Talk Back: Work in Progress

By on October 20, 2009 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The victories we achieve slake our thirst for change. But with our cause, like any other that calls for such major political and cultural change, there are setbacks and frustration along the way. Your comments celebrate the forward movement, but express rightful frustration as decision-makers opt for the status quo. Today, it’s your turn to sound off.

Many of you commented last week on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of bills to strengthen penalties for poaching and dogfighting and ban the tail docking of dairy cows, but his vetoing of measures to crack down on puppy mills, halt the roadside sale of animals, and prohibit felons convicted of animal abuse from owning an animal. Among your thoughts:

I am as confused as you by our governor's vetoes. They really make no sense. I am pleased he signed some of the bills but am baffled as to why he would choose to protect felons and puppy mills. Not the first time he has done something strange. Perhaps our next governor will be more friendly towards animals. —Diane Sweeney

Wisconsin is my home state and where my dad once practiced as a dairy cow vet. We were both horrified and disgusted at the unconscionable practice of cutting off a cow's tail—for no proven good reason. The sight of deformed cows grazing in the pastures brought all sorts of horrors to mind—the pain, the flies. Arnold may not have signed the bill banning this practice in his state with total awareness, but maybe this will start the ball rolling in the other offending states. I know that most people are totally unaware of this practice and are duly horrified when it is explained to them. Publicity surrounding this bill may bring the practice to light and bring about change. We can only hope. —Janet McKenna

Thank you and HSUS so much for your tireless efforts to lobby and educate politicians that resulted in them passing these laws. Our governor is frequently very frustrating in his back and forth, makes-no-sense stand on some of these issues. We will just have to wait him out and hope for a more compassionate and forward thinking new governor to take a stand for animals in the future. Nevertheless, these victories you have won DO make a huge difference for the animals involved, and that is worth all the effort put forth by you and the amazing HSUS staff, volunteers, supporters and especially those who go undercover in dangerous and ugly places like slaughterhouses to help animals have a better life. We are blessed to have HSUS in the world! —Caroll Schwartz

You also responded strongly to my post contrasting how the animal agribusiness industry handled the call for reform in Michigan (with compromise between animal welfare and agriculture groups, and the advancing of legislation to phase out the use of veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages) and Ohio (where state agriculture leaders wouldn’t even engage in dialogue):

As a resident of Ohio I continue to feel disgust and contempt for the legislature and agricultural department in this state. Here again there is no consideration for the animals. —Claire Sadar

Thank you for this column. As you probably know, there is a great football rivalry between Ohio and Michigan. But in the area of humane agriculture, Michigan is way ahead of us. Why is it such a stretch to understand that battery cages are bad for egg-laying hens? There are countless scientific studies that will tell you this. The speed at which our governor and legislature did the Farm Bureau's bidding to get Issue 2 on the ballot was mind-boggling. It got through the legislature in two days, while we have been trying to pass meaningful puppy mill reform here for years. It makes me depressed to be an Ohio resident. Gandhi said that you can judge the greatness and moral progress of a nation by the way it treats its animals. By that measure, Ohio is looking pretty bad. —Emily

This is so upsetting; so close yet so far away for Ohio. At least Michigan got it right as far as this subject goes. I am so frustrated being from a north suburb of Chicago and hearing of this treatment. —Amanda

In response to my remarks on Ken Burns’ latest documentary series, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” and the evolution of social movements:

Wayne's blog re: the "National Parks" series reflects my exact thought as I watched the first three parts. It has always been that continued reform and perseverance are required for "moral reform" and this series is a wonderful reminder, as well as source of inspiration. Where would we be were it not for those that fought for our lands? The animals still wait. Our relationship to the animals must be, as Wayne aptly stated, "realigned." —Valerie Retter

I knew this series would be wonderful—I just didn't know how much it would touch me. If we could all just have a dash of John Muir's phenomenal passion for wilderness, we would all recognize the critical importance of preserving our national parks and other areas that continue to be threatened by man's greedy hand. We must, gradually, all come to understand that we are not removed from nature—we simply are a part of it and we can live in harmony and still prosper. In fact, we must seek this path constantly as our old ways have only proven to be destructive and detrimental to our progress as enlightened beings. All of us who care so deeply and are so passionate and committed to ending the cruel practices still carried out against animals will never, ever give up our efforts to make these necessary changes. —Susan T.

This is just beautiful, Wayne. Putting things in a historical context reminds us of the importance of persevering. I read your blog every day. Many times the things you document are almost unbearably painful to look at, but you have a way of inspiring your readers to keep up the good fight, and for that I am so grateful. —Tai

Excellent points, particularly the one about who the world remembers. Nobody remembers the driver who told Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus, but everyone remembers Rosa Parks. By the way, no one knows or will remember the army of us willingly nameless people who send money and/or write letters on behalf of our fellow creatures, but the world will become a better place because of our collective efforts. Let's feel those cosmic thank yous from the animals we help, and let's continue the fight for their rights. Onward. —Ron Stillman

And about a guest report I posted in September, on developments in alternatives to animal testing:

Hearing that a breakthrough is being made in research is so wonderful. Billions of animals will be freed from endless months or years of torture, poking, and prodding. This is certainly good news!!! It's times like this when I know that the world is moving in a good direction. —Jana Hardison

It's inspiring to hear that the protections lab animals have in the U.K. might be finally making their way to the U.S. I hope that it will start to happen sooner rather than later. —Sara N.

Animal Research and Testing, Companion Animals, Farm Animals

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