Michael Vick, PETA and the Canine Victims: Rehab or Destroy?

March 12, 2008

The New York Times has a piece today that highlights the difference between groups that define themselves as animal rights activists and animal welfare groups, “Vick Case Exposes Rift Among Animal-Rights Advocates.”

PETA’s position is that the pit bulls that were trained to fight by the Bad Newz Kennels financed by Michael Vick, the former Atlanta Falcons star quarterback should be killed. As the Times says, “The folks at Best Friends Animal Society argued that the fighting dogs had been forced to lead brutal lives and should not receive death sentences.”

PETA says Best Friends is “an expensive Camelot.” Could they be more wrong? I don’t think so.

“These dogs have been through very traumatic experiences. These dogs have been abused by humans, yet they still love us, they still look to us for guidance. They still want us to be a part of their lives and they’re happy to see us every single day,” said John Garcia, Assistant Manager of Dog Care at Best Friends Animal Society.

I am not a fan or a supporter of PETA and believe they throw more heat than light on any issue they engage. I do admire the consistency of their view as ‘animal rights’ activists “. . .animals are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or any other purpose. . .”

However, I believe that their’s is an extremist position that, if it were more widely understood, would not be supported by most Americans.

There was a great exposé on PETA done by Penn & Teller in their Showtime series, Bullshit and I recommend seeking it out if you’d like a primer on the arguments against PETA.

Taken to it’s logical conclusion, the world population would have to turn vegan, (a diet that bans meat, fish, milk, & eggs); no one would be allowed any sort of animal pet; all hunting and fishing would be banned; the use of wool, silk and leather for clothing would be banned (in addition to their well-known condemnation of wearing fur) and most medical research would have to be stopped to satisfy the constraints desired by PETA.

PETA founder and co-director Ingrid Newkirk believes that pet ownership is equivalent to slavery. I find this comparison incredibly offensive in a world where actual human slavery and trafficking still exist. My two Labs, Huxley and Luna also take issue with this definition.

She also thinks the production of both milk and honey involves the ‘exploitation’ of cows and bees. And, of course, she’s right, but I think most people would reject her use of the loaded term exploitation to describe the process. As far as developing drugs to battle Alzheimer’s Disease or the production of insulin for diabetics is concerned, her anti-science bias is crystal clear:

“If abandoning animal research means that there are some things we cannot learn, then so be it. . .We have no basic right…not to be harmed by those natural diseases we are heir to.”

One can agree that there are horrific abuses of animals world wide without accepting PETA’s simplistic black and white, good or evil model. Just as one can be a supporter of going ‘green’ without endorsing the eco-terrorism of groups like the Earth Liberation Front or support animal rights without endorsing the Animal Liberation Front.

Just to be clear, the ELF has been designated a terrorist organization by the FBI and has received direct financial support from PETA. They gave $1,500 to the ELF in 2001 and $45,200 to the Rodney Coronado Support Committee. Rodney Coronado was convicted of arson in federal court for the 1992 firebombing of a Michigan State University research lab.

Remember that as a non-profit organization your tax dollars help support PETA whether you donate directly to them or not. Should an organization that supports violence have their tax-exempt status yanked? I think so. But then again, I’m a ‘slave’ owner. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’ve got to go feed my ‘slaves’ their kibble.


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