Animal Rights Committee Position Paper #1

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Animal Rights Position Paper
by Green Party U.S. Animal Rights Committee, approved Sept. 2016

Co-Chairs:
Mary Lawrence, Connecticut Green Party
Craig Seeman, Green Party of New York

BACKGROUND [source: GPUS Platform Section III. K.]: The mark of a humane and civilized society lies in how we treat the least protected among us. To acknowledge and respect the inherent rights of other sentient, living beings is our responsibility and a mark of our place on earth. We call for an intelligent, compassionate approach to the treatment of animals.

Cruelty to animals is repugnant and criminal. We reject the belief that our species is the center of the world, and that other life forms exist only for our use and enjoyment. Our species does not have the right to exploit and inflict violence on other creatures simply because we have the desire and power to do so. Our ethic upholds not only the value of biological diversity and the integrity and continuity of species, but also the value of individual lives and the interest of individual animals.

POSITION: The GPUS advocates for the protection of animals in all categories that are subject to some form of human influence: companion animals, exotic animals, laboratory animals, animals in sport and entertainment, endangered/threatened species, wild animals, and farmed animals (for food and clothing). As such, we recommend the following:

Companion Animals

Prohibit large scale commercial breeding facilities of companion animals (commonly referred to as “puppy mills”), including dogs, cats, and rabbits, because of the massive suffering, over-breeding, and ill health such facilities produce. Expand USDA oversight of breeders and increase penalties for violations. Support local ordinances banning the commercial sale of non-rescue companion animals.

Subsidize spay and neuter clinics to combat the companion animal homelessness problem that results in the killing of millions of animals every year. Advocate for mandatory spay and neuter before adoption in all animal shelters and rescues and Trap Neuter Return or “Barn Cat” programs for feral cats where return is not possible.

Implement policies in support of the “No Kill” movement to improve rehoming in animal shelters and correct our collective failure to value and protect the lives of homeless companion animals. Consider euthanization only when veterinary and/or behavioral experts have determined that an animal’s condition is untreatable and the animal has little or no chance of recovering an acceptable quality of life.

Prohibit medically unnecessary mutilation of animals, including declawing cats, ear and tail docking of dogs, and devocalization surgery.

Oppose breed-specific legislation (BSL) that bans OR restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance, usually because they are defined as “dangerous” breeds or types of dogs. Prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against certain categories of dogs when writing homeowners policies. Amend Fair Housing Act to prevent discrimination against those who have companion animals.

Animal Research/Testing

Redirect funds that are disbursed annually by the National Institutes of Health away from animal experiments and towards direct health care, preventive medicine, and biomedical research using non-animal procedures such as clinical, epidemiological, and cell culture research.

Phase out the use of animals for consumer product testing, cosmetics testing, tobacco and alcohol testing, psychological testing, classroom demonstrations and dissections, weapons development, live tissue training, and other military programs.

Mandate clear labeling of products identifying whether or not they have been tested on animals and if they contain any animal products or by-products.

Expand the Animal Welfare Act to include rats, mice, and birds, and establish scientifically viable medical research protocols as alternatives to using animals for medical research. Halt wasteful public funding of unnecessary research on animals.

Enact the Humane Care for Primates Act to allow the safe transport of retired research lab primates into certified non-profit sanctuaries.

Animals in Entertainment and Sport

The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to all blood-sports. We oppose the killing of, or infliction of pain or suffering upon, animals in the name of sport or leisure, and will work to end all such practices as hunting with hounds, canned hunts, shooting, snaring, trapping, culling, coursing and various other abuses of our wild animal population.

Ban the exploitation of animals in entertainment and sports, including dog fighting, cock fighting, bull fighting, rodeos, and circuses. Prohibit chaining, tethering and unreasonable confinement, coupled with enhanced enforcement of animal cruelty and animal fighting laws.

End the exploitation of animals in horse racing, greyhound racing, and all situations where animals are commercially raced. In the interim, enforce strict welfare regulations banning the use of steroids and other performance drugs, with publication of injury and death statistics.

Prohibit the import and sale of all wild animals to circuses and prohibit the use of all wild and domesticated animals in circuses. Mandate the re-homing of all existing circus animals to non-profit sanctuaries or other suitable establishments with relocation to the wild wherever possible.

Wild Animals

Ban the use of goods produced from exotic or endangered animals. Prohibit the commercial import, export, and sale of all fur, whether wild caught, hunted, or factory farmed. Prohibit the import of other exotic or endangered animal products such as ivory, reptile skins, shark fins, and whale blubber and oil.

Abolish public and private zoos, roadside zoos, and private collections of wild or exotic animals. Redirect funds invested in zoo conservation into restoration of natural habitats, e.g. anti-poaching initiatives and an end to habitat destruction. Transfer captive wild animals to the wild when feasible or provide genuine sanctuary to animals unable, through injury and other cause, to be returned to the wild and where their living conditions closely represent the animal’s natural habitat. Ban the importation and trade of wild or non-domesticated species as companion animals.

Oppose captivity of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) for entertainment and/or commercial profit. End the capture and exploitation of cetaceans for entertainment purposes in marine parks and aquariums and captive breeding programs to maintain entertainment stock. Support funding for the development of sanctuaries for cetaceans which may be transitional or permanent depending on the evaluation of the cetaceans involved. The Green Party condemns governments who seek, through the International Whaling Commission and otherwise, to continue whaling. We call on all governments to outlaw whaling.

Ban drift-net fishing, a practice that indiscriminately kills marine mammals and other species not intended for the catch. Ban importing of fish and fish products from countries that use drift-nets.

End the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse Roundups and the USDA’s Wildlife Services department which kills millions of animals annually that are deemed “nuisance species,” including Grey Wolves and other endangered animals.

Join forces with the progressive UK Green Party and global Greens to advocate for strict international laws that protect endangered species across the globe and wild animal populations before irrevocable mass extinction occurs.

Farmed Animals

End the abuse of farmed animals for food and clothing, and strengthen animal cruelty laws and enforcement of existing laws. Phase out all forms of “factory farming;” prohibit all caged rearing of poultry including “enriched cages,” veal crates, and gestation crates; ban live animal markets and auctions; prohibit maceration of live male chicks and all painful mutilations such as beak and toe trimming of poultry, tail docking and castration of pigs, branding of cattle, etc.; and phase out routine and prophylactic use of antibiotics and growth hormones. Support a ban on the use of GMOs in animal feed and oppose all genetic modification of animals.

Eliminate public subsidies that finance livestock grazing permits on public lands. Amend the Farm Bill to eliminate subsidies and other price support programs to the meat and dairy industries, including the USDA check-off program.

Cease the import, production, and sale of foie gras and any product that is the result of force-feeding animals.

Extend the Animal Welfare Act and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to include all birds, which account for approximately 9 billion animals raised and killed for food in the U.S. annually. Enact tougher regulations on animal transport, including a maximum of eight hours, and an end to live import/export of farmed animals.

Require mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses to act as a deterrent and provide evidence for animal abuse prosecutions.

Prohibit intensive fish farming and restrict the use of antibiotics and GMO fishmeal and animal byproducts for animal feed. Extend the Animal Welfare Act to cover all fishing activities. End the overfishing of wild marine animals and practices that harm the marine ecosystem including avoidable by-catches and trawling.

INTERSECTIONALITY:

The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage in a patriarchal society. Many civil rights leaders past and present (eg. Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Coretta Scott King, Dick Gregory, Angela Davis, etc.) have maintained that as long as one form of oppression exists, no form of oppression can be completely eradicated, whether because of the color of one’s skin, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, physical ability, age, class, or social status. Similarly, we believe that animal rights is the social justice movement of the 21st century.

Enact strong federal and state laws that result in criminal prosecution and conviction in cases involving animal cruelty. Demand that crimes against animals be taken seriously and work with state and federal agencies to address the systemic problem of domestic violence. [See Facts About Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence]

Support bills such as the Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, advocate stiffer penalties for those who are convicted, and maintain a national animal abuser registry of those convicted of animal cruelty crimes. There is a strong connection between violence against animals and domestic violence. We therefore also need to advocate nonviolence training and conflict resolution education, and network with child protection agencies to address this systemic problem.

Expand and enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act which regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers.

AETA AND “AG-GAG” LAWS:

The term “ag-gag” refers to state laws that forbid the act of undercover filming or photography of activity on farms without the consent of their owner—particularly targeting whistleblowers of animal rights abuses at these facilities. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was passed in 2006 to prohibit activists from negatively impacting animal enterprises and gives the U.S. Department of Justice greater authority to target animal rights activists. The Center for Constitutional Rights believes that “the AETA unlawfully criminalizes constitutionally-protected activity in the name of corporate profit and is one small part of a larger corporate and government agenda to constrain social activism and exploit the public’s fear of terrorism.”

Repeal the AETA and ag-gag laws which infringe on civil liberties and first amendment rights of free speech. Activists who investigate the horrific conditions that animal industries hide from the general public should be given the same protection as whistle blowers who expose corruption, not treated as terrorists.

SENTIENT BEINGS:

There is a growing movement in the legal community recognizing animal rights as a social justice issue (eg., The Nonhuman Rights Project, The Animal Legal Defense Fund, NYU Review of Law and Social Change, and The Center for Constitutional Rights). In 2015, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that any animal can be seen as a legal “victim” in a case, affording animals basic rights to protect them from abuse.

GPUS adheres to the principles set forth in the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (2012) which came to the scientific conclusion that many non-human animals are “sentient beings.”

GPUS recognizes non-human animals as sentient beings who possess inherent rights to live a natural life free from human exploitation and abuse, and advocates legislation supporting these rights. As such, non-human animals should be granted the legal status of “person” not “property,” affording them the legal right to be represented in a court of law.

In alignment with these values and in solidarity with all social justice movements, the GPUS Animal Rights Committee calls for Green Party members to seek to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, sport, entertainment, or any other purpose, and by extension, promote the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the planet.

RESOURCES

Animal Legal Defense Fund
Best Friends Animal Society
EU Green Party Manifesto on Animal Protection
GPUS Platform
Humane Society of the United States
No Kill Advocacy Center’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
Nonhuman Rights Project
UK Green Party Animal Manifesto
The Whale Sanctuary Project

EXPERTS
Legal:
Lee Hall (What Are Animal Rights?)
Mariann Sullivan (The Animal Law Podcast)
Steven Wise (TED Talk)

Bioethics and Animal Behavior:
Jonathan Balcombe (The Inner Lives of Animals)
Marc Bekoff (Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare)
Lori Gruen (Entangled Empathy)
Barbara King (How Animals Grieve)

Animals and the Environment:
Dr. Richard Oppenlander (Food Choice and Sustainability)

Intersectionality:
Greta Gaard (Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature)
pattrice jones (Intersectionality and Animals)
Lisa Kemmerer (Sister Species: Women, Animals and Social Justice)
Casey Taft (Why I’m a Pro-Intersectional Animal Advocate)