With that having been said, if I did believe in Hell, much like many of you probably do, I would also desperately want to believe that there was a very special place there, reserved specifically for the following types of people.
Read on if you dare and if the picture for this article isn't enough. If you are a dog lover like myself, you may have trouble accepting what you are about to read.
Dogs Used as Shark Bait on French Island
By Maryann Mott for National Geographic News
October 19, 2005
Live and dead dogs and cats are being used as shark bait by amateur fishers on the French-controlled island of La Réunion, according to animal-welfare organizations and local authorities.
The small volcanic island off Africa's east coast is bursting with stray dogs—upward of 150,000, says Reha Hutin, president of the Paris-based Fondation 30 Millions d'Amis (the Thirty Million Friends Foundation).
Hutin sent a film crew to Réunion this summer to obtain proof that live animals were being used as shark bait. The goal was to expose the practice on the animal rights group's weekly television show.
It didn't take long for the film crew to find three separate cases, she said.
A videotape and photographs show the dogs with multiple hooks sunk deep into their paws and snouts.
"From then on everyone started to take the whole story seriously and realized it was true," Hutin said.
A veterinarian successfully treated one of the canines, a six-month-old dog with a large fishhook through its snout (see photo), at an SPA (Société Protectrice des Animaux, or Animal Protective Society) clinic in Réunion's capital, St.-Denis.
Unlike most of the hooked animals, the dog was someone's pet, according to Saliha Hadj-Djilani, a reporter for the Thirty Million Friends Foundation's TV program. The dog had apparently escaped its captors and was taken to the SPA by a concerned citizen. Fully recovered, the animal is now home with its owners.
The other two cases uncovered by Thirty Million Friends were strays. They now live in France with new owners.
The foundation plans to finance a sterilization program on the island to reduce the stray overpopulation. But the job won't be easy.
Hutin said many locals view the strays as vermin. "There's no value to the life of a dog there," she said.
Practice Not Widespread.
Stephanie Roche of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, another animal-welfare group in Paris, confirmed that live animals are used as bait on Réunion. But, she said, it is not a common practice.
The Bardot organization has been fighting the practice for a decade. But this is the first time Réunion politicians have reacted strongly and swiftly to stop it, Roche said
Last month, it became illegal for fishing boats to carry any live or dead dogs or cats.
The French Embassy in Washington, D.C., issued a written statement condemning the use of dogs as shark bait, emphasizing that such acts are illegal and will not be tolerated in the French territory.
The embassy maintains these are "very isolated cases and authorities on the island are closely monitoring the situation."
Earlier this month the first court case was held involving a person charged with using live dogs as bait.
Authorities had found a seven-month-old puppy on John Claude Clain's property in July with three fishing hooks in its paws and snout.
Clain, a 51-year-old bread deliveryperson, was found guilty of animal cruelty and fined 5,000 euros (U.S. $5,982), according to Clicanoo, a Réunion newspaper.
The amateur fisher said he did not use the puppy as bait. Instead, Clain said, the dog had been injured by a trap he had set to protect his hens, the paper reported.
Clain's case isn't an isolated one, said Fabienne Jouve of GRAAL (Groupement de Réflexion et d'Action pour l'Animal, or the Grouping of Reflection and Action for Animals), an animal rights organization based in Charenton-le-Pont, France.
"Lately, almost every week, one dog has been found with hooks on the island, not counting the cats found on the beaches partially eaten by the sharks," Jouve said.
Once fishers capture the animals, she said, the dogs and cats are hooked "the day before, so they can bleed sufficiently."
Some escape before being tossed into the ocean. Others aren't so lucky.
After hooks are plunged into their paws and/or snouts, the animals are attached to inflatable tubes with fishing line and dumped into the ocean, Clicanoo, the newspaper, reports.
To avoid detection fishers place their bait in the middle of the night, according to the newspaper account. In the morning the men return to see if a shark has been caught.
"Barbaric practices have no excuses, whatsoever, in the 21st century," GRAAL's Jouve said.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Friday Harbor, Washington State, is offering a U.S. $1,000 reward to any Réunion police officer who arrests anyone using live dogs or cats as bait for sharks.
Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the United Kingdom and the Thirty Million Friends Foundation are asking animal lovers to sign a petition urging the French government to step up enforcement of laws against the use of live dogs as bait.
You know... if we as a species are in fact headed towards our own self-generated extinction, it's probably for the best. Christ... could you see unleashing this brand of sickness on an unsuspecting galaxy? Those fucking creatures in the 'Alien' series, have nothing on us humans. And we're not fictional... To be fair this article first appeared in October of 2005 as the heading up above indicates. I am doing some investigating of my own to see if this absolutely horrific practise has been successfully snuffed out in La Réunion.
I will definitely keep you posted on this one...
Update: 09 July 2010...
I e-mailed the French animal advocacy group 30 Millions d'Amis (30 Million Friends), asking them about an update on the situation in La Réunion.
I cited that on their website, they proclaimed that after them raising a petition with some 800,000 signatures, the prefecture of La Réunion on the 06 September 2005, issued a decree which "henceforth forbade the detention of all domestic carnivores, either alive or dead, aboard vessels registered in La Réunion".
I commented that the way the law was written, it provided loopholes for the unscrupulous. The law does not apply to either unregistered vessels or vessels which are registered in other territories. I asked them point-blank as to whether any follow-up had been done with regards to this situation, to ensure this practise had well and truly been stopped. I am currently awaiting an answer.
I also wrote an e-mail to the representatives of La Réunion themselves, asking the very same question. I am also awaiting an answer from them. Their government and tourism websites do mention the phenomenon of the 'Errant Dogs', but no mention has been made of any progressive program which might begin to address the control of these huge numbers of strays.
I will post further on this if I hear anything at all...