Ask Avianca Cargo to stop puppy imports after repeated Animal Welfare Act violations

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.

Shame on state wildlife agency for urging killing of iguanas

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!

If it’s good for horses in California, why not Florida?

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.


The Stronach Group
Online comment form.

Please share with ARFF any responses that you receive.

Shrine Circus struggles to sell tickets

(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.

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Consumers warned about Shrine Circus fundraising

(Kissimmee) – If you donated to the upcoming Bahia Shriners Circus in response to a phone call, the organization you were trying to help will likely receive only a small portion of your money.

Apopka’s Bahia Shriners use a for-profit telemarketing firm to sell tickets and sponsorships for children with special needs to attend the Shriners Circus at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, May 4-5.

In 2016, the most recent year from which records are available, the Bahia Shriners raised $421,369 using telemarketers, but kept only $91,319, or 21% percent. The rest went to Etsell, Inc., a telemarketing company, according to the Bahia Shriners tax return.

“Donors would be shocked to learn that a telemarketing firm pockets 75 cents of every dollar given to support the Bahia Shriners Circus,” said Nick Atwood, Campaigns Coordinator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF). “If you receive a call asking you to purchase tickets to send children to the upcoming Shrine Circus, you could ask the caller how much of your donation will actually go to the charity. But the best thing to do may be to just hang up.”

ARFF would also like to point out that the Shriners Circus doesn’t raise one penny for Shriners Hospitals. Circusgoers are often misled into believing that proceeds from the circus benefit hospitals. The Shriners Hospitals for Children is a legally and financially separate organization from local Shrine temples. The small print on Shrine circus tickets make it clear that proceeds from the circus fund temple activities, not the hospitals (tickets are not considered charitable contributions). The best way to help the Shriners Hospitals for Children is to donate directly to the hospital.

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ARFF protests planned aquarium at The Galleria mall

Last week, the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale announced that it is partnering with a company called SeaQuest to open an aquarium at the shopping mall in late 2018. According to a press release, the new aquarium will feature “hands-on encounters” with sharks, stingrays, capybara, otters, tortoises, and exotic birds. (photo: an animal rights protest outside SeaQuest’s aquarium in Las Vegas in April 2017)

SeaQuest CEO Vince Covino, and his brother Ammon, have a long history of legal problems and controversies surrounding animal care.

  • In April 2017 a former employee at SeaQuest Las Vegas came forward with disturbing reports about animals dying from neglect and mistreatment. The employee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that at least 300 animals, including eels, stingrays and octopuses, died before the aquarium even opened. An aquarium operated by the brothers in Portland, Oregon also faced accusations of poor animal care and large numbers of animal deaths (the Portland Aquarium closed in 2016).
  • In early 2017, Vince Corvino was fined $5,000 by the State of Idaho for failing to disclose his history of securities industry violations to potential investors in new SeaQuest aquariums (Covino’s registration as a securities broker-dealer was suspended in 2011).
  • In December 2013, Ammon Covino was sentenced to one year in federal prison for conspiring to purchase protected species of rays and sharks illegally captured in the Florida Keys for display at an aquarium operated by the Covino brothers. Ammon Covino was sent back to prison in 2015 for violating the terms of his release after he was found to be involved in the opening of the SeaQuest aquariums in Nevada and Utah.

The majority of saltwater fish and invertebrates found in aquariums are captured in the wild because they are difficult to breed in captivity. The collection of large numbers of fish and other animals for the aquarium trade is harmful to the reef ecosystem.

The touch tanks and other ‘hands-on encounters’ planned for SeaQuest Fort Lauderdale put animals and people at risk. Touch tanks in which animals are unable to escape constant harassment from people can severly stress the animals. Bacteria introduced to touch tank water by human hands can be harmful to animals. (Children have also developed bacterial infections after handling animals in touch tanks.)

You Can Help
The Galleria mall is steps away from a state park and the Atlantic Ocean, and a short drive from the Everglades. Instead of exploiting captive animals for profit, the Galleria mall should be celebrating the unique natural areas in its own backyard, where animals can be observed in their natural habitats. Please contact the Galleria and urge them to reconsider the addition of an aquarium at the mall:

 

Mark Trouba, General Manager
The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale
Email: mark.trouba@am.jll.com

 

Please send a copy of your email to the mall’s property manager, Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL):

 

Kim Salvatori, Vice President, Leasing Representative
JLL
Email: kim.salvatori@am.jll.com

Florida voters will decide the fate of greyhound racing in November

 

This November, voters in Florida will have an historic opportunity to help thousands of greyhounds by voting Yes on Amendment 13! The amendment would phase out dog racing in Florida by 2020.

The abuse and neglect of greyhounds is common at dog tracks in Florida. Racing greyhounds live in inhumane conditions. On average, a greyhound dies at a Florida racetrack every three days! Many more are injured.

There are only 17 greyhound racing tracks in the country. 11 of them are in Florida. To win this important campaign, we need to educate millions of voters about the cruelty of greyhound racing. Visit www.ProtectDogs.com to learn more about Amendment 13 and how you can help to spread the word.

Are you ready to vote in Florida? Use this link to register to vote, check your voter status, or to make changes to your existing registration: https://registertovoteflorida.gov

Calls to remove Silver River monkeys unwarranted

(Silver Springs, FL) — A new study of the potential dangers of wild monkeys living in Silver Springs State Park, and the resulting media coverage, was unnecessarily alarmist and overstated the dangers of herpes B virus transmission from monkeys to humans. That is the conclusion of a veterinarian with decades of experience working with primates, after reviewing the study.

“I do not agree that the Silver Springs rhesus macaques pose a serious threat to human health and safety,” said Nedim Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis, in a statement. “There was no need to alarm the public about the rhesus macaque situation and calls to eradicate the monkeys are misguided and irresponsible in my view.”

In his statement, Dr. Buyukmihci suggests that any effort to trap and remove the monkeys in the park may make the problem worse: “the stress of being hunted is likely to be counterproductive in that monkeys with latent infections may become infectious due to stress.”

(download Dr. Buyukmihci’s statement here)

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is calling on the Florida Park Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to halt any plans to use lethal methods to reduce the monkey population in Silver Springs State Park.

“The new study is an important reminder that the monkeys who live along the Silver River are wild animals, and like all wild animals, can be dangerous. But the study does not make the case for lethal control of the monkeys in Silver Springs State Park,” said Nick Atwood, ARFF Campaigns Coordinator. “The best way to protect the public from potential harm is to improve public education about the need to avoid interactions with monkeys in the park, and to strictly enforce rules against feeding or harassing monkeys.”

In October 2013, after two years of campaigning, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida celebrated when the Florida Park Service announced that it would no longer allow a trapper to remove wild monkeys from Silver Springs State Park for sale to laboratories. (Between 1998-2012, approx. 800 monkeys were trapped and removed.) At the time, the Florida Park Service said that it would explore alternative methods of reducing the monkey population at the park.

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Activists demand a better life for animals at Monkey Jungle

On Sunday, November 19 a large crowd gathered outside the roadside zoo Monkey Jungle in Miami to demand a better life for the animals there.

For 28 years, “King” the gorilla has lived a cruel, solitary existence at Monkey Jungle. “Mei,” the only orangutan at Monkey Jungle, is confined to a barren, concrete enclosure when on exhibit (her off-exhibit cage is even worse). In a story that made headlines in early November, four former employees revealed that monkeys and birds at Monkey Jungle are also suffering from neglect and abuse. Photos taken by a former employee show filthy living conditions for the animals at Monkey Jungle (click here and here to read the Miami Herald’s reporting about the former employees allegations).

It is clear that Monkey Jungle is unable to provide the care that animals deserve.

In 1997, a campaign was launched to persuade Monkey Jungle to send King to Zoo Atlanta, where he could be with other gorillas. Zoo Atlanta has had success in rehabilitating previously solitary gorillas and transitioning them into a gorilla family. But despite Zoo Atlanta’s invitation and pleas from noted primatologist Jane Goodall, TV personality Bob Barker, and thousands of Florida residents, Monkey Jungle has refused. Gorillas and other apes are intelligent animals with complex social and emotional lives. Gorillas are best-off when they are in social situations. King needs companions and this continued solitary confinement is cruel and psychologically damaging. Read our previous post about King here.

You Can Help
You can help by asking Monkey Jungle to transfer King and Mei, at the very least, to a reputable sanctuary or zoo where they could receive proper care and live out the remainder of their lives with companionship and dignity. Write to:

 

Sharon DuMond, President
Monkey Jungle
14805 Southwest 216th Street
Miami, FL 33170
Email: sdumond@monkeyjungle.com

 

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking for an immediate investigation of Monkey Jungle. ARFF believes that the conditions depicted in the photos violates federal Animal Welfare Act regulations. Please contact the USDA and ask that they investigate Monkey Jungle and ensure that it provides animals with adequate veterinary care, and that the animals there are housed in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. Urge the USDA to hold Monkey Jungle fully accountable for any violations discovered during its investigation.

 

United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Email: aceast@aphis.usda.gov

Mobile billboard challenges Shriners at annual convention in Daytona Beach

(Daytona Beach) — An eye-catching mobile billboard in Daytona Beach will urge Shriners to replace animal circuses with alternative fundraisers.

The billboard, sponsored by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), features an image of a circus elephant in chains and boldly declares “Animals don’t belong in the circus” and “Shriners, please end your support of cruel circuses.”

The billboard truck will circulate in Daytona Beach on Tuesday, July 11 from 11:00am until 7:00pm, the start of the Shriners parade along A1A.

The Imperial Session, the annual convention of Shriners International, will be held in Daytona Beach from July 9-13. More than 100 Shriners International temples (chapters) in the U.S. will sponsor circuses in 2017. Shrine temples partner with circuses that have poor records of animal abuse and neglect.

“There is growing awareness and concern about the treatment of elephants and other animals in the circus,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Unfortunately, the Shrine Circus is resisting change and continues to support cruel circuses.”

Shriners have been associated with circuses for a long time, but change is possible. Several Shrine temples have replaced long-running circuses with equally profitable alternatives, such as golf tournaments, car shows, festivals, or animal-free circuses.

A photo of the mobile billboard is available upon request.

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