For Immediate Release: April 19, 2017
(Tallahassee, FL) — In today’s Tallahassee Democrat, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is running an advertisement urging Governor Rick Scott to appoint a nature photographer, a birdwatcher, or an individual with a background in wildlife conservation, to fill the next vacancy on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Today’s ad also ran in Sunday and Monday’s papers, and will run on Thursday as well, the final day of an FWC meeting in the town of Havana, north of Tallahassee.
View the ad here: www.download.arff.org/FWC-advertisement.pdf
The ad features an image of a black bear under the headline, “Florida’s wildlife belongs to all Floridians”. At this week’s meeting, the FWC will once again discuss bear management. In 2015, the FWC approved a black bear hunt despite strong public opposition. It was the first bear hunting season in Florida in 21 years.
“It is time that the FWC has a Commissioner who represents nature photographers, birders, hikers and other ‘non-consumptive’ users of Florida’s fish and wildlife,” said Don Anthony, ARFF’s Communications Director. “Most residents of Florida are not hunters, yet the FWC has long been dominated by individuals with a hunting background.”
Nature photography, along with birdwatching, hiking, canoeing and kayaking are the fastest-growing outdoor activities in America. According to the FWC’s own numbers, “wildlife viewing” has a much greater economic impact in Florida than hunting. The appointment of a photographer, birder, or wildlife advocate would add an important perspective to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
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On hundreds of occasions over many years, Philip Lloyd and his company BioChemed Services exported blood products of monkeys* and other animals to biotech companies around the world, but fraudulently labeled the packages as containing human blood to avoid the attention of government inspectors. His actions made him a lot of money, but in the words of prosecutors, posed “a significant public health threat” and “risked the safety of the world’s supply of human blood” (monkeys can carry viruses and diseases that can be transmitted to humans).
In November 2016, Lloyd pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to mislabel wildlife products intended for foreign commerce.” Last week, in U.S. district court in Virginia, he was sentenced to 4 months in jail and a $250,000 fine.
Prior to sentencing, the judge received a letter seeking leniency for Lloyd from Michael Disbrow, who described Lloyd as a friend. Disbrow is senior director of “Nonhuman Primate Operations” for PreLabs, a company that operates a monkey quarantine/research facility in Hendry County. Disbrow and Lloyd are also partners in a Florida corporation called Flava Partners, LLC.
It is shocking that an executive of a research organization in Florida apparently has no qualms about being business partners with an individual who so flagrantly broke laws designed to protect human health.
*BioChemed has purchased blood from Florida’s Primate Products and other corporations that import and breed monkeys for use in research and testing
When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took its elephants off the road in May 2016, animal advocates cheered. Other Florida-based circuses saw the move as a marketing opportunity.
The Garden Bros. Circus advertised its 2016 tour as, “Last chance to see elephants live!” Apparently, the gimmick worked because they are using the tagline again this year.
On ticket coupons, Circus Pages teases, “May be the last chance to see performing elephants!”
Another Florida circus, the Stardust Circus, is using a similar line this year in its advertisements, “Come see one of the last performing circus elephants.”
We don’t believe any of these circuses will stop elephant acts, unless they have to. The end of elephants in the circus will come about due to the passage of local ordinances and state laws restricting the use of wild animals in the circus, and because the public– increasingly aware of the suffering of animals in traveling circuses– refuses to purchase tickets to circuses featuring animal acts.
In May 2016, the Hernando County Commission approved a strong anti-tethering ordinance that prohibits the unsupervised, unattended outdoor chaining of dogs. Last week the ordinance helped to save the lives of several dogs. On January 4, an animal control officer spotted dogs, including the malnourished dog in the above photo, tied to a tree at a home in Garden Grove, in violation of the county ordinance. The officer investigated and discovered numerous dogs suffering without food or water or proper shelter. In total, 11 dogs were seized and transported to Hernando County Animal Services for medical care. Three people living at the home were arrested and charged with animal cruelty.
A growing number of cities and counties in Florida have enacted ordinances banning or restricting the cruel tethering/chaining of dogs, including Broward, Collier, Escambia, Hillsborough, Manatee, Marion, Miami-Dade, Okaloosa, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, St. Lucie, Sarasota and Seminole Counties.
You Can Help
If your city or county does not have an ordinance addressing the cruel chaining of dogs, contact your local elected officials and urge them to consider adding this important protection for dogs. Contact ARFF for help!
Congressman Tom Rooney, representing Florida’s 17th congressional district, is unhappy about the popularity of healthy, plant-based milks. Rooney was the only member of Congress from Florida to sign a recent letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking it to do something to stop milk from soybeans, almonds or rice from being sold as “milk.”
The letter complains that “dairy farmers are facing a serious financial crisis,” while at the same time “there has been tremendous growth in the sale of plant-based” milks.
It’s a silly argument. A growing number of Floridians will enjoy liquid taken from beans, nuts and seeds regardless if it’s called “milk” or “drink” or something else. And consumers who are concerned about animal welfare, the environment or their own health will continue to reject dairy. Visit ARFF’s website to learn more about the dairy industry.