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Thinking about going plant-based?

Navigating through the all the advice and information about plant-based diets can be confusing.  Arguments rage in the news media and online about the ethical, health and environmental considerations involved in moving away from animal-based foods.

Ethical arguments

The ethical case for switching to a plant-based diet is strong.  Science has shown that most animals are sentient. That is, they have the capacity to feel pain, pleasure, suffering or comfort. There is no doubt that the billions of animals raised for food suffer, mainly because of industrialized agriculture, which deprives them of the ability to engage in natural behaviours, forces them to live in confined spaces, subjects them to painful procedures, transports them in stressful conditions, and ends their lives prematurely in a slaughterhouse. 

Many people who have researched and thought about the sentience of animals and about the nature of modern animal agriculture have given up meat. For example, famed anthropologist and conservationist Jane Goodall has written that she stopped eating meat some 50 years ago “when I looked at the pork chop on my plate and thought: this represents fear, pain, death.”

Dr. Lori Marino, a renowned neuroscientist, recently wrote: “…the scientific literature on everyone from pigs to chickens points to one conclusion: farmed animals are someone, not something. They share many of the same mental and emotional characteristics that we recognize in ourselves and acknowledge in the animals closest to us – dogs and cats. To continue our self-indulgence, we resist the evidence and reinforce the status of farmed animals as objects, as commodities, as food.”

If you accept the ethical arguments against raising animals for food, the question then becomes: Okay, now what?  For a growing number of people, the answer is to simply stop consuming animal products. The good news is that it’s never been easier to do so, but there are still practical matters to consider.

What do I eat?

The first big one is: What do I eat?  This is where the debates over dietary health begin. It’s important to know that there is plenty of scientific evidence to show that a plant-based diet can be healthy. The Dietitians of Canada have stated that: “A healthy vegan diet has many health benefits including lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.”

However, if you’re concerned about health, you can’t just switch to a diet of veggie burgers, fries and vegan donuts. That’s why nutrition experts recommend a “whole foods” plant-based diet that focuses on including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts.  It can take a little time and effort to learn how to plan, shop for and prepare whole-food meals, but fortunately there are boundless resources online and in print to help you. (One of our favourites is Easy Animal-Free. You can also sign our Meatless Monday Pledge and receive weekly plant-based recipes.)  In Vancouver, there are also plenty of plant-based restaurants to choose from, so going out to eat isn’t a problem.

The new meat alternatives

But what about all the new meat substitutes people are talking about, such as the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger?  These products are sometimes criticized for being processed foods or for being high in calories.  However, many also contain important nutrients such as protein and vitamin B12, which are important to a meatless diet. In many cases, the products have similar or better nutritional profiles than the meat products they’re replacing. The best approach to these foods is to eat them as occasional treats rather than as a staple of your diet. You can also check labels for nutritional information if you have specific concerns about ingredients. 

Vancouver Humane is very supportive of the rise of the plant-based food industry. If all the world’s burgers, sausages and chicken nuggets were replaced with plant-based alternatives it would likely mean the end of factory farming, which exists only to mass produce cheap meat. It would also mean the end of suffering and slaughter for billions of animals. That’s a prize worth striving for.

It’s also essential to know that eating the new plant-based meat substitutes is far better for the environment than eating meat. The global meat and livestock industry is a major contributor to climate change and causes considerable environmental damage and harm to wildlife.

Take a step in the right direction

So, for a variety of important reasons, it’s a good idea to transition to a plant-based diet. Not everyone can make that change overnight, so go at your own pace. Even just reducing your meat consumption helps and is a step in the right direction.  At Vancouver Humane, we recognize that change can be difficult and we don’t condemn people for their food choices. Instead we believe in providing helpful and reliable information, giving encouragement and being supportive.

If you’re ready to join the plant-based movement, please support our Go Veg campaign. You can help by eating more compassionately and by encouraging others to do the same.

Remember, every time you sit down to eat you can stand up for animals.

 

 

 

 

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Why are some animals celebrated as individuals while millions more are treated as commodities?

Most pigs are confined on factory farms and sent to slaughter

 

On a recent Saturday in Cloverdale, B.C., an Alzheimer centre held a birthday party.  The party was not for one of the residents, but for a one-year-old “therapy pig” called Rosie. 

Local press covered the celebration, quoting centre staff on the effect Rosie has on residents and their relatives who come to visit. “Not only has Rosie been hugely beneficial to the residents, but our staff, volunteers, families, they’ve all blended together to become a part of her life as well,” the centre’s program coordinator told the reporter.

The next day, local and national media were reporting on another story just a few miles away in Abbotsford. Animal activists were protesting at a hog farm in response to an undercover video allegedly showing neglected, sick and suffering pigs kept in filthy conditions. 

The contrasting stories, one about a pig bringing joy to humans, the other about humans bringing misery to pigs, could not illustrate our collective cognitive dissonance about pigs more clearly. Are they just meat (cue the “Mmm, bacon” trolls) or are they more akin to our fabled best friend, the dog?

Scientific studies have suggested that pigs are as intelligent as dogs, although it has been argued that such comparisons are not very meaningful, especially in determining how an animal should be treated. If  my border collie is smarter than your bulldog is he entitled to be treated with more kindness?

What really matters is sentience – the ability to experience sensations such as pain, pleasure or comfort. Neuroscientist Lori Marino, who appeared as an expert witness at the 2017 trial of an animal activist charged with mischief for giving water to pigs in transport trucks, testified that pigs are sentient beings and that “They have self-awareness, self-agency and have a sense of themselves within the social community… Each one is a unique individual.”

The suggestion that pigs feel emotion and have unique personalities would come as no surprise to anyone visiting a farm animal sanctuary. Diane Marsh, a co-founder of the Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary in B.C. tells the story of Betty the pig, who befriended a donkey who had mourned the loss of his horse buddy for two years, rejecting the company of other animals.  She says they had an “instantaneous friendship” and now share food, graze together and sleep next to each other. 

Imagine getting to know Rosie at the Alzheimer centre or Betty at the sanctuary.  It would be heartbreaking for most people if the two were trucked away to a factory farm and sent for slaughter. Yet that is what happens to millions of pigs, each with a unique personality, every day. The only difference is that those nameless millions are unknown to us.

As people become more ethically uncomfortable with industrialized animal agriculture, some have sought so-called “happy meat” from more traditional farms offering better conditions for animals.  Others, recognizing that this still leaves animals facing an unwanted, premature death, are turning away from meat altogether.  And, as most meat in Canada comes from industrialized farms, this is the only realistic ethical choice.

The phenomenal rise of plant-based alternatives to meat has made it easier than ever to avoid animal consumption.  The new products, competing on taste, price and convenience, are attracting considerable investment and proving popular with consumers around the world.

The environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet have been major drivers of the demand for meat alternatives, boosting the efforts of animal advocates and bolstering their ethical arguments against animal consumption. 

But for those who see pigs and other animals as fellow sentient beings and not mere commodities, the ethical arguments are enough. For them, a simple question provides its own answer: If one can eat well without the need for suffering and slaughter, why not?  For them, every pig is a Rosie or a Betty – someone, not something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Abbotsford pig farm cruelty: Another example of why animal agriculture can’t be trusted

Photo: PETA

 

Yesterday’s release of an undercover video showing sick and dying pigs living in filthy conditions at the Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford is just the latest example of why the animal agriculture industry cannot be trusted to raise animals humanely.

Pigs at the farm, which is owned by a director of the BC Pork Producers Association, are shown in the video unable to stand, some with large untreated growths on their bodies. Dead piglets and an adult dead pig can also be seen.

In 2014, animal activists released video that exposed horrific cruelty inflicted on cows at Chilliwack Cattle Sales, Canada’s largest dairy farm.  At the time, Jeff Kooyman, one of the owners of the farm, said he was “shocked” and claimed he had no idea his staff were allegedly abusing the cows. In 2016, Kooyman and five members of his family were charged with causing or permitting animals to be, or to continue to be, in distress – a violation of B.C.’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Several company employees were also charged under the act and later jailed.  The company was fined $300,000.

In June 2017, video footage released by animal activists showed chickens at a Chilliwack poultry operation being mangled, stomped on, thrown against a wall, and smashed into transport crates. The BC SPCA, which described the abuse as “absolutely sickening,” recommended charges, but nearly two years later Crown Counsel has still not prosecuted anyone. (In December 2018, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) laid charges under federal Health of Animals Regulation against Sofina Foods, Elite Farm Services and Elite’s president, Dwayne Dueck, for allegedly beating chickens and loading them in a way “likely to cause injury or undue suffering.”)

In 2018, the BC SPCA announced it was again investigating Elite Farm Services and a chicken farm called Jaedel Enterprises in what it said was “another situation where chickens have allegedly suffered as a result of what appears to be a blatant disregard to adherence of the industry’s own agreed-upon standards of care and a failure to either comply with or put in place processes to ensure this type of suffering does not occur.”

The poultry, dairy and pork industries responsible for the care of these animals routinely deny that these horrific cases of abuse are “the norm.” It’s always just a few “bad apples” they say, while expecting the public to believe that all the other animals on Canadian farms are living happy lives in wonderful conditions. 

But these undercover animal cruelty cases, and the many others that have exposed similar abuse across Canada, the United States and elsewhere, should make clear that modern industrial agriculture can never provide humane conditions for animals.

Many Canadians do not realize that animal farmers in Canada largely police themselves. There are Codes of Practice to protect animal welfare on Canadian farms but there are no government inspections to enforce the codes in terms of conditions on farms. Government oversight only extends to animal transportation and slaughter practices, not the living conditions or overall well-being of animals farmed for food.

Vancouver Humane believes that it is impossible to give animals a good life on modern, industrialized farms. The system is designed to provide cheap meat, dairy and eggs, not to ensure good animal welfare.

Animals are sentient beings that deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. That’s not going to happen on factory farms, where more than 90 per cent of Canada’s farm animals are raised.

That’s why we encourage people to switch to a plant-based diet and refrain from consuming animal-based products. That’s why we support the rise of plant-based businesses and call on governments at all levels to do the same. 

Modern animal agriculture will never be good for animals and it has been shown to be bad for the environment and for our health.  It’s time to build a food system that is healthy, sustainable and compassionate.

 

 

 

 

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Why is a humane society talking about plant-based diets?

“Put simply, when we eat animal products we hurt both farmed and wild animals”

 

Anyone who is familiar with Vancouver Humane’s work or follows our social media channels will notice that we encourage people to try a plant-based diet. Some people, especially those who see a humane society’s work as limited to helping companion animals, might wonder why we put such emphasis on changing diets.

The most obvious reason is that the fewer meat and dairy products we consume, the fewer animals need to be slaughtered. Another reason is that reducing animal-based food consumption negates the case made by industry for factory farming, which exists because of the demand for intensively-produced, cheap meat and dairy.  In short, eating fewer animal products means less slaughter and suffering. It’s also worth noting that 60 per cent of all mammals on earth are livestock, so addressing factory farming means helping large numbers of animals.

“There is substantial evidence that meat consumption contributes to global warming” 

But cutting meat consumption benefits animals in other important ways. Most people are now aware of the threat of climate change to the planet – and that means a threat to animals as well as humans. There is substantial evidence that meat consumption contributes to global warming. (The United Nations says that the livestock sector produces 14.5 per cent of human-generated global greenhouse gas emissions.) And there is no doubt climate change is having an impact on wildlife. As the WWF says, “From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk from the changing climate.”

Aside from contributing to the harm to wildlife through global warming, meat consumption is having a negative impact on animals by causing other environmental damage. A 2017 WWF study found that excessive animal product consumption is responsible for 60 per cent of all biodiversity loss, due to the massive amount of land being used to grow feed for livestock. A previous study on biodiversity loss concluded that: “The consumption of animal-sourced food products by humans is one of the most powerful negative forces affecting the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems and biological diversity. Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss, and both livestock and feedstock production are increasing in developing tropical countries where the majority of biological diversity resides.”  Put simply, when we eat animal products we hurt both farmed and wild animals.

“Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss”

Our focus on reducing the consumption of animal products doesn’t mean we don’t also work to improve the lives of animals currently suffering on factory farms.  We publicly demand accountability for incidents of deliberate animal cruelty on farms and we routinely push for better conditions for farmed animals through, for example, government consultations.

We also make time to address other issues such as rodeos, animals in captivity and the plight of animals whose welfare is often overlooked.

And we haven’t forgotten our precious companion animals, who we help through our McVitie Fund when they are sick and injured.

It’s your donations that make all this work possible. Whether you want to make a better future for animals or help them right here and now, your support will make a real difference.

Take action: Our Go Veg campaign
News: Our latest article on the Daily Hive 

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Move to incorporate farmed animal codes into law will not protect animals from cruelty

The provincial government recently announced it will be adopting into law the codes of practice for the care and handling of farm animals, as outlined by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

The NFACC codes provide guidelines for animal handling, feed and water, housing and health, among other things. They will come into effect for poultry, fur and meat farmers across the province in June of this year.

While on the surface this may seem like a good thing for animals, the devil is in the details. NFACC is largely made of up industry representatives – it includes farmers, producers, transporters, veterinarians, retail and food service organizations, processors, governments and researchers, and animal welfare and enforcement agencies.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has several concerns about the adoption of the codes of practice into B.C. law. First, the adoption of the codes will not eliminate inherently inhumane practices currently applied to animals confined on farms. For instance, dairy cows will still spend most, if not all, of their lives indoors and be separated from their newborn calves; chickens will still be selectively bred for crippling fast growth; pigs will still be confined in crates. These are all still permissible under the codes of practice.

Second, how the codes are implemented into provincial law is of crucial importance. Animal Rights Lawyer, Anna Pippus, wrote about this in detail in 2016, after B.C. incorporated the codes of practice for dairy cattle into law. While the government celebrated it as a step forward in improving the welfare of dairy cows in B.C., Pippus noted that the dairy codes were incorporated as a defence rather than as a requirement. The BC Dairy Cattle Regulation recognizes the dairy code practices “as reasonable and generally accepted practices of dairy farming for the purposes of section 24.02 (c) of the Act”, instead of incorporating them as requirements that farmers must comply with. For comparison, Prince Edward Island’s animal welfare regulations reference the codes of practice as follows – “Every owner of a commercial animal shall comply with the codes of practice listed in Schedule B in respect of the commercial animal to which the code applies.”

This mean that in B.C., if a dairy farmer was accused of causing distress to an animal they could avoid charges by arguing that they were complying with the “reasonable and generally accepted practices of dairy farming.” Yet, the same regulation does not allow for farmers to be prosecuted if they aren’t complying with the codes, due to the fact that the dairy codes were not incorporated into law as a requirement that farmers must meet.

Fast forward to 2019, and we’re seeing this story repeat itself, with the remaining farm animal codes of practice being incorporated into B.C. law under the headline of improving animal welfare, but seemingly with the same problematic implications – as reasonable and generally acceptable livestock management practices, thus offering a defence for farmers, not animals.  

Join us in telling the provincial Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham that incorporating the NFACC codes of practice for farm animals as a defence for farmers is a step in the wrong direction. If we are to truly advance the welfare of farmed animals, on-farm regulations should be based on the best available science (not the industry-led codes of practice) and government oversight in the form of pro-active, on-farm audits in order to ensure compliance. See below for key points to make in your email to the Minister.

Ultimately, the best thing that we as individual consumers can do to truly protect animals from cruelty is to not eat, wear or use them. Today there are more alternatives to animal products on the market than ever before, making it easier for people to choose products that align more closely with their values.

Key points:

  • While the adoption of the codes into B.C. law is being framed by the government as strengthening animal welfare, it actually does nothing to further animal welfare. The codes still permit inhumane practices including selective breeding for crippling fast growth, separation of mothers from young and intensive confinement. 
  • Implementing the codes of practice as “reasonable and generally acceptable livestock management practices” and not as requirements that farmers must meet protects farmers, not the animals.
  • To truly advance farmed animal welfare, on-farm regulations should be based on the best available science, not industry-led codes of practice. The regulations should also be subject to government oversight through pro-active, on-farm inspections.
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Veganism is not the next culture war

Daniel Bryan unveils his new eco-friendly vegan belt

It seems like Vegan athletes and celebrities are everywhere right now; there’s a vegan running for President of the United States, and Beyonce has made headlines the world over for promoting veganism with free concert tickets for those who give up animal products, and her fans are listening. Even the current WWE Champion, “The New Daniel Bryan” is a vegan, anti-corporate, environmentalist who recently threw away the championship belt on Smackdown Live, replacing it with an animal-friendly hemp and wood belt, decorated with turquoise. The New Daniel Bryan, unlike the previous Daniel Bryan, is a heel, the villain in the wrestling world. He’s the guy that wrestling fans love to hate as he attacks his opponents, and the crowd, for their consumerism and gluttony. He’s seen as annoying and of having a superiority complex. He’s never presented as wrong; he’s booed because he speaks the truth that people don’t want to hear. And we should champion those who speak truth to power in order to spread the ethics of compassion against cruelty. Some see this as just the next step in the mainstreaming of veganism and are celebrating Bryan’s message being heard by over two million people live (and almost a million more on the official WWE YouTube video already).

Daniel Bryan dumps WWE Championship for eco-friendly title: SmackDown LIVE, Jan. 29, 2019

Along with his “intellectual peer,” Rowan, Daniel Bryan changes the climate of WWE by disposing of the WWE Championship for a more eco-friendly version. #SDL…

I don’t think it’s great that Daniel Bryan, who outside of the ring is mostly vegan and seemingly genuinely concerned for the environment, is using veganism and environmentalism in this way however. I don’t share the sentiment that a vegan heel, no matter how popular, is good for animals or for those who care about their well-being. I think we should question why the WWE, whose former CEO – Linda McMahon – is currently a member of the Trump cabinet, is promoting a storyline about a vegan villain who won his most recent championship through illegal interference. Has the WWE suddenly developed a desire to promote animal ethics to such an extent as to base a character around it?

 

The mass extinction of species is arguably the largest legacy humans have left on the planet, with this age being designated the “Anthropocene,” an epoch literally defined by our impact. Climate change and the continued devastation of natural habitats the Earth-over will further transform all aspects of life as we know it, and the ever-expanding reach of intensive animal agriculture leaves an ethical stain on all of humanity, in addition to the literal disaster it leaves in its shadow. This means that veganism and the preservation of the environment are the most important and urgent issues facing us as a society and a species. Our response may determine our very survival. I don’t think concern for this impending disaster should be seen as a character trait, a quirk to market a brand as more interesting than it is. I don’t think any animals will be helped by Daniel Bryan. Of course, he’s under no obligation to speak on behalf of the ever growing animal movement, and some will say I’m wrong to complain. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Except this isn’t about freedom of choice, of marketing a brand or product, of choosing Pepsi over Coke. Veganism is not a “lifestyle” to be bought and sold, it is the very ethical issue of our age, possibly the last great ethical issue we will face as a species, and it is being treated as a cultural cloak that can be put on and taken off without commitment. Daniel Bryan’s veganism is just another part of his angry leftist character, one of the things he critiques Vince McMahon for along with environmental and economic concerns. We are implicitly being told by the WWE that ethical commitment is like personal opinion, that climate change is something that should be debated or argued and not the emergency that it is.

 

Welcome to the attempt to include veganism and environmental concern once again as part of a manufactured culture war between the political left and right, between urban and rural residents, in short, as a source of antagonism and division. Certainly caring for animals and the environment have historically been part of this attempt to divide people, whether we look at hippies, the anti-globalization movement, or today’s political left. But aren’t we all tired of this narrative? There are groups within every major religion advocating for veganism and environmental preservation today, and even right-wing personalities like Tucker Carlson are saying that the ethical arguments that ground veganism are compelling. Our very future may depend on the adoption of veganism – the media needs to recognize (finally) that concern for animals and the planet is not a left- or right-wing issue; it is a question of essential morality, and whether one truly cares about the preservation of our species and those others with whom we share the planet. We should remember that when corporations and personas begin to take up our beliefs and our ethics that it is our duty to remain critical, to ensure that morality is uncompromised and that animals have engaged and informed advocates, and not simply brand ambassadors with the right buzzwords.

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Matching grant will double your donations to TWO great campaigns!

Grant will help campaigns to fight rodeo cruelty and factory farming

A generous anonymous donor is offering to match donations to support our fight against rodeo cruelty and to help our Go Veg campaign. The matching grants mean your donation will be doubled, up to $10,000 for each program!

Our campaign against cruelty at the Chilliwack Fair rodeo, the Calgary Stampede and other rodeos will continue this year and your contributions, aided by the matching grant, will allow us to draw greater attention to the plight of rodeo animals. 

Last year, Vancouver Humane exposed the use of electric shock devices at the Chilliwack Fair rodeo, which received considerable media coverage.  We’ll put the spotlight on the rodeo again this year and keep up the pressure on sponsors.

Your doubled donation will also help our Go Veg campaign, allowing us to educate the public about the suffering of farmed animals, promote a plant-based diet and reduce the overall consumption of animal-based foods. We’re also supporting a growing number of institutions, from food service providers, schools and hospitals to corporate cafeterias, in reducing their offering of animal products on menus in favour of more plant-based foods. 

Your gift will allow us to expand this important campaign and go even further to help farmed animals. The funds raised will help us run more Go Veg bus ads, attend more public events and distribute more Go Veg leaflets. We will be able to offer additional culinary support for institutions looking to transition more of their menus to plant-based and we will advocate for policies that prioritize plant-based foods, as well as stronger regulations to protect animal welfare.

Together we can create a kinder and more humane society for all animals!

To donate just click here.  From the drop-down menu choose the Rodeo or Go Veg funds to ensure your donation is doubled.

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Let’s make more animals happy in 2019!

At Vancouver Humane we think every animal deserves to be happy. In 2018, with your support, we helped sick and injured animals to get better; spoke out against animal cruelty and urged people to see animals as friends, not food.
 
 

Generous donors ensured our McVitie fund helped 130 animals get emergency medical help or be spayed/neutered. Their families, many on low incomes, appreciated that someone was there to help in a crisis and that their companions would come home safe and healthy.We hope to help even more animals in the new year – with more happy endings!

 
 
 
 
 

We continued to expose cruelty at rodeos, including the use of an electric shock device at the Chilliwack Fair rodeoand the abuse of bulls at local bull-riding events.

We’re determined to keep fighting for these animals and put an end to rodeo cruelty.

 
 
 
 

We also worked on the root causes of animal suffering, especially factory farming and the demand for the animal products that fuel this cruel industry.

During the year, we took a number of actions to promote a plant-based diet, reduce meat and dairy consumption and educate the public about the suffering of farmed animals, including:

 

 

  • Supported more schools (now 16!) in increasing their offering of plant-based options through initiatives like Meatless Monday. 
  • Held our first plant-based culinary workshop at the secondary school level, training food service staff on new recipes, cooking skills and techniques. 
  • Ran a new Go Veg bus ad, aimed at reminding viewers that when we were children we instinctively saw animals as friends and not food. 
  • Sponsored and participated in the Capilano University Veg Fest, the first of its kind in Metro Vancouver. 
  • Helped spread the Go Veg message by distributing over 19,000 of our Live Well booklets to local advocates, at events and through our Outreach Team.

We also:

  • Launched a new speakers series called Animals & Ethics in the 21st Century to engage the community in animal issues (Our first speaker of 2019 will be registered dietitian Desiree Nielson on Jan. 10th.) 
  • Called on candidates to declare their positions on animal welfare issues in a local election survey. 
  • Advocated for stronger farmed animal transport regulations. 
  • Called for action on delayed farm animal cruelty charges

With your help, we’ll do even more to help animals in 2019.  Please donate to ensure this work continues. Your support means more animals will be helped, giving them the chance to live the happy lives they deserve.

 

Thank you and Happy New Year
from all of us at the Vancouver Humane Society!

 

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On Giving Tuesday you can fight factory farm cruelty and help rescued animals

The Vancouver Humane Society and The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary are partnering to raise funds to help animals now and in the future

Every year in Canada, more than 800 million animals are raised on cruel factory farms before they are sent for slaughter. They suffer from confinement and from being denied the chance to live and behave naturally.  Yet science has shown that each animal, just like your pet cat or dog, has his or her own unique personality. That’s why we say every animal is someone, not something.

This year, on Giving Tuesday, November 27th, we are again partnering with The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary to make life better for farmed animals.  Giving Tuesday is the annual opportunity to put your dollars toward a cause that’s near and dear to your heart – this year, we hope you’ll make it the plight of animals on factory farms.  All donations will be split between both charities.

At VHS, we work year-round to draw public and media attention to the treatment of farmed animals. Our Go Veg campaign encourages people to try a plant-based diet, which reduces the demand that drives factory farming. We’ve launched our Meatless Monday initiative in 17 Metro Vancouver secondary and post-secondary schools, helping to introduce a compassionate, healthy and sustainable diet to the next generation.  And our rodeo campaign is exposing cruelty and showing that “livestock” are not just commodities to be brutalized for entertainment, but sentient animals capable of feeling physical and emotional pain.

Our partners at The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary have shown how rescued farmed animals, free of cruelty and confinement, can flourish as individuals. The sanctuary provides a forever home for all types of animals where they can live out their entire lives in a beautiful, natural setting where they are treated with kindness and respect. Visiting Happy Herd and meeting the animals can be a life-changing experience. You will quickly see them as “friends, not food.”

On November 27th, you can donate directly to our joint appeal, but you can also help by supporting the generous (and cruelty-free) local businesses who are partnering with VHS and Happy Herd. On Giving Tuesday, they will be launching a variety of special offers and promotions, all raising funds to help us help animals.  Watch our website and social media channels for updates as we get closer to November 27th – or sign up for our action alerts.

Giving Tuesday is your chance to make life better for farmed animals.  Don’t miss it!

 

 

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Make sure it’s a safe and Happy Halloween for animals

 

Halloween is a time for fun but it can be a difficult time for animals.  Here are some things you can do that will help ensure animals enjoy the occasion too.

Keep animals inside – The noise from fireworks, trick-or-treaters and parties can be stressful for animals, so please ensure they are kept inside on Halloween. It’s also a good idea to ensure pets are wearing identification at all times in case they get out.  Pets should also be kept away from the front door, as they may find a constant stream of noisy visitors threatening. 

In Vancouver, the City makes a family fireworks permit available from October 25 to 31, to discharge fireworks on Halloween. VHS would like to see a complete ban on fireworks in the city, which not only adversely affects pets, but also urban wildlife. You can sign a petition for a ban here.

Keep Halloween treats away from pets – Candy should be kept secure and away from pets, especially chocolate, which is very toxic to dogs.  Sugary candy, raisins and some nuts are also toxic, as are some artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol.  Even ingested wrappers can cause bowel obstructions.

Be careful with decorations – Materials like tinsel, ribbon and string are dangerous for pets, as they may cause severe injury to the intestinal tract if swallowed, so keep decorations away from them. Be careful with strings of lights and extension cords to avoid risk of pets getting an electric shock. Remember that pets can knock things over, so keep Jack-O-Lanterns and other decorations with candles out of their way.

Don’t go overboard with pet costumes – While pets in costumes can be adorable, they can also make animals uncomfortable and stressed. Watch for signs of anxiety or distress and don’t force anything on a reluctant pet. If your pet doesn’t mind a costume, make sure it doesn’t significantly limit movement, hearing, eyesight, or the ability to eat food or drink water.

Remember that not every animal likes to party – Keep an eye on your pets at parties, or better yet, keep them in a separate room.  Noisy crowds, strangers, loud music, drugs & alcohol, food falling on the floor – all can present risks and create a stressful environment for animals.

Avoid “pumpkin patches” that display animals – In recent years, pumpkin patches and corn mazes on local farms have become Halloween attractions.  Some incorporate petting zoos, putting farmed animals on display and allowing the public to interact with them.  This can be stressful for farmed animals, as they cannot escape unwanted attention.  It’s worth remembering that these animals are not pets, are being displayed for profit and may later be sent for slaughter like all farmed animals. It’s a good idea to call the venue first and ask whether animals are part of the attraction and under what circumstances.

Try a plant-based Halloween – There are lots of ideas and recipes online to make your Halloween plant-based and cruelty-free.  Here are a few helpful links:
Halloween items at Vegan Supply
Recipes from Choose Veg
Recipes from VNutrition
Vegan Halloween candy guide from Cooking Light
The Food Empowerment Project has a free app listing vegan chocolate suppliers

Give your leftover pumpkins to an animal sanctuary – Sanctuaries for farmed animals can often use leftover produce, including pumpkins, for feed. The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary and the Little Oink Bank Pig Sanctuary are two local groups you can contact to see what their hungry animals need.