The Chinese New Year has arrived with a bang! It's now the Year of the Snake, and next year will be Year of the Horse. But what about all the animals who don't get their own "year"? Here's three suggestions for other animals who totally deserve to have their own "year" too. See if your fave made the grade!
Somehow, cats don't already have their own year! Try explaining THAT to this cat who acts as a guide to a blind dog in Wales!
You can show some love for cats by taking the pledge to always adopt, rather than buy when you're looking to welcome a cat into your family. With tens of thousands of cats killed in Australia every year because there just aren't enough homes for them - your personal pledge is a promise to save a life.
Next week will see duck hunting season start in South Australia. The blood will also flow in this cruel "sport" in Tasmania and Victoria starting in March. (WA, Qld and NSW - you're cool, duck hunting is banned in your states.) You can stick up for ducks in two powerful ways. Firstly, you can send a message to state pollies letting them know you're against duck hunting. And secondly, if you're in Victoria, you can join other volunteers from the Coalition Against Duck Shooting on a duck rescue team. With your help, hopefully soon we'll have a Year of the Duck, and not a Year of Duck Hunting!
I've heard of Shark Week - but when are we going to get a Shark Year?! These majestic sea animals have been around since dinosaurs were stomping about, but now some species are at risk of total extinction. One of the major reasons for this alarming fact is the practice of shark-finning. The photo here is of 18,000 (!!) shark fins drying on a roof top in Hong Kong.
The need to do something about this has already been recognised in some countries. For example, Costa Rica has totally banned the mutilation in its waters. You can raise awareness of shark-finning amongst your buds by getting active on Facebook and Twitter. Sharks have been around for millions of years - don't let them die out on our watch!
Why not make 2013 the Year of Animals in general? Celebrate them every day by choosing not to eat them! Find out how easy it is here - and prepare to have the best year of your life!
Which animals do you think deserve their own year??
Every year Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer has the stress-filled job of guiding Santa's sleigh to make sure kids everywhere get their pressies. He's about due for a break don't you think? So here are five animals who could fill in for him with the amazing ability to find their way, no matter where they are.
1. Howie the cat. Howie's Adelaide family left him with caretakers on the Gold Coast when they went travelling. Unfortunately, Howie made a break for it and it was feared that he would never be seen again. Fast forward a year and there's Howie sitting on the doorstep ... in Adelaide. The persistent Persian had travelled over 1500 kms to get home. And didn't use Google Maps once!
2. Loggerhead turtles. As well as having a great name, these turtles also have a great sense of direction. After birth, these guys hit the water and start an epic journey that takes them around the ocean. When they are ready to have their own babies, females return to the same beach where they were born more than 20 years earlier! Think of that next time you forget where you put your keys five minutes ago :P
3. Chica the border collie. A dog playing fetch is pretty cool, but a blind dog playing fetch?? That's awesome. Chica had both eyes surgically removed when she was a pup, but still has the remarkable ability to chase a ball and return it. Check her out in action ...
4. Misele the cat. Determined to help her human-dad when he was admitted to hospital, Misele crossed fields, forests and highways to visit him in hospital. Not only did she find the hospital he was in, she even found the right room! If laughter is the best medicine, then cats would have to be a close second.
5. Piko-chan the lazy parakeet. When Piko-chan got lost one day, rather than trying to find his own way home, he simply squawked out his full address and got his rescuers to drop him off. I like the way you think, Piko-chan! The brainy bird had been taught how to recite his home address in case an emergency like this ever happened.
There you have it - five animals who would be ready to step up so Rudolph can take a break. OK, maybe four - Piko-chan might not be the greatest help in the world. But I bet you could teach him swear words, and that would definitely help create holiday cheer over Xmas lunch!
This Christmas, you can give animals the best present of all - by extending peace and goodwill to ALL, and making your meals cruelty-free. Find out more at the Unleashed Pardon a Pig page. There's even some cool e-cards there you can send out to your friends and family!
Now, I'm a massive fan of Lady Gaga's music, and I think that she's got a lot of important things to say. But jeez she makes some shocking decisions when it comes to what she wears. Her latest monster balls-up is wearing fur. As if that's not bad enough - you should hear her bumbling justification for it.
You might remember a couple of Gaga's other fashion crimes. Her meat bikini (blergh-kini?) springs to mind immediately. This time she's draped herself in a fur coat in the middle of the northern summer. She defended herself by saying that while normal people would "see a carcass, I see a museum piece de resistance". She goes on to describe it as an "art piece". Really? It looks more like the carpet a mate of mine used to have in the back of his station wagon.
Look closely at the photo - see the adorable little dog there? If I was that dog ... I'd be freakin' out! After all, millions of dogs are killed each year for their fur. I wonder whether Lady Gaga would have looked at the coat differently if it had been made out of that little guy. A recent segment on Today Tonight showed that fur products being sold here in Australia contain dog and cat fur, even though it's illegal to import.
To make fur clothes, animals are beaten, anally electrocuted, drowned, or poisoned. Some are even skinned alive! When she was criticised for wearing fur, Lady Gaga responded by saying, "I do not support violent, abusive campaigns for ANY CAUSE". It's just a bummer that she DOES seem fine with violence and abuse against animals, I guess.
Did you know that every hour across Australia, 23 dogs and cats are killed in shelters and pounds? How awful is that?? These poor animals have done nothing wrong, it's just that there aren't enough homes out there for them. To help stop this relentless death toll, July is National Desexing Month.
Check out all the benefits that desexing provides for dogs and cats: 1) less "unwanted" animals winding up in shelters where they may be killed if not quickly adopted. 2) no more leg-humping when guests come round. Aaawkward. 3) less tendency to wander and fight. 4) lower chance of certain types of cancer - which means a higher chance of plenty more years worth of fun together!
For all these reasons, the National Desexing Network (NDN) (organised by the Animal Welfare League of QLD) has teamed up with vets around the country to offer discounts and deals to families who want to help. So if your family (or someone you know) has a cat or dog that should be desexed, let them know that this is the month to do something about it. Animals Australia is pleased to have provided sponsorship to assist promotion of this initiative.
The other way you can help to save a life is if your fambam is considering welcoming a dog or cat into your lives - adopt from a shelter, rather than buying. Bieber and Hannah Montana can't do it all themselves, you know! There's even an app to help hook you up with a shelter dog or cat!
PS. If you're lucky enough to be in Sydney in July, why not make some time to visit the My Human Family photography exhibition at Pine Street Gallery. The exhibition has photos and stories of rescued or adopted dogs which are guaranteed to brighten your day. Yep - guaranteed!
Angus and Julia Stone - they're family.
Joel and Benji Madden - they're family.
Probably all the guys in One Direction? I dunno, they all kind of look the same to me.
Whatever! The point is -- today is International Day of Families! It's a day to do something nice for your fambam. Pluck mum a flower from the neighbour's yard. Ask dad for one of his hilarious jokes. Don't give your bro a hard time for picking his nose -- if he enjoys doing it, let him do it, just for today. And most importantly - do something nice for the animal members of your family too!
You'd know as well as anyone that your companion animals are valued members of the family. Who's the first to meet you at the door after school? I bet it's the dog, right? And who better than kitty to sit down and watch The Voice with. Our four-legged friends even seem to know when we're in a good mood or when we're not feeling so great, and often pick up on it quicker than our mates!
So this year, for International Day of Families, try to do something so the furry family members (I don't mean your brother) know they really are part of the family. Now, I can hear some of you already - "but it's Tuesday man, I need to save my brain for the rest of the week". So here's some ideas I prepared earlier:
TWO walks in a day!
A new chew toy, with special cruelty-free treats inside.
Plenty of pats and loads of attention.
And trust me on this one ... tell them you love them.
Here's my special mate Gus moments after being told I love him, and moments before launching an attack on my leg.
When the day comes that cats rule this world (and it will happen), maybe they'll think back to how cool you were to them today, and they'll go easy on you. Maybe. Who knows what cats are thinking?
How are you going to spoil your furry family members today? Leave a comment.
I've got an app that makes my phone a flashlight (doesn't work), and one that promises to give me ripped abs (also doesn't work). But finally I found something useful! PetRescue has released an app for iPhones that matches shelter dogs and cats with potential new families. It couldn't come a moment too soon either, with over 200,000 cats and dogs being put down in shelters around Australia every year ... simply because they couldn't be rehomed.
This sensational new app was developed by two NSW based programmers -- Brandon Cowan and Wei Zheng. The impressive thing is that Brandon is just 18 years old! These two guns developed the app entirely free of charge for PetRescue and now you can grab it at the bargain price of ... absolutely nothing! That's right; it's free for you to download. What a couple of legends Brandon and Wei are -- donating their time and energy for our lovable furry friends.
This app really makes my tail wag. I'd encourage any family to adopt rather than buy, so if you, your family or anyone you know is considering it, then make sure they know about this app.
And while we're on the topic - do you know of any other cool apps to help animals? If you've got one in mind, why not talk it up with a comment below!
I don't know about you, but the idea of having a dead animal draped around my shoulders to keep warm, or worse, to make a 'fashion statement', makes me want to recoil in disgust, or more to the point: puke!
On a recent shopping trip I happened to spot a number of rabbit fur vests in shop windows--at least I think they were rabbit fur . But with dog and cat fur often deliberately mislabelled and imported as 'rabbit', you can never be sure.
What is up with this resurgence of fur?! At the recent Melbourne Spring Fashion Week there were a disturbing number of attendees in the crowd wearing this season's "on-trend" of brightly coloured fur.
Even Aussie expat, supermodel Jess Hart has been seen walking around the streets of New York in a fur coat that I'm sure looked much better on the animal it was taken from.
And to top it all off, the latest episode of Australia's Next Top Model again featured fur to the disgust of viewers and even the show's own judges. ANTM copped it last year for the same tasteless faux pas so they have no excuse for not using faux fur this time around.
We know there is nothing fashionable about the cruel slaughter of animals for fur. Fur farms, which often use killing methods such as drowning, anal electrocution and skinning alive are kept in business through the demand for fur coats, gloves, hats, fur trimming at the cost of thousands of animals' lives.
What do you think -- How can we communicate to these "fashionistas" that animals need their fur on their own backs, not ours? With so many cosy cruelty-free outfits at our fingertips, haven't we evolved past killing animals for coats?!
It took its sweet time but summer is finally here! Sun, surf, cricket on the beach, festive get togethers and of course, hot hot hot weather!
If you saw that picture of a koala cooling down during a heatwave in Adelaide a few years back, you'll know how important it is to keep cool, and help our pets and surrounding wildlife keep cool too!
So may I introduce the ultimate 10 point Unleashed Summer Survival Guide!
Be Water Wise!Always leave water out for your own animals as well as the sweltering wildlife, and top it up throughout the day (you'll thank me when you see magpies dunking their heads in the waterbowl!) If you have a pool make sure you cover that when you're not home – they are just so inviting at this time of year that animals may decide they wanna have a pool party, which can lead to trouble when they can't get out! (PS If you have a dog, a shell paddle pool is the best Christmas present you can buy!)
Never Ever Leave an Animal in the Car! Not even for 30 seconds. Even on cloudy days, the temperature inside the car will increase very quickly — even with the window down or the air conditioning on. Pets are at severe risk of heat exhaustion and death in this situation, so it's never worth the risk.
Watch out for Snakes! Those slipperies can really thrive when the weather warms up, so if you're walking your furry friends through bushlands or national parks, be extra careful to avoid snakes and make sure you know what to do if one of them manages to nip your pet. Snakes are attracted to the cover of scrub and long grass. If this sounds like your backyard, mow the lawn (or tell your parents to!) and pay attention for symptoms of snakebite — some are less obvious than others.
Pets are Not Presents! Never ever buy an animal as a gift for someone, no matter how big the puppy dog eyes are! People should only get animals for themselves when they are sure they are ready for the commitment of having a pet, and then it should always be from an animal shelter, never a pet shop.
Secure the Perimeter! Before the festivities start, ensure that your yard/house is safe and secure. Many pets can be spooked by loud noises including storms and especially fireworks. An escape proof property means there's no chance of Fido bolting over a fence or through a window and becoming lost or running into traffic. And ensures you don't spend your Christmas day frantically searching the streets!
Keep Decorations Out of Harms Way! When hanging ornaments, lights and tinsel on the tree, ensure they are high enough off the ground so as not to become a choking hazard to pets. We all know how much curious cats love shiny things!
Provide a safe haven! When the house becomes crowded with friends and relatives, shy animals can become nervous and seek solitude. Make sure there is always somewhere quiet, away from people, where your animals can retreat to if they need to. You may also need to join them there for some time out by the end of the day! ;)
Ration Leftovers Wisely! We've all seen the longing eyes of our beloved dogs and cats trying to levitate the food off the table, especially at holiday time. But certain tasty foods are potentially dangerous to dogs or cats and can cause significant damage or even death. While this list is certainly not definitive, some common foods on the Christmas table to avoid feeding your pets include: chocolate, grapes (raisins and sultanas) and nuts (both of which will probably be in your Chrissy pudding), garlic or onion (do you put these in your gravy or stuffing?), sugary candy, yeast (in bread), mushrooms, tomato leaves or stems, anything with caffeine and cooked chicken or turkey bones. Click here for a more extensive list of toxic foods. You should also never give your pets paracetamol, as this can kill the animal not the pain, (besides you may need it yourself for the Boxing Day recovery)! If you suspect your animal may have eaten something that could be harmful, take them to the vet immediately.
Take Them With You! Ask your parents to find pet friendly accommodation if you are planning a trip away. Dr Katrina Warren has a few tried and true pet-friendly holiday spots listed on her website, as well as some very important tips for travelling with pets. If you really can't take your best friend with you, make sure you check out and inspect the best kennels available in your area and book well in advance (they fill up very fast for Christmas time!).
Be Prepared for Wild Activity on the Road! Keep an emergency kit in the car for any unforseen mishaps on the road. As well as food and water for your own animals, make sure you bring extra, along with a blanket and a box in case you come across injured or exhausted wildlife on the road. Save the phone number for the local wildlife rescue service in your phone before you set out.
Let me know if you've got any more tips on how to ensure the festive season is enjoyed by all members of the family!
And for great ideas on having the ultimate cruelty-free Christmas, check out this brand new tradition: Pardon A Pig! Happy Holidays!
In so many ways, the animals have it worked out. Whilst we humans appear to have mastered technology, no matter how hard we try, we'll simply never be able to run faster, travel further, or hide better than nature's own team of superpowered critters. But all's not lost. I like to think there are some things that we can still learn from our furry friends.
It's Halloween time! Which means lots of talk of witches, ghosts, werewolves, zombies, bats, rats and black cats ... spoooooky!
But rather than fearing the animals traditionally associated with Halloween, I want us all to remember how awesome these creepy creatures really are and why we should love 'em! (Let's face it, this ain't gonna be a tough task!)
While in the US, black cats have the lowest adoption rates from shelters than any other colour, in Scotland it's believed owners of black cats will have lots of good luck and …shall we say, suitors. So single Scottish gals are reaping the benefits of having black moggies around the house!
Far from being scary symbols of vampires, bats are considered good luck in Poland and in China they are signs of happiness and prosperity. And let's not forget what would have become of Gotham City without Batman around to save the day!
Here in the Western world there's tales of werewolves coming out when the moon appears (and the Twilight stories aren't helping dispel this myth!), in Japan, wolves are considered to be Gods, where grain farmers even pray to wolves at shrines, asking them to protect their crops.
In China, the rat is the first sign of the zodiac, and if you're born under this sign you are said to be intelligent, creative, generous and honest. Funny then, that in Western cultures, dishonest people are called 'dirty rats'! In India, it's considered a blessing to eat food that has been touched by rats ... now I love all animals, but I'm pretty sure it's gonna take a long time for that idea to catch on here, if ever!
Thankfully owls have managed to overcome their reputation of being 'bringers in death' as they're known in Africa. Today owls are symbols of wisdom. And of course, Harry Potter's beautiful Hedwig has shown us they're pretty good at delivering messages too!
All this talk of superstitions and cultural beliefs has got me feeling all inspired – when the kids come trick or treating at my door tonight, I'm gonna be all ready with my cruelty free white chocolate bites and witches' fingers (no, even witches don't get harmed in the making of these!).
That is as soon as I adopt a black cat to keep me company and attract lots of …um …protectors …to my house for Halloween! ;)
This is making headline news around the world: After 4 year old tabby cat, Lola, greeted Mary Bale in the street for a quick pat, Mary grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and shoved her into a wheelie bin before walking away. Lola was trapped inside the bin for 15 hours. Luckily, this was all caught on film, otherwise Lola may never have been found!
After the footage was posted on Facebook, people worldwide have been outraged that anyone could do such a thing to a defenceless animal.
Surely throwing an animal into a wheelie bin, any bin, and leaving him or her to die is illegal ... well ... it depends on the animal ...
We know that eggs come from hens and that hens are female. So when one hen stops laying eggs, she gets replaced with another ...female. All the egg industry needs are female birds to keep clucking along.
What happens to a chick if he's born a male? Unfortunately, he ends up in the bin. But the difference here is that when male chicks are thrown into bins at hatcheries across the globe, there are no security cameras filming the people responsible, no one will come to their rescue. Every year in Australia alone, an estimated 12 million day old baby birds are either ground up alive or tossed into a bin on top of their brothers to be gassed to death... and this is legal!
See for yourself what happens inside the world's largest hatchery (the same thing happens here):
No animal (furry or feathered) deserves to be tossed into a bin and left for dead. Fortunately, we can all take a stand against this cruelty by giving eggs the flick. No yolk, it's easy as vegan pie!
So I just discovered that across Australia, 23 dogs and cats are euthanised every hour because there just aren't enough people willing to give them loving homes. I knew the stats were bad, but I had no idea they were that bad!
Puppy mills that supply pet shops aren't just blatantly cruel, they've caused the unwanted pet population to explode. The 'designer dog' phenomenon also adds to the problem. And this just gets multiplied when companion animals become unexpectedly pregnant because they haven't been desexed.
That's why I was really pleased to find out that the National Desexing Network has declared August to be National Desexing Month! This initiative of the Animal Welfare League of Qld has arranged for almost 100 vet clinics around Australia to offer subsidies, discounts and special deals on desexing your beloved pets.
If your animals are already desexed – Well done you! Give yourself a gold star! If they aren't, then now's your chance! Click here to find a vet near you offering a reduced price! And if you know anyone who hasn't had their furry four-legged friend fixed, direct them to the website, to take of advantage of the discounts while they still can!
Still not convinced? Desexed animals are more sociable (no spraying or humping my leg thank you very much!), less prone to wander or fight, have reduced risk of getting cancers in the reproductive organs, and (the clincher for me) generally lead longer, healthier, happier lives. Who wouldn't want that for their best friend?
Plus, you'll never have the extra burden of having to find homes for unexpected bundles of fur, or worse, taking them to the pound in the hope that they will do it for you (don't forget that opening stat!).
And finally, if you're thinking of giving an animal a home, please don't buy. Visit a shelter. I promise you'll find your new best friend there, and save a life at the same time. I did! :)
I probably don't need to tell you Lea's onto a good thing. Adopting an animal from a shelter, rather than buying one from a pet store or breeder, is a great way to help animals ... For so many reasons!
For starters, you're giving a needy animal a home. Every year across Australia, over 200,000 dogs and cats are put down in shelters because a loving home could not be found for them. Every time a dog or cat is bought from a pet store, or a breeder, that's one less home for an animal in a shelter. And to add insult to injury it also creates the demand for even more dogs and cats to be bred :(
If that weren't reason enough, then puppy mills certainly are! Puppy mills are like factory farms for dogs. Imagine dozens or even hundreds of dogs kept as breeding machines - each dog confined to a small enclosure and given little exercise. These animals rarely get enough opportunity to socialise with other dogs or humans. Investigations of puppy mills have found dogs huddled in enclosures without proper shelter or bedding, and have found sick and weak dogs without proper vet care.
Many pet stores sell puppies from puppy mills. It's heart breaking to think that while the furry little bundle of joy that families buy at a pet store is on his way to his new home, his mum and dad are probably still suffering in a puppy mill.
Adopting a new furry friend from a shelter can be an incredibly rewarding experience. And it is all the more rewarding when you know that you've given a needy animal a loving home. Fingers crossed Lea's stickers reach a lot of people (and I'm sure she'd be happy for you to print them out and help make that happen - click on either image to get a larger version).
Have you adopted an animal?
Got something you're doing to speak up for animals?
Have you heard about Nadya Suleman? Last year she grabbed worldwide attention when she gave birth to octuplets, bringing her total number of children to 14!!! Gosh, I have enough trouble keeping my own affairs in order, let alone looking after a football team's worth of kids! While Ms Suleman's situation might seem highly unusual, sadly in Australia there are many other mums giving birth to litters of children who may never have a proper home. Yup, I'm talking about dog and cat overpopulation.
The harsh reality is that every year over 200,000 cats and dogs in shelters across Australia will be deemed 'unwanted' and be euthanized. Now if that's not a big enough number for you to sit up straight, remember that there are also at this very second an estimated 10 million stray cats around the country. So it's easy to see that we're in a bit of a pickle!
But there is a solution (hoorah!)... The catch is that to make it work, everyone with companion animals has got to do their bit. A simple snip & sew (ie. desexing) by a vet will be a huge help to prevent even more cats and dogs suffering a life on the streets.
So if you haven't already, book your little guy/girl in for an overnight trip at the local vet. It isn't all too expensive, and it'll spare you the grief of having to deal with your own litter of octuplets!
This is my own little ambassador: Charlie, whom, due to being incredibly gorgeous and irresistibly handsome, is definitely a ladies' man dog. Although I'm sure he knows he won't father children... it still doesn't stop him from trying ;)
Tis the season to be jolly, no doubt. But as we edge towards Christmas, I couldn't help noticing all of the pet shop windows filled with animals. And this got me thinking that sometimes the best of intentions can have tragic consequences.
Australians love their pets—53% of households have a furry friend. And there's no denying it's easy to fall for those cute little animals in pet store windows … (they don't call them ‘puppy dog eyes' for nothing)! Yet, most people have no idea where these animals come from, or the sad fate that awaits so many of them. So in hoping for a kinder Christmas for animals this year, here are 5 things you should know about giving animals as presents.
Animal shelters and pounds are already beyond capacity with abandoned and orphaned animals. Every year, some 250,000 healthy cats and dogs are killed around Australia, simply because there is no one who will take them in. When people buy animals from backyard breeders or pet stores, they literally destroy the chances of a shelter animal finding a home, and they put money in the pockets of those who are creating the overpopulation problem.
Sadly, most animals in pet stores come from puppy mills—factory-like facilities where animals live in miserable conditions—the mothers are treated as nothing more than breeding machines, until they reach their limit, and usually die. Puppy mills are factory farms for dogs and cats.
Post-Christmas, animal shelters receive more animals than at any other time of year. Why? Because adopting an animal is a lot of responsibility, and many people don't consider the commitment they are making, or that they are obliging someone else to make by giving them an animal. Consider this: Will you have enough time to exercise and train them? Will you have the money to feed them and cover vet bills? Do you have the space? These are important questions, and not easy ones to answer for someone else.
An Unpleasant Surprise:
At some point we've all opened some present and thought “Oh god! What am I going to do with this?”, but unlike that shirt you'll never wear, or that book you'll never read you cannot pack an animal in a box and forget about them. Many people don't have the time, patience or desire to look after an animal. So that cute little fur ball may not give your loved one the pleasant surprise you'd hoped.
Adopt & Desex:
Giving an animal as a gift is never a good idea, unless you've consulted the person who will be looking after the animal first. So if you're certain they tick all the right boxes and they've said they want a furry addition to the family, then here's how to put a smile on someone's dial and save a life: adopt from a shelter. Adopting from a shelter gives a home to an animal in need and helps to reduce pet overpopulation. And be sure to desex—desexing does more good than you can ever imagine. The world doesn't need any more dogs and cats—we need homes for the ones who are already here.
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.