Letter: Story spotlighting extreme activist needs counter view

Agriculture advocacy group urges veterinarians to be wary of animal activists

March 4, 2021 (published)
From Hannah Thompson-Weeman

The VIN News Service article featuring Dr. Crystal Heath ("Veterinarian tells of activism backlash," Feb. 26, 2021) came to my attention because of its reference to the Animal Agriculture Alliance. We are a nonprofit organization bridging the communication gap between farm and fork, and our work involves monitoring animal rights activist groups who are opposed to animal agriculture, including Direct Action Everywhere (DxE).

I appreciate the balanced tone in your piece and that you asked some direct questions; however, I'm concerned to see an activist affiliated with this extreme group given such a platform to espouse their views without any differing perspectives included, such as those of food animal veterinarians. The Alliance works with many food animal veterinarians and veterinary organizations, and we highly regard their animal welfare expertise and critical role in ensuring animal health.

DxE (along with other animal rights activist groups) is intentionally targeting companion animal veterinarians with negative messaging about animal agriculture in an attempt to get them involved with animal rights causes. Activists aim to take advantage of companion animal veterinarians' inherent compassion for animals, their position as trusted experts on topics involving animals, and their likely disconnect from animal agriculture given that most do not have a background in farming or experience with food animal medicine. It's important for all veterinarians to understand activists' true motives and intentions with these efforts and evaluate causes critically before lending their hard-earned credibility.

Hannah Thompson-Weeman is vice president for strategic engagement with the Animal Agriculture Alliance.

Editor's note: The headline was changed post publication to more accurately reflect the content of the letter. 

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