If you expected that new laws, police spying and government repression around the world would cause animal activism to abate, you’re not alone. The businesses that rely on animal exploitation to line their pockets have gone so far as to support the suspension of civil rights in order to keep their vivisection labs, fur farms and factory farms safe from interference by animal-rights advocates.
Yet even with the prison terms given to some animal activists in recent years (see here and here), activism is on the rise. An article published this week in New Scientist warns that activist strategies that originated in the United Kingdom have spread to the United States and Europe.
Though they’ve gone underground in some cases, and their methods can be extreme, animal campaigners have indeed been active. Crackdowns on activists in Austria, the UK and the US have only seemed to escalate the level of animal-rights activism. The open rescue model of activism, for example ― in which activists sneak into factory farms to rescue animals ― was once practiced primarily in Australia, New Zealand and the US. But recently, activists in Spain and the Czech Republic have embraced this non-violent, direct action tactic to liberate animals. And after the SHAC 7 activists were sentenced in 2006, campaigners dedicated animal liberations to them; the same occurred in the UK SHAC case, with activists showing their solidarity by staging peaceful demos.
Of course, animal exploiters will continue to fight the animal-rights movement. In an interview with the Cattle Network last year, Steve Kopperud of Policy Directions, Inc., which lobbies on behalf of agribusiness, had this to say about dealing with activists and animal rights groups: “Processors and retailers who find themselves the target of public relations blackmail or worse, or companies who have adopted an attitude toward the animal rights movement of ‘give them something and make them go away,’ we must provide to them the public support and help they need if they’re to make the tough decision to tell the animal rightists to go pound salt. We must join with them in pushing back a movement that has a single, clear goal: To put us out of business. You will never placate an enemy that seeks your demise, especially an enemy which has the patience — and resources — to wait you out.”