Governor DeSantis’ stay-at-home order took effect today and lasts until the end of April. Here are some ways to help people and animals during this public health crisis.
Get the facts. Share information. There is no evidence that dogs or cats can get sick from COVID-19 or spread the virus to people. You can leave the house to exercise and care for your companion animals. The governor’s order specifically listed “taking care of pets” as an essential, permitted activity. Rely on the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for info and updates about the outbreak.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Make arrangements with a family member or friend who can care for your pets in case you are no longer able to. Make sure they know about any medications or special needs that the animal(s) may have.
Check-in on your neighbors, especially older adults and people with a disability, and offer to help by walking their dog, purchasing food or running errands. (Click here for a printable door hanger)
This is a challenging time for many charities. Animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and sanctuaries in Florida are still caring for animals. If you can, donate money or supplies (many organizations have a “wish list” of needed items on their website). Your local food bank or Meals on Wheels program would likely appreciate donations of pet food for families in need!
Foster or adopt a new dog or cat. Reach out to your local animal shelter or rescue and ask how you can help (services may be paused during the stay-at-home order).
Support your local vegan restaurant! Dining areas are closed, but many restaurants are offering take-out or delivery service. Or purchase a gift card online for use in the future.
Time on your hands? Get active! – The COVID-19 outbreak has forced the cancellation of many Shrine circuses around the country. Now would be a good time for Shriners International to make a commitment to replace cruel animal circuses with non-animal fundraisers. Contact Imperial Potentate Jeffrey Sowder and ask him to discourage Shrine temples from conducting circus fundraisers: firstname.lastname@example.org – Urge SeaWorld to release the dolphins and whales it holds captive to seaside sanctuaries. Click here to send a message. – Ask Canada Goose to go animal-free (the company is single-handedly propping-up the market for trapped coyotes). Sign the petition. – Air France is the only major passenger airline continuing to fly monkeys destined for a life of suffering in animal experiments. Ask them to stop (click here).
(Tallahassee) – The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is urging Governor Ron DeSantis to use his veto pen to reject Specific Appropriation 1867A ($1,500,000) for “Bascom Farms/Sturgeon Aquafarms” that has been included in the 2020-21 budget.
At Sturgeon Aquafarms in Bascom, Florida, more than 40,000 sturgeon are confined inside 100 tanks. The large, slow-growing fish spend years swimming endless circles before the females reach maturity. They are then cut open and their eggs removed to be sold as caviar.
“It is not a wise use of the public’s money to support a for-profit caviar producer that has a Madison Avenue storefront,” said ARFF Campaigns Coordinator Nick Atwood. “We hope that Governor DeSantis will reject this ridiculous appropriation.”
Sturgeon Aquafarms is an affiliate company of Marky’s, a Miami-based retailer of foie gras and other “gourmet” foods. Marky’s also operates a caviar store and restaurant on Madison Avenue in New York City.
(Pembroke Pines, Florida) – Wednesday evening, February 19, the City of Pembroke Pines approved a ban on the use of bullhooks, whips, electric prods and other cruel devices common in circuses.
With the vote, Pembroke Pines joined compassionate cities like Miami Beach, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Margate, Pompano Beach, Weston and Sebring and will no longer tolerate the abuse of elephants, tigers and other captive circus animals by the use of devices that cause pain and suffering.
While Hollywood and Weston have completely banned live animal displays, Miami Beach, Hallandale Beach, Margate, Pompano Beach, Sebring – and now the City of Pembroke Pines – have banned the use of bullhooks or similar devices that circus trainers use against their unwilling performers.
Wednesday night’s vote on the ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Angelo Castillo was unanimous.
“It is wrong to use pain and the fear of punishment to control elephants and other animals in the circus,” said ARFF President Nanci Alexander. “Pembroke Pines’ new ordinance is an acknowledgment of the growing public awareness and concern about the treatment of elephants and other animals in the circus.”
The Garden Bros. Circus, a circus with a poor record of animal care, has performed in Pembroke Pines in recent years.
*A bullhook is a weapon, resembling a fireplace poker, which is used to strike, hook, prod and intimidate elephants into obedience. Elephants are controlled through pain and the fear of punishment.
John M. Stewart, President The Florida Bar 651 E. Jefferson Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Dear Mr. Stewart:
On behalf of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, I would like to express our deep disappointment at the decision by The Florida Bar not to discipline attorney Thomas W. Cope for a disturbing incident of animal cruelty, and instead to have Mr. Cope attend a “professionalism workshop.”
In May 2019, Mr. Cope shared a video on his Facebook page of a raccoon that had found itself on Mr. Cope’s boat. At the time, the boat was approximately 20 miles offshore. In the video, Mr. Cope intentionally scares the animal off the boat into the water, and laughingly says, “So long, sucker!” The raccoon almost certainly drowned to death.
We believe that Mr. Cope’s actions were criminal, a violation of Florida Statute § 828.12. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission chose not to file charges due to a jurisdictional question, and not because the conduct was determined not to be serious.
According to The Florida Bar’s website, professionalism workshops are intended for lawyers, “whose conduct flirts with or just crosses the line into unethical conduct.” Examples given include rude comments, failure to communicate with clients, and lack of honesty. Surely, abandoning an innocent animal to suffer death by drowning is worse than a lack of communication or disrespectful comments! Attorneys in Florida have been more severely disciplined for less serious conduct. Thomas W. Cope should have been publicly reprimanded, had his license suspended or revoked, or been disbarred.
The failure to discipline Mr. Cope was a missed opportunity to demonstrate that animal cruelty is a serious offense in Florida. There is a well-documented link between animal cruelty and acts of violence against humans. Taking crimes against animals seriously makes our communities safer.
(Lakeport, Florida) — The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is asking the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to investigate a recent incident in which wild pigs were released from cages and shot at close range by men using semi-automatic and automatic weapons, including an Uzi submachine gun.
ARFF has compiled the above video from photos and videos posted on Instagram by one of the men. The disturbing images show a group of four men shooting dozens of rounds as the terrified animals flee. Other live pigs wait nearby in cages. The bodies of several dead pigs can also be seen. The photos and videos were posted on October 16. The location was identified as Glades County.
“This is senseless, sadistic killing purely for entertainment,” said ARFF Campaigns Coordinator Nick Atwood. “Wild pigs are not unfeeling objects to be used for target practice. Have these men become so desensitized to the suffering and death of animals?”
ARFF is asking for an investigation into possible violations of hunting regulations, and regulations concerning the transportation and holding of live wild pigs. Although, as disgusting as this incident was, the men’s actions were likely legal. Shamefully, there are almost no laws protecting wild pigs in Florida. On private property, wild pigs may be killed year round, in unlimited numbers, using any legal to own firearm. No hunting license is required. The “non-native” designation for wild pigs has been used as justification for horrible acts of violence against these animals, cruelties that would not be ignored if suffered by deer or other “native” wildlife.
(Fort Lauderdale) — In July, in a disturbing incident that was caught on video, a wildlife trapper used an air rifle (BB gun) to kill Muscovy ducks at an apartment complex in Fort Lauderdale. Ducks were shot numerous times by the trapper; the bird’s deaths were not quick or humane. In addition, the trapper’s use of an air rifle was in violation of city ordinances.
City of Fort Lauderdale ordinance Sec. 16-52 is clear in its prohibition of the discharge of air rifles within city limits. The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has urged the city to enforce its ban on air rifles, to prevent animal suffering and to protect public safety. Unfortunately, City Attorney Alain Boileau has refused, stating that, “the City is permitting licensed pest control companies and trappers to use air rifles.”
“We are disappointed that the City of Fort Lauderdale has failed to enforce it’s ban on air rifles,” said ARFF Campaigns Coordinator Nick Atwood. “There is no exception for pest control companies or wildlife trappers in the city ordinance. Enforcement of the ordinance would not only protect ducks and other wildlife from cruelty, but it would protect residents from injury. Modern air rifles are powerful, and can cause serious injuries.”
There are methods other than the use of air rifles that pest control companies and trappers can use to humanely kill ducks or other wildlife.
On March 28, an Avianca Cargo plane from Colombia landed at Miami International Airport with 20 puppies on board, all younger than six months. The Animal Welfare Act prohibits the importation of dogs into the United States for resale purposes unless they are in good health, have received the necessary vaccinations, and are at least 6 months of age.
Avianca Cargo (formerly known as Tampa Cargo) has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at least three times in recent years for similar violations. During an inspection of an arriving Avianca Cargo plane from Colombia in October 2016, USDA inspectors found five French Bulldog puppies, approximately three months of age, who were “in distress and in need of immediate veterinary care.”
It is cruel to ship puppies long distances in cramped containers, possibly exposed to extreme temperatures, even when it is done in compliance with federal regulations.
You Can Help Ask Avianca Cargo to stop transporting dogs and other animals for the pet trade. Contact:
Kurt Schosinsky, Managing Director Avianca Cargo Comment form.
Please share with ARFF any responses that you receive.
It is irresponsible for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to encourage homeowners to kill iguanas.
Despite the brief mention that iguanas are protected from cruel treatment under state law, the likely response to the FWC’s appeal will be that iguanas will be drowned, poisoned, shot with crossbows or pellet guns, or killed by other methods not humane or legal.
For the average homeowner, the biggest threat from these fascinating creatures is that your orchids or hibiscus plants will become their lunch– surely that does not warrant a death sentence!
Sunday was the last day of racing at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. 30 horses have died at the track since the racing season began in December.
Each year, hundreds of horses die at racetracks in the U.S., most as a result of devastating injuries. But the deaths this year at Santa Anita attracted national attention.
In response, the Stronach Group– which owns Santa Anita– proposed a number of changes, including stricter limits on the use of painkillers and other drugs, and a ban on the use of whips except “as a corrective safety measure.”
Whips should not be used to encourage speed during a race. It is always wrong to strike a horse with a whip.
The Stronach Group also owns Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. Belinda Stronach, president of the Stronach Group, has said that they are considering instituting the changes proposed in California at Gulfstream Park.
Contact the Stronach Group and urge them to work to quickly institute the changes proposed for Santa Anita Park at Gulfstream Park.
(Kissimmee) – In a recent letter to Bahia Shrine members, executive officer Brian Johns explained, “Whereas our circus in the past has relied upon ticket sales for profit, that is no longer the case. Actual ticket sales nowadays are quite dismal.” As a result, this year the Bahia Shriners gave away thousands of free tickets to this weekend’s circus, in the hopes of boosting attendance and generating revenue from sales of balloons and popcorn, and elephant and camel rides.
“It is obvious to everyone but the Bahia Shriners that the public no longer wants to see cruel, depressing animal acts,” said ARFF Coordinator Bryan Wilson. “We urge the Shriners to move away from animal circuses as a fundraiser.”
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida will speak up for elephants and other animals in the Shrine Circus during protests in Kissimmee.
Protest Dates and Times:
• Saturday, May 4 at 9:00am, 1:00pm and 5:00pm
• Sunday, May 5 at 9:00am, 1:00pm and 5:00pm
Location: Silver Spurs Arena, located at Osceola Heritage Park, off Highway 192 in Kissimmee.
The Bahia Shriners have hired the Royal Hanneford Circus to be their “Shrine Circus.” The Royal Hanneford Circus has a long and sordid record of poor animal care and dangerous animal rampages. In November 2016, the circus agreed to pay a $7,000 fine to settle a federal complaint related to two incidents that put both animals and the public at risk.
Violent, physical abuse remains a common method of training and controlling animals in the circus. At the 2017 circus in Kissimmee, workers were caught on camera violently jabbing a tiger with sticks after the animal refused to perform. The disturbing video is available here: https://youtu.be/QNBthmtroZg.