25. SIT, FIDO. DOWN. ROLL OVER. GOOD BOY. NOW DIE
Every once in a while, radical animal rights activists
commit an act of protest which earns the media attention. But rarely do the media
publicize the issues which drive the activists to action.
According to the
Congressional Office of Technological Assessment, 17 to 22 million animals are
used yearly for testing in research laboratories. Animal rights activists believe
the figure is closer to 70 million. Animals have been used to determine what the
potential adverse effects would be to humans if exposed to explosives, chemicals,
binary poison gases, radiation, infectious bacterial and viral diseases, and,
of course, cosmetics.
Dogs, primates, rats, cats, mice, and rabbits are
not the only animals being cruelly treated in the U.S. Now the mistreatment of
exotic animals is also being reported.
Because the meat of exotic animals,
like deer, elk, and buffalo, is leaner than commercial meat and without antibiotics,
it has become a popular menu item in trendy East Coast restaurants. Venison consumption
jumped from 1,000 pounds a week in 1985 to 4,000 pounds a week in 1986 in New
Animals reported slaughtered in 1986 in North America included 9,000
bison, 5,000 caribou, countless thousands of deer, and untold numbers of wild
boar, elk, llamas, and water buffalo. Before these animals were killed, many of
them lived in stacked cages, barely with enough room to turn around in.
Australia, three to five million kangaroos are killed yearly. Marian Newman of
the International Wildlife Coalition described this slaughter as "one of
the most barbaric commercial wildlife massacres in the world." Their hides
are typically used for athletic shoes, dress shoes, purses, belts, cattle whips
and novelty items. According to Dean Wilkinson, legislative director for Greenpeace,
in the U.S., Adidas, Puma, and Florsheim continue to make kangaroo-leather shoes.
In 1987, the corporate owners of three California Bay area pet stores
agreed to pay a $150,000 settlement rather than risk a higher jury verdict
for having allegedly sold sick animals, beat some animals to death,
and practiced veterinarian medicine without a license. Unfortunately
this was not an isolated case. Particularly offensive is the exotic
bird trade which sees between 50,000 and 100,000 birds enter the U.S.
illegally every year. But perhaps the most offensive thing about pet
shops is not their greed and cruelty but their superfluousness. With
more than 20 million unadopted dogs and cats -- many of them purebreds
-- being put to death every year in the nation's tax-supported shelters,
why do we need a pet industry?
nation of people who sometimes seem to care more for their pets than for one another
might be tempted to do something about animal cruelty if they knew more about
it. The issues that force animal rights activists to take to the streets surely
deserve better coverage by our media.
THE ANIMAL'S AGENDA,
"Marsupial Wars -- Australia's Shame," by Peter A. Rawlinson, April
1987, pp 8-14, 48; "The Pentagon's Secret War on Animals," by Holly
Metz, June 1987, pp 22-29, 48; "Exotics for Slaughter," by Merritt Clifton,
July/August 1987, pp 41-43; "The Pet Shop Scam," by Jack Rosenberg,
December 1987, pp 12-15, 19-20.