mom2nomads

ahhh, the life of a diplomatic princess . . .

Why I Can’t Quite Bring Myself to Visit My Favorite Village

We have lived in Honduras for a little over one year now and we have visited some truly gorgeous places. Honduras, as I’ve written before, gets a bit of a bad rap, but it’s a country I’ve come to love. To me Honduras doesn’t represent violence and poverty. It represents natural beauty, warm people, fascinating history, and friendship — here are a few places we’ve been that I will always associate with those things.

Lago Yojoa, which we visited for the first time this past January, is a place we immediately fell in love with.

Lake Yojoa Jan 2015

Lago Yajoa is stunning and one of the things we love about it is that there are Lenca ruins, and a eco-park with beautiful hiking, right next to it. The only thing wrong with the first trip we took there was that it was very rainy every day of our visit, except for the day we left (of course).

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So we decided we needed to go back and see the lake when it wasn’t fogged in.

Lake Yajoa, Part 2

What a difference the sun makes!

My dad and our youngest walking through the eco-park

My dad and our youngest walking through the eco-park

We discovered there are more Lenca ruins at a Finca near the lodge where we stayed

This is an old Lenca ball court. Archaeologists believe, because the Lenca pre-date the Maya, that the Lenca actually invented the infamous ball games the Maya played.

This is an old Lenca ball court. Archaeologists believe, because the Lenca pre-date the Maya, that the Lenca actually invented the infamous ball games the Maya played.

We climbed a nearby mountain called Las Nalgas or, The Buttcheeks. It’s self-explanatory

Las Nalgas

Las Nalgas

Lake Yajoa, Part 2

Climbing up the mountain

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The view from the top

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Our youngest walking back to our lodge with our fantastic guide

There was much silliness from the kids

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“When I say ‘no, you can’t take my picture’ I mean ‘no, you can’t take my picture.'”

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Even at 14 he still wants to be an explorer

Lake Yajoa, Part 2

“I know you said it was too cold to go swimming, mom, but I did it and I’M FREEZING!”

And, there was beer. Because the lodge where we stayed is also a Brewery

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The other place we really enjoyed was Tela, on Honduras’ Caribbean coast.

A good time was had by all, though Firu made it quite clear that he had no intention of entering the water.

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Tela March 2015

Tela

Racing on the beach

Racing on the beach

A face that just screams WHEEEEEE!

A face that just screams WHEEEEEE!

She makes a floaty out of her rash guard.

She makes a floaty out of her rash guard. Every. Time.

Chasing the man selling coconuts

Chasing the man selling coconuts

Sunset on Tela

Sunset on Tela

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There’s one more place very close to home that I’ve come to love, a small Colonial village called Valle de Angeles, about a half hour drive from our home. Valle has two things — the village and the entrance to a lush national park where there is fantastic hiking. This is a place I can’t wait to get back to.

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Valle de Angeles

My kids are goofballs

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Seriously, goofballs

Then there is the town of Valle de Angeles, or Valley of the Angels.

Valle de Angeles

Valle de Angeles

Where you can buy fresh papusas — a little slice of heaven.

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Have coffee in this very cool coffe house, Cafe Las Estancia.

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Have lunch at Las Abuelas restaurant

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Or just wander through the lovely central square.

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Valle de Angeles represents friendship to me. And I can’t bring myself to go there right now. Because everything about it hurts a little — the cool coffee house, Las Abuelas restaurant, the central square, even the damn papusas. And please don’t mention iron because I’ll probably burst into tears. Trust me on this. It all stings because it was the place that was “the place” my closest friend here and I would go. We’d frequently message each other “Valle this week?” and the other would always respond with an enthusiastic “YES!” Always through messaging because she knows I hate to talk on the phone and she respects my quirks. She gets my quirks. It’s one of the reasons she’s an amazing friend. And everything there, everything, reminds me of her. There is so much to love about being a nomad — but saying goodbye to friends blows. It’s the friendships that are, all at once, beautiful and painful. I am an introvert, a shy introvert, a shy introvert who isn’t crazy about being around people I don’t know. But from the very first moment I met my friend I knew I’d met someone I would adore. The second time we met up I knew I’d found a soulmate. In part because she told me the story about how she’d used a wildly raunchy Spanish word, thinking it meant something else, for about her first year in Honduras. And the fact that she could say that word to me, in English, without even breaking a blush told me, “yep, this woman is part of my tribe.” She became, over the course of a year, a soul sister.

She and her family moved, on to their next post, while we were home in the U.S this summer. As much as I was looking forward to coming home to Honduras I was dreading them not being here. Her oldest and our youngest were inseparable, and I knew the loss, when he saw that his friend really was gone, was going to hit him hard. And it has.

And me? Most of the time I’m okay — though yesterday I had a million things I wanted to tell her and had to stop myself from messaging her every five minutes. But sometimes, I’m not okay. Sometimes I think of her and burst into tears. And I know, for now, I’m not quite ready to walk the cobblestone streets of Valle without her.

People Euthanising Thousands of Animals (PETA)

mom2nomads:

This is exactly what we need — people willing to stand up and say “No. I will NOT support an organization who has twisted rescue work into the work of killing. And I will NOT stop fighting for the truth.” Bravo for a brave blog!

Originally posted on In my own little world:

This is a massively ranty post about the hideous organisation PETA and the lies that they feed to the public.

It took me a long time to realise just how bad PETA are. Just how many lies they tell. Just how many animals they murder every single year. Just how many underhand and bullying tactics they use to try and silence the voices of those who criticise them. Well guess what PETA? I don’t give a fuck. You will never shut me up.

I have always been an animal rights activist and up until a while ago, was a PETA supporter. When I first began to hear certain things that were telling me that something was not quite right, I refused to listen to them. “Surely not” I said to myself. Ingrid Newkirk set up an organisation to protect animals and to campaign against abuse and killing. PETA was not…

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Questions About Its Shelter that PETA Can’t Seem to Answer

It always seems the more I think about PETA the more questions surface. The other day I had an exchange on Twitter with Mary Tully, who claims not to work for PETA, just to know a lot about them. She even has a website dedicated to them, with a special category for those who are telling the truth about their killing practices. I’ve linked to it once in the past but I’m not going to do that again because I don’t want to give her any more air and energy than is absolutely necessary. The only reason I’m writing about her now is because I asked her a number of questions during our Twitter exchange — despite claiming to have done an enormous amount of research on PETA, despite being someone PETA consistently refers people to when they have questions about their shelter, she was unable to adequately answer any of them. So I figured I’d write them and others down here, and just keep asking them.

In 2014 PETA received 2,631 animals and killed 2,324. They found homes for 39. PETA claims its kill numbers are so high because its shelter is one of “last resort,” taking in only sick, elderly, suffering animals, and that animals who don’t fit into those categories are usually transferred to other shelters. There are a lot of problems and questions with that assertion, and that leads to my first batch of questions —

  • What is the process by which animals are evaluated? Any good shelter will have a very detailed and thorough evaluation process, one that is used for every animal admitted to the shelter. Ms. Tully told me each animal was evaluated as an individual so decisions are made on a case by case basis. Great, as it should be. Also, not what I asked. Here is an example of a behavioral evaluation form a shelter might use for dogs, here’s one for cats. Here’s a medical assessment form. The website where I found the forms is from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, it states

Behavioral evaluations involve obtaining as much information as possible about the animal entering your shelter, including his/her behavior prior to relinquishment and his/her behavior while in your facility. The more information you gather about an animal’s behavior, the more able you will be to make sound decisions about its disposition.

Precisely. Because the more we know about an animal the better we can determine what steps will be taken with the animal. One of the claims PETA makes about Maya, the chihuahua who was stolen from her porch by PETA employees and promptly killed, was that she was mistaken for another dog who had been surrendered to them. There are so many things wrong with this statement, and so many questions surrounding it, some of which I addressed in this blog, but for today’s purposes let’s just ask some specific ones.

  • Even if Maya was mistaken for another dog, is it PETA policy to not verify with the person surrendering an animal that the right animal has been taken into PETA custody? I’ve been told that the woman who surrendered the dog for which they say Maya was mistaken wasn’t home at the time and that’s why they couldn’t verify her identity. Which leads to another question …
  • Is it PETA policy to kill an animal without first verifying his/her identity? You’d think, when something like the life of an animal is on the line, PETA would want to be 100% positive that they have the correct animal before killing him/her. Which leads to another question …
  • Does PETA take an owner at their word that an animal is sick/aggressive/suffering, etc? Or does it do its own evaluation of the condition of the animal? When surrendering animals people make up all sorts of stories — the dog is aggressive, the cat won’t stop peeing out of the box, the dog belongs to my neighbor and he doesn’t want it, you get the idea — in order to make themselves look better, or feel better, or to rid the neighborhood of a dog who won’t stop barking, and many other countless justifications. Which is part of the reason shelters have their own, independent processes in order to verify or prove false the information. What are PETA’s?
  • How is it determined that an animal is too ill to save? Because there are a lot of shelters and rescues with a lot fewer resources who save very sick animals. Patrick the pitbull is a very good example of this. Patrick was thrown down a garbage chute, he was starving and close to death. Here’s what he looked like shortly after his rescue

Here’s what he looks like now that he’s been nurtured back to health

I’ll give you another example, our dog, Firu. Firu was a Costa Rican street dog, he was hit by a car who slammed into him so hard that his femur was snapped in half and his hip was dislocated, he was left to die alone by the side of the road. A woman I think of as one of his guardian angels picked him up and brought him to a shelter. I’ve spoken extensively about FIru to his other guardian angel –the woman who runs the shelter. Her first thought wasn’t “let’s put this dog out of his misery,” it was “let’s save this dog.” In addition to being broken physically he was malnourished and weak, they weren’t sure he could be saved but they began to try — through love and medical care they succeeded. This is a shelter that sees the most ill, most emotionally and physically broken, animals you can imagine. And they save them. And they do it with a lot fewer resources than PETA has. Here’s our Firu today

Firu

I understand that there are circumstances under which an animal really cannot be saved — they truly are gravely ill, or there truly are not the resources to nurture them back to health. I don’t think those cases would add up to 2,324 dead animals in one year by one organization.

Which leads to another question

  • What is PETA’s euthanasia policy? When I asked for PETA’s euthanasia policy Ms. Tully provided me with this:

Which, of course, isn’t a euthanasia policy, it’s a FB comment. HUGE difference. Here’s an example of a stated euthanasia policy from the Baltimore Humane Society.

Here are some other questions I asked that I still don’t have answers for:

  • What kind of documentation is offered about the condition of animals PETA receives? You would think, especially since PETA is under such close scrutiny for its “shelter” practices, it would carefully document through things like medical examinations, photographs, and forms the conditions of animals. Quite some time ago Ms. Tully, through a comment on my blog, told me this

Any member of the public can walk into any Virginia public or private animal shelter and request to see any animal custody records that was generated in the previous five years.

One would assume documentation of the condition of the animal would be included in those custody records. More questions:

  • What are PETA’s adoption standards and requirements?
  • What kind of adoption counseling is provided to those adopting?
  • What kind of adoption contract is used?
  • What are PETA’s shelter hours? Where are those hours posted? Ms. Tully told me they were posted at PETA but I’ve been told otherwise by residents of Hampton Roads, I’d like proof that there are indeed hours posted specifically for the” shelter” at PETA.
  • Is the “shelter” easily accessible to the public? Again, I have been told that, in order to visit the shelter, one must go to the receptionist and then wait for a specific person to come get you and bring you into the four or five holding rooms they have. Seems a pretty complicated, and non-transparent, process for a shelter. Most shelters are easily accessible because they want people to visit them and to visit the animals they have available for adoption. This seems not to be the case with PETA. Why?

So, those are the questions I’m asking for now, I’d encourage others to ask them as well. Especially if you are still supporting PETA, still giving money to them. Questions are not an indictment in and of themselves, they’re just questions. And these are questions that should be easily answered — which is why it’s troubling that PETA, and a woman to whose website they consistently refer people for answers about their “shelter,” can’t seem to adequately do that.

Why is a Senator Who Voted in Favor of VA SB 1381 Now Standing in Its Way?

This was a statement overheard at the end of a Joint Commission hearing in Richmond, one of the purposes of which was to make the case that the implementation of SB 1381 cannot occur until a two to three year regulatory process occurs.

SB 1381, which “clarifies that the purpose of a private animal shelter is to find adoptive homes,” was passed with overwhelming support by both the Virginia House and Senate and signed into law by Governor McAuliffe. It was also vehemently opposed by PETA, who even went so far as to hire a powerful lobbyist to fight the bill. The other group opposed to it was the Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters, who now seem to have hired another lobbyist to fight the implementation of SB 1381.

One of the Senators who voted in favor of SB 1381 was Frank Wagner. Why would a senator who voted in favor of SB 1381 now be offering to round up troops for a group that worked to defeat the bill, and has hired a lobbyist to fight timely implementation of the bill? Who do we know with deep pockets who also fought hard to defeat SB 1381? Is there a connection?

For now, there are only questions. However, those of us who know how PETA operates, the depths to which it will sink to get its way, and the resources it is willing to throw around in order to make that happen, wouldn’t be out of line in thinking they are connected to this latest effort to stymie SB 1381 in a way that goes beyond public support. I think we need to be asking those questions and others.

And we can ask them of Senator Frank Wagner, who seems to be working against the bill he voted for.

You can tweet at him here: https://twitter.com/senfrankwagner

You can find him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorFrankWagner?fref=ts

You can email him: info@wagnervasenate.com

You can call him: 757 228 3333 (District Phone)
757 460 4510 (Campaign Phone)

Many people fought so hard to get SB 1381 passed, and it ended up passing with “overwhelming bipartisian support.” This was the will of the people of Virginia in action, we cannot let that democracy be undermined by politicians, lobbyists, and the powerful groups that hire them.

PETA’s Bully Tactics — How They Dragged my Family into the Line of Fire

Yesterday I wrote this blog alluding to the fact that PETA was attempting to bully me into silence by attempting to put into jeopardy something sacred to us — the loss of which would do serious harm to my family, to my children. At the time I wrote the blog I was not able to give more details, shortly after I published it I was given the green light to do so. Had I known that was going to happen I would have just written yesterday the blog I will write today. But, not knowing when I would be given the green light, and after talking to my husband about the parameters of what was appropriate to put on my blog in the meantime, I went ahead. Because I believe it is important people know as much as possible about how PETA attempts to bully people who speak the truth about their killing. Today I can write about what happened.

On June 15 an attorney representing PETA wrote a letter to my husband’s boss chock full of false allegations against Eric and against me. They accused him/us of “false and malicious attacks” against PETA, ethics violations, misuse of government property, and attempting to “interfere with PETA’s business,” a violation of Virginia law. As if killing animals is a business. They accused us of using Eric’s position in order to further my “scheme” against PETA. Bottom line, they attempted to jeopardize Eric’s job, our livelihood, in order to get us to shut up about their killing. They put at risk my entire family.

While Eric and I both knew none of these allegations were true it’s still extremely worrisome to have a letter like this sent to one’s boss. This is his job, his career, the way we support our family. Additionally, the oath Eric took when he joined the FS is something he did with respect for our country and for the people he serves — serving with integrity is at the core of that.

Eric contacted an attorney, specifically about the allegations of ethics violations, sending him both the letter and a link to my blog. The attorney looked everything over and responded that there was nothing improper about our actions, no ethics violations had occurred. Which we knew but it was calming to hear that from an attorney.

As for the allegations of “misuse of government property” it was also determined that he did nothing wrong. Eric is allowed, by his employer, our government, on his breaks, to use his computer for limited personal use of social media. In other words, he can make a comment as a private citizen on a FB post about PETA while he’s taking a coffee break.

More attorneys were contacted and they agreed with the initial assessments. They also stated that Eric and I were acting within our rights, as private citizens. We have first amendment rights and those are not signed away when you work for the government or when you are married to someone who does. Additionally, they stated no libel or slander had occurred as long as everything we’ve stated is true. Which it is. Honestly, would PETA be trying this hard to shut us up if we were lying? Their not scared of lies, they’re scared of the truth.

There are other things they stated about me that were laughable, really, and not even worth my time. But the last thing I want to address is PETA’s assertion that I am using my position as a Foreign Service spouse to further my efforts to expose them. In order to back up this assertion they cited a few things. First, that in my letters to members of the Virginia General Assembly, I stated that Eric is a diplomat currently serving at our embassy in Honduras. Yes, I did write that. Let’s put it into context, this is what I wrote:

My husband is a diplomat, currently with the American Embassy in Honduras, and over the course of our various postings I have volunteered for shelters and rescue groups in developing nations. Their efforts on behalf of animals put Ingrid Newkirk’s to shame. I have also worked in a small shelter in Montana, and volunteered at another shelter in Virginia. Neither in America not abroad have I ever seen a shelter with kill numbers as high as PETA’s. It’s unheard of.

Context is important. You can read the entire letter here.

Second, they cited the “About Me” section of my blog where I state that I am a Foreign Service spouse. Um, yeah. When I started this blog I did it, in part, with the intent of documenting our lives as nomads, specifically as a Foreign Service family. I am a Foreign Service blogger, I belong to a community of Foreign Service bloggers. Our blogs are resources for members of our community, for people considering joining the FS, and for expats. Need to know what the schools are like in Ghana or Ireland? We can hook you up. Looking for lists of the pros and cons of various posts? We’ve got your back. People search for our blogs because they need information — I’ve been contacted countless time by folks who have been looking for info on various posts, see that we’ve been to one or two of them, and have questions. And by people new to the FS, or considering the FS, with questions about raising kids in the FS, moving animals internationally, or just generally “what’s it like?” Finally, as a Foreign Service blogger, I am obligated to state on my blog that the opinions and views I express are mine alone and do not belong to my FS husband or his employer. Which leads to the other purpose of my blog — to express my personal opinions and beliefs. Mine and mine alone. ‘Nuff said.

They also seem to have a problem with my statement that “we serve,” they even added an emphasis to the word “we.” One of the things we try hard to instill in our children is the responsibility they have as Americans living overseas and, specifically, as Americans officially representing our country. They, we, have a responsibility to conduct ourselves in a way that shows respect to our host country and to represent our nation in the best way we can. We signed up for this together, as a family unit. We all make the sacrifices this life entails, we all reap the benefits. So, yes, we serve. We are a Foreign Service family. And added that emphasis.

So that’s what happened. PETA tried to put our livelihood at risk in order to get us to stop telling the truth about the thousands of animals they have killed, and about the countless animals who are at risk in the present and future. Eric’s response to PETA is at the end of this blog. Here’s my response to PETA: If you ever drag my family into this again, if you ever again attempt to put at risk my children, I will dig in deeper, I will push back harder, I will stand up taller. I am not scared of you.

Eric’s response:

Dear PETA, Mess with My Family Again and This Mamma Bear Will Turn Demon

Bullies. They come in all forms — mean girl, jerk at work, corporation. Non-profit. I’ve written about bullies before, when our daughter was the target of one. Today I will write about another bully. This one is PETA.

Many who have spoken out about PETA’s killing of animals have been bullied by them so the fact that it’s happened to me will come as no surprise to those folks. For now I can’t go into detail about their attempt to get me to stop spreading the truth but I can say that they tried to get me to shut up in the most offensive way possible. They tried to get to me by going through my family. They attempted to put into jeopardy something that is sacred to us, the loss of which would do harm to all of us. I want to be very clear that there has been no physical threat or intimidation and we feel one hundred percent safe.

Here’s the other thing I want to be very clear about and this is my direct message to PETA. You have not scared me. You have not scared my family. I am not sitting down, I am not shutting up, I am not going away. I will continue to speak the truth. I will continue to fight your killing at every turn. I will continue to tell Black Boy’s story, to give him a legacy of compassion and non-violence. By trying to get to me through my family you have done exactly two things. You have, once again, revealed yourselves as the biggest bully on the playground. Here’s the second thing, you have made livid a mother bear. I honestly do not care what you say about me, or try to do to me, but when you try to get to me through my family and, by extension, my children, then you are treading on my sacred territory. I am now that mamma bear standing tall on my rear legs, claws extended, roaring, because you tried to put my cubs into jeopardy. The one thing, the one thing, anyone who knows me will tell you is that you never, ever want to mess with my family. Ever.

On a gorgeous Minneapolis morning, our last day home, my husband and I ran our first half-marathon. We’d done the distance many times but, as I learned, it’s different in a race. One thing I did to help me stay strong was dedicate my miles to people and animals in my life. I ran the final mile of the race for Black Boy. As we neared the thirteen mile mark this song started to play

I began to cry. I cried because I was exhausted, I cried because I had to keep going, I cried because I’d dedicated my mile to someone I should have fought for. Now, here’s the thing, it’s really hard to run while you’re crying. I was gasping for air, trying to see the path through my tears. I gathered myself, told myself to just run and I could cry later. I began to sing instead. Because this song, above all others, has been the one I’ve sung to myself when I think about the battle being waged over truth and killing.

And all those things I didn’t say, wrecking balls inside my brain, I will scream them loud tonight, can you hear my voice this time? This is my fight song. Take back my life song. Prove I’m alright song. My power’s turned on. Starting right now I’ll be strong. I’ll play my fight song. And I don’t really care if nobody else believes, cause I still got a lot of fight left in me. Like a small boat on the ocean sending big waves into motion. Like how a single word can make a heart open. I might only have one match but I can make an explosion.

We rounded the corner to the finish line and I saw our children. My pain began to fade as I watched them jump and cheer, the absolute embodiment of joy. Our youngest, who is eight, started to run next to me. He looked up at me, all smiles, cheering and shouting, his hair carried by the wind as he ran. He stopped after a few seconds and motioned with his arms, as if to push me across the finish line. I crossed with the love of my children, with my husband by my side. And I crossed with Black Boy in my heart.

At around ten miles my legs, fatigued because my torn calf had only recently healed, began to feel like dead weight. I looked at my husband and said “I don’t think I can do this.” He smiled and said “of course you can, you never give up.” And I don’t. And I won’t.

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PETA’s Farce of an “Adopt-a-Thon.”

So PETA is holding an “adoption event” at its Bea Arthur dog park for itself and eight shelters/rescues. On the surface this seems to be a positive thing — an opportunity for area shelters and rescues to get animals who are available for adoption out into the community and, hopefully, into some forever homes. The problem, however, is that while PETA claims to operate a shelter it does not. A shelter is a place where animals who have already been betrayed by someone in some way can find, well, shelter. Rescue. Protection. Advocacy. Love. Hope. A shelter is not a place with a 1% adoption rate. A shelter is not a place where killing is not only acceptable but encouraged. A shelter is not a place that, when asked what kind of actions are routinely taken in order to find animals it takes in forever homes, answers “no comment.” A shelter does not hire a high priced lobbyist to defeat an animal welfare bill. A shelter does not employ people who swoop onto a porch where a beloved dog is sitting, steal her, and then kill her. Despite the fact that PETA took in 2,626 animals in 2014 it is not a shelter. Why? Because it only managed to adopt out 39 of those animals. in 2014 PETA took in nearly 52 million dollars. I absolutely understand that PETA has a much broader stroke than animal rescue but if it can’t allocate enough of its resources to do better than to find forever homes for 39 of its animals then it has not earned the title of “shelter.”

So what is wrong with this “adoption event?” What is wrong with “a fun way for Hampton Roads families to meet some of the wonderful dogs” who “desperately need homes?” On the surface, nothing. In reality, a lot. PETA’s participation in this event, its hosting of the event, is a farce. It is a desperate act by a desperate organization. It is yet another way that PETA is attempting to legitimize its title of “shelter.” And the actual shelters who are participating in this, as wonderful as they may be individually, are merely contributing to the farce and inadvertently promoting an organization that has the killing of companion animals as its standard operating procedure. Real shelters standing arm in arm with PETA gives the impression that they are one and the same. I’m sure that is PETA’s intention because they are masters at molding the narrative. But PETA is not one of them. PETA is not a shelter. It is an organization that justifies killing the vast majority of animals that it takes in. And real shelters standing in solidarity with the killing machine of PETA is just a travesty. Hold the event, give the animals who desperately need homes a chance, but hold it somewhere other than on the grounds of PETA. Because those grounds are soaked in the blood of animals who were betrayed. And that is not where real shelters should be.

A List of Ways You Can Fight PETA’s Killing Machine

I was a little over ten miles into my run yesterday, I’d been pacing myself to hit fifteen — I was feeling strong and focused. At least until a sudden, worrying pain in my right calf shocked me out of my zone. I stopped running, stretched, walked, started running, the pain shot through my calf again. I stopped, cursed, started, and the pain said “are you insane? STOP!” So I did, because I’ve learned the hard way that running through pain is a very foolish thing. I felt pretty fricking robbed though. I still do. And it’s made me edgy.

Halfway through a cut throat game of Go Fish with our two youngest, our middle child noticed that my leg was taped and wrapped. She got a look on her face that was something between absolute horror and panic and said “Are you injured?” I told her yes, I just didn’t know how badly. She started shaking her head and said “Oh no! Oh God! Oh no! Oh Jesus! NO!” While she can be prone to dramatics, in this case, her reaction was completely warranted because this is not an exaggeration:

Injured runner may bite

Right now I’m trying not to project into the future, or worry about how long this injury will have me out. I’m trying to focus on taking care of my body, letting it heal, and not feeling slightly homicidal. And I’ve got some time on my hands, because I’m supposed to be running right now. So I wanted to blog about ways you can take action in order to help ensure that the recently passed Virginia Bill SB 1381, which will prevent PETA from killing the majority of animals it takes in, is implemented in a timely manner. Along with some other actions you can take.

Currently Virginia is stating that it will take two years to implement this bill. Two years! My husband works for the federal government so I have firsthand understanding about why the wheels of bureaucracy sometimes turn slowly, and I get that change does not happen overnight. But two years? Come on. Considering the fact that lives are on the line that is utterly unacceptable.

So, here’s what you can do, both to advocate for a more efficient time table and to hold PETA accountable. First, you can read this FB post by Nathan Winograd. In it he reminds us why this fight is so important, and he gives us email addresses for people we can contact about speeding up the implementation of SB 1381. That’s the second thing you can do — email them. Let them know, respectfully but forcefully, why taking two years to implement this bill is not acceptable. I’ll cut to the chase for you, here’s their contact information:

1. Sandra Adams, the Commissioner for Agriculture: sandy.adams@vdacs.virginia.gov

2. Dr. Carolyn Bissett, the State Veterinarian: carolyn.bissett@vdacs.virginia.gov

You know who else you can email? Daphna Nachminovitch, a PETA Senior Vice-President and the person who heads up the Community Animal Project — the folks who do the field work in Hampton Roads and beyond. Let her know, again respectfully (because nastiness gets us nowhere ) but forcefully, what you think of PETA’s better off dead mentality. Her email address is daphnan@peta.org.

Thirdly, if you live in the Hampton Roads area, or if you feel like taking a road trip, go to PETA headquarters. Their address is 501 Front Street, Norfolk. Go to the receptionist, tell her that you are requesting to see custody records of all the animals they’ve taken in for the last five years. Under Virginia law they must provide you with them. You’ll have to look at them on the property, which is a bummer, but that’s the law. Look for red flags (7 pound kittens, anyone?), holes in stories, clues to the truth. In all likelihood they will hem and haw, they will tell you that the person you need to talk to isn’t available, isn’t in the building, blah, blah, blah. I was told by a blogger to whom PETA consistently refers people in order to explain away why they kill that it is your legal right to request and examine animal custody records. So stand firm, don’t let them bully you. Because they love to do that, it’s what goes on. But behind every bully is fear and cowardice, it’s no different with PETA. And don’t let them fool you, don’t fall for their lines about their shelter being a “shelter of last resort.” Maya was a healthy, well adjusted, young animal and, after they stole her off of her family’s porch, they killed her. Along with the other animals they picked up that day. Ask them why, and don’t buy the rogue employee line, it’s a lie.

Another thing you can do, if you’re in the Hampton Roads area, is head on down to PETA and tell them you want to visit their shelter. Again, they will hem and haw. But, seriously, what kind of shelter doesn’t want to show off its animals to potential adopters? If you’re not in the area, or can’t make a trip to headquarters, give them a ring (757-622-7382) and ask for their hours, their standards for adoption, ask about the animals they have available. If you’re feeling feisty you can ask them about the animals they’ve killed. Or, if you’d rather, email them about it, here’s the contact form from their website. Let them know what you think about their better off dead mentality.

Utilize social media, it’s one of our greatest assets. Go to their FB page and ask why they have a 1% adoption rate. Why, over the past 12 years, they’ve killed 31,250 animals. Why, despite the fact that they took in over $51 million dollars in 2014, they only managed to adopt out 39 animals. These are numbers they submitted to the state of Virginia, hold them accountable. Take screen shots of your questions because they love to scrub their FB page and block people who confront them. Tweet at them, tweet at others, tweet at celebrities who support them, utilize hash tags like #PetaDeathCult.

And tell your friends and family the truth! I’ve had so many people let me know that they’ve spread the truth and were greeted with shock, then anger — not at them but at PETA. Because people feel betrayed, sickened, duped. And they should — what PETA does to the companion animals it takes in is sick, and folks should feel betrayed by an organization that promotes compassion out of one side of its mouth and killing out of the other.

For quite some time I have been asking former PETA employees to step out of the shadows and speak the truth. Many have done so anonymously, and their stories have been meticulously documented in this piece by Nathan Winograd. I know, to some, speaking anonymously may not seem like much but it takes courage to speak up, even anonymously. Their testimony is invaluable, and their truths have shed more light on the killing that happens behind the closed doors of PETA, it validates what we know. I hope some of them choose to come forward and attach their names to their truths. But they’re not the only ones who can take action — each of us can take action, each of us can be a voice for the voiceless and someone who stands between PETA and animals who are at risk.

I am determined to see this through. I am determined to see change happen. I am determined to hold PETA accountable. I will not back down, I will not stop speaking the truth. And I’m a little cranky so I’m kind of in my “oh yea, it’s on …” mode.

So this is my theme song …

And this is my mindset …

Never provoke an injured runner

Let’s go …

The Pros and Cons of Life in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It’s that time again — bidding season. Not for us, thank GAWD, but for many others (you have my sympathies). I know some folks love bidding season, for me whatever patina bidding season once had is gone and I just dread the researching and the waiting. And waiting. And waiting …

I’ve decided to do my Foreign Service blogger duty and write out my list of pros and cons of life in Tegucigalpa, I hope it helps folks. Plus, if I don’t blog about something besides PETA Imma lose my damn mind.

So, here is my list. I’ll start with the cons first so we finish on a high note.

The Cons of Teguc:

1. Not being able to go out on foot. This is, by far, my biggest issue with living in Teguc — to the point that I really had to scrounge around for the others because they’re so minor to me. But there is potential for violent crime and post states that going out and about on foot is a no no. This is a quality of life issue, it’s a major quality of life issue for a runner, especially since Teguc has some really nice straight aways for running and all I can do it look at them longingly while we drive past. Now, having said that, once you leave the city you are good to go — walk around (or run) to your heart’s content. I’ll write more about that in the pros section. Also, in contrast to what we’d heard before we moved here, driving at night is fine, just know where you’re going and don’t wander into areas that are not safe.

2. The security situation. Loads of narcos out there, folks, and they don’t play. But let’s keep things in perspective. Our major cities have hot spots for violent crimes, and they have all the things that cause it, and Teguc is no different. Be smart, stay out of the areas you’re not supposed to be in, practice safe driving techniques, pay attention to your OPSEC — you should be fine. I don’t dwell much on the security situation, I think folks blow it out of proportion. Bad stuff can happen no matter where you are but you choose whether or not to live in fear (which is different than just being cautious). So don’t let this prevent you bidding Teguc.

3. Traffic. It sucks. ‘Nuff said.

4. The air quality can get obscenely bad at the end of the dry season but it’s temporary so not a huge deal.

5. I’m thinking … I’m thinking …

The Pros of Teguc:

1. Post morale. While I realize this is fluid I wanted to list it here because it’s pretty awesome. Local staff are fantastic, knowledgeable, responsive, and friendly. And our Ambassador? He’s like the Old Spice guy of Ambos — you wish your Ambo was as cool as our Ambo is. Seriously.

2. Loads of fun weekend trips. There is a huge national park with lots of hiking (La Tigra), a very large park up in the hills of Teguc (El Picacho — where you can RUN), and there are beautiful colonial villages to visit (Valle de Angeles and Santa Lucia to name just two). There are also other activities I’ve heard about but not yet done, like the children’s museum, which I’m told is fantastic. Farther afield there are fun and completely manageable, even with kids, weekend trips. Our favorite so far is Lago Yajoa, where we’ve gone so many times that we have yet to visit other places because sometimes when you travel so much you just need spots that are comfy and familiar, right? We’ll branch out soon. If you do visit Yajoa, make sure to stay at the D & D Brewery and Lodge, it’s not only lots of fun but the people are some of the nicest you’ll meet and they have fantastic guides who can take you around to all the best spots in the area. D & D is also within walking (or RUNNING) distance from Lenca ruins, which are very cool to explore, and the national park they’re in is large enough that you can spend the whole day hiking. The beach is, in my opinion, too far for a weekend trip, it took us about five hours to get to Tela, but I’ve been told the beaches of El Salvador are much closer and very nice (they’re on our list).

3. Proximity to the rest of the Mayan world. The Ruta Maya is at your fingertips here, and it’s awesome! We recently took a trip to Tikal, Guatemala. It’s a long haul, it took us two days to get there, but it is so worth it. We stayed on the beautiful island of Flores, which is incredibly charming, (another hotel recommendation, Hotel Isla de Flores is inexpensive and very sweet, also has great food). We’re planning what we’re referring to as our epic adventure for this winter, where we will visit as much of the Ruta Maya as we can squeeze into a few weeks — Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

4. The Honduran people. They are warm, welcoming, and very down to earth. And they don’t mind gringos in the slightest, which is a plus. The folks I’ve met not only tolerate my awful Spanish but are very patient when I can’t seem to spit the right words out or when I look at them with that awkward deer in the headlights look I get when I don’t understand something. And they have a real pride when it comes to their country, which they should, because it’s an absolute gem.

5. Discovery School. It’s small, which is important to us, and the teachers, administration, and staff are fantastic. They’ve got an open door policy — which I appreciate because, while I’m not a helicopter mom, I do like to pop in and say hi to my babies now and again. Our kiddos are pretty scary smart and I feel that their teachers at Discovery picked up very quickly on their strengths, and they provide them with the avenues to move forward and be challenged. The teachers also recognize the areas where our kids need extra assistance (or where they’re just being a bit more lax than they should be — yea, I’m talkin’ to you, kids).

6. Bonus Pro: The cost of living and availability of stuff. You can get just about anything here and it’s relatively inexpensive. Imports are pricey, of course, but that’s to be expected. Travel is not expensive and that’s a huge bonus for a family of 5. You can make it expensive, of course, but you don’t need to pay big bucks to stay somewhere decent or to have fun while traveling.

So there you have it, my list of pros and cons. I was very hesitant to green light Honduras because of the whole “Murder Capitol of the World” headline but I am so glad that we did. We bid Honduras for the job, which we’ve never done before, but we’ve ended up loving it because it’s a fantastic country. Bid Teguc — know what its limitations are but don’t let them stand in your way because they pale in comparison to what makes this a special country.

A Plea to Former PETA employees — it’s time to rise up.

This morning I read a blog piece by Nathan Winograd entitled The (Death) Cult of PETA, it is absolutely required reading for anyone who wants to know more about PETA and I hope it spreads far and wide. In it he perfectly lays out not only the arc of damning evidence that brings into the light what actually happens to companion animals behind PETA’s closed doors, but the mindset that enables these events to happen. Please read it — there is not one wasted word in it and it is a vital piece of research and writing.

While there is a lot to say and highlight about Mr. Winograd’s piece, what I want to focus on for the purposes of this blog are the former employees he has spoken to over the years, because there have been many and they are quoted in his piece. The problem is that none of them have attached their names to their statements and that, of course, is what has to happen in order for them to have the full impact they deserve. So I am asking, once again, for former employees to come forward.

I know going up against PETA is an intimidating endeavor — they will lie to discredit truth tellers, they will attempt to smear reputations, they will have others attempt to smear reputations, they will manipulate information in order to suit their narrative, they will threaten legal action. We ALL know this. But, at the end of the day, none of that really matters. We know we’re telling the truth, and they cannot take that from us. You went to work for them for a reason — because you wanted to fight for animals, because you wanted to do the right thing, because you wanted to stand up and be an unwavering voice for the voiceless. You learned the hard way that PETA was not only the wrong avenue for these efforts but that they stood in direct opposition to them in many ways. NOW is your opportunity to stand up, to be that voice, to fight against abuse, betrayal, lies, and the killing of innocents. NOW is your opportunity to do what you couldn’t do when you worked for PETA: the ethical thing. NOW is your opportunity to protect and love all the animals who are at risk because of PETA’s better off dead mentality. We, along with Mr. Winograd and others who have stood up to PETA, are their only hope. Their only hope. We are responsible for horribly betraying not only the animals we were meant to protect but our own values and ethics. Nothing will change what we’ve done but speaking up is the closest thing we have to redemption.

Things will not change at PETA without us. This is your chance to make a real and lasting difference, and that chance is a gift, please accept and embrace it. Please, please, come forward. I will have your back, that is an absolute guarantee. If we all rise together, if we all attach our names to our truth, they cannot silence us, they cannot take us down, and we will walk the road towards amends together.

Dr. King

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