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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 11 March 2002 Issue

Who Are These Animal Rights Activists Anyway?
By Teresa D'Amico
Published in The News Eagle (Wayne/Pike Counties, PA)

USA Today called us a "lunatic fringe group" and seems to assume we are all pro-choice. Ted Nugent labels us "fantasy-based hippies." Our opponents taunt, "Get a life; get a job."  Well, I have stood on picket lines with animal rights activists who are pro-lifers, pro-choice advocates, atheists, people with strong religious beliefs, former hunters and vivisectors, mothers, lawyers, farmers, and truck drivers. We have jobs, we have lives, we have families, we don't have a lot of spare time on our hands, and we are not infallible. Most of us were once meat eaters and wore leather, even fur.  We come from big cities and from small towns.  While some of us may prefer the company of animals to that of people, many don't keep pets and may not even enjoy being around animals. But we have one thing in common: we can no longer tolerate the human animals' atrocities against non-human animals.  We believe that all living creatures have the right to live and the right to a life free of suffering.  (Photo-above left: Animal Rights Activists are just people who truly desire to end pain and suffering in this world.  Unconditional love and compassion begins with the whole family and expands throughout the world. To enlarge click on the photo or here)

Historically, great men from Leonardo da Vinci to Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Edison have spoken on behalf of animal rights.  And it's not just Hollywood actors and rock musicians who lend their support to the cause. Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy narrated an anti-hunting video.  St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa is a vocal spokesperson for animal rights, and opened ARF (Animal Rescue Fund), a no-kill facility in San Francisco. Politicians are paying more attention to the issues.  The Captive Elephant Accident Prevention Act introduced by Rep. Sam Farr of California and now before Congress would exclude elephants from traveling shows and eliminate rides, legislation that would benefit both animals and people.  (Photo-upper right: In Isaiah's prophecy of the Peaceable Kingdom (11:6-9) we are told that a little boy will lead the animals and that we will no longer hurt one another.  To enlarge click on the photo or here)

In short, you don't have to be liberal or female to care deeply about the suffering of animals.  Those among our group who threaten the lives of people don't represent us any more than those who murder abortion-clinic workers represent all pro-lifers.  The majority of animal rights supporters have widened their efforts to include the whole of creation, the human animal included.  And whether or not we all agree with those who take direct action with break-ins and destruction of property, contrary to what you may hear, no human has ever been physically hurt as a result of these activists' actions.   Animals stolen from labs and farms are taken to sanctuaries. Critics love to point out that some wild animals, especially mink, set free during these raids may die after release. But they neglect to mention that the minks would have died a painful death after a torturesome lifetime of captivity with absolutely no chance of a taste of freedom.  (As the above left photo clearly shows, Animal Activism begins at an early age.  To enlarge click on the photo or here)

For those who think we enjoy what we're doing, get real! Do you think it's fun not to be able to sleep at night because we hear the cries of the animals in the labs, in the factory farms, in the fur farms, and in the shelters?  Do you think it's fun to witness unspeakable horrors that most people don't even want to hear about?  Do you think it's easy to try to live "cruelty free" in a society that dislikes being inconvenienced in any way?  If we often seem humorless, perhaps it's because we face intense and well-financed opposition as well as public apathy and scorn.  We are realistic and know that every prejudice dies hard. It's easier to label us "extreme" than to admit that we may be correct. Our few victories are still ongoing fights.  For instance, while last year's cancellation of the Hegins Pigeon Shoot for the first time in 66 years was a huge victory, we are still fighting to ban pigeon shoots in the state of Pennsylvania.  (Photo-upper right: Animal Activism is spaying and neutering and not letting cats run wild.  To enlarge click on the photo or here)

A few years ago, I attended an international animal rights convention where attendees stoically listened to speeches and watched videos that contained material so graphic it would make most people run from the room in horror.  But we couldn't turn away because, if we did, the suffering would go unheard.  We do know how to have fun, too, but everything we do is tempered by an awareness of the voiceless among us.  We don't get anything for ourselves by fighting for the rights of animals.  In that, we may be the only rights group speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.  That doesn't make us saints any more than it makes us lunatics.  (Photo-left: Animal Activism should begin with being kind to a companion animal as a child and progress to being kind to all animals and not eating them.  To enlarge click on the photo or here)

Animal-protection issues now routinely come before Congress and state governments.  Legal scholars are arguing that certain nonhuman primates be granted the status of legal personhood.  If you want to make a real difference for animals, reach out to our church leaders, educators, and elected politicians because their actions can influence a change of mind and heart in others. At the dawn of a new millennium, the time is right to rethink our relationship with the other living beings with whom we share the planet.

staff: [email protected]  (Lisa Marie)

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