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Activist Delivers Message to Korean President About Dog Meat Trade

November 9, 2017 by 1 comment


The News

Susan Song meant it when she told her fellow advocates, “We’re going to deliver our message to President Moon Jae-in face-to-face.”

After working full time on the anti-dog meat campaign for 14 months, Ms. Song, a New York-based animal rights activist, got her chance. President Moon Jae-in was scheduled to be in New York City for a week in September 2017 for the United Nations General Assembly, and she was determined to find him and make a plea to save the dogs and cats of South Korea.  

Photo of South Korean Dog Farm taken from footage provided by James Hyams

She researched his schedule of public appearances so that she and her colleagues could position themselves in a spot where they would have the best chance to encounter him. She also bought a traditional Korean dress (hanbok) so that she would stand out in a crowd. 

While stuck in NYC traffic, S. Korean President Moon Jae-in looks at Susan Song and other anti-dog meat protesters

On President Moon’s very first day in town, Ms. Song got her chance. While standing in front of a hotel where President Moon was scheduled to speak, she saw a motorcade approaching and thought “This is it.”  Seconds later, she saw the President in the third car. Gridlock traffic prevented the motorcade from moving ahead, so Ms. Song and her fellow activists had his undivided attention for almost two minutes.

“He saw my traditional Korean dress and smiled broadly, but the smile turned to sadness and empathy when we showed him our posters about the horrific Korean dog meat trade,” said Ms. Song. “I know his response was genuine not only because I saw the look in his eyes but also because he has two rescue dogs and a cat. He understands and cares about  the plight of these poor animals, which is why I have no doubt that he will shut down the dog meat trade.”

Anti-dog meat activist Susan Song dressed in a traditional South Korean costume to capture the attention of the President of South Korea

In November, Ms. Song and her husband traveled to South Korea to meet with local activists, participate in protests, and discover what else she could do from the U.S. to assist in the effort to save the dogs and cats of South Korea.

Susan Song protests the dog meat trade in Seoul, South Korea

Your Turn

To find out how you can help, please visit KoreanDogs.org


NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Misleads Public About Legality of Kaporos Chicken Massacre

October 27, 2017 by 2 comments


The News

In response to accusations from protesters that she has failed to enforce the seven public health codes that are violated during an annual Yom Kippur ritual sacrifice (Kaporos), NYC’s Dept of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Mary Bassett, told an audience at Columbia University that “this has been litigated in the courts” and that “there is a court decision that stands that governs our position on this matter.” The protesters say that she misled the audience regarding the court’s decisions.

The case is not focused on whether or not health codes are being violated, as Commissioner Bassett suggested.  In fact, in the lower court proceedings, city attorneys have not disputed the plaintiffs’ claims that laws are violated.  

According to Nora Constance Marino, the attorney representing the plaintiffs who are suing the city, the case centers on whether or not courts can mandate that the police enforce the laws that are, in fact, violated during Kaporos. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the police are not only ignoring the violations, but they are also “aiding and abetting” in the crimes by providing the ritual practitioners with flood lights, barricades, security and the orange cones in which the chickens are bled out. 

In violation of the law, body parts and blood contaminate the streets for several days during the Kaporos chicken massacre.

According to court documents, police are “aiding and abetting” in the violations instead of shutting them down.

In her remarks to the audience, Commissioner Bassett stated, “We have no disease signals associated with this practice.” Upon reviewing the video footage of Commissioner Bassett’s statement, Marino noted the potential risk to humans, saying “An affidavit from a toxicologist that was submitted to the court shows a multitude of public health risks, including e-coli and salmonella.”

Body parts contaminate the streets of several neighborhoods in Brooklyn in the days during and after Kaporos.

“As the Commissioner of the DOH, Dr. Bassett knows that erecting pop-up slaughterhouses on public streets and contaminating residential neighborhoods with the blood and body parts of thousands of animals violate public health codes and put area residents at risk,” said Cynthia King, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against the city. “I wonder if she would be more inclined to enforce the law if dead animals contaminated the streets in her neighborhood.”

During the Kaporos ritual, practitioners say a prayer to transfer their sins to a chicken.

Commissioner Basset made the misleading public statements about Kaporos as protesters, angry that she has ignored community’s pleas to enforce the law, disrupted a presentation she was making at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Protester behind NYC’s DOH Commissioner Mary Bassett displays poster with one of the seven public health codes violated by the Kaporos chicken swinging and slaughter ritual.

Kaporos is a annual ritual in which ultra-Orthodox Jews swing chickens around their heads on public streets while saying a prayer to transfer their sins to the animals. After the ritual, they give the chickens to a man on the street who slices their throats in an open air tent erected in several neighborhoods in NYC. The ritual is performed prior to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. In Brooklyn, which is home to hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews, an estimated 60,000 chickens are swung and massacred each year.

NY State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, will hear the case about Kaporos within the next two months.

In 2015, The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos as well as 19 NYC residents sued the NYC Department of Health and NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. The case is pending in New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Seven NYC public health codes are violated each year during Kaporos.


Protesters at Malaysia Consulate in NYC Demand Freedom for Lasah the Elephant

October 16, 2017 by 3 comments


The News

Animal rights activists staged a protest the Consulate of Malaysia in NYC to demand that the government liberate Lasah, a 37 year old elephant being held captive on Langkawi, an island off the coast of Malaysia that is popular with tourists.

Poachers kidnapped Lasah from the jungle in Malaysia approximately 35 years ago, taking him away from his mother and his herd. In the decades since, Lasah has been exploited by the logging and entertainment industries.  Today, he gives elephant rides at Langkawi Elephant Adventures. He has no elephant companions; he has no access to water for bathing; and he has been photographed after hours being chained by his legs.

Lasah at Langkawi Elephant Adventures

For the past year, the NGO Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia has been campaigning to compel the Malaysian government to relocate Lasah to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, where he could spend his remaining years unshackled and in the company of other elephants.  Upon learning of Lasah’s plight, animal rights organizations around the world have stepped in to lend their voice.  Protests have been also been staged at the Consulate of Malaysia in London, in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia’s capital) and in Los Angeles, California.

Activists around the world demand that Malaysia liberate Lasah from his captors, Langkawi Elephant Adventures, and move him to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary.

“Lasah represents so many animals trapped in the tourist industry. If he’s released, that can pave the way for the others,” said Hannah Morris, a British photographer who has been ignored by the Malaysian government since she began campaigning to free Lasah since 2012.  In May, 2017, Ms. Morris spent the night in a tidal sea cave and documented her experience in a video called TRAPPED to raise awareness of the plight of Lasah.

On October 11th, the legendary French actress Brigette Bardot sent a letter to Malaysia’s Environment Minister asking that he relocate Lasah to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. After being targeted with a Twitter campaign, Hotels.com/Expedia removed the pages on its website promoting elephant rides with Lasah.

In order to give elephant rides, Lasah was “broken” by being beaten into submission by his captors (photo: Hannah Morris)

At the protest in New York City, activists confronted visitors entering and exiting the Malaysian Consulate, informing them about Lasah and asking them to join caring people around the world in boycotting Malaysia until the government gives its 37 year old prisoner a reprieve.

Activist protest on the steps of the Consulate of Malaysia until NYPD Counter Terrorism officials removed them

Your Turn

Follow the campaign to free Lasah on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Sign the Care2 petition asking the Prime Minister of Malaysia to move Lasah to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary.

Post a comment under any of the posts on the Tourism Malaysia Facebook page, which has over three million followers.  Use the photo below.


60,000 Chickens are Swung and Slaughtered on Public Streets During Ritual Sacrifice

October 10, 2017 by 6 comments


The News

Before Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement), a subset of Orthodox Jews in New York City slaughtered an estimated 60,000 baby chickens as part of an annual ritual sacrifice called Kaporos. During the ritual, participants typically pin the chickens’ wings behind their backs and swing them around their heads three times while reciting a prayer to transfer their sins to the chickens, who they then deliver to makeshift slaughterhouses where butchers slice their throats.

In spite of the video footage of showing the Department of Sanitation hauling the dead chickens away after the ritual,  ritual participants claim that the animals are donated to the poor.  This year, activists for the first time discovered garbage bags filled with hundreds of chickens who weren’t used in the ritual sacrifice because they died of heat exhaustion, hunger and thirst in the crates in which they are intensively confined for several days leading up to the ritual.

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish children pour into the streets to participate in the ritual and challenge the activists who are protesting.

Activists estimate that they saved several hundred chickens from the massacre. The survivors have been sent to sanctuaries around the country where they are receiving specialized care to rehabilitate them after the trauma of having been intensively confined in crates for several days with no food or water.

In Brooklyn, butchers slice the throats of approximately 60,000 chickens and bleed them out in upside down cones on public sidewalks.

In 2015, The Alliance to Ban Chickens as Kaporos sued the NYC Department of Health and NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. The case is pending in New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos sued NYC in 2015. The case has made its way to the highest court in NY, The Court of Appeals.

Your Turn

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos is raising money to pay for the long-term care of the rescued chickens and for the groundbreaking lawsuit against NYC for failing to enforce the laws that are broken by Kaporos practitioners. If you have the means, please contribute to the INDIEGOGO campaign, Justice for the Roses.

After Kaporos, activists found dozens of discarded chickens in the streets who were still alive. These and the other rescues will live out their lives on sanctuaries.


Orthodox Jewish Girl Secretly Gives Activist a Slaughter-bound Chicken

September 26, 2017 by 2 comments


The News

Each year in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, Rocky Schwartz, like dozens of other animal rights activists, attempts to dissuade ultra-Orthodox Jews from participating in chicken sacrifice called Kaporos. In 2016, she had a lucky break. This is the story of a young Hassidic girl named Rose who defied her community; an animal rights activist who convinced her to show compassion; and a chicken who got a second chance.

Kaporos is a annual ritual in which ultra-Orthodox Jews swing chickens around their heads while saying a prayer to transfer their sins to the animals After the ritual, they give the chickens to a butcher who slices their throats. The ritual is performed prior to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.  

Many Kaporos practitioners transfer their sins to coins instead of live chickens.

In Brooklyn, where an estimated 60,000 chickens are swung and massacred each year, animal rights activists take to the streets to protest, disrupt, rescue, educate the public and plea for mercy.

Over the course of the week leading up to Yom Kippur, hundreds of animal rights activists protest Kaporos where the ritual is taking place. (photo: United Poultry Concerns)

Each year, activists rescue hundreds of chickens from the Kaporos and bring them to sanctuaries that give them a forever home. Rose is living in Brooklyn with Ms. Schwartz, her human companion Jay, three dogs and two other rescue chickens.

A one-year old Rose, who was rescued from slaughter after the Yom Kippur Kaporos ritual, enjoys an afternoon in the garden.

In 2015, The Alliance to Ban Chickens as Kaporos sued the NYC Department of Health and NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. The case is pending in New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Your Turn

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, the organization that is leading the effort to stop the ritual slaughter, is raising money to pay for the long-term care of the chickens who are rescued and for a groundbreaking lawsuit against NYC for failing to enforce the laws that are broken by Kaporos practitioners. If you have the means, please contribute to the INDIEGOGO campaign, Justice for the Roses.