Vancouver Animal Rights Campaigns (VARK)

Activists Uniting For The Benefit of Animals

Tragedy, 17 horses lost in Langley fire, worth millions

As reported in the Vancouver Sun, “one of B.C.’s top racing duo’s lost 17 racehorses in weekend fire.” The 17 racehorses that died in a burning Langley barn Sunday afternoon were worth as much as $1 million and carried high expectations of star power on B.C.’s harness-racing circuit.” (Vancouver Sun, Tuesday June 3rd, 2014)

In the whole article, there is not one mention of the severe trauma and horror that these mostly two and three year old “Standardbreds” must have experienced.

There is an outpouring of loss and sympathy towards JJJ Stables and their family, because of course, its all about the money lost, for that really is the only value of horses in the racing industry.

“These horses were just starting their careers, he said, and estimates they were worth up to $1 million.”

Few still understand the complex horror that the horse racing industry creates for these exquisitely beautiful creatures. It requires an in depth and deep look at behind the scenes financing and basically a look at where these horses end up when they finish last, most often the kill floor of some sickening slaughter house.

To learn more about the horse racing industry please check out this American website, Director and Founder Katia Louise has created a movie revealing an in depth look at the entire “process” of a race horses life, from birth to the finish line, which is death. And it isn’t pretty.

The fact that these racehorses are broken down into financial losses and games, the fact that any living creature can be defined based on its financial liability, shows the sickness of our world, the deep sickness of our society. One that is based not on compassion, but illusion and entertainment at the cost of humanity and humility.





Filed under: Editorial, , ,

Letter to Philadelphia Animal Control Shelter

Dear Philadelphia Animal Control Shelter,

Thank you fro doing your best for the animals who come through your shelter. I was made aware of a little grey cat that is apparently headed for euthanization today. I feel very sad, that at least out on the streets, he had a chance for life and now your shelter, is putting him down.

This seems very unfair, to the life of this being. It must at times be hard, to keep reminding yourself how sacred and important each life that comes to you is. How each one, left to fight for him or herself has no protection in the world around them. That they love as you do and will do anything for their lives as you will.

It must too be challenging to come to grips with the world and the place in society, where we currently are, where life seems as though it is less important than commerce. Were a living being who fought countless odds, to be here, to exist, to make it so far, is now coming under the capitalist spell of, death, because he is less important than money.

Isn’t it sad? How much this animal, far more coherent, intelligent and sophisticated than probably even you believe, is stuck in a cage, awaiting a death sentence, because human populations have mismanaged the world around them, in their own ignorance of the chemistry of all that is reasonable and vital on our earth.

It must be painful decisions to make each day, deciding who will live and die, to decide what is more important, this animal or the money to support him? We all know the answers in our hearts, but how hard is it to listen, when nothing in this world supports us to do what is right, each day for life, for all living creatures.

I have been listening to the souls of animals since I was 3 years old, I hear their hearts, their words and their wisdom. I know how strong and capable they are and how vulnerable and emotional they are.

I know that this life more than others deserves a real chance of life. I have seen in his eyes how far he has struggled. To erase the accomplishments of his life, without another thought, without a care, without a chance, would be, something that would go against the natural laws of life. And finding ways to work within the natural laws of life and order are what all shelters must be willing to strive for, even if the system does not support its choices.

I, as part of the inner worlds of animals, nature and life, who understands the natural laws and balance of this world, need you and this earth’s people to wake up and pay attention to your heart. To put your hand on your heart, to look deeply and longingly into this souls eyes and ask, why… Why is the world this way? Why are we doing what we are doing to you? Why do we get to decide, while you sit their awaiting your fate….? And most importantly, what can I do to make your life ok?

Where is that message, deep inside your own heart, telling you to do what is right and to see what can be done, against the odds, to trust the miracles of life, instead of the forceful, arrogant ways that humans have strove to dominate all species.

We have a luxury in this world of choosing everything, the animals are given nothing, nothing but their own precious life, it is probably far more valuable to them, than even your own is to you.

Please, do what you can for this grey beauty. Get a glimmer to the romance in his soul, the love in his heart and the imagination in his dreams. He sees a beautiful home somewhere for him, somewhere, like we all do. Please give him a chance. There is a home out there for him. He knows this, he is waiting for your love to recognize this.


VARC Team Writer and Contributor,
Animal and plant communicator,
Vancouver, B.C.

Re:URGENT – MUST LEAVE by 6pm TODAY, Aug. 7th!
Okay, Philly Urgent fans, let’s do this AGAIN! Meet Cat 4 (A20575988)! This amazing boy never even got a real name, and now he’s going to be euthanized for being sick! He has TODAY ONLY!! He must leave the shelter by 6pm! He’s available for foster/rescue/adoption. He’s a stunning 3-5 year old solid grey boy who despite being under the weather with a cold, is very sweet and loving. He was found as a stray, but must have been raised in a home because he loves people! Can we pull off another miracle ladies and gentleman? Let’s get Cat 4 a HOME and a NAME!!! E-mail if you can help!


These cats are located at Philadelphia’s animal control shelter, ACCT. They need immediate adoption or foster care. ACCT is located at 111 W Hunting Park Ave and is open 365 days a year. Adoption hours are are 1-8 Monday through Friday and 10-5 on weekends. To check the status of an animal, call 267-385-3800, or email Please visit for more information.


Filed under: Editorial, Homes Needed, Rescues, ,

We Hate It when Stupid People Boil Lobsters And Crabs Alive!

Doing some research to figure out how to approach the overwhelming problem/issue of how to deal with all of the live lobsters and crabs in the city. First of all, that they are contained in these horrific tanks, where they are stressed out of their claws for days and hours on end…. Then facing a witch hunt trial of being boiled alive, like they are nothing more than a noodle…. Peace! People! Are we not liberated from the forces of mediocrity and medieval times yet? Nope.

Well, as we expected to hear, there is no humane way of killing a lobster. So we just have to stop eating them! Well, we’d love to hear what you think and if you have any suggestions.

Here is a letter written to a Chef who said that Lobsters have no nervous systems and can feel no pain.

Wow, I just read your article about how to humanely cook a lobster, which comes across as completely cold hearted and inhumane and I would like to correct you on some points.

“Contrary to claims made by seafood sellers, scientists have determined that lobsters, like all animals, can feel pain. Also, when kept in tanks, they may suffer from stress associated with confinement, low oxygen levels, and crowding. Most scientists agree that a lobster’s nervous system is quite sophisticated. Neurobiologist Tom Abrams says lobsters have “a full array of senses.”

Lobsters may feel even more pain than we would in similar situations. According to invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley, “The lobster does not have an autonomic nervous system that puts it into a state of shock when it is harmed. It probably feels itself being cut. … I think the lobster is in a great deal of pain from being cut open … [and] feels all the pain until its nervous system is destroyed” during cooking.

“As an invertebrate zoologist who has studied crustaceans for a number of years, I can tell you the lobster has a rather sophisticated nervous system that, among other things, allows it to sense actions that will cause it harm. … [Lobsters] can, I am sure, sense pain.”—Jaren G. Horsley, Ph.D ” peta blog

Our world is cruel and painful enough, although I am gratful that you have made an attempt to offer humane alternatives to boiling lobsters alive, I find it completely arrogant and selfish when I see Chefs taking a position following the myth that lobsters feel no pain because they have no central nervous system (How I Wish that were the case!) anybody with a heart and eyes, can begin to imagine what they would experience and can see that a thrashing lobster is obviously in pain! That is pure common sense! When you are writing articles and informing others about ethical choices that results in the possibility of creating incredible agony for sentient beings, it should be made with some deep soul searching thoughts about what you are saying. A good way to start, is to begin with compassion for all living beings. We hope you will join the new wave of humanitarians around the world who are advocating a vegan diet for our planet, our selves and of course the innocent beings that allow us to share this planet with them.


Written in response to this article:

We think, this little blue lobster here, is the only way one should ever hold a lobster . . .



Filed under: Articles, Editorial, Letters, , , , ,

Human Rights and Animal Rights: online activism works! helps Saudi women with illegal driving.

A few days ago, we shared a link about a puppy in China who according to the media outlet was roasted alive on a street corner in eastern Chinese city of Kengkou.

It was heart breaking to say the least and we know how difficult and shocking it was for many to witness.  Several of us have been having a few positive and helpful discussions about what to do with this information once you see it and asking IF there really is anything one can do…all the way over there in China. Is there any point in burdening our hearts with this information? Will it really make a difference?

Well, we think so.  And we think the petition below shows how social media and world wide influence can help.  When we started signing petitions 4 years ago everybody told us how pointless it was and that online petitions didn’t count and not to forward them and waste their time because they would not help anyway!  In fact we were told repeatedly that doing anything was pointless!! We could not affect or change anything for animals!  Well the world is being transformed by petitions and activism and we are so glad we did not listen, but instead followed our heart’s that insisted we MUST, at all costs speak up for the little beings we share this planet with! had 20,000 individuals respond to a petition to have charges dropped against a women in Saudi Arabia arrested for driving her own car and after this petition the charges were dropped!  And she now is taking it to Hillary Clinton. And now, the same Saudi women are launching their biggest campaign yet: calling on car company Subaru to pull out of Saudi Arabia until women have the right to drive.

The difference is, animals can not represent themselves.  They can not ask for assistance.  They can not walk up to a stranger and tell them their life story.  And they certainly can not ask a politician to change the laws for them.  As we know, they have no voice, at least not a human voice.  And thus no way to be protected with even basic, minimum, living rights.

That is why it does make a difference if we are all representatives of animals.  If we all stand in solidarity and rise up to the occasion to speak out for justice.  And justice, as we know, comes directly from the mind of the heart.  And when we spread our outrage and protest, or even our kind and quiet thoughts or actions, we are definitely speaking up for animals.  When we twitter, blog, email and talk about what is going on, things start to change, through the ethers and into the hearts that need transformation most.

Thank-you for your feedback and thank you for caring!

Enjoy this victorious story below and we  look forward to sharing positive victories for animals in the future that are less troublesome for the heart and mind to digest.



Below is a copy of the letter from if you would like to read for yourself how online activism does make a difference!

Amazing! Last week, a group of Saudi women activists started a petition calling on Saudi authorities to drop charges against Manal al-Sharif, a woman arrested for driving her own car. Days later, the charges were dropped!

Then, they launched a second petition calling on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to speak out publicly for Saudi women’s right to drive. Clinton initially resisted, but after 20,000 members joined the call, she declared, “What these women are doing is brave, and what they are seeking is right,” at a major press conference.

Now, the same Saudi women are launching their biggest campaign yet: calling on car company Subaru to pull out of Saudi Arabia until women have the right to drive. Please click here to sign their petition, then send this email to everyone you know.

Subaru markets heavily to women, especially in the U.S. and Europe — and has built up a progressive brand for itself. Yet the company still sells cars in Saudi Arabia, the only country on earth where women are prohibited from driving or even riding a bike.

(The ban is a huge impediment for women who are forbidden to drive to work, stores, or even a hospital. Many women can’t afford male drivers, and those that can are often harassed by them.)

The activists at Saudi Women for Driving tell us, “Manal was released, Mrs. Clinton spoke out, and some brave women have started driving in defiance of the ban. This is already the largest women’s rights movement in Saudi history and no one here knows what will happen next, but a big company like Subaru pulling out could help change our country forever. Help us do it!”

It’s simple: A massive campaign to push Subaru to pull out of Saudi Arabia — and the threat that they might leave — will put huge pressure on the Saudi royal family and shine a bright light on the “gender apartheid” in the country. It’s a chance for the company to live up to its brand and make a huge difference for nearly 13 million women. members have already won more than 200 campaigns in 2011. Let’s win this one, too.

Click here to stand with Saudi women and ask Subaru to pull out of Saudi Arabia until women win the right to drive:


– Weldon and the team


Sign Petition Here:


Filed under: Editorial, , , , , , , ,

UBCO Professor Joey Castricano Raises Ethical Questions on Animal Research

UBCO professor Jodey Castricano highlights some sensitive issues around the use of animals in research.  Some of her thoughtful comments are quoted in a recent article written by  Jennifer Smith of the Kelowna Capital News.  I was so impressed by the commentary of  Castricano that I had to investigate a little bit more.

When UBCO professor Jodey Castricano, whose work deals with the ethics of animal testing, began asking questions, she too was not impressed with the answers she recieved.

Castricano points to research on everything from strokes to HIV to that Parkinson’s disease research to show that there is just as much to learn from the human body as animals—if not more.

She believes people really need to question whether animal testing actually advances medical science.

“We start talking about human benefits and our minds go numb,” she said, pointing out there is very little emphasis on just how much can be learned without the animals.

The professor asked to see the facility, but was turned away because the university says the animals cannot be contaminated by having those who are not trained in how to move through the lab come through the facility.

When she asked for the tour, the facility, which is set to open next fall, was empty, she said.

“It’s really difficult for people to wrap their minds around the idea that animals are subjects of their own lives,” said Castricano.

At various points in history, women, slaves and Jewish people have all been in the same position, treated like we currently treat animals—without rights.

She contends the university is overlooking the fact that science, too, is a social phenomenon and, therefore, the very idea of animal testing should subject to moral analysis, not removed from it.

Read Full Article Here


Jody Castricano is the Coordinator of Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Creative & Critical Studies; serves on the UBCO Senate and sits on the DVC Committee for Human Rights and Equity as well as on the Senate Research and Learning Committee.  She has recently been appointed a Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics at Oxford University, United Kingdom.

Jody Castricano studies ethics and has written a book entitled Animal Subjects:


“Animal Subjects…is…a major contribution to the overlapping interdisciplinary field variously named animal studies, human-animal studies, or even critical animal studies, depending on one’s ethical and political commitments. The text is unique in that it treads a line between abstract academic and more accessible and overtly political writing. Consequently, the text will likely make people nervous on both sides of the current debates about what role, if any, advocacy should have within animal studies. On one hand, there is a fear that rigorous scholarship often suffers under the desire to ameliorate or abolish animals’ suffering and use. On the other, there is a concern that the animals of animal studies are now regarded as the next reservoir of interesting topics to tap, without any kind of accountability to the billions of non-human beings who are harmed through institutionalized animal practices. Fortunately, Animal Subjects works against the notion that careful scholarship and political weight are inversely proportional…. The insightful text demands that we confront the limitations and myriad contradictions in various schools of thought, such as ecology, sociobiology, legal discourse and philosophy among others…ground-breaking…. Hopefully, Animal Subjects is just the beginning.”

— Lauren E.J. Corman, Topia


It makes me very curious to see how those in the scientific community, who are supposedly on the leading edge of open minded thinking are still so deeply entrenched in what I would call medieval thinking. Critical thinking, in my opinion results in a logical, thoughtful, conscious review of one’s own actions and how they affect others.  It also explores many concepts and questions about our perceived truths and cultural idea’s.  Free thinking is an expansion of awareness. I would personally encourage all of those deeply entrenched in such thinking who accept unquestioningly the concept of using other beings as subject matter rather than subject beings to read her work. Perhaps if they were to begin exploring their own inner thinking and to really apply the same valuable critical thinking skills that philosophy demands, these pseudo scientists would arrive at the same ideal that many of us have:


Buddha:  May all that have life be delivered from suffering.
Louis J. Camuti:  “Love of animals is a universal impulse, a common ground on which all of us may meet. By loving and understanding animals, perhaps we humans shall come to understand each other.”
Charles Darwin: “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”
Leonardo Da Vinci:  “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”
Jeremy Bentham: “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?”


There have been men and women, great scientists and thinkers far more intelligent than those currently experimenting on animals who were horrified that men were capable of harming such innocent beings.  I think perhaps it is time to take a lesson in kindness, compassion and in depth analysis from those who have walked this path before.

Filed under: Editorial, , , , , , , ,

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Stop UBC Animal Research Campaign at Vancouver Art Gallery

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