It’s been one year since animal-rights terrorists followed a UC-Santa Cruz researcher home and set fire to his house – with his family asleep inside. The perpetrators have not yet been caught. As the Telegraph reports today, the loonies now have their sights set on Dr. Daniel Vasella, the CEO of the pharmaceutical company Novartis. Terrorists set Dr. Vasella’s vacation home in Austria on fire on Monday and last week robbed a grave containing the ashes of his mother.
The group responsible is believed to be Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), a group tied to a number of malicious attacks. Disturbingly, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), another group tied to past attacks, released a statement following the attack stating that it “can only regret that Mr. Vasella was not present in the home when it burned.”
Looking past “the animals,” the Associated Press reports on some of the work Novartis is up to that is drawing the wrath: creating H1N1 vaccines. And given that the H1N1 virus is making the rounds in the southern hemisphere, it could certainly make a comeback in the U.S. and other countries this fall.
SHAC, ALF and their ilk are not people who can be reasoned with. The vaccines created by Novartis could well end up saving the lives of people.  But the most troubling issue with animal-rights extremists is that they place the same value on the life of a lab rat as on the life of a person. Or perhaps the lab rat is even worth more: The people who carry out these attacks have decided that pursuing the alleviation of human suffering — whether it’s from H1N1, AIDS, leukemia, breast cancer, malaria, or any other disease – is a crime that warrants premeditated attacks on the researchers’ homes and safety.
Jerry Vlasak, one such extremist, once candidly shared his thoughts on killing doctors who use animals in their research: “I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many … I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives.”
The FBI reports that animal-rights terrorism is on the upswing this year. But catching the perpetrators is complicated because they don’t operate out of a centralized base. The ALF, for example, claims ownership of the attacks only after the fact and only if no humans have been harmed in the endeavor (though that doesn’t stop them from wishing ill).
The ALF has its mainstream charitable supporters (the usual suspects), who deserve public condemnation for supporting the demolition of property and the ongoing threat to scientists and their families. But as long as these charities can maintain their save-the-bunnies façade, the public may never know the lengths these groups go to in the name of total animal liberation.