animals

I have noticed that animal protection and animal rights are issues that unite people of many different backgrounds and political stripes (even more so than a love of nature or a desire to protect the environment). Most people recognize that we humans are animals too, and many people understand that all living beings have inherent value and should have the right to live and thrive.

Personally, I believe that other species have as much of a right to exist, live, and thrive as humans do. I do not feel that my life has greater importance or value than the lives of other creatures. I also do not believe that other animals are here for us; they are here with us (and many species were here long before us), and they are not ours to use, abuse, commodify, cage, or exploit. Since they cannot speak for themselves or defend themselves against people (and our various types of weapons and threats), I do think it is our responsibility to try to protect them from other humans who do them harm.

Animals of all kinds—wild and domestic—face a wide variety of threats (to their survival, health, and well-being) from humans, including:

cruelty, abuse, domestic violence, neglect, exploitation and captivity (for human entertainment), factory farming, inhumane slaughter, over-hunting, poaching, trapping, trafficking, poisoning (e.g., rat poison and pesticides/herbicides; water, soil, and air pollution; plastic waste/pollution; intentional poisoning e.g. cyanide poisoning of elephants’ watering holes), widespread habitat destruction (e.g. from deforestation, development, agribusiness e.g. cattle grazing and crop plantations, mining, and road-building), medical research, animal testing (for products e.g. cosmetics), injury or death from vehicles or buildings (e.g., getting hit by cars or planes, birds flying into windows), and the overarching problem that affects all species including our own: climate change (extreme and volatile temperatures, drought; loss of food sources; extreme storms/hurricanes, flooding, fires, etc.)

Between 1970-2012 (in just over 40 years), humans have wiped out about 60% of the earth’s mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, according to WWF’s Living Planet report of 2018. (As the human population has increased, wildlife populations have decreased, by similar degrees. Over that same time period (1970-2012), the world population of humans almost doubled, growing by approx. 3.5 billion people to more than 7 billion people. In 2020, we’re now approaching 8 billion.) The WWF study also found that freshwater wildlife populations have decreased by 83%, and extreme deforestation in South and Central America has led to a wildlife decline of 89% in that region. During the past 12,000 years of human civilization, humans have killed almost half of the trees on earth; around 15 billion trees are cut down each year (source). When we destroy animals’ habitat, we are destroying living beings and biodiversity. This not only creates a bleaker world in which to live; we are also destroying our own cousins and our shared life support systems.

 

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. …I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Below is a listing of some of the many organizations that advocate for animals. They include animal rights, welfare/protection, conservation, rescue and rehabilitation, and refuge/sanctuary groups. Some are focused primarily on wildlife (including threatened or endangered species, or biodiversity), while others are focused on domesticated / companion animals (e.g. pets) or farmed animals. And a few do work that addresses all of the above. I have mostly included groups with a national (U.S.) or international scope, but there are many local and regional community-based groups for animals (in particular rescue groups that serve a local area), as well. I encourage you to do an online search to identify and support the ones in your region. Also follow our Twitter list of animal protection groups.

Organizations are listed below under the categories: General/Broad-based; Biodiversity; Farm Animals (and Humane Eating); Wild Animal Sanctuaries; Anti-Poaching and -Trafficking; Species-Specific (elephants, wolves, marine animals, primates, donkeys); Disaster Response/Rescue; Anti- Animal-Testing/Research/Experiments; Petitions; Books, Films, Audio, Videos; and Other Resources. And at the end, you will see More Quotations and Related Posts.

Note: This listing is not comprehensive. Also, I cannot vouch for the effectiveness or integrity of every group listed here (i.e., being listed does not necessarily constitute an endorsement). I will periodically add more links to the listing as I learn about other interesting groups. Please feel free to recommend additional groups in the Comments section.

General / broad-based animal rights and welfare groups

 

Biodiversity groups

These groups focus on broad issues that affect wild animal populations, such as habitat conservation, wildlife and endangered species protection, biodiversity, rewilding, and climate.

Also see the Anti-poaching category below.

And see the land/habitat conservation groups listed in our post Sustainable Land Use and Land Stewardship.

Organizations that work to protect and preserve wilderness (including intact forests and other wild lands) are thereby also preserving habitat for wildlife.

 

Farm animal groups and rescues/sanctuaries

There are many animal rescues and sanctuaries all over the country and the world. The following list is just a small selection of them that provide safe places for farm(ed) animals. Do a search to find the ones in your area, and see if you can go on a tour, or donate / sponsor (“adopt”) an animal:

Humane eating/meat standards:

Some would (maybe rightly) argue that there is no such thing as “humanely” raising or slaughtering (or hunting) animals for meat. I have included vegetarian/vegan resources here, as well as information about the various “humane” standards and certifications for meat producers. While I believe the choice to be vegan or vegetarian is admirable and ideal, the reality is that most humans have been and continue to be carnivores (omnivores), and I don’t think that people can be shamed out of meat-eating. Non-dogmatically-presented information and education can help, and more people are moving towards a low-meat, more humanely-raised-meat, or no-meat (or dairy) diet, but those are choices that each person comes to based on their own personal convictions and experiences.

 

Wild/large animal sanctuaries 

 There are many others. To find others, check out this listing of accredited sanctuaries.

Also see the sanctuaries for specific species, e.g., elephants, wolves, donkeys, etc., listed under “Species-specific groups,” below.

 

Anti-poaching, -trafficking, -wildlife-crime groups

 

Species-specific groups

The following is a small selection of the many groups that focus on particular species:

Elephants:

(Also see the Anti-Poaching groups listed above, which help protect elephants as well as other animals. And see the films Love and Bananas, and Last Days of Ivory.)

Wolves:

Marine animals:

Find other marine animal rescue groups here (a listing). And see the films The Cove and Blackfish.

Primates:

Donkeys:

Big cats:

 

Disaster response/rescue groups

Do an online search to find out if there’s some type of Animal Disaster Response group, such as an Animal Response Team (e.g., “State Animal Response Team” (SART) or “Community/County Animal Response Team” (CART)) established in your state, county, or city/town. If there isn’t one, consider organizing people to start one in your area, to help rescue pets, horses, livestock, and other animals during disasters.

 

Anti- animal testing/research/experiments groups

 

Petitions

Many of the organizations listed in the first section and in other sections of this post create their own petitions or letters that you can sign on to. Sign up for some organizations’ mailing lists, and check their websites’ Action-related sections.

Also see these websites:

And you can also check these other petition sites, which sometimes have animal-related petitions.

 

Books, Films, Audio, Videos

Books:

Films:

Audio (natural/animal sounds):

Videos / social media:

 

Other Resources

Find wildlife rescue/rehabilitation centers in your state or county (and here’s another directory) — places that help treat orphaned, sick, or injured wildlife

Find domestic animal rescues/shelters for pet adoption near you

Dog Food Advisor  (including pet food Recall alerts)
Dog Food Analysis

House Rabbit Society

Also see/follow our Twitter list of animal protection groups.

 

A side note: While many (and possibly even most) people support animal rights and protections, most of us do not support or condone the extreme and often counter-productive (alienating or off-putting) approach and tactics of PETA. That group does not represent all or even most animal rights supporters and activists.

 

More Quotations

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
— Immanuel Kant

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from the great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”
– widely attributed to Chief Seattle (but it actually seems to have been written or adapted by the screenwriter for the 1972 film Home)

“Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
— Albert Einstein

“We are forever responsible for that which we have tamed.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

Related posts:

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July 8, 2020
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These are some recently published books that you may want to consider reading and/or giving to someone as a gift:

The Overstory, by Richard Powers  
(This is a novel, and it won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize.)

Erosion: Essays of Undoing, by Terry Tempest Williams

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, by Bill McKibben

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken

Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, by Peter Kalmus

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, by Pam Houston

The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry

Renewal: How Nature Awakens Our Creativity, Compassion, and Joy, by Andres Edwards

Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator, by Gregory Jaczko

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays), by Rebecca Solnit

Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life, by George Monbiot

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis, by George Monbiot

Our Wild Calling: How connecting with animals can transform our lives—and save theirs, by Richard Louv

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, by Carl Safina

I’d also recommend taking a look at other books written by the authors listed above, as well as books by Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Kolbert, John McPhee, Annie Dillard, Bernie Krause, Joanna Macy, and Barbara Kingsolver.

And check out the books published by Chelsea Green Publishing and New Society Publishers and Island Press, for a wide selection of titles on green/sustainability topics.

Another book I would recommend is the following [disclosure: it was written by a family member]. Though it is not directly related to environmental issues, it does impart important lessons on non-violent dissent (and the folly of violence) that all activists and social movements (including environmental activists and movements) can benefit from:

Looking for Revolution, Finding Murder: The Crimes and Transformation of Katherine Ann Power, by Janet Landman (2019)

 

Note: Please try to buy books from independent bookstores (or Barnes & Noble), rather than from Amazon. There are probably over a dozen compelling reasons not to buy anything (but especially books) from Amazon. Also avoid choosing one- or two-day shipping unless it’s really necessary; overnight/airplane-based shipping has an enormous environmental footprint as well as a serious cost to worker safety.

Do you have favorite books or authors to recommend? Please mention them in the Comments.

Related Posts:

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November 25, 2019
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This is a listing of some of the sustainability-themed films that have been released this year. Click on each of the links below (or go to IMDB.com) to see previews/trailers, reviews, and descriptions of each film.

Click here to see our previous listing of green-themed films; it lists movies that came out between 2012-2014. (Note: We periodically add more films to these listings, as we learn of other films that have come out.)

 

Racing ExtinctionRacing Extinction 
[being shown on the Discovery channel]

 

Time to Choose

 

The Yes Men Are Revolting

 

Inhabit: A Permaculture PerspectivePlanetary movie

 

Planetary

 

Catching the Sun: The Race for the Clean Energy Future

 

Resistance

 Resistance, the film

STINK!

 

Medicine of the Wolf

 

Last Days of Ivory

 

Revolution

 

Dryden: The Small Town that Changed the Fracking Game
(11-minute short film; watch it via the link!)

 

Other films, released before 2015:

Are there other relevant, recent (or forthcoming) films that you’ve seen and would recommend to others?  If so, please mention those in the Comments section below.

Green Film Festivals

These are a few of the annual film fests that I’m aware of; it isn’t an exhaustive list. Please let everyone know about other green film festivals by contributing a Comment! Many of the festivals’ websites feature video clips and a few even stream some entire films (short and full-length films), and they list many additional, new, independent films, beyond what I’ve listed above, including some brand new ones that haven’t been screened widely yet.

See the Green Film Network to find film festivals in 24 countries.

Also check out the recent and acclaimed TV series  Years of Living Dangerously  and  EARTH: A New Wild.

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October 28, 2015
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Here’s a selection of five good TED talks related to the environment, energy, public health, nature, and other relevant topics. The engaging speakers who have given these talks are experts in their fields. Check out these free videos of the following brief and fascinating talks.

The Business Logic of Sustainability / Ray Anderson

The Voice of the Natural World / Bernie Krause

Biomimicry in Action / Janine Benyus

A 40-Year Plan for Energy / Amory Lovins

Protect Our Oceans / Sylvia Earle

 

UPDATE: We’ve now posted two more sets of talks:

TED Talks to Watch (Part II)

TED Talks to Watch (Part III)

And here are some other collections of environment-related TED talks:

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September 29, 2015
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This is a listing of some of the green-themed films that came out in the last couple of years. Click on each of the links below (or go to IMDB.com) to see previews/trailers, reviews, and descriptions of each film.  Update: Also check out our newer listing of green-themed films of 2015.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see a list of some green film festivals; those websites provide information on more films, including some brand new ones that haven’t been shown widely yet.

Energy / Power

 

Health / Toxic Chemicals

(Note: Many of the films in the Energy section above also relate to health issues, especially Hot Water, Gasland II, and the Atomic States of America)

 

Food / Agriculture

  • Bringing It Home: Industrial hemp, healthy houses, and a greener future for America (2013)

 

Animal Sentience / Animal Rights

 

Water (Oceans, Rivers, Glaciers)

 

Environmental Movement / Activism

  • Green Gold (2012) – Entire film is available to watch online

 

Related posts (more films):

If there are other relevant, recent films that you’ve seen and would recommend to others, please add those in the Comments section below.

Green Film Festivals

These are a few of the annual film fests that I’m aware of. Please let everyone know about others by contributing a Comment! Many of the festivals’ websites feature video clips or entire films (short and full-length films), and they list many additional, new, independent films, beyond what I’ve listed above.

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March 25, 2014
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This is a list of links to information resources related to sustainable agriculture, organic farming and gardening, and growing and buying good, safe food.

Image created by Matt FarrarThese resources are organized into the following general categories (though some are relevant to more than one category): Organizations, Magazines and Blogs, Educational Programs, Funding & Investing, Permaculture, Urban Farms, Agri-Tourism / Farm Tours, International/Non-U.S. Initiatives, Films and Books.

At the end, you will find a few suggestions of simple ways to get involved in the good food movement.

Organizations

Magazines and Blogs

Educational Programs

Funding and Investing

(including some crowdfunding sites)

Permaculture

[Partial list; please mention other groups in the Comments.]

Urban Farms

[This is just a small selection; there are many, many more. Please mention other urban farms you are familiar with in the Comments.]

Agri-Tourism / Farm Tours

International/Non-U.S. Initiatives

Films and Books

Many films about food and farming have come out recently. One of the most recent is Symphony of the Soil.

There are also many books on these topics. One new one is called Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing, by Daphne Miller, MD.  Another recent book is Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat, by Temra Costa.

I also recommend reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, as well as books by Wendell Berry, Michael Ableman, Michael Pollan, Frances Moore Lappe, Anna Lappe, and Marion Nestle.

For other relevant books, check out the offerings from Chelsea Green Publishing, Mother Earth News, and New Society Publishers.

Taking Part

You don’t have to be a farmer to be involved in sustainable agriculture and the good food movement. Here are just a few of the steps that almost anyone can take, to create a healthier family, healthier community, and a healthier planet:

  • Buy organic, non-GMO, and locally grown foods whenever possible (from the grocery, a farmer’s market, local farms, a CSA, etc.) To find local farms, farmer’s markets, or food providers, go to LocalHarvest.org, and if you live in California or New York, check out Farmigo.com, which is basically an online Farmer’s Market or CSA for small or large groups.
  • If/when you buy meat (from stores or at restaurants), avoid getting factory-farmed meats. Look for and ask for meats from grass-fed and grass-finished animals, that are free of antibiotics and added hormones, and that also, ideally, have third-party certifications (such as Animal Welfare Approved) verifying that the animals were raised and slaughtered humanely. Boosting the demand for such products will help shift the industry away from factory farming. (We’ll be adding a blog post with more information on humanely raised meat in the future.)
  • Buy organic, non-GMO seeds and organically grown plants, and plant them in a kitchen garden, window boxes, porch pots, raised beds, a greenhouse, a community garden, or wherever you can.  Use organic/natural rather than toxic chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. It’s fun and satisfying to swap your surplus harvest with friends and neighbors.
  • Replace water-intensive, conventional grass lawns with a garden, or no-mow native grasses or groundcovers. Choose low-water (drought-tolerant), native or adapted (climate-appropriate) plants and flowers, including those that attract and feed pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

 

Related posts:

Sustainable Agriculture in the Spotlight: Fresh films, books, etc.  [August 2009]

Sustainable Ag: Marin and Sonoma County Resources

Recent Films with Green Themes: Food, farming, energy, etc.  [2011]

Quotations for Gardeners, Farmers, and Others  [MotherEarthNews.com blog]

Chocolates of Choice: Organic, Fair Trade, and Delicious

 

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July 24, 2013
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There are a number of large and well-known environmental organizations (e.g., NRDC and the Sierra Club) and other broad-based sustainability groups that do good work. But there are also many lesser-known, smaller, local, or more issue-specific environmental organizations that I believe also deserve attention and financial support. You might not have heard of all of these groups before, but they’re worth knowing about. They include:

  • A local Land Trust / Conservancy (or state or regional parks; or other local land conservation or wildlife protection group)

It was difficult to narrow down my long list of favorite organizations to this small set; there are so many other effective organizations and initiatives that deserve support, as well. If you have a favorite organization to recommend, please mention it in the Comments section.

Remember that you can always give a donation to a group or a cause in honor of someone else—as a gift. It’s a wonderful type of gift to give for the holidays or any other occasion. You can also give someone a charity gift card (such as the TisBest Charity Gift Card) that allows the recipient to spend the funds on a charity of their choice.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to mention a few other non-profit groups that you might want to learn about, though they are not directly/explicitly related to environmental issues. I hope you will look into and support some of these groups, as well:

Also consider making donations to local organizations that serve your community (e.g., food banks, homeless shelters or affordable housing groups, senior centers, child abuse prevention or foster care groups, veterans support groups, animal rescues/shelters, rural/volunteer fire departments, disaster response/relief groups), as well as to local and nationwide public radio/TV programs and other user-supported media outlets.

Also see:  Non-Profit Organizations of Note

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December 7, 2012
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Just a quick post to provide links to information on the BP oil drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and some of the key organizations and agencies that are working to minimize the impacts of it and provide emergency rescue and recovery assistance. The oil slick is shaping up to be far worse than BP originally said it could be, and probably even worse than the Exxon Valdez spill. It’s going to be devastating for the ecosystems and animals, as well as fishermen and other people who live in the region. These are a few groups you might want to support, as well as articles linking to other efforts:

Gulf Restoration Network (Donate. Volunteer. )

Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, MS

If you’re on the Gulf Coast, and you see marine mammals (e.g., dolphins, manatees) or sea turtles that have been affected by the spill, please call this hotline: 1-888-767-3657.

To report oiled birds or other wildlife, call this hotline: 1-866-557-1401.

Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana: Volunteer registration

“Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Impact: Get Involved article (w/ more links) from Huffington Post, posted on GlobalGreen.org

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The What, When and Where…and How You Can Helparticle (w/ more links) on Planet Green (Discovery)

For additional info on the spill, see these sites:

    And for an overview of BP’s previous accidents and the company’s controversial environmental record, take a look at this Wikipedia page.

    As for longer-term solutions to prevent this type of disaster from recurring, the best things that each of us can do are: 1) to demand that all of our governmental representatives support energy conservation and clean/renewable energy legislation, and 2) to decrease our own consumption of oil, gasoline, fossil-fuel-generated electricity, and petroleum-based products, including plastic. (Reducing our demand for oil will help to reduce the need for drilling and exploration to boost the oil supply.) Look for more details on these topics in later posts.

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    May 3, 2010
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    Fleas and ticks (and mosquitos) can bring severe itching, allergic reactions, discomfort, and even serious diseases (such as lyme disease) to your pets, so it’s important to protect your pets from them. However, studies have found that some common flea and tick control treatments—products that are readily available at stores and have been recommended by many vets—aren’t just harmful to fleas and ticks; they can actually poison pets, and some are also dangerous to humans and other animals.

    Some conventional flea and tick treatments (including many of the topical, spot-on treatments that are applied directly onto pets’ skin, as well as flea collars, powders, and sprays, and even some ingestible products) contain highly toxic pesticides, some of which have been shown to cause a range of serious reactions in pets, from skin problems, vomiting, and excessive drooling to neurological problems (e.g., seizures or uncontrollable shaking), heart attacks, and death. So, tragically, some pesticides end up serving as pet-icides

    The Center for Public Integrity did a study in 2008, and found that at least 1,600 pet deaths related to spot-on treatments were reported to the EPA over the previous five years. According to the NRDC, cats may be more susceptible to adverse reactions than dogs, since they are more likely to lick the treatments off of their fur and they often lack enzymes for metabolizing or detoxifying the pesticides. Many of these pesticides are toxic to humans, as well, and children are especially vulnerable to exposure.

    Avoid products that contain pyrethroid, pyrethrin, or permethrin pesticides, organophosphate insecticides (such as tetrachlorvinphos/TCVP; chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, phosmet, naled, diazinon, and malathion), carbamates (e.g., propoxur, fenoxycarb, and carbaryl), or Amitraz. [This list was updated on May 26, 2010.] Many common flea/tick control products contain at least one of these ingredients. (Towards the end of this post, you will find a link to a listing of some specific products to avoid.) Please note: Never use products on cats that are meant for use on dogs (and vice versa), and never give your pet more than the recommended dose.

    It’s disturbing that so many of us might have been unwittingly sickening our animals (and possibly shortening their lives) by using these products, often at the recommendation of our veterinarians, who trusted the manufacturers’ assurances of the products’ safety. It’s yet another example of how you can’t trust that a product is safe just because it’s been allowed into the marketplace. According to the Humane Society, the EPA did not start reviewing pet products for safety until 1996, and there is still a backlog of products that need to be tested. However, the overarching problem is that some ingredients that the EPA had deemed “safe” clearly were not. In 2009, the EPA announced that it would be developing stricter testing and evaluation requirements and could place new restrictions on flea and tick products.

    Fortunately, there’s no need to wait for those changes to take effect. Safe and natural alternative products and methods for controlling fleas and ticks already exist. Here is some guidance from the NRDC on ways to prevent flea problems. And when treatments are necessary, some pet supply stores and many online sites (see links below) now carry flea and tick products that are made up of plant-based ingredients, such as peppermint oil, citrus oil, clove oil, or Neem, which is a natural insecticide that comes from a tree. See the NRDC’s Flea and Tick Product Directory to look up the ingredients and risks of specific products. Some flea and tick solutions can even be made at home. Fleas and ticks are repelled by rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus, and lavender. So to ward off the bugs, you can tuck sprigs of one or more of those plants under your pet’s bed cover (or under your rugs), or boil some of those herbs in water and pour the cooled water onto your pet, rubbing it into their coat. (Note: Some herbal or “natural” ingredients can cause allergic reactions or toxicity in animals. Be sure to test any treatment in a small dose first; and always apply treatments sparingly and only as needed. Also, never use pet products that contain pennyroyal oil, which is toxic to animals. Furthermore, while some sources say that adding a little bit of garlic to a pet’s diet will repel fleas, other reputable sources say that garlic can be toxic to dogs and even more so to cats, even in small amounts; so I steer clear of using garlic, just to be safe.) If your pet has a flea infestation that does not respond to any of the plant-based solutions listed above, look for the lowest-risk commercial products listed in the NRDC’s directory, which include Spinosad-based products, such as Comfortis.

    NRDC’s research has identified many common products that should be avoided, due to their high toxicity risks. According to the NRDC, such high-risk products currently include K9 Advantix II, and a number of products made by Hartz, Sentry, Sergeant, Vet-Kem, Adams, Bio Spot, Happy Jack, Verbac, Zodiac, and other companies.

    To take action on this issue, print out some of the info from the links below, bring it to your pet store and to your veterinarian, and ask them to stop selling flea control products that contain the most dangerous pesticides (and to start selling the lowest-risk products), to protect the health of pets and their people.

    Resources for More Information:

    The following are a few online stores that specialize in natural and non-toxic pet supplies. (Note: This list does not constitute an endorsement of any of these companies):

    Related Post: Selecting Safe and Healthy Pet Foods

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    April 7, 2010
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