Is California’s Animal Cruelty Act Creating Better Conditions?

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In today’s post, Julian Omidi looks at California’s Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act that went into effect in January.

Fellow Californians passed the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act back in 2008. The act was designed to give egg-laying hens more space to move around. Specifically, it states that hens should have enough space to spread their wings, stand up, lie down, and move around. Farmers were given 7 years to comply. That 7 years ended this January, and the results are in.

Egg producers have responded in a variety of ways. Some found the new law restrictive, noting that they could no longer afford to raise hens if they were each given the space called for in the law. Some simply did not have the space. Others are finding the law liberating, saying that for the first time they actually enjoy going to work.

Many egg producers are now running their facilities with half as many hens as they had in the past. The modified cage-free barns feature 60-yard long platforms that allow the hens to socialize and fly around. Some egg producers are just beginning to understand the natural behavior of their hens, though they’ve been farmers their whole lives.

The hope is that humane treatment like we’re seeing in California will beget more humane treatment across the country. At first the law was seen as an intrusion in the eyes of many egg producers, but now some are beginning to see the benefits. Farmers may charge more per-dozen for eggs produced by “cage-free’ hens.

The only problem with the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act is a lack of enforcement. Like the majority of animal cruelty laws, Proposition 2 does not require inspections. Egg producers are expected to make the changes themselves. The punishment for failure to comply is a minor misdemeanor offense, so hopefully farmers will choose to comply on their own accord.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit that works to help animals in need.  

Is Your Animal an Emotional Support Animal?

Julian Omidi discusses the rules of using an animal as an emotional support animal.

Emotional support animals help many people who have different psychological issues. They can be used for many reasons like reducing anxiety when flying, as well as out in public if you have problems around large groups of people. However, the rules and regulations behind qualifying an emotional support animal vary. Today, we’ll look at whether or not your pet could possibly considered an emotional support animal.

The Rules Behind Emotional Support Animal

Emotional Support Animals or ESA are animals that are prescribed for a person by a mental health professional. They are different from service animals, as they are in a different classification of animals. They require no training, like a service dog.

Emotional Support Animals can be allowed on planes as well as in housing that doesn’t allow pets. That’s because, by law, people are allowed to have these animals with a letter written by a qualified health professional.

Patients must:

  • Must have an emotional or mental disorder established by the DSM V
  • An animal must be in need while flying and at a person’s destination
  • The person prescribing the letter of accommodation is a licensed mental health professional

How can you get a letter of accommodation?

If you have a mental or emotional disorder you feel is necessary for an emotional support animal, you’ll want to talk to a licensed mental health professional. They may require an evaluation to determine whether or not you have a mental or emotional disorder classified in the DSM V.

After assessing your disorder, they will provide you with a letter of accommodation which you then can present at an airline or housing facility. In most cases, an airline may not ask questions once you present them with your letter of accommodation, since health laws respect a person’s privacy.

Emotional Support Animals aren’t for everyone. You may believe you need one, only to learn that you do not qualify. If you do meet the requirements, your pet may qualify, since emotional support animals don’t require any special training. Your mental health professional will be able to provide more information. This is just another way that animals help humans.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit that works to help animals in need.

Ways to Help Animals

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the many ways to help animals in your area.

There are many ways you can help animals throughout your community. Today, I’d like to take the time to give some suggestions on how animal lovers can help their furry friends.

Share News on Social Media

One way to help that is free and only takes time and a little investigation is sharing news on your social media pages. This can be simply posting articles about animal abuse or cruelty, as well as promoting nonprofit organizations like Animal Support on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. This is a great way to begin a dialogue among those in your social circle.

Volunteering Your Time

Another way another way you can make a difference is to support local animal organizations and shelters. Many animal shelters need help, whether it is playing with animals or giving them affection. You can use your spare time to improve the well-being of the forgotten animals in your community by simply giving an hour or so of your time a week. Additionally, you can look into local organizations that work to help animals.

Fostering a Pet

Like with shelters, there are many animals who do not have permanent homes. They were either abandoned or born by a stray mother. They are left to live in a cage at a shelter and unfortunately some of these shelters put animals down. To have the greatest impact on an animal’s life is by giving it a home. If you have the means, consider fostering a pet. Fostering animals is an excellent way to give a cat or do a comfortable home while they await adoption. It also gives them constant exposure to humans and potentially other animals, which they may not have in a shelter.

Donating to Charities

Sometimes, to make the biggest impact you need to look at larger organizations that advocate for animal rights. Many charities and nonprofits work as an organization to make a bigger difference, from outreach to lobbying. These charities run on donations from people like you. One way you can help the greater cause is to donate money to a charity organization.

These are just a few ways in which you can make a difference. It takes a little research and some of your spare time, but by doing so you will be helping those that are often helpless, beautiful animals. Consider incorporating one or more of these ideas into your daily life to make a bigger impact on the world.

Yours in health,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omid is the co-founder of Animal Support along with his brother Michael Omidi. They work to help animals and charitable organizations.

The Reason Why Animals Need Support

Julian Omidi discusses the reasons why animals need the help of human advocates in today’s post.

In the mainstream media, animal advocates are viewed in mixed lighting. Some perceive them as commendable champions of the voiceless. Others view them as eco-terrorists. What needs to be addressed is the fact that animals need our support.

Giving a voice to those who can’t speak

Animal advocates speak for those who can’t use their own voice. Animals are often victims of several injustices throughout the world. If you read the news headlines, you will often see some act of violence being committed on animals. This happens in America as much as other countries.

History has placed animals at the lower end of the food chain, so to speak. They often aren’t able to defend themselves against humans who are willing to cause them harm. That is why it is on the shoulders of animal advocates to do so. We are the ones who help them find safety and justice.

Be it banning animal fighting rings, unethical animal testing or neglect from unfit owners, advocates are the ones who have helped reduce these horrible practices. Through protesting, lobbying and petitions, headway has been made to get broader protection for animals from injustice.

Without protection, many animals are at risk of extinction, such as the rhinos in Africa and countless other species throughout the globe. And this protection doesn’t just go towards acts of violence. Those who support animals have worked to also protect them against developers. Many companies have tried to exploit certain ecosystems to develop more buildings. This pushes animals out of their natural habitat, and potentially eliminates their ability to survive.

As you can see, animals do need our support. Not just in our own towns and cities, but globally. By advocating for animal rights, you have a chance to potentially save these beautiful creatures lives.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the fair treatment of animals everywhere.

Should Chimps have Similar Rights as Humans?

In today’s entry, Julian Omidi discusses a recent hearing in New York which is determining whether chimpanzees should be freed from a research institution.

Should chimpanzees have similar rights as humans? That’s the question being negotiated in a New York court.

In April, Judge Barbara Jaffe granted this historic hearing. Attorneys from the Nonhuman Rights Project argued on behalf of two chimps that they say are “unlawfully imprisoned.” They believe that chimps Leo and Hercules, who are currently kept at the Stony Brook University are “autonomous and self-determining beings” which should be, in their opinion, given bodily liberty.

The Nonhuman Rights Project believes that chimps should be given “personhood” similar to children and mentally disabled persons. They desire to move these chimps to a sanctuary in Florida. It is still unclear whether or not they will succeed. There have been past attempts by rights groups to prove similar arguments for other chimps. If Leo and Hercules are given “personhood,” what would be the ramifications of such a verdict?

The state’s attorney in New York, who is representing Stoney Brook, feels this would set a bad precedent that could open the debate towards other animals in captivities like zoo animals and pets. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Animals should be treated humanely in any condition. There has been significant reform globally in the use of animals. Most notably, circus bans on the use of intelligent animals like Elephants, and the public backlash towards Sea World on their treatment of whales.

It will be interesting to see what the New York court system determines. Animal testing has been long protested by animal rights advocates. The EU recently placed a ban on the sale of cosmetic products that have been tested on animals, yet medical products that test on animals still are legal for sale throughout Europe. Any progress for more humane treatment of animals should be supported.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit organization that advocates for animals.

The Ethics of Animal Rights (and What it Means for Humans!)

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the concept of speciesism and exciting new insights on the scope of animal intelligence.

Fish: Smarter than the Average Human?

Swiss university professor Redouan Bshary recently conducted a fascinating study on the social behavior of fish. It was a widely held belief, even in academic circles, that only primates had the ability to exhibit human-like behaviors. However, Bshary himself was surprised to discover that fish are not only capable of signaling to each other, but can also “cheat, deceive, console or punish one another…even show concern about their personal reputations”.

If fish are capable of such meaningful interactions, just imagine what this means for the millions of other species we haven’t yet researched in such a way. This brings us to consider the significance of animal rights in a philosophical context:

Speciesism

“Speciesism” is a term that has recently become a media buzzword, used in the past week by sources such as the BBC and the New York Times, to name a few. According to Google Trends, the word wasn’t even searched for until late 2006. So what does it mean?

According to Peter Singer, bioethics professor at Princeton University, speciesism is simply “an attitude of bias against a being because of the species to which it belongs.” It’s similar to racism in that someone who is a speciesist considers the value of some living creatures to be superior to that of others.

Thinking along these lines can seem somewhat harmless, but consider the real implications in our world when speciesism happens on a much bigger scale. There are terrible crimes committed against animals every day that are justified by “us vs. them” thinking. For example, the countless exposés on slaughterhouse atrocities or violent domestic animal abuse. Parallels to racism are evident throughout history, as greed causes us to take dignity and validity away from another group’s existence by labeling them the “other.”

Some argue that non-human animals should be considered worthy of the same rights as humans under the law. Others claim that animals are far more sentient than we think, and even possess a sense of morality. Regardless of whether or not this is true, we all must keep in mind that at the very least, animals experience suffering—and that’s something we should be actively making efforts to prevent. Remember to always do what you can to help beings of any species who are suffering, especially those who cannot speak for themselves.

 

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist and the co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit organization that exists to further animal rights around the world.

A Disaster Plan for Your Pets

 

Julian Omidi is an advocate for the safety and welfare of animals across the world. In today’s blog, he looks at how to make a disaster plan for pets.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hosts one of the most informative and well-researched websites on the topic of animal welfare and support. One of the sub-categories at their site, which itself offers a wealth of knowledge on the subject of pet care, discusses how to make sure your pets are safe in a disaster.

Here are just a few of the things ASPCA mentions in its comprehensive disaster-preparedness plan for animals:

• Put “Rescue Alert” stickers on windows and doors and other visible places. You can either make your own or, preferably, use official ones. The ASPCA website will send you a free one, and you can purchase them at most pet stores. The stickers note how many, and what types of, pets are in a home, as well as the veterinarian’s name and phone number.

• Create a safe haven. In other words, never leave pets behind in an emergency. Have a place where your pets can go and be safe when the unexpected happens. Ask your vet or a local shelter if there are any community-based shelters that will accept pets. Note: Red Cross shelters sometimes accept pets, but sometimes don’t.

• Make an emergency kit for your pets. Be sure to include any medicines they take and at least a seven-day supply of food and water.
Let’s all make our homes as safe for our pets as they are for us. Spend a few minutes writing a disaster plan for all the humans and animals that live in your home. Even our furry and feathery friends are members of the family!

Be good to each other (and to your pets!),

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Michael and mother Cindy, are advocates and co-founders of Animal Support and a number of other charities and organizations that are dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.

Surprising Secrets about Animal Intelligence

Julian Omidi is an advocate for the safety and welfare of animals across the world. In today’s blog, Julian looks at animal intelligence.

Do you ever wonder what your dog or cat (or pet tarantula) is thinking? Most animals are smarter than we tend to give them credit for. Of course, we all know the common myths about super-intelligent chimps and elephants who “never forget.” Those concepts are mostly based on legend and lore rather than fact. As animal brains go, in fact, chimps are indeed bright, but so are the giants of the jungle, elephants, who are anything but forgetful.

A recent study by The Discovery Channel highlighted a few of the brainiest members of the animal kingdom, and the results may surprise you. Here’s the short version of Discovery’s conclusions:

  • If the world were a schoolhouse, one of the smartest animals in the classroom would be the common crow. Studies have shown that not only do these cerebral birds understand the principle of cause-and-effect, but their raw intelligence is at about the same level as a 7-year-old human being! These animals are no “bird-brains,” but definitely have something to crow about.
  • Honeybees, despite their very tiny brains, are amazingly intelligent. They can count, distinguish all sorts of object categories and are quite good at evaluating geometrical shapes.
  • Everyone knows that certain breeds of dogs are highly trainable, but did you know that the “average” dog can learn about 165 words and signals, and can understand elementary arithmetic? Experts say Border Collies are the brightest breed, but virtually any dog can be taught simple commands and hand signals.
  • The elephant who speaks Korean: Koshik the Asian elephant can mimic human words that are understood by his Korean neighbors and trainers. He understands many more words than the five he can “say.” Koshik’s handlers report that the erudite elephant is able to pronounce the terms “lie down, sit down, no, good and hello.”
  • Among the other genius-level animals, according to the Discovery study, are fish (especially goldfish), cockatoos, snakes, horses and dolphins.

This lighter side of the animal world can serve as a serious reminder to all of us that our feathered and four-legged friends deserve respect and kind treatment at all times. That’s a sentiment to which Koshik the talking elephant might say, “Good!”

Be good to each other (and to our animal friends!),

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Michael and mother Cindy, are advocates and co-founders of Animal Support and a number of other charities and organizations that are dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.

The Pros and Cons of Zoos

Julian Omidi is an advocate for the safety and welfare of animals across the world. In today’s blog, Julian looks at both sides of a sensitive issue.

There’s been plenty of talk in the world media lately about whether it is time to do away with zoos, though some say zoos are good for animals and should be a part of every major city’s public service offerings. What do you think? Is it time for zoos to go? Or do they serve a worthwhile purpose?

Here are some of the arguments for and against zoos. Where do you stand on the issue?

Reasons to keep zoos:

  • Zoos educate people about animal welfare, get kids interested in wildlife, and contribute to pro-animal causes.
  • Endangered species are often preserved and saved when sheltered by city zoos.
  • High-quality zoos are accredited and must maintain the very best standards of cleanliness and humane practices.
  • Zoos are a great place for injured and exotic animals to recover, under the care of professional handlers and veterinarians.
  • When someone has an exotic pet that becomes hard to care for, a city zoo is the ideal place to take it.
  • Many an endangered species has been “saved” by zoos, which often have advanced breeding programs. In the wild, many of these rare species might not be able to find mates, and would probably become extinct.

Some arguments against zoos:

  • Unscrupulous, unlicensed zoos often mistreat animals and exist solely to make money.
  • Captive animals suffer by not being in their natural habitats.
  • Zoos set a bad example when children see adults imprisoning animals for entertainment purposes.
  • People can visit wildlife parks if they want to see animals in a natural habitat.
  • Wildlife parks allow animals to roam freely and live almost as they would in nature.
  • Breeding programs don’t work and are nothing more than expensive ways to experiment on defenseless creatures.

Wherever you stand on the issue, anyone who loves animals should care enough to get involved with their local zoos, either as animal advocates or supporters of the institution. Those on both sides of this sensitive issue have a reason to find out about their local zoo and learn whether it is treating its residents humanely.

Be good to each other (and to our animal friends!),

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Michael and mother Cindy, are advocates and co-founders of Animal Support and a number of other charities and organizations that are dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.

Baby Harbor Seal Rescued

Julian Omidi is an advocate for the welfare and safety of animals. In today’s blog, Julian shares an experience he had this weekend rescuing an abandoned baby harbor seal.

In life, you never know when you will have an opportunity to help those in need. Situations will arise where, through sheer luck, you have the chance to make a difference. My brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and I had such a chance this past weekend.

During a trip to the beach, we discovered a baby harbor seal. This poor animal had been abandoned, and was dying. After keeping the orphaned seal warm by wrapping it in a towel, we were able to contact a local rescue group.


Harbor seals are a common sight in California, as there are approximately 40,000 occupying the waters. They are easily observable in shallow areas where sandbars, rocks and beaches are exposed during low tides. Due to their proclivity for remaining close to land, it is not uncommon for harbor seal pups to become separated from their mothers. When this occurs, a seal’s chances of survival are dramatically reduced. Lost pups are highly susceptible to disease, stress and predators, as well as starvation and exposure.

There are several groups in California that are dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating abandoned seals and other aquatic life, such as the Marine Mammal Center. Most rescue workers are volunteers who have been specially trained, and work diligently to save abandoned marine mammals from beaches to rocky shores. Thanks to their efforts, thousands of marine mammals are saved from death and disease each year. Their swift and tireless work deserves to be recognized.

There are many ways you can personally get involved to help organizations like the MMC in their efforts, whether it be monetary donations or through volunteer work. But the easiest way to make a difference is to keep your eyes open and get involved if you find an abandoned seal or other aquatic mammal. Assess the situation and contact the proper authorities immediately. However, for your safety and the safety of the animal, do not attempt to move or transport it.

You never know when you may be in the right place at the right time to save a life.

Be kind to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and mother, Cindy Omidi, are co-founders of Animal Support, as well as a number of other non-profit organizations dedicated to the health and safety of animals and people worldwide.