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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 17 August 2005 Issue

By:  Judith Marie Gansen

--Come On Over To Our Side!!

A few months ago I spoke to my insurance agent who was newer to me although we have been with the same company for about 20 years.   I found out the people in their office love dogs, have adopted rescues and were interested in my cause of stopping pound seizure.  I was very elated.  I even sent my agent out a packet of information about our group.

Recently I had more questions and had to call our agent again.  I noticed a change in my agent's demeanor towards me--sort of like distrust.  Later in the conversation she said something to me like:  "you would never burn down the house of a dog dealer, would you?"  I nearly fell off my chair!  How could she say something like that to me--a former law enforcement and church secretary with a spotless record I am proud of who has never even gotten a ticket!  Plus we have had one claim in 20 years and pay our bill on time. 

What changed her to become suspicious of me and therefore, my cause?  Well, obviously someone got to her to change her mind.  Perhaps a co-worker who is a hunter raised the question in her mind that maybe I was dangerous?  Or a boss told her that animal advocates break the law and have burned down people's homes (which I have certainly never heard of). The only time I am ever dangerous is if there are sidewalk sales at the mall!  I was rather insulted and angry and thought maybe I will change insurance companies if that is how they treat paying customers.

Who Harms Insurance Companies More--The Opposition or Animal Advocates?

Well--let's begin with how many people has our movement killed?  Answer:  0
Of course violent people or people with mental issues can get into any movement.  Some people switch sides in movements because they don't care about the cause, they just want to be "where the action is"-- and they want to be involved in any fight.  The opposition can place a "plant" in a group too, a person whose purpose is to cause problems for the cause.  The majority of animal advocates are female and the majority of animal advocates have committed no crimes.

There have been a few incidents of concern.  But if you really research the news there may be a headline in the newspaper or on TV that grabs you saying a crime was committed and animal activists may be to blame.  The "powers that be" love to put those attention-grabbing headlines up.  Later it is often found out we were not to blame but by then it is old news or in a small column--yet, sadly, the damage is done.  People remember what is the headline or top story, not what comes out later on P. 10. 

I have mentioned before I often wonder what would happen to our world if the headlines in our paper read on the front page in big letters:  ELEPHANTS HAVE BEEN CRUELLY CHAINED IN CIRCUSES FOR HOURS AT A TIME!"  Or how about:  "ONCE AGAIN, A HUNTER ACCIDENTALLY SHOOTS ANOTHER HUMAN BEING TO DEATH!"  The placement of the news and how it is presented affects how we perceive things in our world and sadly we too often allow the media to define how we think about events in our world.

How Does the Opposition Affect Insurance Rates?

Well, let's see.  First there are hunters.  Not all hunters do these things of course but some do accidentally shoot and wound not only each other but innocent bystanders.  So there are insurance claims including health care costs.  They sometimes shoot out power lines either out of frustration or when going after targets like mourning doves which affects insurance and our energy bills.  Sometimes they have poor aim and hit buildings, farm animals, pets, vehicles and people's windows. 

Their frightened prey sometimes fleeing in terror smash through windows in homes and businesses and someone pays for those windows and the damages inside.  While hunters chase deer, it's logical that the deer are more likely to flee across roads increasing car/deer collisions--one animal group did a study on this and car/deer collisions go up during hunting season yet the hunters don't get blamed for that, instead our insurance rates go up, don't they?  I have known some hunters who unfortunately like to take liquor with them when they go hunting.  This may affect not only their aim but increase the chances for vehicle accidents involving drunk driving as well as accidentally shooting of each other. All covered usually by insurance.

Then there are the rodeo and circus people who get attacked by or fall off of animals.  I heard one rodeo rider bragging about how many times he was in the hospital--almost like a badge of honor.  Insurance companies must pay for those health care costs assuming the people carry insurance.  Or how about when the elephants have gone on a rampage after being in bondage for so long or after being possibly abused?  I remember seeing videos on the news of children riding an elephant who got "out of control" which I am sure scared them.  I would think parents would sue in rare situations like that.  More insurance costs.

And what about traveling animal "businesses"?  I once was at a mall where some business had baby tigers where you could have a photo taken with them.  I could not believe the stupidity of the parents--I saw the teeth on those baby tigers.  A lawsuit waiting to happen not to mention cruel to both the baby tigers and some of the terrified kids.  That lawsuit would be paid for by an insurance company.

Then there are those petting zoos with "exotic" animals who can and do bite.  Donkey basketball--there's another one, big time liability to the schools and another lawsuit waiting to happen.  Animals in research--didn't a researcher get bitten by a monkey and contract a disease?  Should there be improper procedures followed in a lab, an animal gets loose, a bite happens from a terrified animal, then there are more costs to consider.

Finally--if a community has pound seizure which is the selling of lost and homeless pets to research, caring animal lovers are less likely to pick up strays.  This means more strays and so the greater the chance of a dog running out in front of a car and possibly causing an accident or biting someone.  That means increased health care costs too, doesn't it?

Of course many of these places and people do pay their own insurance premiums, but what about the ones who don't or let their policy lapse because business was down?  Who pays for their emergency room visits?  Sadly, you and I do in the form of higher insurance premiums!!  So insurance companies, get with the program, will you?  How about blaming the people who use violence as a "sport" and animal cruelty as a "career" instead of blaming those of us who have compassion for animals and want to make the world a better place? 

Animal advocates in my opinion end up saving insurance companies money.  How?  Through education.  By teaching people to properly train their pets not to bite and to care enough to keep them on leash or inside fences, by discouraging people from owning exotic animals--that wildlife belongs in the wild--(less likely to bite people there), by teaching children respect for living things and so reducing the chances of a negative experience like a child grabbing at a raccoon they find lying on the ground who could be sick,  by teaching that trapping animals in steel-jawed leghold traps can trap other living things like children or pets, etc.  Maybe insurance companies  should be giving animal advocates a discount instead!!

I will continue my work to help animals even though I am sure people will continue to say ignorant things to me.  Jesus, who was either the Son of God or a really intelligent, compassionate person depending on your beliefs, was not ashamed of His compassion, and neither is yours truly!!!

Staff:  Animals in Print  (free online animal publication)

Pawprints, Footprints & Animal Chatter (my editorials on mostly animal issues--if you email me please indicate in the subject column it is about one of my articles so it doesn't get deleted as spam--thanks)
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