Book Review: The Hijacking of the Humane Movement
By: Norma Bennett Woolf Date: 02/16/2012 Category: | Book Reviews |
"The humane movement has been hijacked, radicalized, and rerouted. Started more than 100 years ago, it was traditionally concerned with the humane treatment of animals. In the last 20 years, however, it has been taken over by animal rights leaders whose priority is neither the humane care of animals nor the prevention of cruelty to animals, but instead, the promotion of a revolutionary value system which redefines man's relationship with other animals. Animal rightists want to end man's use of animals altogether."
These chilling words begin the introduction to Hijacking of the Humane Movement, and Rod and Patti Strand spend the next 174 pages of narrative and case vignettes proving their point. The book is a wake-up call for all-including dog owners-who value the human-animal bond in all of its manifestations.
Patti and Rod Strand are Dalmatian breeders with 24 years experience, are active in their kennel club in the Pacific Northwest, and have researched, written, and spoken about the animal rights movement and its effects on dog owners. Patti is the director of the National Animal Interest Alliance, a network of animal welfare proponents founded to counteract animal rights propaganda.
Hijacking points out that dog breeders and other "users" of animals are being squeezed between the pet-owning, animal-loving average citizen and a growing cadre of radicals who want to sever all use of animals. It works like this: John Q. Public donates money to "end animal suffering" in abusive labs, so-called factory farms, sub-standard zoos and circuses, puppy mills, etc. The radicals take that money and use it to promote their own agenda-the end of meat-eating, zoos, circuses, medical research involving animals, even the keeping of assistance dogs and all other pets. Impossible? The Strands don't think so; read Hijacking, and you'll get the picture.
Perusal of each chapter opening provides the first clue: The quotes from the pens and mouths of the activists themselves illuminate the true purposes of the movement. For example, the famous quote of Ingrid Newkirk, founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), describing her ideal world: "I don't like the word pet. I think it's speciesist language. I prefer 'companion animal.' For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding . . ."
The book begins with a brief look at man's alliance with animals through the millennia, noting the change in relationship from daily affiliation through working partnerships, hunting, and agriculture to token contact through pets and animal symbols in urbanized society. It is the latter circumstance that leads to romanticizing animals as furry or scaly humans (a la Walt Disney), according to the Strands, and it is here that the hijackers concentrate their attack.
The humane movement began in England in the early 19th Century when moralists, political philosophers, and members of several religions joined forces to force laws prohibiting cruelty to animals and children. They established the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the National Anti-Vivisection Society to bring about the end of blood sports (bear and bull baiting and cock and dog fighting) and a number of other cruel practices and to stop the use of animals in medical research. This latter goal was shared by the Luddites, a group of anti-science zealots, and Victorian activists, who were sure that people "deserved" the diseases they contracted and therefore didn't "deserve" to be cured. Remnants of both philosophies are rampant in today's animal rights movement.
England exported its animal cruelties and its humane movement to the New World. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Massachusetts SPCA were the first of many US humane organizations. After an initial flurry of anti-cruelty laws, these groups maintained a rather low profile. Then, in the mid 20th Century, the activists resurfaced in Nazi uniforms and approved a spate of laws designed to protect animals. Hitler proclaimed himself a vegetarian, and so-called crimes against animals were often penalized by death while crimes against people went unpunished.
The stage had been set for the reemergence of the radical animal rights movement, which began in earnest in the 1960s.
Animal rights groups range from the terrorist through the treacherous to the tricky and advocate everything from elimination of medical research involving animals to the keeping of pets. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) raids and vandalizes research laboratories and fur farms and terrorizes scientists; PETA is a mouthpiece for ALF and promotes civil disobedience, harassment, trickery, and lies to end the use of animals; and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) proposes draconian breeding bans on dogs and cats and lobbies for an end to hunting. Sprinkled into the mix are the Fund for Animals, Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, and a variety of other groups with related agendas and often overlapping personnel.
The hijacking is repeated every day as activists and their groups indulge in doublespeak, enlist celebrities as spokesmen, and engage national attention with their outlandish promotional schemes, lawsuits, and calls for compassion-their brand of compassion that will eliminate the use, any use of animals in human society. The Strands name the leaders of the movement in the US, describe their rise to prominence, detail their activities, and use their own words to prove that the activists want nothing less than a complete repudiation of man's centuries-old affiliations with animals.
A favorite tactic of activists is to infiltrate mainstream humane societies and animal shelters throughout the country, gain election to the boards, and direct activities and money towards anti-breeding legislation under the guise of "population control." They usually get their ducks in a row, contacting politicians and persuading them that the votes lie with a "compassionate" stance against the killing of healthy animals; planting articles and letters to the editor in local papers decrying the euthanasia of dogs and cats in the local shelter; collecting donations for a print-media advertising campaign; blaming "profit-making" breeders for a "surplus" population of pets; and even euthanizing a dog or two for the television cameras to drive their point across. This latter tactic worked in San Mateo County in California.
Other strategies include infiltration of the schools with so-called humane education and classroom visits by people who espouse no-use-of-animals-under-any-circumstances; direct-mail solicitation of funds filled with pictures of "abused" animals; recruitment of celebrities to support the cause; and comparison of animal rights advocacy with campaigns to gain equal rights for blacks and women.
It would have been easy for the Strands to stop after their detailed picture of the animal rights movement as it exists today and of the schemes to further the radical agenda, but they didn't. In three case histories, they describe radicals' actions against tuna fishermen, a research scientist, and an entertainer with a primate act in Las Vegas, then include capsule summaries of dozens of incidents perpetrated by activists from 1983-1992. The case histories outline the use of lies, distortions, harassment, even a doctored video tape by the activists; the incident summary includes bombings, animal releases, thefts, arson, destruction of laboratory equipment, threats, and vandalism.
To wrap up the package, Hijacking ends with "Taking the initiative," a chapter reviewing recent advances in humane animal care and introducing several national organizations dedicated to promoting responsible animal use and enhancing the human-animal bond. These organizations run the gamut from the strident anti-animal rights group Putting People First and the more moderate but equally resolute National Animal Interest Alliance, to the specialized Coalition for Animals and Animal Research and the Incurably Ill for Animal Research. Addresses for each of these organizations is available in the book as is a list of animal rights organizations.
Rod and Patti Strand have done a service to everyone who has a pet, goes to the zoo or circus, eats meat, hunts, or has benefited in any way from medical research conducted on animals. Hijacking of the Humane Movement is hard-hitting, and thus is typical of the expose books of the past several years. It is also well-researched, which puts it a notch above many of the others of this genre. But its value lies most in its structure, for it takes the reader step by step through the evolution of the radical movement, pointing out its fallacies and foibles along the way. Where it fails, I think, is in not presenting even a cursory list of actions that local humane groups, kennel clubs, veterinary associations, breed clubs, training clubs, etc. can take to expose and combat the animal rights movement in their own communities. But the criticism is a matter of personal preference and should not detract from the tremendous value of this book.
The tendency for dog owners has been to view animal rights campaigns as something that happens in the other guy's back yard. Even if someone tried to make a case against the keeping of pets, they'd be laughed out of town, right? Well, folks, lots of communities already have limits on the number of pets a resident can own and bans against particular breeds (not your town? Your breed? Just wait and do nothing). As for breeding bans, there was one introduced in San Mateo, and that's hundreds of miles from here, right? Well, they also had a ban introduced in King County, Washington, and Montgomery County, Maryland, and, in the wake of the HSUS call for a nationwide breeding ban in March 1993, hundreds of local animal rights organizations began working on plans to force such legislation in their own communities-just ask folks in Alabama and Colorado and Texas and Florida and ... Anyone who is tempted to ignore the threat should read Hijacking of the Humane Movement, then form a coalition of their own to fight this outrage.
Hijacking of the Humane Movement By Rod & Patti Strand;
1993; 174 pp, trade paper.
About The Author
All Authors Of This Article: | Norma Bennett Woolf |