Debra Saunders/Animal rights

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Debra J. Saunders/Animal rights. For more general information, please see main SW article Debra J. Saunders.

Conservative columnist Debra J. Saunders is the spouse of Wesley J. Smith, 'a senior fellow on animal rights issues at the Discovery Institute'. She has on occasion used her column to attack animal rights activism. Editorials have quoted from front groups such as the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) and the Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) to make their points. [1], [2]


According to Debra Saunders:

"PETA prefers to spend donations, apparently, not caring for flesh and blood animals entrusted to it but on campaigns attacking medical researchers, meat-eaters or women wearing furs. It is as if PETA prefers the idea of animals to animals themselves. PETA's Web site spun the story under the banner, 'PETA helping animals in North Carolina' with an emphasis on its efforts to 'solve the animal overpopulation in North Carolina.' Here's more: 'PETA has provided euthanasia services to various counties in that state to prevent animals from being shot with a .22 behind a shed or gassed in windowless metal boxes -- both practices that were carried out until PETA volunteered to provide painless death for the animals.' Make that painless deaths for animals that could have found love." [3]

In this article, she cited David Martosko of CCF:

"Martosko hopes animal lovers will learn that their donations will do more good at a local animal shelter than at PETA. "For years," he added, "we thought that PETA just cared for animals more than they cared for humans. But now it seems they don't care much for either." [4]

CCF sponsors have included Phillip Morris, Monsanto, Tyson Foods and Dean Foods. These corporations have a long history of gross animal welfare violations, human rights, health and environmental abuses. See also Richard Berman cares about animals: clients exposed.

David Martosko has also advocated for puppy mills. See also Missouri puppy mills & Prop B.

NC gas chambers, stats & local services

Over 250,000 homeless animals are killed in North Carolina shelters annually. In NC, over 20 county shelters still use gas chambers and other inhumane methods. Animals gasp for breath while they slowly suffocate. Witnesses have seen animals struggling and wailing for up to ten minutes before succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning. In their panic, some bite themselves and each other and beat their heads against the walls while they choke and vomit. Groups of up to 25 animals are gassed together and some will not die the first time. At least 3 NC gas chambers have exploded and four government employees who operate gas chambers have died from heart and lung problems in recent years.[5]

PETA provides free services to local animal shelters, constructs shelters and provides free local spay/neuter services. They also advocate for chained and "backyard dogs. [6] They have spent over $300,000 on services to NC shelters in the past few years. [7]

See also PETA, sections 2 & 4.

NAIA & foie gras advocacy

According to Debra Saunders, animal activists who rescue and rehabilitate ducks are 'zealots':

"Zealots from groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Gourmet Cruelty contend that force-feeding ducks is cruel." [8]

In this article, she cited Patti Strand, National Director of the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), a front group and industry funded lobbying organization for animal commerce and agriculture based in Portland, Oregon:

"People don't recognize that this is a war rather than a public relations event," noted Patti Strand of the National Animal Interest Alliance, an Oregon- based group that challenges animal rights extremists." [9]

NAIA agendas include financial interests, legislation and public relations related to farm animal agribusiness, commercial breeding, hunting, fishing, trapping, fur ranching, animal testing, horse slaughter, rodeos, circuses and entertainment. [10] For 20 years, Ms. Strand has lobbied against humane legislation for animals.

See also NAIA, section 2.

Foie gras ducks and geese are de-billed, detoed, and confined to filthy cages. They are force fed nutritionally incomplete gruel pumped down their throats through a metal pipe several times a day, causing bruising, lacerations and sometimes death. Force feeding creates a grossly over sized and diseased liver called foie gras. Ducks and geese spend their short lives gasping, regurgitating and struggling to move.[11]

See also animals raised & hunted for food.

The Fur Commission is a member of both D.I. and the NAIA. [12]

AMP, product testing & banker advocacy

Ms. Saunders has also defended Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a controversial company which conducts product testing on animals:

"They're proud they terrorize families and destroy small businesses so that ducks can work out. Worst of all, they often succeed - because they'll harass anyone. British activists targeted Huntingdon Life Sciences, which produces animals for medical research, by harassing employees and shareholders of banks, auditors and insurers that did business with the multinational corporation." [13]

An article entitled 'American Terrorist', features HLS as well as the notorious University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) animal laboratories. In this article, she quotes AMP President, Jacquie Calnan. [14] Corporations which contract test out to HLS include members of AMP's own board of directors; GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Abbott Laboratories, Sanofi-Aventis and Merck. [15] UCLA is also represented on the board of AMP.

See also UCLA & Americans for Medical Progress, section 2.

HLS & SHAC campaign

HLS is the 3rd largest contract research organization (CRO) in the world and the largest animal testing facility in Europe. Firms hire CROs to conduct toxicity animal testing for agrochemicals, petrochemicals, household products, pharmaceuticals and toxins. HLS has a long history of gross animal welfare violations. They are the only laboratory in the United Kingdom ever to have their license revoked by the government.[16]

The Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign was set up at the end of 1999 by a group of UK activists and has since become an international campaign. Groups in the UK, USA, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and other countries target HLS and global corporations that support them. [17]

See also Huntingdon Life Sciences, & animal testing, section 3 on product (toxicity) testing.

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles


  1. Debra J. Saunders Better Dead than Fed, Discovery Institute, June 2005
  2. Debra J. Saunders, American Terrorist, DI, June 2007
  3. Debra J. Saunders Better Dead than Fed, San Francisco Chronicle, June 2005
  4. Debra J. Saunders Better Dead than Fed, San Francisco Chronicle, June 2005
  5. Cruel Killing, Funded By Your Taxes, NC Commission for Humane Euthanasia, accessed February 2010
  6. The Cruel, Dangerous Practice of Chaining Dogs, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed February 2009
  7. PETA’s Work Helping Animals in North Carolina,, accessed February 2009
  8. Debra J. Saunders "Reject foie gras jihadists", San Francisco Chronicle, Sept 2003
  9. Debra J. Saunders Reject foie gras jihadists, San Francisco Chronicle, Sept 2003
  10. Sites of interest, National Animal Interest Alliance, accessed January 2009
  11. Elevages Perigord, Farm Sanctuary, August 2007
  12. What is Fur Commission USA?, Fur Commission, accessed June 2009
  13. Debra J. Saunders "Reject foie gras jihadists", San Francisco Chronicle, Sept 2003
  14. Debra J. Saunders American Terrorist, DI, June 2007
  15. Inside Customers,, January 2011
  16. Dr. Jerry Vlasik Testimony of Jerry Vlasik, M.D.: Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (“SHAC”) Eco-terrorism, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, October 2005
  17. Introduction to SHAC,, accessed May 2009

External articles

External resources