5 Animal Rights Campaigns That Managed to Screw Over Animals
Let's face it: If good intentions were all it took to accomplish anything, we'd have fixed the world centuries ago.
But a poorly thought out good idea can do just as much harm as a well-executed terrible one, and if you don't know what we mean, just look at the animal welfare movement. Sometimes, in their single-minded efforts to make the world a better place for animals, self-proclaimed animal-rights activists actually make things a whole lot worse. For example ...
Dolphin-Safe Tuna Spares Dolphins and Kills Everything Else
The "dolphin safe" label on tuna cans is so ubiquitous now that you might take it for granted, just like you would a box of "tarantula-free" Fruit Roll-Ups. But several years ago, tuna fishermen would use giant drift nets, near-invisible lengths of netting that ran for miles and trapped anything that happened to run into them. This would invariably include hundreds of dolphins, which would get tangled up in the net and drown, because for some fucking reason dolphins live in the ocean despite their crippling need to breathe air.
A song about the perks of underwater life explains this, but fishermen caught the singer and ate him.
By some estimates, as many as 500,000 dolphins were killed by these nets every year. After a worldwide outcry by environmental groups, the use of drift nets was banned by several countries, and the U.S. banned the sale of any tuna caught using dolphin-slaying methods (including drift nets, purse nets, and the popular shenanigans net, which involved harpooning a bunch of dolphins and hastily stuffing them inside tuna costumes). Thus the "dolphin safe" label was born.
But the tuna industry wasn't about to just stop catching and selling their product, so they needed an equally effective alternative, which they found in the FAD -- the fish aggregation device. FADs are artificial structures that use vibrations and such to attract schools of fish, allowing fishermen to catch massive hauls of tuna. Dolphins aren't attracted to them, so everybody wins!
Trust us -- you'll have a much better time if dolphins aren't attracted to you.
Well, not quite. While dolphins aren't sucked into FADs, absolutely everything else is. For every 1,000 tons of tuna, more than 100,000 random animals are unintentionally hauled up and killed, including endangered species of sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles. That's roughly 100 times the number of dolphins that were being caught in drift nets. So, in actuality, "dolphin safe" is just a euphemism for "wholesale massacre in a can."
Predictably, groups like Greenpeace are now trying to get rid of FADs, which, judging by the way the whole drift-net outrage went, will probably result in fishermen just blowing up the entire goddamn ocean.
Activists Release Minks from a Fur Farm, Horror Ensues
The eco-terrorism group Animal Liberation Front took it upon themselves to free 10,000 minks from a fur farm in Sultan, Washington, back in 2003. On paper, this probably seemed like a no-brainer -- who would be against preventing a bunch of adorable furry animals from being euthanized and having their flayed corpses worn around by a Kardashian? But the reality is that the ALF dumped thousands of weasels, probably in their hundredth generation of domesticity, into the middle of an urban sprawl and then drove home to pat themselves on the back in between sips of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Tragically, the area hadn't yet erected that year's mink net.
You see, the minks had absolutely no idea how to function outside of the farm. For example, hundreds of them were run over by cars within the first few hours of their release. Every meal they'd ever had up to that point had been delivered to them via a motorized cart, so they'd come to associate deliciousness with the sound of an approaching internal combustion engine and bounded gaily into traffic expecting Mink Treats.
The ones that weren't blasted into spreadable meat paste all over the road descended upon the town of Sultan to murder the shit out of pets and livestock like the swarm of angry weasels they were. A local man was forced to pick up his shotgun and personally kick 20 right off the damn planet after they attacked him and his dog and tore through his property, killing his ducks, chickens, and fish (he apparently owned a small zoo).
An adorable, delicious zoo.
The bloodbath didn't stop once the minks were rounded up, either. Minks are rodent-size balls of violence, and will literally kill and eat any living thing they can, including other minks. The only thing safe from a mink's hungry wrath are members of its own family, so on the fur farm, they can be kept in cages with their litter-mates in relative harmony. But minks don't have name tags or distinguishing tribal tattoos. After they were recollected, the fur farmers had no way to tell them apart, and thus had no choice but to randomly dump them in cages together and hope for the best. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in no small amount of mink cannibalism.
As far as acts of selfless activism, the release of the minks is essentially the same as kidnapping a bunch of home-schooled kids, dropping them off at an inner city high school in Baltimore, and then never speaking to them again.
Animal Advocates Wanted to Euthanize All of Michael Vick's Dogs (and Campaigned for Him to Get New Ones)
After Michael Vick got busted for being one of the shittiest human beings on the planet Earth, a federal judge had to decide what was to be done with the 53 pit bulls that had been seized from his dog-fighting ring. As one would expect, PETA came to argue in the dogs' defense. As one might not expect, their argument was to stab all 53 of them with syringes full of potent Liqui-Death.
"There'll be no more animals left to abuse if we kill 95 percent of them!"
According to PETA spokesman Dan Shannon, "The cruelty they've suffered is such that they can't lead what anyone who loves dogs would consider a normal life. We feel it's better that they have their suffering ended once and for all." Even the Humane Society of the United States, an organization generally known for being way less Holocaust-trivializingly crazy than PETA, recommended the eternal slumber of death over bothering to try to rehabilitate any of the dogs, citing that it is "very difficult to deprogram" a dog that is trained to kill. Obviously they never saw Kurt Russell's 1998 masterpiece Soldier.
Luckily, the judge wanted another opinion, because his heart doesn't pump cold black fluid. So he sent the dogs to the ASPCA for closer review, and they determined that the majority of them were suitable for rehabilitation (only two ultimately had to be euthanized). One of the survivors was put in a program called Paws for Tales, where kids too shy to read aloud to human audiences practice their reading skills in front of dogs. No, really. That's not a sarcastic fake program we made up:
And that's not a stock image. That's Jonny Justice, the actual dog we're talking about.
Another one lived for four more years as a therapy dog for cancer patients:
Meanwhile, one year after stating that both of those animals could never possibly be rehabilitated, the Humane Society argued in favor of Vick being allowed to keep dogs again, despite his conviction banning him from ever owning another pet (they claim their support had absolutely nothing to do with the $50,000 grant that Vick's Philadelphia Eagles gave them). The Humane Society even produced a video to show the world how much Vick had changed:
The video apparently worked, because as of October 2012, Vick has a new dog. Way to fight for those animals, Humane Society.
A Bear Relocated to Replenish Its Species Refuses to Have Cubs and Slaughters Livestock Instead
In 2006, the French Pyrenees were facing an extreme bear shortage, which is a problem we weren't aware existed until this very moment. Slovenia had some bears to spare, so they arranged to have a handful of animals flown in to the forested mountain range in an effort to replenish the French bear stock. Of those bears, only one managed to give birth to any cubs. Another one wandered off a cliff and died because it apparently didn't understand how mountains work, despite the presence of the Alps and the Dinarides in its home country of Slovenia.
Gravity always feels kinda different when you're on vacation.
The third, a bear named Franska, turned out to be a batshit crazy spinster with a heart cast in violence and destruction. First of all, Franska was about 17 years old, which is a little too old to breed. Grabbing the oldest bear in Slovenia and dropping her in the middle of a French mountain range is a terrible solution to pretty much any problem, but "need to increase supply of bear infants" is probably at the top of that list.
Not only did she have zero interest in propagating her species, but Franska seemed intent on eradicating the local sheep population with the laser-like focus of a mad scientist -- farmers in the area claimed she was responsible for more than 150 sheep deaths during her year-long stay in the Pyrenees. They wanted her captured or killed, and went so far as to stage a riot outside of local government offices, dumping sheep carcasses on the ground like empty juice boxes. They even sent death threats to the mayor. To recap, this is all over a single bear.
Though one crueler than the average bear.
So the farmers took it upon themselves to try to get rid of Franska by attempting to chase her out of the mountains with firecrackers and gunfire (two things normally reserved for American holidays), and leaving chunks of broken glass laced with honey along the forest floor, because they apparently saw that work in the darkest Looney Tunes cartoon ever made. We're amazed they didn't paint a bunch of grenades up to look like berries and scatter them around the forest too.
Franska eventually wandered out into a roadway and was killed when she got juggled between two speeding cars like Meet Joe Black. The farmers all celebrated her death like the toppling of Saddam's statue, and resumed blaming their sheep deaths on wolves and wild dogs.
The Endangered Species Act Is Bringing a Species to Extinction
The scimitar oryx is a kind of antelope, despite the mythological creature its name suggests. It was hunted into near oblivion by people who believed they were a source of unicorn horn, even though oryxes have two horns and unicorns do not exist.
It does kind of look like one horn, from just the right angle.
The animal is officially considered extinct in the wild, yet there are a small number of living specimens scattered throughout private collections all over the world. As of last year, 11,000 of them were living on ranches in Texas, where they're bred and raised for private hunts, because Texas does not give one yodeling buttshit about anything.
Honestly, though, the oryxes don't have it that bad -- they roam huge open spaces ranging in size from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of acres, and their populations are kept in perfect control, with no more than 15 percent of the animals being hunted in a given year. The fact that Big Texas wants to keep the species alive for hunting is arguably one of the best things to happen to the oryx since humans decided to start killing them for fun.
Live free then die.
At least it was, until 2012, when the oryx finally received the full protection of the Endangered Species Act at the urging of several animal rights groups. This meant oryx ranchers could no longer freely offer oryx hunts, whereas before they could earn a cool $3,500 to $22,500 from the death of each animal. Despite the Fish and Wildlife Service's special exemption allowing ranchers to continue breeding oryxes for hunting as long as they bought a few special permits, 90 percent of Texas' 400 oryx ranchers refused to continue operating under the new guidelines, because if you can't shoot an endangered species on your own terms, then what the fuck is the point?
Some ranchers sold their oryxes at livestock auctions. Others straight-up shot their oryxes, including one rancher who threatened to kill all his oryxes as vermin, even though doing so would've been totally illegal under the Endangered Species Act. So, to clarify, you can't kill an endangered animal for no reason, but you can kill one for money.
You can only kill to preserve the balance of life. This too can be explained with a Disney song.
Surely this was an unexpected development for all of the animal advocacy groups that pushed for the stricter enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. There's no way they could foresee that cracking down on the oryx ranchers would actually end up hurting the oryxes ... oh wait, never mind. They totally saw it coming, and pushed for it anyway: Priscilla Feral, head of the animal rights group Friends of Animals, says she would rather see the oryx go completely extinct (not "no more left in the wild" extinct, like we mentioned earlier, but "utterly wiped from the face of the planet" extinct, like the dinosaurs) than be kept alive on hunting ranches simply to be killed for sport. She totally supports the ranchers exterminating all of their oryxes in the wake of the newly enforced regulations, because she believes it's a better fate for the animals. The oryxes themselves would probably disagree.
Related Reading: On the upside, elephants are evolving tusks just to avoid poachers. And while we may suck at saving animals, some of them are pretty good at saving us. Lulu the pig even managed to save her owner from a heart attack. For a look at the ways you're making your pet hate you, click here.
You know what else qualifies as animal torture? These viral videos.
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