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Archive for May, 2007


Hard to believe — they’re deciding who can and can’t kill these intelligent mammals
Even as Delta and Dawn the humpback whales are nearing the Golden Gate Bridge and their freedom back into the welcoming waves of the sea, the International Whaling Commission is meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, and trying to decide if they’ll let Japan kill and carve up humpback whales for sushi.

On Tuesday, they “overwhelmingly” approved a 5-year quota extension for Alaska Eskimos that allows them to continue to hunt bowhead whales.

Meanwhile, according to the Associated Press, Japan has long sought “community whaling” status which would give it quotas similar to those allowing Alaska natives and other indigenous groups to hunt the big mammals. Japan already kills more than 1,000 whales a year and sells the meat under a so-called scientific research provision allowed by the IWC, which enacted a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.

It’s not much of a “moratorium” when you have all those loopholes to get around it.

The IWC is expected to take up Japan’s quota request today.

Greenland, a semiautonomous Danish territory, also wants to increase its aboriginal quota of minke whales and add bowheads and humpback whales (an endangered species!) to its hunt.

AP writer Rachel D’oro also reported in her Tuesday story that Japan’s Joji Morishita, the alternate IWC commissioner for Japan, met in close-door talks with representatives from anti-commercial whaling nations, including New Zealand, Australia and the United States, who vowed to avoid deals allowing commercial whaling by Japan. They are also outraged by Japan’s plan to kill 50 humpback whales as part of its “science” program.

Meanwhile, thousands of people in the San Francisco Bay Area are holding their collective breath and crossing all their toes and fingers and hoping with all their might that Delta and Dawn make it back out of the Bay and into the ocean.

Good luck, little whales. Watch out for those big, bad, mean ‘ol whalers.

Posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2007
Under: Whales | No Comments »


I still think they should back off and let the whales do their thing. We’ve been doing OUR thing for long enough.

Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2007
Under: Whales | 2 Comments »


Maybe the whales are too disoriented by all the ruckus
Nothing seems to be working to get the whales to swim back into the Bay and out into the ocean under the Golden Gate Bridge. So how about backing off and starting from scratch?

** Pull back all the boats and helicopters until they are out-of-sight of the whales.

** Turn off all the boat motors.

** Stop traffic going across any of the bridges if/when the whales approach them.

** Basically make things as calm and normal and natural — and quiet — as possible. No unnatural vibrations anywhere.

Maybe all the noise and activity … and banging on pipes … and playing of this and that whale feeding sounds … and now threatening them with the sounds of attacking killer whales … is so disorienting that those whales simply don’t know what to do.

The swimming around in circles and slapping of their tails on the water seems to indicate that. Actions of distress, confusion and irritation.

Back off, return the river area around them to normal and wait and see what happens.

It couldn’t hurt.

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Under: Whales | 3 Comments »


Every year, dogs die after being left inside cars for “just a few minutes.”
Memorial Day weekend promises to be sunny and warm and maybe even hot, depending on the fog. Fortunately, just in time, The Animal Protection Institute (API, a national nonprofit animal welfare group in Sacramento has sent out the following information:

API has launched its summer initiative, “My Dog is Cool,” to save dogs and other animals from dying in hot cars during warm-weather months.

Every year, dogs die after being locked inside cars while their humans leave them, often for “just a few minutes.” These tragedies occur with alarming frequency, yet the animals’ deaths are completely preventable.

“As the summer heats up, it’s important that people be made aware of the dangers of leaving companion animals inside hot cars,” says API’s director of legal and government affairs, Nicole Paquette. “People mean well by taking their dog or other animal along with them while they work, visit, shop, or run errands, but warm weather can literally turn a car into a death trap.”

** NOTE: A Stanford University test found that even if it’s only 72 degrees outside, a car’s internal temperature can rocket to 116 degrees within an hour. Hundreds of dogs are unintentionally killed or injured each year by being left in hot cars, even with windows cracked and only for a short time.

The lifesaving Web site is a free, friendly resource to help spread the word about the dangers of hot cars. Resources include downloadable posters and “It’s hot!” flyers that can be used when a dog is left in a hot car, and an “Is it Too Hot?” weather forecasting tool that allows you to just enter your zip code and see if it’s too hot to take your pal along in the car.

The site provides everything you need to know to keep dogs safe and happy during hot weather.

The Animal Protection Institute is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation and public education. For more information, visit

** Other things to keep in mind on warm/hot days:

Indoor Animals — Make sure your house doesn’t turn into an oven during the day while you’re at work. If you don’t have an air conditioner, leave as many windows partially open as you can to keep the air circulating. Moving air is important. Your dog or cat will follow the air currents around to find the most comfortable spot.

You can help by filling several liter-size plastic Coke/Pepsi bottles with water and freezing them. (Don’t fill them too full because ice expands.) Leave them lying on the floor around the house in places where your pets like to hang out. They can snuggle up against the icy bottles and keep at least a little cooler.

If you have an aquarium or fish bowl full of fish, make sure the sun doesn’t shine on them as it moves past your windows. Warm water loses oxygen, and a fish in a sunny aquarium can have trouble breathing and actually “drown.”

Outdoor Animals — If your dog or cat spends the day in the back yard, it would be great if they had a dog/cat door that would let them come inside to cool off. If they don’t (how about a doggy door into the garage?), you need to make sure they have some shady spots to get out of the sun and plenty of water to drink so they can stay hydrated.

Give the ground under bushes or in shady areas a good watering before you go to work so your dog has a place to stay comfortable. You can always give your pal a bath later.

Drinking Water — Whether your pets stay inside or out, make sure they have plenty of cool, clean water to drink. Leave several large bowls in different parts of your house or yard where your pets like to go and make sure they stay out of the sun so the water doesn’t get too hot to drink.

Some Tips — Here are a couple of important points from an ASPCA News Alert on hot weather:
1. Exercise your dog in the cool of the early morning or evening, never when it’s hot. Be careful not to let your dog stand on hot asphalt or cement, as its sensitive paw pads can easily burn.

2. Some animals need extra special care in hot weather, especially those who are elderly and overweight, or have heart or lung disease. Hopefully, you know who you are.

Thanks for caring. /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
Under: Hot Cars | 2 Comments »


How do you lose two BIG whales in a little river?
I was listening to the news this morning when they announced that they had lost the two humpback whales. They lost two whales??

Here’s what the Associated Press had to say about it:

By Marcus Wohlsen and Judith Prieve

Article Launched: 05/22/2007 07:20:13 AM PDT
RIO VISTA — Two wayward whales, last seen just south of the Rio Vista Bridge at 9 p.m. Monday, are still missing in action this morning.
Here’s the latest from the scene:
8:30 a.m. Flotilla awaits in Rio Vista.
A CHP helicopter will soon begin an air search in the area of the Rio Vista Bridge and beyond in an effort to try to locate the two wayward whales.
Earlier this morning, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter failed to locate the missing duo despite repeated sweeps of the area.

Hey, you don’t suppose the whales finally escaped from that huge crowd of paparazzi during the night, do you?

While they’re looking for the whales, did I happen to mention that this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week?

This has always been a special week for the PG&E meter readers. Here’s what they have to say about it:

“Every day, PG&E meter readers, gas service representatives and other employees enter yards and homes to read meters, re-light gas pilots and provide other types of customer service. During National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 20 through May 26, PG&E reminds customers to make sure their dog is safe and secure whenever a PG&E employee is scheduled to visit your home or business.

“Each year approximately 50 PG&E meter readers are moderately to severely attacked by dogs. Because of these attacks, PG&E provides meter readers the opportunity to attend a dog bite prevention course that informs employees about dog behavior and temperament, and how they can protect themselves in the event of an attack.

“PG&E recognizes dogs as pets and works with customers to keep animals safely away when employees are scheduled to visit their home or business. Customers can find out when their meter is scheduled to be read by visiting or by calling PG&E’s customer service line at 1-800-PGE-5000. These schedules are subject to change, so please re-check the day before a scheduled meter read.

“Here are some tips to provide a safe environment for your dog and PG&E employees:
** Restrain or relocate your dog when it is time for PG&E employees to read your meter.
** Confine your dog as necessary. If the employee is outside, keep your dog inside. If the employee is inside, keep your dog outside. If the employee must work near your dog, make sure it is secure. Dogs may become more protective in the presence of their owners.
** Post a Beware of Dog sign on your fence or house to avoid any surprises.
** Leave a note on your meter explaining that you have a dog and how it is confined.
** Be sure all vaccinations and inoculations for rabies and parasites are up to date.

“For more information about PG&E, please visit

Hey, they just spotted those missing whales about 3 miles north of the Rio Vista Bridge!

Now, back to our story …

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Under: Whales | 1 Comment »


After a crowded visit to see where the story of Humphrey began, our two whales head home.

As I said in my column last Thursday: “Say, you don’t suppose these two new whales are just on vacation and taking the Humphrey cruise, do you?”

And now they’re heading home.

Good luck Malahini and Makai, or Rio and Vista, or Delta Dawn and Sunny, or Delta and Dawn, or whatever your names are. May the forces be with you on your long trip home.

I hope you make it.

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2007
Under: Whales | No Comments »


What’s in a name?

Holy cetaceans, Batman, what do we do now?!

Little did we know that at the same time we (the Times) decided to have a fun little contest to name those two wayward whales after receiving some unsolicited names from our readers … at LEAST six other media organizations (two newspapers and four TV stations) were busy doing the same.

They include: the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee,,,, and

There may have been lots more but my fingers were starting to get numb after calling up 20 or 30 pages on the Internet while doing a Google search for “whale names” this morning.

I was a bit taken aback at a snippy comment by a Chronicle reporter on its Web site at at the end of a story announcing that Rio and Vista had “overwhelmingly” won their naming contest. The comment: “We’d also like to note that the Contra Costa Times stole our idea. It will be interesting to see if their results are different from ours … “

A Times staff member playfully entered a comment in response to the above at the end of their story: “We do have to admit that wasn’t the first to ask readers to name the whales, but we didn’t steal the idea just from SFGate. We brazenly swiped the concept from several news sites, including, and We received dozens of nominations, picked 10 and are running a poll that asks readers for the best. Our candidates include “Delta and Rio” but not “Rio and Vista.” Maybe when it’s done we should do another poll, pitting the winner against the winners from the other sites.”

Just below our comment on SFGate were two other comments from S.F. Chronicle readers:

“CCT stole ‘your’ idea? Um, sorry. It wasn’t your original idea. It’s pretty normal for humans to want to humanize animals, and giving them pet names goes with the territory. Sorry, you are not the first, and wow, what a tacky way you are expressing your feelings.”

“Lighten Up! I think it’s great that the public is engaging in this news story.”

Actually, I think we should all “lighten up” and focus on the REAL problem generated by this wild scramble to name those two whales.

If we had nearly 200 names submitted when we asked our readers to name the whales, the other six organizations named above probably got at least that many or more when they asked their readers or viewers to name the whales. That’s roughly 1,400 whale names floating around out there in the atmosphere — yet another cause of global warming — just waiting to be picked.

And we know our readers are really having fun with this. I just checked and as I’m writing this, 1,130 people have voted in our Name The Whales Poll. I’m sure it’s the same at those other sites.

When all this picking is finally done, seven news organizations, the six listed above plus us, (plus who-knows-how-many other organizations that we don’t even know about) will each claim that “We have named the whales.”

I can see it now:

Contra Costa Times reports Gracie and George are finally heading down the river.
San Francisco Chronicle reports Rio and Vista are finally heading down the river.
Sacramento Bee reports Fred and Wilma are finally heading down the river. reports Mona and Lisa are finally heading down the river. reports Lucy and Little Ricky are finally heading down the river. reports Mama Humphrey and Humphrey Jr. are finally heading down the river. reports Beauty and Bumpy are finally heading down the river.

I’ll bet Moby Dick never had this much trouble getting a name.

As I said at the beginning of this rant, “Holy whale, Batman, what do we do now?!”

Maybe we should just make it easy on everybody and ask the whales what their names are.

Now … let’s all link hands and generate as much positive energy as we can to help those poor whales find their way back to their home in the ocean. I think they’re going to need all the help they can get.

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2007
Under: Whales | 5 Comments »

Got Raccoon Problems?

Did you wake up this morning and find your back lawn had been removed?
Are you having trouble getting along with your raccoon neighbors because they’re tearing big holes in your lawn as they search for tasty earthworms … or tossing all your lawn furniture in your swimming pool … or entering your house through the cat door and going through your kitchen cabinets looking for breakfast cereals and other tasty things to eat?

Living in the urban and suburban wilderness isn’t always easy. To help you deal with some of Life’s furry little surprises, I’ve put together a 7-page “Raccoon Fact Sheet” that’s filled with handy and humane tips for dealing with these 4-legged bandits. We ARE smarter than they are, you know. (I think.)

If you’d like me to e-mail you an electronic copy of my “Raccoon Fact Sheet,” please click on “Comments” at the bottom of this entry and leave your name and e-mail address. If you’d prefer to communicate with me directly, I can be reached at

It would also help if you can also leave me a brief description of your raccoon problem in case it isn’t covered in my fact sheet, so I can send you a “custom” response.

If you’ve come up with your own humane and hopefully friendly way of dealing with these beautiful creatures, please let me know so I can add it to my collection the next time I update my fact sheet.

You never know what will work with these intelligent and clever animals and it’s best to have a lot of ideas in your wild bag of tricks.

** Before you leave, did you know: According to a BizRate Research survey conducted in 2005, 56 percent of female pet owners surveyed said their pets are more affectionate than their romantic partners.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we spent an estimated $41 BILLION on our pets last year.

Posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2007
Under: Raccoons | 725 Comments »

Is NFL Star a Dogfighter?

President & CEO of The Humane Society of the United States writes a new blog
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS in Washington, DC, has started writing a blog on dogfighting, farm animal abuse and plenty more. His most recent postings include:

NFL Star at Center of Dogfighting Investigation: “He denies any wrongdoing, but the information that has come to light looks awfully incriminating … “ (posted May 15)

Alternatives for Pigs Crammed in Crates: “We are breaking through on the issue of intensive confinement of farm animals … “ (posted May 14)

Long Battle Results in Law Against Animal Fighting: “Last week, President Bush signed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act … “ (posted May 11)

You can

You should add Wayne’s special insights to your regular on-line reading list. They’ll be quite interesting.

Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007
Under: Animal fighting | 3 Comments »

Would you buy a painting for your pets?

Do dogs and cats really appreciate fine art?
Do pets deserve dining with a view? Apparently the owner of one cat thinks so. After talking with a pet behavior consultant and researching colors pets can or can’t see, she had paintings commissioned so they could be hung just above pet dishes, figuring pets could enjoy them while they were eating breakfast or dinner. The artwork can also be placed nearby on a low easel.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

You got it. The paintings can now be purchased on-line (8”x10,” $140; 14”x11,” $195) at

Personally, I think paintings are way too classy for my cats, Tut and Newman. I just leave a stack of old Playboy magazines next to their litter boxes.

Posted on Monday, May 14th, 2007
Under: Pet Art | No Comments »