A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Liberators or Terrorists?


When 100 people, mostly women from various rescue groups, rescued 178 beagles from a research lab in Brazil last week, nobody called them terrorists.

The five security officers watching over the lab simply said they couldn’t stop what was happening. (They probably didn’t want to try very hard.)

One of the rescuers, Giuliana Stefanini, told the Folha de Sao Paulo that “six of the puppies had tumors or were mutilated” and that “the most surprising thing was a dog with no eyes.”

One of the beagles was found frozen in liquid nitrogen.

Beagles are the breed of choice for most dog vivisectors. They’re placid, don’t bark, and are so compliant they will even hold their paw out when they see the vivisector approaching them with a hypodermic syringe.

Most people with an ounce of goodness in them would call the rescuers heroes and would say it was heartwarming to see the beagles being passed through the gate or over the fence from person to person.

Also, last week, was the news that people believed to be from the Animal Liberation Front had freed 2,000 mink from a farm in Wisconsin. This kind of rescue is classified as an act of eco-terrorism. Indeed, any group that attempts to rescue animals who are being tortured at laboratories is placed on the federal government’s terrorist watch list.

The latest mink rescue – the eighth since July – is now being investigated under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

“This is farming community,” Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi told the Post-Bulletin. “That’s kind of what we do: raise creatures to kill them and use them as part of our livelihood.” Even causing damage to property in an attempt to rescue animals is considered by the FBI to be an act of terrorism.

Mink fur is coming back into fashion these days, so raising and killing them is a lucrative business.

Whether or not releasing minks into the wild is a good idea is debatable. They’re not part of the local ecosystem, and they kill other small wildlife. And since they were born and raised in captivity they don’t necessarily do well themselves. But rescuers argue that at the fur farm they’re doomed anyway, so if even just a few of them manage to survive, it’s worth it. And as for killing the local wildlife, they say it’s no worse than their being fed meat from factory farms.

The fur industry works hard to portray the rescuers as terrorists.

“These animals have had a lot of their wildlife instincts bred out of them,” said Michael Whelan, executive director of Fur Commission USA. “Most of them don’t even leave the area when they’re released.”

Exactly the same could, of course, be said about the beagles. (That’s precisely why they are the dog of choice for the vivisection industry.)

So is it an act of terrorism when rescuers enter a barn open the cages, and free the animals who are being raised and killed so their fur can be sold to the likes of Lady Gaga to parade around in for publicity?

And is it any different from rescuing beagles from a laboratory?

As a result of pressure from animal abuse industries, even causing damage to property in an attempt to rescue animals is considered by the FBI to be an act of terrorism.

While many small grassroots activists have indeed committed acts of vandalism – like burning buildings and spray-painting cars – these are nothing compared to the acts of violence and horror that are visited upon sentient animals on a daily basis.

Greenpeace members are arrested by armed Russian police

One of the organizations that has been on the terrorism list is Greenpeace – an avowedly pacifist group. Thirty people from its staff and volunteers, including two independent reporters, are currently being held for trial in Russia after conducting a protest at an oil rig drilling in the Arctic. They face possible prison sentences of up to 15 years.

According to the laboratory owners in Brazil, the beagle rescuers also committed acts of vandalism. “The invaders,” they said, “knocked down doors, destroyed installations and stole computers and documents.”

You can go to prison for knocking down a door, saving an animal, or protesting the potential devastation of the Arctic. But if you kill the animals and sell their fur to some self-absorbed celebrity, you’re just living the American Dream.