Most pet owners do not understand what animal rights is really about or it's true agenda. Many use rights and welfare as if they mean the same thing but they don't. Basically animal rights has the goal of eliminating all animal use from society. This means no more pets, no more breeding, no eating, no zoos aquariums, or circuses, no animal acts or exhibitions, no nothing.
To make things a little more confusing some groups and individuals who support extreme animal rights philosophy will say they are only for "welfare". Yet these people will be against animal related businesses, farming, eating meat, breeding, etc clearly making them pro-rights. Please review the following information so you the pet owner can better understand animal rights and animal welfare and how it impacts you. Support of animal rights ultimately means you the pet owner will no longer be able to own pets, your selection of pets will be limited to only shelter animals, no more breeders or pet stores, or purebreds as animal rights activists prefer either no pets or only mutts.
The official position of the House Rabbit Society on the breeding of rabbits is this: We do not, and can not, align ourselves with rabbit breeders, rabbit exhibitors, or other individuals or groups who exploit rabbits in order to profit, and who contribute to the devastating problem of rabbit overpopulation in this country. This includes individuals who breed rabbits for pets, for meat, as lab animals, or as show animals.
If there is ever a day when rabbits are no longer being killed at shelters, dumped in parks, or left on roadsides to die, and when there are more homes for rabbits than there are rabbits to fill them, then I'm sure our position on the breeding of pet rabbits will change.
As to breeders who breed rabbits for meat or for laboratory use, obviously our position on those cruel and exploitive activities will never change. As to ARBA, as I understand it, this organization supports breeders of all types, and the use and exploitation of rabbits for meat as well as for pets, so again, this is not an organization that we could ever support.
HRS Director of Education
Note the HR$ website has added an "Activist page" sometime mid to late 2000's it contains a similar statement on rabbit breeding.
Read these quotes from the internet and judge for yourself. These statements are pulled directly from the internet from mailing lists, newsgroups, and e-mail, as well as magazine articles.
The Animal Rights Agenda (from various Animal Rights publications):
"Until There Are None"- "Until there are no animals in shelters. Until there are no animals in medical research. Until there are no animals for food or clothing. Until there are no pets in homes. Until there are no more 4-H animal clubs. Until there are no horses that are ridden, shown, or otherwise used by human beings. Until there are NONE. If that means extinction of a breed or species of animal, so be it. If that means destroying other people's property, endangering other people's lives, hurting or killing other people's animals, so be it."
"Animal Welfare or humane organizations seek to improve the treatment and well being of animals. Animal rights organizations seek to end the use and ownership of animals." Daniel T Oliver, Alternatives in Philanthropy July 1997
"I love rabbits as much as anyone and don't want to be without them, but I'd be willing to put aside my personal selfishness if it meant the end of all suffering of rabbits." HRS educator
"Yes some breeds of rabbits were originally bred for meat or fur, and still are. This is not, however, something HRS people like." HRS educator
"All was done in the spirit of fun, as NTRS does not condone breeding rabbits for the purpose of selecting traits conforming to a human set standard of perfection." North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary in NTRS newsletter
"We believe that rabbits deserve the same status in American society as dogs, cats and other companion animals, and as such are not ours to hunt or trap, wear as fur, eat, experiment upon or sell for profit." Bunny Heaven owned by 2 HRS educators
"For a long time, HRJ editors made an effort not to call our companion animals pets, because it's sort of a subservient term. Why? In this culture, most people think of "pets" as being there to serve the human's needs." "A word we do not use is master to refer to a rabbit's person; that truly is subservient and old-fashioned." Beth Woolbright 'Communicating with Words' HRJ
KYHRS site: "We can end the companion animal overpopulation crisis. We can ease the suffering of farm animals, but only if we act and act now! Educate others about the ugly side of the dairy and beef industries, the brutality in the fur industry, the barbaric and hidden side of horse slaughter trade and modern day slavery of zoos, marine parks, and circuses."
''It's worse at Easter but it's a year-round problem,'' Woolbright says. ''Rabbits are the only animal people treat as meat, pet, fur, seasonal icon and laboratory specimen. Our culture looks at rabbits and says, 'We can treat them any way we want.' '' HRS educator
"Frankly, and I am sorry if I offend anyone, I have not met a breeder yet whom I consider responsible concerning the pet trade, research industry or meat/fur trade." rabbit rescuer
Anything with an * is From The Animal Rights Agenda. Following that will be quotes from rabbit rights supporters to compare and contrast.
*1) Abolish Animal research
"I was thinking an explanation of this [rabbits used in medical research] could be helpful in discouraging this practice when we talk to others about how rabbits have been mistreated." HRS educator
"Is there an animal rights newsgroup? I have a fun way to harass companies that test on animals that I want to share." HRS educator
*3) Establish vegetarianism as the standard Western diet.
"Enjoy a gourmet vegetarian dinner and good conversation with other rabbit people." HRS Tenth Anniversary Dinner ad
"These people (HRS members) would be as repelled by the idea of eating a rabbit as would most Americans by the idea of eating a cat or dog for dinner." Margo DeMello HRS education Director, Washington Post Letter 1997
"How you can condone eating these rabbits is beyond me." HRS chapter manager
"When I see them I think "This must be what it is like to be treated like food." I think of the 10 million animals killed on this planet every hour who are nothing but food for humans." Julie Smith HRS chapter manager from WIHRS newsletter. Later in the same article: "The article celebrated all of the exotic animals, including rabbits, that are now available for human consumption. Compared to humans, that snake seemed a relatively friendly fellow." Article about the chapter's "rescue" of rabbits being used to feed a snake at a pet store. WIHRS newsletter: "Alert" that some restaurants were serving rabbits and that the chapter wanted all the names of area restaurants doing it so they could list them in the newsletter and send them to national HRS for their list.
WIHRS newsletter: "Soon, the American Rabbit Breeders Assoc. will be holding its convention in Madison. The Wisconsin HRS urges all our members to boycott this event. Thousands of unwanted rabbits are put to death in shelters across the country every year, simply because there are not enough caring homes to go around. Don't support those who make the problem worse."
Ohio HRS: "Our membership may vary in their opinions on eating meat, but we all recognize that our rabbits are companion animals like dogs and cats. We will publish a list of restaurants in Ohio that include rabbit on their menu".
"Cleveland's KeKa, previously listed in this space, has discontinued the item from their menu due to the intervention of an HRS member!"
"As a service to our members, we are compiling lists of restaurants that you will want to avoid, which will appear in our local newsletters." Marinell Harriman founder HRS from HRJ "Just Good Business, Right?"
KYHRS web site: "Whether you volunteer for a spay/neuter organization, provide quality foster care for your local rescue group, become a vegetarian, say "NO" to wearing fur or boycott companies who conduct animal testing, you will make a difference."
"Most breeders call that culling/conking I call it [approved method of euthanasia by AVMA] inhumane and murderous treatment." HRS chapter manager
*6) Transfer animal welfare enforcement from the Dept. of AG to an agency created to protect animals.
"Harriman said that the HRS wants to see rabbits classified as companion animals, not livestock. She said, 'We want them to benefit from the same humane protection as other companion animals.' Rabbits Annual 1998-1999 What this would mean is rabbits would no longer be allowed for human consumption.
*10) Discourage any further breeding of companion animals and abolish commerce in domestic and exotic animals for the pet trade. "We strongly discourage any further breeding of companion animals, including pedigreed or purebred dogs and cats." From Animals' Agenda magazine 1987
Etherbun mailing list owned by HRS educators states in their charter that breeders are to blame for "overpopulation" and says breeders use irresponsible breeding practices which result in "genetic poverty" in rabbits.
"The breeding of rabbits goes against everything we're trying to do." HRS educator
"And, until there are no more being euthanized at the shelters all across the country, there should be no more rabbits bred." HRS chapter manager
"Our national convention last year was boycotted! I don't know if the HRS sanctioned that boycott, but the HRS was associated with it." breeder on APR
"When we get every bunny placed, only then is it time to breed more." HRS educator
"As I understand it, the board of directors of the company [of Petco] voted unanimously to cease carrying rabbits after their representatives met with HRS reps." post on APR
"I do not, absolutely do not believe in what the breeders are doing. I do not believe in the meat, fur or research industries, nor do I believe in breeding rabbits or other animals and then having to "cull" ( a nice word for kill) the offspring that are not "perfect"." Rabbit rescuer
*11) End genetic manipulation of species.
"The House Rabbit Society philosophy reminds rabbit owners that 'domestic rabbits are not the product of natural selection but rather of human interference by means of breeding programs.'" Rabbits Annual 1998-1999 as well as on HRS web site
"Rabbits are genetically manipulated by humans to bring out abnormal traits like lop ears, round heads, dwarfed bodies, short guard hairs, and other things... these things are *abnormal*. Cute, but abnormal." HRS educator
*According to an internet site to preserve pet ownership:
*To accomplish animal rights goals rightist's:
*-demand you adopt from an animal shelter instead of buying a healthy animal from a responsible, reliable, reputable breeder
*-propose laws that turn breeders of those healthy animals into criminals
"Rabbit breeders need to be regulated just as much as dog and cat breeders" HRS educator
"Please help stop this cruelty at its source. We need regulation and legislation for breeders and pet stores, so we can attack the rabbit overpopulation/breeding/dumping cycle at its root." Cristina Forbes letter to local legislators, began by stating she was a member of HRS and Rabbit Rescue FL
"Pick your fight, if you will. Local municipalities and city councils are the best place to start" independent Rabbit "Rescuer"
*-To force you to do so they try guilt, lies, distortions, and repressive laws
"Americans do not want to think that an animal that represents innocence, childhood and love is also kept in horrible, overcrowded conditions simply to be slaughtered (by being slammed against a wall by the hind legs) for human consumption." Margo DeMello HRS education director Washington Post 1997
"The very vast majority of ARBA members rabbits do not live past 4 months of age." HRS chapter manager on APR
-If you want a particular breed, color, or size pet they call you a snob and say you are to blame for a shelter animal dying
"Is it because someone wants a "purebred"? Again, I feel this is a selfish reason." HRS educator
-If you are a responsible breeder they say an animal bought from you is a death warrant for a shelter animal
Adopting rabbits reduces the demand for rabbits sold by breeders and pet stores, saving the lives of litters of unwanted pets." Gale Douglas HRS educator in chapter newsletter
"Blame it [overpopulation] on the pet owner? Not even a good try! No, it's NOT the pet owners fault, it's the greedy rabbit breeder who is desperately trying to make a dollar." HRS chapter manager
"I don't like ARBA. I don't like the practice of breeding any rabbits, "show quality" or not." HRS educator
Also : "I place some responsibility for overpopulation on irresponsible pet owners, but to a greater degree the onus is on the breeders."
*-If guilt doesn't work they lie, they inflate numbers of animals in shelters and refuse to work with breeders.
"We do not support breeding, showing, etc. Since I am repulsed by ARBA advocating rabbits for meat and lab exploitation, it would, as you correctly assumed, be impossible for us to work together." HRS chapter manager
"Life of a Show Rabbit" by Jennifer Royce appeared on the NYSHRS web site, it was composed of a post on a mailing list from a youth breeder who had just been chastised for not being responsible with her rabbits by fellow breeders. She posted a long note full of inaccurate and distorted information and Royce choose to include the post as if it was how most show breeders treat their rabbits.
Etherbun charter states: "Etherbun does not welcome active participation by rabbit breeders." And if you even identify yourself as a breeder they state you will be deleted from the list.
"Of course your own rabbits would have to be spayed/neutered house rabbits. Would it be too obvious to say that it would be expected that you would not be affiliated with any breeders group/4-H/ARBA, etc.?" HRS chapter manager in reply to request for educator qualifications
"We're more like the HSUS or American Humane of Rabbitdom if you must compare us to another group" Lisa Denkinger HRS educator. Note HSUS is a nationally recognized animal rights group
"But then I found HRS and if you are an outsider looking in and trying to read it seems the two groups are basically the same in their beliefs. They don't believe in breeding and it is a most awful sin if you mention the fact that certain rabbits and other animals are raised in many places for food. To the outsider reading HRS agenda and PETA agenda the two beliefs seem to be the same." Pet owner on APR
"You talk about combating irresponsible pet ownership-well, the breeders mostly just encourage this" HRS educator
"HRS does not work cooperatively with ARBA, just as most cat/dog animal shelters would work with cat or dog breeders and ABA is especially offensive to HRS people because they do promote use of rabbits for food and fur." HRS educator
In "Unexpected help might give Overlake rabbits a reprieve" Seattle Times, the HRS is referred to as part of a rabbit rights coalition ("The Redmond Rabbit Coalition, formed by four animal-rights groups in June").
"In animal rights we get out and picket. Is it feasible to get some signs up to catch people's attention. Stand kids out there with signs" TX rescuer
"I have been an animal rights advocate since I was a child" TX "rescuer"
-1999 ARBA convention, prior to start of convention anonymous e-mail sent out to individuals and lists saying a VHD outbreak will occur at convention and urging people to protest and write legislators to close down convention. A month later another anonymous e-mail sent out saying there was an outbreak, all claims proven false. -Wall Street Journal article 12/5/96 "In fact, the House Rabbit Society, a national organization devoted to rabbit welfare, occasionally stages a rescue of a rabbit destined to wind up in the soup."
-CO ARBA sanctioned show 1999: Reports that national rescue organization representatives passing out anti-breeder propaganda, they were finally asked to leave by security
-NY 1996 Western NY ARBA sanctioned show: Report that chapter Manager and educator harassing breeders at show and try to have show closed down
-Reports nationwide of rabbit activists stealing (they say "rescuing") rabbits from breeders and spay/neutering them
-GA Rabbit rescuer/chapter manager reportedly taking credit for turning a responsible breeder in for zoning violation, breeder than able to successfully change town zoning!
-WIHRS reports in newsletter members are to boycott ARBA convention
-Allegation from reputable source that ARBA web master told by webmaster for national rescue group not to list any links to web sites promoting rabbits for commercial uses otherwise she would be "flamed".
-NY Commercial breeder reports theft of rabbits
-1988 CA extremist Animal Rights group takes credit for breaking into commercial rabbitry and stealing rabbits, group threatens continued action in newspaper article.
-1997 Prominent individuals in rabbit rescue spread malicious and untrue rumor about an ARBA judge/veterinarian. These rumors have been verified as completely false but no word has yet been received from rescue group's headquarters.
-Rabbits dumped at lake in AZ attributed to a "breeder", however story reporter admits dumper was never found and no evidence it was even a breeder.
-1997 Dade County Rabbit Rightist goes before county legislators with lies about breeders in a failed attempt to include them in a pet store bill
Do you like animals? Do you want to help them? Stop abuse and cruelty? Then you are concerned about the welfare of animals. So am I. You may have been approached by many people asking for your time, money, or signature to help animals. But do they want to help animals or impose a radical world view on the you and the country? Are they animal welfarists, or are they animal rightists (animalists).
What is the difference between animal welfarism and animal rightism? Are they essentially identical, varying in degree, or do they represent fundamentally different philosophies. Since I believe they represent the latter and I believe that animal rightists often try to hide their radical philosophy as welfarism, I will briefly outline the major difference. A clarifying, definitive difference.
The religions of "primitive" peoples and major modern religions have recognized a hierarchical world. Even the non-religious have adopted this value. The aboriginal people observe that animals use animals so they are "just" in doing likewise. Judeo-Christainity specifically recognizes the human stewardship of animals and the world and places a much higher value on the human. Animal rightism denies this basic underlying premise of modern and primitive philosophy.
To the animal rightist, humans aren't special. Animals have the same rights as humans save those for they, the animals, have no use--such as a right to vote. But animals have the right to not be eaten or manipulated (breeding). To use the well know quote of PeTA's Ingrid Newkirk, " Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They're all mammals." To believe that humans are at the head of a hierarchy is labeled speciesism, a moral equivalent to racism.
Animal welfarism has never had a unified code. Nonetheless it can easily be distinguished from rightism. Welfarists have put an end to bear-baiting, ratting, and cock fights (almost). But while doing so they have never demanded an end to the domestication and breeding of chickens and dogs.. Welfarists recognize the hierarchial structure, they want stop abuse and cruelty, but animals do not have rights in the same sense humans do. Animals can be bred and used responsibly.
If the all-species-equal philosophy of the animalists doesn't appeal to you, please don't give them money. This is harder than you may think. Many of the rightist organizations will wear a welfarist mask when they approach you for money. Ask questions before you give. If you are asked to help dog "overpopulation" (numbers indicate that the population of dogs in shelters is declining in most areas) ask what is overpopulation. If you are asked to sign a petition placing restrictions on breeders, check to see whether the restrictions are designed to ensure responsible breeding or an effort to effectively eliminate breeding. Ask those seeking your money how they feel about breeding domestic animals; how they feel using animals as food, clothing or for medical experimentation. Ask them how they feel about pet "ownership"--viewed as equivalent to human slavery in the animalist world.
Animal rightists are a minority of no more than five to ten million in a North American population of three hundred million. But they consistently try to broaden their base of support by hiding their philosophy and end objectives. To date they have been moderately successful in doing so: a prime example being the recent horse meat initiative in California where rightists were able to convince horse owners and lovers to vote for a proposed law that will actually be a springboard for the rightists in their campaign to liberate the horses from these same well meaning people. Be careful, please.