In response to animal rights groups that say animals should have as many rights as humans and that using them in scientific experiments to find cures for diseases is cruel, nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas has a comeback.
"If that was all there was to it, then People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA], the Humane Society of the U.S. [HSUS] and their fellow neighers and cluckers could be dismissed as just one more interest group trying to win attention from Congress and the press," Thomas said. "But these people have condoned violence to advance their cause."
Thomas isn't making any of this up. In testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee on March 12, FBI Director Louis Freeh noted the extent of special-interest terrorist activity. Freeh cited as one example the Feb. 2, 1992 torching of the mink research facility at Michigan State University. Rodney Coronado, a member of the Animal Liberation Front, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 57 months in prison. PETA sent $45,200 to Coronado's "support committee," which, according to Thomas, was a sum 15 times greater than what PETA spent on animal shelters nationwide in all of that year.
Thomas also points to the Justice Department, which says there have been more than 313 instances of animal rights violence in the United States. This has led to a research-cost increase of between 10 percent and 20 percent, much of it funded by taxpayers.
Says Thomas, "While PETA and the other groups loudly condemn scientific research involving animals [90 percent of which are rodents, according to Americans for Medical Progress, a pro-research foundation], they spend a pittance on animal shelters. Eleven million animals are destroyed annually for lack of facilities. Yet PETA spent less than $3,955 of its $12 million in fiscal 1995 and about $6,100 of its $10.9 million in fiscal 1996 for shelter programs, according to its nonprofit tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The HSUS does not operate a single shelter, despite a $40 million budget.
"Animal rights groups want us to believe all research involving …