ahhh, the life of a diplomatic princess . . .

When Local Media Presents Tales as Facts it Becomes That Much Easier for PETA to Continue Its Killing

Anyone who pays attention to media in Hampton Roads sees clearly that the Virginia Pilot is unabashedly pro-PETA, making it difficult to trust their coverage of the organization.  On Tuesday the published an article that, on the surface, was about the implementation of SB1381. SB1381 is a bill that recently passed in Virginia, what it does is clarify that the “purpose of an animal shelter is to find permanent and adoptive homes for animals.” This is a pretty common sense definition of an animal shelter but the reason it had to be legally solidified is because PETA’s “animal shelter” kills at unprecedented rates, and many in Virginia saw that something had to be done in order to tame their numbers. The Pilot article was framed as being about the implementation of the new law but it read a lot like a fluff piece for PETA.

First, the article asserts that SB1381 was “controversial” — in actuality it passed the Virginia Senate 38/1, the House 95/2, and had overwhelming support from animal advocates in Virginia. It is only controversial because PETA and their defenders want to frame it that way. Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations, asserts that “no other state has a cap or quota regarding euthanasia.” That may be true but no other state has PETA killing thousands of animals within its borders every year.  In 2014, PETA received 2,631 animals and killed 2,324 of those animals. They rehomed 39. Let those numbers sink in. 2,324 animals dead at the hands of PETA employees. 2,324.

PETA would like people to believe that its numbers are so high because it is the only shelter who will accept aggressive, terminal, or suffering animals free of charge but that is simply not true. In the article, in order to support this lie, Ms. Nachminovitch told the story of a woman who had come to them with two aggressive dogs. Nachminovitch claimed the woman had first called the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Control shelter and “was told that they could not accept the dogs to euthanize them.” Which seems rather suspicious — would Virginia Beach AC really turn away aggressive dogs? The reason it seems suspicious is because it only tells a fraction of what likely happened. This is what is stated on their website in regards to surrendering animals for the purposes of euthanasia:

The Animal Care and Adoption Center is an open-admission shelter meaning we will never turn your animal away. You may surrender your animal to us.

If you choose to surrender your animal, the decision to euthanize, adopt, or transfer that animal to another organization rests with our professional staff.

If we determine that euthanasia is the appropriate decision for the animal, certified and trained staff will humanely perform the procedure with the utmost care.

Also noted on their website, there is no charge for surrendering an animal to their shelter. When someone brings an animal to a shelter for the purposes of euthanasia it is imperative that the shelter have its own professional process to determine the health, behavior, and potential adoptability of that animal — to do otherwise is not ethical and could potentially result in the deaths of healthy, adoptable animals. Are there situations where euthanasia is needed? Absolutely. But a shelter must verify that they are doing the right thing for the animal, that is where their responsibility sits — they euthanize because it is warranted, not because an owner says it should be done. If policy was followed, what likely happened is the woman contacted the Virginia Beach AC shelter, was told she could sign ownership of the dogs over to them and they would make their own independent determinations about what should happen to the dogs and, for whatever reason, she chose not to do that. For the record, I did contact Virginia Beach Animal Control for clarification but I have not heard back from them, if I do I will update this blog.

The second claim that was made by Nachminovitch, according to the article, is that the women then contacted a veterinarian and was told the cost for euthanasia for two dogs was estimated at $1,000, which is a mind blowing amount. What the article did not state when it was originally published is that this was the cost for in-home euthanasia and cremation services. This clarification was only made in the article after a few residents of Hampton Roads questioned the reporter about the incident. In fact, the reporter hadn’t even verified Nachminovitch’s story with the owner of the dogs until after being pushed to do so, after the story was published. He took Nachminovitch at her word and relayed a story that was full of half truths and holes. Maybe Nachminovitch only knew that much of the story, and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is that the reporter did not bother to get the entire truth and the version of events that was published was very clearly sympathetic to PETA’s narrative. How is “journalism” like that supposed to be taken seriously? And how are we, the public, supposed to rely on the integrity of news organizations who publish articles with so little regard for fact checking and truth? The reporter should have verified what he had been told — before publishing the story and not after. And a copy editor should have caught that the verification had not been done. It’s a slippery slope to present someone else’s statements as fact, it can also inform the quality of the source if something they say can be easily proven/disproven — as outlined by Reuters here.

In the battle to save animals who are vulnerable to PETA’s kill first policy we are up against not only an immoral behemoth with deep pockets but a very clearly complicit “news” organization that seems to have no problem presenting half truths as fact. It is the responsibility of each of us to ensure we are getting the entire picture, and that we have all the facts, not just snipets presented to us by PETA and those who support them — we owe that to the animals.



Running With Spirit

I run for a lot of reasons — I run for relief from stress, I run to feel powerful, I run when I’m angry, I run because it brings me joy, I run to feel free, I run to push myself beyond my limits physically and mentally, I run because I love my tribe of runners, and I love running with Eric and our kids. For me all the other benefits of running, weight maintenance and health maintenance, are wonderful but secondary. I would run even if those benefits didn’t exist. Running is a mind, body, and spirit activity for me and I am grateful for it every day.

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, at the beginning of the year Eric and I joined a challenge called Run the Edge, the challenge is to run 2,015 miles in 2015. We’re doing this as a team and the name of our team is We Run 4 Paula. We decided early on to dedicate our running miles to one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paula, who was battling breast cancer. Early Tuesday morning Paula passed away. I have been riding the roller coaster of grief. I’ve learned from past losses that you really just have to hang on and let it take you where it is going to take you, you only have so much control over your emotions and the only thing you can control is your reaction to them and what you do with them.

I had a six mile run scheduled for Tuesday, I didn’t do it. Instead, I wrote about Paula. I couldn’t run yesterday, I just didn’t have it in me. But today I knew I had to. I was hesitant, a bit unsure, feeling like I didn’t know what my body was going to do with the fact that I was running in Paula’s memory instead of running to send her strength and endurance. Of course, the other thing about running for Paula was that her courage and joy were amazing, and her spirit was indomitable, and she inspired me to be strong. That hasn’t changed, that’s still reality.

I went into our garage where we have our treadmill, where we do most of our running because of the security situation in Tegus. Next to the treadmill is a wall where I’ve put up inspirational sayings I can look to when I need a push, I looked at them before I got on the mill and saw the “Team We Run 4 Paula” sign. I got tears in my eyes, I took a deep breath, and I got on the mill.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a particularly religious person, I’m on the fence about God. I’m kind of with Frank Lloyd Wright: “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” I guess I’d call myself a spiritual person because I believe there is something much bigger than me at play but as to who or what he/she/they/it are I haven’t a clue. I believe in some of the philosophies of some religions and disagree with others but the existence of God, or heaven, or an afterlife? Insert shrug here. So, that’s my starting point.

I began to run, I felt good, better than I had expected to feel. I was enjoying my run, maintaining my intervals of running and walking, which I need to do because my calf injury from May is still healing. Not quite two miles into my run I felt what I can only describe as a powerful surge of energy, and I began to feel stronger. Then I felt this incredible joy and freedom and tears were streaming down my face but they weren’t sad tears, they were profoundly happy tears, and I began to run faster. Now, this is where it gets into “eh, okaaaay” territory but I felt Paula. And not just felt her as in, felt her memory or my gratitude for her friendship, or inspiration from her strength, I actually felt her there, running with me. I felt sheer exhilaration, a desire to run harder, go faster, because it was just so fun! I felt how she’d been weighed down so long by cancer, unable to feel the freedom of movement without pain, and now she wasn’t, now she was running and free — and laughing! I felt that way, I felt Paula, for about two miles. Then I felt like it was just me again, though she was still there, and I ran the last mile even harder for her.

I know it may sound nuts. I know it could just have been a runner’s high, or wishful thinking, or my grief. But I believe she was with me, I believe it. And I believe she loved the way the freedom of the run felt. I believe, after decades of knowing what her joy feels like, I felt her joy and her spirit. Regardless, though, of whether it was my imagination or reality what it taught me is that Eric and I not running in Paula’s memory, we are running with her. She’s in a different form but she’s still with us, she’s with everyone who loves her. She is watching over her beautiful daughters and her partner and she is with us. I believe this.


“Do Me a Favor. Tell Other People My Story.”

This morning I learned of the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paula Beck. Paula and I have been friends for 31 years, for most of our lives. I am in shock. I am at a loss as to how to absorb this reality. I thought I’d be better prepared for this, I am woefully unprepared for this.

Paula was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was working on her social work degree, her first day of chemo was the day of her graduation ceremony. I saw her when I went home last summer. By that time she’d had a double mastectomy and many rounds of chemo but she was cancer free. We sat in the backyard and talked with my bonus mom about  what she wanted to do next. She was still tired, and recovering, but she was excited about the possibility of finding a job, doing something she was passionate about, helping people. Then the heartbreaking news came that her cancer had spread. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail because her story is not mine to tell — that story belongs to her beautiful daughters and her partner of many years.

But I do want to pass something on, because Paula felt that her story was bigger than her, that people could learn from her battle with cancer. In January, Paula and I discussed her having a celebration of life. She told me she hated the idea of a traditional funeral — a sad event she would not be there for, to see everyone she loved. Rather, she wanted a happy day that was true to who she was, a joyful event. It turned into even more than that. It was a fundraiser for her family, an awareness raiser about breast cancer, and so many people attended, donated, came from all over to celebrate Paula. The mantra of the day was “Why? Because we love you, Paula!” When Paula got up to speak she was so her — smiling, laughing, showing profound gratitude for the love that surrounded her. But she also took the opportunity to pass on a bigger message and I want to pass her message on now

One more thing that I want to say that’s very important. I was diagnosed with this, and I maybe didn’t do my breast self-test enough. I was in my early forties, I thought I was too young, I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. And it did. And I wasn’t detected on a mammogram. I had a six centimeter tumor in my right breast. And I want you all to know, you’re your own best advocate. There’s no shame in feeling your own body and knowing your body. It could save your life, I could be in a different predicament than I am if I had not thought that it wouldn’t happen to me, I was so young, ya know, if I would have caught it sooner. But I have a very aggressive cancer … and the tumor was very large. And, now, this is where I’m at. But it’s not too late, there’s a whole bunch of people out here, and you have to know your body … Do me a favor. Tell other people my story. And tell them to do their own breast self-awareness checks and know their body. Because I don’t want this to go on and hurt other people the way it has hurt me and my family. So please do me that favor and share it with others and make sure you are all doing this to stop cancer, or at least minimize the impact and effect it has on other people. So, I love you all and thank you. I’m getting off this damn microphone now.

Because that was Paula. Even exhausted, even in pain, even going through something so difficult, she thought of other people, and how she could help them. Paula gave so many gifts to this world — her two beautiful daughters, her kindness, her empathy, her laughter, her smile, her example of profound courage in the face of something so painful, her reverence for nature, her absolute sincerity in how she interacted with everyone around her. She was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever had the privilege to know and love.

This was a quote that Paula chose to go on a portrait our incredibly talented friend, Tina, drew of Paula:

Paula's quote

I wish I could credit this artist because it’s a beautiful piece but the artist is listed as “unknown.”

It was just so Paula to choose that quote, to think of the importance of how we treat others first and foremost.

This is a copy of the portrait, the original was sold in the silent auction at Paula’s celebration of life:


A copy of Tina Bevan’s portrait of Paula, the original has the quote written on it.

That’s Paula — always smiling, always beautiful, always lighting up a room and impacting everyone she ever met. I have so many amazing memories of Paula, most of them are just the everyday things that make up a childhood — giggling, passing notes in class, hanging out, doing things we shouldn’t have done, having A LOT of fun together. One summer Paula joined my family, of which she was a cherished member by this time, on an extended trip to Mexico. She’d never been out of the country and she was beyond excited. A lot happened that summer — we spent hours on the beach together, we hung out with friends I’d made the year before who also became her friends, she got stung by bullet ants, she fell in love. While we spent most of that trip just outside the tiny town of Chelem we also went to Chichen Itza. I remember climbing El Castillo with Paula. Going up was fine but she refused to come down because, once you get up there, the height of the great pyramid is overwhelming. She sat on the top and wouldn’t budge, she told me I’d have to bring in a helicopter because that was the only way she’d get back to the ground. The smile that was usually a permanent fixture on her face had transformed into a stubborn scowl. But we coaxed her down, bit by bit, and laughed once we were on terra firma again. So many memories.


I’m in shock, vacillating wildly between being numb and sobbing. When I found out last night that Paula’s cancer had spread to her brain I told Eric that I thought I’d been prepared, as much as humanly possible, to have to say goodbye. But I realized that I wasn’t. And the reality of saying goodbye was very different from the hypothetical of saying goodbye. And when I found out this morning that she had passed I began to shake and cry, completely caught off guard. Woefully unprepared. I am running the gamut of emotions, but I’m only feeling a tiny portion of each, I guess shock is a gift in that way. I’m grateful Paula is no longer in pain. I’m incredibly angry that she had to fight the battle she fought, and that she was taken far too soon. I feel blessed for having had her in my life. My heart hurts for her family. And I know that this is only the beginning, because grief is a process and you never get over it, you just make room for it in your life.

At the beginning of the year Eric and I signed up for a running challenge, to run 2,015 miles in 2015 as a team. After discussing it we decided we wanted to dedicate our miles to Paula. Which might sound trivial to some but, to us, running is sacred. And Paula got that. When I told her what we wanted to do she was so touched, because she knows what running means to us. She knows the strength we garner from it, the dedication we put into it, the love we have for it. Every time we’ve run we have focused on sending Paula strength and endurance. In turn, we’ve been inspired by her great courage, her joy, her love. There have been many runs where thinking of Paula kept me moving forward, and many runs where I felt her with me, cheering me on, because that’s what she did. Always. And I’m having a hard time thinking about transitioning from running for Paula to running in memory of Paula. I’m reminding myself that she’ll still be there, cheering me on, just in a different form. But it’s hard, it’s just really hard.

This is what I’m asking anyone who is reading to do — remember Paula’s message to be your own best advocate, to know your body. She wanted to spare others her experience, help her do that, help her memory live on that way. And be kind to each other. With each act of kindness, both big and small, Paula will be with us. And I’m going to remember this, embrace it, live it. Each time I react with judgement or with disdain I will try to remember Paula’s message to be kind. Live gently. Love with grace. Always.

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


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)


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


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:

You can find him on Facebook here:

You can email him:

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.


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.

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