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Helping Animals in Japan?

March 17th, 2011 2 comments

I completed this morning a quick survey of some of the Web sites of some of the world’s leading animal protection/welfare/rescue/rights organisations to review their activity on rescuing animals in Japan following on from the earthquake and tsunami that occurred one week ago tomorrow. The following organisations did not include anything about the crisis.

  • Animal Defenders International
  • Compassion In World Farming
  • Eurogroup for Animal Welfare
  • Humane Society for the United States (see below HSI)
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare (both UK and International Web sites)
  • RSPCA
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (see below WSPA Animals in Disaster blog)

The following organisations included information about the crisis.

  • American Humane Association: Links from home page to AHA blog dated March 16 which states their position on the crisis (see extract below).
  • Humane Society International (HSI): Mention on home page with link to secondary page with statement dated March 12. HSUS links from its home page to this HSI page.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Link from home page to PETA Blog which includes a post (time of post is indicated but not the date) which states its activity on the crisis.
  • WSPA Animals in Disasters blog: Linked from WSPA home page. Date of last entry on blog is March 14.

Admittedly, this is not a scientific assessment. It is a quick review of the Web sites of these organisations nearly one week after the crisis occurred as they appeared this morning. I note the American Humane Association published an informative explanation of the challenge they face to the crisis, which I assume is also pertinent to the other organisations included in this brief review as well as others. (See extract below.)

Notwithstanding these formidable obstacles as well as the challenge of dealing with a complex situation that continues to develop in unprecedented ways, the response to this disaster does not appear to be a significant issue for some of the world’s leading animal advocacy organisations if their Web sites as they appeared this morning represent their interest and involvement.

Further, if these groups are active in helping to mitigate the crisis in Japan they are not sharing with their supporters, the public and the media information about their activities. I invite them to get in touch with their comments and any relevant information they would like to share.

In contrast, humanitarian non-governmental organisations, including the coalition Interaction, document their involvement in Japan as well as other world crises such as those occurring in Libya and the Ivory Coast. Whatever the challenges animal groups face in dealing with this crisis in Japan humanitarian non-governmental organisations do not appear to be constrained similarly.

Extract from AHA blog:

Due to the safety risks and the primary focus on saving people’s lives, the Japanese government has not yet allowed even Japanese organizations to begin large-scale animal rescue operations. However, discussions are currently ongoing between our international partner organizations and the appropriate governmental agencies to obtain invitations to deploy to the stricken areas with animal rescue teams. It is the policy of American Humane Association and other legitimate animal welfare organizations to not deploy without a formal invitation from the responsible government/agency. This policy is for the safety of the people who risk their lives to save people and animals in disaster situations, as well as for the safety of the human victims who are still awaiting help from rescuers.

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Animal Rights Debate–Second Review

March 16th, 2011 3 comments

This second review of The Animal Rights Debate by Gary Francione and Robert Garner is by Carlo Salzani and is published on the Humanimalia Web site. Again, a thoughtful review. This time, however, a third book is also considered: Beyond Animal Rights: Food, Pets and Ethics by Tony Milligan (Continuum), which I’m not familiar with. Salzani concludes

Unlike Francione and Garner, whose disagreement is internal to the animal ethics camp, Milligan opens up the discussion to a greater range of inputs, which help nonetheless to locate the debate against a wider background. What Milligan does not offer, unlike Francione and Garner, is a political strategy: he proposes a personal analysis of a number of issues based on a pluralist set of considerations, which however ends up often in an argumentative stalemate or in a sort of situational ethics. Unlike Francione’s and Garner’s, his voice is not that of an activist, but rather that of a philosopher, sometimes too detached and doubt-ridden to be able to offer the simplification that action requires. His book is therefore to be read in the context of a wider discourse. Together with Francione and Garner, Milligan provides some coordinates to orient the reader within the current philosophical and practical debate concerning animal ethics.

Regrettably, The Animal Rights Debate frames the discussion about strategy as an either/or. Either it is animal rights or it is animal protection. Salzani appears to position Milligan’s Beyond Animal Rights as not providing direct insight into this dispute but nevertheless a worthwhile contribution to the overall discussion. I look forward to reading Milligan to form my own opinion.

Salzani, like Mepham, makes an interesting observation about the different approaches taken by Francione and Garner.

Robert Garner begins his chapter on an apparently more restrained tone: he does not want to criticize animal rights per se, and even states that “a great deal of the ethics of animal rights is convincing” (103). However, soon after he adopts a language that is not second to Francione’s in harshness and condemnation: what he opposes is the “abolitionist” version of the animal rights theory, which he characterizes as “fundamentalist,” “inflexible,” and “dogmatic”; like a fundamentalist religion, it is based on “essential truths” and on an “unwillingness to compromise” in order to achieve incremental short-term goals that fall short of the ideal end point; as such, it is irreconcilable to the “political art of the possible” (104). Garner advocates the position Francione called “new welfarism” but that he prefers to label “animal protectionism,” which defends a “politics” of incremental and “feasible” legal reforms aimed at ameliorating the conditions of animals.

I say regrettably The Animal Rights Debate frames the discussion as an either/or because I believe a smart social justice movement for animals is one which matures sufficiently to understand and appreciate the differences between them. These differences can be irreconcilable opposites if we want them to be. They can also be a clever coordinated strategy which utilises the strengths and weaknesses inherent in each. The strategy I advocate is one which balances the utopian vision of animal rights with the pragmatic politics of animal welfare. Many if not all social movements struggle under a tension of fundamentalism and pragmatism. A smart social movement is one which learns how to deploy both simultaneously. I first made this case in my paper, Utopian Visions and Pragmatic Politics: Challenging the Foundations of Speciesism and Misothery, was published in Animal Rights: The Changing Debate edited by Robert Garner (Macmillan, 1996).

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Animal Disaster in Japan

March 16th, 2011 No comments

Here’s an informative overview published on March 11 providing an initial overview on the status of animal welfare on the day of the earthquake. It would be good to see an update posted here. Here’s a further report published by Animals Asia.

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Animal Welfare in Japan Post Earthquake

March 16th, 2011 No comments

Here’s a link to a report posted by Ric O’Barry about dolphins who were subject to an international campaign, including the film “The Cove.” The volunteers are safe but the dolphins were killed by the tsunami.

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Animal Welfare and Natural Disaster in Japan

March 16th, 2011 No comments

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Comments posted below this video on YouTube say that the two dogs are rescued. Nevertheless, heart breaking footage.

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Indie on LACS New CEO

March 15th, 2011 No comments

One of the council chiefs who earned more than the Prime Minister has been appointed director of the League Against Cruel Sports. Joe Duckworth, former head of Newham council in east London, was the second biggest earner in a survey of local authority fat cats conducted last year, with a salary of £241,483. He resigned abruptly in July, but is set to replace Douglas Batchelor as chief executive of the LACS. Batchelor, who retires this summer, caused some controversy as the charity’s only employee to earn more than £60,000. Accounts show that he takes home between £110,000 and £120,000 – plenty, given that the LACS only spends £2.25m per year. A spokeswoman declines to say whether Duckworth will get the same when he joins, though she helpfully points out that whatever he gets, it will be a significant pay cut, and that anyway “he cares passionately about the charity

Matthew Bell: The Independent on Sunday Diary

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Animal Rights Debate-Thoughtful Book Review

March 15th, 2011 No comments

The Animal Rights Debate by Gary Francione and Robert Garner is an important book for those who worry over ethics and politics and the tension of strategy within both. My review is forthcoming; however, Ben Mepham‘s is a good place to start. For example, I thought this was an astute remark.

Without attempting a blow-by-blow summary of the exchange, I doubt that I am the only reader to be left with an impression of a discussion characterised by Francione’s somewhat strident approach, to which Garner responded with remarkable amiability. And while Garner was prepared to acknowledge several areas of agreement, Francione’s only reciprocal response was the single word ‘agreed’, in the book’s final sentence, to the proposition that currently animals endure unacceptable levels of suffering. Not even the revelation that Garner was a dietary vegan, in reply to Francione’s ‘personal’ question, elicited any recorded response (p. 257). A discussion where one participant seems unprepared to concede any merit in the opposing perspective, a condition which is perhaps intrinsic to an absolutist, abolitionist stance, hardly provides fertile ground for intellectual enquiry. Yet it might have been anticipated that the fact that both participants reputedly sought to achieve desired changes incrementally would have provided a sound basis for fruitful discussion.

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Animal Welfare and Natural Disaster in Japan

March 15th, 2011 No comments

The natural disaster in Japan is incomprehensible not only on a human scale but also on its impact on animals and the environment. I want to follow how the international animal welfare/rights movement responds to this monumental challenge. So, I start with a RSS feed to WSPA’s Animals in Disaster Blog. Animal Refuge Kansai is accepting displaced animals. Please E-mail me with more sites to share.

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Nocton Lessons

February 17th, 2011 No comments

Yesterday’s announcement of the backer’s withdrawal of the proposed mega-dairy is a victory. But this issue will resurface elsewhere in another form. Vigilance is needed. The dairy industry must be closely monitored. We need to be ready to act again.

But who is “we”?

We, in this case, were national animal welfare organisations (e.g., CIWF, WSPA, Animal Aid, VIVA), national environmental organisations (e.g., Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, Soil Association), progressive political organisations (e.g., 38 Degrees) and local residents associations (e.g., Campaign Against Factory Farming Operations). This coalition mobilised support from Parliament and the entertainment industry. Further, the campaign was emboldened by reports challenging the application from the Environment Agency and Anglian Water. And, of course, tens of thousands of people who added their voice in a variety of ways.

This impressive coalition of diverse interests demonstrated why the proposed mega-dairy had to be opposed for various reasons (e.g., animal welfare, environmental protection, sustainable farming practices).

This is the lesson to be learned from Nocton. When the case for animal welfare is framed within a progressive agenda of interests there will be increased chances of success.

The challenge to establishing moral and legal rights for animals will not be found in a fundamentalist, moral crusade espousing vegan absolutism.

It will be achieved when animal advocates position animal interests as a natural fit alongside those of the environment and human well-being.

Comprehensive and progressive agendas of social change, as demonstrated by yesterday’s decision to withdraw plans for the mega-dairy, will propel animal issues into the public mainstream and establish moral and legal rights for animals as a public policy issue.

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Trailer for New Film on Nonviolence

February 10th, 2011 No comments

Here is the trailer for an interesting new film, Nonviolence for a Change, which is commissioned by the Turning the Tide programme of Quaker Peace and Social Witness. There’s also a report in The Guardian about this which is written by Zoe Broughton, an undercover investigator who has worked at a number of facilities, including Huntingdon Life Sciences and for Compassion In World Farming.

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