Dog breeders and owners can no longer write off the animal rights movement as just a bunch of wackos no one takes seriously. It is a movement with influence in government, the media, and public opinion, and the people who make up that movement have your dogs in the crosshairs.
Different levels of involvement give this fanatical movement its strength. At the top are the true believers: the relatively few who believe that people should have no contact with animals except from afar.
“In a perfect world, all other than human animals would be free of human interference, and dogs and cats would be part of the ecological scheme.” PeTA’s Statement on Companion Animals.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) says simply, “Animals for the most part just need to be left alone.” (Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2008)
Further down the pyramid are the animal rightists who believe that it is okay to have pets, but that most people are bad owners and should not be allowed to own them. These are the “guardian” proponents, who really believe our dogs are literally as important as our children and should be granted similar rights.
The Guardian Campaign website offers the following pledge:
I pledge to: Call myself and others “guardian” rather than “owner”
Make a lifetime commitment to my animal companions
Adopt animals only never buy or sell
Spay or neuter my animal companions for their health and to prevent overpopulation
Provide nutritious food, fresh water and daily exercise for my animal companions
Care for the emotional needs of my animal companions
Refer to my animal companions as “he” or “she,” not “it”
The bottom layers of the pyramid are composed of thousands of people who love animals and buy into different pieces of the animal rights philosophy with no real understanding of the end goal. (If we spay and neuter all pets, how long will it be before there are no pets?) Among these animal rights supporters are good-hearted people who think of themselves as animal welfarists, send $19.99 a month to HSUS to “help those poor dogs and cats in the commercials,” never realizing that HSUS does not provide hands-on care for animals and that their money is going into the pockets of executives, lawyers, and lobbyists. Each of them buys into one or more of the “mini-causes” that HSUS promotes: no fur, no puppy mills, no tethering, adopt-don’t-buy, no greyhound racing, stop baby seal clubbing, no Iditarod, no animal product use (veganism), no hunting, no animals in circuses, no dogfighting, and on and on. Some of these are causes no one would argue with, but they are used to pull on the heartstrings and convince people to pour millions of dollars into the HSUS fundraising machine.
Among these thousands are celebrities whose agents tell them to find a noncontroversial “cause” to gain more publicity for themselves, and they think, “Everyone loves animals! I’ll support the Humane Society or PeTA!” They have no clue as to the philosophy that underlies these organizations. And some of them donate thousands and thousands of dollars into the animal rights warchest. Rescuers, shelter employees, pet owners, even some breeders fall into the animal rights trap with no knowledge whatever that they are contributing to the eradication of pets in our society.
Animal rights is a tough target. Oppose them and they call you cold-hearted and only out to “make money on the backs of your animals.” Some of us are so appalled at the lies and injustices of the movement that we just throw up our hands and give up. Others decide to “lie low” and hope no one notices us.
Neither of these approaches will save our dogs. If we don’t fight for them, who will?