Revel Miller, 82, a self-described “animal person,” first learned about Friends of Animals (FoA) in the early 1990s from a woman she knew who ran a thrift shop from which the proceeds went to a no-kill animal shelter. Miller figured if that woman belonged to FoA, it had to be a good group. As fate would have it, Miller was already a member of Primarily Primates, the sanctuary FoA later began managing in 2008.
“I started supporting wildlife sanctuaries because I thought, we have so many people helping dogs and cats, but the ones who are in the biggest trouble are the wildlife. “I was so thrilled that FoA stepped in and saved Primarily Primates. How is that for two things that you belong to coming together?” Miller said with a laugh.
Friends of Animals’ work to protect wildlife and critical habitat here and abroad has kept Miller a loyal member of the organization. “I’ve stayed a member because the work never stops. With more people in the world, it’s getting worse. People are multiplying like rabbits across the planet. And then you have climate change. And people just keep on breeding because they don’t use their brains.”
She looks forward to Action Line because it keeps her connected to FoA’s work. Miller decided to send a gift of the magazine to her nephew’s daughter who is currently in college. “I know she loves animals and I would like to get her involved,” Miller said.
“Young people are always on their electronics these days and they never go outside. As a young person I always played outdoors. I feel I’m also an environmentalist because of my love for wildlife. But young people are disconnected from nature. You cannot have a desire to protect nature when you are disconnected from it. That’s a big problem.”
We love that Miller is paying her love of animals and the planet forward. We know that without Miller and other longtime supporters like her we would not be celebrating out 60th anniversary. And thanks to them, we can look forward to the next 60. To say thank you, we put together this piece featuring a cross section of new members and longtime members who discuss why they decided to join FoA and why they’ve continued their support.
ALAN ROBERTS, FLORIDA MEMBERS SINCE 1981
I joined Friends of Animals 30 years ago to support its fearless campaign against animal suffering and exploitation. So many people harbor a great love for animals yet take no action to protect them or get involved in their welfare.
FoA is clearly a very active organization that takes on the most difficult battles to fight abuse here in America and all over the world. Priscilla Feral and her excellent associates have boldly confronted governments when senseless and harmful legislation is proposed at the federal, state and local levels.
With victories in courts, FoA lawyers and staff have saved more animals than we will ever know. Over decades, they have kept exploitation in the headlines and brought out the many horrible secrets of animal torture and death. FoA has waged campaigns to save the smallest animals such as parakeets and swans to the largest animals such as elephants and giraffes. And don’t forget the dogs, cats, primates, bears, horses, bison, cheetah, wolves, rhino…and, well you get the picture.
Action Line magazine has been an important connection to Friends of Animals as we are updated on current projects and issues. Feral’s In My View editorial is always good reading, as it brings us up to date on what’s going on. She and the FoA writers are never afraid to address the most sensitive issue and aggressive opponents. Additionally the magazine offers recipes and products we can purchase—I have sent slogan t-shirts to friends.
A recent issue of Action Line discussed trophy hunting and FoA actions against bringing back the corpses. Is it actually fun to kill a magnificent animal? Some people think so. Members at FoA cannot imagine it. Is it sport to shoot a moose? How about shooting at close range a feeding bison? Is it fun and sporting to kill animals brought into contained ranches? The magnificent big horn sheep is to be praised and admired, not slaughtered. Is it rewarding to have dogs chase a mama bear up a tree, then hunters stand below and shoot her with a high-powered rifle?
Through their membership, FoA supporters oppose all of this cruel insanity. FoA promotes the adoption of rescued pets, protection of the environment, the inhumaneness of laboratories and public awareness of everything animal. Priscilla and the FoA staff are driven by an optimism that humans really can make a difference.
My own connection has been to renew my membership every year with a donation and to pass along copies of Action Line. I have called Priscilla several times over the years to discuss various efforts and she is always most welcoming. I’ve been privileged to travel throughout Africa, South America, Asia, Australia and North America to witness animal life up close in its natural habitat. Congratulations to FoA on your 60th anniversary from a longtime proud member.
P. ELIZABETH ANDERSON, VIRGINIA MEMBER SINCE 1994
Friends of Animals is one of the first animal advocacy organizations I learned about. I was immediately impressed with its spay-neuter program because I agreed that the most direct way to reduce the number of dogs and cats perishing in shelters was to stem the tide. FoA’s low-cost spay-neuter program was unprecedented, and FoA is still a leader in this area.
Over the years, I have admired the broad scope of FoA’s programs, which focus on crucial ways to improve the lives of nonhuman animals, domestic and wild. I particularly like that FoA walks the talk, first evident to me when they took over management of the Texas sanctuary Primarily Primates. FoA accepted an immense challenge that other organizations found daunting, courageously making a commitment for the long-term care of animals, which was also unprecedented in my experience.
I respect FoA’s decisions and leadership. President Priscilla Feral is no ivory tower leader. FoA is what it is because of her exemplary leadership, but she is not reluctant to grab a bullhorn and join a protest. Her staff shares her passion and is often on the ground facing objectors to protect animals, educate the public and keep members informed.
I love FoA’s public awareness campaigns and other programs that educate about the despicable things happening to animals. The “Ban Fur” button is my perennial favorite. I order by the dozen, keep one on every coat and sprinkle them around to bring attention to the vile, unnecessary fur industry. These buttons are just one example of FoA’s clever, creative and unique approaches to the vital work of saving animals and protecting them from cruelty in all its manifestations across the globe. FoA is perfect to me—authentic, transparent and trustworthy.
As I have grown in my animal advocacy awareness, FoA has been right there with information I could trust and a plan I could follow to help animals. I recently began working with abandoned and rescued horses in the southwest, and was thrilled to learn that FoA has been focused on wild horses through its Wildlife Law Program.
We live in dangerous times. Some impending losses may be irrevocable, but I trust FoA to do everything possible for animals and not barter lives or merge with other organizations that do not share my values or approach.
Looking back, I am slightly embarrassed by the paltry donation I made in 1994, but I rectify the slow start with regular contributions and FoA-focused estate planning. It is unlikely, especially in the current political climate that crucial improvements for animals will happen in my lifetime.
Consequently, leaving resources for FoA to continue the fight to save animals is comforting. I may not see the changes happen, but through FoA, I will have helped.
SALLY MALANGA, NEW JERSEY MEMBER SINCE 1985
I treasure my membership at Friends of Animals. More than 30 years ago, I walked into the offices of Friends of Animals in Tinton Falls, N.J. and introduced myself with the words, “May I volunteer?”
During that time, I met an individual who video-taped the cruel animal testing procedures for banal personal care products at the Gillette company. Animal testing of consumer products is not mandated by law and is highly inaccurate in predicting product safety. This courageous activist and I placed a photo of a bunny rabbit on a giant postcard with the title, “I won’t buy from you, Gillette, unless you stop testing on animals!”
We went to malls and distributed the postcards to encourage consumers to stop buying products that were tested on animals. Many companies heard the rallying cry of consumers and we and other non profits saved millions of animals lives.
I had discovered that commercial beauty products are rife with unhealthy ingredients and animal byproducts, as well, so I founded a company that would offer an alternative to commercially produced personal care products.
We called it Ecco Bella, which means Behold Beautiful in Italian. I started the company in my townhouse in North Caldwell, N.J. My one-car garage was the warehouse. When I needed to make copies, I had to move my two sleeping Siamese cats off the copier. I follow a vegan lifestyle, as does my husband and we share our home with three cats, Kiwi, Madison and Marmalade. My husband and I love to go on vegan eating adventures around the world and we love hiking and swimming in beautiful places.
I currently serve on the Board of Directors of FoA and its sanctuary, Primarily Primates. I remain a friend to all animals by advocating for compassionate consumerism. I educate consumers on the merits of a plant-based diet as the ultimate beauty creator. We raise money for a variety of Friends of Animals’ projects.
MILA D’ANTONIO NOAKES, CONNECTICUT MEMBER SINCE 2013
I initially subscribed to Action Line a few years ago, prior to the birth of my daughter, to support Friends of Animals. At the time, I never envisioned a future where my quarterly subscription would open my daughter’s eyes to the wonders of animals in the wild. But since Evelyn’s birth, introducing her to animals has become an important issue for me.
Looking back at my childhood, I have fond memories of my parents taking my sister and me on weekends to visit Round Hill Park, an exhibition farm outside of Pittsburgh, Penn. My anticipation at the prospect of seeing the animals would peak as we entered the gates. At that point, the duck pond would come into view and the roof of the horse barn would crest over the hill, proudly displaying its weathervane.
My love for the farm and its animal residents lasted my entire life. So much so, that in the year after I gave birth to my daughter Evelyn, I knew exactly where we would host her 1st birthday party: at the farm! We even ordered a cake that depicted a barn complete with matching animal shaped cupcakes.
Evelyn gravitated to the animals and giggled and smiled at the goats and cows. “Mooo!” she said to them with puckered lips. After the farm-theme birthday party, I began teaching Evelyn the names of different animals. My husband and I started buying little animal figurines from the toy store and soon she amassed a small collection and could identify each one when prompted. One day recently, my Action Line magazine came in the mail. It was the “Out of Africa” issue, otherwise known as the monkey issue in our house. As I prepared Evelyn’s dinner, she spotted the magazine, and began yelling, “MUCKEY!” As she flipped through the pages, her excitement increased at the sight of each “muckey.” It was then that I recalled my own excitement some 38 years ago, as my parents’ car approached the gates to Round Hill Park.
It was also then that I realized the unforeseen benefits of subscribing to Action Line: It opens a whole new world to Evelyn about wildlife and teaches her how to care for animals. Research shows that when children are encouraged to connect with and respect animals, they show empathy toward them, as well as to people.
They also tend to care for nature and the environment. Creating interest and boosting children’s awareness and interest in animals promotes social and emotional development as well. I believe that children who are educated about the importance of being kind to animals grow into humane and respectful adult citizens.
It’s for these reasons that I consider Action Line to be an important tool for teaching children how to respect and protect animals. My hope is that she will become a member someday and use the magazine as a vehicle to share her love of animals with her own child.
DONALD HEINTZELMAN, PENNSYLVANIA MEMBER SINCE 2002
Friends of Animals is doing a much-needed service to wildlife, and other animals throughout the world. It is a leader in this type of activity, and through its magazine and other means provides a much needed forum informing the public about wildlife protection and related issues.
I continue to support FoA because I am unconditionally opposed to all trophy hunting in Africa, or anywhere else in the world. This type of activity is long out of date and needs to be stopped once and for all, period. Like FoA, I am a strong supporter of our National Parks and hope more will be established in the future.
The United States originated the idea of National Parks, and the idea spread worldwide. We Americans should be proud of that. I do not support recreational sport hunting of wildlife. There are already too many threats to wildlife. Instead we need to do all we can to help wildlife, such as establishing more and more inviolate wildlife sanctuaries across the United States and around the world.
Personally I’ve helped wildlife by establishing the Bake Oven Knob Autumn Hawk Watch, which just completed year 56—a long term hawk migration research project of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center (LGNC) in Pennsylvania, which I also co-founded. I continue to donate books to the superb LGNC research library. Donald, ornithologist, author and consultant to FoA.
NEFERA PURCELL, PENNSYLVANIA MEMBER SINCE 1998
I’m a senior citizen and currently live in a city row house. Having a 50-foot backyard, I’ve communed with squirrels, birds, opossums, raccoons, mice and cats…and a rat (Rudy), who lived under my house for at least three years and died in my lap.
I was once told that my yard was like ‘kitty video,’ with bird and squirrel feeders, a small fountained water feature and a birdbath that the squirrels use as well. I have always loved animals and at various times have shared my residences with multiple cats, two canaries, several fish and a dog.
I went on safari to Africa because I wanted to see the animals while they were still free and in their natural habitat. My first experience with FoA was in the early 1970s, the hippie days of ‘getting stuff for low or no cost.’ I was gainfully employed and got two spay/neuter certificates from FoA, but felt mildly guilty about it in later years.
Hopefully, the money that I’ve donated since, has helped people that truly can’t afford the much needed neutering of their pets. Older unspayed cats have an incredibly high chance of developing breast cancer. I’m particularly impressed that FoA doesn’t waste money sending multiple donation begging letters. I realize that fundraising is an essential part of non-profits, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of animals (other organizations that I’m familiar with spend a much smaller percentage on their programs.) It recently occurred to me that instead of a few smaller donations to various non-profits, one larger donation to a national organization with excellent financial management like FoA might be more effective…and cut down on my recycling pile.
I have always appreciated and agreed with the views of Action Line and like to think of myself as a critical thinker. I also appreciate the scope of FoA’s activities and feel that the organization honestly cares about all living creatures—as do I. Thank you for what you do.
JUDY LINDSTROM, MICHIGAN MEMBER SINCE 1980
When I was in seventh grade my father would often take us to Toronto because he represented companies there. I remember one day passing a store that catered to tourists and outside there were about 20 people from a small Canadian group gathered with large signs showing the clubbing of seals for their fur.
They were very solemn protesters as the seal hunt was to begin the next day and the only “power” they felt they had was to convince tourists not to spend money in a store catering to this barbaric practice. Those pictures of the beautiful creatures with soulful eyes, white fur and innocence still haunt my soul. My thought process was in overdrive as I asked why? Why would they harm these animals? For what purpose and with such brutality?
It was certainly something that made me sit up, take notice and decide that even a 12-year-old could make a difference. It was not a giant leap for me to devote my time to finding a worthy organization to assist in animal advocacy when I returned to the states. What I didn’t realize was how important it was to find an organization that doesn’t just shout that the torture and cruelty of animals was and is wrong, as words mean nothing without action.
Instead, I was looking for an organization that actually teaches, inspires, and navigates the various laws and legislation and one that gets results. I found that in Friends of Animals (and for years I’ve supported Primarily Primates before it became part of the family). I am thrilled that Friends of Animals continues to serve its clients: the four legged, two legged, six legged and more with the respect they deserve.
I applaud the tireless staff and volunteers who contribute time and talent, and I pray that we all understand the tremendous gift animals have given the world. Three cheers for Friends of Animals as I will continue to support your efforts the rest of my life.
VIRGINIA MATNEY, NEW YORK MEMBER SINCE 1982
Over 35 years ago, I first heard about Friends of Animals while trying to find a low cost spay/neuter veterinarian for stray animals. FoA offered low-cost certificates for specific vets in an effort to try to help people with this essential medical procedure.
FoA was almost single-handedly trying to curb the homeless pet population through this very innovative spay/neuter certificate program. It was such a vital service (still is) and they were so progressive, from that moment forward, I knew that I loved this not-for-profit institution. Friends of Animals is the only organization devoted to helping animals worldwide, without any hypocrisy. FoA accomplishes their goals in effective ways, through persistence, an extensive international network and dedication to the rights of all species.
The longer I have been a member, the more I appreciate how devoted this organization is to animal rights and to improving their daily lives. FoA’s goals can be specific to each individual pet that requires help, as well as implementing all-encompassing programs on an international scale to support all different types of animals in need of protection. And they accomplish these urgent goals in a refined manner
Marie Samperi, of The Poor Animals of St. Francis, describes her purpose in life as being an advocate for homeless and unwanted animals in NYC. “Tears come to my eyes when I think of all the animals being born with no good homes to go to,” she explains. “However if it were not for Friends of Animals, there would be so many more.
Friends of Animals has been a God send to me and the people of New York.” Friends of Animals has been fortunate enough to work with compassionate animal advocates like Marie since our beginnings in 1957 to further our mission of ending pet homelessness.
The Poor Animals of St. Francis was established to provide responsible, permanent, loving homes to healthy pets and to maintain their health and well-being through vital procedures like spaying and neutering. One of our proudest achievements is that we have been a national leader in spay and neuter advocacy with our low-cost certificate program, which helps pet owners afford life-saving spay and neuter procedures.
To date, we’ve helped facilitate more than 2.7 million spay and neuter procedures across the country which has resulted in fewer unwanted cats and dogs filling already overcrowded shelters. “Friends of Animals performed miracles reaching out to vets to spay and neuter for such affordable prices,” Samperi said.
As Samperi and many other animal advocates know, it is all too often a pet’s unplanned pregnancy results in offspring being brought to shelters, where likelihood of euthanasia is high, or abandoned on the streets, where a dangerous life and early death are practically guaranteed. Most abandoned animals starve or freeze to death, contract disease through their contact with garbage or other ill animals, or get killed by a car. The best way to prevent these senseless cruelties is to prevent the cycle of reproduction, by neutering and spaying.
We have been fortunate enough to partner with a number of animal shelters and rescue organizations throughout the United States through our spay/neuter program and have highlighted a few of our favorites who are located near our headquarters in Connecticut. If you would like to learn more about our spay and neuter program or recommend our program to a veterinarian, please visit our website at www.FriendsofAnimals.org/programs/spaying-neutering
LONG ISLAND BULLDOG RESCUE This is a rescue group that is particularly near and dear to us. The mission of Long Island Bulldog Rescue (LIBR) is to provide education, prevention, intervention and adoption services to ensure that all English Bulldogs enjoy long, healthy lives in loving, safe, appropriate homes where they are provided the life-long care they require. Some of the great outreach programs they participate in include humane education for school-age youth, so children learn the practices involved in adding to the family by adopting an English Bulldog; conducting intake services to process and receive English Bulldogs that have been abused, abandoned at shelters, or released for adoption by owners who are unable to keep them; and providing foster care for English Bulldogs seeking permanent homes.
MAYOR’S ALLIANCE OF NYC The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals is a non-profit that works with more than 150 partner rescue groups and shelters to offer important programs and services that save the lives of NYC’s homeless animals. Since its founding in 2003, this group has remained committed to transforming New York City into a community where no dogs or cats of reasonable health and temperament will be killed merely because they do not have homes. One program we’re particularly fond of is their Wheels of Hope initiative.
Every day of the year, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals’ fleet of six Wheels of Hope vans is on the road, transporting pets who are at risk of being euthanized from the city’s Animal Care Centers of NYC facilities to rescue groups and no-kill shelters with the resources to find them new homes. Since 2005, when the program began, they have carried more than 93,000 animals on Wheels of Hope to new lives and families.
CATHOLIC CONCERN FOR ANIMALS Catholic Concern for Animals provides Christian education, research, instruction and teaching concerning animal rights welfare, including the importance and necessity of spaying and neutering cats and dogs, through its publication The Ark. From a small group of laypeople, clergy and religious meeting for the first time in London in 1929, Catholic Concern for Animals has grown into a world-wide non-profit organization with branches in the USA, Australia and Cameroon.
Renowned scholar and philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum believes that when it comes to animals, the world needs an ethical revolution, “a consciousness raising movement of truly international proportions,” as she puts it. Friends of Animals couldn’t agree more. That’s why we are elated about our new program, the Right to Ethical Consideration Project, made possible with support from Nussbaum.
The goal of this pioneering project is to establish standing for non-human animals in the eyes of the law and a right to ethical consideration for all animals. Legal standing, by definition, is a person’s right or ability to sue.
For a “person” under the law to have standing it must prove three things: that you have been “injured,” that the injury was caused by the action of the defendant for which you are suing, and that the court has the ability to redress the injury to you with a favorable decision.
Unfortunately for non-human animals, to have standing you must be a “person” — although, shockingly, this hasn’t stopped some corporations from being granted legal personhood status. “So far, both in the United States and in the international community, law has been lagging behind the evolving ethical consciousness of humanity. Animals still lack standing under both U. S. and international law. They also lack any rights of ethical consideration,” Nussbaum said.
“All human animals are treated as persons and ends (no matter how immature the human is), but all non-human animals are treated as mere things, as property. Law must find ways to make animals legal subjects and not mere objects. We need to move toward a world in which human beings are truly friends of animals, not exploiters or users.”
Some anti-cruelty laws exist, of course, however outside of these specific protections it is unlikely for animals to get their day in court, no matter how bad they are abused or exploited. “To make progress, we need theoretical approaches that are sound in terms of reality, grappling with what we know about animals, and that also direct law in a useful fashion,” Nussbaum said.
For Nussbaum, the best approach is her version of the capabilities approach, a view of justice for humans and other animals she has developed over the years that truly takes into consideration the diversity of nature and an appreciation for its many distinctive life forms. Nussbaum’s new theory of justice advocating the capabilities approach was recognized in 2016 when she was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy.”
The honor, bestowed annually by Japan’s Inamori Foundation but given only once every four years in the sub-category of thought and ethics, is among the most significant international accolades for scholarly work. Nussbaum felt compelled to donate part of the cash award from the Kyoto Prize to Friends of Animals.
“I decided to support the Wildlife Law Program because I think that Friends of Animals is the most exciting animal welfare organization around, exploring new ideas and new frameworks for thinking about the ethical treatment of animals,” she said.
“The Right to Ethical Consideration Project is brilliantly innovative, and promises real progress in both ethics and law. FoA’s work thinks of animals not as quasi-humans but as worthy of respect and consideration for their own complex forms of life.
“I feel hopeful that judges will recognize this revolutionary approach, because it corresponds to reality. Anyone who looks at animal lives closely sees that there is wonder and dignity there, worthy of ethical consideration, because of the many unique ways animal species strive for flourishing lives.”
A NEW FRONTIER IN ANIMAL LAW
The Right to Ethical Consideration Project, overseen by Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program, will combine Nussbaum’s philosophical component with scientific and legal components in papers, presentations and litigation. In doing so, the goal is to establish tactics that are superior in directing ethical attention and legal strategy than past approaches, creating a new frontier in animal law.
“Application of Martha’s work is revolutionary for animal lawyers. Many animal rights lawyers often start with the premise that animals, like humans, have autonomy and that to protect such autonomy animals should be given some of the legal protections and privileges normally associated with humans,” said Mike Harris, director of Friends of Animal’s Wildlife Law Program.
“But not everyone, and certainly not Martha, is convinced that legal rights for animals rests in showing their autonomy, which often sounds shorthand for intelligence.” Harris explains that the term autonomy has not been well-defined and has many different meanings depending on the philosophical approach one chooses to consider or apply.
More practically, judges have demanded that animal lawyers show more than autonomy as a basis for granting primates and other animals the legal status of personhood. They also have demanded that lawyers demonstrate that primates could take an active role in fulling the “rights and duties” of citizenship within a society.
“Thus, what is intriguing about Martha’s approach is the ability to now argue that fulfilling ‘rights and duties’ of citizenship is not the proper basis for determining personhood; instead it is the ability of an animal to lead a meaningful life and even enrich the lives of other animals around him or her,” Harris said.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CAPABILITIES APPROACH
The capabilities approach is a theoretical framework that entails two core normative claims: first, the claim that the freedom to achieve well-being is of primary moral importance, and second, that freedom to achieve well-being is to be understood in terms of people’s capabilities, that is, their real opportunities to do and be what they have reason to value.
“It was developed using materials drawn from Aristotle, who advocated that we seek what is shared among all animals and seek a ‘common explanation’ for the self-maintaining and self-reproducing striving that characterizes all animal lives. So it is not surprising that it proved easy to extend it to the lives of animals,” Nussbaum said. “The capabilities approach argues that the right thing to focus on, when asking how well a group of humans (or a nation) is doing, is to look not at average utility, and not simply at opulence (GDP per capita), but, rather, at what people are actually able to do and to be.”
Nussbaum’s proposed list of 10 capabilities that must be secured to a minimum threshold level, if a nation is to have any claim to justice: life, bodily health, bodily integrity, senses, imagination and thought; emotions; practical reason; affiliation; other species; and play and control over one’s environment.
She has also urged adopting a similar list of capabilities as ethical goals for all animals. In the human case she justifies the list by arguing that these opportunities are inherent in the notion of a life worthy of human dignity. She then argues that dignity belongs to other animals as well: all are worthy of lives commensurate with the many types of dignity inherent in their many forms of life.
“All animals, in short, should have a shot at flourishing in their own way,” Nussbaum said.
“The list seems to be a good guide, which can then be specified further for each animal after a study of its form of life. If the human list is a template for constitution-making, so too is the list for each animal species: it’s a written basis for an unwritten constitution for that species. It tells us the right things to look for, the right questions to ask.”
WHY THE CAPABILITIES APPROACH WORKS BETTER
FoA’s new project kicked off on Jan. 30, 2017, with an event we sponsored along with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver that included a lecture and panel discussion with Nussbaum. She made the case that other influential approaches to animal entitlements in philosophy, which have implications for law and policy, are defective intellectually and in terms of strategy.
First she took on the “so like us” approach of Steven Wise. In this approach law seeks recognition of legal personhood, and some autonomy rights, for a specific set of animal species, on the grounds of their human-like capacities. It’s problematic for Nussbaum, because it validates and plays upon the old familiar idea of a scala naturae, or ladder of nature, with humans at the top. “Some animals get in, but only because they are like us.
The first door is opened, but then it is slammed shut behind us: nobody else gets in. Instead of the old line, we have a slightly different line, but it is not really all that different, and most of the animal world still lies outside in the dark domain of mere ‘thinghood,’ Nussbaum said. “Anthropocentrism is a phony sort of arrogance. How great we are! If only all creatures were like us…well, some are, a little bit.
Rather than unsettling our thinking in a way that might truly lead to a revolutionary embrace of animal lives, Wise just keeps the old thinking and the old line in place, and simply shifts several species to the other side.” In terms of the least common denominator approach, the question is not, “Can animals reason?” but, “Can they suffer?” While this is valuable because it points to something clearly relevant to animals themselves, and a salient fact about their lives, for Nussbaum it doesn’t go far enough.
“Unfortunately, there is no room for the special value of free movement, of companionship and relationships with other members of one’s kind, of sensory stimulation, of a pleasing and suitable habitat. Like Wise’s approach it refuses to consider fully, and positively value, the many complex forms of life that animals actually lead. Pleasure and pain simply are not the only relevant issues when evaluating an animal’s chances to flourish,” Nussbaum said.
A HAPPY HARBINGER—ONE STEP CLOSER TO LEGAL STANDING
In July 2016, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the U. S. Navy violated the law in seeking to continue a sonar program that impacted the behavior of whales. Nussbaum called this decision “remarkable.” “I think the sonar case was significant, because it did not try to assimilate whales to humans, and it also did not make the opposite error, of thinking that only pain matters.
The argument relies heavily on a consideration of whale capabilities that the program disrupts: disruption of breeding patterns, feeding and migration,” Nussbaum said. “That disruption, whether or not accompanied by pain, was considered ethically significant. Whether those judges were whale watchers or not, they showed an informed sensitivity to the whale form of life, and ruled that whales ought to have the opportunity to carry out their characteristic form of life— even when the other side raised issues of national security.
“The opinion does not give whales standing; no such radical move is necessary to reach the clear result that the program is unacceptable. But it does recognize whales as beings with a complex and active form of life that includes emotional well-being, affiliation, and free movement: in short, a variety of species-specific forms of agency. It is a harbinger, it is to be hoped, of a new era in the law of animal welfare.”
“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar.” —Bradley Miller
Friends of Animals is often asked by parents looking for activities for their kids about how they can raise children who respect animals, wild and domestic. We hope you consider our suggestions:
- Today we are lucky to have technology that has the ability to transport children to animals of the land and sea in their native habitats in breathtaking, educational ways. Zoos teach children to view animals as a form of entertainment, unlike a nature show on TV or in the theater that films animals in the wild.
Digital IMAX documentaries in particular have become stunning and inspiring, and you can’t help leave feeling awe and respect for wild animals and with a mindset about the need to help conserve their habitats. The good news is IMAX has grown from 299 screens worldwide at the end of 2007 to more than 1,102 screens in 2016. We love PBS’ “Nature” series, which has been nominated for eight Emmy Awards in 2016, and the BBC America’s Planet Earth and Planet Earth II series are awe-inspiring.
- Unlike zoos and circuses, wildlife watching in state and national parks is another great way to better understand and appreciate animals in their own habitat. You can observe animals in their homes and on their terms from a distance. For marine life lovers, there is an underwater sea park in the U.S. called John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Florida.
- Support and become a member of a sanctuary in your area, such as Catskill Animal Sanctuary in New York. Sanctuaries, which are typically not open to the general public or in limited ways, often offer tours for members or offer interactions with animals at different special events. Catskill actually offers Camp Kindness for kids, an educational opportunity for children that fosters compassion towards all living beings, with a focus on farmed animals. Camp Kindness includes a delicious vegan lunch and snack. (The sanctuary even offers vegan cooking classes.)
- Throw an animal-themed birthday party and instead of asking guests to bring gifts ask them to bring a monetary donation or an enrichment item for an animal advocacy group, sanctuary or animal shelter in your area (call the sanctuary or animal shelter and see what they are in need of).
- Encourage kids to volunteer at an animal shelter. In Missouri, the Shelter Buddies Reading Program was designed to help shelter dogs become more adoptable. Reading to the dogs helps to bring comfort to and reduce the anxiety of shelter pets, and it nurtures empathy in children. Participants sit outside of the dog’s kennel and read to them.
- As a family, create a yard that is hospitable to wildlife. Build birdhouses, bat boxes or butterfly boxes. Encourage kids to create piles of leaves or sticks for chipmunks and squirrels. Plant a hummingbird garden.
- Read kids’ books that show animals as feeling individuals. A few examples for teaching empathy are Black Beauty, Charlotte’s Web, Hobbes Goes Home, A Kid’s Best Friend and The Forgotten Rabbit.
- Foster an animal. If your family loves animals but isn’t ready commit to having a full-time pet, fostering is a great way to teach kids the meaning of volunteerism and helping others in need. And if youbecome ready for a lifelong commitment to a pet, adopt, don’t shop.
- Today we are lucky to have technology that has the ability to transport children to animals of the land and sea in their native habitats in breathtaking, educational ways. Zoos teach children to view animals as a form of entertainment, unlike a nature show on TV or in the theater that films animals in the wild.