Dennis Foster: Countering the animal rights agenda and tactics
The animal rights movement is quickly gaining momentum in the U.S. and around the world. According to Dennis Foster, executive director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association and an internationally-renowned expert on the radical agenda of animal rights organizations worldwide, “The animal rights agenda is an international movement. The same groups who are attacking ranchers in the U.S. are doing the same things to producers around the world. They may be under different names, but it’s the same group with the same tactics.”
So, what are producers supposed to do about it? That’s what Foster discussed at the 2011 Summit of the Horse, a gathering of men and women involved in the horse industry held in Las Vegas, NV, Jan. 3-6.
“We represent healthy animals; we take care of our animals; that’s just what we do,” said Foster. “Everyone in this room stands for animal welfare, and it’s based on scientific research. We have a responsibility to animals, and we realize man is responsible for imbalances in nature and animals. The influence of animal rights groups doesn’t lead to healthy animals. They change the rules, and it makes animals suffer. We need to know who the enemy is. There are rules in place who prevent us from doing what’s best for the horses.”
Foster explained that the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) is an organization with a huge footprint. According to his numbers, in 2008, HSUS had $138 million income and 11 million members, with over $200 million in assets. Over a seven-year period, HSUS gave affiliates around the world over $28.46 million from 1998-2004, he said.
“Recently, the HSUS started the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) to counter the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA),” explained Foster, who said they use this to dupe the public and influence others by using a source that would seem trustworthy to consumers.
Interestingly, HSVMA is a veterinary association in name only; in fact, the group has a main mission to lobby and advocate for laws regarding the humane treatment of animals, whereas the AVMA is more concerned about practicing the art of animal medicine and following the science-based practices behind that art. Foster added that HSUS and other activist groups are masters at influencing consumers.
“Activists are big in using consumer intimidation, and they are very good at it,” he noted. “As our country becomes more urbanized, these folks can become more influential in what our laws are. Their strategy is compromise. They start with nothing; you give up something until you have nothing. Compromise isn’t the answer. They want a pet less, meatless society.”
Of their manipulation of consumers, Foster said HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle was once quoted, “We’ve turned sentiment into legislation and legislation into law.”
“The fact is, animal rights organizations make money over controversy,” said Foster. “Their target is us. We spend money and lose it over controversy. Videos are their most powerful weapons. They maintain libraries of films. They are often staged, edited and misrepresented. Videos are very effective at getting the public’s attention. They give those videos to the media, and journalists often don’t ask any questions about the source of these films. “
Ultimately, he said animal rights organizations want to change pets and livestock to companion animals, which makes people caregivers, not owners.
“They want to take away our property rights, and they want to close doors on ranches,” said Foster. “The horse is the catalyst to other livestock. They have already changed horses from livestock to pets, so why couldn’t they do the same for cattle, pigs and sheep? We have to start showing our great relationships with animals to the public. We love and care for our animals on a daily basis, and they are an important part of our emotional life.”
Foster said in order to win the battle against animal rights activists, ranchers need to know who is involved.
“Around the world, the animal rights agenda has 250,000 supporters and 900 member societies,” said Foster. “To know who the animal rights activists really are, you have to see what they represent, who they are affiliated with, who works for them, how they spend their money, what lawsuits they are a part of, what legislation they are behind and what their tactics are. We can win. We must expose their tactics. We need to start paying attention.”
It’s evident the animal rights movement is quickly growing, and Foster concluded his presentation by recommending that farmers and ranchers pay close attention to this issue in the future and begin to proactively share their own stories.
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