Category Archives: animal cruelty

We All Saw This One Coming

Jamie Coots, the snake-handling Pentecostal preacher I wrote about last October, was bitten by a snake yesterday and has died.

What a charlatan and a scam artist. He abused, starved and dehydrated his reptiles to make them more docile, then pretended it was GOD doing a miracle. And along comes NatGeo to sell ads off the spectacle? Sick.


Filed under animal cruelty, media, religion, religious fundamentalism

This Sounds About Right

Yesterday I caught most of this story on NPR . It appears the reason snake-handling Pentecostal preachers are rarely bitten is not because of the holy spirit but because they systematically abuse and neglect their animals:

“The animals that I’ve seen that have come from religious snake handlers were in bad condition,” says Kristen Wiley, curator of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, a facility in the town of Slade that produces venom and promotes the conservation of snakes. “They did not have water. The cages had been left not cleaned for a pretty long period of time. And the other thing we noticed is there were eight or 10 copperheads in a container that was not very large.”

What’s more, she says there was no fecal material in the container, which indicated the snakes were not being fed. Riley says a snake that may be dehydrated, underweight and sick from close confinement is less likely to strike than a healthy snake. Moreover, the venom it produces is weaker.

She says snake-handling preachers who don’t take care of their snakes are “setting themselves up for a safer encounter during their services when they use a snake that is in bad condition to begin with.”

And then there was this:

In a follow-up call, I asked him how long his snakes usually live.

“Average is probably three to four months,” Coots says.

The Kentucky Reptile Zoo reports that well-cared-for snakes live 10 to 20 years or longer in captivity.

I always thought snake-handling preachers were just egomaniacs trying to call attention to themselves. The snakes — and God — are just props. The fact that they abuse their animals to tilt the odds in their favor doesn’t surprise me a bet.


Filed under animal cruelty, religion, religious fundamentalism

If You’re A Horse Stay Out Of Tennessee

Tennessee is not a horse-friendly state. We’re just not. First we have some bizarre Republican jones to bring commercial horse slaughter to the state, I guess a sop to the local horse farms currently forced to send their horses to Mexico to be turned into steaks for hungry Belgians. Alrighty then.

Not sure how many people are aware that those picturesque horse farms outside Nashville are actually raising horses for food in countries where horsemeat is still on the menu. Ewww.

And then today the Humane Society released video showing a top Tennessee Walking Horse trainer engaged in the brutal form of abuse known as “soring,” prompting Pepsi to withdraw its sponsorship from the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

This on the heels of a bizarre story from last weekend where Arcadia, the winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, literally collapsed and died in the winner’s circle. Yes, this happened right here on Saturday.

Here he is as veterinarians and trainers tried to cool him down with ice packs:

He died not long after this photo was taken. And I’m sorry to show this to you but someone had to. I did not see this picture in the Nashville papers. I had to find it at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I wonder if The Tennessean didn’t want to run the risk of offending the bigwings who serve on the event committee?

And I don’t know why I’m fascinated with this story but I am. It’s just so full of irony. I guess it’s like that road-kill thing where you try to look away but you can’t. I just can’t stop thinking about Arcadia and all the fancy people who showed up for their big high society event, all dressed up in their designer clothes and the ladies in their big hats and the fancy box lunches prepared by celebrity chefs. This, after all, is Nashville’s Kentucky Derby. And it was a gorgeous day, it really was.

So you have all of those people feeling so good about their fancy selves and their fancy lives, and the star of the show fucking ruined it by dying.

It’s hard to feel good about the world when that happens. This isn’t schadenfreude I feel, not at all. It’s more like: man, what a great literary device! I swear, if I were writing a modern-day version of The Great Gatsby and needed a metaphor for the decline of high society, I think that scene would be it.

Incidentally, the Steeplechase website offers a heartwarming (cough*cough) tribute to this year’s fallen champion with a touching explanation that his loss was completely unavoidable, could have happened at any time, and totally wasn’t their fault. Don’t hate them, corporate sponsors!

And now the Walking Horse National Celebration, the other mega-event for our horsey set, faces yet more animal cruelty scandal. I tell ya, the irony here is overwhelming.

I don’t know what it means but Tennessee Republicans might want to lay off the horse slaughter thing for a while. Ya think?


Filed under animal cruelty, Nashville, Tennessee

Ohio Animal Massacre Rant

I’ve been too upset to even begin to talk about this story, and I’m not sure I can control my emotions even several days after the fact. But here we go.

There is absolutely no way on earth anyone will convince me that THIS was necessary:

There’s so much wrong with this story. Let’s start with the news media, which repeatedly reported that the animals “escaped.” No, they didn’t. They were let loose from their enclosures by a mentally disturbed person who’d just gotten out of federal prison on — of course — illegal firearms charges. Most of them never even left the Zanesville Ohio property where they’d lived (and apparently been abused) for years.

And let’s get our terminology straight. This was not a zoo. It was an animal farm. Yeah, there’s a difference.

Let’s also stop pretending that these animals were a threat to anyone:

Most of the big cats and bears were declawed and had been bottle-fed by Thompson and his wife since the animals were babies, said Judy Hatfield, a family friend who visited the farm many times and said it wasn’t unusual to have a monkey jump on your lap.

I’m trying to understand how these animals could be a threat when most of them hadn’t even left the property:

At least 49 had been killed by Wednesday afternoon, most of them within 500 yards of their pens, including 17 lions and at least one animal described as a big cat that was hit by a car as it tried to cross a street. It was later euthanized by the authorities.

So let’s get this straight: we have a bunch of declawed animals wandering outside their pens who have lived in captivity all of their lives. And Jack Hanna says the slaughter was absolutely necessary? Really? You know what, Jack Hanna? STFU you senile old crank. You were really cute with that baby wombat on the Carson show 30 years ago but let’s just leave it there.

Here’s a little-known fact: back in the ’70s Hanna had a petting zoo in Knoxville, TN, where a 3-year-old boy got mauled by a lion. That’s a tragedy, and it’s understandable that Hanna errs on the side of caution as a result. In his official capacity as a media personality (he is not a zoologist, he holds no PhD or advanced degrees), Hanna also spent a lifetime trying to undo the damage done by Walt Disney, whom we have to thank for all sorts of stupid human/wild animal interactions every year. Hanna is right, wild animals are not cute, they’re not pets or toys or funny photo ops. They’re dangerous. I get that.

But you will never convince me that most of those animals in Ohio needed to be destroyed. Declawed tigers wandering outside their pens? Nope. Not buying it.

You know what I think we have here? A bunch of trigger-happy redneck yahoos thrilled at the chance to go big game hunting without having to leave Muskingum County. Yeehaw.

Here’s a news story that really pisses me off:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s governor promised Friday to step up enforcement of the state’s existing animal laws and pursue new ones to limit private ownership of dangerous animals.

Oh, NOW you’re going all in with the enforcement thing. Thanks a lot, asshole. A little too late for 1% of the world’s Bengal tiger population, though.

I hope Ohio does toughen its exotic animal laws — and so should Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. Apparently there are only five states in the U.S. which don’t regulate the private ownership of exotic animals. We’re all having this teachable moment here and maybe some laws will be toughened and other ones will be enforced. This is how most regulatory laws are born, after all — out of tragedy.

But you know what? Bet you anything in 10-15 years some Teanut asshole will come out complaining about “government overreach” and “the long arm of fascism” because he or she can’t keep a pet tiger. Just you wait.


Filed under animal cruelty, rants

>Desperate People Doing Desperate Things

>Attaturk has this post up about these innocent victims of the subprime crisis:

CHICAGO (AFP) – Forget about the lost furnishings and finances, the most pitiful victims of the subprime mortgage crisis rocking the United States are the family pets.

Shelters across the country have seen sharp upticks in the number of people giving up their pets in recent months because they have been forced out of their homes.

And — more tragically — neighbors, police and foreclosure agents are finding increasing numbers of pets left to fend for themselves in abandoned homes.

“We’re finding too many animals who have starved to death,” said Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the Human Society of the United States.

While some people dump their pets on the street, others go so far as to lock the animal in a closet where their cries for help are harder to hear, she said.

It can take weeks for an animal to starve to death and desperate scratch and bite marks are usually found on doors and windows.

“They will eat anything — furniture, or carpet or wallboard — to try to ingest something,” Shain said in a telephone interview.

There’s nothing like an animal cruelty charge to go along with your foreclosure.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who locks their pet in a closet to muffle its cries before leaving the house for good. I can’t get there, except I know that desperate people do desperate things, and this is definitely an act of desperation. And I don’t think a check for $600 $800 can make a dent in this level of desperation.

Check out these anecdotal “statistics” from just one animal shelter in Chicago:

About 15-20 foreclosed families are now coming into the shelter every week with their pets, and police bring in two or three pets a week found abandoned in foreclosed homes.

That’s one shelter in one city. Now wrap your head around those numbers multiplied across every shelter in every city in America.

Compounding the problem is the sorry state of most animal shelters in this country, which are ill-equipped to handle the upsurge in abandoned and rescued pets that a crisis like this causes. (Tennessee should be ashamed of itself for the pathetic state of most of its county shelters, a few of which have made the news lately).

People can argue about whether this country is technically in a recession or not. But according to RealtyTrac , “one out of every 63 households nationwide” is in foreclosure. Anyone who doesn’t think this country is already in an economic mess is delusional.

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Filed under animal cruelty, mortgage crisis