On her blog Louise Baldock, Labour Councillor for Kensington and Fairfield Ward in Liverpool, wrote about a new council initiative which is a new dedicated phone line for reporting dog related problems, including fouling, nuisance barking, running stray and so on. She writes that
Staff answering these calls will have extra information on how to tackle these problems so that the council’s response will be ‘smarter’. We’ll also be able to collect better intelligence about where there are particular hotspots that need extra attention.
My local Labour-led council, Hastings, recently produced these posters and displayed them around town. Sadly, it’s still a problem.
Among the number of animal advocates who I most admire are Karen Davis, president and founder of United Poultry Concerns, and the philosopher Peter Singer. In a movement that isn’t always capable of rational and respectful debate on ideas and strategy, Karen makes the case in this thoughtful and fascinating article that Peter’s ethical stance on the moral and legal status of animals — and, in particular, chickens — has changed since the publication of his important book Animal Liberation in 1975. She discusses various statements and actions Peter has taken and discusses them within the context of the place poultry occupy in the animal liberation struggle. She concludes that Peter
condemns the cruelty and environmental havoc of factory farming and observes that ‘ultimately, we should be aiming to eat vegetarian diets,’ which is all well and good, but he is no longer an inspiration for animal liberation.
bring experts including farmers, veterinarians, welfare experts and others from outside Government together with the Chief Veterinary Officer and civil servants to make direct policy recommendations on policy affecting the health and welfare of all kept animals such as farm animals, horses and pets.
DEFRA states the board will be made up of
around 12 members, 5 senior Defra officials including the Chief Veterinary Officer, and 7-8 external members including the chair. The external members will have experience and knowledge of kept and farmed animals, animal and veterinary science, and animal welfare, and could be farmers, veterinarians, animal welfare experts.
With the announcement only being made this morning there has not been sufficient time to study the proposals for the new board. A quick read suggests, however, that the term of reference for “animal welfare” is meant only in the context of the continuing instrumental use of animals and not in their ethical and legal status. In this context, today’s announcement is not necessarily anything significantly new.
Regardless, this development will be a significant factor in animal welfare public education campaigns and public policy initiatives for the foreseeable future.
Two Green MEPs, Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor, jointly publish an excellent leaflet on animal welfare and the actions they’ve taken on them. All MPs and MEPs should be following this example but it’s up to the animal welfare/rights movement to make them understand why.
From left to right: Dr. Antoine F. Goetschel, Alexandra Hammond-Seaman, Joy Lee and Paula Sparks
Earlier this month I attended a meeting of the Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare which featured as guest speaker Dr. Antoine F. Goetschel, the Swiss animal welfare lawyer who was featured prominently in recent media. The meeting was chaired by Paula Sparks (ALAW). Alexandra Hammond-Seaman (RSPCA International) and Joy Lee (WSPA) commented on Dr Goetschel’s presentation and took part in the Q and A at the end of the. (I wrote earlier about Dr Goetschel here.)
The key parts to Dr Goetschel’s presentation included a discussion on the animal welfare vs. animal rights issue. As a practicing attorney who represented animals in court, Dr Goetschel favoured framing the issue broadly as an animal welfare issue. He said that there was nothing wrong with animal rights; however, in the current legal situation in Switzerland the terms of reference had to be animal welfare as that is what the law recognised. He also spoke about the need to gather information about court cases and prosecutions to do with animals, collect data and analyse it to determine the current situation and move forward to more effective laws and their enforcement. He spoke of a database he and his colleagues had assembled of hundreds of court cases. This database is used to compare and contrast legal cases to identify what improvements could be made to the system. He framed the issue of animal welfare as a “normality” and that mistreatment of animals is recognised morally and legally as abnormal.
I’m really appreciative of ALAW making it possible for us to spend time with Dr Goetschel and learn about his activities and ideas.
The great humanitarian, vegetarian and ethical socialist Henry S. Salt died today 72 years ago in Brighton in 1939. He wrote his own eulogy which was read out at his service.
When I say I shall die, as I have lived, rationalist, socialist, pacifist, and humanitarian, I must make my meaning clear. I wholly disbelieve in the present established religion; but I have a very firm religious faith of my own—a Creed of Kinship I call it—a belief that in years yet to come there will be a recognition of brotherhood between man and man, nation and nation, human and subhuman, which will transform a state of semi-savagery, as we have it, into one of civilisation, when there will be no such barbarity of warfare, or the robbery of the poor by the rich, or the ill-usage of the lower animals by mankind.
Late yesterday I or, rather, this Web site, received my/our first homophobic slur.
Not such a big deal, really. Could be a lot worse, of course. In the UK and throughout the world people, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people, are routinely insulted, assaulted and killed for who they are.
Of course, the comment was sent it anonymously. The sender doesn’t even have the courage of their convictions to identify who they are. This is usually the case in such matters.
I approve comments submitted to this Web site before they appear. No doubt the sender was excited with the anticipation that it would harm me in some way. Well, it doesn’t. And I reject your comment. Instead, I’m writing to draw even more attention to it as a futile gesture on your part.
Besides you make feel mighty real to be even more proud of who I am. So much so that it’s time for Sylvester …..
I’m often asked “Why did you part from PETA, was it a fundamental issue and/or do you feel the actions by PETA are justified?” The short answer is: I left PETA because it had and has drifted far from its base, and because of disagreements over tactics. The longer answer is: The record will show that while I was there, my core focus was on developing high impact exposés which were very inclusive, and were typically made up of a combination of at least: undercover investigations, criminal and civil litigation, legislation and of course public education.
Kim Stallwood, Executive Director (1987-1992), from my forthcoming book, Animal Dharma:
At this time I was PETA’s executive director and proud of our accomplishments; however, I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the organisation’s leadership and the direction in which some of the publicity stunts were going. Of course, our mission was to educate people about animal exploitation but was it necessary to do so at the expense of someone else? This led me to making what I believed to be the only honourable decision I could make. I resigned in 1992 and left PETA without any other employment to go to. I enthusiastically supported what I always understood to be PETA’s effective two-part strategy of presenting, first, the problem of animal cruelty with innovative undercover investigations and, second, offering the solution by inspiring people to adopt a compassionate vegan lifestyle. The focus of this brilliant but deceptively simple approach of simultaneously and credibly presenting the problem with the solution appears to have changed. PETA’s increasing emphasis on celebrities and strident publicity stunts overwhelming its brilliant undercover investigations and unnecessarily polarising sections of the population, including women, racial minorities and obese people, from its deliberately provocative publicity stunts that trivialise them.
Animal activists across the world via the Web are rushing to report the UK government will ban animals in circuses following on from a report in the Daily Express, which says
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has been persuaded that forcing elephants, tigers, lions, camels and other exotic creatures to perform tricks for audiences is wrong in modern Britain. She is also said to believe that making them travel thousands of miles every year in cramped lorry trailers known as “beast wagons” is harmful to their welfare. While Animal Welfare Minister Jim Paice told MPs last month that a new policy was “close to completion”, his boss Ms Spelman is now “minded” to introduce the ban, say senior sources. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also favours such a move. Officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are working on the final details to ensure there is no conflict with European legislation. An announcement is expected within weeks.
Of course, I am not an insider at the Daily Express. Nor do I have access to the contacts and the information that they claim. In as much as the minister concerned is “minded” about animals in circuses, I am as “minded” about reading about it in the Daily Express. Nevertheless, being “minded” is certainly hopeful that something which the previous Labour government could have done will be now implemented by the present ConDem coalition government. But I urge caution before animal activists rush to proclaim victory that animals in circuses will be banned. Banning animals in circuses is one example of the proverbial low hanging fruit in animal welfare that any government could do. Particularly as public opinion clearly wants a ban. As the Daily Express reported “Government consultation with the circus industry, welfare groups and the public, published in March last year, found that 94 per cent of more than 10,000 responses wanted a ban on wild animals in circuses.” But wait and see if and what the government announces before popping the bubbly.
Meanwhile, Animal Defenders International is to be congratulated for their accomplish in recording undercover, publicising and now rescuing Anne from Bobby Robert Super Circus and arranging for her to live out the rest of her life at Longleat Safari Park.
The great Henry Salt explores in the essay, Restrictionists and Abolitionists, in the journal, Humanity, published by the Humanitarian League on November 4, 1900. He concludes,
For our own part, we have no quarrel with those who are abolitionist only, or with those who are restrictionist only; it is for each to do what he or she can. But we hope that members of the Humanitarian League will strive, wherever feasible, to adopt the fuller and wiser policy—that is, to be both restrictionists and abolitionists at once. Humanitarians have a hard fight before them against the power of cruelty and oppression, and they cannot afford to refrain from using their intellects as well as their hearts. Stupidity, in such a contest, will retard the noblest cause. And the recrimination that goes on between the advocates of greater and lesser measures strikes us, if we may say so, as just a little stupid.
Kim Stallwood is an independent scholar and author on animal rights. His forthcoming book explores what it means to care deeply about animals. Starting in 1976 he has held leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost organisations in the UK and US, including CIWF, BUAV, PETA, The Animals’ Agenda, Animals and Society Institute and Minding Animals International. A vegetarian since 1974 when as a student he worked in a chicken slaughterhouse. A vegan since 1976. His evil twin is the Grumpy Vegan.
University of Warwick Animal Ethics Society
Carol J. Adams and myself are speakers at a one-day conference on Saturday, January 18, 2014.