About Us

Maryland Votes For Animals (MVFA) is an organization of individuals who feel a moral obligation to end the suffering of animals and who are committed to improving their lives. We acknowledge that letters to politicians, petitions and demonstrations all have their place in the animal protection movement. But we believe that the most helpful step we can take on behalf of animals is the creation and enforcement of laws that protect those animals who are subject to mistreatment.

Further, we believe that the best path to the enactment of effective laws is through creation of a humane voting bloc of informed and concerned citizens who will use their vote to insist that Maryland become a more animal-friendly state. After all, rescue organizations have been operating for centuries---doing courageous, compassionate and vital work---and yet the problem of animal suffering persists. Therefore, we’re asking that the “animal people” of Maryland join with us to help animals by getting politically involved for the sake of all the animals touched by Maryland law.

Note: Maryland Votes For Animals is not an animal rescue organization. If you see an animal in trouble or who needs a home, please immediately contact one of the many fine rescue organizations in Maryland.

 

MEET OUR BOARD

Meet Our Board

MEET OUR BOARD


Lisa Radov, Chair
 
Lisa Radov, Board of DirectorsLisa Radov has been passionate about helping animals since she was eight years old when she embarked on her first fundraising campaign to help stop the slaughter of baby harp seals in Canada.

Lisa has a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Marketing and Advertising from Tulane University. Lisa is the owner of Gebco Insurance Associates and Triumph Insurance Agency and is a Certified Yoga Instructor. 

A lover of all animals, Lisa has rescued two dogs, four pet lab rats, six cats, two hamsters, and two guinea pigs. 

A mother of four, Lisa has chaired fundraising campaigns and been an active board member of the Parents' Associations at her children's schools. She became politically active in animal issues when her youngest child started volunteering at the shelter where they adopted their two cats.

Lisa is dedicated to passing laws that will make Maryland a leader in the humane treatment of all animals - companion, farm, and wildlife.



Tasha Bitz, Treasurer

Tasha Bitz, TreasurerTasha became active in the rescue community several years ago when she and her husband adopted their first rescue pup, Bella.  She volunteers with a local rescue by fostering, fundraising,  and helping to process adoption applications.  Tasha’s family includes three rescue pups, Bella, Jax and Yogi (a recent “foster failure”). 

Tasha holds a Bachelors degree in Accounting from Stevenson University (Villa Julie College) and has been working in public accounting for the past 15 years.

 


 

Victoria Francese Gaunt, Secretary

Victoria GauntEver since bringing home her first dog, Victoria has been a passionate animal advocate who has volunteered with shelter dogs and several animal welfare and rescue organizations. It is through much of this work that she came to appreciate that rescue alone cannot solve all of the problems that animals face. Part of the solution requires having strong laws in place. Victoria is proud to use her voice to speak for those who cannot and to be a defender of the justice that they deserve.

She holds a degree in Finance and Economics from the Honors College at Towson University where she actively served in the Student Government Association, and a degree in Dance from UMBC. She and her husband currently have two furry canine children named Hamlet and Arwen. They have also had the privilege of caring for several rescue gerbils over the years.



Carolyn Kilborn, Board of Directors, Founder
 
Carolyn Kilborn
Carolyn and her husband, Jeremy Kilborn, founded MVFA's predecessor, Annapolis For Animals, when they realized that animals desperately need an advocate to speak up for them in the Maryland General Assembly.  The group expanded rapidly, went statewide and changed its name to Maryland Votes For Animals. 

Carolyn and Jeremy have done rescue work, TNR and animal advocacy of various kinds, including lobbying at the federal level.  They love all types of animals but have a particularly soft spot in their hearts for cats.

Carolyn is a retired architect (Texas 1984-2010).


 

Joseph Lamp, Ph.D., Board of Directors
 

Joe Lamp, Board of DirectorsJoe is a speech professor at Anne Arundel Community College. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Communications from the University of Maryland and a Certificate of Advanced Study from The Johns Hopkins University. 

In 1998, former Governor Parris Glendening appointed him to the Wildlife Advisory Commission of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He is the first animal welfare person ever to be appointed to such a position in the United States, where he continued to serve until 2013. 

He received the Environmental Achievement Award from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2003, and the Excellence in Teaching Award from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001. 

He lives with his wife, JoAnn, and a few furry feline associates.



Harriett Crosby, Board of Directors

 Harriett Crosby, Board of DirectorsHarriett Crosby is a political animal, trained as a Jungian psychoanalyst in Switzerland, co founder of the Institute for Soviet American Relations in 1982 to improve relations between the superpowers when the danger of accidental nuclear war was real, and for 30 years working to build civil society in the former Soviet Union.  She used to be a mountaineering and kayaking instructor for Colorado Outward Bound School, and she now manages a farm and ecological learning center in Jefferson, Md. planting trees and restoring natural wildlife habitat along Catoctin Creek. 

Harriett is concerned that wild animals are not very well treated in Maryland and their abuse is out of sight. She would like to see the Md. Dept.of Natural Resources (DNR) adopt new policies to encourage the respectful and humane treatment of wildlife over out dated methods of wildlife management that encourage killing; hunting, trapping, culling, and extermination of "nuisance" animals, like mute swans.


 

Julianne Brown, Board of Directors

Julianne Brown, Board of DirectorsJulianne Brown is the founder and President of ReLove Animals, Inc. ReLove's primary mission is to design and execute projects that reduce the flow into the shelters. These projects include: the "Education for Responsibility Project", a project teaching basic animal welfare and humane education in public schools in under-served areas, TNR projects helping with reducing the flow from the community cats, Encouraging Humane Legislation, Puppy Mill awareness efforts, Spay and Neuter Programs, Owner Retention efforts and Community outreach.

Julianne is on the Mayor's Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission in Baltimore City. Julianne has worked with MVFA since Relove's inception in 2011.

Julianne shares her home with her animal loving family in Baltimore County. Juli's rescued pack includes a pit bull that was set on fire, a puppy mill and high kill shelter survivor, a cat from death row and several abandoned cats from the streets. All 8 of them get along harmoniously.



Alan S. Nemeth, Board of Directors

Alan Nemeth, Board of DirectorsAlan S. Nemeth, an attorney/MBA, is the founder and executive director of the Vegan Trade Council.  He is also the founder and first chair of the Maryland State Bar Association's Section on Animal Law, and is responsible for bringing animal law to both the American University Washington College of Law and the University of Baltimore School of Law, where he created and developed the classes for both schools. He created and taught an undergraduate class in Animal Law and Policy at the University of Maryland.

His introduction to law textbook, "v. -- Case Law, Concepts, & American Society", is the first such textbook to include a chapter on animal law.



Valerie Leonard, Board of Directors

Valerie Leonard, Board of DirectorsValerie Leonard is a long time animal advocate and vegetarian/vegan. For the MVFA, she has helped pass animal welfare bills both by testifying and sitting down with State Legislatures to discuss the bills and garner their support! She has emceed “Walk For Paws” for Animal Advocates of Howard County and is on the board of DC Actors for Animals.

Valerie is also a veteran stage actress. She has appeared on Broadway in Sir Peter Hall’s acclaimed production of “An Ideal Husband” and in the National Tours of “Lend Me A Tenor” and “The Odd Couple” opposite Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. She has performed in myriad regional theatres around the country. In the DC Metro area she has appeared at Arena Stage, The Shakespeare Theatre, Signature Theatre, Rep Stage, Olney Theatre, Theater J, The Studio Theatre, Catalyst Theatre, Potomac Theatre Project and The Bay Theatre Company. She is a three-time Helen Hayes Award nominee. Valerie holds an MFA from Rutgers University and is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association, and the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

 



Kathy Trotter, Board of Directors

Kathy Trotter, MVFA Board of Directors

Kathy has always been passionate about animals since she was 5 when she was given a white feral kitten as her first pet. She has over 35 years in the fashion industry and when she had a boutique at The Watergate a squirrel would come in every day at 5pmto eat peanuts out of her hand. Her clients were Ambassador's wives, politicians, head of states wives and celebrities.

Kathy has volunteered in animal rescue for the past 10 years, fostered puppies, and helped with rescue events. Since then she and her husband have chaired Breakfast with Santa and Mulligan's and Mutts a golf tournament to benefit an animal rescue on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Currently, Kathy is also involved in Bosom Buddies Charities, as she chaired a golf tournament for them and is on the Bosom Buddies Ball Committee. She is also on the committee Woman of the Year for the Lymphoma/Leukemia Society of the Eastern Shore as she has a friend running, and recently hosted Eastern Shore Animal Welfare Legislation Summit with 6 animal rescue groups, legislators, MVFA, ASPCA and HSUS.

Kathy lives with her husband Don on Kent Island with 2 rescue dogs and 1 Turtle Dove. She is very involved in her community, enjoys golf, gardening, baking and fundraising. 

 



Jen Loeb, Board of Directors

Jen Loeb, MVFA Board of Directors

Jennifer loves all animals and is extremely passionate about animal welfare issues. After attending a “Humane Lobby Day,” she decided to attend law school and become an advocate for animals through the legal system.  Jennifer graduated from the George Washington University Law School, where she was a recipient of the GW Animal Law Scholarship. During law school she was a board member of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and volunteered with the Animal Welfare Pro Bono Project.

Jennifer previously clerked with the Criminal Justice Program of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and currently tracks animal related legislation in each U.S. state and territory to compile the U.S Animal Protection Laws Rankings™ published each year by ALDF.

Prior to law school, Jennifer served in the U.S. Army and the Maryland Army National Guard. She loves to travel, visit National Parks, cook vegan food, read, and spend time with her husband Daniel and their three rescue dogs (Sarabi, Rocky, and Boh). She is also an avid Baltimore Orioles fan and recently started playing the fiddle.


 

 

Our Objectives

Our Objectives are to provide a collective voice, central organization and social network of concerned citizens who would work to:

  1. Reduce animal cruelty by promoting the passage of humane legislation for animals in Maryland’s legislature.
  2. Promote the election of representatives willing to champion and vote for humane legislation for animals in Maryland’s legislature.
  3. Promote issues and education focusing on a paradigm shift advocating the humane treatment of all animals.
  4. Promote greater representation within the Maryland Department of Natural Resources decision-making process by persons endorsing humane non-lethal alternatives to human/wildlife management issues.
  5. Promote greater Maryland statewide funding for, and usage of, sound non-lethal alternatives for wildlife management and pet overpopulation as well as humane, free-range farming methods.

Our Passion

Our Passion for our work is motivated especially by three lines of thought:




Widen our Circle of CompassionOur task must be to ... widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.


--- Albert Einstein




  • The connection between violence to animals and violence to humans is well documented. A more peaceful society starts with the realization that all sentient beings matter, and that all deserve our protection and respect --- especially the weakest among us.


Take the side of the weakIt’s a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done.


--- Harriet Beecher Stowe




  • Respect for the natural world and respect for all its inhabitants is so closely linked as to be one issue. The devastating effect of factory farming on the environment, on both farmed and wild animals and on human health is one of the most critical problems of the 21st century.


Farm animals have feelings too!The cost of mass-producing cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep and fish to feed our growing population... includes highly inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock feces... and spreading destruction of the forests on which much of our planet's life depends.


--- Time Magazine, 11/8/99

Status of Various Issues & Legislation

The purpose of this section is to provide you with information on animal-related issues that are currently in the news, to notify readers of pending legislation that is of interest, and to describe gains or setbacks in animal protection in general.

The Issues

In too many cases the humane treatment of animals in Maryland is completely or effectively uncontrolled:

  • You can keep chickens in a space with a footprint smaller than a piece of letter sized paper and never let them out,
  • You can tie a dog outside whether it's 100 degrees in the shade or 20 below in a blizzard and never let him in,
  • You can work a horse to death under the most brutal conditions.

Or you can say no, you can join Maryland Votes for Animals and help us elect humane legislators and change the laws of our state for the better. 

Here are the issues that we need to address right now:

Domestic Animals

They are our best friends, our boon companions and they deserve our protection.  Learn about the issues and what you can do---what together we can do---to help animals in Maryland:

Anti-Tethering Laws

CHAINED NO MORE!

"Anti-chaining laws help protect dogs from cruelty and enhances public safety by preventing aggressive animal behaviours that can result from inhumane tethering." --- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Chained for lifeImagine living your entire life as a prisoner at the end of a chain or in a small pen, just because that is what your “family” has decided for you.  Hour after hour, day after day, season after season, year after year, you are alone with no companionship, no exercise, no interaction with anyone except maybe a once-a-day feeding and a water refill---if you’re lucky.

You swelter in summer heat, shiver in the cold winter winds.  A doghouse cannot protect you from the frigid chill you feel in your bones-and in your heart.  Most of all you are unbearably lonely because dogs are social animals.

Other dogs chase balls, get petted, meet new friends, get silly, are comforted during thunderstorms, get relief from rashes.

You wish you could live like other dogs.  You wish someone would come and rescue you.  And now, thankfully, someone is coming...

Maryland Votes For Animals is committed to rescuing chained dogs through legislation.  That's because the situation described above is perfectly legal.  As long as the dog is being fed, has access to water, has a 3-sided shelter, and is not being physically beaten or similarly abused, our laws---as currently written--allow this sad situation to continue.

But what if we joined together to ban this practice by by getting legislation passed to outlaw it in the Maryland General Assembly?  What if we joined together to elect legislators who will support a law to end 24/7 dog chaining and penning?  What if all the dogs in your neighborhood, in your city, and in your state were freed from their chains and pens, treated like "family members" and allowed to live a happy dog's life?

If you care about animals, please DO THIS NOW!

Please join and support  Maryland Votes For Animals so you will be kept informed about the progress of this and similar bills to protect dogs.  Also, you’ll be updated on the voting record of your elected officials so you'll know whether they are a help or a hindrance in getting humane legislation passed.  Then you can vote accordingly.  Then, and only then, will Maryland become the humane, animal-friendly state we all want it to be.

Puppy Mills

How Much Is That Puppy In The Window?

Puppy mills are breeding operations where the animals are kept in over-crowded and unsanitary cages without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization.  The puppies born in these facilities are usually sold to pet stores or over the internet.  Dogs in mills are usually kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs.  The wire cages are often stacked in columns where the waste falls on the unfortunate animal below. The breeding animals in these facilities are over-bred and then killed when they can no longer reproduce.

There are no adequate laws in Maryland to prevent puppy mills.  There is no license required in Maryland to operate a breeding facility.  Inspections of breeding facilities must be announced ahead of time.

What you can do to stop puppy mills...
 
First, get active.  Join Maryland Votes for Animals and become a voice for change in Annapolis.   Write or call your state representative.  You can locate the names of your representatives by clicking on the Find your Elected Officials link on every page.   Tell them that you want all breeders to be licensed in Maryland.  You want inspections to be unannounced.  You want enough space in each cage for animals to stand up and move.  You want to eliminate overcrowding.  You want to eliminate wire cages.  You want all breeding animals to have access to food, water, veterinary care, and socialization.

Second, don't buy animals from pet stores or over the internet.  Breeders exist because there is profit in animal suffering.

Third, spread the word about puppy mills.  If you know someone who is thinking of buying a puppy, tell them about mills.  The sad truth is, nearly all animals sold in the Untied States come from puppy mills.   Urge them to adopt, not buy.
 
Because together we can end puppy mills in Maryland.

Spay & Neuter Progams

 

Spay and Neuter!

State-wide spay and neuter programs, reduce the number of homeless domestic animals, reducing the number of needless euthanizations and bringing down the public cost of kill shelters.

Thirty-four states plus Maryland have established funding mechanisms to support spay/neuter programs to reduce intake and euthanasia rates.

THE PROBLEM

No other disease or condition of companion animals takes as many lives as euthanasia.
(Janet M. Scarlett, DVM, Ph.D, Cornell University)

  • Destroying cats and dogs in shelters day in and day out places significant cost burdens on local government and takes an indescribable toll on shelter workers.  Shelters are overwhelmed with many working in triage mode. 

    Girl with dog

  • This is a needless and avoidable tragedy.

THE SOLUTION

Spay/neuter programs are proven to be the best antidote to mass euthanasia.  They are the most humane and fiscally responsible way to address the shelter pet population problem.

A state spay/neuter program is the best way to reduce Maryland's euthanasia rate and the millions of dollars spent to destroy Maryland’s homeless pets. Maryland's program saves lives and money

  • New Jersey witnessed a 61% decrease and New Hampshire had over a 75% decrease in euthanasia rates after implementing state programs.
  • For every $1 invested in the state spay/neuter program in New Hampshire, $3.15 were savedin reduced costs for intake and euthanasia.

MVFA thanks the thousands of individuals, businesses, organizations, agencies, veterinarians, and coalition partners who stood together, strong and in unprecedented numbers, ensuring this lifesaving legislation passed.  Because you cared, because you were not silent about things that matter, thousands of lives of Maryland's homeless pets will be saved. 

Maryland Votes for Animals list of Superstars of Maryland's Spay/Neuter Program

More info can also be found at SaveMarylandPets.org

How can you help?

Join MVFA : add your voice to the thousands of Marylanders promoting humane legislation in our state.

Donate to MVFA: We operate with zero paid staff.  Every penny we receive goes into our final objectives; electing humane legislators and passing humane legislation.

Contact your legislators: Let your State Senator and Delegate know that animal protection is important to their constituents.

Think Like a General to Solve Animal Homelessness

Cages upon cages of beautiful, healthy animaDumpster Catls are sitting on death row all over Maryland right now.  It’s not a pretty sight.  If there were ever a time when the animals are crying out to us for help, it is now.  With the loss of jobs, homes and income that millions of people are experiencing throughout the country, the animals are too often the ones taking the biggest hit---including the loss of their very lives.  If there were ever a moment when we need to expand our hearts and use our political power to help Maryland’s animals, the moment is now and it couldn’t be more urgent.




Sad dogEuthanasia and gas chambers have always been and always will be a pathetic nonanswer for the needs of animals.  Maryland can do better even during the roughest of times.  So let’s join together as members of MVFA---the first and only voting bloc for animals in Maryland---to insist that that our lawmakers take notice of the suffering of animals and pass laws to solve this problem instead of just succumbing to the mindless killing of innocent, adoptable pets.




There is a Solution…


 


For far too long, “animal people” have been trying to solve the huge problem of animal homelessness using rescue only.  But isn’t that’s like trying to win a war using only the Red Cross?  Instead, MVFA is dedicated to thinking like a general whose job it is to win the war of animal homelessness.  This means that MVFA will think long-term, strategically and politically.  Here are a few examples:



  • MVFA will organize the huge number of Marylanders who already care deeply about animals into a powerful voting bloc.  This is how we get political power for animals.

  • MVFA will monitor the General Assembly and let you know when critical animal protection bills are coming up for a vote in the house or senate.  Then you can contact your legislator and tell her that you’d like her support on the bill.

  • MVFA will let you know which legislators support animal protection bills and which legislators do not.  Then we’ll put out a legislative scorecard so you can refer to it before you vote.

  • MVFA will work to elect officials who care about animals as much as we do!  Moreover, we’ll work to defeat those officials who consistently show indifference to the suffering of animals. 

  • MVFA will use media and get-out-the-vote campaigns to let the public know which candidates they should vote for.

To summarize, MVFA will use our collective political power to insist that our lawmakers put programs and laws in place that will make the heroic job of rescue much easier.  Then and only then will all our precious cats and dogs have the happy lives they deserve.


 


Don’t Buy While They Die


A quick reminder that adoption is the only conscientious way to bring a new animal into your home.  Until every adoptable cat and dog (or guinea pig or pet rat or horse!) has a good home, no one should ever buy an animal.  Adopting an animal helps solve the problem, buying an animal makes you part of the problem.


 


Do This Now!


Join MVFA if you have not done so already!  The animals need a powerful political voice made up of tens of thousands of Maryland voters---a humane voting bloc.  This is the only way to get our lawmakers to listen.  Period.  Only your voice (call your legislators and let them know that this is important to you) your vote (read our humane scorecard before the November 2010 election and vote for MVFA’s endorsed candidates) and your money (make a donation to MVFA to help us elect humane candidates in 2010) will end the suffering of these animals.  With your help, Maryland Votes For Animals is dedicated to electing compassionate, caring legislators who will help these animals.  The animals have no voice without us!  Join now!           

Farm Animals

We produce food on an industrial scale, that means farm animals too.  Does the fact that an animal is being raised for slaughter mean that it can be raised by torture?

These inhuman practices have to stop.  Learn more about them and how you can help:

What Could be Wrong with the Egg?

I spent years—even decades---denying to myself the occasional reports I heard about the cruelty hidden behind modern egg production.  Those reports, I thought, had to be written by extremists and crazies.  After all I’d eaten eggs all my life---scrambled, fried, poached, in omeletts, cakes, cassaroles, etc.  Eggs are a staple in American life.  So, what could be wrong with the egg?

 

Mary Tyler Moore provides background on this cruel industrial farming practice in a video produced by and used with permission of Farm Sanctuary.

If you’re willing to look, you’ll see that modern egg production is shockingly cruel to one of the most gentle of creatures, the laying hen, who was respected in biblical times for her courage and nurturing character.  Today, however, she’s only considered an unfeeling commodity by factory farmers who value the bottom line over the chicken’s welfare.  Here, in brief, are the facts I finally had to accept about the modern egg and the chickens who suffer to produce them:

  1. Fifty percent of all laying chickens are born male but since males can’t lay eggs they are sorted out and killed within a day of their birth, often by being suffocated or ground alive to serve as fodder for pigs.
  2. Most laying hens spend their entire lives in small cages in long metal buildings.  The cages are stacked in long rows and on top of each other so that the feces from above rains down on the chickens below.  They’re called “battery cages.”  The hens can barely turn around, never smell fresh air and never feel the sun on their backs.  This system is used throughout the United States and in Maryland.  When you drive down a country road and see a long metal building with no windows, you’re probably looking at a factory farm for chickens with misery inside.
  3. Because the chickens are raised in unnaturally crowded conditions, their beaks are routinely cut off with a hot blade so they can’t peck each other.  This is not akin to cutting your fingernails because a hen’s beak is infused with nerves.  It is extremely painful, more like cutting your cat or dog’s nails down well within the quick.
  4. Laying hens are periodically subjected to a shockingly cruel process designed to increase their egg production.  It’s called “forced molting.”  Forced molting means that all food is removed from the hens for a period of about two weeks.  This shocks their body into producing more eggs, but, as you can imagine, it is terribly cruel to the hens.
  5. Finally, after their bodies are so wasted that their egg production has waned the hens are shipped to the slaughterhouse to be used in products such as canned soup.

Here's a video of the grueling conditions at one California farm.  We have many operators employing the same,common techniques in Maryland.

Video produced by and used with permission of Farm Sanctuary.

One last point: egg producers don’t want you to know this information so their packages and advertisements are sometimes deceptive.  Don’t be fooled by notes such as “organic” (which only refers to chicken’s feed) or “certified humane” (which is often a marketing ploy that may have absolutely nothing behind it.)  Even the words “free range” can include items 1, 3 and 4 above.  Plus many facilities designated “free range” are really not free range for most of the chickens housed in these crowded, filthy factories.  And, remember, even if the hens are really free-range and really well-treated, all the male chicks were killed at the hatchery---hundreds of millions of them are killed each year in the United States alone.

 

Battery Cages are only one step in the institutionalized torture of hens in factory farming. To do something about it in Maryland, join Maryland Votes For Animals.

 

 What’s a conscientious person to do?

So what’s a person to do once she’s finally willing to admit that eggs are cruel?  Only you can answer that question for yourself.  I choose to forego eggs entirely---I use egg substitute when I’m cooking, and I stop by Whole Foods, Zu Coffee, Emily’s Café or Sticky Fingers Bakery for vegan cakes or cookies when I want something sweet.  We’re not dependent on the egg if we choose not to be. We can boycott the cruelty and still eat delicious, healthy and satisfying food.

Ag-Gag Unconstitutional: Huge Victory for Animals and People

ALDF Fights Ag-Gag lawsA U.S. District Court has ruled (for the first time ever) that a state Ag-Gag law is unconstitutional! The case, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, is a huge step in preventing notoriously harmful Ag-Gag legislation in Maryland and across the country. The court found an Idaho Ag-Gag law violated the 1st and 14th Amendments and was motivated by unconstitutional animus against animal advocates. 

Under Ag-Gag laws, journalists and members of the public are at risk for documenting animal cruelty or life-threatening safety violations.  In holding the Ag-Gag law unconstitutional, the Court found:

  • "ALDF has come forward with abundant evidence that the law was enacted with the discriminatory purpose of silencing animal rights activists who conduct undercover investigations in the agricultural industry."
  • "The effect of the statute will be to suppress speech...concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply, the safety of agricultural workers, the treatment and health of farm animals, and the impact of business activities on the environment."
  • "[A] purpose to discriminate and silence animal welfare groups in an effort to protect a powerful industry cannot justify the passage of [the law]."
  • "A state cannot pick and choose what type of speech or expressive conduct it will allow based on content."
  • "Protecting the private interests of a powerful industry, which produces the public’s food supply, against public scrutiny is not a legitimate government interest." 

Court ruling: http://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/8-3-2015-ALDF-decision-ag-gag.pdf

Info from ALDF: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/idaho-ag-gag-law-ruled-unconstitutional-in-federal-court/

Gestation Crates

They Have To Go

In children’s movies and storybooks, pigs are portrayed in a jovial way as being intelligent and able to interact with humans and other pigs in a meaningful way…and that is the truth. Most animal scientists consider pigs to be highly trainable and very sociable. Contrary to their reputation, pigs are very clean animals who, when left to their own devices, maintain a clean environment for themselves. They roll in mud simply to stay cool. If allowed, pigs form close social and family bonds. They mate, remain together, and nurture their young just as a human family does.

Unfortunately for these animals, humans have decided that pig flesh should be available in nearly every grocery store…and this is the reason their life is a living hell.

Mary Tyler Moore provides background on this cruel industrial farming practice in a video produced by and used with permission of Farm Sanctuary.

On modern factory farms, breeding sows spend months of hideous confinement in narrow devices called gestation crates. Slated floors beneath their feet remove body wastes. The pigs never see sunlight and toxic fumes fill the air. Mother pigs are transferred to farrowing crates after giving birth. The crates prevent the mom and her babies from snuggling and interacting. Bars divide the mother from the offspring so that only nursing can take place. She is then impregnated again and returned to the gestation crate to do it all over again…and again…and again. Then farmers complain because they “bar-bite” and “become aggressive’. The truth is that they are literally going insane.

So what can rational, humane thinkers do to help the pigs? By joining Maryland Votes for Animals, we can band together to establish humane farming practices in our state. Gestation crates do exist in Maryland and a bill to outlaw them was introduced in The Maryland General Assembly several years ago. Too bad for the pigs that very vocal farmers and meat industry people showed up to defeat the bill. Who was speaking up for the pigs? There was no organized group at that time speaking up for Maryland animals. Now there is! It is called Maryland Votes for Animals!

Gestation Crates are only one step in the institutionalized torture of pigs in factory farming. To do something about it in Maryland, join Maryland Votes For Animals.

 

Veal Crates must be banned

Calves raised for veal are taken from their mothers immediately after birth and raised so as to deliberately induce borderline anemia. Calves are then denied basic needs, including access to their mother's milk, access to pasture and exercise and often prohibited from any movement at all. by being crated.

Crated veal calves are normally confined inside 2-foot-wide enclosures for their entire lives. Usually chained by their necks to the front of the stall, these animals cannot even turn around, stretch their limbs, or lie down comfortably.

Mary Tyler Moore provides background on this cruel industrial farming practice in a video
produced by and used with permission of Farm Sanctuary.

Scientific research indicates that calves confined in crates experience "chronic stress" and require approximately five times more medication than calves living in more spacious conditions. It is not surprising, then, that veal is among the most likely meat to contain drug residues, which pose a threat to human consumers. Researchers also report that veal calves exhibit abnormal coping behaviors associated with frustration including head tossing and shaking, kicking, scratching, and stereotypical chewing behavior. Confined calves experience leg and joint disorders and an impaired ability to walk.

Veal Pens are only one step in the institutionalized torture of calves in factory farming. To do something about it in Maryland, join Maryland Votes For Animals.

Fooled by Foie Gras

I had a dear friend in college who was French, and I loved everything about her.  She was sophisticated and worldly; she had a great fashion sense, she traveled to Nice and Corsica for vacations and at age 20 she knew more about wine than I’ll ever know.  She introduced me to a “delicacy” known as foie gras.  It’s French, it’s served in upscale restaurants, it’s tasty.  What could be wrong?

Ducks are immobilized in cages without escape from the force feeding, living and dying in cruelty and pain.
Ducks are immobilized in cages without escape from the force feeding,
living and dying in cruelty and pain.

 

Little did I know what’s behind the production of foie gras.  Foie gras wears a veneer of sophistication and exclusivity, but it’s not at all what it seems.  Here’s what you need to know:


Fois gras is the diseased liver of a duck or goose that has been force fed with a 6-10” long tube put down his throat. 

 

In centuries past the poor animal had his feet nailed to the barn floor to prevent him from moving, so this has always been an unusually cruel food.  Today it’s just as bad because the force feeding is done with a machine and under the time constraints of modern production. 

Ducks become coated with blood and regurgitated food during the force  feeding process, becoming so ill and weak they cannot stand or lift  their heads.
Ducks become coated with blood and regurgitated food during the force feeding process, becoming so ill and weak they cannot stand or lift their heads.

A long tube is used to force food down the duck’s throat under high pressure, and this is done 2 to 3 times per day for 17- 30 days causing injury to the animal’s throat and extreme stress.  If you were to see the poor ducks, you’d see that they’re so fat they can barely move, and they’re covered in their own vomit.  They don’t look happy or healthy---because they’re not.  They spend their short lives suffering for a human “delicacy” and then they’re shipped to slaughter.


Several years ago when I first learned how foie gras is produced, I wrote and called some of the local upscale restaurants and politely asked them if they’d please stop serving foie gras.  Some of the proprietors angrily denied the cruelty, others were polite, even told me that they knew it was cruel, but said they had to serve it because their customers demanded it.

Ducks incur bloody, often fatal injuries from the force feeding, and  their bodies can be seen contorted in agony.
Ducks incur bloody, often fatal injuries from the force feeding, and
their bodies can be seen contorted in agony.

 

So what’s a conscientious person to do?  How do we end this cruelty? 

First, boycott restaurants that serve foie gras.  There are plenty of restaurants to choose from that don’t serve this barbaric food---and it’s actually outlawed in Takoma Park, Maryland. 


Then, please support  and join Maryland Votes For Animals so you’ll get our action alerts and know when a foie gras bill comes up again in the legislature. (It was introduced in the legislature a few years ago but it was defeated by the restaurants and producers of foie gras who showed up in mass at the hearing.)  Then contact your legislators and demand that they outlaw foie gras throughout Maryland.

 

For more infomatioin visit NoFoieGras.org.

Wild Animals

We are the stewards of the earth.  As such we are responsible for our wards.  Yet, our laws not only permit the cruel and reprehensible treatment of our charges but, in some cases, mandate it.

We can do better than that, learn how:

Baltimore County Votes to Keep Sundays protected during hunting season!

Deer in Woods with FawnKeep Sundays protected for animals and people!

UPDATE 2/13/15: UPDATE: Excellent News! Baltimore County delegation voted this morning (Friday 2/13) to protect Baltimore County's way of life. Baltimore County residents get to keep their Sunday day of rest and outdoor safety for animals, people and families.  Kudos to the legislators who bravely took a stand on this issue.  Vote count will be published when available!

UPDATE 2/12/15: Baltimore County Legislators will vote THIS FRIDAY morning (2/13) on legislation to expand Sunday hunting into Baltimore County for the first time in nearly 300 years!  If we do not ACT Now this bill could pass and our way of life in Baltimore County will be changed forever.

Update 1/30/15: Baltimore County weighed in on new Sunday hunting legislation (HB18) at a hearing in Annapolis on January 30, 2015. Baltimore County legislators heard testimony on expanding hunting in Baltimore County.

Sunday has been a day of rest for animals and people for nearly 300 years in Baltimore County.  A few individuals want to change that way of life for everyone just so those few can hunt and kill animals 7 days a week instead of six.

There is still time for Baltimore County residents to Act Now and send a letter opposing the push to sanction Sunday hunting.

Animals need a rest, and the over 98% of Marylanders who do not hunt, don't want to lose the one day a week they currently have to enjoy nature and wildlife without gunfire, death, and the chilling effect of fearing for the personal safety of their families.

Bullets and arrows do not stop at property boundary lines, endangering people on their own property and on public lands adjoining private property.

If you are a Baltimore County resident, please contact your legislator NOW and oppose the expansion of Sunday hunting into Baltimore County.

 

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Maryland's Deer

Whitetail Deer In Maryland

Where did our whitetail deer come from, who brought them, and why?

  • While for decades, seeing a whitetail deer in Maryland was a rarity, it isn't anymore because of actions taken by what we now know as the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), our agency charged with "wildlife management."
  • In 1916, Maryland's legislature created the Conservation Commission to protect and propagate wildlife, and in 1918, the first hunting licenses became law.  But who's going to buy a hunting license without big game to hunt and kill in Maryland?  DNR had to do something about that.   
  • In the early 1920s deer were purchased from nearby states for "breeding stock.  They flourished, and Maryland deer hunting reopened for the first time in 1927.  Then, the big push to populate deer throughout Maryland in the 1940s was on.  DNR staff trapped over 2,000 deer located on the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Grounds, relocating them throughout Maryland until the early 1960s.

How did we get so many whitetail deer?A Young Fawn

  • Maryland's deer herd expanded beyond biologists' wildest predictions.  Suburban habitat became more "deer friendly" -- lots of flowers, shrubs and bushes for deer to eat.  Also, contrary to scientific thinking, deer did not run away when humans encroached on their territory.  Deer tend to reproduce in greater numbers when they are hunted.  It's called the "compensatory rebound effect." even with the expansion of deer hunting opportunity, we continue to have about the same number of deer we had a decade ago. 


How does DNR primarily "manage" our deer that they put here -- and why?

  • Current whitetail deer "wildlife management" primarily means that DNR finds ways to legally allow hunters purchasing a license (less than 2% of Maryland citizens hunt) and others to kill our deer.  During the 2007-2008 season, hunters killed over 92,000 does, fawns (babies), bucks - with rifles, shotguns, and even bows and arrows for sport and recreational trophies and food.
  • Today, over 80% of DNR's funding for wildlife management comes from hunting license sales.  Almost nothing is done by DNR or other state agencies to help citizens co-exist with deer, yet technology for such practices is proven and available.   


Who kills our deer? 

  • Anyone with a Maryland hunting license can kill dozens of deer every year in Maryland, during regular deer seasons, in public parks, on state lands - even in "wildlife refuges!"  Last year it was "war on whitetails" at Loch Raven Reservoir!  And when hunters don't kill enough deer to satisfy DNR, our tax dollars are used to pay sharp shooters to kill even more. 
  • Children can get hunting licenses, too, and hunt at any age in Maryland, unsupervised by adults for most of the season.  DNR even promotes child hunting with a special "Youth Deer Hunting Day."   
  • Farmers can easily get "crop deprivation permits" allowing hunters to come on their lands and kill deer year round.  If it sounds like a "war" on our deer, you are getting the picture.


But what about deer eating my plants, crashing into my car, or perhaps giving me Lyme disease?

  • Deer eat plants, and crash into cars - but there are things you can do to help prevent it.  For an extensive listing of plants they don't like, other ways to keep them out of your garden, and how to help reduce your chances of a deer/vehicle collision, go to www.deersolutionsmd.com. 
  • You could kill every deer in Maryland and you would still have Lyme Disease because deer don't give you Lyme disease:  That's a myth.  In fact, simply removing the deer from an area where Lyme disease has been detected can increase your chances of getting the disease.  Once again, for a more detailed explanation of how this disease works and ways we can help prevent it, go to www.deersolutionsmd.com.


How can I help humanely control our Maryland deer population and stop deer killing for sport?

Do This Now!

  • First, contact the Governor.  Request that Maryland's DNR include in their Deer Management Plan a section providing for implementation of alternative procedures to prevent our deer from reproducing.  Federal EPA approval for GonaCon, a vaccine that interrupts deer reproductive cycles is effective and should be approved very soon.  But we MUST get Maryland's DNR on-board to make this happen here!   
  • Second, join MVFA if you have not done so already.  Politics plays a key role in Maryland's management of whitetail deer in Maryland.  We need to work together providing a voice for the animals in the Maryland General Assembly.  We are dedicated to electing those who will support animal protection causes.  Without you, our deer have no voice. 
  • Finally, contribute.  We have zero paid staff, so every penny you give goes to support our goal of passing humane legislation and protecting Maryland animals.

Sport Killing Maryland's Black Bears

Sport Killing Maryland's Black Bears 

Black BearAfter hunters killed practically all of Maryland's black bears, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) closed bear hunting season in the early 1950s, and placed our state's black bears on the endangered species list in 1972.  Today, our bears are being killed once again.   

A small population of black bears rebounded in Western Maryland, and they are now being killed for sport and recreation again, thanks to Governor Robert Ehrlich and Governor Martin O'Malley.  Here's what happened and how you can help stop it!   

  • In 2004 when Governor Robert Ehrlich ignored a 12-7 vote of the Maryland Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review committee's decision against reopening bear hunting season.  Instead, Ehrlich accepted DNR's recommendation to open up a black bear hunting season.  This pleased a small group of hunters bent on killing our bears with guns, and bows and arrows as recreational sporting activity.
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has yet to produce any scientific evidence supporting a need for holding these generalized bear hunts.  Instead, virtually all of the written documentation points to requests by hunting lobby groups such as the Maryland Sportsmen's Association and others, asking DNR for a bear hunting season.
  • Over pleas from local animal welfare supporters, letters, television messages, rallies, public debate, and requests by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Governor Martin O'Malley continued to allow bear hunting.  Another bear hunt is scheduled again for this fall.
  • DNR refused a $75,000 offer from HSUS to pay farmers for alleged crop damage caused by black bears in return for not opening bear hunting season.
  • So far, hundreds of Maryland's bears have been needlessly and randomly killed, including 18 cubs weighing only 54 to 97 pounds.  
  • Bear hunting in Maryland represents a classic example of how the less than 2% of Marylanders who hunt, have a stranglehold on DNR policies and philosophy about wildlife management in our state.  Time for change is long overdue. Over 98% of Marylanders do not hunt.

Do This Now!

Join MVFA if you have not done so already.  Together we can save our bears - they have nobody but us!    

Maryland's War on Wild Animals

Introduction:

At Maryland Votes for Animals, we advocate for the protection of all animals.  Whereas dog fighting, cat torture, and even equine abuse are often in the news, other forms of animal suffering and abuse are not.  This is the case with Maryland’s wild animals.  Why?

Three reasons:  Because wild animal abuse is 1) often done “legally”; 2) promoted by Maryland state government; 3) done out of sight and mind of the public. The abuse is then explained away with tried and true euphemisms by our Maryland state agency authorizing it – Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  DNR is financially linked at the hip with hunting and trapping special interest groups who enjoy killing these animals for recreation and sport, yet the mainstream public rarely sees the sickening consequences.  

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Our Wildlife and Heritage Division of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (WHS-DNR) is charged with “managing” Maryland’s wildlife and with preserving healthy and diverse ecosystems.  How is this “management” carried out and at what cost to Maryland’s wild animals?

History of DNR
According to DNR reports, Maryland began licensing hunters back in 1916, through what was then called the “State Conservation Commission.”  The goal was to “manage” a variety of wildlife species, many of which – especially waterfowl – were being potentially hunted to extinction.[1]  Its funding came mainly from selling hunting licenses, and that method of funding still dominates the way the current Wildlife and Heritage Division of DNR stays financially afloat. 

DNR Marketing and Philosophy 
The hunters, trappers and fishermen pay most of the costs for wildlife and fisheries “management.”  As such they are DNR’s key targeted audiences.  Wildlife is the carrot that brings in the money.  DNR’s marketing is obvious and so is their philosophy:

The more animals available for hunting and trapping, the more hunting/trapping licenses sold, the more funding goes into DNR’s pocket.  Concern for animals is not critical.  Here’s why.

DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Division is run by key personnel endeared to a hunting and killing philosophy as their primary means of “wildlife management.”  Virtually all are hunters.  Furthermore the majority of DNR’s citizen advisory group, called the Wildlife Advisory Commission (WAC) is handpicked with the same mindset.

The result: The foxes are not only in the henhouse, they control the whole place. They run it, write the regulations, propose the laws, and influence our legislators.  Yet, times have changed and so have attitudes towards wild animals.  The question remains:  How do they do this with so little resistance from the general public?  Language may play a key role.   

The truth behind DNR’s language – it all equals “killing.”
Rarely will you see the word “kill” used in DNR’s literature about wildlife management.  Killing is veiled within multiple euphemisms that mask animal suffering.  This language begins the word “game.”  This word collectively defines all animals that can be legally killed for sport and recreation.   

Animals trapped and oftentimes crushed in cruel leg hold traps are called “furbearers” – not raccoons or foxes.  Your dog or cat can become “collateral damage” by being caught in these traps, as they are non-discriminatory, operating more like landmines, clamping on anything that steps in them. 

Animals are not “killed:” They are “taken.”  Whitetail deer are “harvested.”  Getting your “bag limit” means you killed all of the animals of a certain type – like rabbits -- allowed for that day.  Keeping large groups of animals in check by targeting and killing specific species or gender is called “culling the herd.”  Mute swans are called an “invasive species,” targeted for complete extirpation in Maryland, meaning DNR kills them all, using some of the most hideous methods imaginable.  The same with nutria.  Hiding the sad truth behind DNR language goes on and on. 

Change yesterday’s attitude toward wildlife: “Wack’em and Stack’em” must Go!”
While Maryland’s DNR/Wildlife unit is run, advised, and paid for by those endeared to the hunting culture, today, less than 2% of Marylanders actually hunt!  And those having no desire to kill wild animals, but rather to enjoy them, vastly outnumber Maryland’s hunters. Over 98% of Maryland citizens do not hunt.

There are more than 1.3 million bird watchers and wildlife watchers in Maryland, along with a myriad of hikers and bikers, walkers, horseback riders, and sightseers – called by DNR the “non-consumptive users.”  These are people wanting to enjoy the great outdoors without killing anything.  The people who want to go outside without the chilling effect and fear of being shot by a hunter in hunting season, or have their dog or cat caught in a trapper’s leg hold trap hidden in the brush.  

What can you do to help?

  1. First and foremost, join Maryland Votes For Animals if you have not done so already.  You are already on our website (www.VoteAnimals.org). Just follow the instructions on the homepage and become part of the fastest growing, number one political action committee in Maryland championing animal protection legislators and legislation.
  2. For a real eye-opener, review the digital version of the Maryland Hunting and Trapping Guide at http://www.eregulations.com/maryland/hunting/pageFlip/
  3. Share your concerns about DNR’s war on wildlife by writing directly to the Wildlife Advisory Commission at wac@dnr.state.md.us.  Tell them that you want your voice and your vote for animals inside DNR by having more animal advocates appointed to WAC.
  4. Tell DNR and your legislators that you want leg-hold, snare, and body gripping traps banned in Maryland, and that you want non-lethal alternatives used as their first resource method instead of immediately turning to lethal alternatives.
  5. Create a new license plate for those who want to help finance these new efforts, calling it:  “Protect Our Wildlife.”
  6. Tell DNR and your legislators that you want an “Office of Animal Protection” added to the DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage service designed to monitor and review all DNR related management techniques involving the consumptive use of wildlife as a management tool.  

In closing, Maryland’s DNR, like old military generals, haven’t realized that, for most Marylanders, the war against wildlife is over.  Times have changed and so have the public’s attitudes toward wild animals.  Putting respect, compassion – and humane alternatives – ahead of a bullet, a trap or an arrow is long overdue. 


 

[1] See Game Program:  Annual Report, 1996-1997, published by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, p.3.

Steel-jawed leg-hold Traps

TrappedLegalized Landmines!

What is a steel-jawed leg-hold trap, and where did it come from?

  • The steel-jawed leg-hold trap, technically called a “foothold” trap, is a steel trapping device with powerful clamping-type jaws (see photo) that can slam shut on any part of an unsuspecting animal’s body when the animal steps into it. They can main and cause horrible suffering to wildlife and domestic animals – including family pets -- if caught in them as they walk in Maryland’s forests or fields. 

  • The trap’s design has not changed since Sewell Newhouse invented it back in 1823.  These traps are still commonly sold and used today in Maryland. 

Who uses steel-jawed leg-hold traps, why do they use them, and what is wrong with them?

  • Maryland recreational sport trappers and others use leg-hold traps to trap  furbearing animals such as raccoons, foxes, nutria, opossums, skunk or others in Maryland’s forests and fields.  
     
  • These traps are indiscriminate.  They are like landmines used to kill and maim humans.  Any animal or even a human can step into a leg-hold trap, resulting in severe maiming and suffering.   Some animals experiencing such horrific pain and panic will bite their own trapped legs off to try and get away.  Trappers just call this a “wring-off.”  It just “goes with the territory” sometimes.  

How often are Maryland trappers required to check these traps and what do they do to the trapped animals?

  • Trappers only have to check their leg-hold traps once every 24 hours.

  • Targeted animals helplessly caught in these traps are then commonly bludgeoned or stomped to death with no chance to get away.  They are rarely quickly shot for fear of ruining a valuable fur pelt to be sold.  

Can I remove an animal I see suffering in a leg-hold trap?

  • No.  According to Maryland DNR regulations, “It is illegal to tamper with any legally set trap, and to remove the catch from any legally set trap.”   That means if you see even a dog or a cat suffering in one of these traps, it is illegal for you to step in and try to remove it.  Instead, you let the animal continue to suffer while you call and wait for DNR to respond.

Who supports the use of these traps, and who opposes it?

  • SupportingVery few powerful institutions.  The Maryland Trapping Association and your Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) support the use of these traps.  
  • OpposingMost everyone else. They are: 
    • the American Animal Hospital Association with over 40,000 members; 
    • the American Veterinary Medical Association with over 78,000 members opposes the conventional trap and only endorsed the modified version for necessary wildlife agency trap and relocation – not killing; 
    • the World Veterinary Association a federation with 80 national veterinary medical associations; and 
    • all 27 countries in the European Union; 
    • The Humane Society of the United States;
    • Maryland Votes For Animals
  • States banning leg-hold traps include Washington, California, Massachusetts, Arizona, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Florida.

  • Cities banning leg-hold traps include:  Columbia, Maryland; Nashua, New Hampshire; Two Harbors, Minnesota; and St. Paul, Minnesota.  Also in Maryland, only modified use of leg-hold traps exists in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince Georges counties. 

 

Do This Now To Help Ban These Traps in Maryland!

Join MVFA, if you have not done so already!  These traps used for sport trapping and killing animals should be banned in Maryland.   However, politics and money play key roles in Maryland’s management of trapping in Maryland.  We need to work together providing a voice for the animals in the Maryland General Assembly.  We are dedicated to electing those who will support animal welfare causes.  The animals have no voice without us!  Join now!