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IDA’s Renewed Vision – Tear Down The Cages!

June 7th, 2010 by Webmaster

Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary/photo credit: Karla Goodson

Throughout my 20 years in the animal protection field I have admired the work of In Defense of Animals, and I’m truly honored to accept the position of President of this esteemed organization. I feel very fortunate to have inherited a solid foundation created by Dr. Elliot Katz, and look forward to building on this platform of excellence in order to expand IDA’s positive impact for animals.

More than two decades ago I realized the common thread in the network of animal cruelty – the cage. The cage represents the imprisonment and mistreatment of the animals of this world. I have focused my career on tearing down these cages in their many forms and uses.

The cage is a fundamentally flawed contraption that causes rapid emotional, social and physical decline of its inhabitants. In my experience any animal confined to a cage goes through three phases of decline; typically starting with high anxiety, leading to depression, and resulting in psychological turmoil. Putting an animal in a cage is a violation of that creature’s innate right to live naturally and without suffering. This type of confinement also forces animals to eat, sleep and defecate in a space often only a few times the size of their body. This causes human and animal health problems and can ultimately lead to death in some species.

I conceptualized and built a revolutionary cageless animal shelter that set global humane standards. I lobbied for the adoption of guardian language to change people’s ideas concerning our relationships with animals. I lead the rescue of tens of thousands of animals from puppy mills, dog and cock fighting, hoarding cases, equine farming and countless other cruel instances of confinement and mistreatment. I have liberated hundreds of thousands of animals from the confines of cages and the grip of man-made cruelty.

Throughout the centuries, humans have used cages to take non-human animals out of their natural habitats and confine them for enjoyment or financial gain. This phenomenon flows through many forms of animal cruelty. Unnatural confinement is central to puppy mills, vivisection, the dog-meat trade in South Korea, zoos, circuses, aquaria, the exotic bird trade, fur farms, and most of the other exploitative industries IDA fights against.

Puppy mills are one of the most obvious incarnations of this imprisonment. Breeding dogs are often confined to small wire cages for their entire lives, forced to live in horrific conditions while producing litter after litter. These dogs are treated more like a cash crop than living beings capable of pain, loneliness and fear. They live in feces-caked enclosures without proper veterinary care and often only feel the touch of a human hand when they are being forced to breed or their puppies are being taken from them. In this miserable existence they become one with their cages – many have never felt solid ground beneath their feet – only the hard grate of their metal enclosures. One of the most disturbing examples of this abuse I have seen was a Pekingese I rescued from a puppy mill in Arkansas. His severely matted hair had grown around the bars of his tiny cage. I actually had to cut him out of that dank prison to free him.

Another nightmarish example of the cage’s cruel impact is vivisection. Animals are held in laboratories across the country and forced to undergo unimaginable suffering in the name of science. These innocent primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, and other animals cower in the corners of their cages as rough gloved hands reach in to inflict torture. Animals in laboratories are commonly dissected, infected, gassed, burned and blinded. I don’t think that we can fully comprehend the terror of such an existence. For these animals every human interaction is filled with confusion and suffering.

The confinement of birds is perhaps the most fundamentally disturbing use of the cage. Birds are gifted with the incredible ability to soar through the air, envied by all other creatures.  Humans, on a whim, fueled by their desire for an exotic, luxurious pet, take these winged creatures from their rainforest and jungle habitats and force them to live in unnatural confines without proper enrichment. An exotic bird who would naturally fly uninhibited through the treetops is forced to live in a cage often only several times his size. This bird, born to be part of an intricate, social flock, is often forced to live in solitary misery. Some species of parrots can live close to 90 years, but inadequate care and constant confinement dramatically decrease the life expectancy of birds kept as pets.  Until humans cease the imprisonment of these regal creatures they will continue to suffer and die behind the bars of their gilt cages.

These are only three of many examples of the cruelty of confinement. But the cage itself  is not the driving force of the cruelty – it is the humans who stand to profit from the suffering. To make a significant positive impact for these victimized animals we must change the mindset of those who profit from their misery. I remain confident that we are in a position to drastically reduce animal suffering. The need to end animal suffering is great everywhere, but the power of compassion is equal to that need.

In my position as president of IDA I plan to continue that crusade to bring animals out of the darkness of caged confinement and into the safety of a more natural and fulfilling life. We can win only if we band together in a unified circle of compassion, not wavering until we realize our vision of a humane society. IDA has the tools necessary to fight this battle, but we need you every step of the way to ensure victory. I call on you as guardians of the sentient beings of this planet to do your part and continue to support IDA in our work to protect the rights, habitat and welfare of animals. On behalf of the animals who benefit from your acts of kindness, thank you.

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  138. October 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm, Melanie said:

    I, too, long for and anticipate the day when all animals–no matter where in the world they live–are treated with the respect and compassion of which they are so deserving. It deeply pains me to know that they are such wise and soulful beings who are dependent entirely upon the benevolence of us humans, and who, as a tragic result, are made to suffer so greatly at the hands of people who still don’t understand–or, worse yet, who do comprehend but do not care, as they seek to fulfill their own selfish, self-centered desires. I am happy to see that with the passing of each day, more and more people are becoming aware of just how poorly (and, in some cases, cruely and inhumanely) animals have been treated at the hands of such individuals. As this realization and the resulting anger build, more and more change will come….From the bottom of my heart, I thank you and everyone who works endlessly to make life more pleasant for all animals who share the earth with us.

  139. September 13, 2010 at 9:17 am, Edna Durham Lee said:

    Just want to say how I appreciate Doll Stanley’s indefatigable efforts to protect and care for animals in MS. It’s so encouraging and inspiring to see the success achieved by Doll and Hope Sanctuary. In addition to the daunting task of managing the Sanctuary, she rescues abused animals, works effectively with law enforcement, educates the citizens on animal welfare, and works tirelessly on the State and Federal level to get more humane laws passed to protect animals. Doll is truely an asset to MS so please help her to remain in this area. Thanks for IDA’S support! Edna Durham Lee

  140. July 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm, Breaking News – Rescue Of 55 Monkeys From Research Lab Happening Right Now! said:

    laboratory in New Jersey leading the In Defense of Animals Rescue Team in an operation that defines my vision of a world with no cages. Recently 55 macaque monkeys and 118 beagles became “seized assets” when the lab went out of

  141. June 21, 2010 at 4:50 am, Peter said:

    Beautiful. Truly inspirational. Horrible. My emotions are stirred, ever renewal of my committment, the consequence of reading this. Were it only that our government could embody just a tiny fraction of the humanity in Scot’s writing. He asks for nothing more than what is reasonable.

  142. June 15, 2010 at 5:04 am, Lynne Koenigsberg said:

    Congratulations Scotlund! As President of IDA I wish you much success and I will support your efforts!

  143. June 15, 2010 at 3:06 am, Cherry said:

    What a fantastic story. There definitely needs to be more people like this; if everyone had even a little of such compassion and drive to act, the world would be that much better. Such great inspiration to the rest of us to keep up the good work. It is so nice to see a person working for the benefit of animals, which helps us in turn, as everything is connected. Cages are definitely inhumane treatment, so thanks for helping to put an end to them, and thanks for a great story. :) Good luck!

  144. June 13, 2010 at 9:41 am, sandy said:

    Congratulations! Happy that someone with your wisdom is at the head of a wonderful organization.

  145. June 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm, Inger Toksvig, Sweden said:

    Thank God for people like you and let us remember the words of the American anthropologist Margaret Mead:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”.

    I will support you in any way I can!

  146. June 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm, Coby Siegenthaler said:

    What is Dr.Katz doing when no longer the president? Swimming in my pool? Well the human body does not require anything from an animal,so let them go free and spay and neuter or do vesectomies when too many!Love, and all the ambition and money it takes to help our friends “The non-human Animals.” from a second generation VEGAN Co.

  147. June 11, 2010 at 4:13 pm, ARIEL said:

    Yes, make them obsolete!

  148. June 11, 2010 at 3:43 pm, Mommy Reporter said:

    I agree… CAGE = RAGE.

    Thank you, may God continue to bless you and the work you do.

  149. June 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm, Maria Teresa said:

    I agree with your writing.You are a wonderful person. Animals in cages are a cruelty. And like Elly: thank God for people like you

  150. June 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm, Dave Bernazani said:

    Welcome, Scotlund! I’ve watched your rescue vids with the HSUS for a long time now, and am excited that you are IDA’s new prez (although I’ll miss Dr. Katz too!). Good luck and I look forward to helping you out any way I can!

  151. June 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm, Kelley said:

    Scotlund, you are a true blessing and will be a valuable asset to IDA to help fight and end animal cruelty. I love your vision and article and I couldn’t agree more. How can we help you “Tear down the Cages”??? This gives me hope for the many animals that suffer daily in the confinements of wire…truley a pure hell for them. Let’s tear them down all over the world.

  152. June 11, 2010 at 7:54 am, Alicia said:

    Wonderful! So glad there are other people who hate cages as much as I do!! I am active in captive parrot rescue and some of the self-mutilating and half or totally naked birds who have plucked out their feathers in desperation are heart-breaking to see. I can’t bear any animal in a cage and will help in any way to shut down laboratories, zoos, aquariums, and other captive animal facilities.
    I would love to grab the humans who think it’s their right to imprison an animal and stuff them into a small cage and leave them there for life – let them see how they like it!

  153. June 11, 2010 at 7:51 am, Jeannie said:

    Thank you so much, the animals thank you so much. Love kicks a**!

  154. June 11, 2010 at 7:43 am, Nancy Amidzich said:

    Scotlund,
    Thank you for accepting the tremendous responsibility as President of IDA. I know you will do everything in your power to help us help the animals.

  155. June 11, 2010 at 7:26 am, Nell Haberman said:

    God Bless You and Your work.

  156. June 11, 2010 at 5:29 am, Terra Weston said:

    Scotlund, you really hit the nail on the head! Way to get to the root of the problem… the cage IS the common thread through which humans exploit animals. Great article, and thank you for shedding light in this way!
    Terra

  157. June 11, 2010 at 5:16 am, Yvonne Williams said:

    Til every cage is empty!! <3

  158. June 11, 2010 at 1:14 am, Tina Max said:

    Wonderful insight. I am glad we will be hearing from someone who is so passionate about animals. Ever since I was young I always hated observing animals in cages. That is so dehumanizing for the animals and for humanity itself. Hope to hear more from the president.

  159. June 10, 2010 at 10:05 pm, Ulka Agarwal said:

    Beautifully written! What an exciting time for IDA. Thank you for all that you do for the animals. I can’t wait to see what happens next with IDA. I completely agree with IDA’s new mission to tear down the cage. Caged birds break my heart. Let’s put an end to cages once and for all!

  160. June 10, 2010 at 10:04 pm, sally timmins said:

    You bring me hope! I pray that your good work will inspire others to follow your example, Why don’t others feel how we feel? We are with you all the way, keep up the good work!

  161. June 10, 2010 at 9:14 pm, William Burgess said:

    We have been rescuing dachshunds for the last 12 years and have encountered many forms of cruelty. Starvation, Acid burns, cigarette burns, broken legs, etc. Some of our rescues have come from puppy mills in Texas, who were finally shut down. Specifically, recall a pack of about 20 dogs that we were helping to transport to New Mexico, Arizona and California. We decided to keep 6 of the rescues, vet them and find them good homes. The rest went to other rescues. The six we kept, were not in good health, all six had bloody paws from being in wire crates all their lives. When we got the six home and placed them on a grassy lawn, they did not know what to do. They just stood there. However, after medicating their paws and letting them heal for several days, you would have never known they suffered like they did while in the puppy mill. We humans have much to learn from our animal friends.

  162. June 10, 2010 at 9:08 pm, Dustin Wilder said:

    I’m proud to support and be associated with this organization. Just from reading your inspiring post, Scotlund, the organization is in good hands. I appreciate your essential focus on tearing down the cages, and your vision of a humane society where animals are “allowed to live naturally and without suffering” as is their “innate right.” Our “morality” must evolve to include our animal friends, as must our diets and lifestyles.

    Thanks for taking the helm. Best wishes to you in your absolutely necessary daily work. I appreciate all the animals that you help.

  163. June 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm, john649 said:

    AWESOME!!! Glad your on board. Keep up the incredible work!

  164. June 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm, Kim Hogan said:

    Let’s do it! NO Cages, no chains. Free the elephants, too!

  165. June 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm, kevin said:

    Cages are cruel animals should be allowed freeness too

  166. June 10, 2010 at 7:27 pm, Jennifer Cross said:

    Scotlund,

    As a like minded person I look forward to supporting you and the other members of IDA in the struggle to free and protect all living creatures on this earth.

    Congratulations to you and a thank you for all you’ve already accomplished!

  167. June 10, 2010 at 6:37 pm, Emma & Aaron said:

    Free caged birds! Freedom to all animals!

  168. June 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm, Georgia Brewer said:

    Scot, you are a true hero. To mention your tremendous insight, compassion, energy and artistic ability is inadequate. Few could begin to follow in the steps of Dr. Katz, but you – never a follower – will lead us on ever further to a more profound, loving understanding and appreciation of our fellow creatures. Down with the cages!

  169. June 10, 2010 at 6:18 pm, Terri Lee said:

    Scotlund – the world will change because of you . ..

  170. June 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm, Artis said:

    Thank you for being the voice of those who have none. What has been done to countless innocent creatures in the name of science, business, beauty, fashion, status, etc. …. brings both shame and indictment on human kind.

    I honestly believe that had our positions been reversed from day one… animals would have been the better ‘keepers’. They take no joy in inflicting pain and suffering. Yes, they may kill to survive, but they do it efficiently and quickly…. ironically we would call that the ‘human(e)’ way.

  171. June 10, 2010 at 5:26 pm, Christine Carrales said:

    You are the kind of person God would be proud of!!!My hat off to you Sir for your integrity courage and foresight.It is appalling the attitude man adopts towards animals.By far man is the cause of all the destruction and suffering that exists.Ultimately in the end we will be judged and sentence administered.Unfortunately before then we had to make a mess of this planet and abuse the lifeforms on it. Christine Carrales

  172. June 10, 2010 at 5:26 pm, Lone Star State Resident said:

    Correction: The last sentence should read: “I can’t wait to see the results of your efforts to de-cage creaturekind!”

  173. June 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm, Lone Star State Resident said:

    What a wonderful message of hope you bring, Scotlund.

    Yesterday a City Council member told me she loves visiting the pound and that I would enjoy seeing all the happy dogs being walked by volunteers while waiting to be adopted. What she doesn’t understand is that (1) I cannot bear to see any animal locked in a cage or crate for any reason, even in a loving home, and (2) I cannot bear to see any animal, whose purpose in life is to share affection and intelligence and integrity with the world, alive one moment and murdered the next by the very humans who claim to be providing shelter and care.

    I can’t wait to see the results of your efforts to de-caging creaturekind!

  174. June 09, 2010 at 7:04 pm, CHANTALE DUGUAY said:

    Je vous soutien et vous soutiendrai toujours!!!

    Merci de tout coeur à vous, vous êtes merveilleux!!!

    Les animaux ont besoin de vous!!

    VOUS AVEZ ENTIÈREMENT RAISON POUR LES CAGES, IL FAUT LES ÉLIMINER POUR TOUS LES ANIMAUX!!

    MERCI INFINIEMENT D’ÊTRE CELUI QUE VOUS ÊTES!!!

    • June 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm, Brigitte said:

      WOW I just red the comment of Chantale Duguay and I am surprise that Canadian people care that much> I think she is Canadian just by her name. I live in Pennsylvania I am Canadian from Canada and I am so proud to live with Americans because they care about the welfare of animals and I do too Thank you for your good work!!!! Brigitte Bilodeau

  175. June 09, 2010 at 9:53 am, darlingsapphire said:

    I truly believe that people who abuse animals in any way should be incarcerated
    and made to work, and the money earned inside, should go to the welfare of all
    animals in need. The world is suffocating with human population and should be
    stopped by order of governments, that two children per family is plenty. Look
    at the oil spill, if there were less people we would not need so much. What
    percent of the human population is destroying the world. Live simple and use
    common sense, compassion, empathy, reasoning, wisdom, and morals and let all the animals live and enjoy their lives. Human do not need to eat the amount of
    meat they do. GOD BLESS THE GOOD HUMANS WHO HELP ANIMALS TO BE HAPPY.

  176. June 08, 2010 at 12:26 pm, Gerie Madak said:

    It’s a priviledge to guard the sentient beings of our planet as one in IDA’s “unified circle of compassion.” I’m ready to help tear down the cages!

  177. June 08, 2010 at 11:31 am, Dayna Hutson said:

    Great writing, excellent insight into what humans do. Agree with Lisa above: Tear ‘em down!

  178. June 08, 2010 at 9:54 am, lisa said:

    Tear em’ down!

  179. June 08, 2010 at 8:53 am, Elly said:

    Thank God for people like you. I wish there were more.