MOVEMENT WATCH is an update on recent and current campaigns in the animal advocacy movement, with brief, rights-based analyses. MOVEMENT WATCH does not provide a full overview of any listed advocacy group’s work. Campaigns and news items are selected for their legal and social significance.
Captive Wildlife Safety Act: $3 Million Tax Dollars a Year Going Where?
Last December, George W. Bush signed the Captive Wildlife Safety Act into law. Since then, misconceptions about this law have proliferated on an international scale. England’s Green Consumer Guide reported the law under the misleading heading “Exotic pets banned in U.S.” So-called exotic pets are not banned by this legislation, which addresses interstate commerce, not ownership. The Humane Society of the United States, which supported the law, stated that it “would not ban all private ownership of prohibited species; rather, it would outlaw the commerce of these animals for use as pets.” Sarah Tyack of the International Fund for Animal Welfare expressed approval for the law, stating, “At least now shipping wild animals, like tigers, across state lines will be restricted.”
But would it?
The law, which adjusts the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 “to further the conservation of certain wildlife species,” specifies that the only animals to whom it applies are big cats — namely, “any lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, or cougar species, or any hybrid of such a species.” Most of these cats (tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars and Eastern cougars) are already on the U.S. Endangered Species List, and given that the Lacey Act already prohibits animals barred by the Endangered Species Act from being sold across state lines unless the parties obtain are permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), any protection afforded by this revision is dubious at best.
As passed, the law exempts imports, transport or sale of the cats by anyone “licensed or registered, and inspected, by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or any other federal agency with respect to that species” — which would include the FWS. Licensees from the American Zoological Association, the Department of Agriculture, and the FWS are exempt from the ban, and the same loopholes used now for interstate transference of endangered species will continue to be used to transport big cats. Prior to passage of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, exempted parties would have had to obtain a special permit from the FWS to take cats listed as “endangered” across state lines. Now, against any groups who attempt to end the import and ownership of free-living animals in their state or local area, the federal Captive Wildlife Safety Act will be likely held up, incorrectly, as indicating that federal legislation already addresses their concerns.
The Captive Wildlife Safety Act, it appears, was yet another legislative “slam-dunk” for animal charities — one that accomplishes little if anything for nonhuman animals.
European Cosmetic Industry Takes Tentative Steps
The European parliament has banned the manufacture and sale of all cosmetics and ingredients tested on animals. The ban, slated to take effect in 2009, forbids testing both finished beauty products and their ingredients on animals in the European Union, and outlaws the sale of products and ingredients tested on animals elsewhere. Some manufacturers say the ban could spark a legal dispute over trade with countries such as Japan and the United States, exporters to the European Union. The leading trade association for the personal care products industry in the U.S. (the Cosmetics, Toiletries, and Fragrance Association, or CTFA) sees the European Union as a $43 million cosmetics market. Already, France — home to such companies as L’Oreal — has approached the European Court of Justice demanding the ban be overturned on legal and technical grounds.
The legislation itself has a troubling loophole. It permits three tests — relating to toxicity and fertility — to continue until 2013 if alternatives cannot be found. Those tests include experiments in which nonhuman animals are forced to ingest ingredients to assess their toxicity, the effect they have on the reproductive systems of animals, and how toxins spread through the body.
No Ethical Treatment of Hamburgers
In November 2003, humane-treatment advocates were “thrilled to announce” that the U.S. Senate had passed legislation to prohibit the United State Department of Agriculture from “funding the slaughter of downed animals for human food” as part of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill. 2003 was the year of the first confirmed case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (often called “mad cow disease”) in the United States. Representatives from a sanctuary in New York stated that “the USDA is putting the U.S. food supply at risk of mad cow disease by allowing downed animals to be slaughtered for human consumption” and pointed out that “[t]he animal who tested positive for mad cow disease was a downed cow.” Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States, praising the idea of a legislative ban on the use of flesh from the disabled cows, opined, “I do believe that this can restore consumer confidence in the government’s regulatory authority as it stops one of the worst abuses that occurs in the modern livestock production system.”
In early 2004, the Humane Society announced that “[t]he discovery of mad cow disease in Washington state called for swift governmental action to restore consumer confidence in the U.S. beef industry.” It was clear that humane-treatment advocates understood that governmental action would now inevitably occur, and that it would occur not in the interest of cows, but rather but so the sale of nonhuman animals for food would be able to continue. Yet the Humane Society depicted the government’s reactions as a victory, for “after a decade of working for the humane treatment of ‘downers’— farm animals too weak or diseased to stand,” praise was now due to the Department of Agriculture’s decision to finally ban such animals from the food supply.
Humane-treatment advocates also pointed out that it is not possible to transport disabled cows humanely. The implied message is that humane transport is normally possible, as long as input is accepted from the humane community. It defies common sense to think nonhuman animals could be handled “humanely” at all when they are being turned into hamburgers. There will always be physically ill and suffering animals in the $27 billion dollar cattle flesh industry. Keeping such individuals out of the human food supply does not make animal agriculture healthy, and, more important, it does not make it ethical.
Vegetarian CEO Asked to Stop Selling Ducks
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, recently announced plans to become “the first major grocery chain to adopt humane animal treatment standards.” Because “Whole Foods customers don’t like the idea of ducks whose bills are cut off,” the company became the first major grocery chain to announce that ducks will be treated more humanely before slaughter. It may cause prices to increase slightly, but Whole Foods customers tend to be affluent. Brand consultant John Lister indicated that the move was a good business decision because animal welfare is now “on everyone’s radar screen” and “Whole Foods will now be seen as doing the right thing.”
Yet Whole Foods still sells plenty of animal products, so Friends of Animals wrote to the company’s CEO, stating that “Whole Foods is known for taking the high road and selling nothing artificial — ever. The time is right to sell nothing from a formerly living, feeling being — ever.” Joan Dunayer, author of Animal Equality, had already penned a similar letter to John Mackey.
Mackey, who is a pure vegetarian for ethical reasons, will not be eating any ducks. The letters challenged Mackey to apply the same ethical standards in business. Wrote Friends of Animals, “We look forward to the day we can tell our members that shopping at Whole Foods supports the most socially-aware and advanced marketing strategy imaginable: the first major vegan market in the Americas. What welcome news that would be for the world’s poor, for the animals, and for the environment.”
Update on London’s Annual Vegan Festival
As we reported in the previous issue, a good vegan fair, like a good vegan restaurant, has the potential to change the way people think about their diets and it does so in the most enticing way: by offering people of all ages wholesome and delicious food. And for anyone spending the Fourth of July in Britain, the next Vegan Festival will be held at Kensington Town Hall in London on that date, which is a Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The venue is considerably larger than last year’s hall, and we congratulate event co-coordinators Robin Lane and Alison Coe of the Campaign Against Leather and Fur, as well as leading sponsors The Vegan Society & Veggies, for the past successes that have led to this year’s expansion. Admission is £1.50 and free for children under 16.
New York Clinic for Cats and Dogs Shuts Its Doors
The Have-A-Heart Spay and Neuter Clinic in midtown Manhattan has discontinued its services. The clinic was opened in October of 1996 by The Fund for Animals, and, with the support of PETsMART Charities, claimed about 5000 neutering procedures annually. This was unquestionably valuable work in the heart of New York City. The question now is: How will Manhattan residents continue to obtain the necessary low-cost procedures that they have come to expect?
A letter from Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals, explaining the closure, stated that “[t]he Board of Directors of The Fund for Animals has made the decision to focus our efforts and our limited resources on advocacy programs to stop animal cruelty and hands-on programs to care for abused and abandoned wildlife at our sanctuaries.” Markarian added that “there are many animal organizations and shelters which concentrate on companion animals” and that the Fund would get the most “bang for our buck” through a “focus on the animals who are too often forgotten: pigeons, crows, rats, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, pigs, mink, deer, chickens, bears, and others.” Markarian’s letter states that The Fund for Animals “spent millions of dollars” operating the clinic. The Fund for Animals listed $20 million as end-of-year net assets in 2002.
Friends of Animals (FoA) was not notified in advance of the closure, but has been handling telephone calls from people who have explained that they had tried to call the Fund to set up appointments but were told to call FoA instead. Sandy Lewis, director of FoA’s New York office, stated in January: “We were not prepared for this, but we have coached staff members on managing extra volume on our spay-neuter hotline, and are treating this as an emergency priority so that the dogs and cats get the necessary appointments.”