Pandemic Pets

My blogging friend David Miller from https://millerswindmill.wordpress.com/ sent me this article from America. He thought that I might be interested in it, and I was.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/inflation-hitting-americas-90-million-pet-owners-hard-need-help

That got me thinking about the recent issue of ‘Pandemic Pets’ here in Britain. From the Spring of 2020 until the end of 2021, pet ownership exploded in the UK. People forced to stay at home because of lockdowns, or working from home permanently due to changes in working practices decided that what they needed in their lives was a pet.

But they didn’t think it through.

Pets need a lot of attention.
Dogs need regular exercise.
All pets need food, beds, leads, collars, toys, and some need cages and straw.
They also need to have innoculations, worming, regular health checks, and in some cases, medication or surgery.

The bills start to mount up, and even if you have Pet Insurance, that doesn’t cover everything. The weather puts people off of walking dogs. They make a mess in the house before they are trained, leave fur all over the place, chew things up, and generally impart their odours into the once clean and fragrant house.

Even a non-pedigree animal has to have a lot of money spent on it on a monthly basis. Some need grooming regularly too.

Meanwhile, the once-excited new pet owners are busy on Zoom calls, or have been summoned back to their former office or workplace once the Pandemic restrictions ceased to operate. That cuddly pup, cute cat, or fluffy rabbit has become a money pit that has to be left to its own devices for eight to ten hours a day, and those new owners begin to resent their new pet, wondering why the hell they thought it was a good idea to get one.

Then comes the war in Ukraine, the global financial crisis, increased fuel bills, rampant inflation, and huge hikes in the price of petrol and diesel. Mortgage rates are set to increase, and money is tight even for those with well-paid jobs.

What happens next is that animal shelters and rescue centres are inundated with unwanted dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals. The Pandemic Pet owners are even resorting to giving away their supposedly beloved pets via Facebook, or selling them cheap to anyone with the cash who will collect them. Some owners are crowdfunding to cover the cost of operations on their pets, or in the worse case scenario having perfectly healthy animals put to sleep because they can’t be bothered with them any longer.

I know this doesn’t apply to everyone who bought a pet during this period, but you only have to look at animal shelter websites to realise there is a huge issue to deal with.

Let’s hope if we have another pandemic, people who didn’t want a pet before don’t go rushing into thinking having one will change their lives.

Because ultimately, it is the poor animals who will suffer.

How Animals Perceive The World: Sound And Sight

If you have a pet, you may want to watch this short film. It examines how various animals, insects, and birds (including cats and dogs) hear and see the world that surrounds them, in a very different way to human perception. There is some science to listen to, but even I could understand it.

My friend Antony sent me the You Tube clip, and I think many of you will find it fascinating.

An Alphabet Of Things I Don’t Like: H

Hunting.

I will start by saying that unless you are poverty-stricken, starving to death, or live so far from a shop you cannot buy food, there is no justification for hunting whatsoever, in my opinion. It is 2020, not 1820.

And hunting things that you are not going to eat, just because you want to kill them? That’s even worse.

I eat meat, and have to reconcile myself to the production process. Farms, slaughterhouses, butchery, and everything associated with that. But hunting anything just for the thrill of killing it, that is unacceptable. Furthermore, it is deeply worrying. People who want to kill things for the sake of it have no place in a civilised society, as far as I am concerned.

Sadly, many countries like to cash in on the desire of humans to kill things, and have a profitable and flourishing trade in providing ‘holidays’ where people can go and kill animals. Some of those countries have serious economic problems, so I can try to understand why they might welcome the influx of foreign currency.

But Scotland?

Yes, this country offers ‘Stalking’ holidays, where you can track and kill a wonderful defenceless stag, using your high powered rifle at a suitable distance. Of course, there is little or no skill involved, as an experienced employee of the company will lead you to where he already knows the stag is, and then tell you where to hide and how to shoot it. But you at least get to pose with the unfortunate animal, so you can show everyone back home the results of your ‘hunting trip’. I have read justifications of this, where they assert that the deer are numerous, and that shooting them is ‘quick’, even ‘merciful’.

Sorry, that’s just so much bollocks. If you kill it, you should at least eat it. Or buy some farmed venison at the local supermarket instead.

Look at this disgusting excuse for a human being.

She is an American woman who has paid a small fortune to travel to Africa to kill animals.

You are not seeing things. That is a dead giraffe she is proudly grinning in front of. Think about that.

A giraffe.

A docile, vegetarian animal that doesn’t harm a thing, and is a danger to nobody. It had likely stood there oblivious and harmless, as she killed it for no reason whatsoever.

Except that she could.

Looking at that photo makes me angrier than I can say. I cannot even write on here what terrible fate I would have in store for that woman, given the opportunity.

And if that doesn’t tell you enough about the sort of despicable people who do this kind of thing, have a look at this grinning idiot.

Do you know who he is? I will give you a clue.
His father is Donald J. Trump.

An Alphabet Of things I Like: Z

This is the last in my current alphabet series. You may have noticed that ‘Q’ did not feature. That was deliberate, as I could not find anything I really like beginning with that letter.

Zoos.

As soon as I was old enough to make my own decisions, I realised I actually hated Zoos. I felt so sad to see large animals pacing in small cages, and the sight of chimpanzees being made to entertain crowds by having tea parties really offended me. Marine animals kept in shallow, dirty ponds, distressed bears shaking their heads from side to side. It was heartbreaking.

For a long time, I actively campaigned against all zoos. I signed petitions about the treatment of animals, and joined organisations that demanded they stop bringing animals captured in the wild to be displayed. Many were not only housed in unsuitable conditions, but forced to share compounds with other animals they would not usually encounter in the wild. The aquariums and insect houses were often dirty and cramped, little more than relics of the Victorian Era.

You only had to spend a few hours in any zoo in the world to see animals displaying all kinds of mental health problems; from severe depression, to outright rage at being imprisoned. The backlash against zoos was increasing in many western countries. Visitor numbers were declining, and the traditional zoo trip was slowly being replaced by the desire to visit the new exciting funfairs and theme parks.

There was also a growing trend for ‘wildlife parks’, where animals were free to roam around large estates while visitors stayed in their cars as they drove through. Most people no longer wanted to gawp at poor creatures staring back from behind iron bars.

By the 1980s, things were changing. Zoos were becoming involved in conservation of species that were disappearing fast in the wild. In some cases, the only remaining animals of some species were to be found in zoos, as they no longer existed in the wild. Then the zoos began to return animals to their natural habitat, attempting to increase the numbers in the countries where they had diminshed. One famous example of this was the Giant Panda breeding programme, started in Beijing Zoo.

London Zoo underwent a complete overhaul, providing better conditions for the animals, and focusing on scientific study and breeding programmes. In America, San Diego Zoo earned a reputation for excellence, with its care for the animals kept there.

In 2000, I went to live in Camden, within sight of London Zoo. I joined as an annual member, making quite a few trips into the zoo to see the changes. I had to admit, I was now thinking differently about zoos.

Then in 2002, during a trip to Singapore, I was happy to visit the Singapore Zoo. I don’t think I have ever seen a better zoo, or one where animals were kept in conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible. Though even there, they still had elephant rides, and photo opportunites with placid Orang-Utans.

So I have decided that I like zoos now.

But only ‘good’ ones.

An Alphabet Of Things I Like: E

Elephants.

Who could dislike elephants?

I was lucky enough to go on a holiday to Kenya and Tanzania many years ago, and see these magnificent endangered animals in large numbers outside the sad confines of a zoo environment.

It is good to know that they are no longer cruelly exploited in old-fashioned circuses, though some countries still use them for entertaining tourists, like the football-playing elephants in Thailand. I would love to see all such exploitation banned. They are caring, sensitive animals, and for them this is no better than slavery.

They are still killed in large numbers too, mainly for the ivory in their tusks. It would be good if every country in the UN gave enough money to eradicate this terrible poaching, which continues as I type this.

You only have to look at this lovely baby elephant to see the joy in an animal that lives in family groups, cares for each other, and can live up to the age of 70.

Pete the Softy

I come across as very grumpy at times, I know. I moan about the weather, complain about bogus comments and followers, as well as griping about problems around the house.

I am known for writing stories with dark themes or unhappy endings, and my outlook on life is often very pessimistic.

But the truth is, I am a big softy. When I am not writing horror serials, I sit around watching things like this 12-minute film.

A baby pig, and small calf. Rescued from an uncertain fate and taken to a happy life in a countryside sanctuary.

Proof that so many people have good hearts, and animals deserve better than we normally give them.

I can think of a lot worse ways to spend 12 minutes of my life.

Mankind 1. Nature 0.

I was very pleased to hear that one of my oldest friends had reason to visit Norfolk this week. I arranged to meet him yesterday at a seafood restaurant on the north coast, in a small place called West Runton.

After a dismal damp morning in Beetley, the short drive north saw a welcome change in the weather. By the time we were sitting down to eat, it was pleasantly warm, almost too hot. We had a good catch-up of course, as we had not seen each other for close to two years. The food was fresh, and very tasty too. A pleasant way to spend a couple of hours indeed.

On the way home, I took the quiet country route. Driving in pleasant evening sunlight, even though it was past eight pm, I reflected on what a nice place this is to live, when the weather is fine.

Approaching the village of Guist on a narrow road, a deer suddenly ran out from the bushes to my right. Despite hard braking, I could not possibly avoid it, and I hit the animal at a speed of around 50 mph. The poor thing was catapulted along the road before coming to a stop on the left-hand verge. I saw it twitch briefly, and then it moved no more.

It was a difficult place to stop, on a small fast road, close to a bend. I concluded that getting out to check on the deer, which appeared to be a female Roe Deer, was potentially too dangerous, and continued my journey. When the road became wider, I stopped the car by some houses in Guist, and checked for damage. One front panel was out of alignment, though easily popped back with a hard push. Otherwise, the car appeared to be undamaged.

I carried on to Beetley, feeling very sad for the unfortunate deer, who had fallen victim to a technology that was not in its nature to anticipate.

Charity Book Sale: Updated

***Please scroll to the end, for an Amazon update***

Writer and fellow blogger Christoph Fischer is one of a group of authors who have got together to raise funds for the animal charity shown above. They are selling an exciting series of medical thrillers at a bargain price, and donating the proceeds to help animals in need.

‘Do you crave reading books with nail-biting suspense, twisted plots and great characters who get caught up in whirlwinds of crime, deception and lies? Do you love sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering who will survive…and who won’t?

From the mountains of West Virginia, to acute care hospitals, the battlefields of the Middle East and the hallowed halls of our educational system, join us for these incredible stories of healthcare gone wrong.

DO NO HARM is an extraordinary, limited collection of medical thrillers written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors. You can order it now for .99!

If you like Robin Cook, David Baldacci and Patricia Cornwell, this collection is for you! Do No Harm is a binge-readers dream – 14 medical thriller books in one! And you can only get this collection of books from this group of authors here!’
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/do-no-harm-edwin-dasso/1131032041;jsessionid=631B75678AE09F83EB51E5858BC9E41F.prodny_store01-atgap14
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/do-no-harm-21?fbclid=IwAR3bpcueXTsxNAEN4YSPY4K4QITFYT7mUw4hMB6ZudPy4MgpXf5I0MV0iMg
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1457771385?fbclid=IwAR2Ahe-XUCD3XD8dms9BLHduXJx23UQdLJNXRinnpmKkqh9kqfdb7uiwV4o

(It will also be available on Amazon, later in 2019.)

This is a great offer. Please investigate the link, share this post on social media, and buy a copy if you can.
Let’s all help the animals!

Here is a link to Christoph’s own blog post on the offer.
https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/
If you are able to help out by promoting this on your own blog, please let him know in the comments.

***NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON***

I have ordered my copy!

Thinking Aloud on A Sunday.

Fur.

Earlier this week, I saw a feature on a BBC programe. It appears that many items being sold as ‘fake fur’ are nothing of the sort. They are real fur. Unimaginably, it appears that raising animals in awful conditions, then killing them for their fur, is cheaper than producing the fibres needed to simulate it as fake fur. The TV show had distressing images of rabbits and Raccoon Dogs (I had never heard of Raccoon Dogs) being kept in abysmal conditions. Crammed into wire cages, and stacked on top of each other. As well as coming from the Far East, this animal fur is also widely produced in Poland, a member of the EU.

Is it used to provide warmth at least? Perhaps to help people who live in very cold places survive harsh winters. Of course not. It merely provides decoration. Bobbles for beanie hats, facings on sweaters, and adornment on the sides of handbags or on the toes of high-heeled shoes. Those poor animals endure pitiful lives, painful deaths, and all for something that serves no purpose on top of a winter hat, or fashionable bag. That’s appalling.

But when I woke up today, I was thinking of a time when fur was not only desirable, but acceptable in the mainstream. A time when my aunties coveted a fox-fur stole, worn around their neck with the head of the poor creature still attached. Fashion. Fur collars on the overcoats of wealthy gentlemen. Fashion. Chinchilla-fur wraps covering the shoulders of starlets, who never walked outside anyway. And let’s not forget the mink coats, the ultimate symbol of sexuality and wealth; worn by film-stars, and the girlfriends of sugar daddies all around the world. Worn in the heat of a Californian summer, not the desolate wastelands of Siberia. White Arctic Fox, one of nature’s most beautiful animals, Reduced to a bolero jacket discarded at the entrance to a film festival in the south of France.

The poor made do with dyed rabbit skins, even dog fur. But they still had their furs. Fashion.

Then came the backlash, and rightly so. Protesters threw blood or red paint at models and actresses wearing fur. They mounted permanent demonstrations outside shops selling furs in big cities like London. We signed petitions against the fur trade, and the companies began to listen. Over the decades, they changed to fake fur, using man-made materials. These eventually became so convincing, only an expert could tell the difference between the two. Fashion was changing, and reflecting the sympathies of a better-informed public. A public learning respect for the small animals previously bred for an early death, and just for their skins.

Now it is 2018, and you might have hoped that the fur trade was a memory, outside of places in certain countries where there is little or no alternative for warm clothing. But profit rules, and if it’s cheaper to kill a rabbit to provide a bobble for a hat, or slaughter a Raccoon Dog to have some bits of fluff to stick on the front of some high-heeled shoes, than to use commercially-available alternatives. Market forces rule, and the animals are being caged and killed once again, in ever-increasing numbers.

I am not a vegetarian, I hasten to add. And I wear leather shoes, as well as owning leather furniture. But when it comes to breeding animals for adornments to woolen hats, shoes, or handbags, then surely that is a step too far in animal exploitation?

Let me know what you think about the Fur Trade.

And if you feel inclined to do so, please share this post on social media, to spread the word that fake fur is mostly real fur.