Americans stood up and took notice last month when PETA filed a lawsuit on behalf of five whales at Sea World. Some, I am sure, found the idea that animals are entitled to the same constitutional rights as the rest of us to be preposterous. I was unable to get my mind around the idea that the 14th amendment, the same one that put an end to slavery, was intended to forbid our using animals for food or even entertainment.
With an open mind, I picked up and perused some literature on the question. Every state in the United States and the District of Columbia has a law prohibiting cruelty to animals. These laws do not give animals rights, but do afford some legal protection. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the Federal Law that regulates research facilities, state and privaterun shelters and pounds, transportation of animals, and stolen animals. The AWA has been criticized by animal rights groups because it excludes birds, rats and mice bred for research, and animals raised for food or fiber, as well as all cold-blooded animals.If PETA, the ASPCA and animal rights activists have their way, pets, fur, leather and Ringling Brothers circus would be outlawed. And we would all have veganism rammed down our throats instead of red meat,because using animals for food would be against the law.
Earlier this year parts of southern Somalia was hit with famine. It threatens to spread further if nothing is done to prevent it. Kenya and Ethiopia are also severely affected by the crisis, with millions in need of food and water. Insufficient rains created drought conditions throughout the Horn of Africa — destroying crops and killing livestock. Malnutrition and disease are on the rise as families travel long distances in search of food. Record high food prices, internal conflicts, and insecurity in the region worsen the situation. The most severe drought in decades threatens the lives of more than 11 million people — especially young children.
In response to the situation, and after conducting a disaster assessment, one animal rights group went to Kenya to provide emergency nutrition to about 20,000 animals. The Group World Society for the Protection ofAnimals (WSPA) reports on its website that “Over the four day operation at five different watering holes, all of the animals seen were de-wormed and received multivitamins and mineral blocks to boost their immune systems. Medical care was also given to sick or injured animals.
The literature is brimming with heroic stories of one animal group or the other trotting the globe to save animals in distress. The upside down value system driving their misplaced priorities sacrifices human lives for those camels and goats. I learned that there are over 100 million working animals in the developing world and many of these suffer with malnutrition, exhaustion, disease or injury in the course of theirworking lives. So there is work to be done. Does it matter that right here at home there are 16 million children at risk of hunger every day? Hunger among children has become so widespread that the New York Times highlighted the problem in its November 13th edition. 3.5 million Children die each year of acute malnutrition.
Should it matter that, according to the Hunger Project, 925 million people do not have enough to eat — more than the populations of USA, Canada and the European Union combined? Should it matter that in the very region where we lavish vitamins on animals, 50 percent of pregnant women lack proper maternal care, resulting in hundreds of thousands of
maternal deaths annually from childbirth? A third of all childhood death in sub-Saharan Africa is caused by hunger. How many of those might have been spared to lead productive lives had the WSPA launched a four day rescue operation? “This is the worst food crisis of the 21st Century and we are seriously concerned that large numbers of lives could soon be lost,” said Jane Cocking, humanitarian director for Oxfam International.
According to United Nations and the World Health Organization, of the 925 million people worldwide who are considered undernourished, there are 19 million children affected by the most deadly form of hunger, severe acute malnutrition. Instead, Humane Society (HSUS) spends millions on programs that seek to cripple the meat and dairy producers; eliminate the use of animals in biomedical research labs; phase out pet breeding, zoos, and circus animal acts; and demonize hunters as blood thirsty lunatics. HSUS spends more than $5 million each year on travel expenses alone, just keeping its multi-national agenda going. It has assets of $162 million.
And while children go hungry, PETA sends companies a list of guidelines to follow, including giving rats and mice proper nesting materials and toys to keep them busy. - Chad Sandusky, director of toxicology and research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said recently “I used to see rats and think, 'Eue”.' Now I see rats and think, 'Those rats have probably got a family somewhere.' Animal rights activists have condemned the US military for blowing up live pigs to test body armor, USA Today reports. Military officials say the tests provided valuable information on the relationship between body armor and brain injury. But the activists say the pig-blasting program caused unnecessary animal suffering for questionable results.
Are we barbarous and inconsiderate when we use Raid to rid our homes of insect pests? When we call the exterminator are we forgetting that rodents feel pain, as well as ourselves? (Which according to PETA is the only thing of significance?) Should we feel guilt when we give of teenager a Chihuahua for his birthday because we are enslaving it or using for our own entertainment? Do the police tyrannize canines when they train them into ready obedience, and lead them about to track and apprehend criminals? Are we merely unthinking spectators when we cheer a favorite horse at the Kentucky derby?
The Humane Society of the United States has been working with legislators to change policy governing the treatment of everything from dairy cattle to sharks. Policy changes in recent years have made the California a U.S. leader in animal welfare legislation. Not long ago the state enacted a statute mandating more space for chickens. One voter, describing democracy as messy, said that the irony of "No" on gay marriage and "YES" for roomier cages for chickens reminded him that: "Several years ago there was a story of a woman jogging in southern California who was killed by a mountain lion. The fund for the slain cougar's orphaned pups received more donations than the fund for the woman's orphaned children." The HSUS says the landslide victory for Proposition 2, which gave laying chickens more room in cages, awakened lawmakers to citizens' passion for animals.
Another piece of California legislation was thrown out earlier this month by the US Supreme Court. The law in question prohibits the slaughter of non-ambulatory pigs, sheep, goats or cattle; these are animals that can't walk, because of disease, injury or other causes. Since then, the California legislature has passed or changed 30 laws to improve the lives of animals — from sharks to dairy cattle, even animals hunted for sport. Animal Rights means that humans are forbidden to hunt or eat animals, and are forbidden to use animals for ANY reason. At the same time we have no way of preventing cougars from hunting and killing people or other animals from exploiting other animals for their own needs, be it to win a mate or satisfy their hunger. When it comes to Animal Rights, George Orwell said it best in Animal Farm: "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”.