Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare: Blame the Extremists Who Keep Great Stories Untold

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
As I travel around Lewis County in my various outdoors adventures I meet interesting people doing some very interesting things. But you don’t get to read about all of them.
Why not? Because they don’t want their story told.
It doesn’t matter if they know me as a reporter and know I always do my best to cover subjects accurately and intelligently. They’re frightened of being exposed to the scrutiny of the public, they’re scared of what their friends might say, and they’re embarrassed by the very idea of their passions being set before the readers of The Chronicle in full color detail.

You all miss out on a lot of good stories.
I understand their hesitancy and I respect their privacy. But still, I wish I could share more of their stories with you.
There are also organizations and businesses that I would love to feature in these pages. But they, too, are reluctant to share.

 

Ashley Loucks and her horse Dominic Q caught in midair as they work through the cross country course on Saturday at the Caber Farms' 3-day eventing trials in Onalaska. Loucks placed second in her division, Both horse and rider pursued the course flawlessly, finishing just four-tenths of a second behind teammate Erin McPherson. Other events of the weekend included dressage and stadium jumping. "This is the triathlon for horses," said Barbara Barke, DVM, a volunteer judge at the event. "Everybody that does this has to be passionate about the sport and we are really supportive of each other — like a family. You spend a lot of money and time to get really good at it. We take really, really good care of our horses. These horses love what they do."

These are people that I know to be people of integrity and organizations that care for the outdoors. They take their stewardship of all of creation very seriously.
What keeps them from having their story told? Animal rights activists.
There is a falconer that is working on a local farm this summer. I met him after I heard about him and his wonderful birds from a friend.
We chatted for a long time about how he works his birds. I was inspired by the passion he has for his work. His love for the birds and his commitment to their welfare was obvious. He was happy to share every detail of his work with me.

Jenny, a Pudelpointer, looks up at her hunting partner, seeking approval for a job well done. Jenny was tired at the end of the day of training, but it was obvious that she loved the work as much as she loved her trainer and friend. Jenny passed and scored well in the NAVHDA Utility test this last spring in Cinebar. The Utility Test evaluates trained dogs in water and field, before and after the shot, as finished versatile hunting companions as well as many other specific tasks. Owners of NAVHDA trained and tested dogs are dedicated to "game conservation, the prevention of cruelty to animals, and good sportsmanship by encouraging hunters to use dogs that are well trained ... "

But could I write a story? No, he did not want to have media coverage bring the focus of animal rights activists at his doorstep.
I’m sure that there are people who would hear of a falconer working his birds over crops and fields who would picture a menacing bird of prey slaughtering tiny songbirds, left and right, all day long.
But I know better than that, as does anyone who has spent time in the country watching birds. When a bird of prey is in the air over a field, the songbirds aren’t out munching berries on bushes, they take cover and lay low.
No birds are shot in this method of control, no nests destroyed, nor is any poison set out. It seems to me to be a very kind form of bird control.
And I can’t imagine that the falcon is complaining either. What better “job” could a falcon have than to fly?

Three-day Eventing in Onalaska
I traveled to Caber Farm in Onalaska on Saturday to watch the cross country portion of the three-day eventing competition — a triathlon for horses and their riders.
I was greeted warmly by everyone I met; they answered my questions readily and explained every detail. I couldn’t imagine a friendlier group of horse enthusiasts. But when I mentioned I was a reporter to the veterinarian with whom I was talking, her face fell. I asked her why.
“Well, it’s the animal rights activists,” she said, “they believe we force these horses to do this, that it’s cruel. But anyone that knows a working horse knows that he loves his job. These horses can’t wait to get out into the field to compete.”
I later talked with John Camlin, the resident instructor and owner of Caber Farm, who also stressed how well cared for these horses are.
“They literally become a member of the family,” he said. “You can’t force a horse to jump, they either want to or they don’t. After 30 years in competition I can tell you, it’s a waste of time to try and make a horse do what he doesn’t love doing.”
Another rider and trainer, Kelsey Horn of Inavale Farm in Philomath, Ore., said, “We’re like a big family. We all go to the same events; we all cheer each other on and support each other. Anyone that does this has to be passionate about the sport and take really good care of their horses.”

Hunting Dogs and Their People
Several times a year the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association camps out in my backyard for training days and tests. Last year I wrote a feature article on NAVHDA, but they weren’t exactly happy about the idea. Why? Again, the fear that a feature article would bring focus to their practices and bring with it the negative focus of animal rights activists.
But NAVHDA didn’t have much choice in the matter — they’re in a reporter’s backyard, after all — but they were gracious and allowed me to tag along through the events of the day.
There is nothing more beautiful that watching a hunting dog at work, doing what he was born and bred to do. Every time I watch the dogs in the field it takes my breath away.
There is nowhere else the dogs would rather be, there is nothing they’d rather be doing. They hunt. That’s their job and they love it.

The Bottom Line
I’m not against animal rights, I’m against Animal Rights Activists who routinely use false and unsubstantiated allegations of animal abuse or non-existent problems to raise funds, attract media attention, and bring supporters into the movement.
I’m for Animal Welfare, defined as the humane treatment and use of animals and the belief that humans have a responsibility for their care. Animal Welfare is a common sense approach: animals should be treated well and that animal cruelty is wrong.
I’m very much for those that pursue their passions in concert with the animals they love and care for as a member of their family. And I’m for telling their stories without the worry of what an Animal Rights Activist will say or do.
Thank you, all of you, who work hard to take the stewardship of the environment and the earth’s creatures seriously.
If you would like to see more photographs of horses and dogs doing what they love to do, visit my website at almostdailynews.com.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Find her on Facebook (Kimberly Mason — The Chronicle), call 269-5017 or email kim@almostdailynews.com.

See 3-day Eventing in Yelm
Area VII Championships at Aspen Farms in Yelm, September 7, 8 and 9.
Aspen Farms Horse Trials site address- 15910 130th Trail Se, if using GPS use 13042 Morris Rd SE.
Directions: I-5 exit 88A- Tenino, R off exit and follow 16 miles to Rainier, R on Center St, Center St turns to 148th Ave Se 4.5 miles, L on Morris 1.8 miles, R on 130th Trail SE.