In my work, I have argued that animal advocates should not spend their time and resources on single-issue campaigns because as long as there is no political base in favor of abolishing animal exploitation, there can be no realistic hope for legislation that will significantly protect animal interests through the prohibition of various forms of animal exploitation. The new welfarists, who favor single-issue campaigns and who do not agree that the vegan-abolitionist approach is necessary, often point to the British ‘ban’ on hunting foxes with hounds as the showcase example of how animal welfare regulation can work to protect animal interests.
I suggest that the advocates of new welfare are in error.
The ‘ban’ on fox hunting is a classic example of the futility of single-issue welfarist campaigns.
The ‘ban’ supposedly prohibits using hounds to hunt foxes but allows hunters to use hounds to follow a scent and to flush out a fox. It is legal for hunters to use hounds to flush out a fox (or other wild mammal) and then shoot the animal or use a falcon to kill the animal. Supporters of hunting are flouting the law and encouraging exploitation of all loopholes with the result that more foxes are being killed than before the ‘ban.’
The BBC reports that four years after the ‘ban’ went into effect:
Not a single hunt has gone out of business, there are twice as many registered hounds as there were three years ago and – according to the Alliance – the number of people hunting is up by 11%.
With the Conservatives ahead of Labour in the opinion polls – and promising a free vote on the Hunting Act if they win the next election – supporters of hunting say repeal is now a probability rather than a possibility.
It is clear that the ‘ban’ on fox hunting is anything but a ‘ban’ and is a classic example of the futility of single-issue welfare reform.
The matter of animal exploitation requires a moral paradigm shift. That shift must begin with creative, nonviolent vegan education.
Gary L. Francione
© 2009 Gary L. Francione