animals

Meet Sassafras!

Sassafras
This weekend a cute vanilla cat showed up in our driveway. He was super-friendly, coming over to be petted and cuddled. He let our toddler pet him; he let me pick him up and pet his tummy and put him over my shoulder like a baby. He purred deeply. He followed us up and down the driveway.

He was obviously not neutered, and looked like he had some eye issues and I think fleas. His face and tail were scratched up and some fur was missing. He was skinny. And he had tummy troubles, and an uncomfy-looking butt (sorry if this is TMI).

Sassafras

I now knew who had been pooping all over the place for the past week.

It’s been getting cold out at night. I thought of this sociable, lovey cat who really did not feel very good probably being left out in the cold again.
Sassafras

I reasoned that I’d rather worry about a worried human than about this cat having another night out there.

So, I called Tompkins County SPCA and asked if it made sense to bring him in. They said if he was a house cat and someone called in looking for him, they’d give him needed veterinary care and neuter him before giving him back.

All things considered, I think this was the best decision for the cat, and the cat is the one with less power in this situation. I try to side with those with less power. So, sorry human, if you’re out there: your cat has taken a trip to the SPCA and may go up for adoption if he isn’t claimed. : /

Sassafras

I took the liberty of naming this dude Sassafras; it seemed to suit his gregarious nature and appearance, somehow. I know that if he does go up for adoption, he’ll get a wonderful home and a happy life — he’s a lovely, sweet cat who obviously thrives on attention. If I hadn’t brought him in so quickly, I would have fallen in love. I think I already kinda did. Like all cats I’ve encountered and had some connection with, I’ll probably remember him forever.

Sassafras

Good luck, Sassafras. Whether it’s back where you one day came from, or in a new home, may your future be full of clean floors and enticing toys, clawable carpets and scratching posts, delicious food, cool fresh water, open windows in the summertime, lots of play and cuddle sessions, and safe afternoon naps in warm pools of sunlight, in your very own territory, surrounded by your very own human family. I’ll be glad to think of you there, rather than worrying about you roaming our driveway all winter.

Thank you to SPCA of TC for taking in Sassafras and providing his medical care free of charge! I could not help all of these cats without this incredible service and support. If you can, please consider donating to Tompkins County SPCA, Browncoat Cat Rescue, or another local animal rescue or shelter operation. The folks that do this work, and the animals who depend on them, really need us to pitch in. Whether it’s a few dollars, a few hours of your time, or a donation of towels or food, your contributions can make a huge difference.

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Linkerbell: The Playing God Edition

Here are some stories about humans playing God. (Note that you could replace the word “God” with the word “Evolution” and/or “Nature” and you get the same effect from these articles, if you’re an atheist.)

See also (unrelated links!):

Another ethical grey area: Duck cuddling

duck and veteran

Image description: On a suburban street, a burly man in sunglasses and a trucker cap tenderly cuddles a white duck in his arms, talking to him or her and scratching his/her tummy. The duck is relaxed and cozy-looking. Three more ducks walk around behind them, among chain link fencing and an orange construction fence.

This is one of those things that I see as a vegan and wonder if it could be done ethically. The story behind the image is that this guy is a veteran living in Ohio who keeps ducks for therapy. According to this short Gawker post and the AP article it links to, this “keeping” apparently consists of caring for them, watching them, and spending time with them. It doesn’t say anything about taking their eggs or feathers, or eating their bodies, or breeding or selling them. Maybe some of that is involved; maybe the particulars of this situation are in some way exploitative. My guess is that these animals weren’t rescued from a factory farm, for example.

But what I’m seeing here is the potential for a very sweet and symbiotic way for veterans and other humans to take a lot of solace in the company of animals who need homes. If sanctuary animals in need of adoption were paired with humans who need their company, that seems like a smart, benign, and even beneficial relationship. Could the concept of “therapy animal” be expanded to become an explicitly mutual, respectful relationship intended to benefit both parties?

Read the article and tell me what you think about this subject.

One of those very rare moments when I regret not living in NYC anymore

Design and Violence Debate: Debate III (MoMA):

Design and Violence is an ongoing online curatorial experiment that explores the manifestations of violence in contemporary society by pairing critical thinkers with examples of challenging design work. Contributors’ weekly essays have been published since November 2013, creating a body of opinion and a set of case studies that spark discussion and bring the ambiguous relationship between design and violence to center stage for designers and the people they serve—all of us.

Design and Violence is organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA; Jamer Hunt, Director, graduate program in Transdisciplinary Design, Parsons The New School for Design; and Michelle Millar Fisher, Exhibition Coordinator, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA.

The third debate will center upon Temple Grandin’s “serpentine ramp,” a slaughterhouse design modification that attempts stress reduction and a more humane death for animals. Professor Gary L. Francione (Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers, and author, Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals) and Nicola Twilley (editor/author of Edible Geography.com, co-founder of the Foodprint Project, and director of Studio-X NYC) will deliver debate motions, moderated by Design and Violence co-curator Paola Antonelli.

Animal rights vs. Animal welfare

animal rights vs animal welfare
Evolve Campaigns made this great viral graphic comparing animal rights and animal welfare. I’ve seen it around for a while, and have always thought it did a good job of making the distinction clear. So when I saw it on Pinterest I gave it a heart!

Then I read the comments. I don’t usually engage like this, anymore! But I couldn’t help it, I had to dive in.

It’s interesting to me that folks see veganism and animal rights as some kind of choice of animals over humans, when humans are animals, and so many vegans are also human rights advocates for this reason (and also because they’re, you know, generally decent people who are working on becoming less oppressive). I don’t think that was ever an issue for me. My issue was that animals were tasty. But in any case, I don’t think any of these issues are good reasons for eating someone.

Metaphor and climate change

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Elevator Music and Art Gallery

@New Roots Charter School (116 North Cayuga Street/The Clinton House)

new roots Opening Friday 7th: 5 to 7PM

Still Life with Calving Iceberg

By Maria Driscoll McMahon

“Still Life with Calving Iceberg” is an installation incorporating sculpture and drawing which explores the adolescent condition and identity formation through a central metaphor taken from the natural world: an iceberg that is falling apart, or “calving,” evoking not only catastrophic environmental destruction, but through a metaphor within a metaphor, a baby animal domesticated almost exclusively in rural areas.

Visit newrootsschool.org or call (607) 882-9220.