Premarin: A cruel way to fight menopause

Many women, upon reaching menopause, reach for prescriptions to treat their change-of-life symptoms.

Premarin is one of the drugs women are often prescribed as a hormone replacement therapy. It stands for PREgnant MARe unINe and it’s a cruel industry. Estrogen-rich pregnant horses’ urine is harvested from horses who are forcibly impregnated, confined to tiny stalls, and forced to wear painful urine collection bags. Horses’ water consumption is restricted so their urine is more concentrate.

horsesWhen foals are born, they’re often slaughtered, but sometimes replace their poor mothers on the urine collection line.

And did I mention it’s horse piss?

Most urine is collected at farms in Canada and North Dakota, but the industry is growing overseas too. Premarin is one of the most popular drugs prescribed today. Pfizer makes billions from it.

Premarin isn’t the only name to look out for. Avoid Prempro, Premphase, and Duavee as well. They’re also made with horses’ urine. If your menopausal prescription includes “conjugated equine estrogen” or PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) just say no.

Controlling the symptoms of menopause

I get it. No one wants hot flashes, trouble sleeping, low energy, and all the other issues that goes along with a change of life. Lifestyle changes can help control symptoms: Go vegan and get exercise. Simple, yet effective. No urine ingestion needed.

If you really need medication, ask your doctor for a plant-based (phytoestrogens) or a synthetic alternative. Alternatives carry fewer risks too (Premarin increases the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes in women).

Resources

Humane Society article

Last Chance for Animals campaign

Havehest blog

Peta factsheet

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No New Animal Lab

This past Saturday, I joined several hundred demonstrators at the University of Washington for the March on UW. We were protesting a proposed animal testing facility that, if built, would see a 30% increase in the number of animals tortured and killed at the university.

marching with banner

No New Animal Lab is a slogan, a campaign, and a movement to prevent thousands of animals from suffering. Their current target is Skanska, the construction company who has been awarded the project.

A recent exposé on a local news channel has sickening information about some of what goes on at the university. It’s inhumane, and it needs to stop. I’ve written before about how animal testing is never justified, and the examples at UW are exactly why.

There are psychopaths in our midst. They are researchers at the UW and they live off federal grant money, despite a history of abuse and fines by the USDA.

At a time when other schools are moving to more modern, accurate testing methods, the UW chooses to invest more money in animal testing and refuses to recognize that animal testing models are outdated.

We marched through campus, to the site of the proposed lab, and up University Avenue. After the march, a smaller–but substantial–group protested outside of the home of one of the UW Regents, a man who is pushing the lab plans through despite public opposition.

Police presence was heavy, but both events were peaceful.

The events generated a lot of media coverage, including TV, newspaper and radio. Momentum is gaining and more and more people are becoming aware.

Please visit the No New Animal Lab FB page to see how you can help.

march

hundreds of people march – image c/o Wendy

Tail docking and ear cropping

Heidi Montag reportedly had 10 cosmetic procedures done in a single day. Well, whatever you think of that (or her), at least she was a consenting adult.

Dogs are sometimes subjected to amputations when they’re just puppies. Two procedures affect dogs of one breed or another–and they’re both unnecessary and cruel.

Tail docking

Docking is the process of severing the end of a dog’s spinal cord at the dock (or rump). It’s done when puppies are just a few days old–usually without anesthetic! Historically, people docked the tails of ratters, fighters and bull baiters (less for an opponent to grab). But two wrongs don’t make a right! Sometimes docking is done to increase speed or prevent injuries “in the field.” Again, if you’re not racing dogs or hunting with them, this is a moot issue.

I got my dog from a rescue when he was five years old. He already had his tail removed. Even people who buy puppies from breeders (something I do not condone) generally buy their dogs at eight weeks of age–too late to save their tails. Docking inflicts unnecessary pain on dogs and can cause nerve problems. Several countries, such as Australia, Norway, and Turkey, ban it outright. Besides, dogs communicate by using their tails and need them to send messages. It’s hard for other dogs to read a docked dog’s body language. And tails help a dog balance–leave them on!

Frankie

Frankie is a rat terrier and has naturally upright ears (one was torn in an accident and doesn’t stand up anymore). His tail was cropped, however.

Ear cropping

Cropping is the amputation of part of the ear in an effort to make the ear erect. A vet performs the procedure while the dog is under local anesthesia (although unscrupulous people have been known to try DIY versions, which can lead to blood loss, infection, mutilation, and death).

Cropping was historically done on dogs used for fighting, with the thinking being the ear flaps are something for the opposing animal to sink his teeth into. That’s why you’ll see certain “tough” breeds with cropped ears–Doberman pinschers, boxers, and pit bulls come to mind. Today, though, it’s a cosmetic procedure.

boxer puppy

This sad-looking puppy has her ears taped while they heal from being cropped.

Cropping is usually done when puppies are between two and three months of age. Sadly, instead of learning to socialize and explore the world, these dogs are recuperating from surgery with splints on their ears. They are bandaged up for three weeks and need twice-daily wound cleanings. So instead of bonding with my dog and helping her learn new things, she gets to associate me with pain and fear. No thanks!

Several countries, including Belgium, Germany, and South Africa have banned ear cropping.

Some dogs, like rat terriers and German Shepherds have naturally erect ears. If you love the look of upright, pointy ears, consider adopting a dog with that style of ear already. If looks are more important to you than the well-being of an animal, may I suggest a classic car instead!

If you don’t like the idea of inflicting unnecessary pain on a dog, you probably aren’t a fan of cropping and docking. Spread the word and stop the cruelty!

Horse racing: dying to win

If the Kentucky Derby and other horse races conjure up images of fancy hats and mint juleps, it’s time to take off the blinders.

Horse racing is big business, with no regard for the well-being of the horses.

Kentucky Derby

On average, 24 horses die on racetracks in the US every week. Even more are injured and killed before they ever see a race. About 30,000 foals are born every year, in the hopes that they’ll be a winner. Not all have what it takes. As a result, 10,000 thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter in Canada and Mexico every year. The situation in other countries, like the UK, Australia and Israel, is just as grim.

Horses are routinely doped up on performance-enhancing medications and pain-masking drugs. For example, many horses are given thyroxine, a thyroid medication that amps up metabolism–whether they have thyroid issues or not. Lasix, meant to prevent bleeding in the lungs during extreme exercise, is used to dehydrate horses and make them lighter on race day. Conveniently, it masks other drugs in the horses’ systems too.

These young horses are exhausted, overworked, and often train and race with painful injuries. They aren’t rewarded for winning–even though their owners can pocket over a million dollars in a big race. One sad example is Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner. He died in 2002, in a Japanese slaughterhouse, after an unsuccessful stint as a stud. Horse Racing: Where winners are eaten.

The horse racing industry enslaves these horses and forces them to be athletes. Some don’t make the cut, but even the fast ones face a short, miserable life.

As with so many industries that exploit animals, humans are exploited too. Stable workers are often undocumented and work long, hard hours for little pay and often sleep in the barns and tack rooms, not the staff quarters.

What to do?

  • NEVER attend or bet on a horse race!
  • Support humans events (where people choose to compete) like track and field.
  • Watch this short exposé by PETA (warning: graphic language).
  • Read about the similar plight of horses in the UK.
  • Use this form to send a letter to your US representatives and senators urging them to increase penalties for doping. (Please click here if you live in the UK, here if you live in Canada, and here for all other international locations.)

The humble goldfish

Most people probably don’t give goldfish a lot of consideration, but I think the humble goldfish represents a lot of the animal issues vegans and animal activists are trying to solve.

Thomas Benjamin Kennington FishbowlFirst domesticated in China in the 10th century, goldfish aren’t captured, killed and eaten like their wild cousins, the carp. But pet goldfish don’t always have it easy either.

For a lot of kids, a goldfish is a first pet–the “test” animal to see if they’re ready for a dog or cat. Goldfish are seen as a simple creature with minimal needs, but the reality is they are smart and complex. They can recognize people, be trained to perform tricks, and can identify shapes and colors.

They are social creatures who enjoy other goldfish, and need at least 10-20 gallons of water with an enriched habitat and water filter, but they often languish alone in small, dirty fishbowls.

It may seem like goldfish are short-lived animals but they will live up to ten years if looked after properly. Inadequate care is likely the cause of most of their early deaths.

Unlike other pets, when a goldfish dies, he or she is often simply flushed down the toilet. Why grieve such a “disposable” pet? Some people don’t even wait for their pet fish to die. The toilet or local pond is seen as a good way to deal with an unwanted fish.

There are very few animals that a person can win at the fair, and the goldfish is one of them. It’s easy to see why people wouldn’t give proper care to a fish they didn’t plan on having.

Goldfish swallowing contests might conjure up frat prank from the 1950, but it’s still sometimes practiced. And though I think it’s an urban legend or attempt at humor, the goldfish platform was supposedly a style in the ’70s. Fortunately I’ve seen only replicas, complete with plastic fish.goldfish shoes

A large percentage of goldfish are raised as feeders for bigger fish and other animals like turtles. So while we might not eat them, goldfish are still raised for food.

Selectively bred for color, shape, and other unique characteristics. Like other domesticated animals, turkeys for example, some types of goldfish have been so modified that they cannot breed on their own. Humans have intervened to such an extent that they need to keep intervening for certain subspecies to continue to exist. Ironic, eh?

It’s not just goldfish who are mistreated, ignored and trivialized. Our attitudes toward all animals should be questioned. The goldfish symbolizes a bigger problem with our relationship with animals.