people in the world of animal rescue, I follow several facebook pages/groups including a few “closed groups”. This past week, we’ve all been deluged with situations that question our sanity, makes us realize why we never give up and continue to rescue, and, occasionally, leave us either sad or speechless (sometimes both at the same time).

Somewhere in the middle

April

And then, you have a ray of sunshine that completely changes your perspective.
For me it was a conversation with April’s Mom. April came to us from a municipal shelter where she would have been euthanized. The Richardson Birthing Center came to the rescue and April delivered her puppies in a safe, loving environment.

Now, thanks to our partnership with Dumb Friends League in Denver, Colorado, April has been adopted. Her Mom, Stephanie, reached out to me as she had some questions. What made me smile was when Stephanie said her Mom had flown out to meet April, That didn’t erase all the irate phone calls, desperate situations we’d encountered this week – but it helped – – it really, really helped.

Somewhere in the middle is where we need to be. Every month some animals need a home in this area. Fix your critter/Save a litter has played a key role in the number of unwanted puppies and kittens born each year. And, most importantly, we’re writing great April stories about dogs and cats in northeastern Oklahoma.

We will get there – – it’s what keeps us going

Until we do, the letters, pictures, videos and phone calls from happy adopters out-of-state will make us smile and reenergize us to keep on keeping on.

Kay Stout, Director

PAAS Vinita

[email protected]

918-256-7227

Facebook

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Concentrated Animal Feeding

posted July 30th, 2016 by
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State Question 777

Concentrated Animal Feeding

Also, we have the claim that industrial agriculture—in particular, concentrated animal feeding operations—keep food prices down. These graphs show the change in food prices for select poultry and swine commodities in the Southern Region of the US (which includes Oklahoma) beginning in 1992, the year after Oklahoma first allowed concentrated pork and chicken production.

Concentrated Animal Feeding

Pro-Animal Regulations

posted July 29th, 2016 by
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State Question 777

Pro Animal Regulations

A key point of dispute in the debate over State Question 777 is whether pro-animal regulations lead to higher food prices. There’s been specific attention paid to the price of eggs in California since the 2008 passage of pro-animal Proposition 2, and its implementation in early 2015. The infographics below present data on egg prices nationally, and in California, to bring factual clarity to this important discussion.

Pro-Animal Regulations

Animal Lovers Unite

posted July 15th, 2016 by
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Animal Lovers

Animal Lovers Unite

by Drew Edmondson

When Oklahomans hear “right to farm,” we immediately think of family farms and generational growers of chickens, cows and crops. The three words undeniably elicit emotion tied to our pioneering spirit, heartland traditions and our deeply held democratic convictions about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Animal LoversThat’s exactly why multi-national corporations behind State Question 777 have hijacked the phrase. They know few of us would ever argue that farmers shouldn’t have the right to farm. They also know on Election Day this November, if Oklahoma voters understand what this state question is really about, they will reject it. They fear Oklahoma voters will see it for what it is: one of the worst state questions ever to be presented to Oklahoma voters.

But why, you may be asking, am I writing about all of this—and to readers of OKC Pets?

Simply put, I want to offer you some insight into the real implications of this state question, which protects corporations and leaves people, and animals, powerless.

Puppy Mills and Cockfighting

If passed, SQ777 could be the first dangerous step in rolling back state regulations on puppy mill operations and cockfighting. Under the law, those who participate in these inhumane practices could be identified as “farmers” and their animals as “livestock,” propping the door open for them to operate without scrutiny in Oklahoma. In fact, language in the state question allows virtually anyone to identify as a farmer if their activities have anything to do with animals; it essentially allows them to do whatever they want with the animals on their property, even if their practices would be considered inhumane by most Oklahomans’ standards or cause a nuisance or even damage to other landowners.

Responsible pet owners have a stake in ensuring our state is unfriendly to puppy mills and cockfighting. Puppy mills are massive breeding operations where the bottom line, not animal welfare, is the priority. Females are typically allowed no recovery time between litters. Neglect, illness, genetic defects and mistreatment of the animals are rampant. Animals are caged 24/7, and some live their entire lives without ever touching grass. Dogs are often debarked by ramming a steel rod down their throats to rupture their vocal cords. Nutrition is so poor animals lose their teeth at an early age from tooth decay and are often emaciated.

Cockfighting involves two roosters wearing blades on their feet and fighting to the death while human spectators place bets on the outcome. Gambling and illegal drugs are common at cockfighting events.

Because the language in SQ777 would allow puppy mill and cockfighting breeders to define themselves as “farmers,” there is little state and local governments could do to enact safeguards against such practices, even though Oklahomans have been clear they don’t want such operations in our state.

But we aren’t just talking about puppy mills and cockfighting. For example, if SQ777 passes, your next-door neighbors could choose to breed exotic snakes on a large scale. The same could be said for insects or exotic animals of all species. Cities like Tulsa could pass no new laws to regulate activity concerning animals, so complaining to your city council wouldn’t do any good. The State of Oklahoma couldn’t intervene either because SQ777 requires proof of a “compelling state interest” before anything could be done to stop activity involving animals, no matter how dangerous or damaging. Want to make a full-fledged snake pit of your backyard swimming pool? SQ777 is just the ticket. Don’t want to live next door to said snake pit? Then you’d better vote no.

Foreign Ownership, No Local Control

The deep pockets behind SQ777 are not lobbying hard for the proposal because their main interest is puppy mills and cockfighting. They are more focused on ensuring multinational corporations are able to use land and natural resources with no government oversight. TheAnimal Loversy also seek to use growth hormones, pesticides and fertilizer with no state or local oversight, despite the impact the chemicals can have on local water supplies.

Just as alarming, SQ777 benefits foreign companies more than family farmers. It may surprise you to know that in America, one in four pigs is owned by Chinese-owned corporations. And there’s a vast difference between how an American family farm operates and how a Chinese farm operates in this country. Family farmers have been on their land for generations. They plan to stay, and they take care of their land accordingly. They take pride in their work, and they honor their ancestors by caring for their land and their animals.

Chinese-owned farms are a different case completely. Their goal is to breed animals and make money, pure and simple. They do that by putting as many animals as possible on their ever-growing plot of American land. They want to turn over their “crop” quickly, and they cut corners to make that happen. Waste is laid to the land. The waterways that surround them are disregarded as chemicals, fecal matter and carcasses pile up.

If you have the misfortune of living next to one of these operations, you know the smell. If your family farm is in the shadow of one of these foreign-owned farms, you may soon be swallowed up—generations of hard work and cultivation of your land undone by companies whose owners do not live here and do not care about us.

State Question 777 grants foreign corporations the power to use Oklahoma land for any “farming” purpose they deem profitable. The law will also stop the Legislature and local communities from passing laws or ordinances after November 2016 to address any water and air pollution caused by factory farms, harm to other farmers’ and residents’ land not withstanding.

Giving free rein to multi-national factory farming in Oklahoma and minimizing state and local government’s ability to provide any oversight is what the pro-SQ777 coalition is really after.

Animal LoversThe ALEC Link

Most Oklahomans have no idea what ALEC is, but you should. The acronym stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC includes many individual members who are lawmakers from across the country. Yet, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, 98 percent of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations seeking to use the organization as the medium for enacting state laws favorable to their particular business and industry.

The wording of SQ777 has been copied and pasted from a measure that was written by ALEC and its corporate members. They have been successful in getting SQ777 measures enacted in two other states: North Dakota and Missouri.

ALEC isn’t only involved in agriculture; they are also proponents of corporate education, and they have been widely credited with crafting legislation that is crippling public education in Oklahoma and across the country.

The common tie between ALEC’s interest in education and agriculture? Big corporations.

#VoteNoOn777

The Oklahoma Stewardship Council, of which I am chair, has brought together a broad coalition to help fight SQ777. From the Five Civilized Tribes, to the Humane Society of the United States, and to such groups as Save the Illinois River and many others, we are working to protect Oklahoma’s water and natural resources and maintain Oklahomans’ right to determine animal welfare standards— not foreign corporations. Our list of #VoteNoOn777 partners continues to grow every day.

As of this writing, the list of organizations standing against SQ777 includes Save the Illinois River, Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, Oklahoma Municipal League, League of Women Voters, Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma, Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Bella Foundation, Oklahomans for Food, Farm and Family, Oklahoma Food Cooperative, Sierra Club, Oklahoma Welfare League, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and Oklahoma Coalition of Animal Rescuers.

Our work is cut out for us. The other side will spare no expense to convince Oklahomans to surrender their rights. Their message will be designed to mislead the public under the guise of “right to farm.” Politicians seeking election/reelection in 2016, or eyeing statewide offices in 2018, have—or likely will—accept campaign donations from the pro-SQ777 lobby.

All Oklahomans who believe in animal welfare, who believe that we must protect our water and natural resources, and who believe that we should have some oversight of those contributing to our food supply must get engaged in this issue.

In the coming months, be on the lookout for pro-SQ777 scare tactics and name-calling. For instance, if you hear that SQ777 is needed to help protect family farms from bureaucracy, or that it’s critical to reducing hunger in Oklahoma, don’t be fooled. It is a smokescreen. Family farms won’t be helped by this state question because it’s about factory farming.

Hunger won’t be addressed by SQ777 either. Factory farms use our farmland for profit. They sell and ship their goods where they get the most profit for their investment. Moreover, the Chinese are using American farmland to increase the food supply back home, where usable farmland is dwarfed in comparison to the size and needs of their population.

Common Sense, Not Corporations

I’m just like most Oklahomans; I love my state and its heritage. I have a deep respect for those who work the land and take a common sense approach to livestock, crops and natural resources.

For economic stability, we must have a balance between agriculture, commerce, environmental protection and animal welfare.

We’ve been working on achieving that balance in Oklahoma. Holding factory farms accountable for water pollution, encouraging sustainable farming science, making cockfighting illegal and closing down puppy mills have all been a part of achieving balance.

The corporations backing SQ777 would like us to reverse all that, to strike our state off balance and to tip the scales in their favor—permanently—by changing our state constitution. We must tell them no and reject any attempt by special interests to determine the future of Oklahoma’s water, land and animals.

The stakes are high, and I hope you will consider joining us in this fight.

For more information or to get involved, visit www.votenoon777.com

Animal LoversDrew Edmondson, who served four terms as Oklahoma’s
attorney general, is co-chair of the Oklahoma
Stewardship Council, a coalition of family farmers,
community leaders and concerned citizens opposing
State Question 777. For more information about the
OSC, visit www.votenoon777.com.