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Karai MadillA chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

About the book

Mandamus is only a foal when his herd is captured by the terrible Rakhana Army. Rescued and raised in secrecy, he knows nothing of his heritage until a dreadful incident in the woods brings him to the attention of the Forest council – and everyone else. Sent away for his own protection, he is determined to seek help on behalf of the many animals who have gone missing from the forest, including his own family.

With the help of a troubled man and a stout-hearted bat, can Mandamus save his fellow creatures before it’s too late?

Purchase on Amazon

Interview

Would you call yourself a born writer?  

Storyteller, yes…writer, no.  I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. I used to try and get my pets to act out parts I’d written for them. Talk about bedlam!  None of them were trained. We all had creative differences.  Needless to say, I gave up on being a playwright and turned to short stories and then novels.  The Stolen Herd is my first book and, let me tell you, writing it was like being lost in the wilderness.   I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing.

What was your inspiration for The Stolen Herd?

I clearly saw my main character, Mandamus, standing before me one day. He had this really troubled look on his face. The Stolen Herd was carved out of a stack of notes that took me about three years to create. The novel itself took six years, but that’s because a whole lot of life happened during that time.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Ohhh, this is my favorite question! I began the series to write about animal rights, equality for human beings and environmentalism.  Yeah, nothing too heavy there!

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Six years. I’m a relentless planner/rewriter/agonizer.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I can be disciplined but only if I have a deadline, seriously – I’m terrible at keeping up a writing routine.  Truthfully, I’m terrible at keeping up any kind of routine. A good writing day will find me putting in about 10 hours of work, broken up by taking care of my horse, ferrets, dogs, cats, turtles and fish. That’s on a weekend. During the week, I do all of that, plus work a full time job, so I don’t get lots of scribe time. I have no writing space at my house so sometimes I’m reduced to finding the nearest closet and scribbling madly in there for an hour or two.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I think stripping layers off of myself was hard.  I chose Mandamus to be raised by another herd and I’m adopted so, you know…some of it is quite personal.  Some of the great qualities my characters have come from me and, unfortunately, some of the nasty traits do as well.

What do you love most about being an author?

Love most? Hmmm…let’s see. Living in a different world, not being able to relate to most people? Not being able to hold my own at a party where people are discussing mortgage rates or the deficit because I’m too busy thinking about how a grizzly bear, a cougar and a man could break a tribe of Yeti out of prison? Those are the definite downsides.   I suppose what I love best is being able to write that nonsense down and share it with people who are drawn to that sort of thing.

Where can we find you on the web?

kmadill.com

or on Facebook under K. Madill

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

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How To WOI Banner BoyerMs. Boyer’s writing career began 4 years after she retired from a long, satisfying career in nursing. Her unshared dream of becoming a writer became a reality when she allowed herself the freedom to express the thoughts tumbling around in her head. Her initial goal was to tell the story of her beloved cat. After much encouragement from family and close friends who read the inspirational story, she decided to self publish a book so that others, especially animal lovers, could read her book.

Image (2)Congratulations on the release of your latest book, specialt  nine lives ─ nine names. When did you start writing and what got you into inspirational/family stories?  I have been seriously writing about 4 years. During the lifetime of my favorite cat, I had actually promised him that I would one day tell his story. Once I actually started writing, the words flowed, and a passion I did not know I previously had began to grow.

Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing? I had some difficulty believing in myself. My history as an author was writing guidelines for medical personnel. Writing an inspirational story about a cat was very different to say the least.

What was your inspiration for specialt  nine lives ─ nine names? My book is based on what I learned about, observed or shared with my little cat friend over many years. As I gathered facts over time about the 10 years he lived before he was divinely sent to me, I knew I had to tell his story. Many people love animals, and will benefit from the life lessons this cat shared with me. 

What do you hope readers will get from your book? I hope they will be encouraged to count their blessings, since a simple walk in the woods, or a sunset can surely enrich our lives if we take the time to partake of them.

Did your book require a lot of research?  No research was needed. Over the years I had jotted down notes about situations that had occurred to my cat that I did not want to forget. These came in handy when I decided to write his story. 

How do you define success? Success for me is the completion of my project, the day I can say to myself, “I am finished.” There were times I felt this may never happen as I made change after change in the process of self publishing my book.

What do you love most about the writer’s life? The quiet times alone as I write that fuel my energy levels.

Where is your book available? I can be contacted on my email address for a signed copy of the book (sjennyboyer@gmail.com). The book may also be purchased on line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and HALO Publishing International. 

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? It is never too late to begin to write. If you feel led to do so, don’t put it off waiting for the perfect time. Sometimes our life paths do not go as we expected, but keep holding on tight to your dream, and when an opening comes, don’t be afraid to take it.

SpecT small cover

You can find out more about Jenny Boyer, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/myydudk 

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com   

 

 

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On April 26th, 2007, law enforcement officials descended on a sprawling white-brick house at 1915 Moonlight Road in Smithfield, Virginia. The home belonged to Michael Vick, who was the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons and one of the highest paid players in the NFL. Although the police were there on a drug search, they quickly found evidence of what appeared to be a large, well-financed dog fighting operation.

Fifty-one pit bulls were seized from the property and they sat in local shelters for six months as the ensuing investigation played out, leading to guilty pleas from Vick and his partners in an operation known as Bad Newz Kennels. In most cases, that would have been it for the dogs. Considered a public hazard, they would have been euthanized. But a tidal wave of public outcry inspired government officials to at least consider the possibility of saving some dogs.

The startling string of events that followed included a landmark legal decision, a never-before assembled team of expert evaluators, a leap of faith and a selection of rescuers who were willing to do whatever it took to help. At the heart of it all was a group of dogs that wanted desperately to overcome what had until then been a life of violence and deprivation.

Taken together, these tales showcase a resilience, dedication and commitment that have the power to alter the way society views pit bulls and to reinforce the essential nature of the human-animal bond. The Lost Dogs, for the first time, tells the behind-the-scenes story from the day of that initial raid until today.

Visit the author’s website.

Purchase from Amazon.

Interview with the author:

1) Why do you think pit bulls have such a bad reputation? Can public opinion of pit bulls be reversed?

There’s a lot of reasons for that, but essentially, I think, pit bulls are caught in a self-perpetuating cycle of incrimination and bad ownership.

When there’s a problem with a dog, any dog, it’s almost always the owner’s fault. Either the dog has been poorly socialized or mistreated or put into a situation where its instincts are in opposition to what people consider good behavior.

On top of that, there’s the pit bull’s reputation as a fierce and highly capable warrior, which means that the breed often attracts the kind of owner who’s looking for a dog to personify and bolster his or her own tough-guy credentials. It’s exactly the kind of owner who will fail to raise the dog responsibly and might even encourage aggressiveness and put the dog in situations where it’s bound to fail.

Once a dog fails, a flood of media coverage follows, which only further damages the pit bull’s reputation in the public’s eye and draws even more bad owners to the breed. This entire phenomenon was detailed in an excellent book called The Pit Bull Placebo, which tracked its evolution over the last 150 years.

Can it be reversed? I’m not an advocate or an activist but I hope so, because I think these are essentially good dogs that have received a bad deal. The Bad Newz case was a step. The Lost Dogs could be another step. That’s all that can be done right now: keep taking steps maybe one day the breed will arrive at a better place.

2) How did the practice of dog fighting being and what motivates people to become involved with it?

The pit bull and its close relatives—the Staffordshire bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier—trace back to the 17th and 18th century English practice of bull- and bearbaiting, in which canines took on giant predators for public amusement. When that activity was banned in the early 1800s, the dogs were then turned on each other and the practice evolved from there.

That’s simply one isolated strain, though. Unfortunately, dog fighting occurs all over the world and each culture seems to have its own favorite breed for the task. Although I’m no sociologist, it seems the impulse is connected to some violent and tribal drive that lies deep within our own nature. Most people are able to exercise those demons by yelling at flight attendants or clueless customer service reps or, ironically, watching the NFL, but for some people that instinct runs to a deeper bloodlust. I imagine it’s the same instinct that has led to the stunning popularity of ultimate fighting sports and mixed martial arts over the last decade.


3) What does the future hold for the Vick dogs and pit bulls in general?

In a way, there’s no such thing as the Vick dogs anymore. They’re now fortysomething individual dogs, and each is out there fighting its own battle against its own particular history. That’s their future. For some it’ll be a life that looks and feels a lot like any other family pet. For others there will be times of joy mixed with times when they are cowed by their fears and memories.

For pit bulls in general I fear there’s a lot more of the same. I was talking to a friend recently who has a Doberman pinscher and he told me that when he brings his dog to certain parts of town, he’s almost always approached by someone who asks if he wants to fight her. And that’s in suburban New Jersey. Whatever progress has been made, it pales in comparison to the entrenched and widespread practice of dog fighting.

4) Has the treatment of the former Vick dogs changed the way that fighting dogs are dealt with?

Before this case the common practice was to treat all the dogs taken from a fight bust as one entity. The conventional wisdom was “save them all or destroy them all.” When it came time to decide the group’s fate, many parties would argue that for the most part these dogs were violent and aggressive and beyond rehab so why use time and resources on them when there were plenty of other perfectly good dogs already languishing in shelters? Most of the time, the entire collection of dogs was put down.

The Bad Newz case helped seed the idea that such dogs should not be looked at as a group, but that each should be individually evaluated and judged. The approach was successful, and in December of 2008, the Humane Society of the U.S. changed its official policy so that instead of recommending euthanasia for fight-bust dogs, it supported a program of individual evaluation.


5) Was Michael Vick treated unfairly or prosecuted just because he was famous?

He was definitely not treated unfairly. He broke the law. He got caught. He pled guilty and was sentenced. Some have received lesser sentences than he did, but others have received harsher sentences for the same violations. There’s some evidence that he could have been charged with additional crimes, but he was not. He served two years in Federal prison and was forced to declare bankruptcy.

He was not prosecuted because he was famous, but his celebrity aroused a great deal of public interest, and that ensured that the case would remain in the spotlight and that an outcome that didn’t seem to serve justice would have caused considerable backlash.

6) What do you say to people who shrug off dog fighting by saying that these are “just dogs,” we kill cows and chickens and hunt deer, so what is different about dogs?

Men first domesticated dogs more than 10,000 years ago, when our ancestors were hunting for their meals and sleeping next to open fires at night. Dogs were instant helpers in our struggle for survival. They guarded us in the dark and helped us find food by day. We offered them something too, scraps of food, some measure of protection, the heat of the flames.

Certainly, as man rose in the world, dogs came with us, perhaps even aiding the advance. They continued to guard us and help with hunting, but they did more. They marched with armies into war, they worked by our sides, hauling, pulling, herding, retrieving. We manipulated their genetic makeup to suit our purposes, cross breeding types to create animals that could kill the rats infecting our cities or search for those lost in the snow or the woods. From the start it was a compact: You do this for us and we’ll do that for you. And dogs have that innate ability to sense what we’re feeling and commiserate. There’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend.

As for why our bond with them matters, there are reasons for that, too. If you hang around animal activists for a while you’ll inevitably hear repeated a famous Gandhi quote: “THE GREATNESS OF A NATION AND ITS MORAL PROGRESS CAN BE JUDGED BY THE WAY ITS ANIMALS ARE TREATED.” The idea being that in order to lift the whole of society, you must first prop up the lowest among its many parts. If you show good will and kindness toward those who cannot stand up for themselves, you set a tone of compassion and good will that permeates all.

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homers-odyssey-coverWould you adopt a four-week-old stray kitten with a serious handicap? This is what author Gwen Cooper did and she writes her anecdotes in Homer’s Odyssey, a book that will warm the hearts of cat lovers.

Homer’s Odyssey is the story of an unusual cat — not only because he’s blind, but because he’s one of the most resourceful, intrepid and clever felines you’ll ever meet. From the day he’s adopted, to the time he saves Gwen from a burglar, to the horrific day on that tragic September 11th, Homer’s antics will charm and surprise you. It’ll also pull at your heart strings.

Cooper’s prose is light and witty and shines with insight into the loving bond that can develop between a cat and a human. There’s a little of romance and a lot of humor thrown into the mix. The interesting narrative and lovely flow kept me turning pages as if I were reading a fiction story.

The book also offers an important message: we must never give up on what at first glance seems hopeless. Indeed, a little love, faith and perseverance can go a long way.

I highly recommend this tender, sweet account about a very special cat, a very special lady, and how they changed each other’s lives for the better.

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dog nannyWhen Julie Shields temporarily loses her job as a vet technician, Fate throws in her way an opportunity to make some good money training two poodles living with a rich couple in a mansion in Waco, Texas.

What does she have to lose? Julie loves dogs and, after all, she has a lot of experience in dog training. Besides, training those two poodles, Nacho and Blanco, appears to be the only way to save the rich couple’s marriage. To add to this, Julie is in search of a husband… so who knows what else Fate could bring her way?

Indeed, when pilot Nick Worthington arrives at the airport to fly her to Waco, Julie is instantly taken by him, even though he’s a little too infuriating for her taste. He has a great sense of humor, but he’s also too sure of his good looks. Soon, however, Nick becomes a suspect in illegal trafficking. Being pulled into a vortex of mystery and trying to train two delinquent poodles in only one month isn’t an easy job, even for a feisty, born-again virgin like Julie.

This romantic comedy will be especially enjoyed by dog lovers. Talented author Ann Whitaker has created a delightful story featuring two sympathetic protagonists and a couple of adorable, uncontrollable doggies that will keep readers laughing along the way. The dialogue is witty, the situations humorous, and the events move at an agreeable pace. A fun, hearty read!

–Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

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In Latin America and Europe combined, approximately 250,000 bulls die each year. Do these bulls fall prey to a deadly virus, perhaps? Far from it. The bulls are tortured and killed for the sake of entertainment. Have we evolved at all since the Roman times?

Latest polls show that over 72% of Spanish citizens have no interest in bullfighting, yet, because of a small group of influential people in Spain, this inhumane tradition is being kept alive. Fortunately, in Europe and Latin America a growing segment of the population is standing up against bullfighting and calling for an end to this cruel spectacle.

Here to talk about bullfighting and what we can do to help is Alyx Dow, Programmes Officer (Anti-Bullfighting) for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

Thank you for this interview, Alyx. Could you start by giving us some historical information on how bullfighting began? What is its origin?

There is not much specific information on how or where bullfighting began, but it is thought to date back to Roman times when many different species of animal were killed for the sake of entertainment in public arenas.

Bulls were also sacrificed for religious purposes and more recently, bullfights were (and often still are) held on Sundays, as part of Christian Saints festivals.

Most people associate bullfighting with Spain. Besides Spain, which other countries practice bullfighting?

Bullfight in SpainWithin Europe, bullfighting can be found in Spain, France and Portugal. Approximately 40,000 bulls die in bullfights every year in Europe.

In Latin America, bullfighting can be found in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. ‘Bloodless’ bullfights can also be found in the USA. Approximately 210,000 bulls in bullfights die every year in Latin America.

Does bullfighting differ according to the country? If so, in what way?

There are 3 types of bullfighting ‘styles’ – Spanish, French and Portuguese. The Spanish version is the most common across both Europe and Latin America. Bulls die in both the Spanish and Portuguese versions, although in the Portuguese style it happens behind the scenes, after the bullfight has finished. The French style does not lead to the death of the bull but is also very stressful for the animals involved.

A lot of people ignore what really happens during a bullfight. They have a simple, even romantic image of a torero taunting a bull and of one final thrust of the sword bringing death to the animal. What exactly takes place during a bullfight?

In the Spanish style, which is the most common, there are 3 stages:

1. After the bull enters the ring, toreros wave capes so that the bull charges several times. This is followed by the entrance of the picadors on horseback, who drive a long spear into the bulls back. Both of these short stages are designed to tire the bull and weaken its neck and shoulder muscles, causing it to drop its head. There is also a significant risk to the horses involved – although they wear padding, the experience is very stressful for them and can cause serious or fatal injury.

2. Men called banderilleros enter the ring and use weapons called banderillas (colourful short spears with harpoon ends) which further weaken the bull when they are stabbed into the top of the bulls back. By this point the bull has lost a significant amount of blood and is exhausted.

Bullfight, Spain3. The matador enters with a cape and sword. Tiring the bull further with several runs at the cape, the matador thrusts the sword through the bulls back, with the intention of severing the aorta. The sword often misses, piercing the lungs and the bull drowns in its own blood – as can be witnessed when bulls are often be seen with blood pouring from their nose and mouth at the end. If the bull does not die quickly, a small knife is used to sever its spinal cord at the neck. If the crowd deems it a ‘good’ kill, the matador is ‘awarded’ the bull’s ears and tail which he cuts off himself (the bull is often still alive during this).

The whole process takes approximately 20 minutes – and the bull suffers an agonizing and torturous death.

In spite of bullfighting being a cruel and inhumane tradition, many people—not only Spaniards—watch this spectacle. Why do you think this is and what does this say about human nature?

Within bullfighting countries there is a small but strong following that keeps bullfighting alive, largely based on the claim that it is part of the country’s culture. All bullfighting countries have a fascinating history, with a rich culture that they should be proud of. However, evidence is showing us that most citizens of these countries do not want animal cruelty to be part of their heritage. Just as with the ban on foxhunting in the UK, citizens are speaking out about the importance of animal welfare over an archaic ‘tradition’ that is neither necessary nor humane.

The latest polls in Spain show us that over 72% of Spanish people have no interest in bullfighting. This climbs to over 80% in the autonomous region of Catalonia. Anti-bullfighting sentiment is growing across Europe and Latin America – people are standing up against the protection of bullfighting as part of national heritage and calling for an end to this cruel spectacle.

Furthermore, the WSPA believes that culture is no excuse for cruelty, no matter where in the world it happens or the rationale behind it.

Unfortunately a huge amount of support also comes from tourism; again because tourists are led to believe that bullfighting is part of a particular country. They are unwittingly supporting a dying industry that thrives on the torture of an animal: many leave the fights shaken and disturbed by what they have witnessed, which is, simply, animal cruelty for the sake of entertainment.

What arguments do supporters of bullfighting use to defend their tradition?

They use many arguments to defend the spectacle, mostly in reference to culture and the economy. You can read more on these ongoing debates at www.bullfightingfreeeurope.org, a website sponsored by WSPA and ten other animal protection groups across Europe.

What is the WSPA doing to end bullfighting? Have there been any significant developments in the last few years?

In Catalonia, WSPA is running its Culture Without Cruelty campaign with member society ADDA, and there have been a series of successes in the region in recent years. 47 towns, including Barcelona, have declared themselves anti-bullfighting. You can sign our petition, calling for a ban on bullfighting in Catalonia, here

In Spain, WSPA is supporting work done by member society Stop Our Shame who are working to end the national subsidies (funded by Spanish taxpayers) given to the bullfighting industry, which total a staggering 530 million Euros a year.

In France, 3 towns have recently declared their anti-bullfighting status. You can find out more at Anticorrida.com.

WSPA is also working closely with an alliance of ten other animal protection organizations from across Europe to tackle the issue at European level. The EU currently gives subsidies (funded by EU taxpayers) to breeders of fighting bulls, as part of its annual agricultural subsidy system. We recently held a series of events in Brussels at the European Parliament to highlight this issue and call on Parliamentarians and the Commission to end these subsidies. You can find out more at www.bullfightingfreeeurope.org

In Latin America many of WSPA’s member societies are working towards bans of bullfighting across the region. The first two anti-bullfighting towns in the region have recently been declared: Baños de Agua Santa in Ecuador and Zapatoca in Colombia. In Medellin, Colombia, the first ever group of anti-bullfighting city councilors has been established. You can keep up to date with the latest developments on the WSPA International website.

What is Spain’s position?

In Spain, there is a small group of powerful and influential people behind the bullfighting industry that are keeping it alive. Bullrings are suffering from declining attendance and a lack of patience from the public in terms of its increasing awareness of animal welfare. Unfortunately, government officials often hesitate to speak out against the spectacle; as was the case a few years ago with foxhunting in the UK. However, the Spanish people are telling us they have had enough, as shown in Catalonia and the Canary Islands (who have also banned bullfighting), and by the recent banning of the broadcast of bullfights on state TV, following the assertion that it is too violent for children. We think it is about time that the government listens to its citizens and ends bullfighting for good in Spain.

Do you see Spain making bullfighting illegal any time soon?

Based on public opinion polls that have been done, dwindling attendance at bullfights as well as the achievements in recent years in getting anti-bullfighting declarations, we are confident that bullfighting is a dying industry that is destined to be banned in the near future.

Is there a way bullfighting could be modified to become a humane practice?

No – the practice would still involve placing an animal into an unnatural situation that causes the animal stress and anxiety, for the sake of entertainment. WSPA wants to see an end to bullfighting worldwide, in all its forms.

What can Spaniards do to help stop bullfighting in Spain?

Spanish people can help to end bullfighting in their country by writing to their local politicians and high level officials within the government, expressing their wish for national subsidies to the bullfighting industry to end, and for their to be a national legislative ban on bullfighting in Spain. They can also avoid attending bullfights and spreading the word to their friends and family.

They can also sign our petition to achieve a ban in Catalonia which can be found here.

Another way to help is to support their local animal welfare organizations, either through donations or by attending peaceful events that call on the government to end bullfighting.

What can the rest of the world do to help?

The number one thing that people can do to help end bullfighting is not to visit bullfights when they go abroad. Tourist money is a huge factor in keeping the industry alive. Whilst curiosity can often lead people to ‘just go once’, this is enough to sustain the industry and the animal cruelty that it promotes.

  • You can pledge not to visit a bullfight at WSPA member society The League Against Cruel Sports.
  • Sign the WSPA/ADDA petition to end bullfighting in Catalonia.
  • Spread the word to any friends, family and colleagues, especially if you know they are visiting Europe anytime soon.
  • Write to politicians in your own country, asking them to call on bullfighting countries to improve standards of animal welfare and not to promote cruelty for entertainment’s sake.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

The WSPA is also campaigning for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) at the United Nations – international recognition that animals matter and governments should be doing more to protect them. Such an agreement would help us talk to governments about issues like bullfighting. You can sign the petition in support at www.animalsmatter.org.  

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions on this important subject.

I would like to end this interview by quoting some wise words from Mahatma Ghandi:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

 

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Practitioners of Traditional Asian Medicine have used bear gall bladders and bile for 3,000 years. Yet it wasn't until the 1980's that the cruel, intensive 'farming' of bears began. Though there have been positive developments with the Vietnamese government recently, bear farming still takes place in other parts of Asia. It is estimated that at least 12,000 bears are trapped in these inhumane facilities inside tiny cages the size of their bodies and subjected to a lifetime of suffering and pain as their gall bladders are drained on a daily basis. In spite of the fact that there are a large number of natural and synthetic substitutes for bear bile, making bear farming needless, bears continued to be subjected to this inhumane treatment.

In this interview, Dena Jones, Program Manager for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) US, talks about bear farming, the campaign against it, and what we can do to help these beautiful wild creatures from experiencing a lifetime of suffering.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions on this important subject, Dena. What is the origin of bear farming? When did this cruel practice begin?

Bear gall bladders and bile have been used in Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) for some 3,000 years. During the 1980s, the practice of extracting bile from bears held captive for this purpose became popular in a number of countries in Asia. Since that time, the marketing of and resulting demand for bile products has led to the introduction of the intensive “farming” of these wild animals.

The number of bears on farms has increased dramatically in recent years. At present it is believed that there are approximately 7,000 bears held on farms in China, 1,400 in South Korea and 4,000 in Vietnam, although the actual number could be considerably higher than official figures suggest, particularly in China.

What countries are currently involved in this practice?

WSPAAs mentioned, bear farms are known to exist in China, Vietnam and Korea, but some low level of the activity also probably takes place in other Asian countries. While the scope of bear farming is limited to Asia, the killing of bears for their viscera and the commercial trade in bear parts is a global problem.

Due to the decreasing number of Asiatic black bears left in the wild, gall for use in TAM now also comes from American black bears, Polar bears, Sun bears and Himalayan brown bears. Bears in North America, for example, are killed illegally and their galls removed and smuggled out of the country for sale in traditional medicine shops in Asia.

What is the bile extracted from the bears used for?

Bear bile contains an active constituent known as Ursodeoxycholic Acid (UDCA), which on ingestion is believed to reduce fever and inflammation, protect the liver, improve eyesight and break down gallstones. The products of the bear parts trade can be divided into three categories: manufactured bile medicines, farmed bile powder and intact bear gall bladders. Intact bear galls are sold for the highest price. During a 2006 investigation conducted by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), a TAM shop in Los Angeles was found to be selling a single gall bladder for $2,800.

As a result of the growth of the marketing of bear bile and the bear farming industry in Asia, bear bile is now being added to many non-medicinal products, such as wine and shampoo.

Isn’t there a substitute that can be used in place of bile for those who practice traditional Asian medicine?

Yes, there are a large number of herbal and synthetic alternatives to the use of bear bile. WSPA has surveyed TAM practitioners asking them about herbs that have the same medicinal properties as bear bile. This has resulted in a list of many different herbs that have the same properties and can be used as alternatives to bear bile.

UDCA, the active ingredient in bear bile, can be made synthetically, and it is estimated that 100,000 kg of this substitute is being consumed each year in China, Japan and South Korea, and that global consumption may be double this figure. WSPA actively promotes the use of both herbs and synthetic UDCA to reduce the suffering of bears on bear farms and the poaching of bears from the wild.

What exactly happens to the bears in these farms?

WSPAExtraction of bile from bears differs between countries, although all techniques result in serious animal welfare problems. In China the procedure involves the creation of a tissue duct, or fistula, between the gall bladder and the abdominal wall. Bile is collected by inserting a rod through the fistula, which then drains the contents of the gall bladder. To prevent the fistula from closing up the wound must be constantly re-opened, usually once or twice a day. Bears have been seen with inflamed and bleeding wounds, open incisions for bile extraction and swellings in the abdominal area.

The most common method of bile collection in Vietnam involves the use of ultrasound equipment to locate the gall bladder. Once located a long syringe is inserted into the bear’s abdomen to puncture the gall bladder. The bile is then siphoned off into a collecting jar. In Korea the extraction of bile from live bears is illegal. Instead farmers breed bears and slaughter them in front of their customers to prove the authenticity of the gall bladder.

Many bears live in cages measuring around 1 meter wide, 1 meter high and 2 meters long. Bears have been observed to be wounded and scarred from rubbing or hitting themselves against the bars of their tiny metal cages, where they cannot stand up or easily turn around. Prior to being used for bile extraction, bear cubs in many farms are trained to perform tricks such as tightrope walking for the amusement of visitors to the bear farms. At three years of age they are operated on to be farmed for their bile.

Is bear farming, and the commercial trade in bear bile, legal?

Bear farming is illegal in Vietnam but remains legal in China and South Korea. Products containing bear bile can be legally sold within these countries. However, international commercial trade from bear farms is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES is an international agreement between governments aimed at closely monitoring and controlling international trade in endangered plants and animals.

The legal status of the trade in bear parts within a country depends on the wildlife laws of that particular nation. For example, in the U.S. interstate trade in illegally taken wildlife or products from wildlife is prohibited, and 34 states ban the sale of bear parts within the state. Unfortunately, poaching of bears continues, in part due to the inconsistency of state laws and the fact that 11 states allow the sale and 5 states have no laws related to trade in bear parts.

How does the practice of bear farming affect bears in the wild – in Asia and elsewhere around the world?

All eight species of bears on our planet are regulated by CITES because they are either threatened with extinction or may be threatened if trade is not restricted. Five of the species are listed on Appendix I of the CITES agreement, which prohibits all international commercial trade in these animals or in products from them. With 75% of the world’s bear species already threatened with extinction, preventive measures are needed to protect remaining bears from a similar fate. The trade in bear parts puts pressure on small, isolated bear populations in particular.

One of the most common arguments made by the bear farming industry is that farming bears reduces pressures on wild populations, thereby aiding their conservation. It is argued that if the demand for bear bile is met by farmed bears there will be no need to hunt or poach wild bears. However, there is no evidence to support this claim of beneficial protection, largely due to an almost complete lack of information on wild Asian bear populations, particularly in China.

What is WSPA doing to end bear farming?

WSPA is pursuing a variety of approaches to reduce both the supply and demand for bear bile around the world. Through investigations WSPA has helped to expose the cruelty of bear farming and the illegal trade in bear parts. WSPA conducted international undercover surveys of the illegal trade of bear bile products in 2000, and again in 2006. This research documented the extent of the trade in several western and Asian countries including the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The organization has lobbied governments to take a strong stand against the bear bile trade and bear farming and also promoted the use of herbal alternatives to bear bile. Celebrities, like comedic actor Jackie Chan, have been enlisted to bring the anti-bear farming message to audiences around the world.

Have there been any significant developments in the campaign?

In 2005 WSPA reached a landmark agreement with the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to establish a national task force to phase out bear farms in Vietnam. The agreement outlines the government plans for three main stages: 1) registering and micro chipping of all bears in captivity, 2) stopping the breeding of bears on bear farms and 3) enforcing the ban on the taking of bears from the wild.

WSPA has also funded the development of a bear parts detection kit to assist in efforts to enforce laws against the commercial trade in bears. The kits are currently being tested in Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, and plans are underway to trial the kits in Asia. Use of the kits will allow government officials to monitor the presence of bear bile in medicinal and cosmetic products and will help in determining the trade routes used to distribute bear bile products.

What can people do to stop bear farming in Asia?

Anyone using alternative medicine should ensure that they are not consuming products that contain bear bile (usually but not always identified by the word “ursus” on the ingredient list). Citizens or ex-patriots of Vietnam, Korea and China should communicate to government officials their desire that bear farming be phased out as soon as possible in these countries. Citizens of other countries can also help by asking their federal officials to encourage the Chinese and Korean governments to end bear farming.

What can teachers and parents do to teach children about these important animal welfare issues?

One of the best ways to address the mistreatment of animals is through improving human understanding of and attitudes towards them. One way to accomplish this is by encouraging the inclusion of humane subjects in educational programs. WSPA works across the education spectrum, from school age children to university students studying veterinary medicine and other sciences.

“IN AWE” is the WSPA program for 5 to 16-year-old school children, teachers, teacher trainers and curriculum developers. Working with governments, teachers and some of its member societies, WSPA has helped embed animal welfare into the school curriculum of several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Information about WSPA’s humane education program is available at http://animal-education.org.

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