MOVEMENT WATCH is an update on recent and current campaigns in the animal advocacy movement, with brief, rights-based analyses. MOVEMENT WATCH does not provide a full overview of any listed advocacy group’s work. Campaigns and news items are selected for their legal and social significance.
Thanks to our friends at Ánima for providing this document in Spanish on their web site.
Update: Terrorism Act Now Law
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act passed late last year. It augments existing law and slaps the “terrorism” label on the disruption of business connected with animal use. Its proponents say it’s necessary to prevent violent activism. It does target violence, but is also broad enough to be used against people engaged in traditional forms of protest.
The bill had the backing of scores of corporate, non-profit, and educational groups. Friends of Animals took every opportunity to oppose it, including a speaking invitation from Oberlin Animal Rights. Just before it passed, numerous animal advocacy groups joined a list, circulated by New York City’s Satya magazine, opposing the bill.
The law’s backers successfully employed quotes from an annual event run by the Farm Animal Reform Movement to suggest activists could be dangerous. Yes, everyone’s entitled to speak; but people who resort to coercive rhetoric rather than education often run afoul of core animal-rights principles. And even if they are few, brassy voices have a domineering effect, drowning out viewpoints and putting off many a peaceable advocate.
The ease with which this law passed reflects the isolation of animal activism from the broader progressive community -- underscoring the importance of a holistic approach to advocacy.
The Committee to Restore the Dove Shooting Ban, under the slogan “Protecting Michigan’s Traditional Values,” suggests that people kill animals other than doves. The Committee consists of the Michigan Audubon Society, the Detroit Audubon Society, the Michigan Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States. In their words:
There are plenty of other species for the sporting community to pursue and shoot in the state. More than 115 species are considered game species in Michigan. Not counting unprotected birds, 40 of these game species are birds. Turkeys, pheasants, geese, ducks, woodcock, rails, snipe, and dozens of other bird species give recreational hunters more than ample shooting opportunities at all times of the year in Michigan.
With many other animal-advocacy, civic and educational groups, Friends of Animals promptly endorsed the call to end dove-shooting when approached by a group simply called the Committee to Keep Doves Protected. But it’s unfortunate that this c ommittee believes it succeeded through suggesting that other animals be stalked and killed in place of the particular animals in the campaign.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began removing Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves, beginning this January with Montana and Idaho. Federal protections in Wyoming, eastern Washington and Oregon and part of Utah are also slated for removal.
Wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rocky Mountains a decade ago after being hunted almost out of existence. Today there are just 1,200 there. That’s too many for Idaho Gov. Jim Risch and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Although both states already kill wolves accused of disturbing ranching interests, these governors want authority to run legal hunts, and to kill wolves on behalf of elk hunters.
Since 1987, one conservation group has paid $700,000 to ranchers complaining about wolves. Wouldn’t a more sensible investment involve vigorously encouraging people to reject the products of ranching?
South Korea ’s government has called for the regulation of husbandry in the dogflesh market. Some people are appalled that Korea would legalize such sales. But how do we feel about our own governments regulating markets for pigs or cows?
November 2006 saw the culmination of a campaign that poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Proposition 204. The CEO of the Arizona Humane Society told the media a “degree of space” for animals to turn in their pens is “all we’re asking for.” T he initiative passed. If it survives its seven-year phase-out period, it will mandate a new minimum pen size for calves and pregnant pigs in Arizona (affecting just one pig marketer).
Campaigners invoked conservative values: Arizonans for Humane Farms, a coalition of animal-protection and sanctuary groups, vowed that “the organizations backing Prop 204 could hardly be more mainstream.” They declined to question animal-handling experiences for children: The law exempts county fairs and exhibitions, the group stated, and “Prop 204 is only about massive factory farming operations, not 4-H kids.”
The Arizona Humane Society’s CEO recommended that Arizonans shop from Niman Ranch, an Internet meat market that boasts hundreds of “family hog farmers” and commands $13.95 for “two boneless, center-cut pork chops.” The campaign even televised the Maricopa County Sheriff cooking a pork chop and declaring, “I believe that animals raised for food deserve humane treatment.”
One D.C.-based activist asked whether the ballot initiative did some good by creating a shared goal. What was that goal? Discussing advocacy plans beyond Arizona, Time magazine reported that activists seek a “federal law to end cruelty to farm animals.” Peter Singer said, “A lot of people who eat meat would like to feel that the animals had a good life before they were killed.” But if this winds up convincing “a lot of people,” their demand for animal products will require the return of high-volume production -- precisely as “cage-free” hens in Europe became part of a multi-tiered factory system.
A better goal involves concerted and sustained efforts to teach genuine respect for nonhuman animals and the ecology. People can opt out of animal exploitation overnight. Millions already have.
More than 20 municipalities in the Catalonia region of Spain have declared themselves "anti-bullfight" -- including, since 2004, Barcelona. The city’s only bullring is now planning to close, citing financial losses.
Animal Friends Croatia (AFC) sent us an update on modifications to Croatia’s current animal welfare laws. (We can’t yet read the new, modified law; the group’s site promises to translate it soon.) The group admits that the future law, a compromise called the Animal Protection Act, is “absurd” because it claims to protect animals yet permits people to use and kill them.
Yet the group believes several provisions will advance benevolent attitudes, noting that it mandates assistance for animals accidentally injured, for example, by motorists. Also notable is the ban on the sale of dogs and cats in retail shops, or their use as game prizes. Routine mutilations of pets, reports AFC, are barred: no clipping ears or tails; no declawing; no debarking.
The use of non-domesticated animals in circuses will be prohibited. Even more significant is Animal Friends Croatia’s report that 29 Croatian towns don’t accept circuses using any nonhuman animals.
As for labs, animal protectionists will join “ethical committees” to have input regarding experiments -- obviously problematic, given that in the U.S. such a development shielded vivisection from traditional animal-cruelty laws. Yet AFC reports that the law will disallow animal use in cosmetics testing, in elementary and high school science courses, and in weapons testing.
Force-feeding animals is barred, which appears to rule out foie gras production. Although traps are not banned, there is a ban on breeding animals for fur, effective 2017 .
A pending bill could stop animal experimentation in Rio de Janeiro, including procedures that cause psychological suffering. The proposal gained approval in early 2006, but was vetoed by Mayor Cesar Maia. It then returned to the council, where, should the veto be rejected, vivisection will be barred from the city.
Moreover, as the group Rights for Animals points out, this inspiration is bound to spread. Cláudio Cavalcanti, the vegetarian councillor who proposed the bill and raised support through activities such as a mock public hearing, was recently elected an MP of the state of Rio de Janeiro -- population 15 million plus.
Another notable part of the context is Brazil’s status as a South American cloning pioneer since the 2001 birth of a cloned calf under the auspices of the state-run Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation. The project was expanded later in order to create transgenic animals -- for example, cows meant to produce medically therapeutic milk.
In a decision hailed by cloning companies, the Food and Drug Administration rang in the New Year by tentatively approving products from cloned cows, pigs, goats, and their offspring as safe for the retail market, pending a 90-day public comment period, and additional time for the FDA to review the comments. By late 2007, the United States could be the first country to allow grocers to sell such products.
In their endless quest for new ways to control animal life, scientists will strive to convince us that products of cloned sheep should also be accepted, as well as attempting to clone chickens and introduce genetically modified fish into the stream of commerce.
Opponents of commercial cloning hope to press Congress to intervene, the New York Times reported, and consumer groups are asking food companies and restaurants to shun cloned animal products.
Many clones die during gestation or shortly after birth; many more are born with severely distorted organs, heads or limbs.
Calling cloning “highly inefficient,” the director of the American Anti-Vivisection Society said the “FDA should not be permitted to proceed in a regulatory vacuum.” Good heavens, is the regulatory vacuum really the issue? Experimenters are currently trying to create disease-resistant cows. Yet consuming cows is now known to be wholly unnecessary for human health. If the “regulatory vacuum” is filled, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear agribusiness arguing for staying in schools and other institutions based on claims of having developed critical health products.
As furriers reinvent themselves with everything from tinting to so-called eco-fur, some advocates have issued increasingly weak arguments. They’ve asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to instruct farmers how to properly kill chinchillas. They’ve vowed to “support the killing of possums for their fur” in Britain when “produced by humane methods.”
The International Fund for Animals Welfare’s European Union Office issued a press release in November to express “horror that furs from the cruel slaughter of cats and dogs in Asia were being sold in Europe ” and to “applaud” the European Commission’s concern. The gist of that concern was that Europeans are misled when cat and dog fur is imported and sold under false labels.
The Humane Society of the United States sounds much the same, saying animals “killed in China -- often in barbaric ways -- include dogs and cats, foxes, mink, and... raccoon dogs, a species of canine whose fur resembles raccoon fur.” But what country is in the position to call others “barbaric” when it comes to animal use? The sale of fur, for everything from boots to coat trimmings, is a particularly obvious and showy sign of the common human obsession with dominating other animals. Let’s put an end to it.
Late last year, Jane Goodall went to China to promote a new book, and the Shanghai branch of Goodall’s group Roots and Shoots solicited public donations for a new gorilla display at the Shanghai Zoo. Goodall’s group is also running a public contest to help design the new display, into which three gorillas will be shipped from the Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands.
"My job is to help people understand that every single one of us can make a difference in every single day to change the world," Goodall said at the 2006 Shanghai Roots and Shoots summit.
Evidently, and very sadly, part of Goodall’s vision of change includes promoting enterprises which objectify nonhuman apes and other animals.