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Council Follies 

Some Animals Are Just More Delicious Than Others

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Will foie gras be banned from the restaurants of Chicago? Next week the City Council is scheduled to vote on Alderman Joe Moore's bill to outlaw the sale of the livers of fattened ducks. Certain animal rights activists link the violent force-feeding of the doomed ducks to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq. But Mayor Daley has noted that a ban could open the door to a slew of other animal rights causes. "What is the next issue?" he said. "Chicken? Beef? Fish?"

Good question. We put it to the animal rights champions.

THE PROBLEM: Elephant abuse. Three elephants in the Lincoln Park Zoo died between October 2004 and May 2005. Chains, hooks, and electric prods are often used to train circus elephants.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: Alderman Mary Ann Smith, Paul McCartney, P!nk, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Smith has submitted an ordinance that would guarantee each zoo elephant in Chicago at least five acres of roaming space. Circuses would be forbidden training techniques that could cause pain or injury.

JOE MOORE: "I met with a couple of activists who've been floating that. I told them I support Alderman Smith's ordinance."

THE PROBLEM: Veal. It's the meat of calves that are kept confined to limit muscle fiber.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: "I think most people are sympathetic to calves because they can relate them to dogs," says Danielle Marino, Chicago director of Mercy for Animals.

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Forbid the sale of veal within the city.

JOE MOORE: "It's one thing to ban the sale of something very few people consume. It's quite another to ban veal Parmesan."

THE PROBLEM: Overuse of antibiotics in raising farm animals.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: "It's not good for the animals and it's not good for people," says Richard Wood, executive director of Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT).

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Require Chicago to buy only from vendors whose meat has been produced without the "routine" use of antibiotics.

JOE MOORE: It's a school lunch issue, so "that's a Board of Education call."

THE PROBLEM: Chickens suffer in overcrowded cages that foster salmonella and other pathogens.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: Organic food and animal rights advocates. "Chickens do feel pain," says Marino.

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Restrict groceries and restaurants to using cage-free eggs, which cost more.

JOE MOORE: "I don't want to go down too many of these other roads--I can lose focus."

THE PROBLEM: The physical and emotional anguish suffered by performing animals. For instance, rodeo cowboys use cattle prods, and they tighten a strap to cause horses to buck.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: "I'm not opposed to rodeos--I'm opposed to cruelty at rodeos," says Steve Hindi, president of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK). "Look at calf lassoing--can you imagine doing these things to a three- or four-month-old puppy?"

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Follow Pittsburgh's lead and prohibit rodeos from using buck straps, electric prods, and similar devices. Some argue for a complete ban on the use of animals in circuses and rodeos.

JOE MOORE: "Quite frankly, I'm hesitant to really weigh in on a lot of this, because if we're not careful, it plays into [my critics'] slippery slope argument."

THE PROBLEM: Cosmetics and other products are tested on animals before they're deemed safe for human use.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: The National Anti-Vivisection Society says: "The manufacturers of cosmetics and household products claim that they perform tests on animals to ensure the safety of their products under customary use or possible abuse when in reality it is to limit the company's liability to its customers in case of a lawsuit."

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Make it illegal to test cosmetic products on animals in Chicago.

JOE MOORE: "Again, I'm not as familiar with the issue, but it makes sense to me."

THE PROBLEM: Declawing. Feline advocates say it's inhumane and traumatic--like amputating a human's fingers at the first set of knuckles.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: "It's a big issue," says Peggy Asseo, vice president of Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS) Chicago.

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: A council ban.

JOE MOORE: "I have owned cats in the past, and I like to protect my furniture."

THE PROBLEM: Every year, thousands of migrating birds die when the lights atop Chicago high-rises disorient them at night and they smash into buildings or the ground.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: Chicago Bird Collision Monitors and Audubon Chicago are among groups that have persuaded high-rise managers to shut off their lights at night. Says Audubon's Judy Pollock, "We estimate that maybe 10,000 [birds] are saved each fall."

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Aldermen could make "lights out" a law rather than a choice during the spring and fall migration seasons.

JOE MOORE: "It's like everything else--every group has important issues they work on, and I have a lot on my plate."

THE PROBLEM: Fur and leather: Animals are raised in confinement and then killed. Plenty of plant-based or synthetic materials are now available as alternatives.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: "With every pair of leather shoes that you buy, you sentence an animal to a lifetime of suffering," says PETA.

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Leather and fur could be heavily taxed, restricted, or banned.

JOE MOORE: Fur and leather will remain legal. "I think those are safe bets."

THE PROBLEM: Exploiting animals as mascots or as objects of derision.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: PETA quashed a high school "kiss-a-pig contest," pressured a car dealership to stop using a chimpanzee in its ads, and persuaded a church to cease holding a "chicken poop bingo game," in which participants gambled on where the birds would relieve themselves.

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: Pass a no-exploitation ordinance.

JOE MOORE: "Every law we pass is a matter of drawing a line between conduct that shocks the conscience and goes against the values of our society and other behavior that's deemed boorish and you wouldn't want your children engaged in, but doesn't rise to the level of needing legislative oversight."

THE PROBLEM: Internet hunting. From the comfort of home, "hunters" point and click to remotely control weapons on a hunting range.

WHOSE CAUSE IS IT?: Virginia congressman Tom Davis and state representative Susana Mendoza of Chicago have each introduced legislation prohibiting online hunting.

POSSIBLE LEGISLATION: The Illinois bill is going nowhere, but the City Council could see to it that no one can "operate, provide, sell, [or] use" software or Web sites that allow Internet hunting.

JOE MOORE: "I'm kind of amazed by that. Can you shoot at people?"

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