Of puppy love and gorilla rights

By Mark Trapp
web posted October 16, 2000

The animal rights activists never cease to amaze me. If we could put them in zoos, I'd pay admission just to come watch and hear their antics. It would be at least as good as watching one monkey pick another's back and it would have the added benefit of keeping them away from civilized society and obstructing important research. They shouldn't object -- most of them care more for animals and their rights than humans anyway. They should put their money where their mouth is and go live in the zoo.

A recent example is quite illustrative of the mind set of these people. For more than nine years, Dr. Michael Berens has conducted ground-breaking research into brain cancers called gliomas, which kill ninety percent of their victims within two years. Dr. Berens wanted to find out how the cancer develops, in hopes of creating an effective treatment for those afflicted with this malady. However, Berens used beagle puppies in his experiments. And that got the animal rights crowd all worked up.

These people objected to the use of puppies in Berens' experiments, and recently succeeded in having him removed from his adjunct position at Arizona State University. Berens feels that his research was justified by the thousands of people it could possibly save. His boss at the Barrow Neurological Institute said, "Look, I'm trying to save a child – if I sacrifice rats and mice or an occasional dog in order to save a child, I think it's justified."

Most normal people would agree. While it is unpleasant to think of a puppy being subjected to these experiments, for most people, it is far worse to imagine their own child, or any child, being afflicted with a brain cancer that could have been prevented through experiments on animals.

However, for people like Dr. Pat Haight, the use of animals for experiments designed to save human lives is tantamount to murder. Said Haight: "I have a problem with using a subject that can't give informed consent. I also have a problem with making puppies sick, making them sick in the worst possible way." When asked if 150 puppies over the course of ten years of research was a small price to pay in the fight against a disease that kills 14,000 people in the same time frame, Haight said, "Ask the puppy."

Ask the puppy? See, this is the problem -- this woman apparently feels that the puppy might have something to say in the matter. They surely aren't experts on brain tumors. In case Dr. Haight is unaware of it, her idea of asking dogs for their input into brain cancer research certainly establishes her as a first-rate nut case.

Dr. Haight has also stated that she would not even give her dog's life to save her own daughter's. Can you believe that? I suppose that if she, her daughter, and her dog were stranded on a desert island with no food, instead of her and her daughter eating the dog, Dr. Haight and the dog would enjoy a tasty meal of Haight's daughter. What is wrong with this woman? Maybe she has a brain tumor. Too bad she is opposed to Dr. Berens' research; he may have been able to help her out.

One would hope that Dr. Haight is an exception, but in the world of animal rights, her thinking is directly in line with other wackos. For instance, the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals once said that "Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but 6 billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses." Whatever other merits this woman may have, equating the Holocaust with dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken shows that she has the intelligence of a brick.

Peter Singer

Another group, co-founded by Peter Singer, a professor at Princeton University, titles itself the Great Apes Legal Project, and asserts as its goal "to establish legal rights for nonhuman great apes, including the right to life, liberty and protection from torture." They also hope to "compel the judicial system to recognize our fellow apes as beings, not things, and take them out of the property class of the law."

Our fellow apes? I'll bet that Professor Singer and Dr. Haight would have absolutely no problem with experimenting on humans in an effort to prevent animal diseases. The fact that they place less emphasis on human life than animal life is evidenced by the fact that Professor Singer has suggested that parents should have 28 days following the birth of their child to decide whether to keep it or kill it. You can bet your last dollar that he wouldn't advocate the same treatment for, say, a pet gorilla or a beagle puppy. After all, these animals have rights.

Maybe we should be conducting research into what makes people like this tick. Obviously, they are all certifiably crazy. Which brings me back to my original proposal – let's put these crazies in the zoo, where they can no longer obstruct important research. Dr. Berens can continue his quest for saving human lives, and Dr. Haight and Professor Singer can fight over who gets to marry Bobo the gorilla. I'd pay to watch – wouldn't you?

Mark Trapp recently appeared in Enter Stage Right with his first article Racism rears its ugly (potato) head.

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