Who's Who Behind the Unholy Alliance?
National Animal Interest Alliance
by Lisa G. Leming
"Just try and stay out of my
way. Just try! I'll get you,
my pretty and your little dog too!"
--Wicked Witch of the West, Wizard of Oz
The National Animal Interest Alliance is a front organization for special interest groups and board members involved in farm animal agribusiness, vivisection, the fur trade, breeding and entertainment. Its excessive hyperbole, rumor mongering, fear mongering and frantic demands for censorship attempt to deflect public attention from campaigns and investigations which effect its wealthy board and sponsors. This also serves to discredit and marginalize those whom inconveniently expose expose their sponsors to public scrutiny and perhaps even legal action and
accountability. It is probably no coincidence that their most scathing attacks are reserved for PETA. This organization has instigated by far the most investigations and lawsuits concerning its associates and even board. Joan Berosini, spouse of Bobby Berosini, the (former) entertainment industry animal trainer is a former board member.
In 1989, after "Entertainment Tonight" aired a secretly-made video that showed Berosini beating his orangutans night after night about the head, neck and shoulders; a lawsuit was filed by PETA. Numerous affidavits were filed in support; including one by world-renowned primate scientist Jane Goodall. On March 5, 2007 Bobby Berosini lost his final appeal against PETA and was ordered to pay 250,000 in legal fees. Since June of 2001 the NAIA has circulated an unsuccessful Petition to President Bush to revoke PETA's 501 (3) status (featured on a site owned by the fur commission). That is, the same (tax exempt) status as this animal commerce lobbying group.
Terrorist Alert! NAIA sabotages, assaults and torches humane legislation. Criticisms of PETA and HSUS include their campaigns against factory farming and horse slaughter as well as their promotion of mandatory spay/neuter and breeding restrictions. The NAIA has endorsed such practices as factory farming, steel hold leg traps, fur ranching, pound seizure, cosmetics testing and horse slaughter or "horse processing for horses that no longer meet the needs of their owners". The NAIA aggressively opposes mandatory spay/neuter programs; usually instigated by desperate state, city and county governments dealing with shelter over crowding and high euthanasia rates. NAIA website "alerts" overwhelmingly advocate opposition or severe curtailing of laws designed to protect wildlife, marine life, farm animals and other animals used in commerce as well as companion animals. (Their fawning demeanor contrasts with their aggressive attacks on reforms like spay/neuter laws, anti-chaining laws and the PPA). While Ms. Strand and her associates in animal commerce pound on the table for more restrictions, gag orders and harsh penalties for even the most petty infractions; they certainly advocate lawlessness when it suits them. Other "events" are non-welfare, non-advocacy related as in dog trials, AKC events, etc. Others are calls for censorship, restrictions and harsh penalties for activists as well as "terrorist alerts". (1)
IAMS is OK with the NAIA. The NAIA also endorses IAMS dog food; a company under boycott by various humane societies, animal rescues and advocacy groups. The USDA released an official complaint including: the following violations documented by inspectors at the contract laboratory from 2002 to 2005. For nearly 10 months in 2002 and early 2003, a PETA investigator went undercover at an IAMS contract testing laboratory. "Our investigator found dogs who had gone crazy from intense confinement in barren steel cages and cement cells, dogs who had been left on a filthy paint-chipped floor after chunks of muscle had been hacked from their thighs, dogs who had been surgically debarked, and horribly sick dogs and cats who were languishing in their cages, neglected and left to suffer without veterinary care." IAMS pet food also sponsors hunting.
Gillette, NAIA comes to the rescue of cosmetics animal testing. In reference to a PETA sponsored campaign aimed at Gillette, NAIA editor Norma Bennett Woolf states "various federal laws covering product testing require animal tests for some ingredients and products and do not require them for others. Animal testing is required for drug products covered by the FDA. These products include antiperspirants, fluoride toothpastes, hormone creams, sunscreens, and anti-dandruff shampoos. At present, the only tests available to do the job are animal-based tests according to the company and to the US Food and Drug Administration." In apparent desperation to jump on the band wagon for animal testing, Ms. Woolf has decided just to make things up. Why would PETA conduct a 10 year campaign for Gillette to discontinue animal testing required by law? One wonders (given there are actual members of the NAIA) whether they have access to retail or on-line shopping. There are several cruelty free versions for any one of these products. Over 600 hundred similar companies do not animal test. Fluoride toothpastes? Many states and entire countries add fluoride to their public water supply. According to the FDA website; "The FD&C Act does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety, nor does the Act subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval." The FDA in fact, strongly encourages alternatives to animal testing. Both IAMS and Gillette are subsidiaries of Proctor & Gamble. P&G uses approximately 50,000 animals per year to test their products.
The only good cat is a dead cat, stresses the NAIA. Although the group solicits donations on its website for its "shelter project" as well as advertises an "army of volunteers"; the NAIA does not run a physical shelter nor are any board members or volunteers involved in rescuing or fostering animals. Their focus is on influencing legislation, policies, media perception and even studies relating to animals as well as animal welfare and shelter policies. Local NAIA "policies" include the "Cat Trespass Provision"; which amounts to a "provision" to trap and kill pets without contacting the owner to redeem them. "Really, what is the point of a stray cat or even a mongrel owned by some nobody;" said an NAIA spokesperson (who asked not to be identified for fear of possible retaliation from "missing cat owner extremists"). Legitimate advocates (including a recent blue ribbon task force) who oppose this and other "policies"; and point out that they are designed to herd animals into shelters. However, the NAIA seeing through this extremist ploy to further a "terrorist agenda" ignored this sentimental drivel by making the most of this clear window of opportunity! NAIA associate Carolina Biological Supply; admitted to buying dead cats from Portland area shelters.
Embalming of live cats not the real issue. This company even provides an on-line catalog which includes dead cats. In an NAIA article defending CBS from court evidence that includes a video-tape of cats being embalmed while still alive; Norma Bennett Woolf writes: "The court found that the tapes were not reliable because they were incomplete and unclear and were made as part of an undercover investigation by unlicensed investigators who violated the law in the cause of their investigation." Note the odd detachment for the animals' welfare while focusing on a legal technicality. Ms. Woolf focuses on the "political motives" of the "infiltrators" (USDA investigators) as if embalming live cats were merely an annoying side issue. She adds, "the decision aptly describes a questionable relationship between PETA and USDA that each USDA licensee should anticipate in the event of a "PETA attack." Nuf said. The real problem is not cats being embalmed alive or an under-the-table relationship between the NAIA and CBS. No. Though it is understandable that this is how it may appear to the layman who is unschooled in the devious ways of "terrorist infiltrators". "Our cat is now shoved, along with too many other cats, into a wire cage. The cage is much too small and the cats can't even move. Finally, the cage, along with other cages, reaches the biological supply company by truck. This cage, crammed full with living cats, is thrown onto a cement loading dock. Here, a man wearing a rubber apron, beats, pokes and prods the cats with a metal hook. The cats are quiet. They learn too quickly that a meow or hiss or scratch will summon the hook. The warehouse is full of animals, yet it's so quiet. Our cat is put into a small gas chamber (a chamber meant for three to five cats is now packed with twenty-five to thirty of them). A PETA investigator states that, "Through the thick metal door, when the gas is turned on, one can hear their pitiful cries." They're gassed for a maximum of five minutes. Our pregnant cat begins having her kittens while being gassed, but she doesn't die. While she's still alive, too sick to move or fight effectively, she's tied down to a wooden stretch rack where a sponge is stuck in her mouth and a flap of skin is cut away with a knife so that she can be catheterized at the neck to dispense formaldehyde. The formaldehyde causes her ungodly pain; it burns (it is like being injected with hot water). After jerking, struggling, and biting on the sponge shoved into her mouth, our cat finally dies."
Puppies don't need protection from breeders (just ask us!) Defeat of the PPA in 2002. "We won! Patti Strand is quoted as saying. "The PPA was inspired by special interest groups that fund raise using emotional animal welfare issues. As such, it was based on sound bites and depended on evidence from those who aim to restrict all dog breeding... NAIA supports the AKC's conclusion that there is no basis in current science and no consensus among breeders, veterinarians or animal behaviorists as to what constitutes acceptable "socialization standards." Ms. Strand dismissing humane legislation as "extremism" while ignoring a wealth of information, publications, individuals and groups devoted exclusively to this issue. "Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced this amendment that will combat some acute abuses in the puppy mill industry. The amendment - which is based on S. 1478, known as the Puppy Protection Act - creates a "three strikes and you're out" system for the worst offenders who repeatedly violate the Animal Welfare Act. The amendment limits the number of litters for breeding females, to give these dogs time to recover between litters, and mandates that female dogs be at least one year old before they are bred. It also requires that dogs be adequately socialized with other dogs and with people to enhance the dogs' well-being and to help prevent behavior problems in the future. Representatives Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Sam Farr (D-CA) introduced a companion bill, H.R. 3058, which has 135 cosponsors. The House-passed version of the Farm bill, H.R. 2646, does not contain the puppy mill provision." Opposition to this bill did not include welfare advocates or "experts"; but breeders, pet stores and researchers (which includes some veterinarians). Although it has previously declared itself "immune to lobbying"; it is indeed being lobbied by welfare groups for its support of animal cruelty.
Partners in crime. Commercial breeders are often puppy mills that mass produce dogs for sale which are sold in pet stores or on-line. There are reportedly 4,000 to 5,000 puppy mills in the U.S., each with 75 to 150 breeding dogs. Female dogs used for breeding in puppy mills are bred until their bodies give out. Dogs are often "stored" in cramped, usually filthy, dark cages with little care, socialization or human companionship. Dogs in puppy mills have been found starved and/or covered with fleas and tics. In 2006, the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club signed a contract with Petland pet stores to facilitate the registration of dogs sold by Petland and bred by the Hunte Corporation, the largest commercial dog breeder (sometimes referred to as a puppy mill) in the U.S. After a brief flurry of controversy, the AKC rescinded the Petland contract, but as AKC Chairman Ron Menaker notes, the AKC has "been registering AKC eligible puppies from Petland, and every other company selling AKC registrable puppies for the past 122 years." The AKC licenses the litters of puppy mills as these are the registry's largest source of income. In 2006 the AKC registered 870,000 individual dogs and 416,000 litters. At $20 per dog and $25 per litter (plus $2 per puppy) the AKC brought in well over $30 million in revenues from registration of dogs born in puppy mills.
NAIA offers a simple solution to noisey puppy mills and labs. Silence is Golden argues the NAIA (who are excited about the prospect of drafting a similar proposal for noisy animal activists). "Animal welfare issues" on their agenda include: dog ear cropping, tail docking, declawing and debarking. Such unnecessary surgeries are opposed by legitimate welfare groups and many veterinarians will not perform them. Most western nations organized under the International Kennel Federation (of which the AKC is not a member) also condemn cropped ears and docked tails outright. Declawing a cat involves the painful, surgical removal of the last digit of each front paw and it is illegal in Europe. After this procedure cats are unable to defend themselves or escape from danger by climbing a tree. Understandably, many cat owners report severe, negative personality changes after the surgery. "Debarking" of dogs is the surgical removal of tissue from the vocal chords and is illegal in some parts of US. The following is the position of the Assoc. of Pet Dog Trainers: "New Jersey recently joined the growing list of state and local jurisdictions that have introduced and/or passed legislation prohibiting the surgical debarking of dogs. The APDT recognizes that dogs bark for a reason, frequently because they are bored, lonely, threatened, or otherwise distressed. Debarking silences the dog without addressing the environmental issues that are causing the stress and the barking. The owner then has less reason to be aware of the environmental stressors and little or no motivation to reduce or correct them, thus leaving the dog still distressed, but silent." Since debarking is performed by researchers and breeders as a convenience tool, it is predictably endorsed by the NAIA. In this NAIA article, legitimate criticism is dismissed as a "huge myth" and the procedure renamed "bark softening". It adds "People with little first hand knowledge of these procedures sometimes believe that they are cruel and conduct campaigns to ban them. NAIA believes that owners and their veterinarians are best suited to decide these issues and that government should not base new laws on the values and ethics of uninformed citizens or special interest groups." The NAIA makes clear distinctions between itself and "special interest groups".
The real deal. Financial interests, legislation and public perception related to animal agribusiness, hunting, fishing, trapping, fur ranching, blood sports, companion animal breeding and entertainment (rodeo, circus, etc.) as well as legislation, grant monies and tenures dependent on biomedical and cosmetics testing and research using animals. The NAIA keeps careful track of humane animal legislation being proposed across the country at all jurisdiction levels (federal, state, city and county) so that it may aggressively oppose it. This is often done by providing "expert testimony" in the interests of its board and affiliates. However, there are no current and/or previous board members who appear to have past or current backgrounds in animal advocacy or welfare issues. In fact, most (if not all) have conflicting interests in that they are engaged in some form of animal commerce. The National Director (and primary spokesperson) Patti Strand is a Dalmatian Breeder and board member of the American Kennel Club board since 1995. Ms. Strand (like her board) has no background or current involvement in animal welfare or advocacy. Nevertheless, she has co-authored a book on the subject with her husband Rod entitled: "The Hijacking of the Humane Movement: Animal Extremism" (1993, out of print).
(1) To date there has been no documented incident (constituting bodily harm or death) of people or animals by either of their most targeted groups (PETA, ALF). An exception is euthanasia by painless injection; by PETA done at the request of rural shelters still using gas chambers and other incidents involving shelter overflows. Raleigh News Observer. NC euthanasia stats are the 3rd highest in the US at 250,000 dogs and cats a year with 30 counties still using gas chambers. High stats are generally attributed to lack of spay/neuter laws and breeding restrictions opposed by the NAIA & the AKC. In NC counties with spay/neuter laws (Buncombe Co, 2006) euthanasia rates have decreased.