Animal Rights The Inhumane Crusade

by Daniel T. Oliver

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About the Author

Daniel T. Oliver is a research associate at the Capital Research Center and editor of CRC's monthly newsletter Alternatives in Philanthropy. He received his undergraduate degree in sociology from the University of Akron. His writings have appeared in publications include the Wall Street Journal, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Washington Times, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Nonprofit Times, and Human Events.

Executive Summary

In the last 15 years, Americans have become increasingly aware of the animal rights movement. Through demonstrations, boycotts, letter-writing campaigns, criminal and terrorist acts, and lurid charges of animal abuse directed at animal researchers, livestock and poultry farmers, and others who use animals, animal rights organizations are challenging the traditional roles of animals in our lives.

This study examines the ideas, agenda, and activities of one of the largest social movements today. It concludes that:
Animal rights groups routinely use false and unsubstantiated allegations of animal abuse to raise funds, attract media attention, and bring supporters into the movement.
Animal rights groups have imposed significant costs on the individuals, businesses, and concerns they have targeted. Moreover, these costs are borne by all of society-for example, when raids on research laboratories destroy studies that seek to better understand fatal diseases.

An Animal Non-Use Campaign

While publicly professing a desire to improve the treatment of animals, the animal rights movement is actually an animal non-use campaign. It would end:

Using animals in biomedical research that has markedly improved the health and longevity of both humans and animals over the last 100 years.

Raising farm animals for food, clothing, and byproducts of which many Americans are unaware, such as antifreeze, brake fluid, and tires.
Hunting, trapping, and fishing-activities that conserve wildlife and protect threatened and endangered species.
Using animals in education and entertainment, including zoos, aquariums, circuses, and rodeos.
Breeding and owning pets.

Costs to Humans and Animals

The largest animal rights organizations together raise over $100 million annually. These contributions have affected public policy: research laboratories, zoos, and animal dealers spent at least $1 billion in 1990 alone complying with new federal regulations promoted by animal rights groups which cover the housing, feeding, and general care of animals. Critics doubt that these changes have improved animal well-being, but activists have nonetheless reallocated funds that otherwise could have been used to search for treatments and cures for diseases.

Undermining Animal Welfare

Ironically, the animal rights movement has become an obstacle to improving the treatment of animals for two reasons:
When donors contribute-perhaps unwittingly-to groups that oppose the use of animals, traditional humane organizations are deprived of the funds they need to improve the treatment of animals.

When animal rights organizations attack those who use animals rather than work with them to improve animal treatment (as humane organizations traditionally have), targeted individuals must spend time and money defending themselves, again leaving fewer resources to improve animal treatment.

This study cautions animal lovers to look beyond the rhetoric of organizations that profess a concern about animal treatment. Potential donors should closely examine the agendas and activities of groups before they contribute. Most importantly, they should find out if an organization seeks to improve the treatment of animals or if its real aim is actually to end animal use.

Chapter I: Overview of the Movement
Chapter II: Research Animals
Chapter III: Farm Animals
Chapter IV: Wildlife
Chapter V: Animals in Education and Entertainment
Chapter VI: Pets
Chapter VII: Shaping Public Opinion
Chapter VIII: How Animal Rights Undermines Animal Welfare
Chapter IX: Criminal Actions and Terrorism
Bibliography and Index

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