This Week in Animal News: Puppy Mills, Live Crab Vending Machines, Canned Hunting

BlogHer Original Post

While American humanoids battled it out this week in the usual teeter-totter grab for power, animals went about their business. Or tried to. There were some bizarre developments in the animal world -- some victories, some defeats and one very big WTF? involving a country western "star" and a tame bear named Cubby.

GOOD NEWS: Voters in Missouri, Puppy Mill Capital of the USA (approx. 3,000), resoundingly passed Proposition B, designed to enforce better dog care and more oversight of professional dog breeders, specifically those who keep 10 or more bitches "for the purpose of breeding those animals and selling any offspring for use as a pet" to provide for each:

  • Sufficient food and clean water
  • Necessary veterinary care
  • Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements
  • Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down and fully extend his or her limbs
  • Regular exercise
  • Adequate rest between breeding cycles

Prop. B also requires breeders keep no more than 50 unaltered dogs over the age of six months. Violations would be considered misdemeanor offenses and could carry a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail and a $300 fine. Betty White did robo-calls for the cause, and St. Louis Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa did a great TV ad here. Prop B. goes into effect November 2011.

BAD NEWS: In the I-shit-you-not category … An enterprising inventor in China has developed a vending machine for live crabs. The low temperature keeps them sleepy but alive, and folks love the freshness! The Twin Lake Crab Company has created a unique plastic entrapment that keeps the crabs properly packaged until the crustaceans face drop time like a Cheetos bag.

The crabs come small, medium or large and cost about $3-9 each. And no, the Chinese do not eat them raw, they take them home to be cooked. The vending machines are located in a number of Nanjing metro stations and the company is looking toward nationwide expansion. Although consumers initially had a hard time believing the crabs were actually alive, word has spread and sales have started to pick up to hundreds a day.

And only because I have it handy and not related to anything at all, here's a Queen's University study on how crabs feel -- and remember -- pain.

GOOD NEWS: The defeat of Prop 109 in Arizona means that its citizens can still make wildlife policy through the initiative process. (NRA, Gov. Jan Brewer and John McCain backed 109.) The proposal would have given constitutional protection to Arizona hunters while prohibiting citizens from using the ballot initiative to make hunting and fishing laws - that exclusive power would have been given to the legislature.

BAD NEWS: Unfortunately, North Dakota voters rejected Measure 2, an effort led by hunters in the state to ban "canned hunts" of tame deer and elk trapped behind fences. This issue is hotly contested in these parts, with debates raging on both sides of the ... er, chain link fence. I found a great one-hand-and-the-other quote on the matter from Pace Law School's excellent GreenLaw Blog:

It’s hard to know where to begin with this. Does one side with those who oppose the measure on the grounds that there is no ethically relevant difference between slaughtering farm animals and staging canned “hunts” of imprisoned “wild” animals? Or does one argue that enabling an industry built solely on the pleasure that “hunters” derive from shooting helpless, trapped animals is different and worse than raising and killing animals not for the fun of killing but rather because of a belief that killing is an acceptable by-product of animal consumption? Is there an ethical divide here? Or merely a distinction without a difference?

And speaking of canned hunts, I present to you the Mother of All Staged Hunting Trips:

BACK STORY: So, there's a McCountry music "star" named Troy Lee Gentry, one-half of the duo Montgomery-Gentry. I'd never heard of him but evidence shows that Troy wrestles with serious manhood issues. In October 2004, Gentry and his buddy, Lee Marvin Greenly, staged a ridiculous fake outing the "wild" environs of Greenly's three-acre compound (near Sandstone, Minnesota) to "hunt" Greenly's tame bear, Cubby. Photos show the bear being hand fed by humans, like a giant, 600-pound baby.

"They turned a petting zoo into Auschwitz."

--Comedian Lewis Black on canned hunting

Turns out that Cubby, which Greenly made available to equally insecure "wildlife" photographers for a price, needed some dental work done. Instead of taking care of Cubby, he opted to have Gentry act out his tough-guy fantasies instead and kill the bear. And so, after Gentry paid Greenly about $4600, they put on their big boy camo-gear, picked up a camcorder and went after Cubby, who never knew what hit him. (Trust me, if the bow didn't kill him, the bad acting would have.)

Word of the horrible ruse got out and Gentry got his balls caught in a trap. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor the following month and under a plea deal, agreed to forfeit the bear's body and the bow he used during the farcical "hunt" - both of which had been on proud display on Gentry's home. Ultimately, Gentry was sentenced to three months of probation and a $15,000 fine for killing a captive black bear. He was also banned from hunting in Minnesota for five years. (Greenly was charged with two felonies in this case and served no jail time.)

In June 2007, an animal rights organization, SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness), filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain videos and photos from the case. They were ignored. So, they sued the Feds and finally, a federal judge sided with SHARK. In August 2010, at long last, SHARK got their fins on the fake hunting video and Cubby photos, which is why they are only just now seeing the light of day.

The videos (Part 1 and Part 2) are narrated by Steve Hindy, founder and president of SHARK, who openly seethes his way through the godawful play-acting. It's not gory really, just so obviously fake that it's cringe-inducing. The last five minutes are especially hard because the two boneheads layer one lie upon another, heartily shaking manly hands and engaging in mutual ego masturbation, all the while chuckling over the dead body of Cubby -- the tame bear with bad teeth. It is vile.

Gentry is no Teddy Roosevelt, that's for damn sure.

But the last word on this case goes to LA-based musician, Bryson Jones, who made a raging, cathartic YouTube video called "Troy Gentry is a Big Man":

"And I hope they put you in fucking prison ... with bears!"

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack.

BlogHer Contributing Editor, Animal & Wildlife Concerns, Proprietor, ClizBiz


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