Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 10 December 2001 Issue
By Michael Budkie
I am worried, because it has become too easy not to be an activist. There are too many distractions, too many easy outs, too many excuses. And there are too many people that I have worked closely with in previous years that are no longer fighting for animals.
New activists have joined the fight. The ranks of the movement are by no means empty. Actions still take place, though maybe not as many. And some events, World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week (WLALW -- as it was called years ago during my tenure with In Defense of Animals) seem to have diminished. I remember years when the list of cities where protests took place ran on for pages and pages. I remember other actions, the P&G boycott for example, when there would be over 100 cities taking part. I have even heard stories of protests, which preceded my involvement in the movement, where thousands of activists took part. Yes, I said thousands.
And this in no way impugns those who have worked tirelessly to coordinate these, and other, events in recent years. I would never even imply that people aren't trying. What I am trying to say is that we have lost some good activists, whom we can scarcely afford to be without.
One question rings in my ears on an ever-increasing basis: where have they gone? Where have the activists that coordinated those protests gone? What happened with those local organizations, some of which simply ceased to exist?
Certainly, our lives have done anything but slow down. And there are so many issues that confront us. Millions of animals die in shelters every year. Circuses, zoos, furs, hunting, the list seems to be almost interminable. I am sure that some people have left simply because they felt so overwhelmed and powerless that it was easier to simply do nothing.
And it is always so easy to find something else to do. Most of us have full time jobs outside the movement. And then there are our families, who may or may not be sympathetic. Now we are bombarded with so much information from the Internet, 100 different television stations, email, etc. There is always something else to do.
It is much, much too easy to simply drift away. You find yourself looking for other things to do. And life is much simpler if we are not worrying about the animals. You can buy whatever products you want, eat and wear whatever you want. No other issue requires so many changes in your own life, has so many implications.
But you see, there is one problem -- the animals are still imprisoned and suffering. Humans are still making their lives into a living hell. The fur farms, veal crates, and laboratories still exist whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. And every time we choose not to act, every time we choose not to protest, we ensure their continued existence. As the voices of opposition decrease, the stability of the abusers increases.
An activist who walks away from the movement is almost as responsible for the continuation of animal suffering as are those who perpetuate that suffering. And I am speaking from experience. I left once myself.
At one point when I was confronted with a very difficult period in my life I left the movement. Deaths in the family, lack of employment, and too many other things to enumerate made it easy to leave, and way too difficult to stay.
But I couldn't stay away. Some of us have no choice. Images have been burned into our consciousness. During my education I spent nine months inside a laboratory and those images and sounds will never leave me. The primate confined to a cage no larger than a packing box. The empty run that had contained a friendly dog just the day before. The lifeless decapitated rat still oozing blood from the neck, where he/she had been guillotined. The cats who could not escape. The scream of the rabbit as his/her back broke in the restraining device.
These things are a part of my consciousness that will never leave.
So you see, some of us almost have no choice. Some of us must be activists. We must fight, even if we stand alone. Even if it turns out that I am the last picketer at the last protest, I will not stop. And I hope that there are others. I sincerely hope that we can revitalize our movement, bring back the others who may have left. Tens of millions of animals are depending on us. We are their only hope.
Every year over 20,000,000 animals are used in experimentation. That is approximately 55,000 every single day of every year, or approximately 38 animals every minute. How long has it taken you to read this article? How many animals died in that time?
And millions more animals are imprisoned to be used as the means of producing animals for laboratories. It may be as high as 40% of the number of animals used in experimentation.
We are their only hope. Who else is there? While there may be some caretakers or veterinarians that care, ending experimentation is not their goal. Their livelihood depends on the continuation of experimentation. They may work to maintain clean cages, see that anesthesia is used, etc. But they are not working to end experimentation, but to ensure (in the final analysis) that it continues -- albeit in cleaner cages and with sterile surgical instruments. It is entirely up to us to empty the cages. Not clean up, sanitize, or beautify -- but empty. Humane experimentation. Humane fur production. Humane slaughter. The contradictions inherent in these phrases are so utterly absurd that it is beyond belief. Shall we believe that people who see animals as the means of production care about the animals that they imprison, enslave, torture and kill? Are we to accept as factual statements of concern for animals from vivisectors who routinely confine primates to restraint chairs, place electrodes into their brains, and deprive them of water (there are currently over 50 such research projects funded in the U.S. by the National Institutes of Health)? Are we to believe that people who exploit and destroy animals actually care about the animals they are slaughtering? I prefer not to have my intelligence insulted.
Therefore we must become more active than we have ever been before. Every laboratory must be made aware of our presence. We must educate ourselves, we must investigate the facilities that brutalize animals in the name of science, and we must fight them every step of the way, until ALL the cages are empty.
Please join the fight for animals in labs, or in other places of exploitation. The animals are depending on you and I for their very lives.
What can you do to help? Begin now to plan events for World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week (the week surrounding April 24th) for 2002. Protests, news conferences, and other events must take place to again focus attention on the continuing holocaust taking place in our nation's laboratories.
Look at the table below, which lists facilities and individuals that conduct brutal experiments on primates. If you live near these laboratories please contact me at [email protected] or 513-575-5517 to join the fight to end these cruel experiments. Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! is currently looking for local campaign coordinators in these areas. Also, contact SAEN for help with investigating research facilities, or other needs for fighting vivisection (and for help for WLALW 2002). Please also contact Barbara Stagno of In Defense of Animals at: [email protected] 914 693 6559. She can also help with World Week 2002.
Write to your elected representatives to tell them that it is time to end animal experiments. And make sure that they understand one thing -- their votes will determine how you vote.
University, Researcher, Grant Age (in years)
U of Alabama, Birmingham, Timothy Gawne (4)
U of Alabama, Birmingham, Paul Gamlin (12)
U of Alabama, Birmingham, Allan Dobbins (2)
Smith Kettelwell Institute, Stephen Heinen (4)
Smith Kettelwell Institute, Edward Keller (15)
University of California, Davis, Kenneth Britten (7)
California institute of Technology, Richard Anderson (13)
California institute of Technology, John Allman (4)
University of California, LA, Madeleine Schlag-Rey (21)
Stanford, Jennifer Raymond (2)
University of Connecticut, David Waitzman (8)
Yale, Charles Bruce (16)
Emory, Garrett Alexander (2)
Emory, Michael Mustari (16)
Indiana University/Purdue, David Suzuki (9)
Harvard, Richard Born (5)
Harvard, Peter Schiller (30)
Harvard, John Assad (3)
MIT, Earl Miller (5)
Johns Hopkins, Steven Hsiao (5)
Johns Hopkins, Rudiger Von Der Heydt (22)
Johns Hopkins, Michael Steinmetz (5)
Wake Forest University, Terrence Stanford (2)
University of Pittsburgh, Carol Colby (3)
University of Pennsylvania, Gary Aston-Jones (5)
Brown University, John Donoghue (12)
Vanderbilt, John Kaas (26)
Vanderbilt, Jeffrey Schall (5)
University of Texas, Galveston, Christine Livingston (4)
Baylor, Davis Sparks (28)
Virginia Commonwealth University, Stephen Goldberg (5)
University of Washington, Seattle, Chris Kaneko (13)
University of Washington, Seattle, Michael Shadlen (5)
University of Washington, Seattle, Albert Fuchs (30)
*This table is not all inclusive. Many more grants exist in this area of experimentation, especially at government agencies outside the National Institutes of Health -- such as the National Science Foundation.
Even though our efforts often seem to move at a snail's pace, don't give up, it's worth the effort!
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