Many people assume when they hear about animal issues that the pro-animal people are on one side and anti-animal people are on the other side. This is rarely the case—almost always the disagreement is between two groups each believing that they are protecting animals and improving their lives. Millions of votes are cast and millions of dollars donated each year by people who do not understand the differing views and who inadvertently support the very people they intend to oppose. Politicians courting the “animal vote” unwittingly support legislation that animal lovers are devoted to defeating.
Whatever beliefs you hold, if you care about animals, vote, donate money, or want to be informed, spend an hour doing some basic research on this topic so you are at least supporting the side with which you genuinely agree.
There are hundreds of subtly different views and organizations, but there are two core views that are not reconcilable:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), and other Animal Rights (AR) organizations oppose any animal captivity. Their central objective is to eliminate animals in captivity and to pass laws that will outlaw captive animals or eradicate them through attrition. As clearly articulated in their own official reports, they kill virtually every animal that falls under their control.
These organizations are well-funded and do some good work which we all support: they fight genuine animal abuse, spotlight cruel industrial practices, increase awareness and motivate change concerning the humane treatment of all animals. They advertise and lobby ceaselessly to focus media attention on the good work that they accomplish, but none of these activities modifies their core mission: killing or freeing every captive animal—aquarium fish, beloved pets, cancer-research rats, dairy cows, zoo otters… They artfully create the illusion that they love pets and pet welfare in order to win millions of dollars in donations which they use to kill animals and lobby towards pet extinction.
Consider the following points:
- They believe that animals have the right to live in a fantasy world, free from suffering, death, or human involvement, and that any animal that cannot exist in that world would be better off dead. Because that world does not exist, they effectively argue against every viable life for animals in the real world. And this is no academic distinction: they actively kill animals or release them or ban them…
- They believe that lying is an acceptable tool. They proudly admit that they will lie or cheat if it will help them achieve their goal, so they do not candidly fight for what they believe, instead they collect billions of dollars in donations from will meaning pet lovers who believe that their money will be used to improve the lives of animals when in truth it will be spent to pass laws making animals lives worse.
- Their entire position derives from the idea that animals have “rights.” This assertion is, on its face, absurd: in nature animals have no rights. They are killed, they suffer, they are raped, eaten alive, tortured, etc.
- All animals are “captive” in their local habitat, their continent, their planet, their home range surrounded by physical boundaries or other animals’ ranges. The involvement of human consciousness does not make captivity wrong. People are capable of providing superior lives for animals—free from parasites and predators and with optimal nutrition and water, secure space, needed veterinary care, and enrichment. The life expectancy of human cared for animals averages two to three times longer than that of their wild counterparts, and for much more of their lives they are healthy, robust, and comfortable. AR advocates assert that “natural” is the only good. Most authentic animal lovers focus on providing the best possible lives for animals, and while nature provides the seminal model, “nature” is rarely the ideal. The only intrinsic difference between a wild animal and a well-kept animal is that the captive animal has a person tending to its every need. Animals have lives in captivity that are every bit as rich and full as in the wild, and in general they are longer, healthier, more comfortable, and by any practical criteria better.
- AR people have killed many animals, turned countless animals loose to starve, opened gates and enclosures so that cherished pets are run down on the streets, all in the zealous belief that no animal should ever be captive. Many of these released animals had enjoyed full and happy lives that were ended abruptly because those lives did not conform to the AR view of what they should be. Further, AR people have taken custody of animals, promising to re-home them, then destroyed and discarded them.
- The AR movement actively works AGAINST animal welfare improvements. They believe that improving captivity merely encourages its continuation.
- AR people argue that only a wild “natural” life is acceptable; yet, how many AR people chose for themselves a wild life with limitless freedom and rights instead of a comfortable captive life with food and medicine and electricity?
- Finding a single instance of abuse or neglect, AR people assert that all people behave in the same way.
- AR people have a track record of passing seemingly reasonable laws, then revisiting them repeatedly to incrementally increase their impact until statutes and regulations effectively preclude animal ownership.
- AR organizations recruit celebrity advocates who believe they are working for animals. Many of these celebrities own pets themselves yet endorse organizations seeking to eradicate pets because they naïvely assume that they cannot be wrong in supporting the “ethical treatment of animals.”
- AR people believe emotional and practical terrorism are acceptable tools for advancing their goals: that their cause is so important and right that they are justified in lying or terrorizing to accomplish their objectives. Conscientious and responsible animal owners live in terror that AR people will show up and open their cages or poison their animals or otherwise create problems in order to generate negative media coverage. Some of the most horrific animal abuse ever filmed has allegedly been staged by AR zealots: they torture animals, film the action, and use that film to condemn the actions of others. They turn animals loose and then use the loose animals as evidence that animals cannot be responsibly contained.
- The existence of the AR movement has prevented animal lovers from working together to eradicate abuse and neglect. We would all love to see processes put in place to combat situations where animals are suffering, and this would be easy to accomplish if we worked together, but because the AR movement exists and will utilize any laws or processes as tools to advance their cause, true animal lovers are forced to fight against them instead of working to improve the world for animals.
No discussion of the Animal Rights agenda would be complete without a quick examination of their flagship crusades:
- Breed-specific Legislation: these laws target animals based on their breed. They are ineffective and immoral. Breeds are never responsible for any injury, only irresponsible owners. Create laws that prevent and punish people for failure to control their animals, or failure to care for their animals, and you solve the problem. Outlaw one more breed and you do nothing to reduce dog bites, you merely further the objective of eradicating pets one breed at a time.
- Exotic animal bans: these laws target private individuals regardless of their competence or history and prevent them from owning and caring for certain animals. Such laws do nothing to ensure public health or safety: on the contrary, they hamstring the very law-abiding animal lovers who work to ensure public health and safety. Create laws that prevent and punish people for failure to control their animals, or failure to care for their animals, and you solve the problem. Regardless of the species, uniform and fair laws require any person to be able to keep their animal safely and properly.
- Mandatory spay/neuter laws: these laws aim to eradicate pets, and do so at the expense of animal health. Individual owners should work with qualified veterinarians to decide which animals should have what surgery. Most experts believe that there is no pet overpopulation problem; however, even if there is, the superior way to control animal population is to educate people. But politicians should not be mandating health decisions relating to individual animals.
- Vilification of all breeders: constantly extolling the ostensible virtues of shelter dogs and denigrating all breeders as heartless puppy-mills is a tactic aimed to eventually eliminate all breeding and therefore all pets. In truth shelters often perpetuate the very disposable pet attitude that creates a need for shelters while responsible breeders steadfastly work to improve their breed, ensure ideal lives for their puppies, and take back any dogs they bred that ever need homes.
Killing, eliminating, or banning well cared-for animals whose lives do not meet an arbitrary standard of being free from all human involvement is neither ethical nor humane. All true animal lovers must band together to prevent the eradication of all pets and ultimately all animals. Millions of dollars are donated to these groups by well-intentioned pet lovers who believe they are helping animals, and who are shocked and outraged when they learn the truth.
If you own a pet or believe that some people should be allowed to keep pets,do not support AR groups. Please be part of the solution: make an informed decision to support organizations whose ideals and actions comport with your own and will genuinely help to make the world a better place.
Refuse to support deceitful and organizations that will take your money in the name of animals and use that money to kill and lobby against animals. Refuse to vote for politicians who support such organizations.
Please do your own research about any organization you would support. Here are a few websites with useful information on the animal rights issue: