On May 19, neighbors in Palmetto Bay were alarmed when they heard the screaming of birds. When they rushed outside they saw a man roughly grabbing Muscovy ducks and throwing them into crowded cages on his truck. Children who witnessed the scene were terrified.
The man, Andres Canova, operating as Xpress Trappers, is notorious for his cruel treatment of ducks. In recent years he has trapped ducks in cities across South Florida. (Canova recently began a new business targeting iguanas called The Iguana Guy.)
When confronted, Canova often repeats one of a series of lies: that he has permission or has been hired by the city, that the ducks are being removed to be tested for disease, or that the ducks will be relocated. The sad truth is that the trapped ducks are almost certainly killed.
This week in Palmetto Bay, Canova was not only removing ducks from private property without permission, but he was in violation of the village’s bird refuge ordinance. Thankfully, quick-thinking residents took photographs, wrote down the truck’s tag number, and called the police. Canova was cited for trespassing.
Despite the minor penalty, it is encouraging that this time Andres Canova was not allowed to do his dirty business and escape consequences.
You Can Help If you witness a trapper cruelly removing Muscovy ducks, or you suspect that the trapper is trespassing on private property, please document the incident (photos and/or video) and call the police. Contact ARFF as well.
Is your city a bird refuge? Many cities in Florida have been designated bird refuges or sanctuaries. Such designations can offer protection against individuals who treat Muscovy ducks cruelly or capture ducks for profit. If your city is not a bird sanctuary, contact your city commission and urge them to consider adding this important protection for birds (contact ARFF, we can help).
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Action for Primates and One Voice have received an anonymous tip alleging that Primate Products, a Florida-based importer and supplier of non-human primates to the research industry, has been in contact with a French aviation company, CS Aviation, regarding 1,200 long-tailed macaques it wants to transport from Mauritius to Miami for sale to a laboratory. CS Aviation has agreed to take this on and has enlisted SkyBus Air Cargo to carry out the transport of these primates.
The international trade in primates for research inflicts great cruelty and suffering on these highly intelligent and sensitive animals; including their capture from the wild, their forced captivity in unnatural conditions on farms, the forced early separation of a female from her infant, their transportation in the cargo holds of airplanes and their eventual fate in the research laboratory. During transportation, primates will suffer stress and anxiety while forced to endure extremely long journeys. Packed in small crates in the cargo hold, they may be subjected to delays, inadequate ventilation, noise and extreme temperature fluctuations. Over the years, a number of incidents have taken place where these animals have suffered greatly or have died during transportation on airlines.
Please contact CS Aviation and SkyBus Air Cargo and urge them to refuse to be associated with the cruelty and suffering involved in the international trade in primates for research.
“Dear CS Aviation: Please do not organize the transportation of primates for the research industry, especially a pending shipment of 1,200 long-tailed macaques from Mauritius to Miami with the cargo carrier Skybus Air Cargo.
The transportation of primates by airlines is an issue that attracts strong public concern and opposition, as well as negative media coverage. As a result, many reputable airlines and cargo carriers, including American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, South African Airways, Delta Airlines, Eva Air, Air Canada and China Airlines, have made the decision to dissociate themselves from the cruelty and suffering of the international trade in primates by refusing to transport primates destined for the research industry.
I strongly urge CS Aviation to refuse to be a broker for the transport of primates, thereby dissociating itself from this highly controversial and cruel trade.”
“Dear SkyBus Air Cargo: Please do not transport primates destined for the research industry, in particular a shipment of 1,200 primates from Mauritius to Miami that has been organized through CS Aviation.
The transportation of primates by airlines is an issue that attracts strong public concern and opposition, as well as negative media attention. As a result, many reputable airlines and cargo carriers, including American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, South African Airways, Delta Airlines, Eva Air, Air Canada and China Airlines, have made the decision to dissociate themselves from the cruelty and suffering of the international trade in primates by refusing to transport primates destined for the research industry.
I strongly urge SkyBus Air Cargo to refuse to transport primates, thereby dissociating itself from this highly controversial and cruel trade.”
(Miami) – Miami-based World Wide Primates has been awarded a $1,840,000 contract to provide hundreds of monkeys to the National Institutes of Health in a “emergency acquisition” due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
World Wide Primates is a family business owned by Matt Block, a man with a history of serious crimes:
In federal court in January 2018, Matt Block pled guilty to one count of “False information and hoaxes.” Block admitted mailing envelopes containing suspicious white powder and a threatening letter to the home of a World Wide Primates employee and to his own mother’s house, and lying to federal law enforcement agents about his involvement in the bizarre scheme.
In 1993, Block was sentenced to 13 months in prison for smuggling endangered wildlife (baby orangutans).
“The National Institutes of Health should not be doing business with an individual like Matt Block who has a history of serious violations of federal criminal law,” said Nick Atwood, Campaigns Coordinator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF). “Providing monkeys for use in experimentation is a dirty business, and Block is one of the dirtiest.”
The use of monkeys and other animals in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine is not only cruel and expensive, but is unnecessary. Because of biological differences between species, animal experiments yield results that cannot be safely applied to humans. ARFF believes that the quickest way to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is through human clinical trials and tests using human tissues and cells (including blood samples from people who have recovered from COVID-19 infections).
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).
(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!