Opinion

The animal rights movement wrongs animals

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Rick Berman
Executive Director, Center for Union Facts
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      Rick Berman

      Rick Berman is the President of Berman and Company, a Washington, D.C.–based public affairs firm specializing in research, communications, and creative advertising.
      Berman has founded several leading non-profit organizations which are known for their fact-based research and their aggressive communications campaigns.
      A long-time consumer advocate, Rick Berman champions individual responsibility and common sense policy. He believes that democracies require an informed public from all sides.
      Berman and Company has received dozens of national awards for its creativity and cutting edge work. In the past two years alone Berman and Company has earned over 30 awards for its work in television, print, and radio advertisements and crisis communications.
      Rick Berman has appeared on all major television networks and has organized national coalitions on a variety of issues.

You’ve heard this anecdote: A boy shoots his parents dead. At his sentencing hearing, he begs the judge for mercy: “I’m an orphan, Your Honor.”

In Washington, there’s no shortage of people who talk out of both sides of their mouths, or who have the solutions to problems of their own creation. Lately, the guilty party has been the animal rights lobby, which has been oddly obsessed with — and sadly successful in — undermining animal welfare.

About five years ago, the domestic processing of horsemeat for human consumption ended after animal rights activists were able to shut down the industry. Killing horses, even those abandoned and starving, was not to be tolerated. What’s happened since then is nothing for an animal lover to cheer.

Horses are now increasingly shipped to Mexico, where they have to endure a longer trip in crammed trailers and tenuous humane-slaughter standards. Meanwhile, horse abandonment and starvation is up, in part due to the economy, and in part because one outlet for these animals was banned.

Horse rescues, meanwhile, have no vacancies. One recent study estimates that 100,000 unwanted American horses turn up every year, but the capacity of all the U.S. equine rescues and sanctuaries is only about 13,000 animals.

From an animal welfare point of view, it’s a net loss because horses are worse off. A 2011 Government Accountability Office report recommended that Congress reconsider the ban on funding for domestic horse processing.

But what do the animal rights activists behind this decrease in animal welfare have to say?

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a proponent of the domestic ban, now complains that horses are “being exported live to Canada and Mexico … suffering in this trade and meeting an ignominious demise” and cries that “transporting horses long distances … [is] fundamentally inhumane.”

In other words, HSUS is whining about a problem it perpetuated — and, of course, the donate button never seems far from these emotional appeals.

HSUS’s latest legislative push would ban the export of horses to be used for human food. That would just compound the problem of horse abandonment and starvation that’s already occurring.

But it would give HSUS even more opportunities to raise money. (It raises over $125 million a year, but despite its name gives only 1 percent of this to pet shelters.) Oddly, the one thing missing in these emotional appeals is a promise to actually build care centers for the hoard of unwanted horses.

That wouldn’t be good for business, so to speak.

Unfortunately, animal rights activists have recently extended this shameless ploy to egg and pork farms.