Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grave Robbing in the Name of "Animal Rights"


This is the kind of action that PETA and many other "mainstream" animal rights groups refuse to condemn. The vacation home of a drug company executive was torched and his mother's ashes stolen. From the story:
British animal rights activists have been accused of burning down a holiday home of one of the world's biggest pharmaceutical bosses and stealing his mother's ashes. Daniel Vasella, the CEO of Novartis, has been targeted by militants because of the Swiss company's ties with the controversial British animal testing company, Huntington Life Sciences (HLS).

Police have launched an investigation after his Austrian holiday villa in the small Tyrolean village of Bach was set on fire on Monday..."It was a criminal act," a Novartis spokesman said, adding there was "no doubt" that the notorious activist group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) was behind the arson.

The alleged attack came a week after the grave of Dr Vasella's parents was targeted. An urn containing the ashes of his mother, who died in 2001, was stolen in the eastern Swiss city of Chur. A message was spray-painted on the gravestone in red letters saying: "Drop HLS Now."
This is an example of "tertiary targeting," that is, attacking businesses that do business with HLS. Moreover, it isn't the first time that animal rights activists have caused intense emotional distress to people they dislike by grave robbing. Readers of SHS and my other work on this issue will recall that the owner of a farm in the UK, targeted by terrorists for raising guinea pigs--faced the heartbreak of having a loved one's body stolen out of her grave and buried in a forest.

Will animal rights activists generally, and the movement's leaders specifically, condemn this action, both the arson and the stealing of loved one's remains? Don't hold your breath or you will turn very blue.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Animals are Property: Veterinarian Negligence Not Grounds for Damages for Emotional Distress

The California Court of Appeals has ruled that a veterinarian is not liable for the emotional distress caused when professional negligence leads to the loss of a beloved pet. From the story:
A veterinarian whose malpractice causes the loss of a beloved dog doesn't have to pay damages to the owner for emotional distress or loss of companionship because the law considers pets to be property, says a state appeals court. In a ruling Friday on a San Francisco attorney's suit against an Orange County veterinarian, the Fourth District Court of Appeal acknowledged that "the love and loyalty a dog provides creates a strong emotional bond between the owner and his or her dog."

But the court noted that a parent whose child is killed by medical negligence can't sue the doctor for emotional distress or loss of the child's companionship. By the same token, California law allows a pet owner, in some cases, to seek compensation for loss of the animal's "unique economic value" but not for its "sentimental or emotional value," the court said.
This is right, I think. Otherwise, the status of animals would be raised in an unwarranted way, and the flood of emotional distress lawsuits would overwhelm the court system.

Please note that I am not denigrating or dismissing the intense emotional ties we develop with our pets. Nor am I in any way suggesting that the death of a beloved pet isn't traumatic. Moreover, I am certainly not stating that if someone intentionally kills or injures a pet in order to cause emotional distress to the owner, that liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress should not fully apply. It should, and in spades, as should criminal sanctions for such a terrible wrong.

More Proof of Need to Research on Primates in Limited Cases

So we have the Great Ape Project, passed in Spain, that says humans and gorillas are part of a "community of equals," and that none can be "tortured," e.g., used in medical experiments. In this country, we have legislati0n pending that would outlaw all medical experiments on apes and chimps. But what are supporters of such bans to do with this news? A new strain of deadly HIV has apparently passed from gorillas to humans in Africa. From the story:
A new strain of the virus that causes AIDS has been discovered in a woman from the African nation of Cameroon. It differs from the three known strains of human immunodeficiency virus and appears to be closely related to a form of simian virus recently discovered in wild gorillas, researchers report in Monday's edition of the journal Nature Medicine. The finding "highlights the continuing need to watch closely for the emergence for new HIV variants, particularly in western central Africa," said the researchers, led by Jean-Christophe Plantier of the University of Rouen, France.

The three previously known HIV strains are related to the simian virus that occurs in chimpanzees. The most likely explanation for the new find is gorilla-to-human transmission, Plantier's team said. But they added they cannot rule out the possibility that the new strain started in chimpanzees and moved into gorillas and then humans, or moved directly from chimpanzees to both gorillas and humans.
If we are going to understand this new strain, if we are going to be able to fight it, if we are going--hopefully--to one day find a vaccine, it seems to me we have to be able to conduct properly planned and humanely conducted experiments using gorillas and other animals--of at least the option needs to be available to scientists. No one like it. But it is either that or not do our best to save human lives from this terrible scourge.