The Summit and the top of the heap
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1997:
SACRAMENTO––Belton Mouras, founder of both
the Animal Protection Institute and United Animal Nations,
resigned the UAN presidency on March 26 in a seeming replay
of his exit from API almost exactly ten years before.
Mouras founded API in 1968, after about six years as
California representative for the Humane Society of the U.S.,
and went on to found UAN later in 1987.
Former UAN staffer Jeane Westin now chairs the
UAN board, while former vice president Deanna Soares has
become executive director. Mouras almost immediately
accepted a job as development officer for the Performing
Animal Welfare Society, while former UAN program director
Vernon Weir resigned separately to take a similar post with the
Association of Sanctuaries (TAOS).
Mouras told ANIMAL PEOPLE that push came to
shove after UAN received two major bequests and enjoyed an
unusually successful direct mail appeal on behalf of the UANsponsored
Emergency Animal Rescue Service. By fluke, the
appeal reached recipients just as the late January flooding in
California put EARS in the news.
Westin and Soares apparently intend to restructure
UAN around support of EARS, directed by Terri Crisp from
her home in Santa Clara, California, about 120 miles from the
head office in Sacramento. Mouras said he had opposed delegating
administrative authority to satellite offices.
Under the new regime, UAN will no longer underwrite
the Summit for the Animals, an annual meeting of animal
rights group executives that Mouras began in 1984. A move is
presently underway on the part of the Summit organizing committee
to restructure itself, from ad hoc preparation for a single
event to advancing a political agenda introduced this year as
“Platform 2000,” as a fulltime animal rights umbrella.
Member organizations would pay hefty annual dues to maintain
a professional Summit staff.
Objecting, Humane Farming Association president
Brad Miller withdrew from this year’s Summit on April 10,
after 12 years of participation.
“Will pasting together a platform or a federation-like
entity mean that we will become greater than the sum of our
parts?” Miller asked in an open letter. “No,” he continued,
expressing concern “about how susceptible to manipulation the
Summit has become,” amounting to “little more than a personal
and political platform for a very few individuals.” Miller
especially noted the “perennial role” of Animals’ Agenda editor
and Summit organizing committe member Kim Stallwood.
“At the Summit,” Miller charged, “Stallwood can be
seen waving a banner for unity. The problem is that Stallwood
has been and continues to be among the most partisan in-fighters
in our movement.” Miller noted the elimination this year of
the “Open Forum,” after Stallwood was rebuked during the
1996 “Open Forum” for allegedly misrepresenting the views of
groups including HFA on a then-pending matter of legislation.
This year, 13 participants who requested time at least
two weeks in advance were allowed to deliver brief prepared
statements, the topics of which were prescreened by the organizing
committee. The most controversial topic accepted may
have been a suggestion by Henry Spira of Animal Rights
International that organizations should prioritize issues according
to the number of animals suffering and the intensity of the
situation, which would dictate far more attention to the nine
billion chickens killed annually and far less to “freeing” particular
animals from one captive situation only to live in another.
Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights president
Nedim Buyukmihci raised “the need to set ethical policies
regarding the exchange of mailing lists,” complaining that
“some groups exchange names of former donors who are
deceased or inactive.”
Gene Bauston, president of Farm Sanctuary,
announced “a joint project of Farm Sanctuary and the Peace
Abbey,” based in Sherborn, Massaschusetts, “to create an animal
rights monument in Los Angeles.” The Peace Abbey is
sanctuary to a celebrity cow, Emily, who escaped from a truck
a litte over two years ago en route to slaughter. Some years
ago it commissioned a Pacifist Memorial in Sherborn, featuring
a lifesized statue of Gandhi. The project was completed on
credit, but was reportedly nearly foreclosed earlier this year
until bailed out by an anonymous gift of $177,000.
The notion of uniting animal advocacy groups to pursue
common political goals has been around at least since 1876,
when it was the founding purpose of the American Humane
Association. The 21 founders of the AHA discovered within
one year of their first annual meeting, in 1877, that it was necessary
to split the organization into the still existing child protection
and animal protection divisions, due to the differing
mandates of general-purpose anti-cruelty societies and societies
formed specifically for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Anti-vivisection societies then separated from all the
others, led by Women’s Humane Society founder Carolyn
Earle White, who independently incorporated the American
Anti-Vivisection Society in 1883 because she felt that both the
mainstream humane movement and the anti-vivisection cause
could make faster headway alone than either could if obliged to
fight not only its own opposition but also foes of the other.
Even after that split reduced internal tension, the
AHA still nearly disbanded in 1884, after two years of acrimony
over a strong stance by leadership against the then ongoing
massacre of the American bison and the cruelties of cattle
transport and slaughter. Humane societies whose focus was on
founding orphanages, promoting temperance, and seeking
women’s suffrage objected that attacking hunting and the meat
industry were beyond the humane mandate, and would retard
progress toward immediate ends.
The schism didn’t heal until after the death of
American SPCA founder Henry Bergh, whose successors
backed away from opposition to hunting, captive bird shooting,
and fur trapping circa 1895 to win the New York City animal
control contract, while the AHA retreated from an umbrella
role to operate orphanages for New York state. The meat
industry abuses first raised in 1882 and mentioned sporadically
thereafter would not again be addressed as a central humane
concern until after the AHA ceased operating orphanages
(1950) and moved to Denver (1956), after which the Humane
Slaughter Act (1958) became the first national law to protect
animals other than wildlife.