Vivisection is the practice of performing experiments on living animals. The term is used to refer to several categories of scientific or medical procedures performed on animals, including drug or chemical testing, biomedical research and raising and killing animals for parts (such are heart valves) or organs.
What is wrong with experimenting on animals?
No lab rat (or dog or monkey) ever signed a consent form. In and of itself, this constitutes an ethical problem with the practice of experimenting on non-human animals for the hypothetical benefit of humans.
What animals are used and why?
A complete count of animals used in research is unknown because federal laws do not require research institutions to record the number of rats, mice and cold blooded animals that are used in experimentation. Estimates for total numbers are between 20-70 million. Of the animals who are counted, here is what we know: The number of warm-blooded vertebrate animals used in science each year in the United States is approximately 28 million. Of that total, about 18 million animals are killed for research, compared with 2.51 million in England, 1.66 million in Canada, and 0.73 million in the Netherlands.
Doesn't the law protect animals used in research?
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the primary law covering laboratory animals in the United States. The AWA was passed in 1966 and amended in 1970, 1976 and 1985. The scope of the AWA is limited, in that, it does not restrict what can be done to an animal during a study - it only applies to the type of care an animal receives before and after experimentation. The following provision grants animal researchers impunity to do as they wish in the course of an experiment: "Nothing in these rules, regulations, or standards shall affect or interfere with the design, outline, or performance of actual research or experimentation by a research facility as determined by such research facility."
The AWA only requires that research facilities count the number of dogs, cats, primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, (some) farm animals, and other animals that are used in experiments. Rats, mice, birds, and cold-blooded animals are not protected by the AWA and represent approximately 85 percent of the total number of animals used in experimentation.
What about all the breakthroughs we've gained through animal research?
The historical value of animal research with regard to human health remains in question.
Researchers from Harvard and Boston Universities concluded that medical measures (drugs and vaccines) accounted for between 1 and 3.5% of the total decline in mortality rates since 1900. Scores of animals were killed in the quest to find cures for tuberculosis, scarlet fever, smallpox and diphtheria, among others, but was their unwilling contribution important to the decline of these diseases? Dr. Edward Kass of Harvard Medical School, asserts that the "primary credit for the virtual eradication of these diseases must go to improvements in public health, sanitation and the general improvement in the standard of living." These benefits have nothing to do with animal studies.
Animal research appropriates money, time, personnel, facilities and other resources that would save more lives if those same resources were placed into, let's say, education or prevention. In the end, it becomes a question of priorities - do we want to focus on supporting what we know works or do we place our faith in serendipity? Over 44 million Americans have either no or inadequate health care coverage, if we really want to "improve human health" we need to provide adequate access to care, not fund more animals experiments, which offer no promise of success (in fact their track record is abysmal) and divert funds, support and attention from more productive areas.
What about drug testing?
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported in April 1998 that adverse reactions to prescription drugs (all of which must first pass a battery of animal tests) kill more than 100,000 humans each year. Animal tests failed to predict these dangers. This is not surprising since non-human animals are unable to relate the most common side effects that occur with prescription medicines such as headaches, dizziness, malaise, depression or nausea. These symptoms are often the initial warning signs of more severe problems.
Those who are opposed to animal experiments should not accept drugs that have been produced after animal testing was done.
It is impossible to take drugs that haven't been tested on animals because currently the Food and Drug Administration requires animal tests for pharmaceuticals. Hence, virtually all drugs have been, at some time, tested on animals. But just because drugs have been tested on animals doesn't make animal tests any more relevant, useful or valid to humans (see above).
If animal experimentation is of such questionable value, why does it persist?
There are several likely explanations:
Vivisection is easily published. In the "publish or perish" world of academic science, it requires little originality or insight to take an already well-defined animal model, change a variable (or the species being used), and obtain "new" and "interesting" findings within a short period of time. In contrast, clinical research (while much more useful) is often more difficult and time-consuming. Also, the many species available and the nearly infinite possible manipulations offer researchers the opportunity to "prove" almost any theory that serves their economic, professional, or political needs. For example, researchers have "proven" in animals that cigarettes both do and do not cause cancer - depending on the funding source.
Vivisection is self-perpetuating. Scientists' salaries and professional status are often tied to grants, and a critical element of success in grant applications is proof of prior experience and expertise. Researchers trained in animal research techniques find it difficult or inconvenient to adopt new methods, such as tissue cultures.
Vivisection appears more "scientific" than clinical research. Researchers often assert that laboratory experiments are "controlled," because they can change one variable at a time. The control, however, is illusory. Any animal model differs in myriad ways from human physiology and pathology. In addition, the laboratory setting itself creates confounding variables - for example, stress and undesired or unrecognized pathology in the animals. Such variables can have system-wide effects, skew experimental results, and undermine extrapolation of findings to humans.
Vivisection is lucrative. Its traditionally respected place in modern medicine results in secure financial support, which is often an integral component of a university's budget. Many medical centers receive tens of millions of dollars annually in direct grants for animal research, and tens of millions more for overhead costs that are supposedly related to that research. Since these medical centers depend on this overhead for much of their administrative costs, construction, and building maintenance, they perpetuate vivisection by praising it in the media and to legislators.
Vivisection's morality is rarely questioned by researchers, who generally choose to dogmatically defend the practice rather than confront the obvious moral issues it raises. Animal researchers' language betrays their efforts to avoid morality. For example, they "sacrifice" animals rather than kill them, and they may note animal "distress," but they rarely acknowledge pain or other suffering. Young scientists quickly learn to adopt such a mindset from their superiors, as sociologist Arnold Arluke explains:
One message - almost a warning - that newcomers got was that it was controversial or risky to admit to having ethical concerns, because to do so was tantamount to admitting that there really was something morally wrong with animal experimentation, thereby giving "ammunition to the enemy."
Animal researchers' ethical defense of the practice has been superficial and self-serving. Usually, they simply point to supposed human benefits and argue that the ends justify the means. Often, they add that nonhuman animals are "inferior," lacking certain attributes compared to humans, such as intelligence, family structure, social bonding, communication skills, and altruism. However, numerous nonhuman animals - among them rats, pigs, dogs, monkeys, and great apes - reason and/or display altruism. There is accumulating evidence that many animals experience the same range of emotions as humans. Chimpanzees and gorillas can be taught human sign language, and sign with one another even without humans present.
The general public, which cares about animal welfare, has been led to believe that animals rarely suffer in laboratories. Animal researchers often cite U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics (derived from researchers themselves) that only 6 to 8 percent of animals used in vivisection experience pain unrelieved by anesthesia or analgesia.
Evidence indicates, however, that many animal researchers fail to acknowledge - or even perceive - animal pain and suffering. For example, sociologist Mary Phillips observed animal researchers kill rats in acute toxicity tests, induce cancer in rodents, subject animals to major surgery with no post-operative analgesia, and perform numerous other painful procedures without administering anesthesia or analgesia to the animals. Nevertheless, in their annual reports to the USDA, none of the researchers acknowledged that any animals had experienced unrelieved pain or distress. Phillips reported, "Over and over, researchers assured me that in their laboratories, animals were never hurt...'Pain' meant the acute pain of surgery on conscious animals, and almost nothing else...[When I asked] about psychological or emotional suffering, many researchers were at a loss to answer."
Specifics which might come up:
Diabetes: Human studies by Cawley, Bright and Bouchardat in the 18th and 19th centuries first revealed the importance of pancreatic damage in diabetes. This predates the dog studies by Banting and Best by over a century. Human studies by Paul Langerhans in 1869 led to the discovery of insulin-producing islet cells. Although cows and pigs were once the primary sources for insulin to treat people with diabetes we are not bound to the methods of the past. Human insulin can now be duplicated in vitro and is the product of choice for insulin dependant people with diabetes.
Polio: Studies on monkeys led to gross misconceptions that delayed the fight against poliomyelitis, according to a statement made to Congress by Dr. Albert Sabin, the inventor of the oral polio vaccine. The erroneous conclusion that the polio virus infects through the monkey nervous system contradicted previous human studies which demonstrated that the gastrointestinal system was the primary route of infection. This resulted in misdirected preventive measures and delayed the development of a vaccine.
What kinds of alternatives are there?
An animal alternative falls into one of three categories: replacement of an animal method; reduction in the number of animals used; or refinement of the experimental design and methods to reduce pain and distress to animals. It is important to understand that a procedure that uses animals can still be considered an alternative by the scientific community.
Animals Used in Product Testing
Eye Irritancy Tests: In these tests, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered substance is dropped into the eyes of animals, usually rabbits. The animals are often immobilized in stocks from which only their heads protrude. They usually receive no anesthesia during the tests.
After placing the substance in the rabbits' eyes, laboratory technicians record the damage to the eye tissue at specific intervals over an average period of 72 hours, with tests sometimes lasting 7 to 18 days. Reactions to the substances include swollen eyelids, inflamed irises, ulceration, bleeding, massive deterioration, and blindness. During the tests, the rabbits' eyelids are held open with clips. Many animals have broken their necks or backs while struggling to escape.
The results of eye irritancy tests are questionable, as they vary from laboratory to laboratory and even from rabbit to rabbit, as well as between species.
Acute Toxicity Tests: Acute toxicity tests, commonly called lethal dose or poisoning tests, determine the amount of a substance that will kill a percentage, even up to 100 percent, of a group of test animals. In these tests, a substance is forced by tube into the animals' stomachs or through holes cut into their throats. It may also be injected under the skin, into a vein, or into the lining of the abdomen; mixed into lab chow; inhaled through a gas mask; or introduced into the eyes, rectum, or vagina. Experimenters observe the animals' reactions, which can include convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, constipation, emaciation, skin eruptions, abnormal posture, and bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The widely used lethal dose 50 (LD50) test was developed in 1927. The LD50 testing period continues until at least 50 percent of the animals die, usually in two to four weeks.
Like eye irritancy tests, lethal dose tests are unreliable at best. Says Microbiological Associates' Rodger D. Curren, researchers looking for non-animal alternatives must prove that these in vitro models perform "at least as well as animal tests. But as we conduct these validation exercises, it's become more apparent that the animal tests themselves are highly variable." The European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods' Dr. Michael Ball puts it more bluntly: "The scientific basis" for animal safety tests is "weak."
Is product testing on animals required by law?
No. Unlike drugs, there is no law which requires animal testing for cosmetics and household products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires only that each ingredient in a cosmetics product be "adequately substantiated for safety" prior to marketing or that the product carry a warning label indicating that its safety has not been determined. The FDA does not have the authority to require any particular product test. Likewise, household products, which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) the agency that administers the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) do not have to be tested on animals. A summary of the CPSC's animal-testing policy states, "[I]t is important to keep in mind that neither the FHSA nor the Commission's regulations require any firm to perform animal tests. The statute and its implementing regulations only require that a product be labeled to reflect the hazards associated with that product."
Testing methods are determined by manufacturers. The very unreliability of animal tests may make them appealing to some companies, since these tests allow manufacturers to control the variables and put virtually any product on the market. Companies can also use the fact that their products were tested on animals in attempts to defend themselves against consumer lawsuits.
Alternatives to Animal Tests
More than 500 manufacturers of cosmetics and household products that have shunned animal tests. These companies take advantage of the many technologies that are better than antiquated animal tests, including cell cultures, tissue cultures, corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients already determined to be safe by the FDA. Most cruelty-free companies use a combination of methods to ensure safety, such as maintaining extensive databases of ingredient and formula information and employing in vitro (test tube) tests and human clinical studies.
Useful Product Testing Anecdote
For seven years, Tom's of Maine petitioned the American Dental Association (ADA) to grant its seal of approval to Tom's of Maine toothpastes. Other toothpaste companies unquestioningly conducted lethal tests on rats in order to be eligible for the ADA seal (one example: researchers brush rats' teeth for more than a month, then kill the animals and examine their teeth under a microscope). Tom's of Maine worked with researchers to develop fluoride tests that could safely be conducted on human volunteers. The ADA accepted the results of these tests and granted its seal to several of the company's toothpastes in 1995. The groundbreaking effort by Tom's of Maine to find a humane alternative to cruel but accepted testing practices sets a precedent that other manufacturers can follow.
The Associated Press reported in December 1995 that "...two-thirds of 1,004 Americans polled agree with a basic tenet of the animal rights movement: An animal's right to live free of suffering should be just as important as a person's right to live free of suffering."
A survey by the American Medical Association found that 75 percent of Americans are against using animals to test cosmetics.
Furthermore, a national, telephone survey conducted in 2003 of 1,505 non-elderly adults ages 18-64 with permanent physical and/or mental disabilities found that when asked to choose the most important disability-related priority for the government to address, 41% said improving prescription drug coverage; 26% said helping people work and keep their disability benefits; 14% said making it easier for people to apply for benefits; 11% said helping with the cost of home care, personal assistance and equipment; and 5% said improving transportation services. No mention of more animal experimentation was given.
Animals Used in Education
Dissection is the practice of cutting up animals in classroom exercises. It is a common exercise in biology, anatomy, and physiology classes. Three to six million frogs and thousands of mice, rats, rabbits, pigs, cats, dogs, and other animals are dissected annually.
Where do animals for dissection come from?
Frogs and other small animals area often bred by animal supply houses. Frogs are also captured in the wild, which causes serious environmental problems. In Bangladesh, the mass exportation of frogs for food and experiments has resulted in an overpopulation of crop-damaging insects that the frogs once controlled. Cats and dogs can be taken from pounds and shelters, rounded up or trapped by dealers and bunchers or stolen from people's yards.
Do animals used for dissection suffer?
Animals bred or captured for dissection can suffer from the trauma of confinement, inadequate food and care, crude transport, and inhumane killing methods. Live frogs are not always accurately "pithed" (their spinal cords severed), so they are sometimes cut open while still conscious.
Is dissection a necessary or educational exercise?
Dissection is not only unnecessary, it runs the risk of desensitizing students to the suffering of others and teaches them that animals can be used and discarded without respect for their lives. In Great Britain, dissection is being phased out of school curricula, and the right of students not to dissect is being established and upheld in the United States as well (including California). By using only humane teaching methods, instructors can teach science and ethics simultaneously.
What are the alternatives to dissection?
Exciting computer programs (where a student can not only take an animal apart, but also put them back together further enforcing the learning process), realistic or larger-than-life models, films, and diagrams are all effective ways to teach anatomy and physiology without harming animals. "Visifrog," a wonderful computer simulation of a frog dissection, teaches the structure and function of various organs.
A Look at Modern Scientific Research Methods That Do Not Harm or Kill Animals
Most people believe that experiments on animals are necessary for medicine and science to progress. However, this is not the case. The belief that we must experiment on animals is being challenged by a growing number of physicians and scientists who are utilizing many research methods that do not harm or kill animals. More and more physicians and scientists are also seeing the negative consequences of using one species to provide information about another species; often the results of animal experiments are misleading or even harmful to humans.
So what are non-animal methods of scientific research?
The following biomedical research practices reflect true scientific progress, producing, accurate, predictive and applicable results. They offer real, immediate insight into the effective treatment and prevention of human disease.
In Vitro Research
Rather than hoping that an animal will respond like a human, in vitro research is conducted in an external, controlled environment, such as a test tube or a petri dish. Because most illnesses do their work at a microscopic level, these experiments make ideal test beds for studying the course of human disease. Not only are in vitro tests more humane than killing animals by exposing them to experiments, but they have been shown to produce more accurate results which correlate from the laboratory to real life as well.
Toxicity tests using human cell cultures are two to three times more accurate than tests on rats and mice.
Penicillin and streptomycin are historical examples of in vitro discovery, and there have been thousands since. Today's in vitro technology enables researchers to receive accurate information from as many as 100,000 compounds per day.
Technological advancements in biological science have forged phenomenal frontiers, and we have yet to tap one iota of their potential. The achievements of physicists, chemists, mathematicians, computer engineers and biotechnical engineers have long since outpaced the archaic methods of animal experimentation.
Breakthroughs in physics have allowed imaging techniques such as CAT, MRI and PET scans. Our ability to understand disease processes has been vastly improved through X-ray crystalography, single molecule spectroscopies, and nuclear magnetic resonance. Ultrasound, blood-gas analysis machines, blood chemistry analysis machines, microscopes, monitoring devices, electrocardiograms, and electroencephalograms all provide windows into the human body without using animals.
Chemistry has contributed greatly to DNA sequencing and gene chips, as well as drug delivery devices, biocompatible materials, and separation/purification methods and many more breakthroughs. Mathematics and computer science have given us the Fast Fourier transformers used in spectroscopy and CAT scans, fast sequence alignment and database methods used in genomics, conformational search and optimization methods used in protein folding, and ecological and population models of disease.
Computer and Mathematical Modeling
Computer and mathematical modeling have recently led to new treatments for breast cancer, AIDS, high blood pressure, and aided development of new prosthetics. By mimicking the shape and structure of molecules known to be therapeutic, scientists can improve their design to be even more effective. Similarly, known toxic chemicals can be analyzed to predict toxicity without resorting to unreliable animal testing.
Epidemiology is the study and control of diseases within a human population. Long-term epidemiological studies have linked diet to heart disease, smoking to lung cancer, and identified all known environmental poisons and occupational diseases. By labeling certain habits or substances as dangerous, we can diminish our chances of illness by consciously avoiding exposure to them. Using computers, researchers can now gather and analyze human population data at an unprecedented rate.
Unfortunately, animal experimentation often impedes the ready acceptance of epidemiological evidence. Cigarette smoke, alcohol, asbestos, arsenic and benzene are just a few of the harmful substances that, according to animal tests, are safe for humans to ingest. However, epidemiological research has conclusively proven all of them to be hazardous to humans.
Genetic research, in conjunction with epidemiological evidence, reveals which genes cause humans to be predisposed to hereditary problems such as birth defects, cancer and heart disease. By altering an individual's DNA composition, scientists may be able to correct abnormal genetic traits. With further exploration, human genetic research has the potential to eliminate cancer and birth defects before birth.
Some scientists now study DNA in animals for the supposed benefit of science, wasting time and money on irrelevant research. This money would be better spent on studying human genetics.
The observation and analysis of a patient's condition has always been an important component of medical research. Examples of tell-tale evidence unfolding at the bedside of afflicted patients are innumerable, including the successful treatment of childhood leukemia and thyroid disease, our present level of HIV and AIDS therapies, the discovery of numerous cardiac drugs, and many more.
Though every drug invariably has different effects on humans and each animal species, hundreds of millions of dollars continue to be poured into irrelevant animal experiments. Clinical research could be greatly expanded if funding for animal studies was redirected to clinical research done by physicians.
Virtually every disease has either been identified or clarified as a result of autopsies, which often indicate the presence of illness missed by physicians. (Studies show that physicians tend to misdiagnose approximately 10 percent of the time.)
Due to higher costs, autopsies are not conducted as frequently as they once were. However, if autopsies were performed on just one out of five deceased patients, volumes of invaluable information could be retrieved. Several European countries have already diverted funds from animal experiments to autopsies with positive results.
Post-Marketing Drug Surveillance
Post-marketing drug surveillance is a system that allows consumers to report all effects and side effects of a medication after it has been released to the public. This allows health professionals to detect and prevent the dangers of negative drug reactions. In addition, PMDS could also increase the likelihood of finding new uses for existing drugs.
Unfortunately, PMDS is not mandatory, and physicians infrequently report side effects to monitoring agencies. Therefore, it is impossible to compile comprehensive data on the potential negative reactions to a drug. If PMDS was mandatory, valuable information about drugs could be gathered and processed much more quickly. Getting this information sooner would mean many more people spared from dangerous side effects, some of which have proven fatal.
Did you know that almost every time you eat a piece of cheese you are supporting the cruel practice of raising veal calves in crates?
Did you know that the ham in your sandwich most likely came from a pig who never saw the light of day and couldn't even turn around in her narrow crate?
Did you know that the average egg comes from a de-beaked chicken crammed with 7 others in a cage the size of a microwave oven? WATCH ANIMATION
This page contains these topics: Animals Our Health The Environment World Hunger Conclusion & More Info
Farmed animals are the most exploited and least protected group of animals in the world. 27 million are killed in the United States alone each day, nearly 19,000 per minute – equating to a tragic total of 10 billion animals per year.
Over the past 50 years, animal agriculture has evolved from small, family farms to large corporate factory farming systems. Modern agribusiness corporations are built upon the cutthroat attitude of increasing profit margins at all costs – which has had devastating consequences for the animals in their care.
Farmed animals lead a life of misery from the moment they are born to when they are slaughtered. Every day, everywhere across the globe, millions of these animals are mishandled, kept in confinement, mutilated as part of routine husbandry practices, and deprived of basic necessities.
Despite the common belief that drinking milk or eating eggs does not kill animals, commercially-raised dairy cows and egg-laying chickens, whether factory-farmed or "free range," are slaughtered when their production rates decline. The same factory farm methods that are used to produce most meats are also used to produce most milk and eggs -- only worse.
On U.S. farms, an average of 7 egg-laying hens spend their entire lives in a battery cage with a floor area the size of a vinyl record cover. These chickens live on wire floors that deform their feet, in cages so tiny they cannot stretch their wings, and are covered with excrement from cages above them. Lameness, bone disease, and obsessive pecking are common. Pecking is curbed by searing the beaks off young chicks. Although chickens can live up to 15 years, they are usually slaughtered when their egg production rates decline after two years. Hatcheries have no use for male chicks, so they are killed by suffocation, decapitation, gassing, or crushing.
As with any mammal, dairycows produce milk only when pregnant and stop after their calves have been weaned. When a dairy cow delivers a female calf, the calf becomes a dairy cow herself, born to live in the same conditions as her mother. But when a dairy cow delivers a male calf, the calf is sold to a veal farm within days of birth, where he is tethered to a stall, deprived of food and exercise, and soon slaughtered for meat. Life is only a few years longer for the mother. Because it is unprofitable to keep cows alive once their milk production declines, dairy cows are usually slaughtered at 5 years of age. Thus, a cow's normal life span of 25 years is cut 20 years short just to cut costs and maximize production.
300 million turkeys and 9 billion 'broiler' chickens are slaughtered for human consumption each year in the US. These birds represent over 95% of all land animals slaughtered for food. They are crowded into large, dimly lit sheds that hold as many as 10,000 birds. Because they are bred to gain weight quickly, many birds are crippled by their own weight and unable to walk. They are then unable to get to food and water or to defend themselves from the other birds who trample them on the way to the feeding station. Over time, the building fills with the poisonous stench of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane. After seven weeks, the animals are crammed into wood cages for transport to slaughter.
Beef cattle are typically enclosed in feedlots, which pack tens of thousands of animals per unit. Cows have no protection from rain or snow, freezing wind, or searing heat. They are castrated, dehorned, and branded with no anesthesia or surgical training.
Modern breeding sows are treated like piglet-making machines. Living a continuous cycle of impregnation and birth, each sow has more than 20 piglets per year. After being impregnated, the sows are confined in gestation crates — small metal pens just two feet wide that prevent sows from turning around or even lying down comfortably. At the end of their four-month pregnancies, they are transferred to similarly cramped farrowing crates to give birth. With barely enough room to stand up and lie down and no straw or other type of bedding to speak of, many suffer from sores on their shoulders and knees.
Numerous research studies conducted over the last 25 years have pointed to physical and psychological maladies experienced by sows in confinement. The unnatural flooring and lack of exercise causes obesity and crippling leg disorders, while the deprived environment produces neurotic coping behaviors such as repetitive bar biting and sham chewing (chewing nothing).
After the sows give birth and nurse their young for two to three weeks, the piglets are taken away to be fattened, and the sows are re-impregnated. When the sow is no longer deemed a productive breeder, she is sent to slaughter. When the piglets are able to eat solid food, they are transferred to large, crowded pens. Here they are fed for six months until slaughter.
Transport and Slaughter
Animals are hauled to slaughter for many hours without food, water, or rest, while exposed to extreme temperatures. Many die in transit, and those too sick or injured to walk are dragged with chains to the kill floor.
Consumers have no clue about the cruelty they subsidize. At the slaughterhouse, some of the animals are skinned, dismembered, or drowned in boiling water while still conscious. They are then cut into smaller pieces, wrapped in cellophane, and presented at the supermarket counter.
In addition to the ten billion animals killed by animal agriculture each year for human consumption, hundreds of thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, bison, and other wild animals are shot, maimed, poisoned, and burned alive by farmers and government agents to keep them from interfering with agricultural operations. Tens of millions of starlings and blackbirds are poisoned each year to keep them from eating animal feed.
An even greater threat to wildlife is posed by the destruction of their habitats. Animal agriculture turns hundreds of acres of forest, wetlands, and other habitats into grazing and croplands to feed farm animals.
The consumption of animal fats and proteins has been linked to heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions. Cows' milk contains ideal amounts of fat and protein for young calves, but far too much for humans. And eggs are higher in cholesterol than any other food, making them a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease. The American Dietetic Association reports that vegetarian/vegan diets are associated with reduced risks for all of these conditions.
The most comprehensive study to date regarding the relationship between diet and human health found that the consumption of animal-derived ‘food’ products was linked with "diseases of affluence" such as heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer. T. Colin Campbell's landmark research in The China Project found a pure vegetarian (i.e. vegan) diet to be healthiest. Dr. Campbell estimates that "80 to 90% of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other degenerative illness can be prevented, at least until very old age - simply by adopting a plant-based diet."
The meat, poultry, dairy and egg industries employ technological short cuts— as drugs, hormones, and other chemicals — to maximize production. Under these conditions, virulent pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics are emerging. These new ‘supergerms,’ whose evolution is traceable directly to the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming, have the potential to cause yet unknown human suffering and deaths.
Peculiar new diseases have been amplified by aberrant agribusiness practices. For example, "Mad Cow Disease" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE), a fatal dementia affecting cattle, spread throughout Britain when dead cows were fed to living cows. When people ate cows with "Mad Cow Disease," they got Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a fatal dementia that afflicts humans.
Another farm animal disease beginning to jeopardize human health is avian influenza. In Hong Kong, where scores of people have died from the so-called "bird- flu," over one million chickens have been destroyed in the panic to stop the spread of the disease.
Millions of Americans are infected, and thousands die every year from contaminated animal ‘food’ products. Despite repeated warnings from consumer advocates, the USDA's meat inspection system remains grossly inadequate, and consumers are now being told to "expect" animal products to be tainted.
Meanwhile, the agribusiness industry, rather than advising consumers to curtail their intake of animal products, has devised extreme measures (overcooking, antibiotics, etc.) to help consumers circumvent the hazards of animal products and maintain their gross over-consumption of meat and dairy.
Sadly, these issues are not discussed in our nation's schools or universities, and they are barely discussed by national decision-makers. Nutrition education has been largely relinquished to the very meat and dairy industries that create these problems, and we are left to consume the harmful products of these industries. The responsibility for this tragedy must be shared by individuals, Congress, USDA, and of course, the meat, egg, and dairy industries.
There is no such thing as a meat-eating environmentalist!
Today's factory farms leave behind an environmental toll that generations to come will be forced to pay. Whether it's excessive water use or contamination, excessive soil use or erosion, excessive resource use or air pollution, America's meat addiction is steadily poisoning and depleting our water, land, and air.
Animal agriculture is an inefficient way of producing food, since feed for farm animals requires land, water, fertilizer, and other resources that could otherwise have been used directly for producing human food.
Animal agriculture's dependence on higher yields accelerates topsoil erosion on our farmlands, rendering land less productive for crop cultivation, and forcing the conversion of wilderness to grazing and farm lands. Animal waste from massive feedlots and factory farms is a leading cause of pollution in our groundwater and rivers. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has linked animal agriculture to a number of other environmental problems, including: contamination of aquatic ecosystems, soil, and drinking water by manure, pesticides, and fertilizers; acid rain from ammonia emissions; greenhouse gas production; and depletion of aquifers for irrigation.
In a time when population pressures have become an increasing stress on the environment, there are additional arguments for a vegan diet. The United Nations has reported that a vegan diet can feed many more people than an animal-based diet. For instance, projections have estimated that the 1992 food supply could have fed about 6.3 billion people on a purely vegetarian diet, 4.2 billion people on a 85% vegetarian diet, or 3.2 billion people on a 75% vegetarian diet.
Caring for the environment means protecting all of our planet’s inhabitants, not just the human ones.
Worldwide, nearly a billion people suffer from chronic hunger. 24,000 people per day or 8.8 million per year die from hunger or related causes. Three-fourths are children under five. Chronic hunger causes stunted growth, poor vision, listlessness, and susceptibility to disease.
Global malnutrition is largely the consequence of inequitable distribution and waste of food resources. Only 10% of hunger deaths are attributed to catastrophic events like famine or war. Hunger is a complex problem, but huge amounts of waste occur because of non-sustainable practices related to animal agriculture, such as depletion of cultivable land, topsoil, water, energy, and minerals, and the extremely inefficient process of converting plants-based foods into animal-based foods.
A meat-based diet requires 10-20 times as much land as a plant-based diet.Nearly half of the world's grains and soybeans are fed to animals, resulting in a huge waste of food calories. The extent of waste is such that even a 10% drop in US meat consumption would make sufficient food available to feed the world's starving millions.
Moreover, animal agriculture has been devastating the world's agricultural land. The process begins with clear-cutting of forests to create cattle pastures. Eventually, the pastures are plowed under and used to grow animal feed crops. Depletion of topsoil and minerals begins soon after the trees are cut down and escalates with tilling. Without the plant growth to hold it in place, topsoil, laden with minerals, fertilizer, and organic debris, is carried by the runoff of rain and melting snow into nearby streams. The insatiable demand for animal feed crops leads to the use of sloping land with greater runoff and arid land requiring irrigation. Irrigation accounts for more than 80% of all water available for human use, leading to widespread water shortages.More information is available from goveg.com.
"If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you can do." -Paul McCartney
Conclusion and More Info
Every day, several times a day, we make dietary choices that directly affect our health, the health (hunger) of others, the environment, and of course animal suffering. Individually and combined these issues are overwhelming, but changing our food choices to wholesome and compassionate plant-based foods is the best way to help ourselves while helping others.
"Obviously humans are evolution’s greatest mistake," says George Schaller.
“In wildness is the preservation of the world,” wrote the 19th-century American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau. The quotation is a favorite of George Schaller, considered the finest field biologist of our time and the most powerful voice for conservation in more than 100 years. Indeed, Schaller has described himself as “a 19th-century wanderer with a scientific bent…on an intangible and elusive search.”
Schaller, who was born in Berlin in 1933 and came to the United States with his mother and brother in 1947, has loved animals and the outdoors for as long as he can remember. He was in graduate school in the mid-1950s when one of his professors asked him, half jokingly, “How would you like to study gorillas?” The 26-year-old was happy to settle deep in the forests of central Africa. There, he wrote rhapsodically and painstakingly about gorillas in the wild, changing public perception of the animal forever. He went on to study tigers in India, jaguars in Brazil, snow leopards in Pakistan, and lions in the Serengeti. His account of the latter, The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations, won a National Book Award in 1973.
In time Schaller came to view his early work as “a careless rapture” compared with another, more pressing concern: saving species from extinction caused by man’s aggression. Schaller calls the work of conservation “a gigantic, continuous headache,” explaining that “instead of just being a biologist—something for which I was trained—I must also be a fund-raiser, diplomat, politician, sociologist, anthropologist, everything at once.”
His results as a conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society have been spectacular nevertheless. In 1980 he began working with the Chinese government to save the giant panda from extinction, and since then he has helped establish more than 20 wildlife parks and reserves around the world. Today, at 74, he is pursuing his most ambitious goal yet: building the Pamir International Peace Park at the junction of four countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and Tajikistan—in the process saving the spectacular spiral-horned Marco Polo sheep. In his latest book, A Naturalist and Other Beasts (Sierra Club), Schaller ponders his career of more than 50 years, although the mood is hardly retrospective. “I am not in search of memories,” Schaller writes at the outset. “My interests lie in the future.”
Do you have an earliest memory of feeling deeply connected to nature and wildlife? I can’t remember being interested in anything else. You start as a child: You like to ramble around and watch birds, turn over rocks, pick up snakes. I had a little zoo of salamanders and opossums and other creatures. Basically, I’m still doing what I did as a kid.
When did you first recognize the danger that people pose to the earth and its nonhuman inhabitants? One of my first projects—I was 26—was studying mountain gorillas in central Africa. Humans were overrunning their habitat, and I realized the gorillas wouldn’t have a future unless we saved that habitat.
Your field studies of beautiful animals won you recognition, yet your focus shifted to conservation biology. Why? When I began my work, most of the big animals had never been studied, so when I sat with the gorillas, almost anything I observed was new and gave people an idea of what their lives were really like. But how can you watch the few hundred gorillas left in the world and not feel guilty about their precarious existence?
How do you choose a particular place for your next round of conservation efforts? In recent years, I’ve looked at places where nobody’s doing anything and try to see what I can do. For example, there are lots of nongovernmental organizations sitting in Nairobi, worrying about wildlife. But who goes to Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iran? There, I think I can have an impact.
What do you do to gain the trust of the local government in countries where Americans are often viewed with suspicion? They don’t trust you until they know that you have no other agenda. I go in there, I’m focused on wildlife, and that’s it.
How do you begin effective conservation in these countries? I go in and get facts about the wildlife, the people, the condition of the habitat. You give the officials the information you’ve gathered; you give them suggestions and see what their response is. It’s extremely important to have one local person—a chief or some local leader—who really cares and can do something about it.
Given all the strife in places like Iran and Afghanistan, how do you get people to pay attention to protecting wildlife? We choose animals valued by the locals. For example, in 2001 I started a project in Iran. I went there and asked how I could be of assistance. They told me, “The last Asiatic cheetahs are here; only 50 or 60 may be left.” Now we have a cheetah project there, and some of the animals are wearing radio collars, and Iran is very supportive in that work. If you choose a conspicuous animal like a cheetah, which Iran considers one of its natural treasures, not only does the government pay attention, but suddenly everybody’s aware.
When you are near a mountain gorilla, you recognize it as kin. You feel as though you might put your arm around it and have a chat.
Why do people respond so strongly to certain animals? I suspect it’s because they’re charismatic, they’re beautiful, and you can see them easily. If the panda were all black, like a black bear, nobody would pay much attention to it. People feel they are helping to save one special animal to which they feel an emotional attachment, not realizing perhaps that the only way to do that is to preserve its whole life system, its territory, its food sources, and so on. When the giant panda became famous, the attention also benefited thousands of other plant and animal species that inhabited the same mountain forests.
Has any animal gained a special hold on your affections? When you are near a mountain gorilla, you recognize it as kin. You feel as though you might put your arm around it and have a chat. When I first saw a gorilla, I felt a desire to communicate with him, to let him know that I intended him no harm and only wanted to be near him. And I wondered if he shared this feeling of kinship with me. Never before had I had that feeling meeting an animal. You don’t get that feeling when you see a tiger, but your mind almost glows with the sight—they’re absolutely gorgeous—and to see a tiger is one of the great wildlife experiences. I can also get enamored of capybaras, which are giant rodents and look like big guinea pigs, and even wild pigs. I have had two kinds of pig, a warthog and a white-lipped peccary, as pets. They are just as intelligent and social as dogs. I have an attachment to all the animals I’ve studied and keep involved in what’s happening with them. Emotionally, they cannot leave me.
You’ve written that some of your happiest experiences in the wild have come when you felt accepted by another animal. Because we’ve hunted big animals for so many thousands of years, every single one of them is shy. You’d be able to interact with them close-up if only man’s behavior had been different. During this last trip in northern Tibet, a wolf wandered into camp and looked around—he’d probably never seen people before. And that’s the way it would be, a sort of Garden of Eden. I used to watch gorillas by climbing low branches of a tree so I could look down on them and they could keep an eye on me. One time a female gorilla climbed up and sat next to me and just looked at me. I remember once in the Serengeti, I was following a cheetah on foot, and she got nervous and moved away from me. Then she went and killed a gazelle fawn, and I lay down near her and moved slowly closer until we were about 10 feet apart, and she simply looked over her shoulder and ignored me because she sensed I wasn’t going to harm her.
A lot of the conservation news seems very grim these days. How do you keep going in moments of discouragement? I don’t get up each morning and say, “I’ve got to save the world, starting with the United States government.” I have very specific projects, where I can see progress. And that keeps you going because, in a small way, I see that I can have an influence. And especially if you teach others, and have students and assistants to work with, and can find a way they can continue the work—that’s satisfying.
You have said that recent decades have seen a revolution in our relationship with animals as humans overcome cross-species barriers, achieving intimacy with humpback whales, chimpanzees, lions, mountain sheep, wolves, and many others. If the problem for wildlife is no longer ignorance of their plight, what is the major obstacle now? People may be aware, but it’s still peripheral to their minds. If you ask people here, “Should we save the tigers in India?” 95 percent would say yes. But if you ask them, “Should we have mountain lions here in the neighborhood? There’s some chance they might eat your dogs,” then the answer is, “Oh no, no, no, we don’t want them.” So people are not willing to sacrifice anything. But that can be changed with proper education. In the end it’s the community that will save the environment. Whether you’re talking about an African village or Tibetan nomads, basic human attitudes are not that different. People simply have to be stimulated. In countries like China, you can’t own the land, but the Buddhist monasteries are setting up sanctuaries that, in effect, become little reserves. I’ve been to two festivals in a Tibetan province where nomads have come together of their own accord to celebrate and protect wildlife. They’ll say: “Oh, our wild yak are disappearing. We’re not going to allow grazing on this mountain range. These flats are for Tibetan antelope.” So every community can do this if something stimulates them.
What about steps we can take right here in the United States? We have an overabundance of everything. I’ve got two cars sitting in the garage. People must understand that everything they do is an ecological act. How much does it cost to bring grapes here from Chile (pdf)? Not just the grapes, but the fuel spent in carbon emission? If you have a cup of coffee, that means some rain forest in Colombia is being cut down to make coffee plantations. Do you have a cell phone? OK, inside it there’s a mineral called coltan, mined mostly in the eastern Congo by a lot of the Rwandans who fled after the genocide, and they’re living in the forest, and they’re killing gorillas and elephants for meat because they don’t have much else to eat. I’ve got two lights on in here. [Gets up and turns off a light.] I don’t need two lights on in here! You know, this is endless.
You’re currently involved in the creation of a peace park, a wildlife reserve where Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and Tajikistan meet. How does that work? Well, you have the Pamirs, which are broad valleys flanked by mountains extending southward from Russia to Pakistan’s borders. You’ve got Kirghiz nomads, who are very colorful, you’ve got Marco Polo sheep, you’ve got snow leopards. The main problem is that you’ve also got four countries, each with its own political system, its own language, its own history of strife. We managed to get officials from all four countries together in September 2006 in China, and they agreed to work together. But you can’t necessarily get definite boundaries and say, “This is a peace park right now.” I don’t care what it ends up being designated, as long as wildlife is protected. We use the Marco Polo sheep as a symbol because it’s a spectacular animal, all countries relate to it, and it’s economically valuable. An American hunter will pay $20,000 to $25,000 to shoot one in Tajikistan or China. So the first question is, where does that money go? At least three-quarters of it ought to go to the local communities so they will see the value of protecting the sheep.
Will poor regions always be disadvantaged in protecting what is theirs? If a poor country spends most of its money on arms, it doesn’t have money for anything else. And it’s obvious that the developed countries with quite a bit of money don’t spend it on the environment. Right now, when the World Bank makes a large loan to a country, that country must repay it. But how? They ship their food overseas, and the local people don’t have that food anymore. Even when grants are provided, the figures can be misleading. You have the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union all giving environmental grants. Yet probably two-thirds of that money goes to foreign consultants. Then the countries have to buy American or European equipment as part of the project. Only a small amount actually goes to help the local people. Until developed countries genuinely care about the rest of the world, things are going to be very difficult.
Is that why you have said that wildlife conservation may ultimately depend on spiritual values? Can you put a value on a river? On the cry of an animal? Unless you can convince people of the spiritual value of the environment, the cause is lost. Take the Tibetans, who recently began trimming their cloaks with tiger and leopard skins from India because of their new wealth. The Dalai Lama got up and said, “This is against your religion,” and the Tibetans stopped wearing skins. So among the Tibetans at least, there’s a strong spiritual responsiveness to the environment.
You express that idea in A Naturalist and Other Beasts: “To preserve a remnant of beauty becomes an ideal, and this ideal possesses one until it is transformed into a faith.” Yes, the faith can be almost religious. I have worked very long for this faith. It’s difficult, though, because wherever you go, you see the wounds in the environment. You can’t ever just relax about it.
Some people say that if we can’t conserve a species in the wild, we should let it go extinct instead of keeping it captive in a zoo, because its time has passed. To let a species decline to the brink of extinction is usually based on laziness, negligence, and lack of will. Some zoos have saved species from extinction and later returned them to the wild. Other zoos have supplemented the last of a species in the wild—the California condor, for example—with captives.
Is it ever right to let a species become extinct? It is estimated that species extinction rates are a hundred to a thousand times greater now than in the past because of human actions. Obviously humans are evolution’s greatest mistake. To atone in a small way, we need to help maintain all the diversity we can. Who are we to judge what is expendable?
Some scientists are trying to bring back extinct species through reproductive technology. Do you support this? We had best fight hard to maintain existing species so that their future is not dependent on technology.
You recently tracked a new species, the saola, in Laos. How is it possible to discover an unknown species today? Roughly 1.7 million species have been given scientific names, but perhaps 30 to 50 million or more species exist, not including bacteria. So there is ample opportunity to describe new species, especially small and insignificant-looking ones, such as insects. No doubt I could go into my backyard and find new species. But to find new large mammals such as the saola is unusual these days and usually occurs in places that are remote or have been inaccessible due to political unrest.
You’ve said that there are no final victories in conservation. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a good example. It’s been a continual battle since the 1970s to keep the oil companies out. We claim to be the richest, most educated country in the world, and we can’t keep one little fraction undamaged? You think you have something, and the minute you look away, somebody is trying to destroy it. Look at what has happened recently with tigers, which were safe in a number of reserves. Almost overnight, they were completely wiped out of several places, because, suddenly, there was a demand for skins. When something is so beautiful and valuable, you can never turn your back.
Everyone Tags: Posted: Jun 30, 2008 3:41pm
Jun 30, 2008
What is “Animal Welfare”?
To understand the true objectives of animal welfare organisations and the ordinary people who object to the ways some animals in society are treated, one has to undertake the following exercise.
First... rid your mind of all your current views about animal distinctions and class. Free your psyche of the ideas you may have held for many years about there being a difference between farm animals, domestic animals, companion animals, pretty animals, not so pretty animals, animals you may be afraid of or animals you just don't like.
Now.....what do you have left? You only have animals. That is the fundamental idea behind animal welfare. An animal is an animal is an animal; to put it simply - "a mouse is a cat, is a rabbit, is a cow, is a sheep, is a snake, is a pig, is a dog".
All these animals have the same things in common. They all feel hunger, they all feel thirst and they all feel pain.
This is the ethos of animal welfare organisations and they do not distinguish between animals. Cruelty to a dog is cruelty to a sheep is cruelty to a rat - it is all just cruelty.
There can be no exceptions to cruelty. If a companion animal such as a dog is not permitted to have its tailed docked then the same rule applies to a lamb and that line should never be crossed by any group or political party or individual in our society.
Animal welfare to animal people is about the animal perspective not farmer perspective, horse racing perspective, breeder perspective or laboratory perspective etc. Animal welfare is not about what’s best financially for the farmer or breeder; it’s about what’s best for the animals. This entails their treatment, handling, health, transport and ultimately their death.
Those who use animals such as farmers, animal breeders (dog, cat, horse breeders) laboratories etc view animal welfare only in the context of maximising profits and minimising costs and effort to produce these profits. Animals are seen as the commodities which put money in the bank.
Those of us who are involved in animal welfare are under no illusions that humans will ever reconsider and surrender what society feels is an animal’s place in the food chain but we do ask and expect that the animals which provide farmers and animal users with a livelihood be treated with humanity and compassion and not denied the basic rights to ensure their welfare and well being.
It is also a fact that laws in Australia protect certain ‘farming practices’ such as cutting the tails off piglets, cutting their teeth, castration, mulesing of lambs, and debeaking of chickens all without anaesthetic by calling them animal husbandry techniques. If you were to do these things to your dog or cat, you would face prosecution. So why do farmers get away with it?
They get away with it because the Government/s turns a blind eye. What makes money for the farmer is claimed to make money for the country (as is the case with the recent Hassall Report, which ignores the REAL losses in jobs, GDP and household income), the general public is cocooned and do not see the acts of cruelty which farmers tell them are only undertaken in the best interests of their animals.
As an example, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) showed the world convincingly that in fact these cruel acts do not need to be done at all. Their efforts showed the whole world just why mulesing is really done – essentially to save the farmer money and time. You will find further explanation on mulesing, debeaking, live export, castration and other cruelties as you read on
Firstly let us explain what basic rights EVERY animal should have as an absolute minimum.
Animals should not be denied, at the very least, the right to the “Five Freedoms” (as defined by the Brambell Committee in the UK in 1965).
The Five Freedoms are:
Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour;
Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area;
Freedom from pain, injury and disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment;
Freedom to express normal behaviours: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind; and
Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
We also expect that animals should be treated with respect and protected from painful and terrifying practices and procedures. We think that most of the community agrees with statement.
To farmers, animals are a means of making money, and their “care” should cost as little as possible whilst their productivity is driven to the maximum. “Animal Welfare” is not actually considered. What is important is making money. It is no coincidence that when a farmer practices positive animal welfare it is only because the results will earn extra money.
Practices and procedures on a farm that would attract prosecution if they were carried out on “companion” animals are carried out as a matter of routine on thousands of farm animals every day.
These practices in fact breach Animal Welfare legislation in every state and territory, but are protected by “Codes of Practice”, developed by government, the livestock industries and often the RSPCA, all working together, which provide exemptions from prosecution under cruelty provisions. Whilst non-compliance with a Code of Practice can support a cruelty prosecution, compliance can also form the basis of a defence.
The community expects more and the farming-transport-live export industries want you to take them on trust, to believe in what they do, that they are looking after the interests of the animals they use.
Animal welfare is not extreme. It is what good communities do to take care of their animals. We believe Australian society can now see through all the false and misleading statements coming from the farming industry. The simple truth is their greed is what drives the farming industry and animal welfare is not their priority.
Farming practices in Australia permit and endorse numerous animal husbandry techniques (as they prefer to label them) but we shall refer to them by their true name - mutilations.
Following are some examples of surgical mutilations:
The Merino sheep was bred to maximize wool production and the wrinkly skin which characterizes it. Australia’s climate is not suited to this type of animal (originally stock was imported from Spain) and this makes the animal prone to “flystrike”, when maggots lay their eggs in the folds of the skin.
The farmers’ easy and less expensive solution is mulesing, a gruesome procedure in which large chunks of flesh are sliced away from lambs’ backsides and their tails are stripped of skin without anaesthesia for the process or analgesia after the process. It should be noted that the breech area is not the only area of the sheep prone to flystrike, again because of the unsuitability of the breed to this climate. Farmers clearly prefer this method as it is a ‘one off ‘expense.
Flies strike mostly in summer. This is when the sheep need to be checked every day and for those sheep who are not mulesed, careful monitoring must be undertaken. Again this adds to production costs and is therefore not favoured by producers.
Those who are aware of this practice find mulesing totally abhorrent; animal welfare groups find mulesing completely unacceptable because there are alternatives. If you did this to your dog or cat, you would be prosecuted. Mulesing is performed because it can be done by anyone, it is cheap, and there is no after care. Lambs can die of shock, septicaemia, or starvation if their mothers reject them. The mustering of ewes and their lambs is very stressful and as a result, mothers will abandon their young. Crutching is more frequent shearing of those areas of the sheep which are prone to flystrike is an alternative to mulesing but again the cost factor comes into the profit margin making it an unattractive alternative for most sheep farmers.
Combined with one or some of the other alternatives which include chemical sprays, breeding for wrinkle free sheep, biological control of flies and more intense monitoring of animals at crucial times would totally eliminate mulesing. Mulesing is outlawed in the UK for the barbaric procedure that it most certainly is. Flystrike does occur in the UK.
Animal advocates, along with society oppose mulesing and believe that good animal management practices will prevent flystrike. However, the procedure remains legal. A trial of a new analgesia has been undertaken recently in Western Australia which proved to be successful. Not surprisingly, the farmer involved thought that at 80 cents per lamb it was too cost prohibitive, which is typical of the mentality. This is a clear demonstration of the attitude of farmers in regard to animal welfare versus production and profit margins.
A further method of reducing the incidence of flystrike is pizzle dropping. Male sheep may soil their underbelly and therefore the fleece, diminishing its value, so the tissue between the body and the penis is cut to enable the penis to hang down away from the body. Pizzle dropping is not practiced widely.
Tail docking of lambs is undertaken on virtually all lambs in Australia in order to reduce flystrike which would be attracted by urine and faeces staining. The tails may be removed through cutting with a knife or by the application of a tight rubber ring. Neither procedure is carried out with anaesthesia , analgesia or by qualified veterinary professionals.
It is common practice that male lambs will be castrated, usually referred to as marking at the same time they are tail docked. Similarly, either a knife or a rubber ring will be used. If a knife is used the scrotum is cut and the testes removed, or, if a rubber ring is used, the testes will drop off once the rubber ring has cut off the blood supply and the tissue has atrophied. Both methods cause obvious and prolonged suffering.
Australia exports millions of sheep, cattle, goats, deer, camels and horses to the Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia every year, who are subjected to unspeakable treatment in all stages links of the live export chain. Farmers support the industry because they are able to get a few extra dollars, usually for wethers (castrated rams) passed their wool production prime.
Society finds the live export trade totally unacceptable because it deprives every animal of every one of the five basic freedoms. Terrified animals are crammed into trucks, off loaded into feedlots where they are forced to adapt to unnatural food, then they are re-loaded and taken to ships.
These ships are almost all 20 years old or more and over two million animals have died during the shipboard stage of the process.
M/V “Bader III”
M/V “Al Kuwait”
Animals die terrible deaths from “inanition” (starvation), dehydration, heat exhaustion, pneumonia (from breathing ammonia fumes from their own excrement and dust from the pelletized food), disease and trauma from inappropriate or deliberately cruel mishandling. Those who survive the journey are unluckier still.
Swimming in excrement on the M/V “Cormo Express”
Sick cattle on the M/V “Maysora”
They arrive in countries where summer temperatures are often 45 degrees or higher. Many are blind from the dust from the dry feed pellets and salt sea spray or lame due to injuries caused by numerous loading and unloading handling or from standing for weeks in urine and faeces.
They are brutally handled, hog-tied, slammed into boots of cars, and dragged mercilessly to slaughter while they are fully conscious.
Slaughter in Bahrain
Stabbing cattle in the eyes and lashing their leg tendons is common in Egypt
Slaughter in Kuwait
These animals are subjected to inhumane treatment and torture which most decent people would agree is totally unacceptable. Such treatment is not tolerated and is illegal in Australia and most other enlightened societies but because there are a few more dollars to be made by the farmer (and too many politicians are farmers), live exports continue.
No animal should have its life end in a filthy, disease-ridden ship, be thrown down a chute to be macerated (often still alive), or be thrown overboard to drown or be brutalised in a foreign slaughterhouse.
In spite of the arguments of religious and cultural preferences, the Middle East imports more than 50,000 tonnes of frozen Australian meat every year. This makes government and industry claims that these markets will only accept live animals a fraud in the community. As for the “no refrigeration” argument, how does the freshly slaughtered meat get to its customers, or are we to assume that these millions of animals are eaten “on the spot” immediately after slaughter?
Every day, tens of thousands of farm animals are transported from farms to feedlots and saleyards, wharves or abattoirs. They are crammed into pens on multi-tiered trucks. There is little to no enforcement of the numbers of animals these trucks are to carry per pen. They are “curfewed” (This means they are deprived of food and water) for various periods prior to transport.
At saleyards animals often are left without food and water for extended periods. At feedlots, they are crammed together with little or no opportunity for normal exercise (much less normal behaviours such as foraging). Most do not provide shade from heat and cold extremes. Animals are routinely transported from Western Australia to the Eastern states because the price might be a few cents a kilogram more in that market.
The farmer, not wanting to pay any more for transport than is absolutely necessary, is not overly concerned with the animal welfare ramifications of any of this.
Typical sheep transporters
Intensive farming of pigs
The powerful pig farmers’ lobby insists that it is for the welfare of these sensitive, intelligent (pigs are known to have the cognitive ability of a three year old child) and clean animals that they spend most of their lives in steel and concrete crates hardly larger than their own bodies. They tell us that living in their own waste, suffering wretched misery, going effectively insane, having their teeth cut, their ears notched and their tails cut off without anaesthetic minimizes “aggression” and is in their (the pigs) best interests.
If pigs lived as intended – outside wallowing in mud, able to forage, able to build nests for the birth of their young, tooth cutting and tail hacking would be unnecessary, since it is this intense confinement which manifests itself in these types of behaviours.
The other major concern is that intensive piggeries are a breeding ground for all manner of diseases; given pigs are prime incubators for human diseases. The feeding of antibiotics to pigs is, we have been told, common place. It should be a concern for all consumers that eating intensively farmed pork and pork products is creating a tolerance in humans to combat super viruses such as “golden staph” as human resistance diminishes with the ingesting of the antibiotics fed to the pigs.
Pigs DO cry …
The “lucky” ones can move one step back or one step forward
Animal advocates find intensive pig farming totally unacceptable because it deprives pigs of all of the five freedoms in the name of economic gain. We are fully aware that these animals live short lifetimes full of suffering and deprivation. Their frustration becomes so extreme that stereotypical behaviours such as bar biting, head swaying and screaming are commonplace, and the only time they experience fresh air and sunshine is when they are loaded on to trucks to be taken to slaughter. During their confinement, which for about 350,000 breeding sows in Australia is most of their lives, they develop heart disease, bone and leg and foot pain and deformities. In addition to this inhumane confinement, surgical mutilations are carried out routinely upon piglets and breeding sows are denied physical interaction with their young. All of this is, of course, unspeakably cruel. Sow stalls are banned in the UK and are being phased out in the EU because of the growing awareness of animal cruelty issues so obvious in type if intense farming.
No chance to interact with her young
If you were to confine or mutilate a dog or cat in such a way, you would be charged with cruelty. Battery (Egg Laying) Hens
At any given time, 11 million egg laying hens are so intensively confined that they are unable to walk or stretch their wings, much less exercise normal behaviours such as dust-bathing and foraging.
Scientists world wide condemn this method of egg production for the undoubted cruelty that it is. Caged hens are allowed less than one A4 size sheet of paper, and develop severe foot pain from standing on wire floors as well as other bone, skin and feather deformities. “Spent” hens are loaded and carted off for slaughter with consideration only relative to their also spent monetary value. Stunning, by means of electric bath, is often ineffective, meaning that many are slaughtered while fully conscious. This is appalling cruelty, and it exists because a Code of Practice allows it.
The beak of a normal chicken has complex and sensitive nerve structure/system. Chicks have half of their upper beak and one third of their lower beak sliced off with a hot wire to prevent cannibalism, caused by the intensive conditions under which the birds are kept, and this causes them lifelong pain.
The best efforts of animal advocates over many years have not prevailed over the systematic torture of 11 million egg laying hens in Australia.
Cattle – surgical/non-surgical procedures
Horn amputation is a routine practice carried out by cattle farmers on calves but also full grown cattle, to save farmers any cost from bruising, hide damage and other injuries.
Calves endure this painful, cruel and offensive act without any sedation or local anaesthesia. It is unimaginable that these procedures would be undertaken on animals in Australia without pain relief but again farmers maintain that dehorning is essential for the animals’ wellbeing. In Europe sedation and local anaesthesia is administered by veterinarians prior to any such procedure.
It is more common to dehorn calves than grown cattle because the buds are small and not yet fully attached to the head whereas with cattle dehorning can result in serious blood loss when large horns are removed.
The horn grows from the skin around its base in much the same way as the wall of the hoof grows down from the skin of the coronet of the foot. In young calves up to about two months of age, the horn bud is free-floating in the skin layer above the skull. As the calf grows older, the horn bud attaches to the skull and a small horn starts to grow. Dehorning is performed before this attachment to the skull occurs.
There are various methods, two of which are the hot iron and knife. The hot iron burns through the full thickness of the skin and tissue surrounding the bud. The bud eventually falls off. Using a knife the cut starts about 2cm away from the bud cutting right through the through the skin and tissue as the cut moves through the bud.
We wish to stress to you, both methods; performed WITHOUT sedation and local anaesthesia are known to be extremely stressful and painful for the young calves.
Female calves in some particularly remote and extensive properties (especially in Queensland and the Northern Territory) may be spayed without analgesia to prevent pregnancies.
Flank spaying involves entering the abdomen through a cut made in the flank of the animal. When performed without anaesthesia there is a level of pain and distress to the animal that is totally unacceptable. In nearly all instances this procedure is performed WITHOUT anaesthesia.
In heifers and undeveloped cows, passage spaying by hand is only possible with the aid of a mechanical device to spread the vaginal passage. This procedure inflicts extreme pain to the animal and causes irreparable damage to the vagina. The greater proportion of spaying is performed on undeveloped cattle where the procedure requires the use of spreaders.
Another method, the Willis Technique, is increasingly being used in the Northern Territory and Queensland. This method involves an operator placing his/her arm into the back passage of the calf and cutting the ovaries out. Again, no analgesia or anaesthesia is used, and the operators must be highly skilled to avoid internal damage and infections.
None of these proceedures is performed using anaesthetic or analgesic follow-up. Rarely are they carried out by veterinary surgeons; most being undertaken by unqualified untrained workers.
Despite advances in technology, many thousands of cattle are still identified by branding using hot irons. A red hot iron is placed on the skin for several seconds to burn the skin sufficiently to leave a permanent identifiable mark. Even capturing and restraining calves/cattle for this procedure is stressful. Freeze branding has been shown to cause less pain and distress, but still requires mustering, yarding and restraint.
More appropriate identification methods must be adopted and will include ear tattoos, electronic receivers in ear tags, and microchips (already being used extensively with companion animals).
Male cattle, unless they are to be used for breeding, will normally be castrated early in life (to become steers). The procedure is to cut open the scrotum and remove the testes, or alternatively to place a strong rubber ring around the top of the scrotum. It will wither from lack of blood supply and fall off. The calves react violently, kicking their legs and stamping – indicating their pain. The relevant Model Code of Practice allows the use of rubber rings up until the age of 2 weeks, but allows castration by knife (or burdizzo, an implement which crushes the testes) until the age of 6 months.
The CSIRO has developed a vaccine (Vaxstrate) which immunizes cattle (male and female), affecting their reproductive hormones and preventing conception. Regrettably this is not widely used, particularly due to the need for two injections and thus the animals must be mustered twice – a task that is not cost-effective and therefore not welcomed by farmers on extensive properties.
Female calves in some particularly remote and extensive properties (especially Queensland and the Northern Territory) may be spayed without analgesia to prevent pregnancies caused by scrub bulls, and which would make survival difficult for pregnant cattle in poor grazing areas. Graziers are also likely to be able to market cows which have therefore gained more weight prior to muster.
Electric shock treatment for animals by farmers: What is electro-immobilisation?
(Note: spelling of term varies; e.g. electro-immobilisation, electroimmobilisation, electro-immobilization, electroimmobilization etc)
Electro-immobilisation is the use of pulsed, low frequency electrical current to produce restraint of an animal. It produces tetanic contractions* of skeletal muscles and therefore voluntary movement is not possible. Movement is regained as soon as the current is switched off.(* Fusion of a number of simple spasms into an apparently smooth, continuous effort, is known as tetanic contraction.)
Throughout the electro-immobilisation process, the animal remains completely consious.
This photo shows an animal frothing at the mouth during electro-immobilisation (Photo copyright Animal Liberation NSW Australia).
Electro-immobilisation should not be confused with electric stunning which, when applied correctly, causes a high amperage current to be passed through the brain, rendering the animal instantly unconscious. When electro-immobilisation is used, a small current is passed through the body, paralysing the muscles but not making the animal unconscious.
What equipment is used?
Electro-immobilisation equipment consists of a unit that produces the electrical current (this looks a bit like a large torch), and then wires with attachments to be put on to the animal.
How is electro-immobilisation carried out?
There are three main methods of electro-immobilisation that can be used:
Nose-to-tail or head to tail. Electrodes are attached to the head of the animals usually via an electrode clip attached to the corner of the mouth or cheek and also to the caudal fold on the tail of the animal using a needle.
Back-to-tail. Electrodes are inserted above the lumbar vertebra and through the caudal fold of the tail.
Rectally. An electrode is inserted into the rectum.
The current is then switched on at a low current. The current is then increased, resulting in immobility and rigidity of the animal. Sometimes this paralyses the animal's respiratory muscles and the animal stops breathing. The current must then be reduced and the animal will start to breath again. Breathing is often laboured. Use of excessive current can lead to death.
This photo shows electro-immobilisation in use. (Photo copyright Animal Liberation NSW Australia)
What animals is electro-immobilisation used on?
Electro-immobilisation can potentially be used on a range of species such as cattle, deer and sheep. In the Republic of Ireland, electro-immobilisation is used mainly on cattle.
This photo shows an animal's eye rolling back as electro-immobilisation is applied. (Photo copyright Animal Liberation NSW Australia)
What is electro-immobilisation used for,
Electro-immobilisation is used to make animals that are hard to handle stay still while procedures such as dehorning are carried out. Even though a local anesthetic may be used for some procedures, it is the electro-immobilisation process itself that animals find distressing.
Is electro-immobilisation legal in other countries?
Electro-immobilisation is prohibited in England under “The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (Statutory Instrument 2000 No. 1870)”. This says: "No person shall apply an electrical current to any animals for the purposes of immobilisation." (Schedule 1, paragraph 30). It is understood that similar legislation exists for the rest of the UK.
Electro-immobilisers are banned in New South Wales, Australia, except when used by specifically trained veterinarians during procedures where analgesia or anaesthesia is not required. Tasmania has similar restrictions to New South Wales.
The European Union has not banned electro-immobilisation. However, a restriction for its use is provided in Article 3 of Council Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes: "Member States shall make provision to ensure that the owners or keepers take all responsible steps to ensure the welfare of animals under their care and to ensure that those animals are not caused any unnecessary pain, suffering or injury."
Why should electro-immobilisation be banned
The science shows that animals find electro-immobilisation aversive, physically stressful, psychologically stressful, noxious and unpleasant (see references below).
There is no need for this inhumane form of restraint. Procedures such as dehorning should be carried out when an animal is young so that extreme forms of restraint, such as electro-immobilisation, are not necessary.
With regard to de-horning of cattle, there is no need for electro-immobilisation to be used. Instead, these animals could be disbudded when they are young calves, being easy to handle at this age.
Because electro-immobilisation renders the animal unable to move, there is a risk that unscrupulous people (not vets) could subject animals to painful procedures without the use of a local anasthetic or painkillers.
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Welcome to the Animal Rights Frequently Asked Questions text (AR FAQ). This FAQ is intended to satisfy two basic goals: a) to provide a source of information and encouragement for people exploring the issues involved in the animal rights movement, and b) to answer the common questions and justifications offered up by AR opponents. It is unashamedly an advocacy vehicle for animal rights. Opponents of AR are invited to create a FAQ that codifies their views; we do not attempt to do so here.
The FAQ restricts itself specifically to AR issues; nutrition and other vegetarian and veganism issues are intentionally avoided because they are already well covered in the existing vegetarianism and veganism FAQs maintained by Michael Traub. To obtain these FAQs, contact Michael at his e-mail address given below.
The FAQ was created through a collaboration of authors. The answers have been attributed via initials, as follows:
TA Ted Altar firstname.lastname@example.org JE Jonathan Esterhazy email@example.com DG Donald Graft firstname.lastname@example.org JEH John Harrington email@example.com DVH Dietrich Von Haugwitz firstname.lastname@example.org LJ Leor Jacobi email@example.com LK Larry Kaiser firstname.lastname@example.org JK Jeremy Keens email@example.com BL Brian Luke firstname.lastname@example.org PM Peggy Madison email@example.com BRO Brian Owen firstname.lastname@example.org JSD Janine Stanley-Dunham email@example.com JLS Jennifer Stephens firstname.lastname@example.org MT Michael Traub email@example.com AECW Allen ECW firstname.lastname@example.org
The current FAQ maintainer is Donald Graft (see address above). Ideas and criticisms are actively solicited and will be very gratefully received. The material included here is released to the public domain. We request that it be distributed without alteration to respect the author attributions.
#1 What is all this Animal Rights (AR) stuff and why should it concern me?
The fundamental principle of the AR movement is that nonhuman animals deserve to live according to their own natures, free from harm, abuse, and exploitation. This goes further than just saying that we should treat animals well while we exploit them, or before we kill and eat them. It says animals have the RIGHT to be free from human cruelty and exploitation, just as humans possess this right. The withholding of this right from the nonhuman animals based on their species membership is referred to as "speciesism".
Animal rights activists try to extend the human circle of respect and compassion beyond our species to include other animals, who are also capable of feeling pain, fear, hunger, thirst, loneliness, and kinship. When we try to do this, many of us come to the conclusion that we can no longer support factory farming, vivisection, and the exploitation of animals for entertainment. At the same time, there are still areas of debate among animal rights supporters, for example, whether ANY research that harms animals is ever justified, where the line should be drawn for enfranchising species with rights, on what occasions civil disobedience may be appropriate, etc. However, these areas of potential disagreement do not negate the abiding principles that join us: compassion and concern for the pain and suffering of nonhumans.
One main goal of this FAQ is to address the common justifications that arise when we become aware of how systematically our society abuses and exploits animals. Such "justifications" help remove the burden from our consciences, but this FAQ attempts to show that they do not excuse the harm we cause other animals. Beyond the scope of this FAQ, more detailed arguments can be found in three classics of the AR literature.
The Case for Animal Rights, Tom Regan (ISBN 0-520-05460-1) In Defense of Animals, Peter Singer (ISBN 0-06-097044-8) Animal Liberation, Peter Singer (ISBN 0-380-71333-0, 2nd Ed.)
While appreciating the important contributions of Regan and Singer, many animal rights activists emphasize the role of empathetic caring as the actual and most appropriate fuel for the animal rights movement in contradistinction to Singer's and Regan's philosophical rationales. To the reader who says "Why should I care?", we can point out the following reasons:
One cares about minimizing suffering.
One cares about promoting compassion in human affairs.
One is concerned about improving the health of humanity.
One is concerned about human starvation and malnutrition.
One wants to prevent the radical disruption of our planet's ecosystem.
One wants to preserve animal species.
One wants to preserve wilderness.
The connections between these issues and the AR agenda may not be obvious. Please read on as we attempt to clarify this. SEE ALSO #2-#3, #26, #87-#91 DG
The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. --Jeremy Bentham (philosopher)
Life is life--whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man's own advantage... --Sri Aurobindo (poet and philosopher)
Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages. --Thomas Edison (inventor)
The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men. --Leonardo Da Vinci (artist and scientist)
#2 Is the Animal Rights movement different from the Animal Welfare movement? The Animal Liberation movement?
The Animal Welfare movement acknowledges the suffering of nonhumans and attempts to reduce that suffering through "humane" treatment, but it does not have as a goal elimination of the use and exploitation of animals. The Animal Rights movement goes significantly further by rejecting the exploitation of animals and according them rights in that regard. A person committed to animal welfare might be concerned that cows get enough space, proper food, etc., but would not necessarily have any qualms about killing and eating cows, so long as the rearing and slaughter are "humane".
The Animal Welfare movement is represented by such organizations as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Humane Society. Having said this, it should be realized that some hold a broader interpretation of the AR movement. They would argue that the AW groups do, in fact, support rights for animals (e.g., a dog has the right not to be kicked). Under this interpretation, AR is viewed as a broad umbrella covering the AW and strict AR groups. This interpretation has the advantage of moving AR closer to the mainstream. Nevertheless, there is a valid distinction between the AW and AR groups, as described in the first paragraph.
Animal Liberation (AL) is, for many people, a synonym for Animal Rights (but see below). Some people prefer the term "liberation" because it brings to mind images of other successful liberation movements, such as the movement for liberation of slaves and liberation of women, whereas the term "rights" often encounters resistance when an attempt is made to apply it to nonhumans. The phrase "Animal Liberation" became popular with the publication of Peter Singer's classic book of the same name. This use of the term liberation should be distinguished from the literal meaning discussed in question #88, i.e., an Animal Liberationist is not necessarily one who engages in forceful civil disobedience or unlawful actions.
Finally, intellectual honesty compels us to acknowledge that the account given here is rendered in broad strokes (but is at least approximately correct), and purposely avoids describing ongoing debate about the meaning of the terms "Animal Rights", "Animal Liberation", and "Animal Welfare", debate about the history of these movements, and debate about the actual positions of the prominent thinkers. To depict the flavor of such debates, the following text describes one coherent position. Naturally, it will be attacked from all sides!
Some might suggest that a subtle distinction can be made between the Animal Liberation and Animal Rights movements. The Animal Rights movement, at least as propounded by Regan and his adherents, is said to require total abolition of such practices as experimentation on animals. The Animal Liberation movement, as propounded by Singer and his adherents, is said to reject the absolutist view and assert that in some cases, such experimentation can be morally defensible. Because such cases could also justify some experiments on humans, however, it is not clear that the distinction described reflects a difference between the liberation and rights views, so much as it does a broader difference of ethical theory, i.e., absolutism versus utilitarianism. DG
Historically, animal welfare groups have attempted to improve the lot of animals in society. They worked against the popular Western concept of animals as lacking souls and not being at all worthy of any ethical consideration. The animal rights movement set itself up as an abolitionist alternative to the reform-minded animal welfarists. As the animal rights movement has become larger and more influential, the animal exploiters have finally been forced to respond to it. Perhaps inspired by the efforts of Tom Regan to distinguish AR from AW, industry groups intent on maintaining the status quo have embraced the term "animal welfare". Pro-vivisection, hunting, trapping, agribusiness, and animal entertainment groups now refer to themselves as "animal welfare" supporters. Several umbrella groups whose goal is to defend these practices have also arisen.
This classic case of public-relations doublespeak acknowledges the issue of cruelty to animals in name only, while allowing for the continued use and abuse of animals. The propaganda effect is to stigmatize animal rights supporters as being extreme while attempting to portray themselves as the reasonable moderates. Nowadays, the cause of "animal welfare" is invoked by the animal industry at least as often as it is used by animal protection groups. SEE ALSO: #1, #3, #87-#88 LJ
#3 What exactly are rights and what rights can we give animals?
Despite arguably being the foundation of the Western liberal tradition, the concept of "rights" has been a source of controversy and confusion in the debate over AR. A common objection to the notion that animals have rights involves questioning the origin of those rights. One such argument might proceed as follows:
Where do these rights come from? Are you in special communication with God, and he has told you that animals have rights? Have the rights been granted by law? Aren't rights something that humans must grant?
It is true that the concept of "rights" needs to be carefully explicated. It is also true that the concept of "natural rights" is fraught with philosophical difficulties. Complicating things further is the confusion between legal rights and moral rights. One attempt to avoid this objection is to accept it, but argue that if it is not an obstacle for thinking of humans as having rights, then it should not be an obstacle for thinking of animals as having rights. Henry Salt wrote:
Have the lower animals "rights?" Undoubtedly--if men have. That is the point I wish to make evident in this opening chapter... The fitness of this nomenclature is disputed, but the existence of some real principle of the kind can hardly be called in question; so that the controversy concerning "rights" is little else than an academic battle over words, which leads to no practical conclusion. I shall assume, therefore, that men are possessed of "rights," in the sense of Herbert Spencer's definition; and if any of my readers object to this qualified use of the term, I can only say that I shall be perfectly willing to change the word as soon as a more appropriate one is forthcoming. The immediate question that claims our attention is this--if men have rights, have animals their rights also?
Satisfying though this argument may be, it still leaves us unable to respond to the sceptic who disavows the notion of rights even for humans. Fortunately, however, there is a straightforward interpretation of "rights" that is plausible and allows us to avoid the controversial rights rhetoric and underpinnings. It is the notion that a "right" is the flip side of a moral imperative. If, ethically, we must refrain from an act performed on a being, then that being can be said to have a "right" that the act not be performed. For example, if our ethics tells us that we must not kill another, then the other has a right not to be killed by us. This interpretation of rights is, in fact, an intuitive one that people both understand and readily endorse. (Of course, rights so interpreted can be codified as legal rights through appropriate legislation.)
It is important to realize that, although there is a basis for speaking of animals as having rights, that does not imply or require that they possess all the rights that humans possess, or even that humans possess all the rights that animals possess. Consider the human right to vote. (On the view taken here, this would derive from an ethical imperative to give humans influence over actions that influence their lives.) Since animals lack the capacity to rationally consider actions and their implications, and to understand the concept of democracy and voting, they lack the capacity to vote. There is, therefore, no ethical imperative to allow them to do so, and thus they do not possess the right to vote. Similarly, some fowls have a strong biological need to extend and flap their wings; right-thinking people feel an ethical imperative to make it possible for them to do so. Thus, it can be said that fowl have the right to flap their wings. Obviously, such a right need not be extended to humans.
The rights that animals and humans possess, then, are determined by their interests and capacities. Animals have an interest in living, avoiding pain, and even in pursuing happiness (as do humans). As a result of the ethical imperatives, they have rights to these things (as do humans). They can exercise these rights by living their lives free of exploitation and abuse at the hands of humans. SEE ALSO: #1-#2 DG
#4 Isn't AR hypocritical, e.g., because you don't give rights to insects or plants?
The general hypocrisy argument appears in many forms. A typical form is as follows:
"It is hypocritical to assert rights for a cow but not for a plant; therefore, cows cannot have rights."
Arguments of this type are frequently used against AR. Not much analysis is required to see that they carry little weight. First, one can assert an hypothesis A that would carry as a corollary hypothesis B. If one then fails to assert B, one is hypocritical, but this does not necessarily make A false. Certainly, to assert A and not B would call into question one's credibility, but it entails nothing about the validity of A.
Second, the factual assertion of hypocrisy is often unwarranted. In the above example, there are grounds for distinguishing between cows and plants (plants do not have a central nervous system), so the charge of hypocrisy is unjustified. One may disagree with the criteria, but assertion of such criteria nullifies the charge of hypocrisy. Finally, the charge of hypocrisy can be reduced in most cases to simple speciesism. For example, the quote above can be recast as:
"It is hypocritical to assert rights for a human but not for a plant; therefore, humans cannot have rights."
To escape from this reductio ad absurdum of the first quote, one must produce a crucial relevant difference between cows and humans, in other words, one must justify the speciesist assignment of rights to humans but not to cows. (In question #24, we apply a similar reduction to the charge of hypocrisy related to abortion. For questions dealing specifically with insects and plants, refer to questions #39 through #46.) Finally, we must ask ourselves who the real hypocrites are. The following quotation from Michael W. Fox describes the grossly hypocritical treatment of exploited versus companion animals. DG
Farm animals can be kept five to a cage two feet square, tied up constantly by a two-foot-long tether, castrated without anesthesia, or branded with a hot iron. A pet owner would be no less than prosecuted for treating a companion animal in such a manner; an American president was, in fact, morally censured merely for pulling the ears of his two beagles. --Michael W. Fox (Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States)
SEE ALSO: #24, #39-#46
#5 What right do AR people have to impose their beliefs on others?
There is a not-so-subtle distinction between imposition of one's views and advertising them. AR supporters are certainly not imposing their views in the sense that, say, the Spanish Inquisition imposed its views, or the Church imposed its views on Galileo. We do, however, feel a moral duty to present our case to the public, and often to our friends and acquaintances. There is ample precedent for this: protests against slavery, protests against the Vietnam War, condemnation of racism, etc. One might point out that the gravest imposition is that of the exploiter of animals upon his innocent and defenseless victims. DG
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. --George Orwell (author)
I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell. --Harry S. Truman (33rd U.S. President)
SEE ALSO: #11, #87-#91
#6 Isn't AR just another facet of political correctness?
If only that were true! The term "politically correct" generally refers to a view that is in sync with the societal mainstream but which some might be inclined to disagree with. For example, some people might be inclined to dismiss equal treatment for the races as mere "political correctness". The AR agenda is, currently, far from being a mainstream idea. Also, it is ridiculous to suppose that a view's validity can be overturned simply by attaching the label "politically correct" or "politically incorrect". DG
#7 Isn't AR just another religion?
No. The dictionary defines "religion" as the appeal to a supernatural power. (An alternate definition refers to devotion to a cause; that is a virtue that the AR movement would be happy to avow.) People who support Animal Rights come from many different religions and many different philosophies. What they share is a belief in the importance of showing compassion for other individuals, whether human or nonhuman. LK
#8 Doesn't it demean humans to give rights to animals?
A tongue-in-cheek, though valid, answer to this question is given by David Cowles-Hamar: "Humans are animals, so animal rights are human rights!" In a more serious vein, we can observe that giving rights to women and black people does not demean white males. By analogy, then, giving rights to nonhumans does not demean humans. If anything, by being morally consistent, and widening the circle of compassion to deserving nonhumans, we ennoble humans. SEE ALSO: #26 DG
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. --Mahatma Gandhi (statesman and philosopher)
It is man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him truly a man. --Albert Schweitzer (statesman, Nobel 1952)
For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love. --Pythagoras (mathematician)
#9 Weren't Hitler and Goebbels in favor of animal rights?
This argument is absurd and almost unworthy of serious consideration. The questioner implies that since Hitler and Goebbels allegedly held views supportive of animal rights (e.g., Hitler was a vegetarian for some time), the animal rights viewpoint must be wrong or dubious. The problem for this argument is simple: bad people and good people can both believe things correctly. Or put in another way, just because a person holds one bad belief (e.g., Nazism), that doesn't make all his beliefs wrong. A few examples suffice to illustrate this. The Nazis undertook smoking reduction campaigns. Is it therefore dubious to discourage smoking? Early Americans withheld respect and liberty for black people. Does that mean that they were wrong in giving respect and liberty to others? Technically, this argument is an "ignoratio elenchus fallacy", arguing from irrelevance. Finally, many scholars are doubtful that Hitler and Goebbels supported AR in any meaningful way. SEE ALSO: #54 DG
#10 Do you really believe that "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy"?
Taken alone and literally, this notion is absurd. However, this quote has been shamelessly removed from its original context and misrepresented by AR opponents. The original context of the quote is given below. Viewed within its context, it is clear that the quote is neither remarkable nor absurd. SEE ALSO: #47 DG
When it comes to having a central nervous system, and the ability to feel pain, hunger, and thirst, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. --Ingrid Newkirk (AR activist)
ANIMALS AND MORALITY
#11 There is no correct or incorrect in morals; you have yours and I have mine, right?
This position, known as moral relativism, is quite ancient but became fashionable at the turn of the century, as reports on the customs of societies alien to those found in Europe became available. It fell out of fashion, after the Second World War, although it is occasionally revived. Ethical propositions, we are asked to believe, are no more than statements of personal opinion and, therefore, cannot carry absolute weight. The main problem with this position is that ethical relativists are unable to denounce execrable ethical practices, such as racism. On what grounds can they condemn (if at all) Hitler's ideas on racial purity? Are we to believe that he was uttering an ethical truth when advocating the Final Solution?
In addition to the inability to denounce practices of other societies, the relativists are unable to counter the arguments of even those whose society they share. They cannot berate someone who proposes to raise and kill infants for industrial pet food consumption, for example, if that person sees it as morally sound. Indeed, they cannot articulate the concept of societal moral progress, since they lack a basis for judging progress. There is no point in turning to the relativists for advice on ethical issues such as euthanasia, infanticide, or the use of fetuses in research. Faced with such arguments, ethical relativists sometimes argue that ethical truth is based on the beliefs of a society; ethical truth is seen as nothing more than a reflection of societal customs and habits. Butchering animals is acceptable in the West, they would say, because the majority of people think it so. They are on no firmer ground here. Are we to accept that chattel slavery was right before the US Civil War and wrong thereafter? Can all ethical decisions be decided by conducting opinion polls?
It is true that different societies have different practices that might be seen as ethical by one and unethical by the other. However, these differences result from differing circumstances. For example, in a society where mere survival is key, the diversion of limited food to an infant could detract significantly from the well-being of the existing family members that contribute to food gathering. Given that, infanticide may be the ethically correct course. The conclusion is that there is such a thing as ethical truth (otherwise, ethics becomes vacuous and devoid of proscriptive force). The continuity of thought, then, between those who reject the evils of slavery, racial discrimination, and gender bias, and those who denounce the evils of speciesism becomes striking. AECW
Many AR advocates (including myself) believe that morality is relative. We believe that AR is much more cogently argued when it is argued from the standpoint of your opponent's morality, not some mythical, hard-to-define universal morality. In arguing against moral absolutism, there is a very simple objection: Where does this absolute morality come from? Moral absolutism is an argument from authority, a tautology. If there were such a thing as "ethical truth", then there must be a way of determining it, and obviously there isn't. In the absence of a known proof of "ethical truth", I don't know how AECW can conclude it exists.
An example of the method of leveraging a person's morality is to ask the person why he has compassion for human beings. Almost always he will agree that his compassion does not stem from the fact that: 1) humans use language, 2) humans compose symphonies, 3) humans can plan in the far future, 4) humans have a written, technological culture, etc. Instead, he will agree that it stems from the fact that humans can suffer, feel pain, be harmed, etc. It is then quite easy to show that nonhuman animals can also suffer, feel pain, be harmed, etc. The person's arbitrary inconsistency in not according moral status to nonhumans then stands out starkly. JEH
There is a middle ground between the positions of AECW and JEH. One can assert that just as mathematics is necessarily built upon a set of unprovable axioms, so is a system of ethics. At the foundation of a system of ethics are moral axioms, such as "unnecessary pain is wrong". Given the set of axioms, methods of reasoning (such as deduction and induction), and empirical facts, it is possible to derive ethical hypotheses. It is in this sense that an ethical statement can be said to be true. Of course, one can disagree about the axioms, and certainly such disagreement renders ethics "relative", but the concept of ethical truth is not meaningless. Fortunately, the most fundamental ethical axioms seem to be nearly universally accepted, usually because they are necessary for societies to function. Where differences exist, they can be elucidated and discussed, in a style similar to the "leveraging" described by JEH. SEE ALSO: #5 DG
To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime. --Romain Rolland (author, Nobel 1915)
#12 The animals are raised to be eaten; so what is wrong with that?
This question has always seemed to me to be a fancy version of "But we want to do these things, so what is wrong with that?" The idea that an act, by virtue of an intention of ours, can be exonerated morally is totally illogical. But worse than that, however, is the fact that such a belief is a dangerous position to take because it can enable one to justify some practices that are universally condemned. To see how this is so, consider the following restatement of the basis of the question: "Suffering can be excused so long as we breed them for the purpose." Now, cannot an analogous argument be used to defend a group of slave holders who breed and enslave humans and justify it by saying "but they're bred to be our workers"? Could not the Nazis defend their murder of the Jews by saying "but we rounded them up to be killed"? SEE ALSO: #13, #61 DG
Shame on such a morality that is worthy of pariahs, and that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing, and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun! --Arthur Schopenhauer (philosopher)
#13 But isn't it true that the animals wouldn't exist if we didn't raise them for slaughter?
There are two ways to interpret this question. First, the questioner may be referring to "the animals" as a species, in which case the argument might be more accurately phrased as follows:
"The ecological niche of cows is to be farmed; they get continued survival in this niche in return for our using them."
Second, the questioner may be referring to "the animals" as individuals, in which case the phrasing might be:
"The individual cows that we raise to eat would not have had a life had we not done so."
We deal first with the species interpretation and then with the individuals interpretation. The questioner's argument applies presumably to all species of animals; to make things more concrete, we will take cows as an example in the following text. It is incorrect to assert that cows could continue to exist only if we farm them for human consumption. First, today in many parts of India and elsewhere, humans and cows are engaged in a reciprocal and reverential relationship. It is only in recent human history that this relationship has been corrupted into the one-sided exploitation that we see today. There IS a niche for cows between slaughter consumption and extinction. (The interested reader may find the book Beyond Beef by Jeremy Rifkin quite enlightening on this subject.)
Second, several organizations have programs for saving animals from extinction. There is no reason to suppose that cows would not qualify. The species argument is also flawed because, in fact, our intensive farming of cattle results in habitat destruction and the loss of other species. For example, clearing of rain forests for pasture has led to the extinction of countless species. Cattle farming is destroying habitats on six continents. Why is the questioner so concerned about the cow species while being unconcerned about these other species? Could it have anything to do with the fact that he wants to continue to eat the cows?
Finally, a strong case can be made against the species argument from ethical theory. Arguments similar to the questioner's could be developed that would ask us to accept practices that are universally condemned. For example, consider a society that breeds a special race of humans for use as slaves. They argue that the race would not exist if they did not breed them for use as slaves. Does the reader accept this justification? Now we move on to the individual's interpretation of the question. One attempt to refute the argument is to answer as follows:
"It is better not to be born than to be born into a life of misery and early death."
To many, this is sufficient. However, one could argue that the fact that the life of misery before death is not necessary. Suppose that the cows are treated well before being killed painlessly and eaten. Is it not true that the individual cows would not have enjoyed their short lives had we not raised them for consumption? Furthermore, what if we compensate the taking of the life by bringing a new life into being? Peter Singer originally believed that this argument was absurd because there are no cow souls waiting around to be born. Many people accept this view and consider it sufficient, but Singer now rejects it because he accepts that to bring a being to a pleasant life does confer a benefit on that being. (There is extensive discussion of this issue in the second edition of Animal Liberation.) How then are we to proceed?
The key is that the AR movement asserts that humans and nonhumans have a right to not be killed by humans. The ethical problem can be seen clearly by applying the argument to humans. Consider the case of a couple that gives birth to an infant and eats it at the age of nine months, just when their next infant is born. A 9-month old baby has no more rational knowledge of its situation or future plans than does a cow, so there is no reason to distinguish the two cases. Yet, certainly, we would condemn the couple. We condemn them because the infant is an individual to whom we confer the right not to be killed. Why is this right not accorded to the cow? I think the answer is that the questioner wants to eat it. SEE ALSO: #12 DG
It were much better that a sentient being should never have existed, than that it should have existed only to endure unmitigated misery. --Percy Bysshe Shelley (poet)
#14 Don't the animals we use have a happier life since they are fed and protected?
The questioner makes two assumptions here. First, that happiness or contentment accrues from being fed and protected, and second, that the animals are, in fact, fed and protected. Both of these premises can be questioned. Certainly the animals are fed; after all, they must be fattened for consumption. It is very difficult to see any way that, say, factory-farmed chickens are "protected". They are not protected from mutilation, because they are painfully debeaked. They are not protected from psychological distress, because they are crowded together in unnatural conditions. And finally, they are not protected from predation, because they are slaughtered and eaten by humans. We can also question the notion that happiness accrues from feeding and protection alone. The Roman galley slaves were fed and protected from the elements; nevertheless, they would presumably trade their condition for one of greater uncertainty to obtain happiness. The same can be said of the slaves of earlier America.
Finally, an ethical argument is relevant here. Consider again the couple of question #13. They will feed and protect their infant up to the point at which they consume it. We would not accept this as a justification. Why should we accept it for the chicken? SEE ALSO: #13 DG
#15 Is the use of service animals and beasts of burden considered exploitative?
A simple approach to this question might be to suggest that we all must work for a living and it should be no different for animals. The problem is that we want to look at the animals as like children, i.e., worthy of the same protections and rights, and, like them, incapable of being morally responsible. But we don't force children into labor! One can make a distinction, however, that goes something like this: The animals are permanently in their diminished state (i.e., incapable of voluntarily assenting to work); children are not. We do not impose a choice of work for children because they need the time to develop into their full adult and moral selves. With the animals, we choose for them a role that allows them to contribute; in return, we do not abuse them by eating them, etc. If this is done with true concern that their work conditions are appropriate and not of a sweat-shop nature, that they get enough rest and leisure time, etc., this would constitute a form of stewardship that is acceptable and beneficial to both sides, and one that is not at odds with AR philosophy. DG
#16 Doesn't the Bible give Humanity dominion over the animals?
It is true that the Bible contains a passage that confers on humanity dominion over the animals. The import of this fact derives from the assumption that the Bible is the word of God, and that God is the ultimate moral authority. Leaving aside for the moment consideration of the meaning of dominion, we can take issue with the idea of seeking moral authority from the Bible. First, there are serious problems with the interpretation of Biblical passages, with many verses contradicting one another, and with many scholars differing dramatically over the meaning of given verses.
Second, there are many claims to God-hood among the diverse cultures of this world; some of these Gods implore us to respect all life and to not kill unnecessarily. Whose God are we to take as the ultimate moral authority? Finally, as Tom Regan observes, many people do not believe in a God and so appeals to His moral authority are empty for such people. For such people, the validity of judgments of the supposed God must be cross-checked with other methods of determining reasonableness. What are the cross-checks for the Biblical assertions?
These remarks apply equally to other assertions of Biblical approval of human practices (such as the consumption of animals). Even if we accept that the God of the Bible is a moral authority, we can point out that "dominion" is a vague term, meaning "stewardship" or "control over". It is quite easy to argue that appropriate stewardship or control consists of respecting the life of animals and their right to live according to their own nature. The jump from dominion to approval of our brutal exploitation of animals is not contained in the cited Biblical passage, either explicitly or implicitly. DG
#17 Morals are a purely human construction (animals don't understand morals); doesn't that mean it is not rational to apply our morality to animals?
The fallaciousness of this argument can be easily demonstrated by making a simple substitution: Infants and young children don't understand morals, doesn't that mean it is not rational to apply our morality to them? Of course not. We refrain from harming infants and children for the same reasons that we do so for adults. That they are incapable of conceptualizing a system of morals and its benefits is irrelevant. The relevant distinction is formalized in the concept of "moral agents" versus "moral patients". A moral agent is an individual possessing the sophisticated conceptual ability to bring moral principles to bear in deciding what to do, and having made such a decision, having the free will to choose to act that way. By virtue of these abilities, it is fair to hold moral agents accountable for their acts. The paradigmatic moral agent is the normal adult human being.
Moral patients, in contrast, lack the capacities of moral agents and thus cannot fairly be held accountable for their acts. They do, however, possess the capacity to suffer harm and therefore are proper objects of consideration for moral agents. Human infants, young children, the mentally deficient or deranged, and nonhuman animals are instances of moral patienthood. Given that nonhuman animals are moral patients, they fall within the purview of moral consideration, and therefore it is quite rational to accord them the same moral consideration that we accord to ourselves. SEE ALSO: #19, #23, #36 DG
#18 If AR people are so worried about killing, why don't they become fruitarians?
Killing, per se, is not the central concern of AR philosophy, which is concerned with the avoidance of unnecessary pain and suffering. Thus, because plants neither feel pain nor suffer, AR philosophy does not mandate fruitarianism (a diet in which only fruits are eaten because they can be harvested without killing the plant from which they issue). SEE ALSO: #42-#46 DG
#19 Animals don't care about us; why should we care about them?
The questioner's position--that, in essence, we should give rights only to those able to respect ours--is known as the reciprocity argument. It is unconvincing both as an account of the way our society works and as a prescription for the way it should work. Its descriptive power is undermined by the simple observation that we give rights to a large number of individuals who cannot respect ours. These include some elderly people, some people suffering from degenerative diseases, some people suffering from irreversible brain damage, the severely retarded, infants, and young children.
An institution that, for example, routinely sacrificed such individuals to test a new fertilizer would certainly be considered to be grievously violating their rights. The original statement fares no better as an ethical prescription. Future generations are unable to reciprocate our concern, for example, so there would be no ethical harm done, under such a view, in dismissing concerns for environmental damage that adversely impacts future generations. The key failing of the questioner's position lies in the failure to properly distinguish between the following capacities:
The capacity to understand and respect others' rights (moral agency). The capacity to benefit from rights (moral patienthood).
An individual can be a beneficiary of rights without being a moral agent. Under this view, one justifies a difference of treatments of two individuals (human or nonhuman) with an objective difference that is RELEVANT to the difference of treatment. For example, if we wished to exclude a person from an academic course of study, we could not cite the fact that they have freckles. We could cite the fact that they lack certain academic prerequisites. The former is irrelevant; the latter is relevant. Similarly, when considering the right to be free of pain and suffering, moral agency is irrelevant; moral patienthood IS relevant. AECW
The assumption that animals don't care about us can also be questioned. Companion animals have been known to summon aid when their owners are in trouble. They have been known to offer comfort when their owners are distressed. They show grief when their human companions die. SEE ALSO: #17, #23, #36 DG
#20 A house is on fire and a dog and a baby are inside. Which do you save first?
The one I choose to save first tells us nothing about the ethical decisions we face. I might decide to save my child before I saved yours, but this certainly does not mean that I should be able to experiment on your child, or exploit your child in some other way. We are not in an emergency situation like a fire anyway. In everyday life, we can choose to act in ways that protect the rights of both dogs and babies. LK
Like anyone else in this situation, I would probably save the one to which I am emotionally more attached. Most likely it would be the child. Someone might prefer to save his own beloved dog before saving the baby of a stranger. However, as LK states above, this tells us nothing about any ethical principles. DVH
#21 What if I made use of an animal that was already dead?
There are two ways to interpret this question. First, the questioner might really be making the excuse "but I didn't kill the animal", or second, he could be asking about the morality of using an animal that has died naturally (or due to a cause unassociated with the demand for animal products, such as a road kill). For the first interpretation, we must reject the excuse. The killing of animals for meat, for example, is done at the request (through market demand), and with the financial support (through payment), of the end consumers. Their complicity is inescapable. Society does not excuse the receiver of stolen goods because he "didn't do the burglary".
For the second interpretation, the use of naturally killed animals, there seems to be no moral difficulty involved. Many would, for esthetic reasons, still not use animal products thus obtained. (Would you use the bodies of departed humans?) Certainly, natural kills cannot satisfy the great demand for animal products that exists today; non-animal and synthetic sources are required. Other people may avoid use of naturally killed animal products because they feel that it might encourage a demand in others for animal products, a demand that might not be so innocently satisfied. DG
This can be viewed as a question of respect for the dead. We feel innate revulsion at the idea of grave desecration for this reason. Naturally killed animals should, at the very least, be left alone rather than recycled as part of an industrial process. This was commonly practiced in the past, e.g., Egyptians used to mummify their cats. AECW
You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity. --Ralph Waldo Emerson (author)
#22 Where should one draw the line: animals, insects, bacteria?
AR philosophy asserts that rights are to be accorded to creatures that have the capacity to experience pain, to suffer, and to be a "subject of a life". Such a capacity is definitely not found in bacteria. It is definitely found in mammals. There is debate about such animals as molluscs and arthropods (including insects). One should decide, based upon available evidence and one's own conscience, where the line should be drawn to adhere to the principle of AR described in the first sentence. SEE ALSO: #39, #43 DG
#23 If the killing is wrong, shouldn't you stop predators from killing other animals?
This is one of the more interesting arguments against animal rights. We prevent human moral patients from harming others, e.g., we prevent children from hitting each other, so why shouldn't we do the same for nonhuman moral patients (refer to question #17 for a definition of moral patienthood)? If anything, the duty to do so might be considered more serious because predation results in a serious harm--death. A first answer entails pointing out that predators must kill to survive; to stop them from killing is, in effect, to kill them. Of course, we could argue that intervening on a massive scale to prevent predation is totally impractical or impossible, but that is not morally persuasive.
Suppose we accept that we should stop a cat from killing a bird. Then we realize that the bird is the killer of many snakes. Should we now reason that, in fact, we shouldn't stop the cat? The point is that humans lack the broad vision to make all these calculations and determinations. The real answer is that intervening to stop predation would destroy the ecosystems upon which the biosphere depends, harming all of life on earth. Over millions of years, the biosphere has evolved complex ecosystems that depend upon predation for their continued functioning and stability. Massive intervention by humans to stop predation would inflict serious and incalculable harm on these ecosystems, with devastating results for all life.
Even if we accept that we should prevent predation (and we don't accept that), it does not follow that, because we do not, we are therefore justified in exploiting moral patients ourselves. When we fail to stop widespread slaughter of human beings in foreign countries, it does not follow that we, ourselves, believe it appropriate to participate in such slaughter. Similarly, our failure to prevent predation cannot be taken as justification of our exploitation of animals. SEE ALSO: #17, #19, #36, #64 DG
#24 Is the AR movement against abortion? If not, isn't that hypocritical?
Attempts are frequently made to tie Animal Rights exponents to one side or the other of the abortion debate. Such attempts are misguided. Claims that adherence to the ethics of AR determine one's position on embryo rights are plainly counter-intuitive, unless one is also prepared to argue that being a defender of human rights compels one to a particular position on abortion. Is it the case that one cannot consistently despise torture, serfdom, and other barbaric practices without coming to a particular conclusion on abortion?
AR defenders demand that the rights currently held by humans be extended to all creatures similar in morally relevant ways. For example, since society does not accept that mature, sentient human moral patients (refer to question #17 for a brief description of the distinction between patients and agents) may be routinely annihilated in the name of science, it logically follows that comparable nonhuman animals should be given the same protection. On the other hand, abortion is still a moot point. It is plainly illogical to expect the AR movement to reflect anything other than the full spectrum of opinion found in society at large on the abortion issue. Fundamentally, AR philosophers are content with submitting sufficient conditions for the attribution of rights to individuals, conditions that explain the noncontroversial protections afforded today to humans. They neither encourage nor discourage attempts to widen the circle of protection to fetuses. AECW
There is a range of views among AR supporters on the issue of abortion versus animal rights. Many people believe, as does AECW, that the issues of abortion and AR are unrelated, and that the question is irrelevant to the validity of AR. Others, such as myself, feel that abortion certainly is relevant to AR. After all, the granting of rights to animals (and humans) is based on their capacity to suffer and to be a subject-of-a-life. It seems clear that late-term fetuses can suffer from the abortion procedure. Certain physiological responses, such as elevated heart rates, and the existence of a functioning nervous system support this view. It also can be argued that the fetus is on a course to become a subject-of-a-life, and that by aborting the fetus we therefore harm it. Some counter this latter argument by claiming that the "potential" to become subject-of-a-life is an invalid grounds for assigning rights, but this is a fine philosophical point that is itself subject to attack. For example, suppose a person is in a coma that, given enough time, will dissipate--the person has the potential to be sentient again. Does the person lose his rights while in the coma? While the arguments adduced may show that abortion is not irrelevant to AR, they do not show that abortion is necessarily wrong. The reason is that it is possible to argue that the rights of the fetus are in conflict with the rights of the woman, and that the rights of the woman dominate. All may not agree with this trade-off, but it is a consistent, non-hypocritical stance that is not in conflict with AR philosophy. SEE ALSO: #4 DG
This FAQ contains 96 questions. Do to C2C Share space considerations, only the first 24 are included here. To access all 96 FAQs, as well as more Animal Rights information, please visit http://animal-rights.com/
One of the most effective actions you can take is to send messages to officials and leaders of major bodies. When enough people speak out, world leaders will listen. So please take a moment right now to take action in support of one, or all, of the following campaigns.
"The International Fund for Animal Welfare works to improve animal welfare, prevent animal cruelty and abuse, protect wildlife and provide animal rescue around the world. From stopping the elephant ivory trade, to ending the Canadian seal hunt and saving the whales from extinction, IFAW works to create solutions that benefit both animals and people." Take Action - Send Letters
Fewer than 350 North Atlantic Right Whales are alive today, making the species one of the most critically endangered on the planet. And the leading cause of death to these whales is also the most easily prevented: collisions with ships. Please contact your Senator and urge him or her to support the Ship Strike Reduction Act.
The Polar Bear Protection Act would remove language in the Marine Mammal Protection Act that allows Americans to import sport hunted polar bear trophies from Canada. Please urge your Congressional Representative to support and cosponsor this bill to protect polar bears from the threat of American trophy hunters and save these majestic creatures before it is too late.
Japan's whaling fleet is in Antarctica and is targeting almost 1,000 whales. Despite agreeing not to take 50 humpback whales this season after international condemnation, 935 minkes and 50 endangered fin whales are still being hunted. Please urge your Senators and Representative to help stop this slaughter.
Despite a worldwide outcry against the hunting of whales and a ban on whaling in place since 1986, some Eastern Caribbean nations are shockingly calling for commercial whaling to be launched in the region. Send a letter to Tourism Ministers throughout the Caribbean urging them to tell their nation’s leaders not take up commercial whaling.
In August of 2005, 17-year old Haley Hilderbrand went to a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) licensed facility in Kansas to have her senior picture taken with two tiger cubs. During the photo shoot, Haley was tragically attacked and killed by the tiger and the tiger was then shot. Please email your Federal representative and urge him or her to cosponsor Haley's Act, H.R. 1947, introduced by Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and the Kansas delegation.
Great news! Due to your phone calls and emails this legislation, entitled “PETS”, The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act has just passed Congress. This much needed law requires anyone who accepts federal emergency funding to include pets and service animals in their disaster planning.
Please write a letter to the South African Ambassador to the United States, expressing your concern about the proposed cull of elephants in Kruger National Park and the impacts it would have not only on these intelligent, social animals but also on how the country is perceived as a wildlife destination.
The Japanese Government continues to kill over 500 whales a year, mostly from an international whale sanctuary, in the name of "scientific research." Write a letter to the Japanese Ambassador in your country to express your outrage.
There is no dispute that intense bursts of high-powered military sonar can injure and kill whales. Please send a message to the Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, urging him to incorporate the readily available precautions to protect whales into the Navy's training program.
North Carolina is one of a handful of states without regulations regarding the private possession of inherently dangerous wild animals – including lions and tigers. Legislation just introduced by Senator Ed Jones, S. 1477, will protect the public against the health and safety risks from dangerous wild animals kept as pets and significantly improve the welfare of these captive wild animals.
Washington State is one of a handful of states that has no regulations regarding the private possession of dangerous wild animals - including lions and tigers. HB 1418 will change this, by prohibiting future ownership of large cats, wolves, bears, non-human primates, alligators, and other potentially dangerous wild animals kept in private possession.
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One of the most effective actions you can take is to send messages to officials and leaders of major bodies. When enough people speak out, world leaders will listen. So please take a moment right now to take action in support of one, or all, of the following WSPA's campaigns:
Get involved with the Handle with Care coalition's campaign against the long distance transport of live animals
"The HSUS is the nation's largest animal protection organization with more than ten million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, animals in research, and farm animals. Our mission is to celebrate animals and confront cruelty. The HSUS protects all animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education, advocacy and field work. A non-profit organization, The HSUS celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2004, is based in Washington, D.C. and has regional representatives across the country."
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Oppose Delisting of Wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies Call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and let them know that you oppose the Bush/Cheney Administration's elimination of vital federal protections for wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies.
Outrageous -- Feds Greenlight Northern Rockies Wolf Slaughter Despite the opposition of tens of thousands of Defenders supporters, the Fish & Wildlife Service just made it much easier to kill wolves in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Rockies region -- even while they remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Support the PAW Act and Help Save Wolves Aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska is opposed by hunters, scientists and conservationists. Now Congressman George Miller (D-CA) has introduced the Protect America's Wildlife (PAW) Act -- legislation to end aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska and prevent the practice from spreading to the Lower 48 United States. Please urge your Representative to co-sponsor this important legislation.
Urge Alaska's Governor to End Aerial Wolf Hunting in Alaska Alaska has taken action to reinstate its aerial gunning program. Under the program, marksmen can gun down wolves from the air or run the wolves to exhaustion, then land and shoot them at point blank range. Urge Governor Sara Palin to withdraw her support for aerial hunting and help us put an end to this needless and brutal practice once and for all.
Speak Out For Struggling Southwest Wolves Bad news for wolves in the Southwest: numbers of the struggling canines are plummeting. Fear, misinformation and poor management are leading to their demise. Without an immediate course change, Arizona and New Mexico’s “lobos” could once again disappear from the wild.
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Music legend and animal advocate Paul McCartney has said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian. No one understands this sentiment better than those who profit from animal abuse -- few people can view video footage of animals writhing in pain in vivisection labs, bludgeoned to death for fur or sadistically beaten to perform circus tricks and not be moved to do something about it. For the most part, such footage is obtained secretly, for animal exploiters know that should their abusive practices be exposed, the public will react with understandable horror. Indeed, the recent video footage taken inside the Hallmark/Westland dairy cow slaughterhouse by an investigator for the Humane Society of the United States has disgusted much of the world, and for good reason (see it for yourself at www.hsus.org).
Though animal abuse is generally well hidden, make no mistake: Behind every plastic-wrapped chicken breast in the supermarket, beneath every animal-circus Big Top, inside every egg carton and lacing every pharmaceutical there is a world of suffering that animal exploiters work tirelessly to guard.
By exposing the truth of what animal profiteers endeavor to make invisible, we reveal a means to end abuse that is nearly as senseless as it is reprehensible. To that end, following are ten facts animal exploiters hate the public knowing about -- and what you can do about them.
1. Male chicks in the egg industry are killed shortly after hatching. Because male chickens of the egg industry don’t lay eggs, and since they have not been genetically manipulated for profitable meat production like “broiler” chickens, they are of no economic value to egg producers, including “free range” farmers. Newly hatched chicks are quickly sexed: females will be used as “layers,” most likely trapped in a tiny wire battery cage with five or six other hens, while males are immediately killed. Standard killing methods include maceration (grinding them up alive), gassing them or throwing them into a Dumpster to suffocate or dehydrate. Workers make room for more chicks in the trash by mercilessly stomping down on them, many of whom are still peeping for their mothers. The U.S. egg industry quietly “disposes” of more than 200 million male chicks every year.
Clearly, the “incredible, edible” egg does not have a sunny side. The good news is humans have no need for eggs. Eggless foods like tofu scramble might sound a little strange at first, but they’re delicious, healthier than eggs and will help save lives. For the hard-boiled truth about eggs, along with advice for cooking without them, visit www.EggIndustry.com.
2.Cows do not “give” us their milk. Thanks in part to savvy marketing, even many vegetarians regard dairy foods as innocuous. Slick ads tell us milk and cheese come from “happy cows,” and the dairy industry claims that milk “does a body good” (conveniently ignoring the fact that cow’s milk is the number-one cause of food allergies among infants and children, according to the American Gastroenterological Association). What the dairy industry does not mention is the suffering inherent in producing dairy foods. In today’s industrialized farming practices, a cow is strapped into what farmers call a “rape rack,” where she is impregnated. Once the calf is born, however, mother and baby are separated -- a heartrending ordeal in its own right -- so that the mother’s milk can be taken and sold for human use. Female calves are raised on milk replacers, while male calves are sold for meat. Many of these young males are locked into tiny crates, preventing all exercise, and slaughtered a few months later for veal. After several cycles of giving birth and having each baby torn from her, the dairy cow, her body exhausted, begins producing less milk and she’s loaded onto a crowded transport truck for a terrifying journey to the slaughterhouse, having lived only a fraction of her natural lifespan.
Consumers need not be a part of this cruel scenario. Fortunately, cruelty-free foods like soy ice cream and cheese have drastically improved in recent years, and if you’ve got a jones for latte or breakfast cereal, plant-based milk is delicious and available fortified with calcium and other nutrients. Visit www.MilkSucks.com for more information.
3. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to global warming. Actually, raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. According to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, farmed animals and the energy used to feed them account for 18 percent of global greenhouse emissions, while transportation accounts for 13.5 percent. This is not surprising, considering the livestock sector now occupies 30 percent of the world’s land, making agribusiness a leading cause of deforestation. Billions of animals raised every year for food generate 37 percent of the world’s methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide -- two powerful greenhouse gases. The methane comes chiefly from cows, who produce it naturally during digestion, but it is also a byproduct of most manures stored for long periods in lagoons or tanks. The USDA estimates that more than 335 million tons of manure are produced annually on farms in the United States alone. That’s about 130 times more manure than is produced by the nation’s entire human population. The biggest inconvenient truth for anyone who cares about this planet is how animal agribusiness is destroying it.
By consuming animal-based foods, we are ultimately contributing to ecological disaster. The solution here is as clear as it is simple: Adopt a planet-friendly plant-based diet. Check out www.TryVeg.com and www.GoVeg.com to learn how easy it is.
4.Most of the animals slaughtered for food in the U.S. are not legally protected from cruelty. That sounds axiomatic; after all, slaughtering animals for something so unnecessary is inherently cruel. But even animal exploiters can show concern for an animal’s welfare, which is what Congress had in mind 50 years ago when it enacted the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, prohibiting methods of handling and slaughter that cause pain to animals. Yet "poultry," which to the UDSA includes chickens, turkeys, ducks and, for some reason, rabbits, are not among the animals protected by the Act. Of the 10 billion animals raised and killed for food in this country, more than nine billion of them are chickens. The HMSA is by no means the gold standard of compassion (it’s much kinder not to raise and kill animals at all), but at least it asserts that animals should be rendered insensible to pain before being killed. Because the HMSA does not explicitly include poultry, slaughterers continue to kill billions of birds annually using such inhumane methods as shackling them upside down, electrically stunning them into paralysis (but not unconsciousness) and sometimes drowning them in tanks of scalding water -- all while countless birds are fully conscious.
5. Animals used in circuses are abused to perform tricks. Believe it or not, elephants, bears, chimpanzees and big cats are not natural performers. Indeed, animal “trainers” routinely use extremely cruel devices -- including electric prods, sharpened bullhooks, whips, chains and tight collars -- to induce fear and pain and force wild animals to ride tricycles, balance on balls, jump through fire and execute other stunts for human amusement. Psychological abuse is also key, as elephant “trainers” George Lewis and Byron Fish explain in their book I Loved Rogues: The Life of an Elephant Tramp: “[Training an elephant to lie down is] done by gradually tightening the chain, a few inches at a time, until the elephant is supporting its weight entirely on the front and hind legs that are free. It is very tiring for a bull to hold up its mass in this manner. When the handler sees it weakening, he gives the command, ‘Down! Come on down.’ The command is repeated until the elephant obeys. Just before it gives in, it will show signs of fear and defeat. Its eyes will bulge and its bowels become loose and watery as they are emptied several times. When the elephant finally surrenders and falls over on its side, it knows it is comparatively helpless and that it has lost a psychological battle.”
Fortunately, animal-free circuses are growing in popularity and offer families plenty of excitement and spectacle -- without the misery. For more about cruelty-free circuses, and what you can do to end animal abuse under the Big Top, visit www.Circuses.com.
6. Pet-food makers torture and kill animals. Few people would guess that many of the same companies producing commercial pet food -- and promoting dogs and cats as “members of the family” -- keep animals in small cages as test subjects. In fact, Menu Foods, which initiated last year’s massive pet-food recall, confirmed its product caused death by feeding it to animals in laboratories. In another experiment, sponsored by pet-food maker Iams, 18 young Great Danes were killed to study the effect of diet on bone density. PETA’s undercover investigation in one pet-food test lab revealed dogs who had their vocal chords severed so they couldn’t bark and part of their leg muscles hacked out and animals confined in dungeon-like cells, left to suffer without veterinary care. Moreover, Iams purchases animals specifically bred for experiments, thereby supporting the vivisection industry. Iams told PETA they will continue to conduct laboratory tests on animals, despite the fact that these tests are unnecessary and not required by law.
Although nutrition research for animals is important, this can be accomplished by studying animals who suffer naturally from diseases. It is no more necessary to torture and kill animals to improve pet food than it is to make people suffer while studying the human diet. For more information, including a list of pet-food companies that do not engage in animal testing, visit www.IamsCruelty.com or www.IamsKills.com.
7. The proper care and use of most animals in U.S. laboratories are not covered by law. In another bow to corporate interests, the USDA excludes mice, rats and birds bred for research from the definition of “animal” under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), thus neatly eliminating from government protection approximately 95 percent of all animals used in laboratories. Enacted in 1966, the AWA provides minimal standards of care and use for animals in laboratories, zoos, circuses and the pet industry (though not pet stores). Even those animals covered under the AWA -- such as dogs, cats and rabbits -- can be denied analgesics, anesthetics and tranquilizers if it is deemed “scientifically necessary” to do so. What this means is that researchers can force-feed chemicals to animals, pour caustic substances into their eyes, conduct repeated surgeries on them, implant wires in their brains, crush their spines, burn them, electrocute them, psychologically torment them and much more, often with impunity and without any painkillers.
Consider that more than 90 percent of drugs that test “safe” on animals fail in human studies, and more than half of all approved drugs will be re-labeled or withdrawn because of serious, even fatal, effects in humans; indeed, more than 100,000 people die each year in the U.S. from adverse reactions to approved drugs -- the fifth leading cause of death. Meanwhile, clinical research (working with people who already have a disease) and epidemiological studies (comparing health issues in different populations) help save lives while not exploiting non-human animals.
8. Rabbit fur is NOT a byproduct of meat production. Fur stores may try to mollify their critics by arguing that rabbit fur is merely a byproduct of the rabbit-meat industry. In truth, rabbit meat and rabbit fur come from different breeds slaughtered at different ages and for different purposes. While large breeds, such as the New Zealand White and Californian, are raised for their flesh, the Rex rabbit is especially prized for their plush, soft coats. “Meat” rabbits die young -- about 11 weeks old, when their flesh is still tender. At this age, the rabbit’s fur has not fully developed and is very light and thin. “Fur” rabbits are kept alive longer -- about six months, though in squalid conditions -- and suffer miserable deaths. Most rabbit fur comes from rabbits raised on fur farms, where they spend their lives in tiny wire cages, thus denied their natural instincts to burrow, play and enjoy social bonds. To kill rabbits, farmers smash their skulls or break their necks and then string them up, cut off their heads and peel the skin from their bodies.
You don’t need fur to be fashionable -- just ask Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, who are among the major designers who have shunned fur. For more insights, check out www.FurIsDead.com and www.RabbitProduction.com.
9. Zoo animals often end up as hunting trophies. Long gone are the days when zoos were the only reasonable place for the public to see exotic animals. The reality now is that zoos are a business, businesses need customers and zoos lure customers by breeding or buying new animals. Older animals must be removed to make room for the new ones; consequently, “retired” or “surplus” animals are frequently sold to brokers, who in turn sell them to breeders, circuses, research facilities, auctions, roadside petting zoos, private parties or hunting ranches. That cuddly lion cub you see today could end up stuffed and mounted a few years from now. According to the Humane Society of the United States, zoos that have sold animals either directly to canned hunts or to dealers who have done business with auctions or hunts include the Kansas City Zoo, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Memphis Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo and the National Zoo in Washington, DC, to name but a few.
Rather than patronizing zoos, you can support groups that genuinely rescue exotic animals or work to preserve habitats such as the Performing Animal Welfare Society, the Elephant Sanctuary, the International Primate Protection League and the Born Free Foundation. For further details about zoos and canned hunts, visit www.WildlifeProtection.net or www.peta.org/campaigns/ar-zoos.asp
10. Our tax dollars help fund animal abuse. Like it or not, taxpayers subsidize some of the most appalling cruelty to animals, including factory farming practices, vivisection and killing animals on public land. The largest of these subsidies is the Farm Bill, a comprehensive piece of federal legislation that comes up about every five years. The Farm Bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, much of which goes to agribusinesses producing feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to farmed animals. In fact, 74 percent of the Farm Bill goes to the meat and dairy industries, while about one percent goes to help growers of fruits and vegetables (now you know why healthy foods cost more than fast food). Thanks to subsidized grain, factory farmers make more profit packing animals into feedlots than by letting them graze on real farms.
The fiscal irresponsibility continues with vivisection, which is financed through taxpayer-funded agencies. Vivisection includes toxicity tests of drugs and substances (animal testing), studies of human disease (experimental research on animals) and using animals in medical schools (dissection and practice surgery). The U.S. military also subjects animals to horrific cruelties such as irradiation, burnings, bombings, wounds and decompression sickness -- all in the name of national defense. Not only are these military practices funded by our taxes, but vivisectors receive $7 billion in government grants every year, further bankrolled by taxpayers.
Tax dollars also subsidize a little-known federal agency within the USDA ironically called Wildlife Services. Wildlife Services spends much of its time killing "pests" -- in general, animals who prey on livestock grazing on public land that has been leased to ranchers for a pittance -- and the number-one pest of the rancher is the coyote. Methods used to kill these animals include aerial gunning, gassing pups in their dens, traps that eject sodium-cyanide into an animal’s mouth, livestock protection collars filled with poison, steel traps and neck, body and leg snares -- all this despite the availability of non-lethal methods and evidence that lethal control is ineffective. Each year, WS kills tens of thousands of coyotes, as well as hundreds or even thousands of wolves, mountain lions, bears, bobcats and other animals, sometimes for eating flowers and pet food, digging in gardens or frightening people.
Sadly, tax dollars are used to underwrite a variety of other animal abuses, including rodeos, foie gras production, trophy hunting of elephants in Africa, battery cages used in egg production, the mink-coat industry and the cruel practice of dog racing, among others. If you object to your taxes being used to subsidize animal abuse, either on a state or federal level, tell your elected officials! They can all be located at www.Congress.org.
These ten spoilers are hardly an inclusive list of what those who profit from animal abuse would love to keep under wraps. Fortunately, we can all do something about these injustices. Your action can be as simple as going vegan, sharing your outrage with others or boycotting a business. Better yet, why not all three? (Note: If you stop patronizing companies that profit from animal cruelty, such as zoos and circuses, please tell them why you are boycotting them.)
Armed with the knowledge of what goes on behind closed doors, we can all help make a difference in the lives of the defenseless.
Mark Hawthorne (www.strikingattheroots.com ) is the author of "Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism" (O Books). Mark adopted a vegetarian lifestyle soon after an encounter with one of India’s many cows in 1992 and went vegan a decade later. He is now a committed animal activist who has engaged in nearly every model of activism, from leafleting and tabling to protesting and direct action. Currently, he is working with hundreds of other activists on an historic ballot initiative that will ban the use of battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates in California. Mark was a contributing writer for Satya from 2004 until the magazine ceased publishing in June of 2007, and his articles, book reviews, essays and opinion pieces have also appeared in Herbivore, VegNews, Vegan Voice, Hinduism Today, Utne.com and many daily newspapers across the United States. Mark is a volunteer for Animal Place, a vegan education center and sanctuary for farmed animals in northern California, where he serves on the outreach advisory council. He is also involved in rabbit rescue and lives with five rescued rabbits.
I am humbled to have been invited to co-host the PRRA group. I have the utmost respect and admiration for co-hosts Cher C., Jacqueline T., Deedy M. and their tireless efforts promoting animal welfare. I invite all of you to join us in helping make the world a better place for all sentient beings through "open discussion, networking, problem-solving, and relationship-building."
Defenders of Wildlife and the NRDC petitioned the Department of Interior arguing that new wolf populations should be established in Maine, New York, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Washington, New Hampshire, Texas and portions of the mid-Atlantic region.
ALERT: The Bush/Cheney Administration stripped these amazing animals of vital federal protections, officially opening the door to the shooting, trapping, hunting, poisoning and killing of hundreds of wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the northern Rockies.
The jaguar, one of the largest and rarest cat species in North America, is on the federal endangered-species list. The Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group that has called for an official plan to protect the big cats, decried the move.
Wolves in the extreme northwest will be classified as trophy game animals, making it illegal, in general, to kill them without a permit. In the majority of the state wolves will be classified as predators where they can be shot on sight without limits.
About 380,000 wolves roamed North America before European settlement. The defense council says it will take 2,000 to 5,000 wolves to keep the Northern Rockies population genetically viable. There are only 1500 wolves there now. Do the math.
Climate change is threatening the world's fish populations, already stressed by pollution, alien infestations and over-exploitation. The worst impacts are concentrated in 10 to 15 percent of the oceans, a far greater area than previously believed.
The Department of Agriculture says not to worry about the largest recall of beef in U.S. history because - get this - you and your kids already ate most of it. Talk about closing the door after the sick cow has left the barn. More inspectors are needed.
Instead of strengthening the government’s regulatory systems, the Bush administration spent years cutting budgets and filling top jobs with industry favorites. Evidence of their failures keep mounting: contaminated spinach, poisoned pet food, tainted fish.
Official U.S. Fish and Wildlife Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Website. News, Information, Photos, Videos and FAQs about The Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf, Its Endangered Species Program Delisting and Proposed "Trophy" Game Wolf Hunting Areas!
Wolves are the ancestors of every breed of domestic dog from pugs to poodles, but have been treated as anything but man's best friend. North American Colonists arrived with hatred and fear of wolves and established bounties as early as 1607 to kill them.
The Rocky Mountain gray wolves are officially off the federal government's Endangered Species List. If the Idaho Fish and Game Commission gives the go-ahead at its meeting in March, Idaho sportsmen could be hunting wolves as early as this fall.
We're not, at least for now, going to see Westland/Hallmark President Steve Mendell being taken away in handcuffs. No, neither Mendell or any other Westland/Hallmark corporate officials being frog-marched passed the media. Where is the U.S. Justice Dept.?
The two men charged in the Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. case after an undercover Humane Society investigation revealed animal cruelty have surrendered to police. One is released on $75,000 bail, the other remains in custody for a drug-possession charge.
The nation's biggest beef recall, which some lawmakers hope could lead to tougher food safety standards, may also be remembered for a different milestone moment: The Humane Society showed its fangs. Undercover investigator describes house of horrors.
Inspectors said they fear chronic staff shortages in their ranks are allowing sick cows to get into the nation's food supply, endangering the public, and resulted in the mistreatment of animals on the way to slaughter that contributed to the beef recall.
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said yesterday they are still tracing 15 million of the 143 million pounds of beef involved in the nation's largest-ever meat recall, but the meat industry appears to be pressing the agency to scale back the recall
The Bush/Cheney administration has just eliminated federal protections for wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies, opening the door to the slaughter of hundreds of America's most beloved wolves! Please sign the new Defenders of Wildlife petition to Save The Wolves.
Below are my latest hot!!! news posts about 1) the wolves losing federal protection from hunters, and 2) the ongoing USDA beef recall investigation. Please read, note and comment as you wish, but most important: note the first one, posted by Rebecca Young, that links to the Defenders petition and forward it to all your friends so it will get to the front page and stay there. Thank you!!! Peace and Love, Tom M.
The Bush administration has just eliminated federal protections for wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies, opening the door to the slaughter of hundreds of America's most beloved wolves.
Canadian wolves sent to the U.S. to re-establish wolf populations in the Rocky Mountains have done so well the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled Thursday that they're no longer endangered - meaning that American hunters will soon be able to stalk them.
Environmental groups from across the United States are planning legal action in an attempt to reverse today's decision by the federal government to remove gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the Endangered Species List.
The Bush administration announced an end to federal protection for gray wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, concluding that the wolves were reproductively robust enough to survive. Wildlife and environmental groups announced plans for a lawsuit.
Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies will be removed from the endangered species list, following a 13-year restoration effort that helped the animal's population soar. The states are planning to allow hunters to target the animals as soon as this fall.
We're not, at least for now, going to see Westland/Hallmark President Steve Mendell being taken away in handcuffs. No, neither Mendell or any other Westland/Hallmark corporate officials being frog-marched passed the media. Where is the U.S. Justice Dept.?
The two men charged in the Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. case after an undercover Humane Society investigation revealed animal cruelty have surrendered to police. One is released on $75,000 bail, the other remains in custody for a drug-possession charge.
The nation's biggest beef recall, which some lawmakers hope could lead to tougher food safety standards, may also be remembered for a different milestone moment: The Humane Society showed its fangs. Undercover investigator describes house of horrors.
Inspectors said they fear chronic staff shortages in their ranks are allowing sick cows to get into the nation's food supply, endangering the public, and resulted in the mistreatment of animals on the way to slaughter that contributed to the beef recall.
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said yesterday they are still tracing 15 million of the 143 million pounds of beef involved in the nation's largest-ever meat recall, but the meat industry appears to be pressing the agency to scale back the recall
Slaughterhouse workers watch federal inspectors' every move. They know when they take bathroom breaks. They alert one another by radio to the inspector's every step. They even assign a pretty talkative woman to work next to the inspector to distract him. hot!!!
ACTION ALERT! TOPIC: HELP STOP ANIMAL CRUELTY ACTION: HUMANE SOCIETY PETITIONS
There are many animal welfare petitions on the care2 petition site worth signing. There are also worthwhile petitions that can be found on other sites. Please join HSUS (The Humane Society of the United States). Once you sign up, you will find national and international petitions to sign to put an end to animal cruelty.
Once you log in to HSUS and find a petition, your information will be already filled in, just like on the care2 petition site. I just signed this international petition:
Animals matter. They can feel pain and can suffer, and we all have a responsibility to put an end to cruelty to animals wherever we find it. In partnership with the RSPCA, WSPA, CIWF and other like minded organizations, Humane Society International seeks to collect 10 million signatures to let the governments of the world know we are serious about achieving a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare at the United Nations.
You can help us: Take a stand for animals and sign the petition.
Make animals matter to government. Tell your government that animals matter to you.
Here are some Care2 Animal Welfare groups I joined:
I have written this to share some things I have learned since I joined the care2 community on 01/07/08. I'm just a "newbie" here and realize many of you veterans already know about all this and much more. I have always been horrified at the cruelty of mankind and I am grateful to have found the care2 community and so many kind, caring, receptive and wonderful people here trying to do something about it.
There is so much to learn! I'm struggling to get my care2 email under control. Any ideas? I've started to use my news and my shares and I really enjoy reading your contributions. My 2008 New Year's Resolution was to quit complaining about what's wrong with the world and to do something about it. Thanks for inspiring me everyday to keep my resolution!
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