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Losing Hunter: Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

Hunter

Hunter

We’d been saying goodbye to Hunter for eight months, since we learned that she had kidney disease. What had begun in August 2012 with the treatment of what appeared to be a urinary-tract infection had turned quickly into the urgent management of and an intensive crash course in glomerulonephritis, the merciless cause of Hunter’s diminished kidney functions. Most dogs don’t last two months after such a diagnosis, we were told by our dedicated veterinarian and a consulting veterinary internist. In the end, she’d lived for eight more months.

Hunter died on March 29, 2013 – Good Friday, somewhat ironically – at the end of a horrible week that we all-but knew would be her last. My wife, Jessica, and I had done all we could do to manage the disease over the “long term,” whose duration had elapsed. And Hunter, an 8-year-old black Lab mix we’d adopted in 2005, was telling us she’d had enough. Dr. B, as compassionate and extraordinary a caretaker as we and Hunter could have hoped to rely on, had said several times that Hunter would “let us know” when she was ready to stop fighting. And in those last few weeks of her life, it had become clear that she was fighting for us, and no longer for herself. No matter how far removed I am from her death, I am destroyed anew by that critical bit of communication, which carried a crushing reminder that Hunter hadn’t been able to tells us much during her illness about how she was feeling and what she wanted or needed. And yet, she’d remained the stoic one, brave and trusting to the end, even as I helped her die.

She hadn’t eaten in days and was staying hydrated only because we’d been giving her fluids subcutaneously. She’d stopped climbing the stairs and going outside on her own and had spent the last week in a peaceless stillness, nausea-induced tremors interrupting any chance of relaxation. While Hunter’s eyes had lost their brightness and struggled to focus in her imprisoning weakness, they didn’t fail to convey her trust. The last few times she’d been outside, after I’d carried her into the yard and set her down to face into the wind, she’d stood still, confused by the dizziness but unafraid of what it meant. She’d always spent a few minutes facing into the wind, closing her eyes and letting the current wash over her forehead. In the past, though, her stillness was meditative until broken in a burst of energy as she bolted across the yard with unusually spectacular speed in pursuit of an interloping bird or squirrel. Now, it was all she could do to just stand there, unsteady, leaving me to remember those purposeful sprints and the smile she’d wear as she came trotting back to the deck, the back door, and the indoors, where she now lay, frail and courageous.

That morning, I’d carried her downstairs from our bedroom, just as I’d carried her upstairs and placed her on our bed the night before. I called our veterinarian, who’d last seen Hunter at the beginning of that terrible week. We’d run out of time, and there was nothing else we could do for Hunter. More important, there was nothing more she wanted us to do. In fact, doing anything more would have been unfair to her. And what was best for her had always been our priority.

Dr. B had told us she’d be off from work that day, but that she’d be available, whatever we needed. What we needed was her help to let Hunter stop fighting. Dr. B and I had talked about this eventuality. Neither of us was surprised that the time had come. Hunter had let us know. She’d answered a question that I wrote down after she was gone: “Do I give her that day, or do I give her the opportunity to not have to endure it?”

Calmly, Dr. B said she’d make arrangements for someone to watch her children and head to her office to pick up the necessary drugs and equipment, after which she’d come to our house, to Hunter. Gently, she asked if we wanted her to take Hunter’s body when it was all over, or if we had plans to bury her, which we did, though that wasn’t a conversation Jess and I’d had. No sooner had I told Jess the details of my conversation with our veterinarian than Dr. B called back to say she’d be at our house within the hour. Immediately, I felt sick to my stomach, a symptom, no doubt, of pain and guilt. It was the right decision, I knew, and yet it hurt in a way that I can still feel.

Not wanting the moments after Hunter died to be taken up with the unwelcome task of digging her grave, I grabbed a pair of gardening gloves and headed for the neighbors’ shed to get a shovel. Jess asked if I wanted her help, which I did not. I let her know as much in a breathless tone that betrayed the anger and grief I felt, and which was captured in another notebook entry, made in the hours and days after Hunter died: “The muscles in my legs ached from digging Hunter’s grave, a ghoulish exercise I performed in the moments before our veterinarian arrived.”

I picked a secluded spot next to the gravesite of an animal companion we’d lost in June 2011: Alex, a more than 15-year-old cat I’d adopted almost that many years earlier in New York City. Alex had died peacefully of old age. She’d made it easy on us, Jess and I have said countless times since. As I started digging this time, I felt no such peace. Adding to that anguish was my concern that our neighbors, with whom we’re friendly, would see what I was doing and come over. They’d known Hunter since we’d brought her home and knew how sick she’d been. They’d noted her increasing absence in our yard and that her final days were upon us. Given that it was a holiday, our neighbors – J and K – were home from work. And it would not have been surprising for J, the handyman neighbor every homeowner should hope to have, to lend a hand. As a do-it-yourself hobbyist with his own backhoe and dump truck, J could’ve dug Hunter’s grave in a few effortless minutes, although, to include anyone else in the performance of this necessary and dreadfully symbolic task was unthinkable.

Thankfully, I was left alone to dig Hunter’s grave – to fight with the stubborn roots that resisted my efforts to split them with the shovel’s edge, to remove pieces of tableware that had likely been buried as trash by our home’s original, 19th century owners, and to set aside the large stones that tumbled into the rectangular excavation. It was a beautiful day in terms of the weather, by most people’s standards, and I worked up a sweat trying to complete the ghoulish exercise before Dr. B arrived.

Like most first-time visitors to our house, she missed the driveway, which is hard to see for those approaching from the north. I’d finished digging and was waiting in the driveway, expecting her to drive past. Had I not known that the decision we’d made earlier that morning was the right one – that Hunter had told us, in her way, that she was done fighting, and that any more fighting on our part would have been for ourselves and not for her – I might have hoped for Dr. B to get lost and fail to find our house. That thought never entered my mind. Hunter was near death and without intervention might have made it through the day, perhaps even through the next. She hadn’t eaten in a number of days, and the only fluids in her were those that we’d provided subcutaneously. She hadn’t stood on her own that day and hadn’t changed her position on her cranberry-colored mat since I’d relocated her there from our bed. Hunter’s once-enviable quality of life had disappeared with her muscle, appetite, and energy.

I greeted Dr. B with an honest smile, in part to put her at ease and let her know that I – that we – were OK, and in part, I’m sure, to acknowledge myself that we were doing something for Hunter, and not to her. Still, Dr. B’s presence once again provided comfort, the extraordinary care she’d provided Hunter marked by equal measures of expertise, professionalism, and compassion. I led her inside and past our nearly 2-year-old cat, Monty, who’d wandered into the kitchen, and then into the living room where Jess sat with Hunter who moved only her eyes as we entered the room. Dorrie, our 5-and-a-half-year-old beagle-hound mix – Hunter’s younger canine sister – stood quietly and attentively nearby. Hunter’s bravery seemed to have rubbed off on the rest of us, though it didn’t cure the physical sickness I’d felt since calling Dr. B’s office less than an hour earlier. More than once, I’d hung up the phone after talking with our veterinarian and cried uncontrollably, angered and devastated by the death sentence Hunter’s glomerulonephritis had come with. I’d been vigilant about channeling those emotions into limiting Hunter’s suffering as much as I possibly could.

Dr. B had Jess and I sign a document pertaining to the procedure, which we did as matter-of-factly as we could so as not to draw any more attention than was necessary to the clerical element, and sat with us on the floor around Hunter, acknowledging and saying a few words to Dorrie and to Monty, who’d joined us in the living room. As she always had, Dr. B spoke to Hunter and gently caressed her sweet, trusting face, which she hadn’t lifted from the mat. Dr. B had long admired Hunter’s stoicism in the face of relentless poking and prodding, and thoughtfully asked if we’d prepared any sort of memorial ceremony. I tried to say through the grip that held my throat that we hadn’t planned anything. Despite my inability to articulate it at the time, I wouldn’t have wanted the moment to unfold any other way.

Dr. B explained to Jess and I what would happen: She’d administer a sedative followed by a barbiturate overdose. It would be over in a matter of seconds, she said, and we shouldn’t be alarmed if Hunter took a deep breath when the lethal drug, which had a somewhat ironic milky-pink hue, entered her system. Still, I felt a stab of panic when Hunter lifted her head and gasped for one, final breath before going limp, her head falling back onto her mat with Dr. B cushioning the impact. I hadn’t removed my hands from Hunter’s body, and there they remained as Dr. B checked for a heartbeat and found none. At least once, Hunter seemed to cough in a single, isolated hack, but it wasn’t really her. It was her body’s final release. She was gone. Explaining that dogs’ eyelids don’t close when they die, as humans’ eyelids do, Dr. B ran her palm over Hunter’s face, closing her eyes once and for all. She told us that we could expect whatever urine and feces that were in Hunter’s system to drain from her body when we moved it, but none did.

Jess and I walked Dr. B to the door, where she told us for the umpteenth time that we’d gone “above and beyond” in taking care of Hunter, which had struck me as a terribly sad comment on whatever the norm is. Jess and I each hugged Dr. B the way we might’ve hugged each other had we not been moved to express our gratitude to her. Awkwardly, I asked if there was any charge for the procedure, which Dr. B said there was not.

When she’d left, I returned to the living room. Jess placed a soft blanket over Hunter and I carried her, still on her mat, outside. I remembered the challenge of carrying an animal-companion’s limp and lifeless body, and made sure Hunter rested in my arms just comfortably as if she were alive. We left Dorrie inside, not wanting her to watch her sister being put into a hole in the ground and covered with dirt. As gently as I could, I placed Hunter in the grave, her cranberry-colored mat providing a deserved cushion against the harsh unevenness of the earth. Slowly, I poured the earth I’d dug up over Hunter’s still and now-peaceful body, then, with Jess’ help, framed the gravesite with pieces of firewood and decorated and protected it with the large stones I’d set aside, as I had with Alex’s grave. Jess marked Hunter’s grave with a piece of earth from which a single, stubborn flower grew, unbothered by the shovel’s earlier violent attack. When we finally let Dorrie out, she ran knowingly to Hunter’s grave.

The above was written one year ago.

I Was a Victim of Vegan Profiling, Your Honor

TicketI plan to tell a traffic-court judge that I was a victim of “vegan profiling.” I’m not sure yet when I’ll have to appear in court, but when I do, I’ll argue that I was pulled over because of a bumper sticker that I have on my car.

The incident happened earlier this afternoon on a main thoroughfare along the Connecticut shoreline. I’d exited I-95 on my way to a work colleague’s house and noticed the cruiser in an adjacent lane as I merged into traffic. When he pulled behind me, I signaled and pulled into the other lane, only to watch him follow suit. Then, when I turned off the main road and onto a side street, he did the same, turning on his red and blue lights.

I eased into a parking lot, turned off my car’s engine, and ran through a mental checklist of things that could make the situation decidedly worse. I haven’t had a drink in years, so I didn’t need to worry about a DUI arrest, and there was no weed in the car, so I didn’t need to worry about that.

“Is there a problem officer?” I asked, my general lack of concern unintentionally making me sound like a smug TV character.

If I had a broken tail light, I thought, the officer will let me know, tell me to get it fixed, and send me on my way.

When he asked for my license, insurance card, and registration, I inexplicably handed him a credit card — perhaps because I’d just used it at a local FedEx storefront where I was charged $40 for one color copy of a 20-page 11-by-17-inch document.

“That’s not your license,” the officer pointed out.

“Sorry,” I said, taking my credit card and handing him my driver’s license, along with my insurance card and my registration.

“When I ran your plates, nothing came up,” he told me, before walking back to his cruiser.

And that’s when I started thinking about why he’d decided to run my plates. I’d been driving the speed limit and using my turn signals. He couldn’t have seen that my windshield is cracked, nor could my general appearance have raised his suspicion.

When he arrived back at my driver’s-side window, the officer told me that my registration had expired, which honestly came as no surprise. He asked if I’d received a renewal notice in the mail, which I hadn’t, and he suggested that I check the “I choose to plead not guilty” box on the ticket he handed me.

As long as I renew my registration before my court appearance, he said, the judge will probably reduce the fine. And that’s something I’ll definitely take care of.

“I could tow your car,” he told me, pointing out that he wasn’t going to do that.

“Thank you,” I said, sincerely, not daring to ask why he’d chosen to run my plates in the first place. I’ll ask the judge why I was signaled out.

“Could it be that I was pulled over for ‘driving while compassionate’?” I’ll ask pointedly.

And I’ll be armed with all sorts of evidence of institutionalized discrimination against animal-rights advocates.

“The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and state adaptations thereof, ag-gag laws, and now this!” I’ll exclaim dramatically, asking rhetorically, “Where does it end, Your Honor? Where does it end?”

If the police officer who pulled me over isn’t in the courtroom, I figure, he won’t be able to deny that he signaled me out for being, in his mind, some sort of bunny-hugging extremist.

“Why didn’t the officer pull over the asshole in front of me, whose pickup truck boasted numerous stickers drawing attention to his enthusiasm for hunting?” I’ll ask the judge. “Why didn’t the officer say to himself: ‘This looks like one violent son of a bitch. I’d better check him out’?”

Vegans Should Refuse to Perform Heimlich Maneuver on Choking Meat-Eaters

U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Amanda M. Woodhead

U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Amanda M. Woodhead

I was working on my forthcoming Sonata No. 1 for Didgeridoo, Zither, and Theremin when the red phone rang. It was my good friend Monty Gelstein, calling from what sounded like a median strip somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike. It turned out that he was outside a restaurant in a Dallas suburb, where he’d been eavesdropping on an ugly gathering of cattle ranchers  something he does often to keep his finger on the pulse of the drooling class.

“I need you to draft a piece of legislation that I can disseminate to vegans who serve in various state legislatures,” he told me.

“Are we starting a vegan version of ALEC?” I asked him, sincerely interested in the possibility.

“I don’t know who the fuck that is or what you want me to do to him,” he said. “Right now, I’m smoking a joint in the parking lot, giving myself a time-out, as it were, to prevent myself from choking one of the scumbags inside.”

One of them?” I asked, knowing that if he could get away with it, Monty would lock the monstrous holocaust perpetrators inside the restaurant and burn the place to the ground.

“So I’m sitting at the bar and I hear this scumbag say to the bartender, ‘Make it so rare that it can see my familiar face,’” Monty explained, telling me that he actually tried to kill the guy using the kind of hands-free choking technique that Darth Vader employed in the Star Wars movies. “When that didn’t work, I told the asshole that if he were to start choking on animal flesh, I’d passive-aggressively decline to perform the Heimlich maneuver. And that got me thinking about a piece of legislation that would be like a cross between a free-speech bill and the opposite of a duty-to-rescue law.”

“How much have you smoked, dude?” I asked, confused by Monty’s rather quick turn in a rational direction.

“Never mind that, David,” he spat. “I know you can imagine yourself telling some vile, meat-eating lowlife, ‘Sure, pal, I know the Heimlich maneuver. But I sure as hell ain’t going to waste it on your unevolved ass.’”

“I certainly can,” I acknowledged.

“Right,” he said. “And you’re — we’re — not alone, which is why we need laws that explicitly protect the rights of vegans to exercise our worldviews by consciously objecting to nonvegan behavior, even if doing so adversely affects the well-being of nonvegans.”

“I’ll start drafting something this week,” I said, hanging up the phone.

Intrigued by his idea, I rolled and lit a joint of my own and settled into my favorite armchair to imagine myself whispering into a choking meat-eater’s ear, “Moo, motherfucker. Moo.”

Koch Brothers vs. Jack Hanna: Animals Lose

Photo by Shell Kinney

Photo by Shell Kinney

The votes are in and the animals had already lost, although that’s not how it’s being widely reported. On Tuesday, May 6, voters in Franklin County, Ohio, were asked to approve an increase in public funding for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and to make that increase permanent. Franklin County voters overwhelmingly rejected the ballot proposition.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, “the zoo’s request for a permanent, 1.25-mill property tax was rejected by 70 percent of Franklin County voters … It would have cost homeowners in Franklin County $44 a year per $100,000 of property value; the current levy costs $21 a year. … That 10-year, 0.75-mill property tax doesn’t expire until the end of 2015.”

The story garnered a lot of attention because the proposition was opposed by the Ohio chapter of the Koch brothers’ right-wing influence machine, Americans for Prosperity. Not surprisingly, wildlife prison cheerleader-in-chief and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Director Emeritus Jack Hanna supported the proposition. Both sides, unfortunately, are in the vile business of exploitation.

A post-election analysis piece in The Columbus Dispatch explains that the permanent increase in public funding “would have funded construction of a Downtown zoo and new and renovated exhibits at the main zoo in Delaware County, as well as ongoing operations.”

While such national news vehicles as MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes have focused on the political implications of AFP getting involved in a local ballot initiative, I’d like to point out that the losers on May 6 were not the zoo’s self-serving boosters but the creatures who’re serving life sentences in that wildlife prison – animals whose lives have effectively been stolen from them by men and women like Hanna who offer all sorts of lame rationalizations for keeping animals in captivity. Those rationalizations are nothing more than cheap, insulting excuses for mankind’s callous arrogance.

Circus Accident Unfortunately Doesn’t Kill Animal Trainers

Library of Congress Photo

Library of Congress Photo

I heard this morning that numerous cast members from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus show Legends were hurt during a performance in Providence, Rhode Island, on Sunday.

According to the Providence Journal, “at least nine circus performers were seriously injured around noon Sunday when a metal frame holding eight women aloft broke free, sending them crashing to the floor of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, landing on the ninth woman.”

How disappointing, I thought, feeling let down that the accident hadn’t involved and killed the production’s “animal trainers.”

A press release issued by Feld Entertainment, which produces the show, promises that “Legends travels to Hartford, CT, on Tuesday, May 6, and performances there will proceed as scheduled from May 8-11.”

I’ll be among those outside the XL Center in Hartford on Thursday protesting against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s unconscionable use of animals in its stupid, lowbrow productions.

What goes on under the big top is nothing less than a heinous slave show. Willing performers don’t wear shackles when they’re offstage, nor do they travel in cages. And they certainly aren’t disciplined with bullhooks and other physical and emotional tools of aggression.

In a beautiful recurring dream called The Greatest Karma on Earth, I beat the slave drivers to death with their own weapons. I don’t have a so-called “bucket list,” but if I did, mercilessly torturing those sadistic degenerates would be at the very top of it.

What’s more depressing than the fact that Sunday’s accident in Providence didn’t involve or kill the production’s slave drivers is that the Most Appalling Show on Earth will leave Hartford after May 11 — its soulless operators all-but deaf to protesters’ impassioned expressions of horrified outrage — and move on to another town, where the exploitation and the suffering will continue.

The monstrous greed-heads at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus are fully aware that they’re running a brutal slave show, and, quite obviously, they don’t care what protesters think. And they certainly don’t care about the animals on whose tired, brutalized backs they make money. The only thing that will stop the slave show in its tracks is a giant middle finger and a sturdy cold shoulder from enough men and women and children of all ages that tickets to the circus are as worthless as the scumbags who sell them.

U.S. Navy to Exploit Sea Lions, Dolphins in Black Sea Exercises

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Brien Aho

Photo by U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate First Class Brien Aho

U.S. military officials are planning to send 30 animals to the Black Sea this summer to test various equipment and undergo training.

The Wire is reporting that “according to a report from the Russian newspaper Izvestia, the United States Navy’s marine mammal unit will be deployed to the Black Sea,” where “dolphins will be testing a new anti-radar system” and “sea lions will be trained to ‘look for mines and naval divers.’” 

The Wire’s report indicates that “according to (Izvestia), they also allegedly plan to test out new dolphin armor developed at the University of Hawaii. This will be NATO’s first use of militarized sea creatures. This trip could also mark the first meeting of Russian and American sea creatures. Russia and the United States are the only countries known to have militarized dolphins at this time.”

The individuals who run the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program would like us to believe that the animals who “serve” in that unit are in good, caring hands. A “Health Care” page on the NMMP’s website tells us that “the primary focus of the health care program is to keep the marine mammals healthy and fit for duty.”

Language on another page of the NMMP’s website boasts that “the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program is an accredited member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.”

That distinction is shared by a host of marine prisons including facilities operated by SeaWorld.

According to language on its website, “the Alliance is the first and largest organization in the U.S. or abroad dedicated to the concerns and issues that affect the public display of marine mammals.”

Just as animals are considered attractions by those who operate zoos and aquariums, they are considered equipment by the men and women who conscript them into military service.

Back in February, I published a commentary about a military dog who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. In that commentary, I cited a National Geographic article that quoted a gunnery sergeant named Kristopher Knight as saying, “Dog handlers do their best to abide by the military’s edict that a working dog is just another piece of equipment.”

(Let’s not forget that the U.S. military has been known to butcher animals alive during medical training.)

The NMMP’s website explains that “just as the dog’s keen sense of smell makes it ideal for detecting land mines, the U.S. Navy has found that the biological sonar of dolphins … makes them uniquely effective at locating sea mines so they can be avoided or removed. Other marine mammals like the California sea lion have demonstrated the ability to mark and retrieve objects for the Navy in the ocean. In fact, marine mammals are so important to the Navy that there is an entire program dedicated to studying, training, and deploying them.”

In my above-mentioned commentary about the military dog who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan, I wrote: “Just because dogs are capable of things that humans aren’t doesn’t give us the right to exploit those abilities. It’s entirely fair to describe that kind of forced ‘service’ as slavery.”

The dolphins and sea lions who’ll be “deployed” to the Black Sea this summer are being used, just as animals at SeaWorld and other aquariums and zoos and expected to perform. We hear all the time, particularly from those who have an obsession with American exceptionalism, that the U.S. military is the greatest of its kind on the planet. And that sounds an awful lot like the disgusting Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey tagline, “the greatest show on earth.”

Using animals does not make men innovative. It makes them assholes. In my opinion, the most advanced military in history, one that polices the world in the name of freedom, ought to make due with the men and women who serve by choice.

“Chicken Boxing,” Cockfighting, and the Promise of a Fighting Chicken in Every Pot

Photo by Roman Köhler

Photo by Roman Köhler

On April 7, the Louisiana Senate passed legislation designed to close loopholes in the state’s 2008 cockfighting ban. If passed by the state House of Representatives and signed by the governor, the law would broaden the definition of “chicken” to include “any … gamefowl, rooster, or other bird.” It would also allow law-enforcement officials to use cockfighting paraphernalia as evidence in criminal prosecutions and make a first offense a felony, in keeping with the state’s dogfighting-related laws.

The legislation — Louisiana Senate Bill No. 523 — was introduced by state Sen. Jean-Paul Morrell and roundly criticized by his colleague, state Sen. Elbert Guillory, during a Judiciary C Committee hearing — video of which can be downloaded by following a link at the bottom of this Times-Picayune article by Emily Lane, who followed that April 1 report with this article published on April 7.

“I represent a rural area where people raise a lot of chickens, including chickens that are 15th, 20th generation fighting birds that are exported legitimately and legally to other nations,” Guillory said during the above-mentioned hearing. “I’m concerned that this law would criminalize that legal operation.”

Morrell was having none of it, telling Guillory that “it is not legal to raise fighting chickens for any purpose.”

So, Guillory tried another approach: having “chicken boxing” exempted from the proposed law.

“Dueling is a blood sport, two men fighting each other with swords is a blood sport,” Guillory said during the committee hearing. “It is illegal. … Boxing, two men boxing each other with boxing gloves on, can box each other as a sport. That is legal. … It’s the same distinction between chicken boxing and cockfighting.”

That didn’t fly with Morrell, either.

“If gladiatorial combat were still legal, that would be the analogy,” Morrell said, pointing out (in his own words) that the absence of choice is exploitation.

“I know that sometimes we get mired in what is culturally acceptable in the State of Louisiana,” Morrell reasoned. “And we get … mired up in trying to protect what is unique to our culture. But sometimes those things are not good.”

He went on to say, “It was not a badge of honor for us to be one of the last states in the United States to ban cockfighting. … When we encourage and allow things that are … widely viewed as barbaric and backwards behavior, cultural or not, that is not something that we want to be renowned for.”

Morrell’s legislation was reported favorably out of committee on April 1 and was passed by the full Senate on April 7, but not before Guillory tried unsuccessfully to add an amendment to the bill that would have exempted so-called “chicken boxing.”

During the April 1 committee hearing, a man (I use that term very loosely) named James Demoruelle boasted, “I’ve been a cockfighter for 53 years,” and declared that while “at this time I don’t own any game chickens,” he is hereby “repossessing his rights to fight my chickens.”

“God put the gameness in the chicken,” Demoruelle claimed, ignorantly. “Not man.”

Demoruelle’s argument, not surprisingly, is that animals are property and the government’s got no right to tell him what he can and can’t do with his property.

“Cockfighting is how we’ve harvested the gamecock for over 3,000 years,” is how he put it.

Which bring us to today, and to the acknowledgement that some humans are fighting (or is it boxing?) to turn our calendars back to the dark ages. Unevolved creatures like Demoruelle don’t like that they’ve been dragged from the primordial ooze and into the 21st century. And they’re making every effort to drag us all back into that fetid mire.

On the same day that Morrell’s bill was passed by the Louisiana Senate, I wrote about Matt Bevin, a Tea Party-affiliated Republican who’s hoping to oust U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s May 20 Republican primary election. Bevin attended and spoke at a March 29 cockfighting-legalization rally that appeared on his schedule as a “states’ rights rally.”

The event at which Bevin spoke was organized by a gang of bloodthirsty thugs called the American Gamefowl Defense Network, whose Facebook page indicates that “the American Gamefowl Defense Network, a project sponsored by the nonprofit Americans Watching Washington, is dedicated to legalizing cockfighting through the democratic process and the rights of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Cretins like Demoruelle — who identified himself at the April 1 Judiciary C Committee hearing as an American Game Fowl Society-certified “poultry judge” — are an organized bunch of subhumans who’re looking for a few sympathetic legislators who’ll work to make things even worse for animals than they already are. They whine about their rights being infringed upon by an overreaching government and then turn around and beg pandering elected officials and campaigning politicians to get involved. They insist that animals are property and demand the freedom to use that property as they see fit. They want permission to come out from their underground killing floors to exercise their psychopathic behavior on Main Street, alongside more mainstream savagery.

During the Judiciary C Committee hearing, Demoruelle cited a U.S. Supreme Court case called City of Cuyahoga Falls v. Buckeye Community Hope Foundation and said “the Supreme Court ruled the right to ownership of property includes the inherent right to use … one’s property.”

After boasting that “cockfighting is how we’ve harvested the gamecock for over 3,000 years,” Demoruelle told the committee that “animals … are harvested in different ways. Some … cattle we slaughter into steaks and hamburger and some we hook up to milk machines.”

Louisiana state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb voted in favor of Morrell’s bill on April 7. On April 1, she was the legislator who made the motion to report the bill, favorably, out of committee, before Guillory could move to have the thing temporarily shelved.

While we should applaud Morrell for his efforts and be glad that his bill has been approved by the Louisiana Senate and will next be taken up by the state House of Representatives’ Administration of Criminal Justice Committee, we should take this opportunity to point out to Morrell, Dorsey-Colomb, and other well-meaning legislators that while they’re working to broaden current Louisiana law to close easily worked-around loopholes, they also ought to work on broadening their own perspectives.

In voicing her support for Morrell’s legislation at the Judiciary C Committee hearing, Dorsey-Colomb pointed out that despite Louisiana’s ban on cockfighting, people are still forcing birds to engage in brutal fights to the death.

“They’re still doing the things that this law prohibits them from doing,” she said. “So, if we can do anything to stop that … I’m all for it. I think that it needs to be stopped, and I’d much rather have people raising chickens so that … we can eat good.”

Needless to say, the promise of a fighting chicken in every pot is not exactly a future the animals can look forward to.

Joni Ernst: Castrating Pigs and Selling Savagery in Iowa

U.S. Department of Agriculture Photo

U.S. Department of Agriculture Photo

Joni Ernst would like us to believe that she’s qualified to serve in the U.S. Senate because she has a lot of experience mutilating animals. Ernst is one of five Republican candidates vying to run for the seat Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin will vacate when he retires at the end of his current term. And she’s leading the Republican primary field, according to the results of a Suffolk University Political Research Center poll released on April 9. The winner of the June 3 Iowa Republican primary election will challenge Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat, for Harkin’s Senate seat.

In a campaign advertisement that has delighted the drooling class, Ernst says, “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.”

The ad includes images of young pigs in stalls and ends with Ernst declaring, “Washington’s full of big spenders. Let’s make ’em squeal.”

Not surprisingly, “make ’em squeal” — which sounds like something out of Deliverance — is Ernst’s campaign slogan. It appears on the home page of her campaign website and on the merchandise she’s hawking — including cans of “pork rub.” Insultingly, the logo on that merchandise includes an illustration that depicts a smiling pig.

That Ernst is smiling in her campaign ad — that she’s boastful about the pain and suffering she’s caused — is disgusting. Equally nauseating is the fact that to the drooling class those optics are downright tantalizing. Predictably, Ernst has been endorsed by the right wing’s favorite female sadist, Sarah Palin, who’s been quoted as saying, “Any question about the type of Senator Joni will be? Check out her first ad — she makes it pretty clear.”

Indeed, Ernst is a dream candidate for the drooling class. She’s a god-fearing wife and mother from the heartland who serves in the Iowa National Guard and in the Iowa Legislature and has an “A” rating from the NRA. Conveniently (if not dutifully), Ernest stands for everything right-wing kingmakers would expect. All she has to do is memorize her Tea Party flash cards and boast smugly about the vast experience she has dishing out brutality.

Constantly, we read and hear that mouth-breathers like Ernst are simply feeding a little red meat to their conservative base. But what they’re also doing is getting and spreading widespread approval for morally unacceptable behavior. The word “values” appears 11 times in the bio Ernst has on her campaign website — a platform that, as one might expect, unabashedly oozes self-righteousness while asking for money. 

Some of those with whom Ernst’s attitude resonates might just send her a little bit of cash to help deliver her to Washington, where she can inflict her “values” on the rest of us and serve the greed-heads who’re running the holocaust. Ernst’s sickening campaign ad represents more than a little red meat for the drooling class. It’s more than a self-aggrandizing sales pitch that makes a metaphor of an ongoing atrocity. It’s a celebration of savagery. And that savagery is for sale. 

Voices of the Drooling Class, No. 2

Eleven-year-old actress Petulant Lunette reads a comment left on the blog by an angry reader.

The comment read here by Petulant Lunette was posted at The Daily Maul in response to “A Holleycaust Story,” a protest song that condemns “Squirrel Slam,” the annual squirrel-killing contest in Holley, New York, in which local Neanderthals compete for a chance to win guns and cash.

If you’d like to read a comment from an angry reader, send an e-mail to maul@thedailymaul.com.

On Tea Party Candidate Matt Bevin and Efforts to Legalize Cockfighting in Kentucky

Photo by jaybergesen

Photo by jaybergesen

Matt Bevin wants cockfighting enthusiasts to know that they’ll have a friend in Washington if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate in November. He indicated as much when he attended and addressed a cockfighting-legalization rally in Corbin, Kentucky, on March 29. Bevin, who’s hoping to oust loathsome Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s Republican primary election on May 20, has said he was unaware that the March 29 event was anything but a “states’ rights rally,” which is how it’s described on his campaign schedule.

Naturally, Bevin would like to be able to count Kentucky’s cockfighting enthusiasts as supporters without drawing attention to their bloodlust-full interests. And he’s making a fool of himself trying to do the Potomac Two-Step.

According to the Corbin News Journal, “event organizers say the sole purpose was to build support to legalize cockfighting in Kentucky.”

The event was organized by the American Gamefowl Defense Network, a group of vile savages led by a Neanderthal named Michael Devereaux.

According to its Facebook page, “the American Gamefowl Defense Network, a project sponsored by the nonprofit Americans Watching Washington, is dedicated to legalizing cockfighting through the democratic process and the rights of expression and peaceful assembly.”

The inclusion of the word “peaceful” is as ironic as it is insulting.

Bevin wants us to believe that he had no idea that his audience in Corbin on March 29 was rallying for the legalization of cockfighting. If that’s the case, he and his staff are a bunch of alarmingly dim-witted hacks. 

I sent an e-mail on Saturday to Rachel Semmel, Bevin’s campaign spokesperson, requesting an interview with the bastard.

I wrote: “I’d like to nail (Bevin) down on his thoughts and opinions about the exploitation, torture, and murder of animals (cockfighting, for example, among other outrages). I’ve read that Matt claims he did not know that the March 29 states’ rights rally he attended and addressed in Corbin, Kentucky, was really a cockfighting rally. But let’s cut the crap, shall we? Matt’s running for federal office, and he opened the door for this conversation.”

I don’t expect to hear back from Rachel. Her job, after all, is to insulate “the candidate” from unsympathetic journalists. In other words, she’s Bevin’s Potomac Two-Step partner.

By not commenting on his unwitting appearance at a cockfighting-legalization event, Bevin is at very least betraying his willingness to bend over for whomever will help him get elected. He’s already got FreedomWorks behind him, not to mention Joe the Plumber. And if he wins the May 20 Republican primary and the midterm election, barbarians like Devereaux are going to come calling — and they’re going to want something.

The Corbin News Journal report indicates that “advocates don’t just want the state to legalize cockfighting. Devereaux said they want the state to regulate all aspects of it.”

So here’s Bevin, taking money raised through FreedomWorks for America — whose parent organization’s primary motivation is, according to its website, “a desire for less government” — and simultaneously pandering to a group that wants the government to “regulate all aspects of” the cockfighting industry (to quote once again from the Corbin News Journal).

The thing is, the American Gamefowl Defense Network doesn’t like McConnell at all. (And who does, really?)

According to a February 19 report in the Lexington Herald-Leader, “McConnell’s vote in favor of the federal farm bill has left cockfighting enthusiasts furious and threatening political damage to Kentucky’s senior senator in the May 20 Republican primary.”

The Agricultural Act of 2014 includes language that makes it illegal to attend an animal fight.

The Lexington Herald-Leader quoted Americans Watching Washington CEO Craig Davis — who’s also the president of the Kentucky chapter of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association — as saying, “This will destroy Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.”

That Lexington Herald-Leader report also indicated that “Davis said a number of his association’s members suggested Monday that they turn to Republican challenger Matt Bevin in the May primary.”

Devereaux hasn’t been as forthcoming.

The State Journal cited a statement in which Devereaux was quoted as saying, “The American Gamefowl Defense Network chooses to not participate in any interviews that concern any questions related to political races, political candidates, or issues not directly related to gamefowl.”

So neither Bevin nor his hosts at the March 29 “states’ rights rally” will talk about their courtship. And they certainly won’t acknowledge that at the root of their political problem is a shameful morality problem.

This isn’t about “states’ rights.” This is about a bunch of murderous psychopaths who want the government to help them delight in causing incredible suffering. And what those lowlifes are trying to establish is what that bloodstained entitlement will cost.