Animal rights groups raise money, distort issues, and disparage people

By: Norma Bennett Woolf  Date: 01/15/2012 Category: | Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare |

Animal Rights: The Inhumane Crusade by Daniel T. Oliver and the Capital Research Center; distributed by Merril Press, Bellevue, Washington; trade paperback, $14.95

"Not everyone can connect the dots that link the animal rights movement to the loss of human rights and dignity. Daniel Oliver has."

Patti and Rod Strand closed the preface to Oliver's second edition of Animal Rights: The Inhumane Crusade with the above apt words. As research associate for philanthropic watchdog Capital Research Center and editor of the CRC newsletter, Oliver kept his eye on the money throughout the book, both that raised by animal rights groups and that spent by various animal interests to counteract the effects of animal rights terrorism and political campaigns. From the millions spent by research laboratories to comply with federal regulations influenced by animal rights groups to the dollar losses caused by vandalism, harassment, arson, and theft, Oliver followed the money from donors' pockets to activists' coffers.

The Inhumane Crusade gives a brief history of the animal rights movement from the origin of the humane and antivivisectionist lobby groups in Great Britain in the 19th Century to the rise of the crusade against all animal use in the US. It also

  • takes a detailed look at the major interests affected by animal rights campaigns;
  • dissects several individual cases to illustrate the effectiveness of animal rights propaganda and media effort;
  • examines the effect of animal rights on traditional animal welfare;
  • takes a look at the terrorist arm of the movement;
  • lists organizations that promote animal welfare;
  • profiles 14 animal rights groups; and
  • indicts the movement with pages of quotes from its leaders.





Perhaps the greatest dollar damage done to an animal interest is the combination of federal legislation and terrorism perpetrated against biomedical research, so Oliver opened his assessment of impacts with a chapter that debunks animal rights propaganda and describes the benefits of research to human health and well-being. Animal rights groups use two approaches to damage animal research: they claim that it is inherently wrong to use animals to benefit humans and that such research is useless. Yet Oliver lists medical breakthroughs, treatments, and cures developed through animal-based research, including:

Treatments or cures for infectious diseases and chronic conditions such as AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, anthrax, beriberi, cancer, cholera, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and various bacterial and viral infections;
Procedures such as intravenous feeding, electrocardiography, improved understanding of infection control and pain relief, transplant and bypass surgeries, etc.; and
Rehabilitation of patients through psychological and behavioral research and better understanding of the process of aging.
He also noted that animals themselves benefit from biomedical research through pain killers, anesthesias, antibiotics, various surgical protocols, diagnostic tests, disease prevention, improved nutrition, and parasite treatment and prevention - many of them originally developed for humans and then applied to animals.

Animal rights groups have impacted the cost of research by methods as diverse as promoting changes to the Animal Welfare Act that divert money from actual research to compliance with regulations; organizing letter-writing and fund-raising campaigns that distort research methods and results; and terrorizing researchers and their institutions through crimes such as arson, vandalism, and theft. As a result, researchers cannot purchase shelter dogs and cats that are slated to die for lack of a new home; must provide for the undefined psychological well-being of research animals; and are forced to spend millions of dollars on security for laboratories.



Farm animals

Amid claims that livestock farming is a major form of animal abuse, activists have chipped away at the veal industry, poultry farming (for eggs and meat), fur ranching, pig farming, and cattle ranching. What began as attacks on methods of raising veal and opposition to confinement housing of chickens and pigs has morphed into an all-out attack on meat eating that also includes restaurants, butcher shops, and meat markets among its targets.

Activists have released thousands of mink from fur farms, bombed trucks belonging to meat markets and distributors, vandalized fast food restaurants, distorted animal husbandry practices, and lobbied for stricter laws regarding care and handling of farm animals.

Oliver said that PeTA and other groups have been successful at building opposition to livestock farming by taking advantage of the public's general lack of knowledge about farming practices. The claims of cruelty support the quest for more legislation, he said, but the agenda is to legislate the industry out of business, not to improve conditions for the animals.

Federal legislation does address humane slaughter and transport of farm animals, but it does not deal with livestock on the farm. So far, activists have not been successful in banning farming practices in any state, but the efforts continue. The Inhumane Crusade notes that if activists are successful in these attempts, small farmers will be driven out of business and the cost of food will increase.



Hunters and trappers have been easy marks for animal rights groups because they participate in their activities for recreation or profit, two human endeavors that activists abhor. Efforts to thwart hunters and trappers include demonstrations, interruptions of hunts, temporary restraining orders to stop hunts, lawsuits, state ballot initiatives, and legislation.

Special hunts to eliminate pest animals and birds (deer, Canada geese) are often delayed or halted by publicity campaigns and court actions. The leghold trap has come in for particular criticism as a cruel device even though it is often used to capture endangered species for study or relocation. Hunting of large predators has been banned in several states as a result of ballot initiatives. Hunting and trapping bans have enormous costs, Oliver reported. When animals such as deer, nutria, muskrat, beaver, seals, and Canada geese adapt and reproduce without controls, habitat and food supply for rare and endangered species can be badly damaged or destroyed. Increased numbers of some species will cause increased road kills and diseases, and some of the diseases may threaten man. Property damage goes up when some species are allowed to proliferate without control, and native economies are threatened when opportunities to sell animal products are eliminated.



Education and entertainment

Zoos, circuses, aquaria, and rodeos are particularly disliked by activists who claim that it is dangerous and inhumane to make animals perform. Many animal rights groups work for local, state, and federal laws to restrict or ban rodeos and exotic animal acts. So far, bans have only been successful in a handful of cities, but bills to restrict the use of exotics in animal acts pop up in Congress almost every year.




The darkest secret of animal rights groups is the campaign against breeding and keeping pets. Again illustrating an uncanny savvy about public perception, the movement builds opposition to pet breeding and ownership by exaggerating the number of animals entering shelters each year, distorting the number of animals euthanized each year, blurring the lines between responsible breeding and puppy mills, and promoting restrictive animal welfare laws.

Activists back large breeder licensing fees, encourage massive spay and neuter campaigns, and persuade people to buy dogs from animal shelters instead of purchasing a puppy from a responsible breeder.

The most obvious cost of this campaign, Oliver said, would be a devastating "loss of animal companionship."



Shaping public opinion

Activist groups study the use of the media and have a genius for shaping public opinion. Oliver illustrated this brilliant manipulation with several stories:

  • the Silver Spring monkey case in which Dr. Edward Taub was set up, convicted of cruelty, and had his research derailed before the convictions were overturned;
  • the campaign to save the seals that resulted in a ban on the importing of seal products to the US and subsequent loss of a major market for Canada's Inuit people;
  • the campaign to save the whales that resulted in a ban on whale hunting even though many whale stocks are no longer endangered or threatened; and
  • the Boys Town kitten case in which two researchers were harassed, threatened, and accused of cruelty for research on deafness.


In each case, activists pressured the principals involved through massive letter-writing campaigns, demonstrations, celebrity appearances, misleading or contrived photos, and other dubious means.

From start to finish, Animal Rights: The Inhumane Crusade is a well-researched, well-referenced look at the movement in the US. Anyone who wants a primer on the groups and campaigns or a reference to aid in making donations to further animal welfare should grab this book and not let go. Like The Hijacking of the Humane Movement by Rod and Patti Strand, it is a must for those who would be well-informed about this threat to the human-animal bond.


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