Be an animal rescuer. Rescues are actions that liberate abused animals. Often the animals are maltreated and their welfare is disregard by the authorities. Frequent target animals for rescues are hens and pigs at factory farms, dogs and rabbits at animal experiment laboratories, fur-bearers at fur farms, and then there are canned hunts, slaughterhouses and any place where people make animals suffer.
Rescues can be clandestine or open. Rescues are clandestine or closed when the rescuers hide their identity and avoid the law. Clandestine rescuers turn animals loose to fend for themselves or provide animals with veterinary aid if sick and place them in caring homes. Open rescuers may also do this, but in addition they maximise publicity for the abused animals and the cause of animal rights. The rescuers reveal their identity to the media, thoroughly explain their reasons for their activism, and challenge the law about animal abuse. They are prepared to go to court to defend their actions and if necessary go to prison.
Open rescuing goes back at least to the 1980's when Australian Patty Mark, in Melbourne, Australia, organised Animal Liberation Victoria to stage open rescues. Open rescues then spread from Australia to Sweden, Germany, the United States and other countries.
Basically, it goes like this. You need reliable knowledge of your target property, particularly when you want sure evidence of the abuse. This you could do initially by scouting about unannounced, which might amount to a mild trespass. On the actual rescue collect your documentary evidence with video and/or stills photos of the conditions of the animals; finally open cages as necessary. For morally corrupt but legal abuse circulate your evidence widely in the social media and to animal advocacy organisations.
On an open rescue and when the abuse is illegal, your evidence must be able to stand up in a court of law. Make duplicates of your evidence, your personal details and why you carried out the raid. Give duplicates to the police, your lawyer and social media. Demand that the authorities prosecute the abusers for breaking the law. All is well should the law actually take effective action; in this case you win, subject to being prosecuted for trespass or burglary, and might go on to find another target. However, it is likely the law will not take action or be sluggishly slow and do nothing effective. You may have to return and liberate more animals for better publicity. Declare that you accept and welcome the prospect that you may be prosecuted in court and that you are ready to fight your case and serve time in prison. Your argument is that the authorities would not take action (or no effective action) and therefore you had no alternative but to act illegally. Squeeze out as much publicity as you can.
What You Need to Be a Rescuer
For open rescues you should:
- Know how to operate cameras to collect evidence.
- Understand animal welfare laws of your state to know whether the animal abuse you see is illegal.
- Know how to generate the most publicity.
- Be able to say goodbye to your family and job in case you spend time in jail.
For closed rescues some of the above also applies but in addition:
- You should also be good at evading the law.
For both open and closed rescues:
Pros and Cons
- You need a burning desire to act as a rescuer and accept any consequences that befall you.
Clandestine rescuers can keep on freeing animals (provided they avoid prison) but tend not to win over the public or make the law on animal welfare more effectively enforced. Your honesty, candour and non-aggression on open rescues may in the long run encourage a sympathetic response by the public. When you do not damage property the media are more likely to focus on the animals, their suffering and the reluctance of the authorities to enforce the law about animal welfare.
If you damage property then you may throw away your moral advantage because the media are likely to focus on that and vilify you as an animal rights extremist and belittle your actions. However, open rescue is not for everyone. Open rescues take up more time, money and effort if you have to defend yourself in law courts. You may not want to jeopardize your career by going to prison or want a criminal record. You are not able to go on more rescues while inside but could spend time profitably by publishing your memoires.
Rescuing abused animals is certainly worthwhile, especially for the rescued animals, if they do not die immediately after release from predation or starvation. However, rescues have their critics. Some people take the view that you have a responsibility to abide by the law, and therefore not engage in any kind of rescue, but instead pursue your goals by legal and democratic means. Then again other people will see rescues as a moral good that exposes animal abuse and illegal operators and reveals weaknesses in the law and its enforcement. If you have tried every avenue without success then you may have no choice but to engage in direct action. The irony is that too often the law-breaking perpetrators of animal abuse get away with their violation while the open rescuers are nicked and end up behind bars: a socio-legal hypocrisy.
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