From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Animal rights activists do not care about your animal’s welfare

Animal rights activists do not care about your animal’s welfare

Julie Reardon


Just when you thought you were safe from politics, my column, normally focused on rural life, has a political hot potato this month. But this is not liberal vs conservative politics; it’s city vs country. As the percentage of us that grew up and/or still live on, or who have family that live on farms in rural areas shrinks, the animal rights movement continues to grow and shape attitudes about animals. So let me make an important distinction: Animal rights is not about what is best for animals, not wildlife and not domestic animals, including farm animals and your pet cat or dog. Animal welfare groups do seek to ensure all animals have humane treatment and basic needs met; animal rights and the activists that push that agenda, have very little to do with caring for animals in a humane manner and everything to do with humanizing them and insisting they need to be treated as equals with people.


Those of us that own, and make our living from the raising, training or breeding of animals, do so because of our love for them. It’s hard work for very low pay to provide them with the best possible care, including seeking professional advice when needed. And that advice, including their housing, land requirements, nutrition and veterinary care, does not come from the ranks of the animal rights activists. Indeed, few if any have actual experience or knowledge of animal husbandry. As more and more people grow up with only Walt Disney’s portrayal of animals, the animal rights movement has gained enormous foothold and influence over how we think of them. Indeed, the very notion that we should be the guardians and not the owners of our cattle, chickens, horses, pigs, dogs and cats would’ve been laughable 20 years ago, but now it’s become the norm, along with the ridiculous ideology that all animals should have equal or greater rights than humans.


Because their influence has become so insidious, the agenda of animal rights activists has gotten bigger, bolder and more ambitious, even in rural areas. Last month, a notorious radical animal rights activist who holds the position of humane investigator in my area, trespassed onto my farm and left a note about two old retired horses, one of whom looks thin from a distance. She tried to make a case for neglect under the guise of “I’m just doing my job.” This investigator has zero training in animal care or husbandry and worse, operates a lucrative pet shop that sells seized animals to wealthy local residents. And with the rise of people moving here from cities, she has a captive pool of buyers more than willing to open their pocketbooks and assuage their consciences in order to appear politically correct. Publicly available information shows her operation nets a cool 7 digits annually, tax free; and is incorporated in Delaware. Despite a court ruling in 2003 that it was a conflict of interest for humane investigators to sell or profit from seized animals, this one not only held her position, she continues to seize and sell. Indeed, after that ruling most investigator positions were scrapped—except here. And here she was, taking a bead on my farm.


Horses, at any stage of their lives but particularly as they age, are not cheap to keep; I’m very fortunate to be able to retire mine at my farm. The ones in the crosshairs of the pet shop owner’s agenda are living a peaceful retirement on my farm. One is 26 and the other is 27 years old—ancient by equine standards. I’ve owned them since they were 3 and 5; over 20 years. The older one has an old age condition called Cushings disease, which among other symptoms caused him to lose muscle mass on his back and hindquarters although elsewhere he’s well padded. In other words, like a lot of old men, he’s got a bony ass but a big belly. The horses live on 30 acres of lush, well-tended pasture with two spring fed ponds plus a large run in barn for shade in summer and shelter in winter. They’re fed twice daily, fly sprayed in summer and blanketed or brought into the stable in winter and they receive regular veterinary and dental care. A neighbor who heard of the accusations, remarked that if she died she’d like to come back as one of my animals; no one that knows me has ever questioned their care. After responding to the investigator’s inquisition and politely explaining about their age, infirmities and care, she lost interest, perhaps realizing the horses wouldn’t be worth seizing as they might be hard to sell at her pet shop. She did inform me that, no, the one horse did not have Cushings. Seriously? As if I should choose to believe a trust fund scion who’s only seen the horse from a distance over my regular veterinarian who knows him.


Political correctness permeates all facets of our lives, from the words we say to the things we buy, to the pets we share our lives with. Don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Don’t waste energy. Buy green. Recycle. Animals deserve the same rights as people. Let’s think about that for a minute: should a wharf rat or a cockroach have the same rights as a human child? Not in my world.


Then there’s the wildly successful “adopt, don’t shop” myth. Don’t buy from an evil breeder, adopt from a shelter, because for every dog purchased from a breeder, a shelter dog dies. Really? Will the young woman who impulsively bought a fluffy dog to carry around in her purse and is now tired of it, not discard it because you adopted your dog from a shelter? What about the family who got a puppy for their son hoping to get him away from the computer? The son didn’t want the puppy, the parents are tired of taking care of it, and it’s destroying the yard. Will
they drop it off at a shelter or all of a sudden grow a spine, accept responsibility, socialize and train the puppy and keep it for life? The sad reason shelters stay full is because people buy animals on impulse with no knowledge of how to raise, train and care for it. And, sadly, anyone who breeds animals or even simply buys a purebred from a breeder, is portrayed as an evil, deranged monster engaging in criminally suspect activity. It’s become a badge of political correctness to flaunt rescued animals, the more abusive of a past they had (even if it’s a made-up lie) the better.


An increasing number of rescues are not only entering the breeding business themselves, they’re doing mass importation of unvaccinated animals from foreign countries to sell. Importing dogs from mostly third world countries puts all, including our own pets, at risk of disease. Far too many rescues, and even some animal shelters, make a tidy profit from selling pets; they simply call the sale price an adoption fee. Not all, of course—we have many local shelters that operate through mostly volunteer labor and donations and do a very good job. These shelters, many of which have humane or SPCA in the name, have no affiliation and receive no funding from national groups with similar sounding names. The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA and PETA do not operate a single shelter; in fact PETA euthanizes nearly 100 percent of animals turned over to it. These three giants are lobbying groups that like you to think they’re involved in sheltering stray or homeless animals for fund raising purposes. And they’re good at fund raising, disingenuously leading you to believe donations go to actual animal care. But nearly all their billions are spent on salaries and perks for their executives and on lobbying to pass laws making it hard if not impossible for people to own animals.


If you’re in the market for a pet, it’s vital to be honest about what you want and what best suits your lifestyle. Nothing precludes a shelter dog from becoming a perfect pet—many end up there through no fault of their own or their owners, not because they were untrainable, unhealthy or old. The best way to get a dog with predictable looks, temperament and health is to research and pick a good breeder, one that will be available for help or with questions. Learn about diseases and genetic conditions common to the breed you’re interested in, and what kind of screens for these conditions the breeder performs on their dogs. In sum, recognize that any animal is a commitment for its lifetime, so buying one should be researched as carefully and thoroughly as any other major purchase. More animals end up in shelters from bad owners than bad breeders.


The author has a horse farm where she boards horses; and hunts, trains and competes with purebred Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and can be reached directly at about this article.


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