You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2008.

The opportunity to help animals sometimes appears when we least expect it, so it’s good to be ready. Yesterday I was out for a run when I came upon an injured egret on the trail. Egrets love to wade in the creeks where I live in Sonoma County, but I never get close to them: they always move away as I run past them on the trail beside the creek, or else they leap into the sky, gracefully spreading their large, snow-white wings and flying to the safety of a nearby perch.


But this particular bird, whom I believe was a snowy egret, didn’t move. He was lying on his side, with one wing partially cocked in the air. I’ve had enough animal-related emergencies while running that I now keep a cell phone in my fanny pack, so I called a local bird-rescue group. The sound of my voice startled the egret, who managed to right himself and hobble a few steps away.


I was only able to leave a message with the bird organization, so I called Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue and told them I’d be bringing in an injured egret. Somehow. I ran back to my truck and enlisted the assistance of a friend. Together we drove back to the creek and managed to catch the egret, who was very weak. Fortunately, the rescue center was only a few miles away, and within minutes, the injured and stressed egret was in the hands of professional wildlife rehabilitators. I showed them on a map exactly where I’d found the bird, so they could return him to his home once he’d healed.


The lesson here is to be prepared by knowing the phone numbers of your local wildlife rescue centers and where they are located. Even if you live in an urban area, there are groups that specialize in birds, squirrels, raccoons and the countless other animals with whom we share this world. It’s also a good idea to keep a few things in the trunk of your car: a cardboard box, a blanket and some gloves will come in handy when rescuing small animals.


A few tips:


Baby animals are plentiful in the spring, but if they appear to be unhurt and are not in immediate danger, they’re generally all right. Chances are their mother is nearby collecting food for the little ones.


If you find an uninjured bird who has fallen from a nest, and you can find the nest, it’s OK to return the bird; the mother will accept him or her.


If you find an injured animal, place him or her in a covered box or carrier and put the box in a dark, quiet place. Make sure the animal can breathe inside the box and doesn’t get too hot or cold (bird rescuers recommend placing the box on a heating pad, turned on LOW). If the animal cannot be moved, cover him or her with a towel or blanket so he or she will stay calm until help arrives.


Don’t feed the animal or offer him or her water.


Immediately contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or agency in your area. (It’s not a bad idea to have those numbers programmed into your phone.)


For more advice, click here.

Food is an incredibly powerful component in the activist’s toolkit. It is imbued with special meaning in the psyche of humanity: we need food to nourish our bodies, but we also look to food as the centerpiece of many of our rituals and ceremonies.


Because of food’s unique position in our lives, it also offers the promise of transformation, for what we place in our bellies can be the bridge to a higher level of compassion — a rich appreciation of life itself. The simple act of sharing a delicious plant-based meal with someone more accustomed to dining on dead animals may not inspire them to immediately embrace a cruelty-free lifestyle, but it removes another brick from the massive edifice built upon the myths of ethical eating: that vegan food is strange, that it is hard to prepare and, perhaps the biggest false premise, that a meat-based diet is ideal for optimum health.


If you’re new to vegetarianism or veganism, or you’ve just never used your love of plant-based food in your activism, getting started can seem a bit daunting. How does one begin? You needn’t be a professional chef or cooking instructor to have an impact on another person. Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing recommends starting with your immediate circle: friends, family and co-workers. “Bringing vegan treats to the office or hosting a vegan dinner party for your neighbors or meat-eating friends are two simple yet effective ways to introduce others to animal-friendly eating,” she says.


One crucial point about using vegan food in your outreach: Make sure the food is delicious. “I will happily eat good vegan food, but I will never offer good vegan food to non-vegans,” says Erik Marcus, author of Meat Market. “Any food I offer to non-vegans has to be outstanding, or I won’t offer it at all. We don’t want non-vegans to try vegan food and decide it’s only okay. We need them to think this is some of the tastiest food they’ve ever eaten.” This attitude applies not only to the food Erik offers, but to the food products he recommends, the cookbooks he suggests and the restaurants he takes his friends to. “Vegan food is indeed a powerful outreach tool, and that’s why I make sure that non-vegetarians get only the very best of what the vegan world has to offer.”


Whether you’re bringing in treats to the office or having friends over for dinner, if you’re hoping to encourage someone’s own vegan culinary adventures, don’t start them off with anything too complicated or that contains hard-to-find ingredients. “The food must be easy to make, so that those eating might actually make it at home,” advises activist Monica Engebretson. Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup with Saffron-Lime Ice may be impressive and delicious, but any recipe that calls for saffron threads and toasted Hungarian paprika is not for beginners, and we want to emphasize that veganism is easy! Fortunately, one outreach effort that Monica and countless other activists have found particularly successful uses some of the easiest vegan foods you can find.



The idea is pretty simple: Hand out free vegan food to the public. After all, who doesn’t like free food? For a feed-in, activists prepare some vegan versions of popular meat-based foods, such as veggie burgers and “chicken” nuggets, and pass out samples at a location with lots of foot traffic ― like the front of a fast-food restaurant. Passersby get to try some tasty vegan treats, have a non-confrontational encounter with an animal activist and, we hope, walk away feeling that veganism isn’t that strange after all. Feed-ins can be as basic as one person with a platter of Tofurky sausage samples and some vegan literature or several activists going all out with a table, veggie dogs with condiments and a banner declaring “FREE Vegetarian Food!”


“The challenge with feed-ins is that the food has to be really good,” says activist Nora Kramer. “Plus, you need to present it in a way that looks good and tastes good at that moment, like on a street corner. Vegan chicken nuggets, for instance, taste really good, if they’re hot, with ketchup or barbecue sauce. If they’re cold? Um, not so good. You’re really not helping any chickens. Same thing with giving out vegan ice cream – you’ve got to keep it cold. If it’s a hot day, no one’s going to want you’re melted, liquidy ice cream. So, keeping things hot or cold and presenting it in a way that will make people want to try it is important.”


Nora also notes that it’s important people know why you’re there. “It needs to be clear that you’re not representing Soy Delicious or whatever,” she says. “You’re there volunteering your time because you care about animals and you want people to know that vegan food tastes really good.”


Mercy For Animals' feed in

Mercy For Animals' feed in

Nathan Runkle of Mercy For Animals (MFA) advises getting the food donated, if possible. “When soliciting food donations,” he says, “keep in mind what will be easiest to prepare and how you’re going to distribute it. Soy ice cream in tubs, for example, is going to be more difficult to distribute than Tofutti Cuties, which come pre-wrapped.”


Getting companies to donate food is not that difficult, according to Caroline McAleese of Vegan Campaigns, which organizes annual food fairs and monthly vegan food and information stalls in busy shopping areas. “If you do not already have a contact name at the company,” she says, “I would send an email to the general address, then follow it up with a phone call and keep the contact name for next time. I normally write quite a detailed email about the event or stall. I would include how many people you would expect to come, the venue and the aim of the event.”


Caroline also recommends giving the company an incentive, such as adding their name to a flier for the event, offering to give out their leaflets at the event and posting a link on your Web site to theirs. “It’s good to feed back to the companies afterwards, to show them photos and let them know how it went.”


If this all sounds like feed-ins are a complicated exercise demanding many people, relax. “Most of the feed-ins we do are just a couple people,” Nathan says. “It’s taken us a little while to master the marketing of feed-ins, because if you just go the street corner wearing regular clothes, and you’re handing out food, it seems kind of sketchy, and people get a little nervous taking food from strangers.” So now Nathan and his fellow activists don black aprons and plastic gloves, giving their feed-ins an air of professionalism. “We also have a large banner that reads ‘For the Animals, Earth and Your Health ― Enjoy a Free Vegan Sample.’ This makes it look more like an event so people will come up to try the food.” To really make an impact, MFA sometimes sets up a table with the dipping sauces, vegetarian starter kits and local veg guide. “The veg guide also lists health food stores, so we can tell people how to find specialty items,” he says.


Of course, there are countless other ways to use vegan food in your outreach, from bringing homemade cookies to work or school to asking your favorite restaurant or campus cafeteria to carry (more) vegan entrees.


Although there are many other tactics for helping animals, when we speak of animal cruelty, the overwhelming majority of abuse is suffered by animals who are bred, raised and eventually slaughtered because humans happen to enjoy eating them. And because most of the Earth’s human inhabitants directly contribute to the needless cruelty suffered by so many billions of non-human animals each year simply by eating them, changing the hearts and minds of these people yields extraordinary benefits. So if you’ve never used vegan food in your outreach, give it a try. I’m betting you’ll find it fun.

In November 1973, under pressure to resign as President of the United States, a defiant Richard Nixon addressed the nation on television. “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook,” Nixon said. “Well, I’m not a crook.” By using the word “crook,” Nixon made people think that’s exactly what he was, and he ended up leaving office the following the year, disgraced.


This lesson in how not to frame your debate begins George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant, which outlines how progressives can better articulate their message. “When we negate a frame, we evoke the frame,” writes Lakoff in explaining Nixon’s blunder. In other words, never use the language of your opponent. This is why you won’t find the Humane Society of the United States initiating debate on the criticisms made by agribusiness in the current Proposition 2 ballot measure in California, or bills like it. HSUS might carefully respond to attacks that Prop 2 will increase the cost of eggs, for example, but the organization does not present this as part of its central argument in op-eds and other communication to the public; no, the cost increase is part of the opponent’s frame ― an attempt to scare consumers. Instead, HSUS asks voters to imagine what it must be like for an egg-laying hen, pregnant pig or baby calf to live in confinement, unable to even turn around.


Lakoff, who teaches linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, is a specialist in “framing”: the way that language shapes how we think. Though it primarily deals with political discourse, Lakoff’s book has a few things to teach us about presenting the animal rights argument. Indeed, Don’t Think of an Elephant is one of two books on framing that activists would do well to study.


Our job as activists is to frame the vision of the animal rights movement ― its values and mission ― in a way people can easily understand and embrace. Although most people today are probably not in agreement that the world should go vegan, the majority of people do agree that animals should be not abused. The problem is, people almost never see animal abuse, and when they do, they think it’s an isolated incident. By framing our message so it resonates with a person’s core values, we demonstrate that those values are already aligned with the goal of ending animal suffering and exploitation. One way to do this is to explain the abuse of farmed animals within the frame of companion animals, since people are more familiar with dogs and cats. Whether speaking to people on the street or writing letters to editors, we can remind the public that “Farmed animals are offered no protection against such routine abuses as debeaking, toe removal, branding, dehorning, tail docking and castration ― all performed without any pain relief. Yet, if someone were to treat a dog or cat this way, he or she would be charged with animal cruelty.”


As Lakoff observes, people think in frames, and every word evokes a frame. The word “elephant,” for example, evokes a frame with an image of an elephant and certain knowledge: an elephant is a large animal (a mammal) with large floppy ears, a trunk that functions like both a nose and a hand, large stump-like legs and so on. I believe the animal-rights movement has done well to frame corporate agribusiness as the architects of “animal factories” and “factory farms.” These pejorative terms are much more widely used ― and understood ― than the term agribiz prefers: “concentrated animal feeding operation.” Indeed, a search for “factory farm” on Google comes up with 182,000 results, vs. 29,100 for “concentrated animal feeding operation”; “animal factory” yields 175,000 results. “Puppy mill” is another example. You’ll find 1,680,000 results for that term on Google, while the innocuous-sounding “commercial dog breeder” comes in with only about half a million.


The lesson here is to use our own language ― frames that will help people see the connection between their choices and animal abuse ― rather than the language of those who exploit animals.


Lakoff’s conservative counterpart is Frank Luntz, author of Words That Work. Luntz is probably best known for convincing Republicans to use words like “climate change” instead of “global warming” and “energy exploration” rather than “oil drilling.” His point is these words sound better to the public, because, according to Luntz, “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear” that matters most. Many of the examples Luntz offers come straight from companies exploiting animals, which illustrates just how well they do their job and make animals suffer.


Luntz provides readers with his Ten Rules of Effective Language:


1. Simplicity — Use small words. Avoid words that might force someone to reach for the dictionary (because most people won’t).
2. Brevity — Use short sentences. Never use a sentence when a phrase will do, and never use four words when three can say as much.
3. Credibility is as important as philosophy — People have to believe it to buy it.
4. Consistency matters — Repetition, repetition, repetition. Finding a good message and then sticking with it takes extraordinary discipline, but it pays off tenfold in the end. You may be making yourself sick saying something over and over, but many in your audience will be hearing it for the first time. (During the Prop 2 initiative battle in California, supporters of the measure to ban intensive confinement have constantly said Prop 2 would allow animals “to stand up, turn around, lie down and fully extend their limbs” — often several times in the same interview or debate).
5. Novelty — Offer something new. Words that work often involve a new definition of an old idea (such as when author Ruth Harrison used the term “factory farms” in 1964 to describe what the ag industry calls “concentrated animal feeding operations”).
6. Sound and texture matter — A string of words that have the same first letter, the same sound or the same syllabic cadence is more memorable than a random collection of sounds (see #5).
7. Speak Aspirationally — Messages need to say what people want to hear. Think of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his “I have a dream” speech. (This can be difficult when addressing the plight of animals. I often speak about rescued animals living on sanctuaries, free from pain and fear. Getting people to visit a sanctuary so they can meet these animals themselves is even better.)
8. Visualize — Plant a vivid image. There is one word in the English language that automatically triggers the process of visualization: imagine. (Asking people to imagine their dog or cat being forced to undergo painful medical tests or to be locked in a wire battery cage for two years and then slaughtered can be a way to help people see things differently.)

9. Ask a question. Luntz cites the dairy industry’s “Got Milk?” as perhaps the most memorable print-ad campaign of the past decade.
10. Provide Context and Explain Relevance. You must give people the “why” of your message before giving them the “therefore” and the “so that.” Some people call this framing, but Luntz prefers the word context.


Finally, remember: Rhetoric is an art used to persuade your audience, and like any art, it takes practice and discipline. Activist Bruce Friedrich recommends that we become familiar with the atrocities committed against animals, so that we’re better able to paint a picture with our words. “Although hard,” Bruce says, “it is very useful to watch videos with some regularity so that images of some of the forms of cruelty in factory farming are always fresh in your memory. This way, when people ask you, ‘Why are you a vegan?’ or, ‘Why are you an activist?’ you’re able to describe concrete and specific examples of the horrors that are routinely inflicted on animals. For example, rather than saying, ‘Animals are treated badly on factory farms,’ you will be able to say, ‘On factory farms, chickens grow so fast that they become crippled under their own weight,’ or ‘Cows and pigs often have their limbs hacked off while they’re conscious and able to feel pain,’ or ‘Animals are denied their every need and desire, they’re mutilated and cooped up in their own waste, they’re violently loaded onto trucks, causing injuries, and they’re slaughtered in the most painful and inhumane manner that you can imagine. If a dog or a cat were treated the way farmed animals are treated, everyone involved could be thrown in jail on felony cruelty-to-animals charges.’”


Such videos are not easy to watch, but they do remind us that relatively few people ever witness what goes on in the darkened corners of animal enterprises, and it’s up to activists to shine a spotlight on them.

Whenever I speak to animal activists about burnout, I always recommend they spend some time at a sanctuary for farmed animals. Heck, even if you’re not worried about getting burned out, spending time with animals is a good thing. Whether you take a tour or volunteer each month, sanctuaries help reconnect you with the very reasons you’re active in the first place. Plus, they are great places to learn and meet like-minded animal advocates.


With Thanksgiving coming up in the U.S., a number of sanctuaries will be offering special events in celebration of the animal Ben Franklin suggested as the official bird of the United States.


“Turkeys are a misunderstood species,” says Kim Sturla, executive director of Animal Place, which will be hosting its first-annual ThanksLiving event on November 22. “Often thought of as stupid, turkeys are actually quite intelligent and form incredibly strong social bonds with other turkeys, sometimes other species! Animal Place wants the public to celebrate these birds, not eat them.”


If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, sign up for this great event at Animal Place. Yours truly will be speaking there, along with long-time activist lauren Ornelas.


Meanwhile, that same day, in Southern California, Animal Acres will hold its Celebration for Turkeys.


If you call Colorado home, you likely already know about Peaceful Prairie. Their Living at Thanksgiving! event will take place on Sunday, November 23.


In Maryland, the Poplar Springs sanctuary, home to eight lovable turkeys, will celebrate Thanksgiving with the Turkeys on November 22.


I don’t know anyone who has done more to help people appreciate turkeys than Karen Davis. Her organization, United Poultry Concerns, in Virginia, will host its 18th-annual Thanksgiving Feast on November 29.


Residents of New York State have two celebrations to choose from. Farm Sanctuary’s Celebration for the Turkeys will take place on November 22, and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary will have its ThanksLiving gala on November 23 (though I understand that event is already sold out).


This is just a partial list of the sanctuaries offering special events this Thanksgiving season. Check the Website of your local sanctuary to see if they have something planned. Even if they don’t, do yourself a favor and pay them a visit!

I was fortunate to attend the 16th-annual animal law conference at the Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, last weekend. The three-day event brought together attorneys, law students, academics and animal advocates from around the world.


The field of animal law didn’t even exist 30 or so years ago, yet today it is one of the most popular fields for law students eager to make a difference for animals. Interestingly, the conference attracted activists who will likely never see the inside of a courtroom ― they simply want to learn how the law can be used to advance the interests of animals. Oh, and the food was all vegan, which means I put on about three pounds eating baked goods. I felt like Homer Simpson at a Dunkin’ Donuts buffet.


Conference speakers included Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary, Paul Waldau of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, Joyce Tischler of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Zak Smith of the Natural Resources Defense Council and many, many more outstanding advocates.


The panel that made the biggest impression on me had to do with the state of animal law in China, which is to say none at all. Presented by Paul Littlefair of RSPCA International and Amanda Whitfort, who teaches law at the University of Hong Kong, the session covered the legal and cultural hurdles animal advocates must overcome in Asia. In mainland China, no laws exist to protect animals other than animals living in the wild. Paul Littlefair offered one example of a 22-year-old student named Liu Haiyang, who in 2002 brutally attacked bears at the Beijing Zoo with acid. Chinese officials could not charge him with cruelty to animals (since no such legislation exists in China); instead, they charged him with destruction of public property.


As Paul pointed out, a number of factors hamper the advance of animal-protection laws in China. The Chinese, first of all, regard “animal welfare” as a foreign concept incompatible with Chinese culture. They also see it as anti-human; that is, they’re reluctant to grant rights to animals when human rights are so often violated (sound familiar?). The Chinese also point out the hypocrisy inherent in working to help animals when billions of animals are slaughtered for food each year.


None of this means that animal activists should give up fighting for animals in China, of course. In fact, one bright spot Paul mentioned is that the Chinese are becoming more accustomed to having companion animals, which means they are beginning to see animals are more than simply commodities. If they can see that their dog or cat has feelings, perhaps there’s hope. That may seem like a very small advance, but it is a start.


The One Earth: Globalism & Animal Law conference was hosted by the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) of Lewis & Clark Law School.

A court in New Zealand has found Mark Eden, an activist with the animal rights group New Zealand Open Rescue, guilty of burglary after he rescued hens from a battery-egg operation. Mark and about 10 other activists raided Turk’s Poultry Farm in Foxton in November 2006, removed 20 hens and then found homes for the birds.


Mark, who represented himself during the three-day trial, told the court that the open rescue mission was a last resort after years of failed lobbying to ban battery farming. He showed the court video footage taken during the raid and argued it was the operators of battery farms who were breaking the law. He never disputed entering the sheds and claimed he was preventing a crime against the hens.


It took the jury less than 15 minutes to return a guilty verdict. The judge told Mark that no matter how sincere his intentions, he could not take the law into his own hands. He was sentenced to 150 hours’ community work and ordered to pay $180 compensation to Turk’s Poultry. Each of the chickens taken was worth $9 on the market.


Mark Eden’s jury trial is the first of its kind in New Zealand. He maintains that by removing battery hens from Turk’s farm, he was mitigating suffering, not stealing property. As the trial closed, open rescue supporters held a non-violent protest outside the District Court highlighting the plight of battery hens. Mark is the only activist to be convicted following an open rescue, of which at least 20 had been carried out since the one at Turk’s Poultry. In 2005, he was convicted and discharged after chaining himself to a bacon truck to protest against battery farming.


“Everyone is entitled to justice,” said Mark outside the court. “I’m entitled to justice, and those hens are entitled to justice. Battery farmers don’t want to have these cases come up all the time because it highlights the issue. If ever those people come to trial, the law as it stands says that you should not put hens in cages … unfortunately, I was on trial, not the battery farmers.” He said that at least the hens he helped rescue are happy, safe and will live long lives.


In 1994, the New Zealand government introduced citizen-initiated referendums, where a petition of 200,000 signatures required a review of any law. But a battery farming petition that attracted 360,000 signatures was deemed not valid and the referendum was never passed.


About 3 million layer hens are still in cages in New Zealand, despite overwhelming public opposition to battery farming and over 20 years of legal campaigning by animal rights activists. Caged hens cannot run, walk, perch or dust bathe, and their skin is abraded from rubbing against the sides of the cage. Hens suffer from lack of space, stressful social crowding and skeletal weakness. According to New Zealand Open Rescue, Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee found in 2006 that battery farming breaches the Animal Welfare Act, and only a special intervention by Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton allows this cruel practice to continue.

The Age, an Australian news outlet, is reporting today that secret police in Victoria have infiltrated Melbourne’s activist and community groups for two years to gather information on animal activists, protests against the Iraq War and a weapons exhibition.


Setha Sann, an undercover officer from Victoria’s Security Intelligence Group, posed as a vegan named Andrew and joined Animal Liberation Victoria, which engages in open rescues and other “threats” to Australia’s national security. The officer took the unwanted job of note-taker at ALV meetings. Other activists became suspicious. Why was “Andrew” always so interested in the next animal rescue or protest? Why was it that this vegan appeared to have no knowledge of Melbourne’s vegetarian restaurants?


Andrew took part in a rescue of battery hens in June, though he soon began shifting his spying from the animal rights movement to Australia’s weapons community.


Read the full article here.


Thanks to Alistair Cornell of Animal Liberation SA for bringing this story to my attention.

A recent editorial on Dissident Voice juxtaposes the fear animal researchers feel when confronted by protesters with the pain and terror animals experience in lab experiments.


Interestingly, the article was authored by Dan Kapelovitz, president of the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law; Jill Ryther, communications director of the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law; and Jaime Bryant, professor of law and faculty adviser to the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law.


UCLA not only engages in vivisection, but it was quite vocal in its support of California’s Assembly Bill 2296, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law last month. The law, which takes effect immediately, provides new penalties for those who target the homes and families of academic researchers, in particular those who use animals in their research. It makes it a misdemeanor to trespass on the home property of an academic researcher “for the purpose of chilling, preventing the exercise of, or interfering with the researcher’s academic freedom,” and it establishes a new misdemeanor offense for anyone who publishes personal information about a researcher, or his or her family, in order to encourage others to commit violent acts or threaten violence against them.


UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, himself a former animal researcher, certainly must have bristled at the article by Kapelovitz, Ryther and Bryant, who write: “Every day at places like UCLA, animals are subjected to excruciating, unrelieved pain as involuntary subjects in research experiments that have not been described or justified to the public. Researchers and the heads of experiments hide behind unsupported general claims that such research is necessary and productive for human health, but they offer no information by which the public can assess their claims as to specific experiments.”


The authors end the piece by noting that “laws like this ― whose focus is the speech of protestors ― may actually increase violent acts against researchers rather than diminish them. When lawful speech is stifled by expansive use of such laws to intimidate protestors, activists concerned about imminent and ongoing violence against animals may feel the need to resort to methods other than speech to have their voices heard.”


That seems to be precisely what is happening.

New Zealand Open Rescue has produced a five-minute documentary reviewing intensive farming in New Zealand. The documentary is targeted at MPs and calls for party policy on Animal Welfare.


The organization is also calling for separate Ministries of Animal Welfare and Agriculture, since Welfare currently falls under Agriculture.


“The fact that the Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton, is also responsible for Animal Welfare results in a severe conflict of interest on his part,” says Deirdre Sims of New Zealand Open Rescue. “Agriculture is one of our primary industries, earning New Zealand billions each year. So it comes as no surprise that a Minister in charge of both Animal Welfare and Agriculture would put economics before the interests of farmed animals.”


Deirdre says that in 2006, Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee found battery cages were illegal as they don’t allow hens to engage in natural behaviors. Jim Anderton over-ruled this decision on economic grounds.


The Codes of Welfare for pigs, layer hens and broiler (meat) chickens will be reviewed in 2009. Currently in New Zealand, these Codes permit restriction of natural behaviors. This is in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.


New Zealand Open Rescue is calling for concrete change for battery hens, pigs and broiler chickens in the 2009 Code reviews.


“While Jim Anderton claims that New Zealand has ‘much to be proud of in our standards of animal care’ and that our Animal Welfare legislation is ‘state of the art,’ as a nation we are far behind more progressive countries,” says Deirdre.


Sow stalls (also called gestation crates) are illegal in Sweden and the UK and will be soon phased out in Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark.


Sweden and Switzerland have banned the farrowing crate. Meanwhile, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and Finland have banned the battery cage. The entire European Union is phasing out conventional cages by 2012.


View New Zealand Open Rescue’s Intensive Farming Review 2008 documentary here.

Recently released from prison, animal rights activist Peter Young has offered $2,500 in legal aid to anyone who is arrested after the release of 6,000 mink from a ranch in Kaysville, Utah, on September 21.


“Raiding fur farms in the middle of the night is one of the most effective tactics we have against the undeniably cruel fur industry,” says Peter. “I hope these activists remain free to carry out other liberations, but if it proves necessary, I pledge $2,500 towards the legal fees of anyone arrested.”


Peter Young served two years in federal prison after being arrested in 2005 for his role in the release of 8,000 mink from six fur farms in South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. On the first leg of this campaign, he cased several farms in Utah.


Commenting on the media coverage in the wake of the Kaysville release, Peter refutes fur industry claims the animals do not survive in the wild, will die of heat exposure and don’t travel long distances when released.


“Ranch-raised mink have been shown to thrive in the wild,” he says. “The industry is lying to the public to distract them from the inherent cruelty of the fur trade.”


Peter is no longer carrying out fur farm raids due to law enforcement surveillance after his release from prison. He has shifted his focus to voicing support for groups like the Animal Liberation Front that still work outside the law to rescue animals.


“The activists behind the Kaysville mink rescue are compassionate freedom fighters who risked their freedom to give animals theirs. This $2,500 is my gesture of support for those working outside the law to make this world a better place.”


Peter adds, “I am intending to make further offers like this in the future when there is a significant ALF action to stimulate media interest and hopefully get to talk about the plight of animals to a large audience.”

Welcome to the official blog for Striking at the Roots by Mark Hawthorne, your source for interviews, profiles, and advice for more effective animal activism.

Get the Striking at the Roots Blog delivered to your email

    Follow me on Twitter