Trump signs a sweeping federal ban on animal cruelty

By: Hannah Knowles and Katie Mettler 


President Trump signs the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act in the Oval Office on Monday. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

President Trump on Monday signed into law a new federal ban on animal cruelty, called the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act.

The bipartisan bill, which passed the House and Senate earlier this year, will outlaw purposeful crushing, burning, drowning, suffocation, impalement or other violence causing “serious bodily injury” to animals. Violations could result in a fine and up to seven years’ imprisonment.

Advocates say the Pact Act, which was pushed through the Senate by lead sponsors Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), will fill crucial gaps in national law, which bans animal fighting as well as the making and sharing of videos that show the kind of abuse the Pact Act would criminalize. All states have provisions against animal cruelty, said Kitty Block, president of the Humane Society of the United States, but without a federal ban, it’s hard to prosecute cases that span different jurisdictions or that occur in airports, military bases and other places under federal purview.

“Our nation’s animals have played a vital role in the development, settlements, security and happiness of our country,” Trump said before signing the bill Monday evening. “So true, we had a great dog named Conan here just a little while ago so it’s very fitting that [the bill signing] was on the same day … Conan was something and created quite a stir.”

The bipartisan act, introduced by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), builds on a 2010 law that targets videos depicting animal cruelty, spurred by disgust over a gruesome genre of “crush” videos often showing small creatures being stomped under a woman’s shoe.

Block says videos capturing such torture needed to be addressed at the federal level because content shared online transcends state boundaries. But no national law targeted the acts behind the recordings — despite previous congressional efforts with widespread support.

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Buchanan said in a statement before the signing ceremony. “Signing this bill into law is a significant milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country.”

Chris Schindler, who investigates animal abuse in the District said the law will be especially important for the Humane Rescue Alliance, where he is vice president of field services. The group handles many cases that span state lines or occur on federal property.

“Our officers investigate thousands of animal cruelty cases each year but have been unable to truly bring justice for the animals in instances when the cruelty occurs across multiple jurisdictions,” Schindler said.

The Pact Act has been cheered not only by animal welfare groups but also by many members of law enforcement who want federal tools to — in Deutch’s words — “stop animal abusers who are likely to commit acts of violence against people.” Leaders of groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police and the Major County Sheriffs of America have expressed support for the law.

“And animal lovers everywhere know this is simply the right thing to do,” Deutch said in a statement.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund called the Pact Act a good step but noted that there could be loopholes.

For example, the Pact Act does not necessarily cover actions taken against an animal that cause less than “serious bodily harm,” which could mean that hitting or punching an animal might not meet the law’s definition of cruelty, according to the ALDF.

The legislation outlines exemptions for humane euthanasia; slaughter for food; recreational activities such as hunting, trapping and fishing; medical and scientific research; “normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice”; and actions that are necessary “to protect the life or property of a person.”

Source: Washington Post

‘Stop the dog fights’

dog fights

Animal rights activists and community leaders are calling on authorities to stop vicious dog fights being arranged by bunking school children in Ocean View.

It’s believed the laaities steal dogs from residents, and in some cases, dogs have been flung into pits where the winner must fight its way out.

If they do not succeed, they are stoned to death, one horrified resident says.

Allan Perrins of the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa in Philippi says he has been notified of the dog fighting and is calling on parents to keep a closer watch on their kids.

“On Sunday, November 17, I was sent a batch of seven photographs of a group of youths and their pitbulls suspiciously gathered in a wooded area in the mountains, allegedly at the back of Ocean View, by an anonymous source who is too scared to reveal their identity for fear of reprisal by the alleged perpetrators.

“I am appealing to residents and parents to please be vigilant and to report suspicious activity to our Inspectorate on 021 692 2626.

“If the child takes the family pet for a walk and comes back empty-handed or arrives home with blood-stained clothes or the dog has typical dog fighting bite wounds and injuries, then ask questions.”

Paul Franke, a community leader in Ocean View, says he has witnessed children as young as eight walking to the bush with their dogs near Payne Street for the dog fights.

“Most of these children are bunking,” he says.

“They take their own dogs to fight against dogs which they have stolen.”

Paul says the children often leave the injured dogs in the bush.

The Western Cape Education Department say they are not aware of the incidents.

Source: Daily Voice

Cape dog caretaker wins international award

Cape dog caretaker

Cape Town resident Shaygam Newman has won the renowned international Brian Davies Award hosted annually by Network for Animals (NFA). The award, given to heroes who take care of animals in difficult situations or dangerous environments, honours people who often risk their own safety and selflessly give their own resources, but get no recognition otherwise.

After growing up in an abusive home, Newman’s only friendship and comfort was from street dogs. He decided to do something in return, and so started his informal caretaking station in the impoverished community of Hangberg near Hout Bay.

Here, Newman and his co-workers who call themselves “Shaygam’s Crew” feed, care for and monitor local homeless dogs without getting paid at all. He and his “crew” patrol the surrounds daily to check on the dogs.

“Caring for animals is all I know. They are my priority,” Newman said to News24.

Since he does not have a car, Newman would carry dogs that need medical care he cannot provide on foot to a friendly vet several kilometres away for help.  To pay for dog food and other necessities, he makes dog leashes that he sells at a market in town. By now, he is a respected figure in the community and even teaches others how to properly care for dogs.

“He works in a difficult and dangerous place with little money and minimal resources, yet he has been instrumental in caring for and changing the lives of street dogs,” said NFA’s co-founder Gloria Davies to

Newman received $10,000 (R148,000) in prize money, which he says he will use to build proper enclosures at his station, among other things.

Listen to a podcast of his story on NFA’s website.


South Africans Are Easy Targets For Purebred Pet Scams

Pet scams

Take a stroll along Sea Point promenade and you’ll see a handful of breeds popping up time and time again.

Certain breeds, like Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs, are in vogue at the moment, and they can bring in a small fortune for breeders. 

Sure, the guy who invented the labradoodle has some regrets, but other breeders are raking in serious cash.

As with any industry in South Africa where there is money to be made, there are crooks to be found, and it turns out we’re relatively easy targets for unscrupulous operators.

The team at Carte Blanche did the necessary digging:

Are you looking to buy a purebred cat or dog? Well beware, hundreds of animal lovers worldwide are being lured into paying high prices for pedigreed pets online. The catch is these animals don’t exist – it’s just another scam operated by sophisticated scammers using proxy servers in Gauteng and it seems South Africans are easy targets.

I love a segment that ends with the crooks being confronted and playing dumb.

Hey, do you know who won’t scam you? The folks at your local SPCA, or DARG, or any of the other organisations aimed at treating and rehoming animals in need.

You really don’t need to fork out for some purebred pup on the other side of the country when there are so many animals in dire need close to home.

Source: 2 Oceans Vibe

Tips For Feeding Kittens

Feeding for kittens

In the wild, big cats know exactly what they need to eat. By feeding your kitten the right food at the right times, you’ll be supporting their natural instincts as a carnivore and solitary hunter.

Special kitten food
For the first four to five weeks of their lives, your kittens will get all they need from their mother. They are normally weaned-off by seven weeks, but from week four they can already begin eating specially prepared kitten food such as Whiskas Kitten Meat in gravy or jelly. 

Small tummy, big appetite
Those cute little kitties might be small, but they will grow 15 times faster than a human baby! With stomachs that start out as the size of your thumbnail, they can’t eat very much in one go. That’s why it’s important to feed kitten’s small meals at regular intervals, up to six times a day to begin with. In the early days, try spreading the food onto a plate so your kitten can just lick and get a taste for it.

Kitten to cat portions
Whiskas Kitten Pouches are perfect for a single tasty meal for kittens between two and 12 months. They should be fed three to four meals a day until they are six months old. Following this, they can be fed between two and four meals a day. Kittens can eat Whiskas Adult Pouches twice a day when they are between 10 and 12 months old.

Careful eaters
In the wild, big cats are careful eaters, avoiding anything that tastes “off”. Kittens share those instincts and will prefer every meal to be fresh, served at room temperature and in  clean bowls.

Not on the menu
After kittens are weaned, they lose their ability to digest milk – so no cow’s milk for them! Many human foods can be harmful to cats, for example, onions can cause anaemia. So, don’t be tempted to give her table scraps and human treats. If you feed your cats the right food at the right times, they’ll be getting all the nutrition they need.

Sensitive to taste
Kittens’ tongues are highly sensitive to both temperature and taste. Just like their big cat cousins, they’ll protect themselves by avoiding stagnant water or anything that doesn’t taste fresh. That’s why kittens may prefer to drink from a puddle in the garden – they can taste the harmful chemicals we use to keep tap water clean.

Litter tray
In the wild, big cats are careful about keeping clean. That’s why they don’t eat and go to the toilet in the same place. Kittens are no different, so make sure you keep the litter tray well away from the places where they eat and drink.

A long and healthy life
A shiny coat, bright eyes and supple muscle tone are all good signs your kittens are nutritionally healthy. If you feed them a balanced diet that’s right for every stage of their lives, you’ll soon see it reflected in their appearance.

As your little feline friends approach their first birthdays, they’ll be ready to move on to eating a balanced adult diet that is suitable for their growing needs. Your kittens are highly sensitive to changes in taste and temperature, as well as any change in diet, so make sure you gently ease them into their new diet.

To find out more about Whiskas product availability that is best for the newest edition to your family, visit us on the Whiskas Website or Facebook page.

Feeding for kittens

Source: WHISKAS®

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7-Year-Old Wins ASPCA Kid of the Year After Rescuing More Than 1,300 Dogs

Roman McConn, 7, has saved more than 1,300  dogs since he was just 4 years old, and for that, ASPCA has named him 2018’s Kid of the Year.  

“I think it’s very important for the dogs I meet that I give them the best chance at finding the right home that they need,” Roman, who lives in Augusta, Georgia, told “I think a lot of other kids should be doing what I’m doing.”

Roman founded Project Freedom Ride, an organization that rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in Texas and rehomes them with loving families.

For its success, Roman and his family were treated to a special trip to New York, where he presented a speech about his organization and why he loves doing what he does.

He explained that his philanthropy began when he was 3 years old, when he asked his friends and family members not to gift him toys for his 4th birthday, but to donate money to his favorite rescue.

His mom, Jennifer McConn, encouraged her son to rescue dogs in a larger capacity, leading to their first transport of 31 dogs from Texas to Washington in December 2016.

“The first dog I do remember was in Washington,” Roman said. “His name was Sullivan and we called him Sully for short, but he was the sweetest. He was a big American bulldog. My mom said he was about the size of a small horse because he was huge.”

Roman and his mom successfully found Sully a forever home, and have continued to do the same thing for hundreds of other dogs.

What helps in their secret of success, Roman explained, was that his mom would film him playing with the rescue dogs and upload them on Facebook so potential adopters can see what the pups are really like.

“She posts it on Facebook so people can see it,” he explained. “I think it’s very important for the dogs I meet that I give them the best chance at finding the right home that they need.”

Source: Inside Edition

Elephant Rides At Angkor Temples Finally To Be Banned By Cambodia


Elephant Rides

Officials in Cambodia have announced they are banning elephant rides at the country’s infamous Angkor temple park. 

Millions of tourists visit northern Siem Reap every year to explore the Angkor archaeological complex, home to numerous temples built between the 9th and 15th centuries.

The park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, spans 400 square kilometers so many visitors opt to ride one of the attraction’s 14 elephants as they take in the spectacular monuments. The majestic animals have also been taught to put on performances for tourists.

Elephant Rides

However, the park has been criticised in the past because many of the animals being used are old or unhealthy. Animal rights activists have accused handlers of overworking the elephants and encouraged officials to stop using the elephants for the tourists’ entertainment.

Their efforts paid off as news of a ban was announced earlier this year and an official confirmed today, November 15, it will come into place early next year, The Straits Times reports.

Elephant Rides

Long Kosal, a spokesperson with the Apsara Authority, which manages the park, admitted some of the animals were ‘already old’ and that ‘using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore’. Not that subjecting animals to cruelty should have ever been appropriate, but at least they’re finally making moves to rectify their mistakes.

The company that owns the elephants will continue to look after them, though the animals are being moved from the park to a community forest about 25 miles (40 kilometres) away.

Kosal added: They will live out their natural lives there.

So far, five of the 14 working elephants have been moved and the rest will be gradually transported throughout the next couple of months.

Elephant Rides

Another working elephant died at the popular attraction last year, after which a petition to end the elephant rides gained over 14,000 signatures.

Hopefully the beautiful animals will get to live the happy lives they deserve when the ban comes into place.

Source: Unilad

New Bill Makes It Illegal To Abandon Dogs In Natural Disasters

Abandon Dogs

It has been far too many times all across America. People will just abandon their pets, usually dogs, when a natural disaster hits. They may leave them tied up outside or locked in a cage or simply just let them run around freely, scared and alone. Well this has happened too many times and now it will become illegal to do such a cruel thing and those who do will be severely punished, as they should be.

Senate Bill 1738 would aim to stop people from leaving a dog tied up and unattended outdoors during both man-made and natural disasters. Natural disasters include hurricanes, tropical storms or tornado warnings. The bill defines ‘man-made’ disasters as a situation in which someone has received fair notice from a local or government authority that an event attributed in part or entirely to human intent, error, or negligence, or involving the failure of a manmade system is either happening or will happen. This would give them enough time to get to safety, including their dogs.

Florida lawmaker Joe Gruters is the one who filed the bill that would authorize vets to report suspected violations without notifying the owner beforehand. However, it doesn’t work all the time. It would only be able to be used in situations where a warning had been issued by the National Weather Service or an evacuation order had been issued by local officials. Otherwise, the owners can say that they weren’t told about it in advance, making the case null and void.

Punishable by up to a year in prison

In regards to punishing those guilty of abandoning their dogs, the bill states that those who abandon animals by tying them up ‘commit animal cruelty’, and as such, they would be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and a first-degree animal cruelty charge which is punishable by up to a year in prison. The proposal passed through the Senate Agriculture Committee with five favorable votes and no opposition.

One such example of when this punishment would have come in handy would have been after Hurricane Florence in North Carolina when many, many dogs were abandoned. Take a look at the video below that shows a group of six dogs who had been locked in a cage while their owner fled. The animals were clearly distressed, standing up on their hind legs, trying to get out as the flood waters rose. Had rescuers not got there in time, the dogs would have almost definitely drowned. Had that happened in Florida with the new law, the owners would have been punished greatly for their actions. If the bill is passed into law, it could come into effect as early as July 1st.

If I was ever in the unfortunate situation of having to flee from a natural disaster, my dog would be the first thing on my mind to take.


A rhino is killed every ten hours in Africa


A new report from the International Rhino Foundation gives insight into the real numbers of the world rhino population over the last decade. The results are positive, showing that due to dedicated conservation and protection efforts the number of rhino worldwide has increased in the last decade from 21 000 to 27 000 globally. This is a 30% increase in the rhino population over the last ten years.

While this is positive, it is important to note that in the past two years the number of rhino worldwide has dropped from 29 000 to just over 27 000. This shows that the scourge of poaching across the African continent is still a battle that needs to be fought. According to the latest statistics a rhino is killed every 10 hours in Africa. The International Rhino Foundation says that there have been more than 9 000 rhinos poached across Africa over the last decade.

“Rhinos across the globe are threatened by rampant poaching to feed illegal markets, by habitat loss, and by other factors ranging from inbreeding to invasive species.” – International Rhino Foundation

“In Africa, criminals killed nearly 900 rhinos last year.” – International Rhino Foundation

White Rhino

The South African Government and teams of dedicated conservationists have worked tirelessly over the decades to increase white rhino numbers and bring them back from the brink of extinction. In the early 1900’s there were fewer than 50 white rhinos left in the wild. Today however, the population numbers are up to about 18 000! The poaching crisis of the last few years has had a negative effect on white rhino numbers causing to decline by 15% between 2012 and 2017. White rhinos are particularly vulnerable in Kruger National Park, where despite rangers’ best efforts they are under constant threat.

Black Rhino

In the 1970’s black rhino populations numbered more than 65 000. It is devastating to think that due to horrendous losses, by 1993 less than 2 300 of these creatures remained. Black rhino numbers in Africa are now around 5 500 animals and they are also under constant threat from poachers.

Alastair Hewitt, co-founder of The Boucher Legacy says;

“It is always important to take note of the wins gained from concerted conservation efforts and it is encouraging to note that due to the dedicated work of passionate people we have seen an increase in the global population of rhino species. However, the increased onslaught of poaching over the last few years reminds us that the war on poaching is far from over.”

Source: The Boucher Legacy

Beauty Without Cruelty urges residents to save peacocks



Earlier this week, a petition was created to highlight the plight of peacocks in the Clovelly, Fish Hoek, Glencairn and Noordhoek areas. The petition was created by animal rights organisation Beauty Without Cruelty to “prevent their senseless killing”.

The plight of these magnificent birds was brought to attention when a group of concerned residents filed several complaints in relation to the “noisy” birds. The residents are requesting that they be managed. This specifically made about the ones roaming on the Country Club greens.

The Beauty Without Cruelty campaign states that the birds have a right to be there, saying: “One cannot move into an environment surrounded by protected or wild areas, and expect the resident wildlife of any description to keep office hours to suit a few people.”

Speaking to CapeTalk, Paul Stoner, manager of the Closely Country Club, said that the peacocks were introduced to the area by a resident. The resident left a breeding pair behind, and as a result, more peacocks were born onto the greens.

According to Beauty Without Cruelty national spokesperson Toni Brockhoven, the organisation believes that some residents have catapulted rocks at the peacock, as well as thrown them with marbles.

“They have been there for a very long time. Unfortunately, some residents are getting involved. They decided that they need to fix and manage things. Nature is capable of sorting itself out,” she said in the petition’s description.

Brockhoven has urged the public to sign the petition ahead of a meeting to be held pertaining to the fate of the peacocks on November 24.

You can sign by clicking here.