About ALF
Lessons through mistakes of an ALF member:

by CLEAR CANDLE   [email protected]

I spent two @#%$! weeks of vacation time and $1000 protesting and getting support to save a whale trapped in a bay, ignoring the fact that a week spent at the animal shelter (where I volunteer) would likely have saved 10 lives (finding homes, additional cost savings to the shelter).

This is possibly more reprehensible than a person who eats beef believing that cows live a happy life before they die.

I knew what I was doing. Knowledge should be more than power--it should be obligation.

Ironically, I sometimes find it frustrating that the public is not aware of the animal abuse that goes on behind closed doors. Yet, I sometimes spend time saving one animal at the expense of many due to my laser focus on events in front of me. Not all actions are equal. I am frequently faced with the choice of 'Do I save animal A or animal B?' Here are some suggested things to consider when evaluating a potential AR activity (beware of 'paralysis of analysis'):

1. Cost. Time, money, and emotional energy spent (my mistake: rescuing an animal that was near-death and spending large amounts of money on medical bills, then running out of money for an operation that would have saved an otherwise healthy animal).

2. Danger to other sentient beings. Take into account humans as well as rodents you can't see. Realize that 'change' may upset a miniature ecosystem on which some beings may rely.

3. Improvement in the quality of life of the 'to-be saved' animal (is there a good home or safe environment for it?).

4. Public opinion. (My mistake: rescuing an animal and then, in frustration, spray-painting an obscenity on the wall). The obscenity made the news (nowadays there is no news without pictures) and the slant of the news-story was anti-AR. Result: More folks will probably turn a deaf ear to AR issues.

5. Effect on the business losing the animal. (My mistake: liberating an animal from an experiment that was subsequently replaced with a 'brand new' test subject. Although the liberation forced the company to buy a new security system, the company did not reduce the amount of testing. The only effect of causing economic damage was to stockholders--NOT a good reason).

Other activities:

1. Internet opinion polls -- Expense: 5 minutes to read and vote. Gain: Our follow-up on polls that we thought were meaningful revealed the websites considered them 'for fun' to 'attract web traffic' and 'not deemed scientific'. No course of action was changed. Your time is better spent with e-mail campaigns (below).

2. Letter writing / e-mail campaigns -- Expense: 10 minutes to cut, paste, print and mail/send. Gain: Our follow-up shows that many industry leaders, judges, and politicians count each letter, frequently respond to the individual who sent the letter, and many do change their course of action. Many admit to being unaware of the AR Activists' perspective. Time is well spent if the issue is important to you.

3. Informing people seeking information. After I have answered their first question, what next? Of course, this depends on the individual. But I have inadvertently overwhelmed people. It was too temping to share my knowledge. And few people can make a lot of changes to their lives. When I have seen long-term change in folks, here is how the discussions started:

a. Vegetarian/Vegan health -- many people have a positive reaction to the facts in books like 'Diet for a New America.'

b. Hunting/Fishing -- if you tell someone about the evils of factory farming and they still eat meat, logically it is hypocritical to be concerned about someone who hunts. At least hunters aren't having someone else do their killing. Wait for them to ask.

c. Entertainment -- Zoos, circuses, rodeos, etc. Save this for when you learn they are attending such an event.

d. Factory farming -- share some info about beef, pork, and chicken. It might help them stick to their new veggie diet.

e. Animal testing -- it is surprising difficult to get folks to change their shopping habits, which include grabbing the same old products without examining the box. It sometimes helps to tell people they can save money and help animals by buying 'generic' brands. These are usually copies of the same product the major companies make.

4. Debating with opponents of AR -- you might as well spend your time talking to yourself. In 15 years the only folks who approached me with an attitude and then actually listened and discussed issues, were folks who calmed down immediately when presented with a cool response. If they remain argumentative and don't care about your first several answers, they won't change. Even if one did, it is not a statistically reasonable way to allocate your time. Your knowledge of AR is a valuable resource. Don't waste it.

5. Demonstrations -- In this age of the media sound byte, demonstrations that get news coverage further the awareness of the masses, who, for the most part, are not evil -- just uninformed.

6. Donations to AR organizations -- There is clout in numbers. Support them, but be aware of organizations that consider animal welfare to mean protecting animals for hunters. Stay with the big orgs unless you've done your homework.


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