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I Can’t Believe It

Written by Dennis Sun

Those of us who attended the Guardians of the Range Annual Meeting in Worland last week were in for quite an awakening from one of the speakers. Caroline Lobdell, an attorney from Portland, Ore., spoke on the rising issues of animal rights.

Caroline has spoken on this issue before, including at the fall meeting of the Public lands Council in Cody last September, and she did a great job. But, this time, her presentation really hit home for me. Caroline is with the Western Resources Legal Center (WRLC), which represents natural resource users pro-bono. As a non-profit, WRLC receives donations and is governed by a board of directors, some of them public lands ranchers. One of their main goals is working with law students in the law school of Lewis and Clark College. At Lewis and Clark, law students are educated on natural resources and those who use them, including loggers, ranchers, farmers and others who use public lands. It is a great program located in one of the environmental hot-beds of the West – Portland. The Center for Animal Law Studies – that’s right, Animal Law Studies – is also housed at Lewis and Clark College. Be careful, your dog may sue you.

If you think about it, animal rights most likely got its start when Walt Disney produced the movies like Bambi. At the time, it seemed innocent enough, but as the years sped by and those kids who watched those movies grew up, the fawn and bunny with names who talked and acted like humans were considered almost human and had certain rights. Today, you may wind up in court with a lawsuit against you brought on behalf of those animals.

Nobody in their right mind wants to mistreat animals, and I’ll bet that most of the animals or pets on a farm or ranch are some of the best treated around. But outside of the agriculture world, it is a different story.

The radical environmental movement works closely with the animal rights movement, and in some cases, they are winning. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus have retired all of their legendary elephants following more than five years of lawsuits. Ultimately they won, but it cost them a lot of money. The animal rights people take a win, build on it and plan ahead for the next 40 to 50 years. They are driven and have the dollars, and their agenda is mapped out.

Proof of what is happening out in the world around us can be seen in a petition I came across in an article last week. The petition circulating the web calls for a ban on using bits in horses’ mouths. The person leading the movement is a professor emeritus from Tufts University and claims to have studied the horse’s mouth, ears, nose and throat for some 60 years. He says, “Prior to 1997, I might have listed 12 problems as ‘aversions to the bit.’ From research completed since then I now list over 200 negative behaviors and 40 diseases, I kick myself for not having recognized sooner that the bit causes so much mayhem.”

We have all seen people using the wrong bit for a horse, with an adjustment that isn’t right or the wrong person’s hands on the reins. Add all these factors up and we might have trouble, but if all is correct, you’ll have a great ride and can get something done horseback.