The Roar over Animal Rights

By Burke, Robert R.; Hall, Gwendolyn F. | Security Management, September 1990 | Go to article overview

The Roar over Animal Rights


Burke, Robert R., Hall, Gwendolyn F., Security Management


THE ROAR OVER ANIMAL RIGHT

RADICAL ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS NUMBER OVER 100. Although animal rights organizations primarily target the research community, any industry or institution involved in food or animal products in any way has the potential to be a target.

In describing the movement and its history, we must keep in mind an important distinction--that between the animal welfare movement and the animal rights movement. Animal welfare people do not use violence. They do not engage in break-ins or fire bombings to prevent the use of animals in research. Over the last 10 or 12 years, their concern has been in two major areas. The first is in passing laws to prevent the use of animals obtained from pounds. Their second major thrust has been to improve the care of animals kept in research institutions. Through a combination of peaceful methods and skillful lobbying, they have been successful in both endeavors.

Universities and most large companies have developed public policy statements on the use and care of reseach animals. Part of the statement by my company reads: "While there is a considerable effort to develop alternatives to animal research and testing, animals will continue to be essential for the development of products which improve the quality of life. . . . Although humane treatment is primarily a moral and ethical responsibility, it is important to remember that scientific results rely on well-treated and well-cared-for animals. . . . Therefore, while the use of animals will continue to be necessary, Monsanto is totally committed to the assurance that all animals are treated with the utmost respoect and care."

This statement may be similar to your own. If your organization does not have such a statement, recommend that one be developed. No sane and caring person would argue with the idea of humane treatment for animals. Likewise, no one in industry wants to use someone's lost dog to test a new drug. The animal welfare movement has enjoyed success because its goals were reasonable and made sense. Because of this, their ideas found public appeal.

Our concern is not with the animal welfare movement. It is with the terminal rights movement. Briefly speaking, the philosophical difference between the animal welfare movement and the animal rights movement is that the former insists on clean cages, while the latter demands there be no cages at all and is willing to burn your building to enforce its point of view.

No one among us would argue about clean cages. However, when we start talking about no cages at all, one has to ponder what exactly that means. The London Times expressed our society's relation to animals eloquently. According to the times, "Everything you swallow. . . . Everything you wear. . . . Everything you touch. . . . It is not just a question of cosmetics, or medicines, or pesticides. The safety of your life--no matter what you do or where you do it --is built upon a foundation of animal sacrifice."

The Times went on to say that only by eating grass and living naked on a mountaintop could we manage to escape the benefits of animal experimentation. The animal rights movement is led by humans who have made the executive decision for society that all creatures are created equal, which is to say the moral and legal status usually reserved for humans also applies to anything that crawls, flies, or swims. They seek to prohibit the use of animals for food, clothing, fur, pleasure, transportation, and sport. And in particular, they oppose the use of animals for scientific and medical research.

It is critical for the security professional to understand this philosophy. If anything that flies, crawls, or swims is equal to humans, then an otherwise reasonable person can play host to a whole series of ideas that can rationalize the destruction of property, the theft of research animals, and the risk of injury or death to humans. …

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