HEAVEN'S ANGELS: Tough Guys & Puppies
In Sunday's New York Times, this article described a group named "Rescue Ink" that formed in New York City. You know it's going to be a good article, with the first few paragraphs reading like this:
They met on the local hot rod scene. They saw one another at tattoo conventions around the area, comparing bikes. They looked like heavies, a band of Hells Angels, with nicknames equally tough: Mike Tattoo, Big Ant, Johnny O, Batso, Sal, Angel, Des.
They meant no harm. Clad in leather, inked to the hilt in skulls and dragons, with images of bloodied barbed wire looped about their necks, they shared something else — a peculiar tenderness for animals, and the intensity needed to act on the animals’ behalf when people abuse them.
“I’m a vegetarian,” said Mike Tattoo (real name Mike Ostrosky), a former bodybuilding champion with a shaved head, great arms covered in art and a probing clarity in his blue eyes. “And Big Ant has in his backyard three guinea pigs, a couple of rabbits, birds, cats — and fish everywhere. But just because a person has tattoos, they wouldn’t come running with us.”
The group became a little larger over the course of about 15 years, with various animal-loving, tattooed bikers in the New York area joining the conversation. One member, Angel Nieves, a 47-year-old retired city police detective, grew up in the projects on West 125th Street and remembered taking in strays from the streets as a boy, as did many of his cohorts. He owns a tiny, white bichon frisé named Cris.
Having run in crowds where animal abuse was rampant, often involving pit bull fights, the men volunteered at shelters and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Toward Animals, and they tried to solve cases of missing or abused animals that other organizations had neither the time nor the resources to address.
Next month, the bikers will begin a program in the city’s public schools to educate children about being kind to all animals, even the less attractive breeds. They will be accompanied by Elwood, a small, hairless Chihuahua mix judged in an annual California contest to be the World’s Ugliest Dog.
To read more about the efforts of these wonderful men and their commitment to the dogs and cats of greater New York City, continue the New York Times article, by CLICKING HERE. Also, be prepared for a fun slide-show of the men in action!
VOTE YES ON 3: Massachusetts Voters Can End Greyhound Racing in Their State
As if one could forget, I still urge people to mark Tuesday, November 4th on their calendars. It is Election Day! Not only do we get to vote for our next president, Massachusetts voters have the opportunity to vote to end the cruel practice of greyhound dog racing within our state. As some of you may remember, back in November 2000, we had this question on the ballot. It lost by a 1% margin. 49% of Massachusetts voters wanted it banned. 51% did not. The racetrack owners' budgets were a lot larger than the volunteer organizations' budget and they did a great job campaigning for their cause. Well, luckily, us volunteers collected enough signatures this year to get the question on the ballot again this November. Why should you vote "YES" on Question 3? Here are some reasons:
Racing greyhounds live in confinement; they are warehoused in tiny cages for 20+ hours per day. Since each racetrack needs a minimum of 1,000 dogs, they are kept in tiny warehouse-style kennels, where most cannot stand up or turn around.
They are injured while competing. These dogs suffer from broken legs, broken necks, paralysis and cardiac arrest. And then they die.
They are fed Grade 4D meat, to keep costs down. This meat is not fit for human consumption. You might think, well, what's the difference between this Grade 4D meat and the meat found in commercial dog food? Well, the difference is, the meat fed to the greyhounds is raw. Yes, RAW. That also keeps costs down. With raw meat consumption comes the risk of disease spreading pathogens, like salmonella. Would you feed raw Grade 4D meet to your pet? No, I didn't think so.
These dogs compete year-round, in all sorts of weather. As you know, New England has very cold winters. These greyhounds are thin, small dogs with very short, thin fur.
When a racing greyhound is lucky enough (and allowed) to be "rescued", adopting them out can be difficult, as these dogs are usually quite timid or very aggressive, from their past mistreatment. They've never been a pet or lived in a house before, so qualified adopters who have the time, patience and ability to help these dogs adapt, can be hard to find.
The abuse that takes place at Massachusetts' two greyhound racing tracks is documented. There is no denying it. Also, greyhound racing has experienced a sharp economic decline. People just aren't interested in it and a lot of those people have come around, because they've come to know the inhumane living conditions of the animals and have chosen to cease supporting it. And for the naysayers who complain "What about the jobs that will be lost, if greyhound racing is outlawed?" I have two answers for you: #1 If the ballot question passes on November 4, the racing would be phased out. The ban would not begin until January 1, 2010. Additionally, the Committee to Protect Dogs has promised to volunteer it's time to help the displaced workers find new jobs. They are very serious about this. #2 When slavery was outlawed in the United States, jobs were lost. But wasn't it more important to end the cruel and inhumane practice of slavery than it was to displace people who profited from the slave trade? The people in positions of power had options and other ways to make money. The people in captivity had no voice, no choice. We needed to make a law that protected them, not their captors.
These days, you see pampered pets everywhere. Dogs have their own spas and get massages. People spend money to stage mock weddings of their dogs (Earlier this week, I saw online, that The Today Show recently had a doggie wedding fashion show on, complete with doggie bridal tips). I see dogs with expensive Coach and Louis Vuitton collars. People will spend oodles of money on organic dog treats, dog walkers and anything else that they think their dog will like. In my hometown of Boston, there are doggie bakeries, yes, bakeries! Just for dogs! Why should we care so deeply and bestow so much love and affection on these dogs called pets, but completely ignore the cruelties that these racing greyhounds face every day of their dismal, lonely lives? These greyhounds needlessly suffer. You, as a voter, have a chance to change that!
For more information on why greyhound racing should be banned, please visit these websites and please, VOTE YES ON QUESTION 3 on November 4th.
PRO DOG: The Committee to Protect Dogs