Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for August, 2007


Police retrieved a 4-foot adult caiman (South American alligator) from a flood control ditch near Irvington High School in Fremont on Wednesday.

This is the third alligator found in the Bay Area since June. There seem to be a LOT of pet alligators in the San Francisco Bay Area these days. Once they get to be about 4-feet-long, these feisty reptiles usually get dumped in local lakes, streams, ponds, Delta waters, and flood control ditches by their owners because they are too big to safely handle in the home.

If you come across one, keep your distance. They are VERY fast and have VERY sharp teeth.

This is just one of the many stories like this that can be found and read on the Times’ Pets & Animals page at

You’ll find:
** The latest pet and animal news from around the world gleaned from the Associated Press Wire Service.

** Great pet and animal photos and videos (you can also submit your own!).

** A list of my most recent Pets & Wildlife Blog items (click on and read).

** Stories about the Environment.

** A list of my most recent daily columns (click on and read).

** Pet and animal stories from the San Jose Mercury News.

Stories are automatically updated daily.

Enjoy! /Gary Bogue

Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2007
Under: Animals | No Comments »


Real estate billionaire Leona Helmsley leaves $12 million to her dog in her will.
Helmsley’s beloved white Maltese named Trouble will continue to live the opulent life.

Now I understand why my two cats, Tut and Newman, have been so friendly the last couple of days. They’ve been hanging all over me, rubbing against me, purring “I love ya, man!” Definitely not ignoring me like they usually do.

I’ve got to stop leaving the Times and other newspapers lying around so they can read about people leaving lots of money to their pets in their wills.

It’s giving them bad ideas.

Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2007
Under: Pets | 1 Comment »


Homeowners can fill backyard bird feeders from inside their houses
I thought I’d share the following press release from ClickON Bird Feeders:

ClickON Bird Feeders announced today the release of its remote-controlled ClickON Bird Feeder System, which allows homeowners to refill their bird feeders from up to 100 feet away with the click of a button.

Many homeowners with bird feeders — including seniors and the infirm — often stop refilling their feeders altogether during the cold winter months, and their busy schedules often preclude them from regularly refilling their feeders during the rest of the year, according to Nathan Arthurs, the founder of ClickON Bird Feeders.
More at

A little bird told me that area songbirds have decided to come out with a remote-controlled Bird System of their own … which will allow them to fly a little robot bird to the remote-controlled bird feeders from clear across the yard when they peck on a little button.

The scuttlebutt is that in response to this, ClickON Bird Feeders may be coming out with a Robot Bird Watcher that can be placed in the windows of every home in America in early 2008.

U.S. songbirds are checking with Midwestern farmers to see if anyone is interested in growing remote-controlled bird seeds for sale. Wild Birds Unlimited stores, led by Mike Williams, owner of the Pleasant Hill, California, store and local songbird activist and vice-president of Mt. Diablo Audubon Society, appears to be bankrolling the songbirds in their robotic endeavors.

Isaac Asimov, popular science fiction novelist and author of “I Robot,” a collection of his brilliant robot stories, is rumored to be rolling over in his grave.

Posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
Under: Bird Feeders | No Comments »


It’s all a matter of perspective
When I got to work on Monday, I found two startlingly different views of a ruling by the federal district court on an old lawsuit brought by various animal welfare groups against the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Baily Circus for elephant abuse.

One view came in a press release from the animal welfare groups that had filed the elephant abuse case seven years ago against the circus. The other view was in a story on the PRNewswire, an electronic press release, from Feld Entertainment, the parent company of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus.

After reading both versions of the ruling, I wondered if they were talking about the same lawsuit. It shows you what can happen if two different groups go through an event and highlight ONLY those things that makes their side look good.

Go ahead … pick a side … any side.

“Ringling Brothers Will Stand Trial for Elephant Abuse”
WASHINGTON (Aug. 23, 2007) — Today, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the federal district court in Washington D.C. issued a major ruling rejecting the last-ditch attempt of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to avoid trial over charges that the circus abuses its Asian elephants in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

The groundbreaking lawsuit, brought by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Animal Protection Institute, the Animal Welfare Institute, The Fund for Animals, and Tom Rider, a former employee of Ringling Bros., alleges that the circus violates the Endangered Species Act by abusively training and disciplining elephants with sharp implements such as bullhooks, by intensively confining and chaining the multi-ton animals for prolonged periods, and by forcibly separating baby elephants from their mothers.

“The ASPCA is delighted with today’s ruling, which paves the way for the real case at hand: whether Ringling Brothers violated the Endangered Species Act in its treatment of the elephants,” stated ASPCA Senior Vice President Lisa Weisberg.

In its ruling, the Court scolded the circus for “wast(ing) a considerable amount of time and resources” of the Court and the groups by engaging in “dilatory” delay tactics over several years. The Court had previously ruled and today reiterated that the circus had repeatedly withheld critical evidence, in violation of a Court order.

“After five years of legal wrangling, we look forward to unveiling the curtain at trial to expose the suffering and death of elephants at the hands of the so-called ‘Greatest Show on Earth,’” said Tracy Silverman, General Counsel for the Animal Welfare Institute. “These magnificent animals will finally have their day in Court.”

In today’s ruling, the Court also recognized the important “public policy in favor of protecting the animals from unlawful harassment or harm.” The Court further admonished that “promoting the public interest in the preservation of such species will remain an ever-present threat to those seeking to unlawfully harm such species.”

“Today’s strongly worded decision shows that the Court has run out of patience for Ringling Brothers’ stalling ploys,” said Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals. “This trial will come not a moment too soon, as Ringling’s elephants continue to suffer every day from abusive discipline and prolonged chaining.”

The Court also rejected Ringling’s attempt to interject baseless counterclaims against the plaintiffs, and to harass the plaintiffs with discovery on irrelevant issues. The Court ordered all further discovery to be completed by the end of the year, and a trial date is expected soon.

More information at: … …

“US District Court Dramatically Narrows Issues in Seven-Year-Old Lawsuit”
VIENNA, Va. (Aug. 24, 2007) — This week the US District Court in Washington, DC granted partial summary judgment to Feld Entertainment, parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, in a meritless lawsuit filed years ago by various animal rights groups. The Court’s ruling dramatically narrowed the scope of the lawsuit by finding that none of Fend Entertainment’s Asian elephants born in the United States are subject to the plaintiffs’ claims in this case. The ruling validates the arguments that Feld Entertainment has consistently made about its conservation program and dramatically reduced the plaintiffs’ case.

“We are pleased that the Court ruled many of the Asian elephants in our care are not covered by the plaintiffs’ unfounded claims,” stated Feld Entertainment General Counsel Jerry Sowalsky. “We are proud of our efforts to preserve the endangered Asian elephant and look forward to proving our animal care practices are the best in the world.”

The Court also sided with Fend Entertainment on its claims that plaintiffs unjustifiably withheld important documents and information about this case and granted Fend Entertainment access to the majority of items that plaintiffs had withheld. The Court also agreed with Feld Entertainment’s “valid concerns” about security and animal safety for the elephant inspection that the plaintiffs sought, finding that parameters needed to be set prior to any inspection.

Finally, the Court ruled on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and Conspiracy Counterclaim sought by Feld Entertainment against the plaintiffs. The Court said that given the issues in this case “had been narrowed” and that the case is “winding down,” filing the counterclaim at this time would unduly complicate this seven-year-old case by injecting into it a claim involving an “elaborate corruption scheme” on the part of the plaintiffs. The Court did not comment on the merits of the claim and denied the plaintiffs’ assertion that the RICO and conspiracy allegations were frivolous. Fend Entertainment will pursue its RICO and conspiracy case against the animal rights groups in a separate lawsuit.

More information: …

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
Under: Animal welfare | 1 Comment »


SB 880 would allow the importation of kangaroo skins from Australia.
Eric Mills, coordinator of ACTION FOR ANIMALS in Oakland, sent me the following letter this morning, asking for help in defeating a state Senate bill that would contribute to the killing of thousands of Australian kangaroos. If you care about this, please make a call, send a fax, or send an e-mail protesting SB 880 and asking that it be opposed. Information on how to do this is below:

Calls/faxes/e-mails are needed immediately.

In an unfortunate recent development, Assemblyman Fabian Nunez, Speaker of the state Assembly, has agreed to present SB 880 (Calderon) on the Assembly floor. (The bill has already passed the Senate.) As you know, SB 880 would allow the importation of kangaroo products (hides for soccer cleats, meat for pet food, back scratchers made from kangaroo forearms, coin purses made from kangaroo scrotums, etc. I’m not making this up!).

This bloody and inhumane trade has been banned since 1970, due to the cruelty involved. The adult kangaroos are spotlighted at night, then shot to death. Many will escape wounded, to suffer a lingering death. The joeys (babies) routinely have their heads smashed or stomped. Can you imagine the public outcry if we were to treat America’s national emblem like this? And once the animals are dead and skinned, it will be impossible to tell endangered and threatened species from the would-be “legal” trade. There’s also a concern that even more kangaroos would be killed, for the current “take” in Australia is considerably less than the given “quota.”

As Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Nunez is the 2nd or 3rd most powerful legislator in Sacramento. We need to inundate his offices with calls/letters/e-mails of protest, both in Sacramento and in his Los Angeles home district. He especially needs to hear from his L.A. constituents.

The Assembly floor meets today (Monday, 8/27) at 1 p.m., and the bill could come up then; if not then, probably soon thereafter.

Please make those calls ASAP, and continue to urge your own Assembly member to vote NO on SB 880.

Please disperse this alert to all interested parties.

Many thanks, Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS

Assemblyman Fabian Nunez, Speaker of the Assembly
tel. 916-319-2046
fax 916-319-2146
e-mail —

tel. 213-620-4646
fax 213-620-6319

Thanks for caring! /Gary

Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
Under: Animal protection legislation | 1 Comment »


Raccoons slipping through your cat or dog door at night and raiding your kitchen cabinets?
The traditional pet door goes high-tech.

I just received the following press release. It sounds like this product might be the answer to an all-too-common raccoon problem:

** PetSafe, the company that introduced the first wireless fence back in 1998, has invented the Electronic SmartDoor — a battery-powered pet door that allows up to five dog/cat collar key codes, a smaller flap size, three modes and a weather tight seal. Using radio frequency, the Electronic SmartDoor identifies your pets, allows them to freely enter and exit your home while keeping other animals out.

A lightweight “SmartKey” is worn on your pet’s collar. It communicates through a radio frequency and unlocks the door as your pet approaches and relocks automatically as the pet enters or exits. It works like a garage door opener. The door comes in small and large sizes and fits standard doors from 1.5 inches to 2 inches thick. It’s not cheap ($149.99 for the small door and $229.99 for the large), but neither is the cost and effort of regularly cleaning up your kitchen after a raccoon has finished rummaging through your cabinets looking for something to eat.

You can check it out and see what it looks like at:

If you get one, please let me know how it works. You can e-mail me at

Good luck! /Gary

Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2007
Under: Raccoons | 3 Comments »


While watching stuff on TV about Atlanta Falcons quarterback Vick and dogfighting one evening this week:
I saw an individual (I didn’t catch his name) being interviewed who said, “What’s the big problem? They’re just dogs.”

Stephon Marbury, guard for the New York Knicks, in another interview defended Vick by comparing dogfighting to hunting, “We don’t say anything about people who shoot deer.” He also said, “I’ve heard that dogfighting is a sport. A lot of people do it.”
If dogfighting is a “sport,” it’s a “sport” that’s illegal in all 50 states and a felony in 48 states and the District. Being a spectator at a dogfight is also a felony in 22 states and a misdemeanor in 26 states and Washington, D.C. Some “sport.”

A few of the sports channel talking heads are being kind of defensive and appear to feel they need to protect Vick.

I heard one commentator on ESPN say that if Vick wants to continue to play football, he needs to say he’s sorry … pay a big chunk of money to a national animal protection organization … and spend some hands-on volunteer time working at an animal shelter to show he cares about animals.

What’s wrong with that statement?

Think about it.

Posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
Under: Animal fighting | 2 Comments »


Animal Liberation Front disables 8 tournament fishing boats
This morning I received the following missive from the “North American Animal Liberation Press Office”:

“On the night of August 5, the ALF commenced Operation White Marlin. The White Marlin Open is the biggest sport fishing tournament in the world. Killers from all over the world competed to slaughter the lives of our brothers and sisters.

“Ex-military members of the Animal Liberation Front donned scuba gear and tactical equipment and took to the sea. 8 boats were permanently disengaged and disabled with their props welded and holes cut in the hulls allowing them to fill with water.

“Unfortunately there were 400 boats involved in the slaughter. 8 will never be used again.

“By Wednesday night the marina was heavily patrolled by coast guard and security and they attempted to divert boats to other marinas. Little did they know the ALF was in the water beneath them tracking the boats with their middle fingers extended.

“ … the tournament continued but with fewer boats. Below is the slaughter’s names, boats and docking areas. We urge activists to take appropriate measures.

“Till Every Life Is Respected. — ALF”

I am, of course, NOT including the list of fishermen’s names, boat names and docking area information that was included with the above information. I just thought you might like to see that there are some pretty scary people out there, doing nasty things in the name of animal welfare.

There are a lot of good things being done for wild and domestic animals these days by national groups such as The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, etc. … and by local groups in my area such as Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, Community Concern For Cats, the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, and a wealth of other good organizations and good people.

Unfortunately, every time a bunch of scary people who call themselves the Animal Liberation Front tosses rocks through someone’s front window, burns a car or a building, or pokes holes in the bottom of a boat with people aboard, it cancels out the fine work by all those good people and organizations I just mention.

One day they’re going to kill somebody in the name of saving animals. How scary is that?

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
Under: Animal Activists | 1 Comment »


Thursday, after a mysterious delay of almost four years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service FINALLY finalized its long-awaited regulations to implement the Captive Wildlife Safety Act which Congress passed unanimously AND President Bush signed into law waaay back in late 2003.

This law prohibits interstate commerce in lions, tigers and other big cats AS PETS.


This morning, The Humane Society of the United States sent me the following update on the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which saves me a whole LOT of personal research to pull all this stuff together for you to read. Thank you, HSUS!

The HSUS says:
“Lions and tigers kept as pets in our communities are time bombs waiting to explode,” said Michael Markarian, HSUS executive vice president. “People get these animals as cubs and then are not equipped to care for them as they grow larger, but there is no place for them to go. It’s time the government cracked down on this dangerous and inhumane trade.”

Ten people have been killed by captive big cats in the United States since 2001, and many more have been injured. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 big cats are kept in private hands in the United States, and they are readily available at exotic animal auctions and over the Internet.

The new federal rule complements the laws many states have enacted to prohibit private possession of big cats as pets. It targets the pet trade and has no impact on federally licensed facilities such as zoos. It also exempts legitimate wildlife sanctuaries, but does not exempt pseudo-sanctuaries that breed or trade the animals.

“Not only are these animals incredibly dangerous when held privately, but they hold no conservation value in backyards and basements,” noted Adam Roberts, vice president of Born Free USA. “We live in a world where lions in Africa and tigers in India are facing a downward spiral toward extinction. Our national efforts must be devoted toward saving these species in the wild.”

Similar legislation is under consideration by the U.S. Congress to protect monkeys, chimpanzees, and other primates. The Captive Primate Safety Act was introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and David Vitter (R-La.) in the Senate (S. 1498) and Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) and Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) in the House (H.R. 2964). The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved the bill unanimously on July 31, and it now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Timeline for the Captive Wildlife Safety Act:
September 17, 2007 — Captive Wildlife Safety Act becomes effective
August 16, 2007 — Final regulations published in the Federal Register
January 31, 2006 — Regulations proposed for 30-day comment period
December 19, 2003 — Captive Wildlife Safety Act signed into law

You’ll find more interesting stuff about what’s happening with animals at

Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2007
Under: Animal protection legislation | 5 Comments »


The permafrost (frozen ground) in many areas of Alaska keeps roots shallow and trees small. When our guide pointed out some caribou while we were touring Denali National Park, all we saw was a herd of gigantic antlers moving just above the little spruces. Maybe they do grow on trees.

Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2007
Under: Alaska | No Comments »