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VICTORIES - Great and small
Posted 1 June 2003
This extract is from the Summer 2003 issue of Outrage - Animal Aid's quarterly magazine which is sent to all Animal Aid members. To find out more about joining Animal Aid click here.
The giant canine in the photo is the latest to join our home clan of rescued dogs (currently numbering five), three guinea pigs and one tortoise.
Sadie - aka Titch - is 14 years old and, incredibly, her previous lifetime 'owners' couldn't be bothered to give her house-room anymore. I suspect that this was because, being elderly and therefore uninsurable, they were put off by the prospect of future vet bills - even though they seemed anything but hard-pressed financially.
My wife and I took on Titch because fate delivered her into our hands. (And how could we not!) Some things in life choose you, notwithstanding careful calculations as to what is manageable or rational.
The same applies to the battles that loom up to confront us. You hear of a proposal for a new neighbourhood pet shop that's planning to sell everything from guinea pigs to parakeets. A nearby agricultural college is encouraging students to hunt deer and shoot pheasants for 'sport'. You see someone in your street strike their dog. Do you apply your energies to all or just some of these causes? How unpopular are you prepared to make yourself with the objects of your attention? And do you continue until you win, or is it simply about making a nicely choreographed gesture?
There are no straightforward answers to these questions. Some people in our movement have had their lives taken from them while campaigning for animals. For none of them was that part of their original plan. Equally, there are those - often for unfathomable reasons - who end up devoting themselves almost exclusively to the cause of pigeons, or elephants, or shellfish.
Some 30 months ago, Dan Lyons and Angela Roberts of Sheffield-based Uncaged Campaigns began a legal battle for the right to publish more than a thousand pages from internal company documents that revealed the truth about a series of ugly, incompetently managed and scientifically bogus organ swap experiments carried out on thousands of pigs and monkeys. They were performed, on behalf of biotech company Imutran, by the detestable Huntingdon Life Sciences - an enterprise that's never short of novel ways in which to traumatise and mutilate animals in the name of science.
Imutran and HLS thought that Uncaged would run for cover when they threatened them with legal action. But two and a half years on, in what The Observer hailed as 'an extraordinary triumph' for Uncaged, the High Court in London ratified an out-of-court settlement signifying the collapse of the attempt to suppress publication. (See www.xenodiaries.org.)
The Uncaged victory was not guaranteed. Soon after the leaked company documents were directed Dan Lyons' way, came the legal threats. Failure could have meant financial and emotional wipe-out. But Uncaged - which had for some years been campaigning against organ swap experiments - felt that this was a battle they could not duck.
For most readers of this column, their prospective battles are less epic. But there is no shame in that, especially where a positive outcome is guaranteed. It is better to give up eating and wearing all animal products than to rail half-heartedly against a new local vivisection facility. It is better to ensure that the animals close to you have the care, stability and attention they need, than to make eye-catching but ill-considered gestures in another direction.
Whatever battles you take on in the year ahead (and remember: Animal Aid is here to help) - I wish you a happy outcome. Titch does too.
Andrew Tyler, Director, Animal Aid