August 3, 2020
Marion C. Willetts, Illinois State University
Non-human animal hoarding is defined as the acquisition of a large number of animals by individuals who do not provide a minimum acceptable standard of care; who lack awareness that they are not providing minimal care and/or deny that problems exist; and who often continue to acquire animals (HARC, n.d.). It is estimated that there are approximately 5,100 new cases of animal hoarding in the United States each year; researchers assert that this figure may be an underestimate, as the social isolation of hoarders makes discovering their cases challenging (e.g., Arluke, Patronek, Lockwood, & Cardona, 2017; Arluke & Patronek, 2016).
Hoarding disorder is included under the general category of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), although animal hoarding specifically is not listed (Frost, Patronek, Arluke, & Steketee, 2015). In the U.S., Hawaii has criminalized animal hoarding (Hayes, 2010); prosecutors filing charges against animal hoarders in all other states do so under their states’ anti-cruelty statutes.
Corinne DiLorenzo is a recent example of an alleged animal hoarder. In September 2018, a suspicious fire occurred at EARTH Animal Sanctuary, which she founded in 2014 and where she and her minor son resided. The fire, later determined by investigators to have been deliberately set, destroyed a barn and chicken coop, killing all 40 animals inside. As news of the fire spread via social media, animal advocates learned that DiLorenzo had ceased contact with nearly everyone in animal rescue circles for at least a year prior to the fire. Additionally, the Illinois Secretary of State legally dissolved the sanctuary in 2016 for failure to submit required annual paperwork; the IRS revoked the sanctuary’s 501c3 status in 2018 for the same reason.
A group of six animal advocates, myself included and all former acquaintances of DiLorenzo, started privately communicating with each other about her history with animals and the evolving situation. Out of concern for the well-being of DiLorenzo’s son, a report was filed with investigators at the state’s child protective services agency, who, accompanied by a police officer with a search warrant, visited DiLorenzo’s house and the sanctuary’s property. They discovered deplorable conditions inside the house (e.g., abundant animal feces, clutter that impeded movement, non-working kitchen appliances, and exposed electrical wiring hanging from walls), and deemed the house uninhabitable for a child. An open pit containing a large number of animal carcasses was discovered on the property legally owned by the sanctuary. Shortly after the house and property were searched, DiLorenzo and her son moved in with her partner in another county.
The group of advocates collaborated over the course of three months to gather information on animals placed and donations made to the sanctuary, and subsequently met with the county prosecutor to present our information and request that charges be filed. The prosecutor declined to press charges at that time, arguing that DiLorenzo’s acquisition of a large number of animals and the existence of the mass grave were not sufficient evidence of animal cruelty. Because estimated recidivism rates among animal hoarders approach 100%, prosecution is infrequent in animal hoarding cases, and weak penalties are imposed upon those who are convicted (Muller-Harris, 2011), we were concerned that DiLorenzo would continue to hoard animals if not prosecuted.
We continued to gather evidence over an additional seven months to increase the likelihood that animal cruelty charges would be filed. For example, we searched for and contacted individuals via social media who relinquished animals to the sanctuary to recruit them as witnesses in court. We also solicited the assistance of three archaeologists, who analyzed the remains of 66 mammals and 91 birds discovered in the open pit to assess the approximate ages of the animals when they died. Armed with the archaeologists’ report showing that the vast majority of mammals were either infants or juveniles at the time of their deaths, and with over two dozen individuals who relinquished young, healthy animals willing to testify, the prosecutor subsequently presented the case to a grand jury, which indicted DiLorenzo on a fourth-degree felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals. She was arrested, posted bail, entered a not guilty plea, and is currently awaiting trial.
Our experience demonstrates that animal advocates must be very active participants in the investigation and documentation of animal hoarding cases to increase the likelihood that charges will be filed. Without prosecution, animal hoarders are unlikely to face the consequences of their actions, will not get the psychological intervention that they need, and are highly likely to continue to hoard animals, with obvious ramifications for the well-being of those animals. While we await DiLorenzo’s trial, I am writing a paper concerning the roles animal advocates may play in the prosecution of alleged animal hoarders, as the strategies we found useful may be implemented by other animal advocates to combat hoarding.
Arluke, A., and G. Patronek. 2016. "Animal Hoarding." Pp. 199-216, in Animal Cruelty: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding 2nd ed., M. Brewster and C. Reyes (Eds.). Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press.
Arluke, A., G. Patronek, R. Lockwood, and A. Cardona. 2017. "Animal Hoarding." Pp. 107-129, in The Palgrave International Handbook of Animal Abuse Studies, J. Maher, H. Pierpoint, and P. Beirne (Eds.). London: Springer.
Frost, R., G. Patronek, A. Arluke, and G. Steketee. 2015. "The Hoarding of Animals: An Update." Psychiatric Times. Retrieved December 31, 2016 from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/addiction/hoarding-animals-update
Hayes, V. 2010. "Detailed discussion of Animal Hoarding." Michigan State University College of Law, Animal Legal and Historical Center. Retrieved January 16, 2019 from https://www.animallaw.info/article/detailed-discussion-animal-hoarding#id-11
Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC). (n.d.). FAQs for Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium. Retrieved December 31, 2016 from http://www.vet.tufts.edu/hoarding/faqs-hoarding
Muller-Harris, D. 2011. "Animal Violence Court." Animal Law, 17: 313-336.
July 17, 2020
Mark Suchyta, M.S., Michigan State University
The emergence of COVID-19 has led scientists, journalists, and activists to ponder the future of factory farming. This is in part due to the potential for factory farms to spread disease among farmed animals and eventually to humans, as we
It is often assumed that the conditions for farm animals on smaller farms are superior to those of larger farms. For example, when people think about small farms, they may imagine idyllic, family-owned properties with free roaming animals. Large farms, on the other hand, are often conceptualized as dark, cramped, mechanized settings where large numbers of animals are hidden from the public eye and subjected to abuse. Of course, these are ideal types and the realities can be much different. Large industrial farms can certainly be (and usually are) family owned and smaller farms frequently employ the same controversial housing and handling standards that larger farms do, also classifying them as factory farms (U.S. Department of Agriculture 2017). Survey data seems to confirm that many people do indeed see a difference between small and large farms. A study in the U.S. suggests Americans believe larger farms are “less likely to share their values” and “more likely to place profit ahead of public interest” (Center for Food Integrity 2013). Lusk, Norwood, and Prickett (2007), drawing from a representative sample of Americans, found 57% agreed with the statement “farm animals raised on small farms have a better life than those raised on large farms”. Stronger opposition to larger farms relative to smaller farms has also been found in studies in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Poland. (Verbeke et al. 2010; Sørensen et al 2012).
In recent research of my own under review, I asked a representative sample of over 500 Americans about their views of farm animal welfare on “large industrial” and “small family” farms. Respondents were asked to indicate the extent they agreed or disagreed (on a five-point Likert-scale) with four statements regarding farm animal welfare on “large industrial farms” and then were presented the same four statements again but regarding “small family farms”. Three of the statements began with the lead-off “On [large/small farms] in the U.S….” and followed with the statements “farm animals have a poor quality of life”, “government regulations do a good job at preventing cruelty toward farm animals”, and “most farmers treat their farm animals well”. The fourth statement read “The treatment of farm animals on [large industrial/small family] farms in the U.S. raises serious ethical questions.” A series of paired-sampled t-tests were then run to compare the mean response for the statements regarding large industrial farms to the means of their equivalent statements regarding small family farms. The t-tests all were significant (p<.001) with respondents seeing the welfare of farm animals on “large industrial” farms as worse than on “small family” farms.
So, are there real substantial differences in farm animal welfare between these two types of farms? Or is this just a common perception without much empirical proof? Robbins et al. (2016) attempted to address this issue by reviewing over 150 studies from several nations that examined the relationship between farm size and farm animal welfare. They found no consistent relationship between these variables and concluded that larger farms provide some opportunities to improve animal welfare as they have more capital, veterinary resources, and standardized employee training, but also create some risks due to the large number of animals and the high density they are subjected to. For example, the animals are less likely to be allowed access to pasture. Robbins et al. suggest that policy and advocacy efforts should focus on increasing animal welfare across all farms rather than targeting farms based upon their size.
In conclusion, we are bound to see interesting conversations about the future of factory farming considering the current public health crisis. We need such conversations. Yet, while new policies regarding large factory farms may address some environmental issues, it is not clear that the conditions farm animals live in will improve by targeting them alone.
Center for Food Integrity. 2013. “Consumer Trust in the Food System.” Center for Food Integrity: Gladstone, MO.
Lusk, Jayson L., F. Bailey Norwood, and Robert W. Prickett. 2007. “Consumer Preferences for Farm Animal Welfare: Results of a Nationwide Telephone Survey.” Working Paper. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
Robbins, Jesse A., Marina A. G. von Keyserlingk, David Fraser, and Daniel M. Weary. 2016. “Invited Review: Farm Size and Animal Welfare.” Animal Science 94 (12): 5439-5455.
Slisco, A. 2020. “Elizabeth Warren and Corey Booker Join Forces on Bill to Ban Most Factory Farming by 2040.” Newsweek, May 7. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
Sørensen, B., M. Barcellos, N. Olsen, W. Verbeke, and J. Scholderer. 2012. “Systems of Attitudes Towards Production in the Pork Industry: A Cross-National Study.” Appetite 59 (3): 885-897.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2017. Overview of U.S. Livestock, Poultry, and Aquaculture Production in 2017. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
Verbeke, W., F. Pérez-Cueto, M. de Barcellos, A. Krystallis, and K. Grunert. 2010. “European Citizen and Consumer Attitudes and Preferences Regarding Beef and Pork.” Meat Science 84 (2): 284-292.
June 8, 2020
Moses Seenarine, Climate Change 911
Many people know that diets filled with animal-based foods can lead to chronic illness, but few realize that livestock diseases can also affect human health. Factory-farmed animals are afflicted by many diseases, and increasing consumption of cattle, pig and chicken carcass is leading to more frequent outbreaks of plague, swine and bird flu among animals. Moreover, rearing more animals increases the possibility of disease mutation and pandemic among humans.
A panzootic is an outbreak of an infectious disease of animals that spreads across a large region, for example a continent, or even worldwide. The equivalent in human populations is called a pandemic. High population density is a major contributing factor to panzootics and vast amounts of antibiotics are used to keep diseases at bay in concentrated animal feed operations, with varying success. So far, livestock diseases have had a relatively minor impact on human health, which is an amazingly lucky break, but luck like this does not last long.
Cattle plague is a panzootic that recurred throughout history, often accompanying wars and military campaigns. Cattle plague affected Europe especially in the 18th century, with three long panzootics from 1709-1720, 1742-1760, and 1768-1786, that affected millions of livestock. There was a major outbreak covering the whole of England in 1865/66. Later in history, an outbreak in the 1890s killed 80% to 90% of all cattle in southern Africa, as well as in the Horn of Africa. More recently, a rinderpest outbreak raged across much of Africa in 1982-1984, costing US$500 million in losses.
In 1996, the UK culled 4.4 million cattle to eradicate mad-cow disease, while 400,000 were killed in 2001 in Germany. In 2009, Egypt ordered the cull of all pig herds, over 400,000 pigs, to avoid swine flu. In 2014 in the US, seven million piglets, or 10% of piglets born, died due to Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. A 2015 outbreak of avian flu in the US led to the culling of 50 million birds, or more than 10 percent of US chickens raised to produce eggs. The H5N2 virus affected 39 million chickens, at least 33 million of which were laying hens, and 7 million turkeys.
Avian flu is a serious disease than can easily become a panzootic and imperfect disease-surveillance systems mean that occurrence of the virus remains underestimated and underreported. And, if the avian influenza virus combines with a human influenza virus in a bird or a human, the new subtype could be both highly contagious and lethal to humans.
Alarmingly in 2003, SARS became the first serious, easily transmitted disease to emerge in the twenty-first century, in Hong Kong. And in 2009, an unusually mild H1N1 influenza virus infected as many as a hundred million Americans and nearly a billion people throughout the world. If H1N1 had been more virulent, it would have killed millions of people. MERS, or Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, is similar in many ways to SARS, and appears to have jumped from camels to humans. It can be deadly, though, and there is no cure.
Despite the massive infection of birds and pigs in the US, most Americans are complacent since no human lives were lost. But even when a panzootic mutates and starts to affect humans, the danger is still not realized and acted upon. Over 131 H5N1 outbreaks were reported worldwide from 2006-2008 in five countries - China, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam. And since 2003, there were 630 confirmed human cases, which resulted in the deaths of 375 people.
In 2014 alone, there were dozens of panzootics across the world. Concerns over avian influenza in South Korea led to 14 million birds being culled in 2014, and 324,000 in China, another 46,000 in North Korea, 112,000 in Japan, 64,000 in Vietnam, 40,000 in Holland, 38,000 in Germany, 20,000 in Hong Kong, and thousands more in Nepal. In northeast China, after 18,000 geese died from H5N6 bird flu, and 69,000 were culled.
In Beijing in 2014, 20,000 ducks died suddenly due to avian influenza, while 10,000 chickens died in Malaysia. And in Sweden, 24,000 chickens were culled due to outbreak of paramyxovirus type 1 disease. Also, in 2014, thousands of chickens died in Indonesia from Boyolali coli disease.
Importantly, "superbugs" are showing up in hamburger meat, and a recent study found bacteria on all of the beef samples they tested. Nearly 20% of the beef samples contained illness-causing C. perfringens, and 10% contained a strain of toxin-producing S. aureus bacteria that cannot be destroyed with proper cooking.
Demand for animal products is projected to increase by 50% from 2013 to 2025. This will dramatically increase incidences of disease and risk to human and animal health. Adopting a plant-based diet could significantly reduce the risks of panzootics and pandemics, and lower greenhouse gases significantly.
From Meat Climate Change.
April 22, 2017
Daniel Moorehead, Frostburg State University
Nonhuman animals (hereafter) animals are amazing creatures. Every day it is likely one can read, see, or learn about some remarkable accomplishment an animal has engaged in. However, we must not just recognize them for what acts of bravery they may have performed, their remarkable ability to search and rescue human beings, work as service animals, care for and grieve for their own kind in the wild, we must recognize them as amazing creatures simply because who they are.
Animals have demonstrated time and time again they possess far superior skills than those of humans, but it is unlikely that our society will fully recognize these facts. For example, humans have about 5 million scent glands whereas dogs have 125 million to 300 million (depending on breed), meaning their sense of smell is 1,000 to 10,000,000 times better than humans. Puppies are born deaf and usually cannot hear until they are about 21 days old. By the time their sense of hearing has developed, they can already hear 4 times the distance of a human with normal hearing. Dogs can hear higher pitched sounds and can detect a frequency range that far exceed those compared to a human. It is also known the cats can see much better at night than humans can.
Wild animals are amazing in their own right. They do what comes naturally to them. They hunt for food as a means for survival, not for pleasure. Humans invade their space by wanting to live in “nature” or among the “wild animals” and when an animal acts on instinct to protect their “own” or in search of food we blame the animal and rid “problem animals” from society by having them destroyed. Humans also have a fascination with attempting to domesticate wild animals and take them on as so called “pets,” never a good idea. Humans often seek out wild or exotic animals to become “pets,” not fully understanding the negative consequences that could transpire. Wild animals want and deserve to live in their natural habitat, humans should respect their space. It’s vital as a society to realize that we share the planet with other animals and we must learn to co-exist.
It is my belief all animals were created by God. Animals and Humans were originally created to co-exist, but man chose to disobey God and the animals continue to suffer simply because their association with humans. It is my belief that in the afterlife the “lion will lay down with the lamb,” death will be no more, all animals will co-exist as originally designed.
I cannot imagine life without animals, many hold a similar view, and therefore they need our protection. It’s time we take animal interests and needs more seriously. I often ask my students if they have ever “stood up” for something meaningful to them at the risk of ridicule or embarrassment. Surprisingly, many say they have not. Perhaps it’s time as a society generally, and educators specifically, bring animal issues to the forefront. Rescue, not consuming animals as food, and habitat loss may be a good place to begin?
The maltreatment, abuse, and neglect of innocent animals must cease. If we humans are the superior species as many would argue, why is so difficult to find alternatives for our food sources, discover new technologies to advance science without experimenting on animals, create new ways of recycling materials instead of continuing deforestation, continue to contaminate our waterways and drill for oil in protected areas where wildlife thrive?
The problem is, many people do not take animal interests or issues seriously. Much of society give no thought as to where their food (meat) comes from, how the animals suffer, and how the meat is processed. My students in “Animals in Human Society” course often say they had no idea what really goes on with the animals when it comes to food production prior to taking the course. They also comment on how “awful” other animals are treated in the name of science. One goal of my course is to present the facts, and at the conclusion, it’s really up to the students if they take what they learned and make any changes to better the lives of animals, the environment, and perhaps themselves by becoming better consumers, vegetarians, or Vegan. It’s been suggested by well-respected physicians that a plant based diet is a much heathier than an animal based. I personally feel better eating a plant based diet and sleep better knowing that no animal suffered and died to feed my appetite.
As a “civilized” society we must recognize that animals are amazing creatures that share our planet and take into consideration their needs. There needs include to be loved, live free (wild animals need to be left in the wild), not forced to satisfy the “needs” or desires of humans, not to be experimented on, not live in factory farms and fed liquid diets, and realize they deserve our respect to be the creatures they are. We must recognize the variety of situations in which animals enhance and promote human health and well-being, something humans often take for granted.
As Marc Bekoff writes in “The Animal Manifesto” (2010) “if animals can think and feel” and we know they do, what would animals “think and feel about the ways humans treat them?” (p. 8). Bekoff (2010) writes that all animals share the Earth and we must coexist; animals think and feel; animals have and deserve compassion; connection breeds caring, alienation breeds disrespect; our world is not compassionate to animals; and acting compassionately helps all beings and our world (pp.8-9).
These ideas are not unreasonable, in fact, Bekoff suggests it’s “common sense,” I would agree.
Moorehead's Animals in Human Society: Amazing Creatures Who Share Our Planet (2016) is available through Rowman & Littlefield.
Fat Vegan Politics: Why Health-shaming, Body-policing, and Fat Stigma Hurts Humans and Other Animals
November 13, 2016
Corey Lee Wrenn, University of Kent
This month I published a qualitative study on fat vegan experiences in the journal of Fat Studies. Sixty-one respondents kindly gave their time to fill out a questionnaire asking a range of questions about their experiences as vegan activists. The results were surprising.
Veganism is a food-focused movement that consistently banks on fat-shaming rhetoric and ideologies of thin privilege to persuade its audience to go vegan. In a sea of fat antagonistic claimsmaking, where does this leave fat vegans? After all, veganism is not a diet and many people do not lose weight after going vegan (some may even gain). Sizeist claimsmaking not only alienates fat audiences, but could also alienate fat activists. What I found was that size discrimination was common, with one in four self-identified fat vegans having experienced it. What I also found, however, was that most were not deterred from participating. They resisted or sought out inclusive communities.
While their resistance is admirable, it should not detract from the inappropriateness of sizeism in a social justice movement. The Nonhuman Animal rights movement has a long history of banking on human inequalities to shock, shame, or scare its audience into compliance. It is inconsistent with movement goals and is not sustainable. Rather than burn bridges and flame bigotry, the movement might instead appeal to intersections of oppression and shared identities. Like Nonhuman Animals, the fat community has been vilified, marginalized, an exploited, their bodies otherized and butchered (with diets and surgeries). Empathy will encourage behavior change, but scientific studies reliably demonstrate that stigma will not.
Readers can learn more about the problems of aggravating human inequality to advance anti-speciesism in my 2016 publication, A Rational Approach to Animal Rights. You can read more essays like this on my website.
December 13, 2014
Matthew Cole, Open University
This new book critically examines the socialization of the human domination of other animals, with a focus on the socialization sites of the family, mass media, formal education system and digital media. While the book focuses on the contemporary UK, it also attends to the historical formation of children’s relations with other animals in Britain, and to the inflection of UK popular culture by global giants in the construction of animal iconography, such as Disney and Nintendo.
A central argument of the book is that children’s ethical capacities are systematically distorted by the capitalist imperative to commodify nonhuman animals (as food, experimental tools, objects of entertainment and so on) and that an elective affinity therefore exists between the practices of commodification and the cultural products that distract children’s attention from those practices, at the same time as subtly legitimating them. The instrumentalizing imperative penetrates every aspect of the socialization process, disguised by the ‘cute’ anthropomorphic iconography of children’s culture, which can be found in food packaging, clothing, movies, magazines, teaching materials and online games that feature nonhumans as ‘pets’ or ‘farmed’ animals. This iconography paints a veneer of affectivity over human-nonhuman animal relations that allow the socialization of domination to proceed smoothly, focusing children’s affective concern for animals on fictional characters or relatively protected nonhumans, such as animal companions or members of iconic free-living species. Children’s unwitting complicity with the exploitation and violence that characterizes human uses of other animals is thereby facilitated.
The book also considers how these kinds of anthroparchal inter-species relations intersect with intra-human inequalities, especially of gender and age: ethical concern for other animals is initially encouraged in the socialization process, but is thereafter associated both with human infancy itself as an immature stage of human relationships with other animals, but also with femininity through the construction of a ‘fluffy nexus of sentimentality’ that articulates affective relations with ‘cute’ animals with girlhood. In this linking of infancy, femininity and affectivity for other animals, we argue that the seeds are sown of an anthroparchal, patriarchal and ageist adult culture’s disparagement of the animal rights and vegan movement as infantile, irrational and trivial. The book ends with a consideration of how the vegan movement is responding to the challenge of anthroparchal socialization, through the analysis of the emerging genre of vegan children’s literature. This new cultural development offers some hope that the socialization of the normality of domination can be challenged and that children’s capacities to forge ethical relations with nonhuman animals can flourish in a post-anthroparchal environment.
We hope that the book will interest critical animal studies and human-animal studies scholars across a range of disciplines, but especially within sociology. We are active members of the BSA (British Sociological Association) Animal/Human Studies Group (AHSG), regularly presenting our work at the BSA annual conference. We are pleased to report that attendance at ASHG panels and ad hoc sessions about animals are becoming better attended year on year, and we look forward to building on that momentum in 2015, when we’ll once again be panellists at the BSA conference, discussing some of the ideas from the book. One of our ambitions for the book is that it will foster connections with sociologists working in different areas of the discipline, especially childhood studies, the sociology of the family, education, popular culture as well as social theorists.
ASA members who are interested in the book can download the introduction chapter from the publisher’s website, free of charge. A podcast of us discussing the book, with fellow sociologist Dr Roger Yates, is available by clicking here. A review by Corey Wrenn is available by clicking here.
We would be delighted to hear from any ASA members who are interested in our work and we can be contacted at: Dr Matthew Cole, The Open University, UK: firstname.lastname@example.org Dr Kate Stewart, University of Nottingham, UK: email@example.com