MOVE and Animals
(Editors Note: Although Lori wrote this article some time ago I think it is important for people to understand just how deep MOVE members callousness towards "life" goes. MOVE, an organization that purportes to be the "example" for people to follow has shown not only a disregard for the safety of their neighbors, themselves, their children, and as Lori explains, even for the animals in their care.)
MOVE and Animals
The MOVE Organization has led a very successful public campaign in projecting themselves as the bastions of good animal welfare. They have a reputation as advocates for animal protection amongst the political left. Even their adversaries shy away from accusations of animal abuse and endangerment on the part of MOVE.
The organization’s version of history shows them as a revolutionary group that protested against puppy mills, the zoo, and other forms of industry using animals. They have also boasted the breaking up of dog fighting rings. They claim to have been some of the first to do so, even before the fad of vegetarianism and animal rights groups, although they have rarely been seen doing such demonstrations in recent years.
Their true history of how they actually maintain the animals in their care and their record of consumerism does not support this declaration, however. A behind the scenes look at the condition of the dogs and cats they care for reveals a side to MOVE that has not been made available for public scrutiny.
The consumerism that is practiced by MOVE is to shop without real conscience of the companies that they support with the might of their dollars. They unabashedly are patrons of the industry that tortures and slaughters animals, namely companies that employ the use of factory farms like Perdue, Tyson, and, basically, every meat industry out there from pork, beef, poultry, and seafood. They literally buy hundreds of pounds of meat every month, possibly week, to feed to their pets or to consume themselves.
This subject is important to clarify because it shows a callous idea that, although they do not take part in the wholesale slaughter of these animals in tormenting conditions, they readily sustain these corporations with their sponsorship. One of their youth members, in explaining why they shop at certain stores and buy products from specific companies that have been cited as being either destructive in their behaviors towards the environment, child labor exploitations, sweatshops, and/or animal cruelty, stated that all industry is bad; so there is no difference in whom you buy things from.
The most problematic matter in regards to the health and well being of the dogs and cats is the diet that these animals are fed. MOVE gives animals in their care and stray animals in their neighborhood a "raw food" diet that consists of raw beef, pork, lamb, poultry, horsemeat, and bones. They do have a tendency to temporarily ban certain meats from time to time, but not because of the properties of the meats themselves, rather because of mad cow disease threats and such. Their concerns do not seem to stem from the quandaries posed by use of growth hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides in the production of these meats. They do not ban the use of these products for those grounds.
Obesity is typical around MOVE houses for animals. These weight problems have lead to horrendous leg, hip, and joint pain to the point that these dogs could no longer walk without problems, eventually leading to their inability to even get up without being literally carried. The result of being burdened with excessive pounds is that all of the dogs that have these weight issues wind up suffering from arthritis.
The weight problems are directly linked to the poor diet that is fed to these animals. After a lengthy discussion with a veterinarian about the raw food diet fed to the animals, it was explained that the myth that dogs do not need vegetables and grains is factually wrong. When a dog eats an animal such as a rabbit, it also eats the intestines, which contain the diet that the prey had eaten. It is said that this portion of the diet is essential to keep the balance of vitamins and minerals that are required to keep all the bones, muscles, and joints working properly. To feed a dog or a cat just raw meat would be as detrimental as a person eating tons of nuts and nothing else.
MOVE, as a religious sect, does not believe in the use of modern medicines as a rule. They do, however, abandon this statute as commonly as they abandon most of their practices when they prove to be impossible to follow this day and age. It is more so something they espouse rather then observe. Yet, their general habit is to wait until a problem has stretched its limits beyond anything they can control before they will use medical interventions.
This is especially the case when it comes to their animals. There is no preventative care for their pets. They do not vaccinate their cats and dogs. They do not adhere to spay and neutering of animals (stating that it is cruel to take away their ability to procreate). They do not have regular health check ups or give preventative medications for common and sometimes deadly illnesses such as heartworm.
Generally, their attitude towards care for animals is to wait until there is a problem, wait until it becomes severe, and then seek treatment from professionals to aid them. They do use ointments, creams, oils, and other virtually ineffectual products to attempt to treat these various conditions (to be fair as to their record), but it falls short of a solution.
MOVE’s mind-set in how to deal with cats differs from that of dogs. They see dogs as being hopelessly domesticated at this point, not being able to utilize their instinctual sense of survival. They believe cats, however, to still have these skills and so have adopted a system of dealing with them.
There has been a cat colony beside MOVE’s headquarters for years. Whenever the population of that colony gets out of hand, or when a litter of cats from one of their domesticated felines grows to the age of ‘teenagers,’ they capture them and "take them to the wild." What this translates into is that they take these cats to rural areas and let them go with only their instincts and a stash of food that they put out as they are abandoned.
The cats that reside with MOVE are riddled with medical problems. Many of them suffer from a condition called Feline Hip Displacia. This condition literally cripples the cats to the point that they cannot walk, jump, or engage in any active life. Eventually, it becomes so debilitating that there is nothing to do, but put them to sleep. This illness does not have to cripple the cat, however, as research shows that a simple surgery can literally allow these cats to live long, healthy, active lives.
The cats that develop this condition do so because they inherit it from both parents. The reason MOVE still has this dilemma is because their domestic cats that carry this trait (many, of whom, came from this colony) keep mating with the stray cats in the neighborhood. The largest reason, again, comes from the fact that they do not give their animals preventative medical care.
The guardianship of their dogs is not opposite to the treatment of the cats, but it does differ substantially. MOVE does go to great lengths to provide comfort, clean water, and fresh food to their dogs (and cats). They regularly exercise their dogs with up to six walks a day, decent sized, fenced in yards to roam around at leisure, and lots of attention. They do also provide heating pads for the arthritic dogs.
The problem mainly comes from their diet and obesity, but it goes even further then that. The dogs are not afforded the same dignity as the cats once they have reached a state where they are incapacitated. Instead, they have dogs that suffer terribly day in and day out without any real relief or medications.
One dog named Benjamin or ‘Benny’ endures sometimes multiple seizures a day. He is not provided with any medications. If there are fireworks, thunderstorms, a dog goes into heat (and remember, they do not spay their females), or any other excitement or loud noise stirs him, he goes into a seizure. Some of his seizures are so severe it takes hours for his leg muscles to relax.
Another dog named Butchie literally resembled a bear. He was enormous and could often not be able to bare the weight on his legs. As was described previously, he became arthritic. He eventually suffered a stroke that left him unable to get up without being carried, and he would bite people who touched his hips or legs.
One of the common grounds between tending for the dogs and the cats is MOVE’s lack of precautions when it comes to the animals’ safety in the streets of a very bustling city. Unless warned by police to face fines and confiscation of the dogs, MOVE does not put the dogs on leashes to take them to the park. One of their puppies was killed when a car outside of their headquarters struck him.
MOVE even permits the cats to roam the streets. This is foolish considering that these cats are not spayed or neutered and end up mating with very sick and disease ridden strays, which are not vaccinated from the contagious disorders they carry. They are also subject to grave fights with wild cats that leave them with wounds where their ears are bitten, their fur is ripped out, and they have gashes in every body part that can be cut. One cat even came home with a dart in its side. MOVE’s solution to this was to "take it to the wild."
Many of these cats are never to be seen or heard from again once they are let out. The threat of the cars, trucks, trolleys, and buses that race up and down the streets near their West Philadelphia home should be enough to not allow anything in their care to wander about aimlessly.
There is also the issue that they see no problem with over crowding people, dogs, and cats into buildings. During the siege on their headquarters in 1978, over 50 dogs were removed from the city duplex. Their current headquarters is also a duplex and the left half of the house once housed at least 40 cats, by MOVE’s account. Animals living in overcrowded conditions are more prone to diseases and fighting. This issue has been cited numerous times in complaints against MOVE in the two neighborhoods where MOVE has had violent confrontations with the police.
Animal advocacy is all encompassing. It takes more then demonstrations and tough words. It is more then affording comfort for pets. It is a community wide responsibility to not help the epidemic of homeless animals to grow. It means aiding in the struggle to stop the spread of disease. It is the conscientiousness of purchasing products from responsible companies that do not exploit animals or resort to cruel practices for testing product safety. People need to use caution when branding organizations or cults as animal advocates.