With more dogs than children, it was a typical Seattle event at the Barnes & Noble yesterday morning when Wayne Pacelle, President of the HSUS came to talk about our human responsibility towards animals — a topic included in his book The Bond: Our Kinship With Animals, Our Call to Defend Them.
The group discussion was started with a great bit of local support for St. Matthew School in the Lake City area. Nancy Edwards, school librarian, passed out coupons to visitors that allowed part of B&N’s proceeds from a purchase of “The Bond” to go towards the school’s book fair.
Our friends from PAWS were also in attendance, and River, a big black sweetie, greeted people at the door. As an organization, PAWS works to help our community integrate with local wildlife and serves companion animals.
Pacelle’s talk on the issues of animal welfare, and especially advocacy to prevent cruelty, included animals from horses, chickens to laboratory animals. The crowd was well prepared with questions, and listened with engagement.
Ruth Kildall asked a question of particular interest to Washingtonians about why the HSUS decided to forgo the state ballot initiative (I-1130) to ban chicken confinement pens and instead pursue national legislation for the improvement of conditions for all hens. Clearly other audience members had the same questions, as ears perked up once again.
Pacelle’s reasoning was one of resources, and he explained that the HSUS and local constituents could help the majority of hens in the US by pursuing national legislation rather than state initiative. A state initiative would have required considerable resources beyond the successful signature gathering. Furthermore, such initiatives would only be an option for advocates in states where the ballot initiative method is allowed to circumvent the state legislature. The grim outcome of a patchwork of state laws to protect chickens could mean that the majority of US chickens would reside in states with no protection laws, Pacelle explained.
Pacelle also encouraged us to choose Meatless Mondays to reduce the amount of meat we eat as a society. “Meatless Monday saves the lives of 1.5 billion animals a year.” explained Pacelle.
In the company of friends, this book signing was a reminder that our goals to prevent cruelty to animals are shared by so many people right here in my own backyard of North Seattle.