BOOKS: Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1998:

Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare
Edited by Marc Bekoff with Carron A. Meaney
Greenwood Publishing Group (POB 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007), 1998.
472 pages, hardcover, $59.95.

Extensive but incomplete, and
inherently unreliable due to partisan composition
and editing, the Encyclopedia of Animal
Rights and Animal Welfare purports be a single-source
backgrounder on major animal
protection issues. Compilers Marc Bekoff
and Carron A. Meaney erred, however, in
entrusting authorship of key entries to
employees of major advocacy organizations.
Their work was apparently not subjected to
well-informed nonpartisan scrutiny. Second
opinions are offered on only a handful of the
most obviously controversial topics, e.g. zoos
and biomedical research. The result is much
uncontested repetition of inaccurate dogma.

Under “Trapping,” for instance,
Cathy Liss of the Animal Welfare Institute
asserts that “Steel-jaw leghold traps are the
most commonly used traps for catching animals
for the fur trade.” This has not been true
for more than 30 years. Conibear traps are
more widely used against riparian animals
such as muskrat and nutria. Snares prevail in
trapping foxes, coyotes, wolves, and rabbits.
Liss also recites the longtime AWI
claim that “Footsnares can greatly reduce the
amount of pain and injury caused to trapped
animals.” This might be convenient to argue
in trying to ban steel-jawed leghold traps, but
is likewise incorrect, as I saw during 12 winters
of detecting and removing illegal
traplines in rural Quebec. Neither leghold
traps nor snares are in any way humane.
Martha Armstrong of the Humane
Society of the U.S. asserts under “Pet Theft”
that the 1990 Pet Theft Act has “only slightly
decreased” pet theft for laboratory use. In
fact, the number of pet thefts verifiably associated
with lab supply fell from 334 in the
four years before the act came into effect, to
77 over the next two years, to zero since
1994, after a high-profile USDA crackdown
against notorious alleged offenders.
Excluded is any history which
might raise doubts about the credibility of
contributors. For instance, a two-page entry
on the Humane Society of the U.S. claims it
had a “prominent” role in the passage of several
items of legislation, which others
involved might credibly dispute, but ignores
questions prominently raised over the years
about HSUS fiscal and political integrity.
The author is HSUS vice president Randall
Lockwood, whose affiliation is unmentioned.
Also missing, though advertised on
the publisher’s flak sheet, is an “alphabetical
listing of entries” which might tell users just
what is included, under what heading. That
makes locating particular topics a matter of
guesswork. So far as I can tell, though, there
seems to be no discussion of no-kill sheltering,
the fastest growing trend in animal care
and control during the 1990s, against the
opposition of HSUS. The “Shelters” entry
was authored by HSUS staffer Sally Fekety.
The selective ignorance of the editors
and authors is particularly clear from an
appendix containing “a representative list of
organizations that provide humane education
materials.” ANIMAL PEOPLE is omitted,
along with eight of our nine biggest advertisers:
the North Shore Animal League, Pet
Savers Foundation, Humane Farming
Association, Animal Rights International,
San Francisco SPCA, Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society, DELTA Rescue,
Chicago Animal Rights Coalition, and Doing
Things For Animals. Likewise omitted are
former prominent advertisers including the
Delta Society, Friends of Animals, and Our
Animal Wards.
Each, however, is a national or
global leader in an important aspect of
humane work, each does more serious
humane education than many of the outfits
which are listed, and each represents a perspective
challenging that of HSUS.

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