The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 14, 2013

Murray: I've had it with PETA

By Robb Murray
rmurray@mankatofreepress.com

---- — OK. At this point, even I've had enough.

I'm not breaking any news here when I say I'm usually sympathetic to the boys and girls fighting the good fight for animals. I mean, who doesn't like a good fur protest? I watch “Whale Wars.” I'd love to join those rebels in their showdown with the evil Japanese whale hunters.

But some of the zany events of the past few weeks have all but erased my sympathy for the animal rights movement, and made me think that, in my old age, it might be time to no longer publicly voice my approval for their antics.

Exhibit A: The curious case of Chris P. Bacon

Have you heard about this pig? If not, I'll bring you up to speed. A few months ago in Florida a pig was born. As cute as he was, he was, for lack of a better term, a relative mutant. His back legs didn't work. So its owner brought him to the local vet to have it put down.

The local vet, however, couldn't bring himself to not give the little guy a chance. So he pulled him from the jaws of death, rigged his hind quarters with a pair of wheels and got him a Twitter account. Now, Chris P. Bacon has been on CNN and every other major news outlet because of A) how flippin' cute he is, and B) because his new owner gave him a reprieve, a second chance, a new lease on life.

Enter the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

They took the vet to task because … wait for it … because of the pig's name. Chris P. Bacon, they whined, is offensive and hurtful. Naming the animal for one its prized meats is an irony too cruel to be given a pass, they say, simply ghastly.

To that I say: hogwash. I also say: PETA, are you for real right now? There are actual animal abuse issues taking place. Go tend to them. This pig was SPARED. There ain't no fight here. Move on.

Exhibit B: Gunnar Boettcher and his hideous backyard bunny

If you haven't seen the video yet of Gunnar doing his best Steve Irwin impression while his brother Zander runs the camera, well then you're in the minority. This thing has gone viral. Gunnar's pretty funny, but the star might be “Frankenstein,” the bunny with a face full of papilloma virus tumors.

It's sad, and arguably hard to look at. But the Boettcher boys of Mankato did their best to have a little fun with a freak of nature. When the video hit the interwebs, however, a lot folks cried foul. Why? Instead of having fun with the situation — and mind you, they never came even remotely close to harming the rabbit — some viewers said the boys should have gotten it some help, that they should have trapped it and transported it to a vet.

To that I say the best response to them is what Gunnar himself said in the Free Press Thursday: “It's a great idea to try to help him and make him healthy again, but it's a little ridiculous to blame me for not helping the rabbit and taking him to the vet when it's a wild rabbit,” he said. “It's turning into a thing on animal rights. People are saying I'm mean for making it humorous, but it was just supposed to be something fun between me and my brother.”

Well said, young man.

Exhibit C: The awful death of an idiot's rottweiler

The video out of Hawthorne, Calif., was really, really hard for me to watch. But I have to say that, in this case — given the weird circumstances present — a dog needed to get shot.

Police were involved in a standoff, a tense situation, when some clown with a large rottweiler rolls up, gets out of his car, takes out his phone and starts recording the police. And he's not recording them in a subtle manner, either. He's out in the street, with his big-ass dog, parading back and forth with his cell phone camera trained squarely on the officers.

Eventually the police, who, mind you, are dealing with a matter of public safety, decide this guy needs to go. So they come to arrest him. The guy, seeing this coming, puts the dog in the car and surrenders himself for arrest. The dog, though, isn't cool with this and finds his way out of the car. He approaches the police and, without going into too many details, the dog lunges, and the officer puts it down with four bullets.

And people freaked, making claims of animal cruelty and police brutality.

To this I say: The dog's owner got that dog killed. A few dozen bystanders had to watch this awful, awful scene because some idiot thought his need for attention was more important than the officer's need to keep the peace. I love dogs as much as anyone, but if one lunges at a cop in that situation, it's gotta go.

It would have been great if the officers had the foresight to make a plan to deal with the dog before arresting its owner. It also would have been nice if the owner had properly secured an animal he had to have known would attack in this situation.

In what might be the best response in this case, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has offered to train the Hawthorne Police Department on dog training, and is pushing for legislation to make it mandatory for all licensed peace officers to have such training. This has already been done in Colorado.

So maybe I'm getting old. But I just don't seem to have the patience for PETA an similar animal rights groups that I used to have. Or maybe ... Is my thinking evolving? I'll ask myself that question the next time I see one of those ads where some famous actress is participating in one of PETA's "I'd rather be naked than wear fur" campaigns.