Summer 2017: Demanding Nonhuman Rights, No Matter the Obstacles
By Lauren Choplin
NhRP Communications Director
Aug. 22, 2017
I’ve managed the NhRP inbox for about three and a half years now. Chances are good that if you write to us, you’re going to hear back from me! 😊 I consider this aspect of my job a great privilege and responsibility. Every day, people from all over the country and world entrust to us their concerns, questions, and stories. Some stories are heartbreaking, such as a companion animal being harmed without consequence or a roadside zoo that somehow continues to operate even though it’s clear that nonhuman animals suffer there. Inspiring stories too: of changes for animals that you’re working to secure in your own communities, no matter the obstacles.
Together, these stories, thousands upon thousands of them, add up to why the movement for nonhuman rights exists and is growing. In this edition of the NhRP newsletter, we highlight a few:
At the Animal Rights 2017 National Conference, over 2,000 animal advocates got together to share stories of individual and collective victories for animals, what’s working and what we can do better. In his Opening Plenary Talk, NhRP President Steven M. Wise called on the audience to stop asking for improved animal welfare and to start demanding actual legal rights. Otherwise, many of these victories can and will evaporate depending on who holds political power or how well a corporation is able to persuade the public that the animals it “owns” are perfectly happy. As we let you know last week, you can find the video and transcription of Steve’s talk at the conference on our blog, as well as a recap by NhRP staff.
Also on the blog
- Jean Colison tells the story of what raised her awareness of animal suffering in the 1960s and why she chose to become a member of the NhRP’s newly created Tommy’s Legacy Society (in honor of our first client, Tommy).
- NhRP Intern Alex Kleinman goes all the way back to his childhood ambition to be a “fish doctor” to explain how he came to support nonhuman rights and what he’d like to do to help animals after he graduates from college.
- The NhRP’s Matthew Dominguez highlights the work of three unconventional organizations—Encompass, Condition One, and Animal Charity Evaluators—changing the nonhuman rights movement for the better.
- NhRP supporter Peggy Rothbaum draws on her own experiences to explain how advocates for nonhuman animals can recognize and prevent burnout.
- The NhRP’s Shirley Steigman provides an inside look at our legal working groups in 12 countries on four continents.
- The NhRP’s Lisa Rainwater reviews Aph and Syl Ko’s new book Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters.
Speaking of how people come to be committed to helping animals, I love Steve’s answer to the first question in My Dream for Animals’ new interview with him: “I have always been upset by the mistreatment of nonhuman animals and was writing to my state representative to complain about their mistreatment when I was in junior high school. I have spent almost my entire life living with rescue dogs and cats and spent many years defending dogs from the threat of execution. Some nonhuman animals I love. Some I like. And some scare the hell out of me. But I would fight for the interests of them all.”
If you’re interested in how I got involved in the legal fight for nonhuman rights, NhRP supporter Hope Ferdowsian interviewed me for her blog!
What’s Coming Up
- We tentatively plan to file our first habeas corpus petition on behalf of captive elephants in October. Like our chimpanzee rights cases, this case will include affidavits from the world’s foremost experts on elephants’ cognitive and emotional complexity.
- We’re working on a translation of the July 27th decision in the case of Chucho, a spectacled bear whom a Colombian judge granted a writ of habeas corpus. While this ruling was good news for Chucho and the fight for nonhuman rights, the decision has been challenged in a higher court and is under appeal. We’re keeping an eye on it and will issue a blog post soon.
- The legal team is planning to appeal Tommy’s and Kiko’s cases to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. In June, a New York appellate court arbitrarily denied them personhood and rights.
- NhRP President Steven M. Wise will participate in the 2017 International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg from September 7-9 and in the Paredes de Coura Vegetariana International Congress on September 9-10. Both events will feature screenings of Pennebaker Hegedus Films’ documentary about the NhRP, Unlocking the Cage.
- NhRP Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations Matthew Dominguez will speak at Salt Lake City VegFest on Sep. 9.
- NhRP Executive Director Kevin Schneider will lead a Q&A following a screening of Unlocking the Cage at Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee on Sep. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Thank you as always, and we’ll have more news to share very soon!
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