ANIMAL RIGHTS IS NOT ABOUT ENDING ANIMAL CRUELTY…
By Julie Reardon
ANIMAL RIGHTS IS NOT ABOUT ENDING ANIMAL CRUELTY…
…it’s about restricting your rights to own pets, livestock, farms, ranches and more. While I normally avoid politics in my Blue Ridge reports, this is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue. It’s one that affects nearly all of us—if we own and love animals. As the last decade drew to a close, greyhound racing is all but dead thanks to being shut down by animal rights activists. Will horse racing be next? It’s on the agenda for this decade.
As the new decade dawns, radical animal rights activist groups under the guise of saving us from animal cruelty have gone so mainstream that most of us barely notice the steady erosion of our rights to own animals, farm, ranch, fish, hunt, eat meat or wear leather and wool. Remember the late George H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully, the happy yellow Lab now helping gravely ill patients? He’s considered exploited. Working animals from service dogs to riding horses are described as enslaved even though they’re happiest doing their jobs. Far too many animal lovers still donate to these groups mistakenly thinking they’re helping animals in need. Hundreds of millions send in $19, $50 or more to fund what is, in essence, a tax free lobbying effort to make it harder or impossible to own pets and livestock or eat meat and wear leather.
PETA, HSUS and the ASPCA, (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, The Humane Society of the U.S., and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) each spend less than two percent of their budget on actual animal welfare programs. They operate no shelters, fund no low cost spay/neuter programs and give nothing to the local shelters that actually do feed and house the unwanted animal surplus. Even the ASPCA, which formerly operated a single shelter in New York, no longer funds any shelters, although by maintaining the SPCA in their name, they want you to think they do so you’ll keep the donations flowing. PETA does have an intake facility at their Norfolk, Va. Headquarters, but it is solely to dispatch companion animals—they rarely rehome and in fact euthanize 98 percent of all animals taken in. What they do, is bank money offshore, pay handsome salaries to their executives and lobby for restrictive laws at the local, state and federal level, all tax-free.
At the end of last year, these groups scored a major coup when the so-called PACT Act was signed into law by President Trump just before Thanksgiving. The PACT Act: Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, makes animal cruelty and specifically filming, photographing or distributing images of animals being tortured a federal crime so it’s a good thing, right? The new law looks innocuous on first reading; we all want to end cruelty and torture. But the devil is in the details, intentionally left vague and open to future interpretation–pure animal rights manipulation at its deceitful best. While animal abuse and torture should never be condoned, cruelty, including torture, is already illegal in all 50 states with laws on the books to enforce. This new act lays a foundation and building blocks for the ultimate aim of animal rights activists: to criminalize anyone who raises, breeds and works with animals and to end raising animals for meat, as well as hunting and fishing. Although ostensibly excluding “generally accepted” livestock and veterinary handling procedures, generally accepted is not defined. And since it is an act, not a bill, it will be much easier to amend and change the existing definitions. Right now, most vegans are happy with their own choices but a growing number think that no one should eat meat, fish or dairy products—and the PACT Act gives them a back door for a government mandate to end raising animals for food.
This was all by design, as despite the foothold the major animal rights organizations have made, the American public is not ready to accept a meatless, pet-less society – the stated goal of these groups. And these powerful, well-funded lobbying groups know there is work to do before enough of the general public shares their goal. So a “shock value” animal cruelty element (torturing animals for making videos) had to be added to ensure widespread support. The act, on its surface, seems innocent enough but imagine when today’s children, indoctrinated their entire young lives by HSUS and PETA to embrace radical animal rights begin to populate the entry level and political positions inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. Those involved in producing meat products for food could be put out of business overnight.
What a shame that America’s children and vulnerable adults have no such protection. Alas, there is no federal law like this for abused humans. But that’s of no consequence to animal rights activists. They believe a cockroach or a wharf rat has the same rights as a human child, and want to end all animal ownership and all meat eating, because they believe that animals’ rights should be equal to or greater than human rights. The PACT Act’s vague definitions and terms are wide open to interpretation by bureaucratic regulators who will be responsible for enforcement. While the act as written exempts certain accepted farming and medical procedures, it does not say what those are nor what “accepted” means—accepted by who? Criminal acts are described as burning, crushing and/or stabbing, but regular practices such as branding cattle, using squeeze chutes to safely doctor livestock, tattoos and ear tags for ID, or even giving vaccinations could be construed as acts of cruelty. At a time in our country when law enforcement and animal control officers are naively accepting third-party enforcement training by radical animal rights groups, the PACT Act lays the groundwork for their anti-animal philosophy to become law. As animal cruelty and torture is already illegal, in all 50 states you have to question the true intentions of the animal rights organizations that sold the public on this bill, that sets a dangerous precedent for all Americans.
Most worrisome about the PACT act is the unconstitutional erosion of rights, specifically asset forfeiture. Now, the FBI and other federal agencies can arrest and prosecute those suspected of torturing or killing animals, regardless of whether a video was involved. No due process here, it only takes suspicion. Suspected—not charged or indicted–can get your assets seized under the preponderance of evidence clause that, oh by the way, can be invoked because your dog dropped a deuce on your neighbor’s lawn and he’s got an axe to grind so he anonymously reports you as an abuser and you’re now a suspect for a federal crime.
Lest you think the above is an exaggeration, animal rights groups are already busy amassing their foot soldiers. The ink of the President’s signature was barely dry on the act before two of the more extreme groups formed and staffed the National Veterinary Council, with animal rights advocates who are licensed (but not necessarily practicing) veterinarians poised to take leadership positions in determining acceptable veterinary practices pursuant to the act. “The Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) and Animal Wellness Action (AWA) have announced the formation of their National Veterinary Council, with members bringing collective medical and advocacy experience for companion animals, farm animals, horses and wildlife” reads the news brief. The sly use of the term animal wellness instead of animal rights and advocacy instead of radical agenda is pure theater, but make no mistake, both the AWF and AWA think any use of animals for human companionship or sport is akin to slavery and no animal should be harvested for meat, fur or feathers. The announcement also states that “the members of the Council will extend the reach of the organization’s programs and priorities and more meaningfully place veterinarians at the forefront of the animal protection movement.” Note the subtle change in their language: Animal rights is now being called animal protection since most people are not ready to give up their pets and become vegans. Without even knowing who your accuser is and no due process, this act allows the feds to take everything you own without even a formal charge or chance to defend yourself.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Do not give money to these organizations. Support your local shelter and make donations there where your money will actually help homeless and unwanted pets. Don’t jump on the bandwagon for new laws ostensibly to prevent cruelty to animals; cruelty, both intentional and neglectful, is already a crime. Animal cruelty or even suspicion of it, makes for sensational headlines and many clicks in social media and in the news (and in all the donation requests). These crimes are already covered under the Animal Welfare Act and the new laws merely add burdensome and expensive regulations that make it harder on those that already take good care of their animals. Which is, after all, the point—if these animal rights groups cannot take your animals by force, they’ll tax and regulate them out of reach. Good educational resources online include HumaneWatch.org; the National Animal Interest Alliance and the Cavalry Group.