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.
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.
Comments posted below this video on YouTube say that the two dogs are rescued. Nevertheless, heart breaking footage.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was 30 years ago this month that the “young turks” won control of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.
I first joined BUAV as an employee in 1978 after two years working at Compassion In World Farming as their campaigns organiser. CIWF was a young, small but important organisation led by Peter Roberts, an ex-dairy farmer who was outraged at factory farming. BUAV, on the other hand, which was founded in 1898, although led by a sincere group of people, quietly campaigned against animal research. This was too much for a young upstart (“young turk”) like me. Consequently, I became increasingly involved with the animal rights movement taking off in the late 1970s. I helped found Coordinating Animal Welfare in 1978 with Fay Funnell and Angela Walder. Our mission was to “bring together the active members of all animal rights societies and work for unity in the movement.”
CAW provided activists with two forums where they could come together to share information and organise. They were an alternating bimonthly cycle of newsletters and public meetings, which were particularly successful as they regularly attracted more than 200 people. These meetings provided us with many opportunities to strengthen our understanding of animal rights and organise successful activities. This included the first public screening of “The Animals’ Film”; the closure of Club Row, a notorious London street market which sold dogs and cats to the public and reportedly to research laboratories; and hearing from such guest speakers as Clive Hollands, Richard Ryder and Peter Singer.
One of CAW’s campaigns was to democratically win control of the BUAV, which was governed by an executive committee elected by its members. From 1978 to 1980 a bitter fight developed between what became known as BUAV’s “old guard” and the emerging animal rights movement’s “young turks.” During this time BUAV fired me because they knew — while I was one of their employees — I was also co-leading CAW and part of the initiative to seize control of what they thought was their organisation. In December 1979 we won a court case which led us to holding the majority on the executive committee. In January 1980 I returned to BUAV’s employment as their campaigns organiser, a position I held until 1986 when I was acting general secretary. In 1987 I left the UK for the US to become the first executive director at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
At the BUAV I played a leading role in revitalising a dormant organisation. My responsibilities included managing the organisation’s programs and activities, including several national demonstrations, public speaking, local group organising and editing a bimonthly membership newspaper. Directed programs which included organizing annual national meetings of local volunteers; speaking to local groups throughout the U.K.; organizing six national demonstrations ranging in size from 6,000 to 9,000 people; organized the country’s first locally elected government (London Borough of Islington) to authorize The Animals’ Charter. I directed the implementation of a corporate image program for the organisation’s public education materials so that they were all recognisable. BUAV was among the first — if not the first — to develop a corporate identity.
Also I was secretary to a coalition of four national anti-vivisection organisations (“Mobilisation for Laboratory Animals”) in a three-year major national campaign which led the opposition to the British government’s Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. This included a lobby of Parliament with 700 people which was accompanied by a public rally, which I chaired, with sympathetic MPs from all political parties, Lords and others. I also organised for the Mobilisation a demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square with 9,000 people, 600 of whom participated in street theatre.
The Mobilisation argued that the new law would not even ban egregious examples of animal research. We had six minimum demands which we wanted to see included in the new law that was to replace the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. They were a ban on experiments in the following areas: cosmetics, tobacco and alcohol; the Draize eye test (substances dripped into the eyes of rabbits); the LD50 test (poisoning test where one half of the animals die); warfare experiments; and all behavioural and psychological experiments. The sixth demand called for the government’s advisory committee on the implementation of the new act to exclude those who had a “vested interest” in the continuation of animal experimentation.
Fast forward 30 years and it is interesting to note what has and has not been accomplished as well as which issues persist in remaining unresolved among the Mobilisation’s demands. Of the proposed five prohibitions, warfare and behavioural and psychological research continue. Whereas there is some progress in the other areas. The British government banned the LD50 test. The Draize is effectively redundant having been replaced by skin irritancy tests on rabbits and non-animal alternatives. Cosmetic tests are illegal. No animals are used to test tobacco or tobacco products. The government’s advisory committee is not free from “vested interests” and while there is some progress it is not as independent and challenging as it could be. In 1980 there were some 4.75 million animal experiments, which is reduced to 3.2 million in 2007.
So, it is a mixed report.
There’s also, I think, a mixed report on the British anti-vivisection movement. On the one hand, BUAV focuses exclusively on direct negotiations with governments and regulatory agencies; however, some other national groups (e.g., National Anti-Vivisection Society and Animal Aid) either work at the same public policy level and also (or primarily) in public education. Depending upon who you talk to, the grassroots direct action groups have helped or hindered the anti-vivisection cause.
Finally, I find it interesting that, as I consider my thirtieth anniversary of working at the BUAV and notwithstanding the progress made, the issue of cosmetic testing persists unresolved. Notwithstanding The Independent reporting that the EU-wide ban from 2013 on the sale of cosmetics tested on animals will happen, according to the European Commission, the BUAV launches a petition to ensure the ban occurs, which was prompted by reports that this would not be the case.
I see a pattern developing here not only with cosmetic tests with animals but also with beak trimming for egg-laying chickens in battery cages in which commercial interests with plenty of time mandated to them by governments still come to the deadline with an unwillingness to comply. I cannot but help conclude that if it were not for the animal welfare or rights movement and individual animal activists there would still be, for example, drunken rats and calves in veal crates.
In 30 years time when I will be 85, I wonder if the animal industrial complex, including animal research laboratories and agribusiness interests, will still be resisting change forced upon them by enlightened public opinion. Or if their existence will be significantly reduced because the political economy of animal exploitation is such that it is unsustainable. And what animal advocates will learn to do is identify and target its weaknesses thereby helping to push it over. It is going to fall anyway because society cannot afford expensive ways to feed people and keep them healthy.
The discovery of an undercover policeman embedded in a group of environmentalist activists is, of course, news; however, it should not be treated as such as it’s standard practice that all social justice movements, including the animal rights movement, be infiltrated by the police to gather information and operate as agents provacteurs. What is news is that the undercover agent was found out. Or, rather, confessed when confronted. As The Guardian reports,
The six friends present when [police constable Mark] Kennedy broke down and admitted he was a spy then asked him directly if the woman was also a police officer. “The six friends present when Kennedy broke down and admitted he was a spy then asked him directly if the woman was also a police officer. “He [Kennedy] nodded and said: ‘Yeah, but you know about that already,” said Craig Logan, 37, who was present. Kennedy is then said to have indicated that there were several other police officers living undercover in the protest movement. Logan said that while there was circumstantial evidence suggesting the woman was operating undercover, Kennedy’s former friends were highly suspicious of all the information he revealed that night. “This man was an extraordinary liar,” he said. “We cannot take anything he told us at face value.”
Not only was Kennedy pretending to be an environmentalist for seven years among this group of environmental activists but there were also several other undercover operatives.
All of this is reminiscent of the actions of the police and McDonald’s collusion in the events that lead up to the infamous McLibel trial. John Vidal wrote, “It led to inevitable farce at London Greenpeace meetings with spies spying on spies and being observed in turn by suspicious anarchists. Sometimes there would have been as many — or more — spies at a meeting as anarchists.” (McLibel, Macmillian, 1997, 194-195)
One notorious case of entrapment by animal researchers was in the US with the animal research laboratory, U.S. Surgical. It engaged the private investigation firm, Perceptions International, which, in turn, hired operative Mary Lou Sapone to help to persuade animal activist Fran Trutt to plant a small bomb by the car of U.S. Surgical’s chair, Leon Hirsch. (The Animal Rights Movement in America, Finsen and Finsen, Twayne, 1994, 173-174)
I recall in the 1980s, when I was responsible for organising a series of national anti-vivisection demonstrations for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, going to a police station after one of these protests. I saw one demonstrator walk past me, cross the public counter and stand among other policemen in uniform and unclip animal rights badges (Americans read: buttons) from his jacket. He was not a protestor at all but an undercover policeman.
So, what to do about it?
The lesson I learned is to trust only those whose values match my own. When anyone starts talking about animal rights and speaks in support of the necessity to lie (or even fudge) the truth. Or they speak with hate toward others regardless of who they are, including animal abusers. Or they advocate violence. Or they say they only care about animals. These are people who I watch with a sceptical eye. They may not be undercover police masquerading as animal advocates. But they sure behave like them. What’s more to the point is that they don’t embody what I believe are the four key values in animal rights: truth, compassion, nonviolence and interbeing, the interrelatedness of all.