ahhh, the life of a diplomatic princess . . .

The Truth About PETA: Another Former Employee Comes Forward

Five years ago I wrote the first of many pieces on my experiences as a field worker for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The piece, “Rescued By Black Boy: how a neglected dog set me back on my path, away from PETA,” detailed a job that was the opposite of what you might expect. You would think a field worker for arguably the most powerful animal rights organization in the world — whose job included working in the most impoverished areas of Hampton Roads and beyond, investigating cruelty and abuse cases, taking in animals, some of whom were well loved but many of whom were neglected at best — would be tasked with rescuing, nurturing, and rehoming animals in need. But nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, I was instructed to lie in order to gain custody of animals — to tell people we would do our very best to find new homes if they would only surrender custody of their animals. Then I was instructed to kill those animals and make NO effort to rehome them. And I was berated and ridiculed by leadership when I spoke up about wanting to adopt out animals rather than kill them immediately.

Contrary to PETA’s assertion that nearly every animal who enters through their doors, or ends up in their vans, ends up dead because most are beyond saving, the vast majority of the animals surrendered to PETA during my tenure were healthy and highly adoptable, and I am positive this is still the case today.  Some may have needed a little rehabilitation — either for health reasons or socialization reasons — but that’s nothing shelters don’t deal with on a daily basis. Except for PETA’s “shelter,” because it is not a shelter, it is a place where animals are brought to die.

PETA’s response to my initial blog, and those that followed, was to call me a “disgruntled employee” who was fired for my “instability”  (in stark contrast to a performance review shortly before my firing where I was called an “excellent” employee and given a raise, of which I have proof if you click on the attached link) and was now on the warpath for vengeance. Fifteen years after I was fired. They then proceeded to attack me, and sit back while others attacked me for them.

For five years I have waited, hoped, prayed, for another former PETA employee to come forward about PETA’s euthanasia practices, about how employees are instructed to lie in order to gain custody of animals, about what it’s like to work in an organization many (rightly so) refer to as a “cult.” And now someone has, in a piece entitled “When the Crusade for Animals Falls Victim to Oppression.” Tears filled my eyes as I read her piece, partly because it is painful to read about such difficult experiences, and partly because I was so grateful to finally be vindicated. All along I, and those who know me, and many who don’t, have known I was telling the truth about PETA. But I so desperately wanted someone else to come forward, to show that I am not the mentally unstable, vengeful person PETA claims. Not because I care about what anyone thinks of me personally but because it would expose them as the liars they are –demonstrating how they have lied about me in order to protect their “shelter.” And, in small part, because their character attack was so brutal that, at its worst, they attempted to jeopardize my husband’s career by fabricating several lies about us. In that moment my mother bear instincts kicked in hard and the fight became deeply personal. To finally have another firsthand account, one more voice telling the truth, to expose PETA’s practices, is something for which I am eternally grateful.

Today we are two voices, tomorrow we could be four, the next day more. I, once again, ask former employees to join us in speaking the truth because, trust me, we are much stronger together. Working for PETA, in that toxic place, was soul crushing. I am deeply grateful to Black Boy — he was my savior and my angel, and he paid the ultimate price for that. But  because he made me see how far I’d strayed, animals like my Cito, plucked off the streets of Honduras, are alive — I thank him every day for that and so much more. I say to other former employees that speaking out, fighting their killing, making amends, is healing. Without it, I could not have healed from what I allowed myself to do at PETA.

And, to PETA, I hope you’re prepared. While I have been quiet lately I have not forgotten my promise to Black Boy and to Maya — to never stop fighting and to never let them be forgotten. I am not going anywhere, I am in this until the end. And the only way this will end is when you stop killing the animals you should be saving.

Just One Kitten …

This past weekend we were at a wonderful celebration with friends — a birthday party filled with lots of laughter and joy — when we stumbled upon this kitten.

We had just arrived at the party when one of the kids ran up to another and said “there’s a kitten over there!” and pointed off into the distance. I remember thinking to myself “oh no …” because cats here are very often left to fend for themselves. I left Eric to get our youngest, Ry, settled in (poor kid has a full leg cast because he knows one speed when he’s in goal — full throttle, and this was a paintball party so he needed some extra care) and walked in the direction the child had pointed. I saw a group of kids squatting around a tiny orange and white kitten whose eyes were so matted with mange he couldn’t open them, and I thought to myself “well, shit.” I could tell he wasn’t going anywhere, could tell he would be lucky to be able to move, so I continued on to greet friends and when Eric joined me I said “there’s a kitten over there who needs help, we’re taking him to the vet, we’re not leaving him here.” He nodded and walked back in the direction of the kitten, our youngest hobbling after him on his crutches. A few minutes later they came back, Ry sat in the chair next to me and said “mommy, we’re not leaving him here.” “No, baby, don’t worry, he’s coming with us and we’ll get him help.”

A few hours later he was on an exam table being poked and prodded by a vet. He took blood for a panel and tests, gave him fluids, a shot for mange, prescribed an antibacterial shampoo we are to bathe him in every four days and, after his blood tests came back and an infection was detected, antibiotics. We told him we thought he seemed to be maybe eight weeks old and he said that looked to be right. We also told him it seemed like he was very close to death and, again, he nodded and said yes.

We brought the little guy to our house, got him all set up in a bathroom. I placed a blanket down and set him on it, he sank into it without even moving, and I ran to get him food and water. The vet clinic didn’t sell wet food and all we had was the dry we give our cats, so I soaked that in warm water for a minute and went back to the little guy. The moment I entered the bathroom he tilted his nose up and ran towards me — but it wasn’t me he wanted, he smelled the food. I set it in front of him and he ate like I’ve never seen anyone eat before — voraciously and with absolute abandon. I sat with him and, when he was done, began to stroke the fur on his body. He was filthy, covered in fleas and flea dirt (he’s not yet strong enough to be given the treatment for fleas), mange, dead skin — and he began to purr with a motor you wouldn’t believe, I got tears in my eyes as he fell asleep purring on his blanket.

This is him when I went in to feed him after he’d been with us a day — he didn’t want to eat, he only wanted me to hold him. So we sat like this for quite a while.

This was our snuggle time on the porch this morning.

And this is him an hour ago — after he filled his belly and fell promptly asleep — purring. For the moment we are calling him “Cito,” as in “Pobrecito.”

So here’s our greatest fear for him, there’s a possibility he’s feline leukemia positive. The vet is concerned because for a case of mange to be this bad, especially in such a young kitten, there’s the chance he has an underlying condition, and that it is leukemia. We should know by the middle of the week, and we are all on pins and needles. I realize it’s no longer automatically a death sentence, but it certainly will make finding him his forever home more of a challenge.

So here we are, with this sweet, mange-filled, tough as nails kitten. And animals like him always make me think about the choices we make as rescuers. When I worked for PETA, had I picked up this kitten I would have taken him back to headquarters and injected him with a lethal substance — and I would have called it humane, I would have called it ending his suffering, and I would have been absolutely wrong. Thank God I am not that person anymore. Thank God I no longer work for an organization that believes rescue means a quiet death. Thank God I know better.

He might not make it, all of the challenges he is facing — the malnutrition, the dehydration, the mange, the infection — might be too much for his tiny body. But we have to try, and we have to follow through on the promise I whispered into his ear when I scooped him up in my arms “never again, little one. Never again will you be alone or hungry or cold. You’re safe now.” And even if the worse happens at least he’s known love, at least he’s been held, at least he’s not hungry and suffering on his own. At least he has laps, and a foster mom who will hold him for hours, and a foster dad who, when he feels his lap get warm while holding him, calmly says “he peed on me, I’m going to go change. At least we know he’s not so dehydrated anymore!” before handing him to me with great gentleness.

Last night I posted a video to my FB page of him content in my arms. I was gently swaying and rocking him, the same way I swayed and rocked my own children when they were babies.In the video I said he didn’t want anything but to be held. One of my friends, and very favorite people, commented “You are Cito’s lifeline. You are his mother. You are the first iota of safe, peaceful rest he’s had since he can remember. Of course he doesn’t want to leave your arms.” I cried when I read that — because it’s true. And because I am so beyond grateful for the privilege of being able to help him, and so grateful for a husband who just nods when I tell him we can’t leave the kitten, and for children who say “we aren’t leaving him.” That is rescue. Unless an animal is truly beyond hope it isn’t our job to make like and death decisions, it’s our job to try our hardest to love them, to help them fight, to give them the physical and emotional sustenance they need in order to know life is worth that fight. That is rescue. Do you hear me, PETA? That is rescue.

*For anyone who would like to follow Cito’s journey, if you’re on FB, all my posts about him are public. And because, contrary to what PETA supporters have said about this blog, this isn’t an anonymous blog, my name is Heather Harper-Troje. Come see what Cito is up to!

One Door Closes … my thoughts on the settlement of the Maya/PETA lawsuit

Over the course of the last few years I’ve written many times about Maya, a tiny chihuahua who was stolen from her porch, and killed just hours later, by two employees of animal right’s giant, PETA. Maya’s family went on to sue PETA for the theft and killing of Maya; recently the case was settled and PETA agreed to pay the family $49,000 dollars.

But anyone who has been following this case, and thinking critically about it, knows that Maya was not a “tragic mistake,” as PETA lawyer Jeffrey Kerr stated. In fact, the day Maya was stolen and killed, PETA also killed several other animals who lived in the same mobile home park as Maya — including two kittens, one puppy, and two dogs; that’s a fact that is documented by PETA’s own records. Furthermore, over the past thirteen years, again, according to their own records, PETA has killed 32,744 animals. Let that number sink in for a second, because it’s shocking and horrifying. So while Maya’s theft and killing was tragic, it wasn’t a mistake — it was PETA standard operating procedure.

I, and many others, have been fighting hard to expose PETA’s routine and callous killing of adoptable companion animals. So I will admit to being a bit gutted when I learned that Maya’s family had decided to settle the lawsuit, as the discovery process and the trial would have shone a very bright light on the pattern of PETA’s killing. But I’ve stated time and again that I would do whatever I could in order to help Maya’s family find justice — and the form that justice takes is not up to me. I am a mother and, as a mother, my priority in all things must be my family –most importantly, my children. Wilbur Zarate, Maya’s guardian, is a father and, ultimately, he had to do what he believed to be best for his family, for his child whose dog was stolen and killed. So while I am disappointed, I have a lot of empathy for the Zarate family, and for the hell I’m sure they’ve gone through with this lawsuit. I hope this settlement brings them closure and peace, and that they feel justice has been done. And I have so much admiration for them because they are the only family who has had the courage to stand up to PETA and to demand justice for their beloved companion animal.

I think it’s important to remember that PETA’s willingness to settle this lawsuit, in itself, demonstrates guilt — and not just in Maya’s theft and killing. In my opinion, and the opinion of those who know the truth about PETA’s killing, this was a pretty predictable end. While we were all hoping mightily this would go to trial we knew PETA would do whatever they could in order to prevent the discovery process, and in order to prevent their leadership from being under oath during a trial. I believe the things that would have been revealed would have proven the truth about PETA and the animals they routinely kill. And that is a not something PETA wants evidence of spilling out all over the place.

So this chapter of the fight is closed, and that’s okay. It doesn’t change what they did to Maya, or to her family. And it doesn’t change the fact that every year thousands of animals are killed at PETA headquarters and in PETA vans. It is my understanding that PETA is holding over the heads of people who were set to testify against them, including myself, the threat of lawsuits and that, any day now, I’ll get a letter from the charming PETA attorneys stating such. Once again, they are using the tactics of a bully to try to silence those of us fighting to reveal the truth about them. And, in response, I will tell them the same thing I always tell them — I am not scared of you, I am not threatened by you. I will not sit down and shut up and, as I’ve said before, each time you threaten me or my family in order to get me to do so, I only dig my heels in harder and deeper. I know the truth, and I know it from my time as one who held your lethal needles, who saw photos of the animals you killed and dumped in garbage bins in North Carolina, who watched the video of a tiny dog being stolen off her porch and whisked into a deadly van. I will continue to fight for the legacy of Black Boy, who saved me. He paid for my salvation with his life, and I will never let PETA forget his name. I will continue to fight for Maya, and for the thousands of anonymous animals PETA kills every year. So buckle up, PETA, because I’m in this for the long haul.

For anyone who wants to know more about my experiences while working for PETA please check out Nathan and Jennifer Winograd’s newly launch Podcast, Up at Daylight. I feel honored that their inaugural podcast is an interview I did with the Winograd’s, entitled “Inside the PETA Kill Room,” and I am so grateful for their tireless voices in the fight to reveal the truth about PETA’s killing.

A Life of Vivid Beauty — My Dad, Michael Troje

There are some moments in life that are etched so deeply into our memories that recalling them brings them back in all their vivid beauty — the first time my dad saw our first born is one of those memories for me. Newborn Liam was fast asleep in his bassinet when my dad and bonus mom, Margy, arrived at our house to meet him. My dad tiptoed to our bedroom, peeked his head around the doorway, got the most amazing look of wonder on his face, and whispered “he’s just so beautiful!” Love at first sight — total, complete, and unconditional. It was the same with our daughter when she was born, and with our youngest son. My father gave himself over to our children absolutely and without hesitation. 

Now our children are 16, 13, and 10. Throughout their lives, all over the world, my father showered them with adoration, indulgences, his infectious laughter, his offbeat sense of humor,  and complete devotion. Which is why, when Eric and I had to break the news to our children that their grandpy had Stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer, they were gutted beyond words. They sobbed, talked about how unfair it was because he was supposed to be there to watch them grow, to be proud of how they lived their lives. They always wanted him to be proud of them, and he always was. They said how he was more like a second father then a grandpa, how lucky they were to have such a grandpa. 

Shortly after, we flew home to spend time with my dad because we knew, more likely than not, he would not make it until our regular summer-long visit. We had a week and a half of poker, Monopoly, Scrabble, laughter, and stories — my dad, very weak by this point, even mustered enough strength to play one last round of soccer outside with our Ry. Eric and the kids left Easter Sunday, I stayed on, afraid to leave because I knew if dad passed without my being there I would not be able to bear it. 

April 24 arrived, our home was bustling with family and friends sitting with dad, putting food out for everyone, cleaning, laughing, and sharing stories of their time with dad. By this point he was sleeping most of the time, but he did have some moments of lucidity — smiling to greet people before drifting off again. My sister and two of her boys arrived around midnight, having decided to come home from St. Louis, where they live. The boys visited a little with their grandpy before turning in for the night. 

My sister, Tiff, myself, and Margy, sat around dad’s bed chatting and laughing as we do. We talked about memories we had and vacations we took and things dad had done in his life. We’d been a family since Tiff was three and I was seven, so our memories were of a lifetime together. Dad’s breathing had been ragged all day, which was new and worrying. Around 2:45 in the morning of April 25 something about dad’s breath changed, pullng the three of us even nearer to him. As his breath changed even more, becoming increasingly labored, we told him how much we love him, stroked his arms, said it was okay for him to let go. He passed peacefully, surrounded by his three girls. I laid my head on his arm and sobbed — suddenly feeling very much like a lost little girl. The three of us believe very strongly that dad waited for us all to be together again, knowing then that we would care for each other in our grief, before he passed. Even in his death his priority was his family — which makes sense because that’s how he lived his life. 

My whole life my dad loved me unconditionally, nurturing who I was instead of trying to shape me into someone who I wasn’t (as parents often seem to do with their children). Rather than try to tame my wild nature he constantly encouraged me to fly freely, to follow my heart, to follow my own moral compass. This was how his mother was with him — rather than try to tame his wild nature she encouraged it. She nurtured his soul with unconditional love and devotion. And he became an amazing man who, without exaggeration, changed lives all over the world through his advocacy,  innovation, and devotion to social justice. 

My father, in turn, gave me the same unconditional love and support, and that is something we give to our children. When people tell us how incredible our kids are, how we must be such good parents, I tell them it’s not us, it’s just who our kids are — we just let them fly free and be who they are, the same my dad did with me and his mom did with him. What a tremendous legacy.

It’s been two weeks since dad’s passing and we are still a family in shock. Dad truly was larger than life, and what his loss means to me is something I can’t yet articulate. Maybe one day I’ll be able to but right now I just know I feel so blessed to have been so loved by such a man, so blessed that my kids were so loved by him, so blessed that he loved Eric like a son. This is a singular loss and I’m just starting to take it in. Right now I only know that our lives have an enormous hole in them. I’m trying to fill it with memories and gratitude, but really I’d just like to hug my dad one last time. 

One night, shortly before he passed away, I went into his bedroom just to see how he was, he was in pain. I stroked his hair, leaned my head on his chest, he wrapped his arms around me while I cried. I said “I love you, dad, so much” and he, through his pain and his tears, said “I love you so much, I love you more than the whole world.” So like my dad to comfort me while he was so close to death. Even when he was so sick he would hug me, tell me he loved me, and say “nighty night” before bed. Always “nighty night.” One night, after his death, I said to him in my head “night, dad” and I heard, clear as day “nighty night.” Nighty night, dad, I love you more than the world.

A lot of people have asked us for copies of the words I said for dad at his ceremony, so I’m including them below, as well as a link to his obituary, which will give those who didn’t know him an idea of the kind of man he was, and why our world is so much richer for his having been in it — even if he was taken far too soon. 

My father was a warrior — not symbolically but truly. Decades ago, he became a champion –for LGTBQ people, domestic abuse survivors, refugees, people battling mental illness, women, and, especially, children. My father had a concrete sense of right and wrong, and he was driven by a passion to act — regardless of personal consequences. This belief in justice and action was a gift given to him by his brother, Bernie, who fostered in my father a profound sense of the importance of fighting for justice, and who was a hero and mentor to my dad. In turn, my father taught me, and my sister, Tiff, to always fight for what is right, to look out for others, to know that we can make a difference. And he told me countless times if I ever got arrested for something in which I believed that he would bail me out. The strange thing is, being my father’s daughter (and therefore an absolute “take it to the mat or don’t bother to do it at all” rebel) I tried my hardest to get arrested. It’s quite possible I’m the only daughter to be disappointed in herself for not getting arrested, but I could never disappoint my dad — as long as I stayed true to myself. I remember chatting about the future with him when I was a teenager and he said “I don’t care what you do as long as you’re happy.” Years later, I became a stay at home mom — and got a fair amount of grief for my decision from some of my fellow feminists. But, my biggest supporter was my dad. He told me that feminism (which he’d been fighting for for decades) wasn’t just about women working outside the home, it was about ensuring that women’s choices belonged to them. “Your life is yours and nobody else’s.” THAT was the message I got from my dad. Be independent. Be fierce. Be a warrior. Be true to who you are. And love unconditionally. 

When dad met our first baby, Liam, it was love at first sight — and that happened with each of his grandchildren. My dad was, by far, not only one of the most indulgent grandfathers but also one of the most dedicated. No matter where we lived in the world — from Africa to Europe to Central America — he was there for long and regular visits, and always so thrilled to be with his babies. Saying goodbye after each visit was heartbreaking for him — and, Margy would joke, not that easy on her either, because the grandkid withdrawal for dad was fierce. 
But, of course, Margy was fine with that because it only demonstrated what a profoundly devoted family man he was. Margy, I want to take a moment to thank you for being the love of his life. I am so grateful to you for making my dad so happy. It means the world to me to know that he had, for so long, your tenderness, joy, humor, and deep love. 
Though he was taken from us far too soon, he lived an incredibly full life. His irreverent sense of humor, which he maintained to the very end — even saying “Mellow Yellow” was his new theme song because he was so jaundiced — his infectious laughter, his passion, his incredible intelligence, his love of books, his unstoppable spirit, and his passion for travel and adventure. All of this and more made him the man he was, and wove an intricate web of people all over the globe who adore him. Which brings me to all of you, his family and friends, whom he has always cherished and who went so far above and beyond during his illness. You were so vital to his life, and many of you gave yourselves over to joining him, in a way, on his final journey. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of him. 
And then there was his biking. Even when he was so sick, he would proudly pronounce how many miles he had on his favorite bike — 56,800 and change. The day after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, less than 2 months ago, he biked 30 miles — nothing, not even terminal cancer, could stand in between him and his bike. We used to spend a lot of time in the home kitchen, drinking coffee, talking about his biking and my running. I GOT his obsession for his bikes and trails because I have the same obsession for my shoes and trails. So, when he no longer could bike, my heart broke for him, because biking was so integral to his spirit and to his love of life. He loved to go fast and he loved to go far, and not being able to do that was painful. 
But now he’s free, and I’m positive he’s already back on that bike. The disease in life that caused him so much physical and mental agony no longer torments him. Now he can jump on his bike and instantaneously be on his favorite trails — Lake Minnetonka, Lake Riley, along the banks of the Mississippi. My dad loved adventure, and he embraced life with a fire few could match. And, at the door of death, he embraced the certainty that he was between worlds with graciousness, with empathy for those who love him, with dignity, and with humor.
The day of dad’s passing a good friend of mine messaged me and told me to tell her the minute we spotted a cardinal. “Funny you should say that,” I said, “we saw one this morning on our back wall, which is weird because we never see cardinals here.” She then told me that cardinals accompany the souls of those who have passed but who want to return to tell their loved ones that they are okay, that they are free. So fly free, dad, fast on your trails, ready for new adventures, and with the knowledge that we carry your legacy in our hearts and in our actions and that, every moment of every day, we are grateful for you. We love you, now and for always. 
Obituary for dad 

PETA – it’s not just the dog owners they’re lying to

It’s no secret that PETA kills the vast majority of the animals they take in at their Virginia headquarters — they admit to this, though lie about the circumstances, and my own experience as a field worker for PETA’s Community Animal Project gives me firsthand knowledge of their killing.

Since the first time I blogged about Black Boy, the dog who saved me from going too far down the PETA True Believer path, PETA has been working hard to discredit me. They’ve said I was lying, that I am a vindictive ex-employee who invented a “hateful fantasy” in order to enact revenge against them for firing me. Never mind the fact that I have nothing to personally gain by speaking about my experiences, or that I have been the target of a smear campaign and cyber bullying because I’ve been speaking out. Or that they sent a letter full of lies to my husband’s boss to try to get us to shut up (accusing us of “false and malicious” attacks and attempting to “interfere with PETA’s business”), and potentially endangering my husband’s career with their libelous claims.

I spoke out because I needed to make amends for the things that I did while I worked at PETA, because I wanted Black Boy to have a legacy of change and truth, and because I wanted to help the family of Maya, the dog who PETA employees stole and subsequently killed. Maya’s family is suing PETA and I have stated time and again in this blog that I will do whatever I can in order to help them find justice.

One of the ways PETA has attempted to discredit me is by saying the Community Animal Project (CAP) (the department responsible for the killing of Maya) didn’t even exist when I worked there so how could I possibly have knowledge of the work their field staff does? In fact, in court documents filed for PETA in the Maya case, PETA attorneys state, in reference to my blog and what I’ve written about PETA and their killing, “Indeed, at the time the blogger worked at PETA, PETA did not operate an animal shelter and did not have any program that would have performed the services provided at Dreamland II” (the trailer park where Maya’s family has their home, the home from which Maya was stolen before she was killed). This is a screen grab from a memo in support of motion to strike filed by PETA’s lawyers, from which I pulled the above quote, implying that I am lying about the fact that I was a field worker for CAP.

peta screengrab1

And this is the performance appraisal I received, which lists my position as “Fieldworker” and my department as “Community Animal Project.” I’ll also note, contrary to what PETA has alleged — that I was a poor employee — that I received an overall rating of “excellent” and was, in fact, given a raise. One of the people who signed the appraisal was PETA President, Ingrid Newkirk.

PETA Performance pg 1

PETA Performance pg 2PETA Performance pg 3

Obviously, my performance appraisal shows that the statement made by PETA’s attorneys, and filed in a court of law, is demonstrably false, and was designed to damage my credibility. In the end, it’s PETA who has the credibility problem.

Trump’s #FuckingWall

It’s only a few days into America’s new administration and I am reeling — which is why I’m unable to sleep, sitting at the computer at 4:30 in the morning drinking day old coffee out of my mug that has a drawing of an owl that looks like it wants to kill you and reads “I will fuck you up. SRSLY.”

I have been watching as executive order after executive order has been signed (hey, Republicans, where’s the outrage now?). We have an executive order that not only brings back the global gag rule but expands it massively, endangering the health of impoverished people all over the world (thanks, Trump). We have an executive order to go ahead with the Keystone pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline (because, fuck the earth). We have an expected ban on refugees (because give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free is so 2016). And, of course, we have Trump’s #FuckingWall.

There are so many things I could write about at this point — and they’re all bouncing around in my head. But since I have called Honduras home for a good two and a half years I have some words about the #FuckingWall.

The first point I want to make is this: all throughout his campaign, Trump demonized people of color, and seemed especially focused on Mexican immigrants and people of Mexican heritage. Calling them “rapists,” “criminals,” “killers.” For a lovely list of some of his most offensive statements about Mexicans, and other Latinos, you can click here. Now, if Trump was your crazy uncle sitting in a corner muttering about brown people he would just seem bizarre and pathetic. Give him a pat on the head and refill his cup cause dude is off his rocker. But he’s not your crazy uncle, he’s the president (excuse me while I gag on my day old coffee), and he’s profoundly dangerous. Our country was built by immigrants, our diversity is our greatest gift — which makes a vehemently anti-immigrant president all the more dangerous to our moral core. We should be able to agree on that. We don’t. That’s terrifying. As an aside, I don’t know what his particular hangup with Mexicans is, but for a possible explanation you can click here: The Man Who Made Donald Trump Hate Mexico. So there’s his unhinged hate, and that of his supporters. That’s a problem.

Then we have the wall. The #FuckingWall. Which will very soon be our other, incredibly expensive (anyone have $14 billion laying around? Yeah, me neither), problem. It’s not only a problem because it is a wall that will be built on bigotry and fear, it’s a problem because it’s a bad solution to a refugee crisis from Mexico that doesn’t exist. Nowadays, more Mexicans are leaving the US than are entering it (seriously, who can blame them). The refugee crisis is coming from Central America. And it exists for humanitarian reasons.

I have lived in Central America for nearly six years now. And I am so fucking sick of hearing my fellow US citizens demonize people who are my neighbors and my friends. People who have taken us in, treated us with kindness, patience, and warmth. Trump’s #FuckingWall isn’t the solution to the refugee crisis. The solution to the crisis is to do exactly what organizations like USAID, the State Department, and NGO’s are doing here — fighting corruption, fighting the narcotics trade, strengthening communities, educating children, empowering people. But don’t take my word for it, take the word of a former assistant secretary of homeland security for border, immigration and trade policy who served under both Obama and Bush (man, I almost miss Bush and his cute little, plastic poncho fighting ass) who wrote an articled entitled “Trump’s border wall attacks the wrong immigration crisis.” Rather than spend billions on a wall, let’s fully fund our State Department and USAID, let’s fund NGO’s, let’s work with the amazing local organizations made up of brave people who are hell bent on helping their countries reach their potential.

know the good, the progress, that is happening in countries like Honduras because I see it every day in the children I meet whose lives have been changed by participating in education programs, language programs, arts programs, robotics programs, leadership programs, on and on. Those children are the solution, they can solve this problem. Not the wall, not hate, not bigotry, not fear.

And, lest we forget, we are ALL Americans. Somos todos Americanos. And our future, our beauty, is in our diversity and our vibrancy. Hate will sink us.

A Long Weekend On Isla de Roatan

One of the things that I love doing is telling people about The Real Honduras. Like any country, Honduras has its challenges but too often those challenges are all people pay attention and that’s unfortunate because Honduras also has A LOT going for it — its stunning beauty is one of those things.

A few weeks ago my family and I spent a relaxing long weekend on Roatan Island, one of the Caribbean islands here in Honduras, and it’s not a stretch to call it paradise. Our family took a boat out to one of the reefs that surround Roatan and had a snorkeling adventure, some of us (the crazy ones) went parasailing, we swam a lot in the warm, clear water, did some more snorkeling at closer reefs, took sunset walks, and did a lot of relaxing. We stayed in an all inclusive resort right on the beach, Paradise Beach Hotel. If it had just been me and Eric we would have found some tiny remote spot but all inclusive makes life so easy when you’re traveling with kids — they can eat and drink to their heart’s content and they have a bit more freedom to roam the resort on their own. And I definitely didn’t hate the unlimited margaritas!  We had an amazing time and wonderful adventures! This is #therealhonduras


Sunset walks on the beach with drinks were our nightly ritual (and, yes, our youngest is in that phase where every pic is met with a crazy face)



My kids are a little wacky






Nothing like sending your three most precious beings hurtling hundreds of feet into the air


Aisleen got to go twice, once with her brothers and once with her Granny


Roatan Island from our parasailing boat





My boys on the beach




I don’t even know what my kids are doing in this photo


Our hotel


Our last day was stormy, still gorgeous!


Selfie with my honey


Relaxing on the porch of our room


Selfie with my sweet boy, who pretty much owns my heart (and he’s actually smiling instead of clowning it up!)


Liam is just a tad bit taller than I am …



Our awesome bartender, Jeremy


Selfie with my beautiful girl


This was pretty much the moment I decided I never wanted to leave


The incredible water of Roatan


Wacky selfie


Leaving paradise is never easy …


This is #therealhonduras, folks! Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise!

How You Like Him Now?

This morning a friend of mine sent me this piece from The Daily Kos. Think what you will about The Daily Kos, this is pretty cut and dry. His people lied to his press pool, telling them that Trump was in for the night. Then he ditched his press pool (you know, those folks who follow the President-elect around so that we, the people, know what he’s up to) so he could go have dinner at a posh restaurant. This is all unprecedented and scary because it speaks to his level of transparency. But what made me doubly angry is what he said to the wealthy diners:

We’ll get your taxes down, don’t worry.

The video of Trump in the restaurant is in The Daily Kos piece, it’s also here, at the 5 minute mark

Trump’s rhetoric throughout the campaign was that of populism and, clearly, enough people chose to ignore the fact that this is a man whose sole purpose in life is to enrich himself because now he is the President-elect. Anyone who lives in a fact based world knew that his populism was just a ploy to get him elected, because he’s transparent AF to anyone who is even slightly grounded in reality. But to those of you who voted for him because you believed the garbage he was spewing — how you like him now? To those of you who voted for him who are maybe not racists or bigots or misogynists but were willing to overlook the fact that he, and all those who surround him (you can read about them here and here) are, because you thought he had your best interests at heart and so you were willing to overlook the very real ugly underbelly of Trump — how you like him now?

All throughout the campaign I tried hard to understand why anyone who wasn’t a bigot and a misogynist would be willing to vote for him — him, a man accused of raping, beating and imprisoning a 13 year old girl. I had people I love and respect ask me to try to understand that people are scared because they’re on the economic brink and that was blinding them to the nastiness. And I did it, for a while. As a friend of mine messaged yesterday, I tried to step back and be a listener. But, honestly, I’m done. I’m done because those of us who live in a fact based world tried to tell those of you who voted for him for economic reasons that he was going to screw you over the first chance he got. And not just in a “we have to tighten our belts a bit more for four years” sort of way but in a royal, outrageous, man are we all fucked, sort of way. But you chose not to listen.

Those of you who voted for this false populist, thinking he was going to be your man in the trenches — you allowed yourselves to be duped. And now we’re left with hate crimes going through the roof because bigots and racists and misogynists feel empowered and they are on a fucking bender. And we’re left with people whose ugliness runs so deep it is truly terrifying being put into some of the most powerful positions The White house has to offer. And we’re seeing a dramatic spike in calls to suicide hotlines for members of the LGBTQ community — and most of those calls are coming from children. And this administration is the one we’re left with, an administration that has the wealthy cheering and Wall Street celebrating. So I’m done. I’m done trying to understand, I’m done trying to be a listener. Maybe I’ll get back to the place where I can do that again but, right now, I’m just pissed that people who claim to be decent folks — not racist, not bigoted, not misogynistic — voted for this psychopathic asshole who has done nothing but show his true colors. Because ya’ll fucked up. And we’re all going to pay the price. Except for those people in the restaurant cheering for him. They’re good. And they’ve always known it.


Today I Run

Tuesday evening this was me, ready to shatter a glass ceiling into a billion pieces as we welcomed our first female president elect


Yes, I was pantsuit clad and beyond the moon, round my neck the last piece of jewelry my Da gave to my Nana before he passed, which was then handed down to me when she passed — a heart with each of their surnames engraved, and birthstones embedded, in it. Those surnames are important because, in an age when women were expected to lose their identity in their husbands, my Nana never did, and my Da never wanted her to. That was how I was raised. And I wanted that piece of them to be with me when we celebrated the moment when women finally reached a level of equality we could only dream of before. And then I watched in horror as that all fell to pieces.

For most of the evening I was at an embassy event, trying very hard to keep my abject terror to myself. And failing miserably. But then we went home and watched with our children. I had one child who, literally, got sick because of what was happening. And another, our daughter, the most kind and compassionate person I know, cry because our country — the country we serve overseas — just elected a man who dismisses her humanity and would treat her as an object to be used and tossed aside given half the chance. Such betrayal. Such disbelief.

Yesterday I grieved. Hard. I cried.  And, thankfully, I was helped through the day by friends and family as we vented our disbelief and fear to each other. And laughed, and then cried some more. And when I watched Secretary Clinton’s gracious and eloquent concession speech I was even more mesmerized by her then I’d been before. And then she said this


And I broke into ugly tears. Because THAT is the country I want my daughter and sons to grow up in. THAT is the leader I want them to look up to and emulate. Not someone who says not only is it perfectly acceptable to grab women by the pussy but, hell, men are entitled to that.

I still cannot wrap my head round the fact that my country, the country our family has proudly served overseas for going on twelve years now, elected a man who I would not leave my daughter alone with and a man who thinks I, as a bi woman, should be subjected to electroshock therapy. How? How did this happen? How did we get here? I’m going to leave the answer to that question to people more capable of answering it than I am, like Van Jones, whose voice and reason I am even more grateful for than I was before the Tuesday that flipped our country upside down.

Yesterday I sobbed. Today I’ve cried. But I also steeled myself. I have a six mile run to do, I considered slinking back to my bedroom and burying myself under my covers with a glass of wine and a good book. Because that sounds so appealing right now. But that was yesterday. Today is today.

And today I will run. I will run to remind myself that I’m a goddamn fighter. To remind myself that I, like Secretary Clinton, have a fucking spine of steel. To remind myself that I don’t back down. Ever. That my voice, our voices, are needed now more than ever. To remind myself that I have children to protect — not just mine but a nation’s — and I will fight for them with every ounce of strength I have in my body. And my body is strong. It’s powerful. I will run to remind myself that I don’t run from my problems, I run into them, head on. I run to remind myself that I am a fucking force of nature and nobody — not the misogynistic psychopath who is now our president elect, or his bigot of a running mate — can take that from me. I OWN it. It is MINE. And I will never surrender. We are warriors, and it’s time to pick up our proverbial swords.

PETA: Lie Away, Doesn’t Change the Fact that Your Shelter is A Slaughterhouse

I’ve written many times about Maya, the dog who was stolen and killed by PETA employees, about the lawsuit Maya’s family has filed against PETA, and about my desire to do whatever I can to help Maya’s family find justice. Things in the legal realm are well under way, and the most recent thing to happen is that PETA responded to the individual complaints against them. For a spot on run down of PETA’s latest lies, er, response you can read the most recent blog piece by Nathan Winograd, “It’s the Family’s Fault We Stole and Killed Their Dog.

There’s no point in reiterating what Mr. Winograd has already concisely laid out so I only want to touch on one thing. I was reading through PETA’s answers yesterday and when I got to point 19, the point addressing my blog and my employment with PETA, I was a little shocked. After I wrote my initial blog piece about Black Boy, the dog who ultimately saved me from going too far down the evil rabbit hole that is the cult of PETA, PETA predictably responded by writing me off as a vindictive ex-employee out for revenge — a plot for revenge, apparently, that took me 15 years to cook up.  Because I’m just that slow. Whatever. Then came the point where PETA attempted to put into jeopardy my husband’s job with lies and, frankly, libelous accusations. That pissed me off, because when you mess with Eric’s job you mess with my family — my children. And that is beyond the pale. But their threats were hollow and we all knew it so we shook it off. Then came the relentless cyber bullying by one, or several, anonymous Twitter users — all in PETA’s name, all tagging PETA (so they were seeing it), which they did nothing about. My own moral compass would have led me to do whatever I could to stop attacks — attacks of a sexual nature, attacks that made racial and anti-LGBTQ slurs, attacks that accused me of abusing my children — in my name. PETA, not so much. But all of that was predictable so I rolled with it. And my older kids (who are on Twitter and, therefore, saw everything), bless them, handled the attacks with grace.

But when I read PETA’s latest lie about me I was a little gobsmacked because it was so out of left field.

Upon information and belief, the blog author is a prior employee of PETA who was terminated after a few months because her instability prevented her from doing her job.

Now, I don’t know how that sounds to ya’ll, but it sounds to me like PETA’s legal team is implying I was (am?) emotionally unstable and, therefore, unable to do my job. Which is news to me. I can be kind of flighty, sometimes a little scatterbrained, and, thankfully, my friends seem to think my awkward quirkiness is cute. But emotionally unstable? Wow, PETA, kudos to you for creativity. And for actually surprising me for once. Again, with libel, but I didn’t see this particular lie coming. Because, frankly, the only thing that prevented me from doing my job the way that PETA wanted me to was my humanity.

I suppose they’re trying to paint me as unhinged for the judge. Maybe, once again, they’re trying to intimidate me in the hopes that I’ll sit down and shut up. I can’t control what the judge thinks of me, I can only continue to tell the truth. But I would like, once again, to tell PETA a few things.

First, I am still Honey Badger. I don’t care what lies you put out there, I don’t care what people might assume about me. The only opinions about me that matter are those of the people I love — and they all know I’m telling the truth. Your attempts to soil my reputation mean nothing to me.

Second, I am not backing down. I am still determined to do whatever I can to expose the fact that you don’t run a shelter, you run a slaughterhouse. I am determined to do whatever I can to help the Zarate family find justice in their lawsuit against you. And every time you make up new lies about me the only  thing that happens is I dig my heels deeper into the muck that is the truth about PETA. You don’t scare me, you can’t intimidate me. But keep talking, because with each lie you tell about me, my fire burns brighter. And, once again, I won’t back down.

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