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).
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.
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.
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:
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
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:
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