Beauty Comes with a Price

According to Statistica, more than 86 BILLION dollars were spent last year in the U.S on cosmetics, fragrances, and personal care products, proving that beauty truly does come with a price. Not only does it come with a price for the consumer; it comes with a price for thousands of innocent animals. You may have assumed that most major cosmetics companies have discontinued animal testing on their products, and that is definitely not true. For instance, Loreal, which doesn’t test on animals in the United States, pays for deadly testing in China, Estee Lauder and Maybelline both do testing on animals, and after years of upholding its policy to never test on animals, Victoria’s Secret has expanded sales to China and is now paying for cruel tests on animals in order to sell its products there.

Toxicity tests to estimate the safety of products and chemicals were developed in the early 20th century, including experiments that subjectively measure the irritation of chemicals in animals’ eyes, some of which are regrettably still in use today. Toxicologists often mention that they feel more comfortable basing their judgments on methods with historical contest and data than on data from new and emerging methods, failing to recognize the advances made in non-animal testing methodologies. The problem with animal tests is that many of the toxicity tests that are currently accepted by regulatory agencies were developed decades ago. Tests on animals are not always predictive of human health effects, and science has greatly advanced since the development of the animal tests that are still in use today. According to Human Society International, animals used in experiments are commonly subjected to force feeding, forced inhalation, food and water deprivation, prolonged periods of physical restraint, the infliction of burns and other wounds to study the healing process, These cruel and inhumane tests are done discreetly behind closed doors, away from the public eye. The USDA admitted that in 2016, more than 70,000 animals suffered pain during experiments.

The fact is that drugs that pass animal testing are not necessarily human-safe. In the 1950’s the sleeping pill thalidomide, which caused more than 10,000 babies to be born with severe deformities, was animal tested. The arthritis drug Vioxx showed that it had a protective effect on animals, yet the drug went on to cause thousands of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths before being pulled off the market.

Animal tests do not reliably predict results in humans; in fact, more than 90% of drugs that pass animal tests fail in human clinical trials. A study in Archives of Toxicology states that there is strong doubt on the usefulness of animal data as key technology to predict human safety. Animal tests are also more expensive than alternative methods which are quicker, and more accurate. According to Senator Jeff Flake’s “Wastebook” of government funding more than 7 million taxpayers’ money was wasted on unnecessary studies involving animals in 2016.

Most experiments involving animals are flawed, wasting the lives of animal subjects. As English philosopher Jeremy wrote, “The question is not, can they reason, but can they suffer?” Animals are suffering in research labs across the country. The Animal Welfare Act has not prevented horrific cases of animal abuse in laboratories, but medical breakthroughs have been made without the use of animals. Many discoveries have been made by non-animal methods, making alternatives to animal testing more effective, more reliable, and more humane.

Most cosmetic brands are owned by a few giant corporations including L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Proctor and Gamble, Clorox, Johnson & Johnson, S.C. Johnson, Colgate Palmolive, and Unilever, and seemingly are making no real efforts to change their unethical policies. It is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain factual information from any of these corporations, and only when there is a large public outcry against these practices, will things change. Do a little research BEFORE you purchase personal care products. You may be appalled at what you discover (if you dig deep enough to get actual , factual info).

Unseen they suffer; unheard they cry; in loneliness they linger; in agony they die.

 

Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month

Motivated by the fact that April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month, I have discovered hundreds of articles on the subjects, and have concluded that most people think of animal cruelty in terms of dog fighting and puppy mills. These are obvious examples of intentional cruelty, but there is also cruelty that is unintentional. Many people who are abusing their animals may not be doing so on purpose; they hurt animals because they are too busy , and simply don’t think about or realize what they are doing is neglectful. Neglect can come in many forms ranging from not providing enough food, water, shelter, or space, to simply ignoring the animal.

Some caregivers seem to believe that shouting or hitting an animal is an effective training technique, and believe that intimidation and punishment are legitimate ways to train their dog, not recognizing the fact that these methods will create fear and distrust, and are physically and psychologically abusive.

Another example of unintentional abuse is when humans take in more animals than they can afford or adequately provide for, which usually leads to animals living in crowded, often dirty environments . They had good intentions, but the outcomes are not good.

People who live on the edge financially sometimes cannot afford their pets when they go through a divorce, lose a job, have medical problems, or their housing cost goes up. Others may get sick and are physically unable to care for their pet, and need help from compassionate neighbors, friends and relatives.

The ASPCA stresses the importance of paying attention to a companion animal’s needs. This can range from making sure a collar is not getting too tight as the dog grows, or paying attention to any health need that might require vet attention. Nearly all of the people who unintentionally neglect their dogs can learn through education and an awareness of the needs of their animals. Without being judgmental, it is possible to stress the five freedoms that companion animals should be provided with:

  1. Freedom from thirst and hunger by ready access to FRESH water and a healthy diet. Many commercial pet foods are NOT healthy, and by teaching people to read ingredient labels and check on sites such as www.petfoodadvisor.com, many dogs would have life improved.
  2. Freedom from discomfort by providing appropriate shelter and a comfortable resting area. Dogs do not thrive if they are isolated in the back yard or tied up. It is almost always possible to find a porch or even garage area IF the caregiver realizes that is important.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease. It is important for dogs to have regular veterinary care, rather than just waiting until a crisis to seek medical advice.
  4. Freedom to express normal behavior by providing both canine and human interaction . Often dogs are neglected simply because of the caregiver’s hectic life style, and if they realize the importance of companionship, they will find time to spend with their dog.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental or physical distress. Sometimes caregivers are not aware that someone else is hurting the animal. More supervision or some changes may need to be made.

The bottom line as to the way in which people treat animals, and what they believe is an acceptable level of welfare, is the value they place on the animal. Attitudes toward dogs can be changed only if all of us take the time and effort to diplomatically show negligent caregivers that their animals deserve better treatment to lead healthy, happy, safe lives. Many have grown up with the idea, “He’s just a dog,” and honestly believe that humans are superior beings who have a right to use animals in any way they choose. Although dogs are not human, they certainly feel fear and pain, and are dependent on their humans who have accepted the responsibility of their care. As Maya Angelou explained, “People do what they know how to do. When they know better, they do better.”

No Big Deal – It’s Just a Dog

Intentional animal abuse and unintentional abuse have both been emphasized during this Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, but there is a third aspect of animal welfare that is almost more insidious, and is often ignored—indifference. As George Bernard Shaw explained: “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That’s the essence of inhumanity.” I find it difficult to accept the fact that some people “just don’t care.” By now most Iowans know that Iowa holds the disgraceful distinction of having the second largest number of puppy mills, yet when legislation this year was brought up to better the lives of these poor animals, nothing was done. In our state we still have dog fighting. Although we are aware of this abhorrent practice, it continues. These are stressful times for most of us, but even in these difficult times, or perhaps because of them, we need to think about the choices we make. We choose our friends, our doctors, our churches. We also choose our legislators. Perhaps it is time that we, the people of Iowa, choose to make our voices heard, and let our legislators know that we are not indifferent toward the mistreatment and abuse of animals.

As Diana Bono says, “How we treat animals reflects on who we are as human beings and how we value all life. Do we choose protection through our legislation for animals, or do we allow the many faces of abuse to continue? Indifference simply means that we support what is.” Joan Vinge in The Snow Queen names indifference as the strongest force in the universe. “It makes everything it touches meaningless. Love and hate don’t stand a chance against it. It lets neglect and decay and monstrous injustice go unchecked. It doesn’t act; it allows. And that’s what gives it so much power. Indifference is the worst kind of disease that can affect people.”

Only changing a person’s indifferent attitude toward animals can cause true change. Legislation helps; economic pressure helps; and education helps, but only when people really believe that animal neglect is morally wrong and act on that belief will change occur. Christianity is about beliefs—beliefs about creation, purpose, life, and love. What people believe about God affects all aspects of their being, and since faith teaches compassion and love, it would be logical that we would see more of it in attitudes toward animals. How can Christians be indifferent to the treatment of animals?

Betty Wosko reports a letter from a friend who had a first hand experience with Christians’ indifference to the suffering of a companion animal. “One Sunday after our church service let out, hundreds of people filed out of the parking lot. Every single vehicle passed by a dog who was lying in the road, clearly visible. The dog had not been there prior to the service, or I would have noticed him when driving in. I was deeply hurt by the fact that not one car stopped to help the dog.” (The writer did stop…the dog was dead, and he put the animal in his car, took him home, buried him and tried to find an owner). Wosko says that hardly a day goes by that she doesn’t hear how someone has been offended by the uncaring attitudes among believers. She tags it as hypocrisy. existing.

“We need to wake up and become the loving, compassionate peacemaking children of God that we have been called to be.”
I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.—Abraham Lincoln

The “No big deal…it’s just a dog” is prevalent everywhere. Right in our own area, a well respected family went on a six day Easter vacation and left their elderly dog tied outside. Sure, someone probably stopped by to feed and water him, but I doubt it was a happy Easter for him…

Intentional cruelty, unintentional neglect, or indifference. ..all are hurtful, both to the humans and the animals. Check out the animals in your area; you will be saddened by what you find. Although it is not always easy (or convenient), our goal should be to encourage greater levels of respect, responsibility and compassion toward both the humans and animals with whom we share or lives . Get involved! It’s the right thing to do.