April 18, 2017
Instead of our regular meeting, we headed to Stanford University for a live taping of the Stanford podcast, Philosophy Talk. The guest speaker was Steven M. Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, which is the subject of the new documentary Unlocking the Cage. In response to audience questions, Wise kept reminding us that this field of law is in its infancy and his group is small, so there is only so much that he can do. For instance, he can’t claim that keeping animals in cages is inhumane or the food animal industry will cry foul and claim that he wants everyone to go vegan (sounds good to us) and that will be the end of the case. He stressed how important it is to get inside the head of the judge in order to frame his case correctly.
Steven Wise has spent the last 30 years working to change these animals’ status from “things” to “persons.” It’s not a matter of legal semantics; as he describes in his fascinating TED talk, recognizing that animals like chimps have extraordinary cognitive capabilities and rethinking the way we treat them — legally — is no less than a moral duty.
Dr. Wise has practiced animal protection law for 30 years throughout the US and is the author of four books: Rattling the Cage – Toward Legal Rights for Animals; Drawing the Line – Science and the Case for Animal Rights; Though the Heavens May Fall – The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery; and An American Trilogy – Death, Slavery, and Dominion Along the Banks of the Cape Fear River. He is a former president of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and holds a J.D. from Boston University Law School and a B.S. in Chemistry from the College of William and Mary. He teaches animal rights law at Harvard Law School, Vermont Law School, John Marshall Law School, Lewis & Clark Law School, and Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. The Yale Law Journal has called him “one of the pistons of the animal rights movement.”
March 21, 2017
SCCAA member, Belle Stafford, gave a presentation on the campaign to end the Woodside Pig Scramble. She was speaking on behalf of the Committee for a Humane Woodside and Mid-Peninsula Animal Rights. The Pig Scramble is an annual event wherein baby pigs are trucked to an arena where they are released and then chased by children, who attempt to catch them. The piglets are terrified and squealing while children grab & tug at them. The piglets are hoisted by legs, tails, etc. (whatever can be grabbed). Committee for a Humane Woodside is appealing to the Woodside Town Council for a ban of this inhumane activity. They face strong opposition from the Mounted Patrol, who puts on the annual junior rodeo, and is arguing to retain this “fun” tradition.
Members of the Mounted Patrol have claimed that the pigs are not injured, which doesn’t address the fear that they are obviously experiencing or the effects on children. To quote Dr. Sujatha Ramakrisha, “If they are taught that tackling and dragging a squealing pig is fun, they won’t understand why pulling a yelping puppy’s tail, and pummeling a crying boy in gym class, are not also fun.”
February 21, 2017
We heard Ryan Frazier speak on the topic “Talking veganism and animal rights with college students — insights from FARM’s ’10 Billion Lives’ program”. Ryan led a discussion on the questions and concerns they hear during pay-per-view outreach and how we as activists can best inform and inspire empathetic youth to turn their compassion into action.
Ryan joined FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) in 2012. The program’s mission is to expose college students to the horrors of animal agriculture and talk to them about their reactions. As program manager for the 10 Billion Lives Program, Ryan runs many behind-the-scenes details of FARM’s three full-time tours. His duties include connecting with college administrators and student groups to schedule events, hiring and providing support to the touring crews, and strategizing with the program coordinators. Ryan is a Conservation Biology graduate of San Jose State University who worked with SCCAA and Food Empowerment Project before joining FARM. He was the operator of FARM’s first pay-per-view mobile kiosk before taking on the role of Coordinator, then Manager, as the program expanded. Ryan’s time away from work usually revolves around excursions in the Bay Area with his rescue dog, Max.
Ryan was one of the founding members of SCCAA and remains our good friend and pioneering animal activist. Check him out at www.farmusa.org/who-we-are/our-staff/9-9-ryan-frazier.html
January 17, 2017
This month’s presenter was Giny Woo, founder of Stop the Dog & Cat Consumption in S. Korea. She showed us the website, koreandogs.org, and explained some of the specific campaigns that they are working on. For instance, there is a list of Korean Sister Cities in most US States. We can send letters to the governors of those states, requesting that they pressure the mayor of the Korean Sister City to enforce the dog meat laws that are already on the books. Yes, it is illegal. Unlike in China, where dogs are simply captured, they are also farmed in Korea. Much of the information on the website is available in 15 languages. Click HERE to read a message from Giny. “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” -L.R. Knost
December 3, 2016
Every December, in lieu of a meeting, we have our holiday party. It is an excellent opportunity to get together, eat vegan food, socialize, and meet new folks. This year’s potluck was held in a beautiful, private home in San Jose.
November 15, 2016
Chris Van Breen spoke about the Berkeley Animal Rights Center and explained the tactics they used to avoid eviction by the City of Berkeley. As of this writing, they are still in the same location.
October 16, 2016
This month we watched a few short animal-related videos. This is an inspiring diversion from focusing on a specific issue. It is a reminder of why we contine to work to eliminate all forms of animal exploitation, whether it be for food, clothing or entertainment.
September 20, 2016
Julie Callahan & Nancy Marx Schubarth of March for Elephants & Rhinos spoke to us on “Why We March”, the campaign to end poaching of these magnificent species. They mentioned that Botswana used to be a safe place for elephants & rhinos, but now they are being poached there too.
August 16, 2016
This month, SCCAA member Laurie Powell presented an overview of the positions of Rutgers Law Professor Gary Francione. We were going to watch this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4UjkQ99u7s, but the sound wasn’t coming through. Francione is a fierce advocate of Abolitionism in the animal movement. He says, “Single-issue campaigns characterize certain forms of animal exploitation as different from and worse than others, which suggests by implication that other forms of exploitation are acceptable.” He also said, “Although my position is often misrepresented, I have never suggested that there is any possibility of the immediate abolition of all institutionalised exploitation and I have never argued that we should not pursue incremental change. What I have said is that we should not pursue traditional welfarist reform; rather, we should pursue abolitionist change that incrementally eradicates the property status of nonhumans and recognises that nonhumans have inherent value. ” Francione believes that veganism is the best path to animal liberation.
July 19, 2016
We watched two short videos at this month’s meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSYF6dw22gY. This film outlined animal rights and featured Philip Wollen, Ingrid Newkirk and Ellen Degeneres. We also watched an excerpt from a TV show about the latest laws regarding animal rights activists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nuldJs5xuw. The federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and assorted Ag Gag laws in various states are making it a serious crime to engage in animal activism. This is something that we need to be aware of and makes it all the more important to know the law.
June 21, 2016
Our guest speaker was Kathie Stafford. She and Carol Carson phoned SHARK (Showing Animals Respect & Kindness) president Steve Hindi, and he spoke at length on speaker phone about rodeos in general and the upcoming Salinas rodeo in particular.
May 17, 2016
This month we traveled to Santa Cruz for the Animal Film Festival in lieu of having a general meeting. The festival opened with a chilling scene of a man running for his life:
David and Goliath – Based on a true story, David, a Jewish man fleeing for his life from Nazi soldiers, finds refuge in a dog house and ultimately a German Shepherd becomes his savior. George Zaverdas, 11:46, USA
Penelope – A Rescue Story – A couple rescues a chicken from being killed in a brutal Orthodox Jewish religious ceremony in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Duncan Skiles, 12:19 USA
Finding Shelter – We follow the Rowles family as they pack up their four kids and move from the United Kingdom to a small town in Bulgaria in search of a quiet life. Their plans are altered as they butt heads with the locals over the abundance of street dogs and slowly transform a community with the opening of an animal shelter. Erin Parks, 43:00, Canada
Spay & Neuter PSA – Set in the black & white era of the 1950’s, a suburban housewife learns the importance of spaying and neutering! Amy Bennett, Laura MacLean, 1:30, USA
SMART – This film is a groundbreaking documentary about a group of highly trained, adrenaline-fueled professionals who risk life and limb to rescue animals! They are Los Angeles’ Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team and they save anything and everything, wild or domestic, from an array of dangerous situations. Justin Zimmerman, 1 hr., 12 min., USA
April 19, 2016
Sonja Huang was the special speaker at our SCCAA meeting in April. Sonja spoke on “Hidden in Plain Bite: The Truth about Our Food System”. Sonja has been a food justice activist for three years, since shortly after watching undercover investigations regarding how animals are raised for food and its impacts on animal welfare, human health, and the environment. As the Bay Area Director of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, Sonja gives presentations to students and community groups on the various hazards associated with animal agriculture. She also works with Green Monday, a Hong Kong‐based social enterprise that partners with universities and restaurants to offer more plant‐based options and lower institutional carbon and water footprints.
March 15, 2016
As a Humane Educator for the Ethical Choices Program ‐‐ whose Chairman of the Board is Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet ‐‐ Laurie regularly gives presentations to local high schools and colleges. Laurie is a Doctor of Psychology and local vegan activist, musician, singer, and song writer. Ethical Choices Program is a non‐profit based in Atlanta. For 10 years, the group has successfully presented their program in Georgia and Ohio and have recently received funding to expand the program into other states and Canada.
In February, we were pleased to host Myriam Martinez. Myriam is the spokeswoman for Justice for our Catz, a group created to provide support, organize as a community, and to share current updates surrounding the recent series of cat kidnappings and gruesome killings in San Jose. Of particular interest is the Robert Farmer case. On October 8, 2015, Robert Farmer was arrested in connection with the torture and killing of cats. Farmer has multiple felony counts against him and the court proceedings have only just begun.
January 19, 2016
We showed a short TED Talk video by Lesli Bisgould, a Canadian animal rights attorney, on animals’ rights to legal personhood. She shared why she believes this is a direction we need to go – not to give animals the right to vote, which is a common misperception, but to be treated with respect as sentient beings with their own lives. We followed with discussion and explored the concept of reevaluating the relationship of humans and other animals.
Bisgould had spent many years in litigation against the Canadian Government regarding the right of non-governmental observers to document the seal hunt on Canada’s east coast. She has lectured on animal rights in both Canada and the US. Below are links to her Ted Talk in 2014 and a previous one in 2012.
In lieu of a general meeting, we had our annual Holiday Party. Over 20 people showed up and contributed an amazing variety and amount of food and beverages. We also had a gift exchange, a fun performance by Laurie Powell and lots of lively conversations.
November 17, 2015
This was our last general meeting of 2015. After finishing up the agenda items, we had a pot luck meal for SCCAA and SVHB (Silicon Valley Healthy Bytes) members to interact and celebrate the forward action of unity in our community with food. One of the objectives of SCCAA & SVHB, the South Bay pod of PlantPure Nation, overlaps, particularly keeping animals off our plates. The pot luck consisted of vegan dishes, ideally of whole foods, as prescribed by PlantPure Nation and T. Colin Campbell.
October 20, 2015
Pat Cuviello and Deniz Bolbol told stories and showed pictures of their over 25 years of experiences with circus protests, particularly Ringling Brothers. Their presentation showed slide after slide of animals that Ringling used to have in the circus – over 20 elephants, primates, tigers, horses, bears, a rhinoceros, a hippopotamus and even a sea lion. The number of protesters increased dramatically in 1994, after a circus elephant in Honolulu killed her trainer and escaped, only to be shot down in the street.
Pat explained that whenever activists feel that we aren’t making a difference, all we need to do is look back at how it was 20-30 years ago and we can see enormous changes. In fact, Circus Vargus is one who gave up using animals completely, and therefore deserves our attendance as paying customers.
Although Ringling has announced that they will end their use of elephants in the circus by 2018, they have not mentioned discontinuing the use of tigers. And their idea of retiring elephants to sanctuaries is moving them to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, where elephants are chained, abused with bullhooks and used for breeding.
September 15, 2015
Rosemary Alles addressed the elephant tusk and rhino horn issues and
explained why we march – to bring worldwide attention to the urgency of the decline in the elephant & rhino wild populations. The numbers of these magnificent animals that are killed daily is staggering and very, very sad. Often, babies are found next to their murdered mothers.
Of all the marches worldwide, the numbers of marches in Africa are the most important to increase. The local people who are making money from poaching need to realize that their communities can make more money through tourism, as Rwanda has with their Silverback Gorillas.
August 19, 2015
Our featured speaker this month was Seema Vaid, whose passion for the temple elephants of Sri Lanka & India was palpable.
The practice of having a temple elephant is incredibly widespread and contradicts the spiritual image of the countries.
The young elephants spend their lives chained, often by two legs, and neither the governments nor the temples have much interest in terminating the practice. In fact, even most visitors seem ambivalent towards the elephants swaying in the temple courtyards.
Elephants are so commonplace in Sri Lanka and India that people seem to forget that they are highly intelligent, sensitive and sociable creatures and are miserable when forced to be confined away from other elephants and stand on concrete most of the day. Far from being holy icons, the elephants are more for political status and a source of income. To learn more, visit Heart of Ganesh or go directly to this page to write a letter for Ganga.
July 21, 2015
The July general meeting featured SCCAA member and founder of Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project, Andrea Gung. The organization was named after Duo Duo, a small dog that was abandoned by a veterinary school in China (where she was used by students for practicing veterinary procedures), and rescued by Andrea.
We learned about the Dog Meat Festival that takes place yearly in Yulin, Guang Xi (廣西) a southern city in mainland China. At least 10,000 dogs are killed during this festival, which has been strongly condemned by animal activists for its barbaric, unsafe, and inhumane practices.
We also learned that California has become a sister city with Guangdong Province in China, an area that is responsible for 40% of the dog meat & 70% of the cat meat trade in China. In fact, many of them are stolen pets! There is a petition on the website to urge Governor Jerry Brown to inform Governor Zhu Xiaodan that California citizens are aghast at this realization, and seek sweeping changes to the practice.
June 16, 2015
This month’s presentation was by Janet Locke with Advocates for Animals. She showed slides of what we are fighting for at Six Flags – captive animals in tiny cages and small enclosures. We also learned of the many animal deaths there.
Every month she and the hard working volunteers are outside of Six Flags holding signs and changing hearts. We highly encourage everyone to travel to Vallejo for some of these protests!
May 19, 2015
This month, Suzanne Roy and Deniz Bolbol gave a disturbing presentation on the American Wild Horse and Burros Roundups. While horses were indigenous to North America thousands of years ago, some found their way to what is now Europe and Asia before they died out here and were reintroduced in the sixteenth century.
Every year, the federal government uses low flying helicopters to stampede thousands of wild horses into pens and clear them off public lands so that commercial interests can turn a profit. These roundups are far below the standard of humane treatment of animals that most Americans will tolerate, yet these tactics have been used for decades far out of public view. As a consequence, there are now more wild horses stockpiled in government holding facilities than live free in the wild. If we don’t act to stop these cruel practices, American wild horses will soon be gone forever.
Nancy Marx gave us an overview of AB96, The Ban on Ivory : Elephants and Rhino horns trade. The bill is named AB96 for the 96 elephants killed each day in Africa for their ivory. The primary reason for the decline in elephant & rhinoceros populations is the lucrative poaching business, which is fueled by the world’s increasing demand for ivory and rhino horn. After the presentation, Nancy distributed cards for us to sign and share with others, and which will be taken in bulk to the lobbyist at HSUS.
March 17, 2015
We watched the shocking documentary “Exposed USDA’S Secret War on Wildlife”. It depicted wildlife and family pet atrocities, and how even the general public is put in danger when Wildlife Services is too focused on placating ranchers.
The agenda included highlights like the recent circus elephant victory, summaries of current animal legal issues, conferences, presentations, actions, volunteer opportunities, and fundraisers. There were some tasty vegan treats – sweet potato hummus and pound cake – and warm company, as usual!
February 17, 2015
Great meeting last night! We learned a lot about what Whole Foods would have us believe about their “humane campaign” regarding animals. We had 13 people there and lots of great conversation and cookies!
We were excited to use our new home theater style projector for the presentation. Now, in addition to awesome speakers, we can show occasional movies at our meetings and elsewhere.
Thank you to Priya Sawhney for bringing the information to our table and sharing her very moving and powerful DXE undercover video of a so-called “humane” farm that Whole Foods purchases from. Don’t buy the lie – learn more about it here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1531042010516517/
January 20, 2015
Andrea Gung, Founder and Executive Director of Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project, was SCCAA’s January guest speaker at the general meeting. Her energy and compassion for animals continues to educate and inspire all of us! During the presentation she talked about Duo Duos’ projects and collaborations.
What can you do: Join the Global Rally to end China’s Dog and Meat Trade, Feb. 19, 2015, in San Francisco.
Holiday party instead of meeting in December
Guest speaker was Eric Mills of Action for Animals. His compassion for animals engaged us full force as he shared expert knowledge of welfare legislation and advocacy. We enjoyed short videos and a relaxed small group discussion with handouts, books, photography, and other materials. Mr. Mills’ knowledge of issues from rodeos to live animal markets proves a commitment sustained by few!
October 21, 2014 Guest speaker was Shani Campbell. Shani spoke about her personal style of activism – engaging people without being offensive. Not content to just carry a sign or hand out literature, Shani loves talking with people and putting them at ease so they will be more receptive to her message.