- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Nobody wants to kill Bambi.

But then again, if it came down to a choice between the life of Bambi or the life of a loved one — a loved human one, that is — sorry, so sorry, sad to say, but Bambi’s got to go. And most sane people would see similarly.

Not People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA’s been involved with a campaign for some time to compel the Department of Transportation to put a halt to the airplane industry’s transport of research animals, particularly monkeys, from overseas locations to U.S. research labs. A PETA spokesperson, in an email, said the group’s never tried to compel DOT to “prohibit transporting monkeys for use in experiments,” but rather only fought against a “pro-animal experimentation” group that’s trying to pressure airlines into allowing monkeys to be flown in from other countries for experimentation in the United States.

That’s so splitting hairs.

Either directly or indirectly: PETA’s been involved with a campaign to pressure feds to stop allowing the import of animals for medical research.

And recently, the fight’s just taken on heftier significance. The feds have issued new guidelines for airlines regarding service and comfort animals — guidance that clarifies, for instance, “the most commonly recognized service animals (dogs, cats and miniature horses) are accepted for transport” under the service animal category.

Think about that: 250 pound horses are OK to fly the friendly skies. But monkeys for medical research?

That’s where it gets a bit murkier.

That’s where PETA has inserted itself, demanding a stop to imports of research animals via airlines.

In one recent web post, the group wrote, “Department of Transportation: Don’t Let Animal Experimenters Force Airlines to Transport Monkeys to Their Deaths.”

With rather eyeball-rolling rhetoric, the post went on to state that “experimenters are so bloodthirsty for animals to imprison, harm and kill that they have filed a formal complaint with the Department of Transportation to try to compel these private airlines to do the[ir] bidding.”

Really, PETA — really? As if medical researchers are lurking in their labs, wringing hands deviously, chuckling maniacally, gleefully anticipating the next shipment of monkeys to murder.

As if — nod to hypocrisy here — PETA doesn’t do the same type of pressuring of public airlines.

In recent years, British Airways, China Southern Airlines, Qatar Airways and United Airlines have all stopped transporting monkeys from outside countries to the United States for medical research purposes, in large part because of pressures from PETA.

Hmm. “Compel” much, PETA? Press “private airlines” to do your “bidding” much, PETA?

Anyhow, in another recent post, PETA wrote, “Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”

Well actually — they are.

Particularly when human lives are at stake.

Besides, it’s not as if U.S. medical researchers who use animals are unregulated.

The Department of Agriculture sets the standards for the “humane handling, care, treatment and transportation of animals” used for research purposes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates “importation, exportation and interstate trade” of both dead and live animals, as well as their tissues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulates and inspects animal transports at the borders.

The Endangered Species Act serves as a tool of enforcement and punishment for matters related to animals, including research; so, too, the Lacey Act, which “prohibits inhumane and unhealthful transportation” of animals.

It’s enough oversight to make PETA’s characterization of animal researchers as bloodthirsty beasts a bit laughable.

But that’s the problem with PETA.

The group has some fine people doing some fine animal-saving work.

But setting animals as equal to people, as worthy of the same societal and political prioritization and protections as humans, is not just un-biblical, completely counter to God’s designs of humans having dominion over His other creations. It’s also a bit batty.

It’s indicative of a weak moral compass and a fuzzy mental state.

And, in this case, in this case of pressuring airlines and feds to halt the importation of animals for medical research, it’s outright hazardous to humans’ health.

Animals are great. But people are better. And if experimenting on monkeys saves even one human life — so be it. That’s a trade any sane person ought to be willing to make.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter @ckchumley.

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