Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Priscilla Feral's ARZone Guest Chat of 30/31 October 2010

Transcript of Priscilla Feral’s ARZone Guest Chat

30 October 2010 at:

3pm US Pacific Time

6pm US Eastern Time

11pm UK Time and

31 October 2010 at:

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time



Carolyn Bailey:

ARZone would like to warmly welcome Priscilla Feral as our chat guest today.


Priscilla is President of Darien based Friends of Animals (FoA), one of the world’s largest animal advocacy groups, which is a non-profit international animal advocacy organisation, incorporated in the state of New York since 1957. Friends of Animals has the ambitious goal of freeing animals everywhere from cruelty and institutionalised exploitation.

Priscilla is also an avid gardener and vegan chef, and her vegan recipes have been published in various publications, including the New York Times.


Priscilla has authored two books: DINING WITH FRIENDS: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine (2005), co-authored with Lee Hall, and THE BEST OF VEGAN COOKING (2009). Priscilla cultivates respect for the planet and all who call it home. Her art inspires society to form an empathic connection to all earthlings. She enjoys walks through nature, practicing yoga, and guiding FoA supporters through the wilderness of public debate on issues relevant to animal protection.


Priscilla has generously agreed to engage ARZone members today on topics ranging from her two excellent vegan cookbooks, to Priscilla’s extensive advocacy work and more. Please welcome Priscilla to ARZone


Welcome, Priscilla!



J. Muir

Yay Priscilla!


Jason Ward:

Welcome Priscilla!!!


Camille Marino:

Hi Pricilla, great to "see" you here


Priscilla Feral:

Trick or treat?


In a Gadda da Vegan:

w00t :-)


Matthew McLaughlan:

Welcome :-)


Pauline McGuigan:

hi Priscilla!


Roger Yates:

Hi


Priscilla Feral:

Thanks everyone. Trick or treat?


Pauline McGuigan:

treat!


Will

Hello


Jason Ward:

treat?


Hans

Hi


Priscilla Feral:

Come on over Camille!


Camille Marino:

:-)




Carolyn Bailey:

Before we begin, I’d like to request that people refrain from interrupting Priscilla during the chat session, and utilise the open chat, at the completion of Priscilla’s pre-registered questions, for any questions or

comments you have. I’d now like to ask Brooke Cameron to present the first question to Priscilla, go ahead, Brooke


Brooke Cameron:

Hi Priscilla, thanks for being here. Could you please explain why you decided to establish Nectar Bat Press for FoA’s book releases?


Priscilla Feral:

Hi, Brooke and thanks to you and everyone for the welcome.


In 2004, my co-author Lee Hall and I had an agent for our first vegan cookbook, Dining With Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine; and Chronicle Books expressed interest in publishing it. I went to San
Francisco to meet with them and they were keen on the book cover, recipes and discussions about design and photographs. Yet after editors read the Introduction, we were asked to remove two or three sentences
from a paragraph so that a “tone” – really, the politics – was removed. Lee and I refused. More than presenting a beautiful book with wonderful vegan recipes, we needed to talk about dairy products. We kept the following sentences: "Today, we know that behind every great mocha latte is a veal calf. Dairy farmers deem male calves useless -- except, for example, as future pieces. So every time we look at a piece of cheese in the dairy case, we know it means turning away from a calf." That’s an essential reason we did the book. Unfortunately, the marketers wouldn’t have it. So Lee and I created Nectar Bat Press under Friends of Animals.


Since 2005, we've published two vegan cookbooks and two of Lee's animal-rights books All of the
proceeds of these books fund Friends of Animals' projects, and the two cookbooks are now being reprinted. So we know from experience that veganism can be successfully marketed. We’ll keep our vegan tone!

Tim Gier:
Thank you Priscilla, Roger Yates has the next question, go ahead Roger!

Roger Yates:
Hi and welcome to ARZone. As you probably know, ARZone is a global social movement organisation run by volunteers. You may also be aware that I have been critical of national groups, and paid personnel, while supportive of local vegan grassroots mobilisations, since the early 1980s. I was involved in the formation of a federation of local (and always broke) AR groups with the aim of taking the animals’ money away from (always awash with cash) national orgs., and their overpaid staff members, and giving it to the people who do the really important work, the volunteer grassroots advocates.

It seems to me that few of the arguments once in favour of paid employees stand up to scrutiny in the modern internet age. Is there anything that paid advocates can do for nonhuman animals that grassroots

advocates cannot do equally well - or much better (since they know best their localities)? Priscilla, why not pull the plug on FoA, close it down, and spread the animals’ millions of dollars out to the grassroots?


Priscilla Feral:
Roger, that question misses a lot. Friends of Animals can help small groups to survive – we just made it possible, for example, for a sanctuary to be rehabilitated so that it can continue opening its doors to lab

and pet trade refugees. Grassroots and international networks are both important: it’s integrity that matters, not lack of pay.


Today’s culture supplies more reasons we need groups with stable support, not less; this is the age of outsourcing, biotech, global climate disruptions and conferences. Lee Hall just wrote what I believe is the

most timely and helpful AR book currently available (notably including chapters supportive of grassroots planning not found in academic press AR books). It would be much harder for Lee to do that without a publishing outlet. The book, On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth, is now used in a Duke University course. Clearly, Duke University has overhead and does fundraising. Should it therefore be closed down? Should we only distribute the book and its animal-rights message through grassroots groups, or teachers who volunteer?


We aren’t living in the day of Socrates; but we do respect volunteers’ work. Many AR books you and thoughtful grassroots workers care about were issued through some moneyed entity; university presses have paid

staff as well. So I’d say your simplified dichotomy is fallacious.


We meet volunteers who work in big-money, profit-generating corporate offices 9-5 and do weekend protests. We work in the non-profit sector, and give substantial time to the movement in our off-hours. There’s no bright line.


Tim Gier:
Thanks again Priscilla, Roger has a quick follow-up


Roger Yates:
thanks…


Priscilla Feral:

Hold it to the end.


Roger Yates:
That's not the way it works on ARZone. Can I go ahead C?


Carolyn Bailey:

Priscilla isn't ready to reply to follow-ups, if we could wait until the open session it would be great, thanks.


Dustin Rhodes has a question, which I'll ask on his behalf.


Priscilla Feral:

Having tech difficulty here as it is. Thanks.

Carolyn Bailey:

You have a passion for vegan cooking and food, and you take it very seriously. Vegan cuisine, as a mainstream venture, has come a long way, too—but there’s obviously a long way to go before people stop whining,

complaining about and insulting vegan food (whether or not they even fully understand what it is—or isn’t).


As an author of two vegan cookbooks, what needs to happen, in your opinion, to really advance vegan cuisine—so that people really embrace it? We’ve clearly mastered the vegan cupcake, but what about getting inventive, delicious and healthy vegan food on menus and getting people to stop being so adversarial? How do we transform mainstream food culture, which does not imagine itself beyond meat, cheese and eggs?

Priscilla Feral:

People first eat with their eyes. If vegan cooking looks as delicious as it tastes, one doesn't have to defend it. The embracing comes from inspiration! If we eat at restaurants that have great chefs who can create a vegan meal, yet it's not listed on a menu, press the restaurant to list vegan offerings and to be open about their chef's capabilities Some vegans are too reticent about asking for what they want, but restaurants won't know they have vegan customers if we don't open our mouths.

One should know what goes into risotto or soup to ask the right questions about broth, the fat used, cheese, and other ingredients. Restaurant menus list a soup as vegetable and one finds out chicken, fish or

beef broth was used, so we have to have dialogue to inform and produce more enthusiasm all around. Most important, we should admit that dietary and other major changes are not simple and easy for people. To sustain an active interest in vegan food, I believe one has to learn how to cook well, and that means feeding ourselves and others.


Carolyn Bailey:
Tim Gier would like to ask a question next, go ahead, Tim


Tim Gier:
Hi Priscilla, thanks for taking my question. Would you please take this opportunity to explain FoA’s rationale behind such campaigns as the Alaska boycott and why you think that they are effective and valuable?

I thought that the proposed boycott of Alaska earlier this year was misguided because it relied, at least in part, on the tourism industry in Alaska reacting against the boycott to pressure the state government to change its

“wolf culling” policy. Considering that a large percentage of the tourism in Alaska is based on
hunting, it would seem that, instead of doing what effectively amounted to enlisting the aid of the tourism industry, FoA should have boycotted them too. In other words, for the boycott of Alaska to work, the tourism industry would only be helping save wolves so that the killing of thousands of other nonhumans might continue unabated.


Priscilla Feral:

In the US we’ve found through experience that a carefully planned boycott can put meaningful pressure on the governor of a state, and a governor has significant influence in setting policy for a state. In other words, state permit schemes for wolf chasers can and ~have been~ rescinded in response to our boycott
efforts. We cannot retain lawyers admitted to every state bar; this is an affordable way to do a high-profile campaign with public participation.


We find this work to defend free-living animals a more effective use of our contributors’ support than, say, a ballot initiative to modify the dimensions of chicken confinement. And yes, there is tourism based

on hunting in Alaska as in every state; but most of Alaska’s is driven by cruise tours. Sight-seeing is a major industry for Alaska and economic pressure from outside -- from people worldwide -- is what it’s going to take to press change on Alaska.


We oppose all hunting – of all animals. We don’t hide that; nor do we hide our refusal to eat them from grocery stores. We do write pamphlets that condemn all forms of hunting; we’re the only high-profile group to

consistently and relentlessly press this message. But one does also have to go out there and defend specific communities under attack and not just put out general statements and pamphlets.


As for Alaska, note that it is one of the few areas in the US, where we are based, that has vast habitat for many freely interacting animal communities – those having been pushed off the most of the land elsewhere. It’s time for the thinkers in this movement to stop this nonsense of writing animal communities off as “single issue” and to start pushing back, people. If we had more of this, you know, more living communities would be defended!

Yes, we will put pressure of any significant kind on that government. Otherwise we’ll end up the way things are Roger’s way: no wolves, no predators, with everybody complaining there are too many unchecked deer,

blah blah blah. Work to stop this cycle. Stop clinging to your desks; go out and insert yourself, in the best way you know how, and support those of us who’ve been doing it in the best way we know how, with plenty of experience now to inform our actions.


Lee Hall:-

Right on!


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks again, Priscilla. Kate would like to ask a question, which Tim Gier will ask for her as Kate is transcribing, thanks, Tim!


Tim Gier:

Thanks Carolyn, Hello Priscilla. In an article that is linked to on the Friends of Animals website: (http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/pa/20101018_Let_coyotes__not_h...)
Friends of Animals is quoted as promoting an initiative which allows coyotes to kill some of the deers in Pennsylvania as part of an effort to manage their population. From the perspective of the deers involved, what difference, if any, does it make to them who they are killed by?


Priscilla Feral:
Kate, we can’t and don’t claim to substitute ourselves for the deer’s perspective, but let’s, for argument’s sake, do a quick thought experiment. I’d bet if you were a deer and your community of just over a thousand was threatened by a group of agents jumping out of their trucks with rifles to kill more than 80% and then your comrades started dropping like flies and getting dragged away from you by these agents right under your eyes you’d be pretty damned flipped out bet – although I can’t claim to know your view either – that you’d maybe take your chances with some naturally occurring risk your community will face from coyotes (who already live in that Park; you see we’re basically talking about maintaining the status quo, just with the added measure of respecting those coyotes as much as we respect the deer you mention.)


Tim Gier:

Thanks again for your answers Priscilla, Carolyn has the next question...go ahead Carolyn!


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Tim. Priscilla, you’ve authored two cookbooks, Dining With Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cooking, and the 2009 book The Best of Vegan Cooking. Many people assume you may have used others’ recipes in these books. Are many of the recipes your own? If so, what would be your advice to other vegans who wish to learn how to cook, and how does one get started?

Priscilla Feral:

I emptied out everything I had over generations of cooking with the first book, using my great-grandmother's ginger cookie recipe, for example, so with just over a hundred recipes in Dining With Friends, 85 percent

were mine.


With The Best of Vegan Cooking, 65% were mine-- which meant I had to learn how to do a bunch of new things to write the second book. We have generous, lovely contributions from
extraordinarily talented chefs. If someone can read they can learn to cook! I suggest that people hang out in kitchens with other cooks to learn skills, see how utensils are used, get used to seeing what food should look like.

I took a cooking class for two years before I was 20, and spent years helping grandmothers in their kitchens. As a teenager, I made apple pies from our trees and jam from our grapes Today there are so many cooking

shows on TV, and one can see techniques through videos, and food demonstrations.


Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks again, Priscilla. Barbara DeGrande has the next question for you, go ahead Barbara.


Barbara DeGrande:

Hi Priscilla! FoA maintains a primate sanctuary, works with spay-neuter of domestic animals and works to save free living animals, among many other undertakings. Yet there seems to be some differences with the abolitionist community. Would you tell us how you see FoA and your own work as being in alignment with abolitionist principles as well as how you see it in opposition or disagreement with those principles?


Priscilla Feral:

The most expansive, in-depth treatment to date of our perspective in the context of animal-rights theory is offered in Lee Hall’s new book, so I’d recommend that to everybody here who is serious about exploring
that query. For now, let’s say this: there is no secret or mystery or club to join addressing “abolitionist principles”; this simply refers to working for the end of the use of other animals by humans. This is what all aware vegans do, and what advocates have been doing since “vegan” was first uttered: We subscribe to the radical notion that all slavery carried out by humans on this planet ought to end. We reject the use of animals. We do go deeper than this; our work is very much attuned to feminist principles that interrogate dominion.


Barbaran DeGrande:

Thank you!


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks again, Priscilla


Tim Gier:

Priscilla, Will is up next, go ahead Will!


Will:

Cheers mate


Could you please clear up FoA’s position on vegetarianism? Your site’s various claims about it sometimes seem at odds. For example, you say that “a vegan is a vegetarian,” and yet you seem critical of vegetarianism.

You say that “vegetarian” is associated with diet while veganism is a wider lifestyle concept. Then you say, “Every year billions of animals suffer pain, distress, and death to sate a hunger that would be better addressed by a vegan diet.” All the while, your section on lifestyle and diet on your Programs page is headed, “Vegetarianism,” and you have headings such as “Vegetarianism: For the Animals.” Can you clear up this apparent confusion and say why you do not simply and straightforwardly advocate veganism?


Priscilla Feral:
Vegetarianism (not ovo- lacto-, but complete vegetarianism) means deciding to live on a plant-based diet. Veganism is a principle, a movement to transcend exploitation of those who cannot consent, a movement to

transcend dominion.


We are not critical of the vegetarian diet. Veganism when applied to the diet results in complete vegetarianism. While we respect and embrace the vegetarian diet, we do hope and expect our work will raise awareness about the importance of making the full commitment to vegan living. We do not see that it advances anything to insult vegetarians (which is really meaning ovo- lacto- vegetarians). Many people come to understand the whole matter of vegan living in stages and I was one of them. Insulting me would likely not have moved me along my path but explaining to me why I should take “vegetarian” to its logical conclusion would, and did.


We acknowledge that these terms are being better defined as the movement unfolds. Thanks to The Vegan Society, Salim Andreas Piro Khan, Lee Hall, David Turchick, and IVU historian John Davis for doing some serious and yet respectful ironing out of the history and the linguistics of this.


Roger Yates:
If you have a follow-up, Will, please wait until later. The Tim Gier hypothesis is up next. Go Timmy.


Tim Gier:

In an old interview from 1987 http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/11/nyregion/connecticut-q-a-priscill... you eloquently state the case for animal rights in no uncertain terms. However, in the same interview, you acknowledge that at that time you were not yet vegan.
As you know, there is some ongoing controversy about animal advocacy organizations who are not vegan and do not promote veganism. Given that you are vegan now, you have perhaps a unique perspective on this. Can you help us understand what it was like to have been non-vegan while being a supporter of animal rights and the head of an animal advocacy group? Also, can you share the story of your own path to veganism?


Priscilla Feral:

In 1987, I hadn't heard a comprehensive argument that compelled me to become vegan, and, erroneously, I thought dairy and eggs were by-products of the meat industry but not central drivers of exploitation.
Whatever PeTA was saying in the 1980s I wasn't digesting, and Friends of Animals survived at least one of their take-over attempts at that time. Had I known more about The Vegan Society at that time (obviously now I know they came well before PeTA and had a consistent message tying their principles to animal rights) it would have been a great boon.


We do work today to bring people their message, to make a serious message as visible as possible. Our own dedication to the freedom of
animals, combined with their excellent education on nutrition and product awareness, is an excellent combination and I now see what we’re doing as a powerful set of combined principles I had just become president of Friends of Animals in 1987, and my friends, co-workers and colleagues were lacto-ovo vegetarians. This was common then and I suppose it still is; but we’ve heard the message and evolved.

In January 1992, I met my partner who was vegan, and that provided inspiration to shun eggs, dairy and to become a competent vegan cook.
So the commitment to veganism came from knowledge, a life change, and

enthusiasm to change how I fed myself and others. And I’d say the key to making this the standard in the movement is to continue doing our best to connect our animal advocacy with vegan principles at every opportunity, and to make appealing guides and books, so that others will see the seamless nature of this
connection.


Tim Gier:

Priscilla, as you know, Dustin has another question, which Roger will ask in his stead. Roger?


Roger Yates:

I have traveled to Primarily Primates, the sanctuary Friends of Animals now runs in San Antonio, TX, with you three times; it’s a place you are obviously dedicated to and passionate about [do people actually know you travel there every single month?]. Why is the sanctuary so near and dear to your heart?


Priscilla Feral:

In 1988 I found a chimpanzee and four monkeys in a collapsed roadside zoo in New Orleans. I sent the primates to Primarily Primates. After seeing their astonishing transformation two months later, I became devoted to the rehabilitation work there and the refuge overall. I visited many times and today know many of the 400 individuals. They're allwonderful. I see them thriving after being discarded and rescued from the most deplorable situations Each month I get excited about seeing Jordan, my favorite lemur, the 25 newly rescued Java macaques, spider monkeys, chimpanzees, birds and everyone.


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, again, Priscilla! Tim Gier would like to ask another one now, all yours, Tim!


Tim Gier:

As a layperson looking at FoA’s financial statements, it’s easy for me to question the numbers I see.
For example, after subtracting out the Spay & Neuter costs, which are offset by the revenue generated by certificate sales…when I look at the percentage of expenses that go towards salaries, it averages about 30% for the

years ending April 2009 and 2010. Also, printing, advertising and postage combined average about another 20%.... Can you help us understand the costs involved in running an operation such as yours?


Priscilla Feral:

You cannot subtract out the spay-neuter component when you examine this. Most years, it costs us more than it brings, you see, and general donation funds cover the losses. We help subsidize the cost of the veterinary certificates for people who can’t afford the rates (they might be elderly or unemployed, or rescuers).


In Fiscal Year 2010 we provided $68,000 for subsidy and in 2009, $74,000. For Year 2010 (which is similar to our 2009 figures and typical
of recent years), here’s what our situation actually is. 53% of our expenses

went into spay-neuter; 39% went for public information and animal protection 6% for administration and 2% for fundraising. That’s 92% for animal work and 8% for administration and fundraising).


You mentioned postage, and I think you misunderstand the role of distributing information in our advocacy. We do not send out fundraising junk mail. We do need funds, obviously – we have responsibility for

a primate refuge, education and local water sharing issues in the Gambia and Senegal, for example. We need to
print and distribute vegan cookbooks. Transparency demands that we tell people how projects are faring, with visuals. Every letter we write (and we create no positions on staff for this – it’s our valued project people who know what we’re working on that do the public correspondence) is an opportunity for advocacy. We will not waste our supporters’ valuable time on puffery or useless gimmicks. We will not make up busy work and fundraise off it, or fundraise off the work of others. We support community efforts that need us and in turn we’re
helped out by wealthier groups that have dedicated funds for some of the work we carry out.


The National Anti-Vivisection Society helped, for example, with our rescue of Java macaques from a lab earlier this year We do the administrative and fundraising work to ensure Marine Animal Rescue can assist--this year so far -- 366 sea lions, and more than 100 entangled birds Our marine rescuers recently gave advice regarding a seal in Hawai’i, assessing the animal’s situation from photos over a mobile phone. When people see animals

stranded on the beach, they have no idea how to help. We need more people like Peter Wallerstein, an outspoken vegan, who is also constantly explaining why angling, the fish industry, and animal agribusiness hurt all animals living in or near the sea. This marine rescue work is a 7-day-a-week job. Administration
isn’t romantic, but it supports advocates and projects in a way that assures their stability and dependability in the communities they reach, year in, year out.


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks for that, Priscilla, Barbara DeGrande would like to address you again, please go ahead, Barbara.


Barbara DeGrande:

With increasing numbers of animals nearing extinction, increasing deforestation and loss of habitat for animals, what do you foresee as paramount in order to move animals towards non-exploitation?


Priscilla Feral:

Examples of critical advocacy are: vegan education (as it respects the land, water, air that free-living animals need to survive); pushing back at the governments to stop them from usurping public land for mineral companies, Examples of critical advocacy are: vegan education (as it respects the land, water, air that free-living animals need to survive); pushing back at the governments to stop them from usurping public land for
mineral companies, ranchers, hunters, gift shops and road extensions; transforming the rhetoric surrounding laws such as the Airborne Hunting Act, the Endangered Species Act, and CITES so that animal rights becomes a genuine part of the equation. Educate and litigate so as to stop the demand for the pet
trade, which wreaks havoc on free animals and transforms them into commodities and playthings.


In a Gadda Da Vegan:

FREE FRANCINE


Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you!


Priscilla Feral:

Sorry for repeats with typing. Tech-challenging exercise.


Carolyn Bailey:

It's all very good, Priscilla. I'd like to ask another question now, please.


Could you please tell us why you chose this line of work back in November 1974, and why the effort has endured? Some refer to your work with disdain, calling it careerism. How do you respond to this?


Priscilla Feral:

I was a member of Friends of Animals in 1974; a feminist career counseling group suggested that I follow my heart in selecting a career to move beyond being someone's corporate secretary I was dating an animal
protection lawyer who did pro bono work for Friends of Animals and was writing FoA's first pamphlet on animal agribusiness. This person got me a job interview with the founder, and I was hired I commuted five hours a day to work in FoA's New York City office as their Public Information Director. I'm hard-wired for
this work -- to either look for trouble or make it. So I was destined for social justice work, and had considered work for child welfare, but an abiding love and respect for animals has been enduring. When someone referred to my 36 years at Friends of Animals as careerism, they fail to see that I'm proud of intelligent, hard work, those I've met and loved, and work aimed at changing the world for the better.


Lee Hall:

Free Francine!


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Priscilla!


Roger Yates:

One more time, Lee, and you will be booted.


Carolyn Bailey:

Barbara DeGrande has another question now, please go ahead, Barbara


Barbara DeGrande:

These are hard economic times for sanctuaries. How does that impact your ability to offer refuge to primates and other animals at PPI and what would you like people, particularly those concerned about animals, to know
about these real economic issues?


Priscilla Feral:

Thanks, Barbara, for acknowledging that grim reality – and thank you for your personal visit to Primarily Primates. You took the time to see how we care for the animals who depend on our work.


Four years ago, Friends of Animals offered Primarily Primates what everyone in our society agrees is fair – simple access to a forum to defend itself when legally charged – when others spent millions of dollars

to dismantle it and either kill or send animals away to zoos and other sites. In May 2007, FoA took over management and I agreed to serve as their volunteer president. As the economy soured, the sanctuary needed many hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade the infrastructure, increase staffing and make
other changes. Beyond people adopting and leaving their cats and dogs, the residents were released from the entertainment industry, pet trade, or vivisection industry. They needed support.


They are alive today because Primarily Primates offered them a refuge. Those animals can be supported
through donations to Primarily Primates. We've offered space to dozens of monkeys and birds in the last several months. Most of our habitats are now filled. We're limiting our intake of other monkeys until new funding can be

found.


Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you!


Tim Gier:

Thanks again Priscilla, Kate has another question, which Carolyn will ask, in two parts. Carolyn please go ahead!


Carolyn Bailey:

Friends of Animals does extensive work in Spay & Neuter programs, having facilitated over 2.5 million procedures over the years. That works out to 130 procedures daily every day since 1957. That seems incredible!


Priscilla Feral:

Thank you, Kate. This is why more than half our budget is devoted to it. We stand for the no-kill movement and the spay-neuter department has spared millions of animals from coming into an owned but unwanted status.
You are right to acknowledge the seriousness of it; the people doing this work are unsung but it’s constant and it’s daily, and it’s work that’s aligned with an animal-rights perspective. Kate has a follow-up to that?


Carolyn Bailey:

Yes, thanks! I am puzzled as to why FoA does not support the use of contraceptives for free-living nonhuman animals as a non-lethal way to limit the size of their populations. Is there really any difference between
Spay & Neuter on the one hand and the use of contraceptives on the other as far as the individual nonhuman animals are concerned? Thanks, Priscilla!


Priscilla Feral:

As though imposing contraceptives on free-living animals is the same as neutering a dachshund? Absolutely not. As Lee Hall asks in On Their Own Terms, are we really going to allow the “movement” to involve insisting that space be afforded to accommodate so-called rights for “full freedom of movement” for purpose-bred animals, and birth control to ~reduce~ the space taken by animals who should be living, interacting, and procreating on their terms?


Combined, that’s a sure-fire prescription for the end of animal rights. This is probably the
biggest challenge for the animal-rights movement today. I have been resisting the efforts to control free-living animals’ reproductive systems for decades and I will resist it until we have a viable movement that puts a stop to it. If it were human groups that the Humane Society of the US were testing these contraceptives on, there would be a huge outcry about classism, racism, ethnic cleansing. Why would we tolerate this for bison or elephants or deer?


Roger Yates:

The final registered question comes from Dustin Rhodes, asked by Tim...Tim.


Tim Gier:

With as much time as you have to devote to the pressing issues, what’s an issue/passion you’ve always wanted to take up but have never been able to find the time for?


Priscilla Feral:

Suppose I'd like to open a gorgeous vegan restaurant alongside Five Mile
River in Rowayton, Connecticut. And with luck, that kind of restaurant would multiply, like loaves of crusty bread, all across the land!


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Priscilla! I’d like to thank Priscilla Feral for being very generous with her time today and responding to some great questions in the formal session today. I’d like to open the chat up and invite all members who wish to engage Priscilla to do so now, by sending me, Tim or Roger a PM with your intent to address Priscilla. Will would like to ask a follow-up from his previous question first, please go ahead,


Priscilla Feral:

You're most welcome.


Carolyn Bailey:

My mistake, sorry Priscilla, Roger is going to ask a follow-up from a previous question first, my bad! Please go ahead, Roger.


Roger Yates:

Thanks... this is in relation to the second question asked. I do not appreciate the “simplified dichotomy” insult, although I expected it. Local groups would have stable support ~if~ the national dinosaurs did not suck
the money and often the talent ~away~ from them. There was a recent press article in Britain
about shutting down PeTA.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/28/peta-women-meat Let’s shut them all down! I have known too many penniless groups and sab groups struggling while the fat cats (can we say that?) get fatter (can we say that). University presses are irrelevant: not the animals’ money.


Priscilla Feral:

We're not dinosaurs and grass roots groups should generate their own funds. That's why they're called grass roots.


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Priscilla. J. Muir would like to ask a question now, please go ahead J.


J Muir:

On a happier note ... I've always wanted to ask: is your last name a happy accident, or by choice?


Priscilla Feral:

Hi, J. I chose it in 1974 after arriving at Friends of Animals. Needed to identify myself and not depend on matrimony for these things.


J Muir:

it suits you.


Priscilla Feral:

Thank you!


Shari Lynn Bence:

I wasn't aware that FoA was a dinosaur .... thought it was a relatively modest.


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks again, Proscilla. Will would like to ask another follow-up from his previous question, go ahead, Will


Will:

Ta, I don’t understand your reference to being insulted. That wasn’t the question I wanted answering – it was why not just clearly advocate veganism and stop the waffle. This mixing up of the terms is deliberately confusing, isn’t it?


Priscilla Feral:

I'm not confused.


Roger Yates:

What a shitty answer!


Carolyn Bailey:

Mark Jordan has a question for you next, Priscilla, please go ahead, Mark.


Mark Jordan:

One thing I am very intrigued by is all the work FoA does in countries outside the U.S.. I think it is honorable and courageous for a North American group to send so much funding to work on animal rights in countries that don’t have much, if any, budget for it. Could you briefly highlight a project (or two) and explain how this interacts with the membership of FoA- (a large % being Americans, I assume).


Bill Cherry:

A vegan is a vegetarian but a vegetarian is not a vegan sheesh


Camille Marino:

Does my critique count? I thought it was an excellent answer and I’m not confused either.


Priscilla Feral:

Thnx, Camille and Mark. Replying now.


We have chimpanzee projects in West Africa -- both Senegal and The Gambia. In The Gambia we financially support a rehabilitation project for 87 chimpanzees on 1,500 acres among 3 islands. They live in tropical jungles. It runs $70K a year. In Senegal we dig wells so that villagers and chimpanzees don't compete for water. This has allowed chimpanzees to survive and the people near them respect the apes.


Mark Jordan:

Thanks


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Priscilla, Kate Go Vegan has a question, which I'll ask for her. Kate would like to know if you would advocate the spaying and neutering of minks (either of an indigenous species or otherwise) before they
are released into a natural environment, thanks


Priscilla Feral:

If they're wild animals being released into free habitat -- not confined, no reproductive control is needed by humans. Really we should control ourselves, our own invasiveness and reproduction.


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Priscilla, Imber would like to ask a question next, please go ahead, Imber


Imber:

Hi Priscilla! There are many groups that claim to be working on animal 'rights'. Could you please explain the difference between some of these groups and Friends of Animals?


Priscilla Feral:

We're a serious-minded animal advocacy organization with vegan principles and an independent spirit. That sets us apart. What are the differences you see, Imber?


Imber:

I mean on what you consider a rights campaign?


Priscilla Feral:

Animal rights are found within Nature, not on the farm. Animals such as coyotes, deer, sea lions, and others can be guaranteed the habitat and resources they depend on, and we can
get our hands off their necks. By not intruding on the freedom of wolves to live their lives, follow their interests, we acknowledge their rights. Rights are not advanced within animal exploitation industries.

Imber

Thanks, Priscilla!


Camille Marino:

May I ask a quick question before I log off to prepare for an action tomorrow?


Priscilla Feral:

I wish you would!


Carolyn Bailey:

Go ahead, Camille


Camille Marino:

Priscilla, do you ever feel like people would be far more effective if they actually went out and did something themselves instead of worrying about whether others are more rights or welfare or, omg, abolitionist enough?


Priscilla Feral:

You bet. That sums it up nicely.


Camille Marino:

thank you so much. i learned a lot. have a great night folks.


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks!


Priscilla, Matthew McLaughlin would like to ask a question, all yours, Matthew


Matthew McLaughlin:

Thanks Carolyn! Hi Priscilla, could you describe the work that you and the late Dr. Gordon Haber did to defend wolves?


Priscilla Feral:

Gordon Haber died a year ago in a plane crash while he was monitoring wolves inside Denali National Park. Since 1993 he created field research through monitoring that allowed us to craft the best
arguments against killing wolves. We won legal challenges with his observations, data collection, video tapes of wolves caught in snares. He was a brilliant wolf scientist and wolves captured his imagination. Also, he showed me wolves, moose and other animals up close. I'm forever grateful.


Lee Hall:

http://twitter.com/alaskawolves


Tim Gier:

Priscilla, Anita Parsons also has a question for you. Anita, please go ahead.


Anita Parsons:

Hi Priscilla, I am Anita from Rudozem Street Dog Rescue. www.streetdogrescue.com. Diane & Tony Rowles, an English family rescues street dogs & cats in Bulgaria. Animal Welfare is non-existent and is not a crime in Bulgaria and many dogs are shot, kicked and abused on a regular basis. We have been campaigning to raise money for a shelter in Rudozem to start a spay/neuter programme as the vet in the area does not spay bitches and many die in the winter months. We have had extreme difficulty in getting funding or even any notice from any well known international groups. I was wondering if you or your group would help RSDR, or if you are unable to, would have any suggestions on the best places to advocate for funding & media attention, as we have not had much luck from international programmes or funding from the Bulgarian government.


We have only 1-2 months to raise the money for our shelter as the owner for the site we have found sells to someone else. Thank you.


Priscilla Feral:

Anita -- Have you spoken to Kim Bartlett at ANIMAL PEOPLE newspaper? Her expertise is aid to
efforts such as this. We have no grant monies to offer this year. Economy is difficult.

Anita Parsons:

Thank you Priscilla xx


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Priscilla!


Shari Lynn Bence would like to address you now, thanks, Shari.


Shari Lynn Bence:

Hi Priscilla, first apologies for speaking out of turn, the box is more sensitive than I imagine. One of the things you commented on was the relation of feminism to domination, and I have some general ideas about how

this relates to animal welfare, but I'd love to hear your thoughts after your years of experience in advocacy work and thinking about these things. Also, seems that much of the bickering one encounters is related to this issue, but perhaps I am mistaken.


Priscilla Feral:

It's a big discussion, and your instincts are spot-on. Lots of male domination in our field -- every field.


Shari Lynn Bence:

Thank you, Priscilla. Appreciate your insights.


Priscilla Feral:

Serious-minded, strong females get pushed around everywhere. I've always been inclined to want to give animals a voice.


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Priscilla, I have a question for you.


Congratulations on FoA and Marine Animal Rescue (MAR) being granted authority to build a new state of the art marine mammal care centre. Could you please elaborate on this, and explain why this is so important?


Priscilla Feral:

Yes! Marine Animal Rescue is the only agency in LA County that provides offshore rescues of marine
animals all year long. The existing treatment center which I've visited can't handle the number of ocean animals who need assistance. We have the go-ahead to develop a state-of-the-art new center.

All of the money raised will likely come from Los Angeles. Parker Lewis who is attending the chat works for us in The Bay Area and he's helping with the work ahead. Peter Wallerstein is our director he'll train new people in

rescue operations and oversee the center.


Carolyn Bailey:

Sounds great, thanks!


Tim Gier:

Are there any further questions for our guest?


Shari Lynn Bence:

I learned a lot this evening. Thanks everyone.


Carolyn Bailey:

I'd like to thank you, Priscilla, for your time and generosity today.


Priscilla Feral:

Thanks back to you, Shari, Carolyn and everyone.


Anita Parsons:

Thank you very much Priscilla and everyone it was an interesting discussion xxx


In a Gadda Da Vegan:

Thank you Priscilla!


Mark Jordan:

Thank You for your time and patience.


Barbara DeGrande:

Good to "see" you!


Fifi Leigh:

Thanks


Tim Gier:

Thanks Priscilla!


Carolyn Bailey:

ARZone sinserely appreciates your willingness to give us your time today. Thanks!


Imber:

Thank you, Priscilla!


Bill Cherry:

FoA rocks!


Mangus O’Shales:

Yes, thanks


Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Priscilla!


Sadia:

Many Thanks Indeed.


Lee Hall:

Carolyn: cheers for the hosting!


Priscilla Feral:

Indeed. Love to y'all and Happy Halloween.


Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks also to all ARZone members for contributing, and please feel free to stay around and discuss, debate, dissect.


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Comment by In A Gadda Da Vegan on November 11, 2010 at 11:14
You can... I don't think you want to talk to me anymore though since I recently accepted a position with FoA. I'll be happy to discuss if you don't tell me my answers are shitty or to sod off ;) And could we remove this thread from beneath this particular chat? I don't think its placement here is appropriate unless you mean for this to be a personal attack. My humble thoughts.
Comment by In A Gadda Da Vegan on November 11, 2010 at 6:23
So you're saying... no, it can't be discussed elsewhere? This has to be a discussion with FoA as its poster child?
Comment by In A Gadda Da Vegan on November 11, 2010 at 6:04
Roger how about this then... if this isn't a personal attack on Priscilla, let's maybe move the discussion away from her chat transcript?

I'm all about social justice, want to discuss this more, but if we are talking about it in general, then let's do it that way. Fair enough?
Comment by In A Gadda Da Vegan on November 11, 2010 at 0:59
For those willing to listen to reason, it has been explained that Priscilla's salary is not exorbitantly high for the area in which she lives and the work that she does. Those who donate to FoA know that they have paid employees, that is all disclosed - so why come along and start making false accusations that someone is "getting rich" from the organization, without at least giving all the facts? I would apologize for the sarcasm but sometimes that's all there is left.

red dog - My points are valid for another discussion "maybe" and are not really relevant here? And a moderator telling a whole group of dedicated advocates to "sod off" is? Do we really want to start pointing fingers about the character of another organization (one that one one disputes is doing great work for animals), when this kind of thing is tolerated here?

Sodding off commencing... how unfortunate.
Comment by red dog on November 10, 2010 at 21:53
In A Gadda Da Vegan's points are valid for another discussion, maybe ... they're not really relevant here.
Comment by Kate✯GO VEGAN+NOBODY GETS HURT Ⓥ on November 10, 2010 at 19:01
Hello Lee. Thankyou for your comment and for expressing your opinion about a reaction that you found to be inappropriate, disturbing and tedious. I didn’t find it to be any of these things.
I could see room for improvement regarding the tone of some of the comments made which is why I addressed Roger about this issue. He acknowledged what I said and agreed with my suggestion, he then went on to make some good points about important issues that had been raised.

You mention the fact that Priscilla came here as an invited guest. It appears that this may be one of the issues that's in contention. I guess there could be a misunderstanding regarding this. I will say this, yes of course she was an invited guest. I dread to think we would ever host a chat with someone who was an uninvited guest.

You express concern regarding the fact that some members may have left. A tiny proportion of our members do decide that what we offer here is not for them. This is not something that concerns us. I suggest it should not be a concern of yours either. In case you’re interested to know, I'm happy to report that our membership continues to increase exponentially.

Thank you
Comment by In A Gadda Da Vegan on November 10, 2010 at 15:33
I think we should develop a tithing system to determine who the worthy animal advocates are. If you don't give x hours a week or y% of your monthly income, you should sod off from ARZone.

You'll all be happy to submit your annual salaries and volunteer hours, right? So that we can hash them over and decide if you're worth your pay, and whether you're actually giving enough. And please don't give any shitty answers, because we're here to talk. Rationally and reasonably.
Comment by Kate✯GO VEGAN+NOBODY GETS HURT Ⓥ on November 10, 2010 at 12:27
Hello Priscilla. I'm very surprised by what you say here. Thanks for expressing your opinion, it has helped me to understand what Roger has been reacting against.

I hope we can all learn some important lessons here. If nothing else it may serve as a reminder that politeness is conducive to rational discourse, and a lack of it can render an otherwise potentially meaningful conversation to be entirely vacuous.
Comment by red dog on November 9, 2010 at 22:05
I agree that the salaries published in Animal People do seem bloated. But it seems as if your question was larger than that, and maybe there was a way to get Priscilla to address some of those issues without making it seem as if you were trying to disrupt your own event?

It would be great if some group could help with vet bills for people who can't afford it. But I get the impression that without any central organizer, small rescue groups tend to spend whatever money there is on the animal who seems the saddest and many more fall through the gaps. A group with a plan, and a designated person responsible for planning, might be able to help--I'm not saying they should make millions. I'm not saying they should make anything--but chances are they will have to ask for help from a foundation or other organization that does have paid staff.

Whether big groups should just close their doors or continue with business as usual is a good question. There's also the possibility they could change the way they do business without closing their doors. Also, you seem to be assuming that if FoA closed its doors, donors would give to local groups. Ultraconservative groups make the same argument about donations to "radical" groups. Human-oriented groups sometimes say all the money donated to animal charities should go to them. You never see disease charities criticizing other disease charities in that way--maybe they're the only ones.

I personally prefer to give to small hands-on rescue efforts, when I have anything to give. But if I had millions to give, I'm not sure a small private shelter would know what to do with it.
Comment by red dog on November 9, 2010 at 17:42
Kate makes a really good point here.

Roger, you and Tim also made good points in the chat, but why--as one of the ARZone hosts--would you feel the need to be so rude to a guest? Why not restructure the chat as a debate, if your intention was to force Priscilla to justify FoA's existence to a hostile audience?

I'm on the fence about FoA as an organization, although I think running a sanctuary and spaying and neutering animals on a large scale are very important activities and can't be dismissed as something any group of Internet-based volunteers could do. I doubt an all-volunteer organization could do as much in those two areas--they need to pay vets and expert handlers and pay for land and supplies and utilities. Volunteers can do a lot, but most people aren't in a position to volunteer every day.

OTOH, I saw the Watchdog Report where the salaries of some of FoA's top employees were published and they did seem incredibly high. And I don't necessarily agree with everything FoA does. I like the idea of "scaling back," if some functions could be taken over by volunteers, but your original question to Priscilla in the chat seemed so broad as to be unanswerable. Are you saying only that *her* salary is too high, considering specific things she does that could be done by volunteers? Or are you attacking everyone who seeks employment in the nonprofit sector? What about nonprofit jobs that don't have anything to do with nonhuman animals? Is it only animal-related jobs that should be volunteer-only or pay minimum wage?

Also, how do you expect a minimum wage earner to adopt even one dog or cat and provide a stable life for that animal? They'd have much less freedom to move if a landlord suddenly decided to cause problems. They'd have a hard time coming up with money to treat a sick animal. Getting sick or losing their job would be a serious disaster (more so than if they'd had a chance to save part of their salary or take out insurance).

Like you I would have liked to see a debate-style chat that addressed the more controversial questions facing the big animal charities, but I don't see any point in holding a polite chat and then complaining about the way it turned out.

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