Animal Defenders of Westchester

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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Volunteers lead charge for Animal Rights

NY Times - 20 Jun 2002

To the Editor:

I was one of the three women present at the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus in Hartsdale, to which you referred in your article ("Banning the Big Top", June 16). We were there to protest animal abuse and exploitation by traveling animal acts.

Your reporter stated that we carried signs that "most people did not read." We were right by a main thoroughfare. Westchester demonstration venues differ from those in New York City; there is relatively little foot traffic and we depend largely on motor vehicle traffic - even as cars drive by, for a moment the animals' story is being told. We can't purchase huge newspaper ads the way circuses can. The animal rights movement is overwhelmingly composed of volunteers like myself.

The article mentioned that we were "several yards from the crowd."

That was as close as we could legally be, without facing arrest - and in fact, we had to fight to be as close as we were, as the police wanted us to be even further away.

The Greenburgh traveling animal act ordinance was the result of a concerted effort by a group of dedicated, resourceful and inspired volunteers, who refused to give up in the face of all odds.

Though the animal protection movement in Westchester was dormant for quite some time, with this same small group of concerned activists we have accomplished enormous changes for the animals, such as getting turtle races out of local bars, and in Van Cordtlandt Manor, as your article mentions. We made changes by keeping up a small but constant presence, which helped change people's perceptions of the animals who share our world. We bear out the truth of the words of the anthropologist Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."

Kiley Blackman


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