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What Is "Animal Rights"?
– and why should we care?
Imagine that a few people think we humans just aren't good enough to own or use animals. In fact they're so convinced of this that they have formed large organizations that work tirelessly around the clock and around the world to eliminate animal farming, eating of meat, use of animals in research, hunting, circuses, zoos, and yes, owning animals as pets.
This isn't just a bad dream – it's real. These people are called the ‘animal rights' (AR) movement. While there probably aren't more than a thousand people in the U.S. who accept the whole idea – that humans should be completely separated from our animals even if that means that many species become extinct – they are supported by many more who back important parts of the movement's ideas.
It is those people – the ones who are deeply committed to their own small parts of animal rights – who are the foot soldiers, carrying the movement forward.
The money to support the animal rights agenda comes from millions of Americans who love animals and who, without understanding how their money will actually be used, mail checks to HSUS, PeTA, and other lesser known AR organizations.
Fewer than a thousand run the AR corporations, make the plans, draft the laws, organize the conferences, deliver the speeches, and do the on-the-floor lobbying. Tens of thousands back laws in narrow areas: animal rescuers may support anti-tethering laws to ‘stop irresponsible owners', misguided home breeders back anything labeled as fighting ‘puppy mills,' and animal shelters support close regulation of pet breeders and rescuers.
This is America: It is our right to believe whatever we want and to try to convince others of what we believe. However the AR movement goes beyond that. The biggest thing they do is pass laws that make animal use, breeding, and ownership steadily harder and more costly. This happens in several steps.
How Animal Rightists Pass Laws
1. They invent problems or magnify small ones. The real problems generally are much less than the good that comes from the same activity but we are only told about the problems.
"Pet breeders are just exploiting animals for money" – although if there were no breeders there would be no pets, and it's almost impossible to make money if you breed as a hobby. And, anyway, what's wrong with making money?
"Hunting is cruel and unnecessary" – never mind that for many species hunting is a main way of controlling populations of animals for which there are no longer enough natural predators to prevent starvation, disease, attacks on humans and pets, collisions with our automobiles, and so on.
"‘Pet overpopulation' leads to the tragedy of euthanasia" – although the animal shelter euthanasia rate has been falling steadily for decades, is now only 10-15% of what it was 30 years ago, and a growing number of areas have a shortage of dogs.
"Animals are dangerous and cause human health problems" – though most of us have pets, serious problems are rare, and study after study shows that pet owners are happier, have lower stress levels, and may live longer than other people.
"Animal farming is cruelty" – though cruelty is already illegal and the practices being attacked are ancient and often inspected and specifically approved by the government.
The attack will always fall where most people will say "Oh – that's not something I do" or "That's not important." Only 7% of the population hunts, something like 2% farms, and much less than 1% breeds dogs at home. Because many important animal practices are unfamiliar to most of us, we may not see what's wrong with these AR campaigns.
Los Angeles, for example, is on its fourth well qualified animal control director in five years. Why? Because no director delivered the ‘no kill' shelter the ARs demand – an unattainable goal for a properly run municipal shelter in a large city. The shelter's statistics are not bad and they are improving but that's not good enough.
For example when they're proclaiming "horrible pet overpopulation" they promote laws requiring all pets to be spayed or neutered and requirements for hobby breeders to get expensive licenses and permits. "This law was a big success in San Mateo," they say.
If you tell them "This law did not work in San Mateo County" they say "This law was a big success in San Mateo."
If you answer "But the shelter euthanasia numbers went up, and licensing went down in San Mateo," they say "This law was a big success in San Mateo."
Surprisingly, when the subject is unfamiliar, the bigger the lie, the more likely people are to believe it. This ‘big lie' tactic isn't often encountered by lawmakers and since doing independent research is time-consuming, they often end by accepting the lies.
They can nearly always find important organizations that will support the proposal because (for example) "Veterinarians can't be against a law that just improves enforcement of something that's already the law."
A few quotes from leaders of the movement
These days the animal rights movement mostly keep quiet about its true goals. But in earlier times they were utterly frank.
Ingrid Newkirk, president and co-founder of PeTA: "I am not a morose person, but I would rather not be here. I don't have any reverence for life, only for the entities themselves. I would rather see a blank space where I am. This will sound like fruitcake stuff again but at least I wouldn't be harming anything."
Michael W. Fox, Scientific Director and former Vice President of HSUS: "Man is the most dangerous, destructive, selfish, and unethical animal on earth."
'Les U. Knight' (pseudonym), "Voluntary Human Extinction," Wild Earth, Vol. 1, No. 2 "If you haven't given voluntary human extinction much thought before, the idea of a world with no people in it may seem strange. But, if you give it a chance, I think you might agree that the extinction of Homo sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species ... Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental."
Wayne Pacelle, President of HSUS: "One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding."
This is sick stuff: The truth is that animal rights is mental illness masquerading as philosophy.
There are no longer any nationally known organizations that just want good care for animals. From 1980 on, they were all taken over by animal rights zealots who continue to operate them under the "animal welfare" label but actually promote the end of human use of animals.
Today, HSUS, PeTA, the ASPCA and dozens of less familiar organizations spend about $200 million a year sent by people who want to help animals, working against animal ownership.
Never give money to any of these organizations!
If you want to give to help animals, give directly to your local animal shelter: they use contributions to provide real care, and they nearly always need more than they get.
What's going on is a quiet, mostly non-violent war for the future of America. The major battles are just starting: they will be fought and won by one side or the other over the next five years.
For example, between the end of 2005 and mid-2006, Long Beach California, Los Angeles County, and Albuquerque, New Mexico all passed new laws making it much more difficult to own and breed pets. Each of these new laws was in turn the worst ever seen in the U.S. and we are likely to see yet worse in the months ahead, particularly in Southern California.
If those who believe that humans and animals belong together don't turn the tide, then 20 years from now our country will have fewer good pets and will be less happy and less prosperous than it is today. None of us asked for this war, but if we do not fight and win, the losses won't be undone in a century.