Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Alex Pacheco's Live ARZone Guest Chat

Transcript of Alex Pacheco's ARZone Guest Chat

9 April 2011 at:

6pm US Eastern Time

11pm GMT and

10 April 2011 at:

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time

 


Carolyn Bailey::

ARZone would like to welcome Alex Pacheco: as today’s Live Chat Guest.

 

Alex is Co Founder of the world's largest non profit animal adoption website, Adopt-A-Pet.com, Vice President, for 10 years, of the non profit NEAVS, co-founder and chairman for 20 years of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), founder of All American Animals, a member of the advisory board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and founder of 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You (http://www.600millionstraydogs.com/) whose mission is to use science to bring an end to the number two cause of animal suffering in the world: animal overpopulation.

 

Alex served as PeTA Chairman for 20 years where he specialised in undercover investigations and congressional lobbying. Twice his undercover work has been argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has led successful campaigns against large animal abusers such as General Motors, Texaco, Exxon, the Pentagon, NASA and others. His best known undercover work is the Silver Spring Monkey Case, a campaign to release 17 monkeys, 16 of which were crab eating macaques, who were undergoing experiments in the Institute of Behavioural Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, which broke many barriers including closing the first animal laboratory in history, on cruelty charges.

 

As a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Alex first crewed with Captain Paul Watson in 1979 and again in 2003 on the ship “The Sea Shepherd” across the Atlantic Ocean on the Sierra campaign.  Alex was voted Sea Shepherd’s “Crew Member of the Year.”

 

Alex is a highly respected member of the animal advocacy community, is in the US Animal Rights Hall of Fame and was awarded the Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience Award.

 

Would you please join with me in welcoming Alex to ARZone today?

 

Welcome, Alex!

 

Raina Noor Szilagyi:

Hi Alex

 

Brooke Cameron::

Hi Alex, great to see you here :)

 

Will:

yo!

 

Rene Bruce:

Clap Clap !!!


Ben Hornby:

Hey, welcome, Alex!


Tim Gier::

Hello Alex, thanks for being here!

 

Erin:

Hello

 

Roger Yates::

Hi Alex

 

Mangus O’Shales:

hi Alex

 

Nicola:

Great to hear your views Alex thanks!

 

Fifi Leigh:

hi

 

Sky:

hello

 

Cinnamon Landman:

It's a pleasure, Alex.

 

Maria Papazian:

Hi Everyone!

 

Alex Pacheco::

Hi Everyone!

 

Carolyn Bailey::

Alex will be responding to his pre-registered questions first, and then we’ll open the chat up for all members to engage him.

 

Please refrain from interrupting Alex during his first session, and feel free to send a private message to an admin if you wish to address Alex at any time.

 

I'd now like to ask Roger Yates: to ask the first question on behalf of Barbara DeGrande: who has been delayed. Thanks, Roger

 

Roger Yates:

You have had a diverse and colorful history of activism. What has been your proudest achievement and what has been your biggest obstacle to overcome?  done

 

Alex Pacheco:

There's little doubt that what I'm proudest of, is what lies ahead of us ~ having a role in ending, and SOLVING, the dog and cat overpopulation problems and suffering ~ suffering that has haunted me my entire life. It is going to take years....but what doesn't? The "birth control formulas" that can be permanent and that 600milllion.org is working on have the potential to truly prevent more animal suffering, than anything in the history of civilzation ~and that's one Great feeling for each of us to take with us when our time on this planet comes to an end.

 

I have to point out, big time, that everyone reading this, can play an important role in this upcoming accomplishment ~ it is truly and literally up to you ~ there is plenty of room for you,  and you are very much needed ~ so please check it out at 600Million.org and become involved in a very positive, and a very exciting project! 

 

The obvious obstacles are things such as not enough funding, and the laws are too weak ~ I view these as routine and natural obstacles that we of course have to battle.

 

But an obstacle more damaging than these, is a silent cancer that is crippling the community ... it is the combination of "behind the scenes" acts of self-centeredness which are practiced quietly and out of sight, by the majority of the large animal organizations around the world. We used to call it "in-fighting", but I think what is going on these days, is even Less Legitimate, than "good old fashioned in-fighting". In-fighting are just "turf-wars", and acts of non-cooperation. 

 

These days, organizations simply follow more damaging policies where they are just going to do what is best for their financial bottom line, and at the same time,  always publicly act and speak and write, as if they are all about caring about animals, and continue to carry out the relatively-easy-to-do, routine, animal work that everyone expects them to do. They don't actually solve the problem of animal suffering; they do not get bogged down in the heavy lifting.

 

How do they avoid heavy lifting? Well, in brief, they:

 

-Adopt an below the surface policy of putting their own personal interest (ego, name credit, self-promoting publicity) ahead of the interests of the mission 

-Adopt a policy of putting their own personal financial interests ahead of the interests of the mission 

- Adopt a policy of appearing to cooperate with other groups, but in reality never share meaningful information, contacts, connections, resources, celebrity or donor information. 

 

How can I say such things? What am I basing this on? For close to 20 years I served as the Chairman of the largest animal rights organization on the planet. For years I rubbed elbows with, hung out with, did business with and fought with, my "colleagues": many of the Directors, Presidents, CEO's and Founders of other large animal groups We know one another on a first name basis. I'm certainly not pure and I've certainly made my share of mistakes, no doubt about that but to the best of my ability, I've done my humanly best, to at least try to always put the interests of the animals first.

 

I wish I could say the same for many of my so-called  "colleagues".

 

I'm very sorry this answer is such a downer, but I'm even more sorry that it's the way I've found things to be, cancer is cancer. I believe we can recover from this, but it's going to be just as difficult as fighting off a heavily entrenched cancer.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Alex, Brooke Cameron: is up with the next question, please go ahead when you're ready..

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Tim. Hi Alex! Your current project “600 Million Stray Dogs Need You” focuses on alleviating the second biggest cause of deaths to domestic dogs in the United States: overpopulation.  What is your response to those who believe there is no overpopulation of domesticated animals in the United States?

 

Alex Pacheco:

These frequently get intermixed....at our website, 600million.org, you'll notice that we don't say dog overpopulation is the #2 cause of death for dogs in the U.S.; what we do say is: overpopulation is the # 2 cause of death for animals world wide; and, overpopulation is the #1 cause of death for dogs world wide.

 

As far as the U.S.: The question "Is there an overpopulation of dogs in the U.S.?" is a question that will not need to be debated nor figured out, once the sterilization formulas are in place,  because the formulas should dramatically reduce the populations of strays and homeless dogs, period. In either case, regardless of the actual answer to the population question, as everyone knows there are still millions of homeless dogs being killed annually in U.S. facilities ~  deaths which will also be prevented through the widespread use of the sterilization formulas. This is one of many  "icing on the cake" features of the 600 project: by drastically reducing the homeless dog populations, many secondary problems are also drastically reduced, from fatal rabies in India to mass shootings of strays in Iraq.

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Alex!

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you Alex, David Pearce has the next question, but is away at the moment, so Carolyn Bailey: will ask in his stead, Carolyn?

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Tim. Do you think it's possible to convert the world to veganism by moral argument alone? Or will we need to develop in vitro meat?

 

Alex Pacheco:

I do not think it is possible to convert the world to veganism by moral argument alone, just as we were not able to end human slavery in the U.S., by moral argument alone.  I believe even the addition of in vitro meat, and "fake meat", and plant-protein-soy-meats, will not be enough either. There is no doubt in my mind it will require far more, including things such as famine, etc. because there are just too many self-serving people in the world.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Alex!  Roger Yates: would like to ask the next question, thanks Roger

 

Roger Yates:

When we were campaigning in Britain in the 1980s an amazingly powerful film came our way. In those days we called it the “Pennsylvania Primates Film”  but the world knows it now as “Unnecessary Fuss.”

 

This film is likely to be unique in that it is probably the only film we have ever seen which was filmed by vivisectors ~for~ vivisectors, and was never, ever, meant to be seen by the public.  Wikipedia suggests that you co-edited the 26 minute film from 60 hours of videotape stolen from a lab by the Animal Liberation Front. Can you say something about this film for ARZone members who may have not seen it and,...   without risking anyone’s liberty (!), give us the skinny on how the tapes came to you, the editing process, and what became of the 55.5 hours of film you did not use?

 

Alex Pacheco:

If memory serves me correctly, it was around 1984 and the ALF had raided a primate laboratory and the next day, there was simply a large duffle bag on the doorstep. (wink ~ wink) The bag was filled with about 30, two hour long, VHS video tapes, and I recall the fact that I did not even have a video player, let alone video editing equipment and going out to borrow two video players so that I could watch the approximately 60 hours of tapes and start "copying and pasting"  At the time I'd never even used a video, let alone edited video so it was an extremely slow process to say the least,  I remember "chaining" myself to a chair in front of the VCR's for literally weeks ~ until the compilation was complete. 

 

The videos showed experimenters crushing the brains of primates, after cementing the heads of the primates into steel helmets; their heads and helmets were then bolted to a hydraulic jack,  which would thrust the animals' entire skull forward at an extreme speed, so extreme that it caused brain damage by literally "scrambling their brains" ~ without breaking the animals' skulls  This was part of a $1 million a year experiment, at the U. PA, Head Injury Laboratory. And the brief description that I just typed, of the physical abuses inflicted on the animals, is only the tip of the iceberg of what the videos documented.

 

While I was compiling the video, the director of the laboratory was quoted in the newspaper, complaining about the protests against what he was doing to the primates, and he was quoted as saying something to the effect of "I don't know what the fuss is all about. It's all an unnecessary fuss." The moment I read that quote, I knew what I wanted to name the video: "Unnecessary Fuss". 

 

This cruelty case became a campaign that went on for years, with many peaks and valleys, for example: holding a news conference where I showed the video to a standing-room-only room packed with news reporters  and where I publicly accused the Unic. of harboring animal abusers, just moments before about 20 of us were served with subpoenas requiring us to testify before a grand jury, a grand jury was investigating the theft of the videos, as law enforcement had been pressured by the University to   aggressively find out who took the videos, and put them behind bars.

 

A later event was the organizing of 100 activists to literally and physically "take over" 15 offices of the worlds largest underwriter of vivisection, the U.S. National Institutes of Health ~ NIH. NIH was funding these experiments as well. The take over lasted four days and nights, ending in swift action by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS")  (HHS has the 3rd largest budget in the world, surpassed only by the entire US. federal government and the entire Soviet Union). HHS decided to terminate the primate experiments, if we agreed to end our take over, which we of course agreed to. Long story short: we were able to force the laboratory into closing down, probably only the third time in history something like that had happened. You could say it was a moment we were all proud of and I encourage everyone to watch Unnecessary Fuss.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Alex!  I have a follow-up. I agree that everyone should watch this film (in fact, I posted it on ARZone earlier). (http://arzone.ning.com/video/unnecessary-fuss)

 

This film was never meant to be seen except by vivisectors or supporters of animal research to pretend that there is anything “scientific” going on here is laughable, even though the lab was described as one of the world’s best at the time, the researchers are smoking in the lab, they bash the helmets off the monkeys with hammers and screwdrivers, and one drops a scalpel on the floor, picks it up, and places it back into the open head of a baboon. Given its time, no-one can claim it was computer-generated, or otherwise faked, as the countermovements are apt to claim nowadays. I think the film is still relevant because we do not know what goes on in labs when victims are alone with their tormentors. However, critics will point out how dated it is. Do you believe that we can claim its continuing relevance due to its uniqueness? - and what ~did~ happen to all of the unused footage - is it of use do you think?

 

Alex Pacheco:

As to the unused footage: I think the FBI now have all of it!  I know the FBI raided a home of a friend of mind, and the videos are now in their hands. As to relevance today, sure, it was shot at an Ivy League University!

 

Roger Yates: 

many thanks - appreciated

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Alex, Carolyn will now ask Barbara DeGrande's second question. Please go ahead Carolyn...

 

Carolyn Bailey:

As co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, how do you feel about the direction the organization has taken since your exit? How do you feel about the work they are doing today?

 

Alex Pacheco:

I'm often asked "Why did you part from PETA, was it a fundamental issue and/or do you feel the actions by PETA are justified?" The short answer is: I left PETA because it had and has drifted far from its base, and because of disagreements over tactics. The longer answer is: The record will show that while I was there, my core focus was on developing high impact exposés which were very inclusive,  and were typically made up of a combination of at least: undercover investigations, criminal and civil litigation, legislation and of course public education. 

 

For example in the first three years of PETA's existence, my focus was on carrying out several precedent setting undercover investigations which documented, exposed and stopped clear cases of cruelty, beginning with closing down the Silver Spring Monkeys laboratory (where primates were mutilated), followed by the U.S. Pentagon Wound Laboratory (where dogs and other animals were shot at close range in the testing of new types of bullets, etc.) and then expanding beyond laboratories, to closing down the largest horse slaughtering operation in the world, involving the suffering of approximately 30,000 horses per year in Texas. Cruelty cases like these typically involve months of intense and often dangerous undercover work to collect the facts and document the evidence of cruelty that can stand up in a court of law; these cases then require prolonged work  with the Congress, the courts, law enforcement officials, local and state government officials, scientists, et al 

 

Cases like these also exposed at least some of us, to being personally sued by the abusers, who almost always had far, far deeper pockets than we did. For about the first 5 years of PETA's existence, I was working full time on PETA undercover cases while the other co-founder worked full time for the government, as director of the D.C. Health Department's Animal Control Department.  In order to keep her job, she did not publicly associate with PETA until she quit, when PETA was about 5.

 

I was a Political Science major at George Washington University, and had moved to DC to become a lobbyist for animals, just before co-founding PETA  and using undercover investigations, the courts, the congress and law enforcement were the fundamental yet strategic building blocks I concentrated on to build the organization  and more importantly, to empower a tiny non-profit to bring down some pretty big corporate and government "giants", as they're often called. The message to take away? Clearly: this type of approach, allowed a much smaller group, to strategically force far larger corporations and the Congress, to make substantial changes.

 

Undercover work is time consuming, and it was common for me to spend up to six months at a time working "in the field", carrying out investigations, far from the office. At the time I trusted my co-founder, and agreed to have her in charge of "everything else", including hiring the staff. Over time, she began to reduce the investigative work, mostly because it costs a lot of time, and began replacing it with what I called "stupid human tricks". This caused  friction between us. By "stupid human tricks", I mean pure P.R. stunts, which have little to no tangible value for animals. But stunts are cheap, fast, and easy, and most off all, they make headlines.  She was often furious with my constant opposition to these changes. When I'd return to the office, my presence and my positions were viewed as a challenge to her authority, and all of "her" staff could see this, which made the problem even worse.

 

After 20 years, I decided I'd had my fill of arguing, and I left.  In hindsight, I probably should have stayed and fought against these changes, but I did not, because to stay and fight would have thrown the organization into at least a five year, all out civil war - because that's how she is ~ and that's how I'm not. So I walked ~  rather than throw PETA into years of expensive litigation for legal control of the organization  ~ it would also have been a highly publicized fight, which would have made our animal-abusing-adversaries, very happy. 

 

I've never had kids, and emotionally, my heart felt PETA was almost a "child"  and I couldn't bear the thought of throwing it into mayhem ~ not when I had the option of quietly walking away. If anyone at the organization ever reads this, despite my criticisms, I pray for the sake of animals in need, that the organization returns to its roots. I am sure that the large, corporate, animal-abusers of the world, hope a return to basics, never happens.

 

Tim Gier:

Alex, thanks for taking the time to provide such detailed responses. Sky has the next question, Sky?

 

Sky:

Has there been controversy about the biscuits that sterilise female dogs? As I understand it, the pill inside the biscuit can sterilise all mammals by creating an early menopause in females - with ‘tweeking’ for individual species. Presumably there was vivisection involved in the production? Done and great to meet you Alex!!

 

Alex Pacheco:

There's one thing everyone can be certain of: Absolutely no animals are, nor will be, harmed, in any way in any work by 600, that's for sure!  

 

Other people and other companies have done other things, and I cannot speak for them. I can only speak for 600Million.org,  and 600Million.org will not do anything that harms animals, period. We believe in practicing what we preach. Here's the odd thing: many of today's birth control ingredients, have in the past already been tested on animals, often decades ago and often in inhumane and fatal tests, but often, NOT to test for birth control. Instead, frequently the tests were testing for cancer in people, they were NOT testing for birth control in animals. They were cancer tests for people who might handle the ingredients in the manufacturing of things such as plaster board.  Many tests had almost NOTHING to do with birth control. But guess what? One of the side effects that they found in their cancer tests, is that some of the test subjects stopped reproducing. At the time, this was just looked at as a side effect. It was simply written down and then, more or less, ignored. So, a perfectly good permanent birth control ingredient could easily already be identified in footnotes of a cancer test performed years ago, and are just sitting in a warehouse, perhaps never to be found.  The bottom line of our policy on how animals are safe-guarded in our birth control work is for all animals to: Live out the rest of their lives in adopted homes, Be health-monitored for life, and Never be harmed.

 

Tim Gier:

Sky, would you like to ask a follow-up?

 

Alex Pacheco:

HEY SKY!! HOW ARE UZ?!

 

Sky:

no - but thanks anyway - and thanks Alex

 

Alex Pacheco:

(SKY'S AN OLD PARTNER IN CRIME OF MINE!)

 

Roger Yates:

Next up is Carolyn with a Q....

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Roger.  You spent 4 months working undercover in the Silver Springs monkey case at the Institute for Behavioral Research (IBR) in Maryland in 1981.  The experiments carried out here by Dr. Edward Taub were horrific and the monkeys used in these tests suffered unthinkable abuse. Your investigation resulted in the first police raid of a research facility in the United States and  Dr. Taub being charged with 119 counts of animal cruelty and failure to provide adequate veterinary care, the first such charges to be brought in the U.S. against a research scientist.  After many appeals, Dr. Taub eventually avoided any convictions after the court ruled that animal experimenters who receive federal tax funding do not have to obey the State anti-cruelty laws. 

 

How did this case and the publicity surrounding it change the perception held by the general public of animal experimentation and how did this lengthy case affect you personally? 

 

Alex  Pacheco:

Yikes.  The answer is long, because the laboratory-mutilated Silver Spring Monkey case was intensely fought for 15 years   (from criminal and civil courts around the country to the House and Senate of the U.S. Congress and the White House, to name just a few).

 

A better answer can likely be found in the numerous books that have chapters chronicling the cruelty case, and there's also a book about it alone, called Monkey Business.   In short, I think the Oscar winning film director Oliver Stone said it best when he said something to this effect: “It's the case that launched the Animal Rights movement in the U.S.”  And you're correct: the vivisector who mutilated the primates in his laboratory, and who was charged with cruelty to animals, was convicted of cruelty  and in the end, a third criminal court, which never held a hearing and never had anyone testify in open court, this third court ruled that the laws against cruelty to animals did not apply to the vivisector, so the court overturned the prior convictions.  I believe the case is touched on in Wikipedia, as there were hundreds if not thousands of news stories about the case in the 1980's and 1990's.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

May I ask a follow-up please, Alex?

 

Alex Pacheco:

Bug off!

yes!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks!

 

Roger Yates:

:-D

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Do you know where these 17 monkeys ended up and where they are now?

 

Alex Pacheco:

Yes....Over the course of the 15 year battle to free the Silver Spring Monkeys, approximately:  -one third died along the way, due to poor living conditions while in the hands of vivisectors who beat us in the courts and won permission to hold the animals pending the litigation;  -another 3rd were killed by having the tops of their skulls removed and having electrodes inserted into their brains and being brain tested and then being killed by overdose, after the vivisectors beat us in court and won court approval to carry out these "final" experiments;  -and the last third were released to live out their lives in large outdoor group enclosures, and under very good conditions and care, and whom we were allowed to visit at will, after we beat the vivisectors in court and a court forced the vivisectors to release these animals.

 

As of this writing all of the victims have passed away, and the third who were released, died from natural causes.

 

Dominique

:'(

 

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Alex!  Tim Gier: would like to ask the next question. When you're ready, Tim

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Carolyn, and thanks Alex, 26 years ago, you wrote these words: “First, the animal protection movement has not been aggressive enough or persistent enough. It has often taken a simplistic approach in attempting to solve problems.  Second, organizations and individuals have allowed tactical and other differences to prevent them from co-operating with each other on mutually agreeable projects. There is a dire need to agree to disagree and get on with the work. Third, we will not make meaningful changes for animals on a large scale until we have effectively harnessed the widespread support that exists in this country. Without doubt, the potential is there.” 

 

I’ve only been involved in the movement for about 14 months, but to me it seems that you could have written all this just yesterday. Do you still believe, without a doubt, the potential is still there?

 

Alex Pacheco:

Yes, you're quite correct, that could have been written this morning and been just as timely today as it was 26 years ago.  And Yes, the potential is still there, which is the good news ~ but the bad news, is that the same obstacles and problems are still there as well,  which is why I believe we've made very little progress over the last decade, particularly compared to how much progress we could have, and should have, made.  And Yes, "things are getting better", but tell that to the billions still being slaughtered for food every year.  Either way: what choice do we have, except to fight on? There is no other choice.  (Except to work smarter!)

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Alex

 

Roger Yates:

Next up is Ben Hornby - Ben?....

 

Ben Hornby:

Thank you! Alex, you’ve been credited with getting celebrities involved with PeTA and their campaigns. How do other animals benefit from having celebrities, who often still eat them, speak out for them?

 

Alex Pacheco:

Celebrities carry no extra clout for many of us, but for many more millions of Americans, celebrities carry considerable clout and credibility ~ just ask any CEO of any successful company, business or non-profit.  Imagine having someone as high profile as a Michael Jordan holding news conferences and doing TV commercials just to urge the public to spay and neuter their animals. There is no doubt it would dramatically increase the number of surgeries. So, while we don't always get to make the rules,  we do our best to make the most of them.

 

Ben Hornby:

Thanks for that, Alex!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Alex and Ben  The next question is from Kate, who is transcribing at the moment, which I'll ask on her behalf. You advocate the use of sterilization biscuits for use with dogs. Considering that the effect of reducing the breeding rate of those who belong to “obligate carnivore species”,  would be likely to be a drastic reduction in overall suffering, in particular for those who belong to “prey species”,  are there any kinds of “non-domesticated” animals for whom you would also advocate the use of this or any other sterilization method?

 

Alex Pacheco:

In a nutshell, there are many species who are killed in the millions annually and who suffer horribly, simply because humans deem these species to be overpopulated.  Such as kangaroos, rabbits, mice, and others in Australia, and deer, wild boars, prairie dogs and others in the U.S., and so on around the planet.  I believe that for these species, and individuals who number literally in the billions, chemical sterilization would be a blessing.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks for that, Alex. Barbara DeGrande: is here and would like to ask the next question, thanks, Barb!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thanks Carolyn! The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been called speciesist by some activists, since it protects animals with popular appeal over those with little appeal. How do you address these concerns?

 

Alex Pacheco:

I agree the temptation is there, to steer others in directions we feel are more productive ~ it's only natural.  At the same time, I don't think the animals would appreciate one animal protector,  spending their time criticizing another animal protector ~ while animals are being mutilated each minute.  My bet is that the animals would prefer that animal protectors spend their time convincing non-activists, to become activists!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you!

 

Roger Yates:

The next question comes from Professor Tim "violent, me?" Gier - and this is the final pre-registered question.... Prof?...

 

Tim Gier:

On your website www.600millionstraydogs.com you say:  “Planned and executed landmark investigative work inside a federally funded research facility, producing a case cited (by film director Oliver Stone and many others) as the case that launched the U.S. animal rights movement:  The Silver Spring Monkeys. Spanning 15 years it was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court twice, involved hundreds of members of Congress, over 55 U.S. Senators & led to congressional hearings and the passage of federal animal protection legislation.” 

 

This seem to me to be evidence that legislative action, whatever its outcome, can be a valuable part of educating the public, and perhaps more importantly, the lawmakers and policy makers.  When people say that working towards animal rights through the legal & political systems is fruitless, how do you respond?

 

Alex Pacheco:

I agree it can be "fruitless" in some regards, yet I also believe it is "productive" in other regards, and even "very productive" in yet " other other" regards. I directed a team of pro-animal lobbyists in DC on Capital Hill for about 15 years, and it's a matter of expectations.  For example it's pointless to think in terms of passing a law in these times in the U.S. Congress within one year, to ban something such as the practice by some vivisectors, of cutting off the toes of live animals (without giving the animals painkillers) to identify one animal from another; ~ but it is realistic to expect to be able to kill legislation within one year, that is intended to hurt animals ~ such as when we killed a bill that Congress tried to pass, giving millions of $ to fur companies every year, to sell furs that were very inhumanely obtained from animals. 

 

Lobbying is a great way to kill bad legislation, plain and simple, especially if you're a financially poor animal organization.  On the other hand, it's the only way to get laws passed, but pretty much only if you have many millions of $ to spend on Ex-Congressmen-Turned-High-Priced-Lobbyists  and to also spend big $ on donations to current Members of Congress, etc. Bottom line, lobbying AND using our smarts, its time well spent. Lobbying and NOT using our smarts, it is a waste.  Sadly, in my view, the animal community is, as a whole, one of the least effective lobbyists in the country ~ which translates into a horror for animals.  What to do about it? First: don't let any of this get you down. Second: Get up and get involved! And never stop kicking!

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you Alex

 

Carolyn Bailey:

This concludes the formal session of Alex’s chat for today. Thanks, Alex for replying to some great questions and sharing some of your vast knowledge and insight with us today!  I’d like now to open the chat up for all members to speak with Alex, and request that you send a private chat message to myself or Roger or Tim to let us know of your intention to address Alex.  First up is Nicola with a question for you, Alex, please go ahead, Nicola.

 

Nicola

Hi Alex, great to meet you and thanks for taking the time to be here! I wondered, do you feel that one of the biggest problems in cruelty to our fellow beings is indifference?

 

I know obviously many people commit acts of cruelty with intent but do you feel that apathy and indifference are the major problems? Here in the UK we have just had the awful 'Grand ' National  which many people say they feel is cruel but still support. How do you think we can combat this?

Thanks Alex.

 

Alex Pacheco:

Absolutely ~ that, combined with self-serving attitudes, is the kiss of death for animals.

 

To combat that, I'd suggest doing it the same way one would combat any large problem: serious planning, planning and strategizing ... only after weeks of planning, would one likely have a proper plan of attack.

 

Nicola

Thanks!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Alex.

Anthony Marr would like to ask the next question, thanks Anthony, when you're ready.

 

Anthony Marr

Hi Alex, how are you?

 

Alex Pacheco:

Great, thanks!

 

Anthony Marr

Alex, during the AR2007 conference, when I was giving a talk about lining up all the animals we kill annually single file,  and the cow line will stretch from LA to NY 15X, the pig line 35X, and the chicken line from the Earth to the Moon 8X,  you asked me to repeat these numbers.  So I've done a quick calculation for 600 million dogs.  At 1 meter per dog, 600 million dogs will form a single file of 600,000 km, or about 400,000 miles. 

 

Alex Pacheco:

A-OK, thanks!

 

Anthony Marr

Considering LA-NY to be about 3,000 miles, the 600-million-dog-line will stretch from LA to NY about 130 times.  I hope this helps.  Also, I have a question.  Thank you for saying what you did about the application of contraception technology to wild life.  We've fought hard on this front, but the hunters, who oppose the use of contraception (to displace hunting as a population control mechanism), still hold away.  And there are also other AR groups who oppose the use of IC, saying that wildlife should be left alone; so, again, the hunters have their way.

 

My question is, how would you handle this situation. How would you handle the situation where other AR groups oppose the use of immuno-contraception on wildlife. The hunters rub their hands in glee.

 

Info for all.  New seal hunt quota raised to 468,200!  from about 350,000

 

Alex Pacheco:

I've found I that I just have to "do it without them.” One could easily spend their entire life just trying to get follow AR groups to come aboard. I've largely given up on that. I'll always give it a try, but I limit the time spent, and lost, on such efforts, besides, it's very depressing as well.

 

Anthony Marr

Thank you, Alex.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Follow-up, Anthony?

 

Anthony Marr

I'll defer to others.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Alex and Anthony  Will would like to ask the next question. When you're ready, thanks, Will

 

Will

Hey Alex - where do you stand on the be violent to animal abusers question? Do you believe in 'by any means necessary'? 

 

Alex Pacheco:

It's not my cup of tea, but different strokes for different folks. I certainly don't claim to know what's inappropriate when it comes to trying to end suffering. i try not to judge others who are trying to help.

 

Will

ok - ta!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks Alex  Next question is from Raina Noor Szilagyl, thanks Raina, when you're ready

 

Raina Noor Szilagyi

Q #1: about the brutal extermination of strays in turkey & romania - solutions/thoughts? can 600 lend a helping hand? Q#2: transport vans that euthanize cattle/pigs/chicken by anoxia-currently being used in a few of the EU countries.  Will the US ever adopt this mode of transportation, and if so, when? Shoulder to shoulder, Alex! OVER

 

Alex Pacheco:

I try to evaluate problems in terms of finding lasting solutions, which is why i believe the best i can do to help the most strays, period, is to get the sterilization pills onto the market, anything else, in my view, is spinning my wheels. As for the transport vans: anything that ends the animals’ suffering as soon as possible, i'll probably be in favor of The end cannot come too quick for those in agony.  

 

Rina Noor Szilagyi  

Thank you Alex, and thank you Tim!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Alex!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Cinnamon Landman would like to ask a question next, thanks, Cinnamon.

 

Cinnamon Landman

Thank you. Nathan Winograd claims that there is no overpopulation problem.  We just need to match animals with available homes.  Thus no need for mandatory S/N laws.  Your opinion, please, Alex. Of course, I meant domestic animals.

 

Alex Pacheco:

Sometimes i feel the quetion, on it's face, is somewhat academic, simply because animals are being euthanized by the millions, either way, sterilization pills are an almost certain longterm solution to this suffering!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Alex!  Dominique also has a question for you. Thanks, Dominique.

 

Dominique 

Hi Alex, How do you think the Iowa House approving a bill to prevent animal rights activists from recording the mistreatment and abuse in the factory farms will affect the rest of the movement? Do you feel this will make ARA's freedom of speech and  rights to fight for the animals that much harder?

 

Alex Pacheco:

I feel these anti-AR laws are a serioust threat, and that they should be fought against  vigorously, but alas, they are virtually ignored by the large groups .... same old story.

 

Dominique

Thank you Alex

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks Alex. Sergio Tarrero would like to ask another question, Sergio?

 

Sergio Tarrero

Hi Alex, it's an honor to meet you here. What is the present state of affairs regarding these sterilization pills? When do you expect them to be available, and what would be needed to seed up their availability?

 

Alex Pacheco:

Thanks for the question! Lack of funding is what is holding it up. The funding is simply needed to pay the scientists to commit their time and facilities, to doing more work. The pills are not ready yet. My guess is that within one year of work, we would have a product that could be used but then comes the Regulation part, which is different in each country. The regulations in the US will cost millions of $, but in countries like India or Mexico, it would cost very little.

 

Sergio Tarrero

What level of funding for the basic science, if I may ask?

 

Alex Pacheco:  

$100,000 would go a LONG, LONG way, to success. The key is to focus on non-U.S. countries.

 

Sergio Tarrero

Thank you.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Alex. Tim Gier would like to ask the next question, thanks, Tim.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks! Why is PeTA not helping financially with your sterilization pill? Surely this would be something PeTA would regard as groundbreaking. 

 

Alex Pacheco:

One would think so. Sadly, they are not supporting the pill, they appear to show no interest in it, at least they haven't asked me hardly anything in terms of questions, nor expressed ANY interest in it, at least not to me or 600.

 

Carolyn Bailey: 

Thanks, Alex. Kate Go Vegan, who is transcribing at the moment, has a question which I'll ask on her behalf. Some animal activists have defended the use of arson claiming that it’s possible to clear buildings of all the animals who are there. This is clearly untrue as every building is home to countless nonhuman animals,  e.g. those who are insects and also other small animals, who cannot not be evacuated to safety and who therefore are injured or killed by the smoke, fire, or water from sprinkler systems. Would you support the use of arson? Thanks.

 

Alex Pacheco:

Again, i don't personally support it. I also don't go out of my way to try and lock up those who do, there are just too many animals that need help, and all the "debating back and forth" is causing more animals to suffer so i'm more opposed to the seemingly non-stop back and forth debates, than anything else!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

This concludes Alex’s ARZone guest chat for today, and ARZone would like to sincerely thank you, Alex for your wonderful responses to our questions and for your incredible patience with a few technical issues.

 

Dominique

Bye, Thank you:-)

 

Carolyn Bailey:  

We really appreciate the time you’ve given us today. Thanks, Alex!

 

Anthony Marr

Thank you, Alex, Carolyn and all at ARZone.

 

Raina Noor Szilagyi

Thank you Alex, Tim, Carolyn

 

Sadia Rajput  

Appreciate your time , Thank you!

 

Will

see you!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thanks Alex!

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Alex!

 

Sergio Tarrero

Thank you guys. Thank you Alex.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Alex

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Alex, you've given us lots to think about!

 

Brooke Cameron:

Great chat, thanks Alex and ARZone!

 

Mangus O’Shales

thank you Alex

 

Erin

Thank you!

 

Fifi Leigh

bye

 

ReneBruce

Thanx and Adios !!!

 

Ben Hornby

Thanks to everyone, especially Alex!

 

Cinnamon Landman

Thanks to all.  Wonderful to know the animals have people like you on their side.

 

Alex Pacheco:

I'd like to thank everyone out there, for being activists, no matter how you're doing it!

 

*******


ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy movement. Please continue the debate after “chats” by starting a forum discussion or making a point under a transcript.

 

 

 

 

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Comment by Billy L on August 9, 2011 at 6:29

Oh wow, I just found out from a review on Amazon (I was thinking of buying the Kindle edition of this book to read on my laptop): "Mr. Baron-Cohen makes use of the data from extensive testing done on animals; rats, monkeys and chimps. From the infamous cloth mother/wire mother test to those in which electrodes are implanted in the heads of living animals, a good percentage of Baron-Cohen examples and data come from discredited animal "tests." Yet he does not mention the lack of empathy that would allow any human being (scientist or psychopath) to cause great pain or death to another living being simply to "see what would happen." Observing pain, like a psychopath with curiosity but without empathy, is exactly what these scientists are doing."

Comment by Billy L on August 9, 2011 at 3:47
I couldn't make it more than 3 seconds past those opening credits into Unnecessary Fuss on youtube. I've been to graduation ceremonies at a few universities, one was Ivy League, and to think these people walk freely among intelligent, highly educated people-it's no different than the "5th most dangerous" blighted downtown area around where I live (where people are constantly murdered in the streets). Sociopaths are all around us. The irony of folks like Simon Baron Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Cambridge University author of The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty, working and possibly associating with vivsectors...
Comment by red dog on May 10, 2011 at 15:26
Comment by red dog on May 7, 2011 at 19:02
This is another chat transcript I read with great interest. It's hard to see how a new drug could be marketed as an alternative to surgical sterilization in developed countries without creating a huge demand for vivisection--after all, surgical sterilization has been in use for many years and is considered simple and safe. On the other hand, in impoverished countries where the animals are living outdoors and are difficult to catch, where they may not have a clean place to recover from surgery, I can see the benefits of conducting a trial. If it works on cats (?), I'm sure feral cats in developed countries could benefit too.

Couldn't a trial be conducted on stray populations now? Alex's organization's No. 3 goal is "[t]o provide government agencies and low income individuals in developing countries, with the  birth control formulas that we develop, to serve as practical and affordable alternatives to labor intensive and expensive, surgical sterilization." Why can't they find an agency to cooperate?
Comment by Jose Valle on April 11, 2011 at 5:50
Barbara, you said "The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been called speciesist by some activists, since it protects animals with popular appeal over those with little appeal".

Could you please provide any reference to that?

Thanks
Comment by raina noor szilagyi on April 10, 2011 at 23:16
thank you carolyn, tim and ARzone for setting this up! thank you also for the transcript.  warm regards, raina noor szilagyi
Comment by Shaynie Aero on April 10, 2011 at 19:17

I am fascinated by this marvelous interview with the peerless Alex.

He really does put animals FIRST,freeing them from slavery and torture is his whole life and reason for being.

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