So ALF provided the media with a tape of their recent "direct action" at the University of Iowa — which action resulted in the vandalization of lab equipment and the removal of several hundred lab animals, mainly rats and mice. But is ALF now guilty of a crime far more heinous than the one they're self-rightuously taking credit for?
Are they, in fact, guilty of mistreating and abusing — perhaps even engineering the demise of — the very animals they claim to have liberated?
University veterinarian Paul Cooper said the roughly 400 mice and rats an animal rights group claims it took from University of Iowa research labs and placed in homes are in great danger.
"This is a great risk, and it was obvious the people handling them had no knowledge of proper handling," Cooper said Tuesday. "It put these animals at a lot of risk."
Although he has yet to see the damage in Spence Laboratories and Seashore Hall, he has seen several minutes of a videotape sent to local media this week that documents the acts. He described the animals as "obviously stressed, nearly frantic" and dumped into large, plastic tubs topped with hard, plastic covers. . . .
From what he saw on the video, Cooper said the boxes the animals were carried in provided inadequate air supply and no visible access to water. The animals could have died from lack of oxygen and water, he said, or from being overcrowded in a small area that would cause the temperature of the area to rise significantly and rapidly. If loaded into a cold vehicle, the animals could become hypothermic, Cooper said.
One or two animals have been found loose without food or water and are under the care of UI animal care staff, he said.
Cooper added that animals used in UI research are bred and raised for research under strict controls of disease prevention. That means the rats and mice have not been exposed to typical rodent diseases, such as upper respiratory diseases or hepatitis-type viruses.
Hmmm. Well, in light of the self-incriminating evidence ALF provided, I guess I wonder how we can be assured that the valiant "liberators" provided adequate care for the animals they "liberated?"
Now, an e-mail received by the media, purportedly from the ALF, claims that the animals were checked by a vet and placed in loving homes:
"Our goal is total abolition of all animal exploitation, achieved in the short term by delivering the 401 animals from UI's chamber of hell," the e-mail said.
It said mice and rats taken in the attack were not released into the wild, but were examined and treated by a "sympathetic veterinarian" and placed into "loving homes."
Examined and treated by a "sympathetic vet," and placed into "loving homes" ...
Would the animals be kept imprisoned in cages in those loving homes, or allowed the run of the house so to speak? (I don't see how being caged squares with being "liberated.")
How can we, any of us, AR zealots of the PeTA ilk, or animal welfarists like myself, be sure that the "loving homes" are — well — loving homes?
We have only ALF's word for it that the animals are better off now than they were while passing their time in the University of Iowa's animal care facility! We certainly can't rule out the possibility that ALF delivered the animals to a fate far worse than the one they faced in their lab cages — and that possibility comes into particularly sharp relief given the animals' distress and the mishandling of them that Dr. Cooper observed on the ALF-provided tape.
I think ALF owes it to all of us, ALF supporters and opponents alike, to prove to us that the animals they stole are being properly cared for.
After all, wasn't the animals' welfare the rationale for the entire liberation enterprise?