Dear Animal Rights A**Hole

Dear Animal Rights Asshole,

Before we begin, please allow me to give you a little background on my position on fur and animal cruelty:

–My first memory as a child was of wearing a blue velvet coat with white rabbit fur trim and a matching white rabbit fur muff. I remember feeling beautiful and I loved the softness against my skin.

–As a teenager I becaume obsessed with old Hollywood movie stars and their glamour (still am), which led me to collect vintage fur coats and muffs. I especially loved monkey fur, which is black and long, and now illegal.

–I now understand the cruelty behind the fur trade, and would never buy it again, vintage or otherwise. But I own two rabbit fur jackets that my mother bought me 20 years ago that I love and just don’t have the heart to part with yet.

–I work in fashion and have worked very hard to raise my co-worker’s consciousness about animal cruelty and child labor. I have had major, weepy arguments about the wholesale buying and selling of fur; I have calmly explained my position using photos and news articles to illustrate the points. I currently handle one small section of the buying and in my department there is no fur allowed.

–I currently own three dumped-at-a-shelter cats and an abandoned dog who was neglected and beaten so badly that it took me a good four or five years to help him get straight enough to be able to eat and socialize properly.

–I regularly donate to the HSUS, ASPCA, WSPCA, PETA, ALDF, HFA, WWF, the AAVS and local rescue groups in my area. 

–I am not a vegan, but I eat meat and animal products sparingly, on special occasions.

–I have panic attacks at night sometimes about the animals and children that aren’t being loved across our planet, and every time bad weather hits I pray for the safety and comfort of all creatures outside. I pray every day that all small creatures, human or otherwise, might find the peace and love that they deserve.

–I take animal rights very seriously.


Dear Animal Rights Asshole,

With that in mind, I would like to let you know that it is a waste of your time and energy to shout the question, “Is that real? Is that thing real??” at me as I enter the bank wearing what could easily pass for a muppet pelt. My response at the time, because I was so shocked at the aggressiveness of your tone, was “Ah…NO.” But if I had had the time to formulate a proper answer it would have been this:

No, you imbecile, if you had half a brain you would see that it is clearly faux. And it seems that if you are going to get obnoxious with strangers on the street, it might behoove you to be able to spot the differences between real and synthetic fur.

And let’s say that the coat was made from the skin of a once-live animal. Do you really think that your random, unasked for, intrusive, self-righteous attack-in-passing is the magic bullet that would sway me to the side of compassion? Do you really believe that making an enemy out of me will show me the way? 

And as a side note, did you notice that I’m wearing knee high leather boots, a leather belt, and jeans with leather lacing? And you sir, are wearing a leather jacket. Not a cool-looking one, mind you, but leather nonetheless. So where do you stand on that issue, your holiness? Surely if you are this fired up about one kind of skin, you must have some feelings about the others. Are you a vegan? Do you only wear skins or do you eat them too? 

At least you ran at someone like me, who loves animals enough that I won’t be dissuaded by douchebag tactics, rather than some fashion child who might have been on the fence and easily pushed into the non-compassionate camp by an attack like yours. 
Because let me tell you, once on that side of the fence, they are not easily dissuaded. I work with people who will put the head of the last baby seal left standing in the arctic on their Chanel bag, and never give it a second thought. 

I promise you, they do not see the pain, there simply is no consciousness for it. And the main energy (besides vanity) that fuels their callous blindness? Yours, my friend. YOURS. You and your paint throwing, street-shouting, self-righteous nonsensical approach to this issue. Your attacks gives them a reason to feel righteous about buying fur.

Last year I was encouraged when my co-workers conceded to my pleas and bought a stock of faux fur tails that looked very real. It would be great if we didn’t have to have tails at all, but it was a step. We had a party at the store and I noticed a group of fashion types hovering admiringly around the basket full of tails, choosing which color they would purchase. I was so proud of this mini-victory and I said happily to one girl, “They’re faux!” She tossed the tail down in disgust. Her mouth curled into an ugly snarl and she said, “I HATE PETA.”

I had to turn my back, I was so angry and hurt by the exchange. It was an awful moment and it colored the rest of my night. But it was also informative and I know the Universe put that woman there to teach me something. 

When I was young my mother told me that you cannot light darkness with more darkness, that you have to bring in light, because darkness is simply the absence of light. This makes a lot of sense. I know that an aggressive stance is necessary sometimes. But why should there be a war on the sidewalk between two strangers over an issue of compassion?

How about some education, some convincing, some consideration for our fellow man and his thought process? He may not know as much as we do about the issue…yet. If we preach love, don’t we have to live it? How about we teach instead of alienate? How about instead of screaming for Michael Vick’s head, we support Wayne Pacelli in his effort to get Vick out there lecturing to fans about the evils of dog-fighting. That education and reach to kids who wouldn’t ordinarily ever hear the message, is in my mind, more important than the witch hunt. Ultimately, all I care about is which outcome is going to keep the most dogs from suffering.

So, Sir Lame Jacket, I respectfully ask that you shut the fuck up, let me do my banking in peace, and start looking for ways that your dumb fuck ass can bring the light. Take it from someone living behind enemy lines, right now you’re only hurting the cause you claim to love. 

Shoot the Messenger

The furor that animal rights activism stirs up confuses me. Like Roger Daltrey’s statement regarding his Teenage Cancer Trust Fund: “It is a blot on our society when, if these teenagers had four legs and fur or feathers we would raise the money in a year. It’s tragic and it makes me want to fight even harder.”

Mmm…Okay, Roger. PETA fired back that it has been shown that not eating meat greatly reduces the risk of cancer, and that they already publish a list of cruelty-free cancer foundations always looking for donations. I doubt that anyone who is truly concerned about animal cruelty is thinking it’s awesome that teenagers get cancer. And come to think of it, one of my lifelong friends lost her beautiful 3 year old daughter to cancer (HANNAH’S GIFT) and she has never once yelled at me for donating to the Humane Society. I’m assuming this is because she understands that my desire to see an end to animal suffering doesn’t preclude the sadness and concern I feel for her loss.

Every few days or so, on pretty much all of the facebook animal rights groups I belong to, some redneck will sign on and comment with an aggressive version of, “I love animals. They’re tasty.” I know it’s just lonely morons looking for attention, but its interesting that the ire is pointed in the direction of animal rights more than any other causes. You never hear of anyone giving shit to people working to put an end to child abuse. Anyone who tried would be vilified for life.

I do understand that the issues are on very different levels of importance to many people, and that there is a frustration with the retards and fanatics that seem to populate animal rights groups more than others:

There is a phenomenally irritating woman in my neighborhood that I’ve been passing on the street for years who is constantly pulling strangers aside to discuss animal rights. She’s too addled to remember that we’ve spoken before, even though she got me on her email list once and it was a death-struggle to get off of it. So she yells at me when I’m wearing faux fur and I cross the street when I see her so I don’t have to take another flyer. Sometimes she stands outside Whole Foods singing off-key, made-up tunes about how vegans have better sex lives. Yeah, that’ll work. Drew and I commented last Thanksgiving as we went in to get a tofurkey that if we were at all meat inclined we might have bought some cold cuts for the express purpose of flinging at her.

There are also the rage-a-holics. I am not of the angry hang-em-high mindset that some get regarding fur and cruelty. I’m happy that Michael Vick lost his fortune and went to jail because he deserved it for the horrific things he did to his dogs. But I’m mostly relieved that because of his crimes the laws are changing and awareness has been brought to the plight of dogs used for fighting. I don’t want to see him castrated or torn apart and I understand that if we are to promote non-cruelty on one hand, we can’t be screaming for blood on the other.

I get angry and feel great sadness when I hear or see cruelty, but I believe if we are kinder to each other, we will be kinder to animals, and vice versa. And that, to me, is the whole point. So I understand the resentment of fanaticism. I don’t believe that throwing paint or attacking someone physically is going to change their mind about wearing fur, eating meat, fighting dogs, etc.

But I’d like all of you who are out there mocking vegans and animal rights activists to think about this: There is nothing funny or acceptable about cruelty, in whatever form it is channeled. Regardless of the messenger, the message is real.

It is obscene to me that a show like “I Love Money” created a game where they fling chicken carcasses in catapults. Really? Are we that unevolved? I think we’re just disconnected and because so many animal rights people behave like crazy nerds, many of the less thoughtful of us refuse to align themselves with the cause. We think it’s hilarious to fling the headless bodies of a creature who lived, felt, and died, not eating them with gratitude, but treating them like garbage simply because we aren’t paying attention.

I am not insisting that my friends give up meat or throw away their fur jackets this second. I’d just like to ask you to have a little respect for the creatures that you’re eating or wearing, regardless of the how you feel about animal rights organizations: know how it got to you, remember that it was a living creature, and have some respect for the life it gave to sustain or clothe you. That alone will help shift the consciousness of the world around you and eventually bring us to a kinder space.

In other words, it’d be nice for everyone to remember that just because there’s a nutbag on Houston Street singing about how sexy it is to forgo eating turkey on Thanksgiving, it doesn’t make the plight of turkeys everywhere any less real.

Ignorance is Piss

One thing I absolutely cannot abide is people who take pride in their ignorance. Exhibit A:

Another human behavior that I am overtired of is people whose comments re animal rights invariably veer towards “You care more about animals than you do people.” Sigh…As if one precludes the other.

Yes, sometimes, I do. But people are more often assholes (see Exhibit A). And in actuality, not really. It’s all the same issue. I simply want to be a member of a race that behaves fairly and lovingly in all situations, whether it be towards children, other adults, our pet dogs, or rats in a sewer.

And please don’t tell me that animals are getting too much from us when millions are still being raised in anguish then slaughtered in fear and pain every day just to fill our fashion whims and clog our bodies with the poisonous energy of suffering. I don’t give a shit that Leona Helmsley left her dog millions (which has now been whittled down to $190k per year so the grandkids can have some, P.S.) because there are scores of other dogs being tortured in fighting rings and dying without homes. There are animals being stuck on hooks and skinned alive for their fur while I type this. So yeah, I simply don’t give a shit anymore whether people think PETA goes too far, or whether it’s ethical or not for the ALF to damage lab property. I’m still sending them my hard-earned cash.

I guess I’m saying I have reached the point where I am more ready than ever to make the changes necessary for me to sleep at night. I suppose this means I’ll have to give up the meat-fests at Mike’s, the last place I’ve allowed myself to continue the indulgence. The man makes a tasty barbequed rib, let me tell you. But it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that if I am not part of the solution, I’m part of the problem. So I guess I should thank Jessica Simpson for making me so pissed off today that I feel up for a little more commitment.


I should probably add that I typed this fairly quickly at work, after seeing on the news that Bush is calling for a lift on the ban on offshore drilling (wow, great idea), then reading a well-written letter to my boss (rightfully) questioning her use of fur in the Sex and the City movie, then watching various co-workers get way, way too excited over MTV coming into the store to film Paris Hilton, who I do like, but come on.

I just felt like, “Really? Really? We’re going to change our clothes and shove our noses up her ass now? Is that actually necessary for our happiness and well-being?” Paparrazzi manned the front of the store, big guys in suits talked into headsets, and the whole thing just bummed me out with it’s vapidity. And then I saw this dumbass photo of Jessica Simpson and hit the ceiling.

I don’t hassle my friends over their food and clothing choices, and I sometimes make shitty ones myself. I still eat meat sometimes and I have a few leftover vintage fur jackets I don’t have the heart to get rid of yet. f I sound preachy or strident I apologize, it’s just the lack of consciousness that this photo represented to me that set me off.


There is a video on youtube right now showing a soldier in Iraq named David Mortari throwing a crying puppy off of a cliff.

Although a few people have sent me the link to the video, I haven’t actually watched it. I’ve only seen the first shot. I am incapable of viewing darkness involving animals without days of insomnia and deep depression following. I just can’t handle it.

I am finding lately that I am less enraged by this kind of stuff than truly, deeply saddened. I don’t want to find the soldier and torture him or throw him off the cliff. I just want to make him stop. I just don’t want puppies to suffer because people are sick–sick in the head, sick in their souls, sick in whatever way that makes them incapable of empathizing with another’s pain, incapable of protecting the innocent.

Still, it’s interesting to me that we’re surprised that boys we’ve trained to fight and kill are inured to killing. It doesn’t make sense to me to draw the line in some places and not in others. It’s time for us to realize it’s all one, we are all one, and that none of it is okay.

I don’t want to imply in any way that I think all of the men and women in service are this hardened. I think there are all kinds of people in all walks of life, and although I disagree vehemently with our current administration, I would never disparage any or all soldiers as puppy killers. I’m just saying that as a society we need to take responsibility for the monsters of our own creation.

ROCKET found a website with a some really interesting posts discussing our government and its responsibility regarding acts of terror committed by American citizens. I haven’t finished reading much of it yet, but I thought it was worth telling you about: It’s PUPAGANDA.

As for that puppy, I’m just doing what I always do when powerless in the face of absolute evil. I’m handing it over to God/the Universe, which is infinitely wiser and kinder than I am, and was there when it passed to the other side. If I don’t trust that there is a larger plan I will go mad with the sorrow of these acts.

Dogs and Dentistry

Holy crap!

Today was another fine day at the dentists office, continuing the series of tortures devised to contain the rampant gum disease that took over my mouth at some indeterminate time. I got to see my periodontist, who I’ve become quite fond of and familiar with, for a scaling on my right side.

A scaling consists of about 10 shots into that tender space at the top of your gums, and then major scraping of the teeth underneath the gums. With each shot you grow more tense and freaked as it’s both excruciating and weird. The capper is a blinding shot right above your front teeth which hits a nerve which then sends an arrow of pain up through your tongue and into the back of your throat. It is both bizarre and awful, and hit some pressure point which sent me into an embarrassing fit of weeping and shaking.

I tried to explain in between sobs that I am not usually this nutty and and can sit through multiple consecutive hours of tattooing with nary a drug nor a peep, but I knew I was just scaring the crap out of the dental assistant, who handed me tissues and looked nervously at the door for escape.

Well, me too, pal!

My periodontist is the bomb, though, she’s French and very small and elegant and wears a pink lab coat. She says things like, “You are ztill young and byootiful and we must do everysing we can to zave your teef.” And then she wipes my eyes and pats my hand and tells me to take deep breaths. I know she’s just saying whatever she can to calm me down and get on with it, but I like that she’s fancy and tells me what I want to hear.

After the shots are given and she digs around with pointy instruments for what feels like an eternity, they throw you out on the street to find your way home alone, tear-stained and drooling blood out of a slack and benumbed hole that was once your mouth. So pretty. It’s extra delightful for me because the office is in Soho, which means the streets are crowded with gorgeous people darting in and out of places like Chanel. There are generally no cabs to be found and I lurch home as best I can (I am not an animal!…), dabbing at the drool and snot every few seconds, praying to God for no run-ins with friends, acquaintances, or enemies.

So the whole time I was twitching in the chair I kept thinking about my dog. As mentioned before in previous blogs, he was badly abused before he came to me. He’s just twitchy and terrified you’re going to beat him, no matter how much loving care he gets. Lately we’ve taken to calling him the Goggin, because he’s kind of like the golem from Lord of the Rings, except much cuter and instead of a ring he’s very attached to a pink satin pillowcase. Dog + golem = Goggin.

Okay, I guess you have to be there.

Annnnnnyhoo, every time he gets a bath he stiffens up and crosses his paws in front of his chest and his eyes get really wide and crazy looking in terror. It’s absolutely ridiculous and over the top, like a silent film star, but he does it without fail. And that’s exactly how I felt in the dentists chair and the image of him kept floating through my brain.

Which leads me to the actual point of this blog. Ha! You thought I wouldn’t get there!

I got this email from my friend TARA ANGELL, who fosters cats:

“In a city of $7 latte’s, $2500 studio apartments, and $2000 designer tea cup yorkies, it shames me to report that the amount of euthanized DOGS and CATS in 2006 in the NYC city shelter system was nearly 400 per week. Most of these were killed due to LACK OF SPACE AND NOT FOR BEHAVIOURAL REASONS. Times that number by 52 and you get a disgustingly large amount of animals killed by the New York City Shelter System (20,000!). Greatest city in the world? Financial Center of the Universe? What the F???????”

Well, I highly doubt NYC is the only city with these figures. So I went to WWW.HSUS.ORG and found these numbers for 2006:

Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year:
6-8 million (HSUS estimate)

Number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year:
3-4 million (HSUS estimate)

Number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year:
3-4 million (HSUS estimate)

Ugh. Just let that sink in for a minute. I am fully aware that I’m preaching to the choir in my blogs, but I feel I must throw it out there again.

There are far too many animals out there without homes, and far too many being put down just because homes aren’t found quickly enough. And for those of you squawking about no-kill shelters, many of the discarded pets that get there spend too much time in cages to ever be properly socialized and usually end up miserable and neurotic from lack of attention. Life in a cage with no one to love is no life. Domestic animals need our care, our shelter, our love, exercise, sunlight, and attention. We created them to need to live with us, and too many are starving to do just that.

In addition, many of the puppies that are being bred to be sold are not being reared under loving, healthy conditions or with any regard for genetic health. If you are interested in that topic, just google “puppy mills” and you’ll be nauseated in no time.

I’ve purchased two dogs in my life, and they were both awesome, well adjusted, cheerful little maniacs. My Pomeranian (Bean) had a lot of health problems towards the end of her life due to over-breeding, and I’m pretty sure my Pekingese (Panda) would have as well if he hadn’t gotten hit by a car at a young age. At the time of both purchases I just didn’t have it in my head that buying was feeding into the machine.

Now I have another Peke that I adopted, and I suspect that he too has purebred health issues. He does have epilepsy, but we’re not sure if that’s genetic or due to the abuse. And even after years of tender care he’s still an emotional wreck. He came to me ruined and with rehabilitation he’s cheerful and happy, but he still can’t handle anything a normal dog can once he gets outside of my apt. It’s like having a handicapped child. Or a Goggin, if you will.

So I KNOW first hand that it’s easier to purchase than adopt. I’m not sure I would have taken him if I’d known how difficult it would be, but I do love him very much and he’s a pretty good little guy who will sit at home quietly for hours waiting for us to come home. And I know I changed his life from bad to good and that’s pretty rewarding.

But just to reiterate for those of you who aren’t aware of how awful the problem is, I want to give a quick list of things that are important to do with our pets:

1. Adopt. If you are inexperienced and can’t deal with an adult dog who may have issues, get a puppy. There are plenty. If you want a small dog, it just takes more time digging around on PETFINDER. There are also organizations dedicated to rescuing certain breeds if you have a particular one that you like.

If you want a cat, there are a ton of them on there as well, including fancy mush-faces (which I am obsessed with) and they don’t become as nutty as dogs can be when ill-treated. There are so many frigging cats that need homes it’s epidemic.

2. Spay or neuter your damn pet. Please. We don’t need any more. No really, we don’t. I know your dog is awesome, but get a grip.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, discard your animals because you’re moving, your new boyfriend is allergic, you’re a selfish lazy fuck, whatever. When you drop your pet off at a shelter, you’re abandoning them to terror and sadness in a cage and then probable death. Don’t kid yourself that your situation is different. It’s not, your pet enters the same system with the others. If you have an animal it is your responsibility to make sure it is taken care of for the rest of it’s life. Period.

Okay, that’s the end of the lecture. I just didn’t feel like I could let those figures go by without commenting. I’m gonna go sip soup and feel sorry for myself now…

%d bloggers like this: