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Monday, October 10, 2011

Iowa Mink Release Fails to Rescue

As I write this blog, an FBI helicopter is humming above our small town.  Many will lose sleep to that surprisingly loud flutter tonight if it persists into the wee hours of the morning.  Our small town has fallen victim to domestic terrorism.  The federal and local police are searching for the terrorists.

A local mink farm was broken into and 1200-1500 mink were released from their cages a few days ago in an attempt to "rescue" them.

The culprits apparently tried to repeat the act tonight, as the law lay in wait for them.  We will see what the news has to say tomorrow about this evening's incident.  Meanwhile, the helicopter hovers above us, viewing our town in infrared and night vision scopes, and the residents text each other to lock doors and vehicles as the terrorists try to find a place to hide.

While I will never wear a mink coat, or admire anyone who does, I believe the people who attempted this rescue did so with very little knowledge about the repercussions of their actions.  They have not saved a single life tonight.

Releasing mink who have spent their entire lives in cages into the wild in the middle of the night is an immature and unsuccessful attempt at making a statement.  These mink are raised with water and food allotments handed to them.  Few of them will survive and fewer will thrive following sudden abandonment just weeks before an Iowa winter rears its ugly head.  Rather than running to freedom, the mink that remain loose stay on the property that they recognize as theirs, engaging in territorial fights, killing each other, one by one.

Many of the released mink were trapped by the farmer and volunteers following their release, and are now residing in cages with unfamiliar cage mates.  Those mink who were housed together are now separated and housed with those whom they have not yet established a hierarchy.  This is the equivalent of placing unfamiliar, scared, and aggressive dogs into a small cage (or ring, sound familiar?).  The result is fighting and often death of one or more of the cage mates. 

The actions of these people are equivalent to putting a band-aid on a slit throat.  It is not pretty, will not help the victims, and will not win you any praise.  If you want to make change, support the legislators trying to make that change.  Educate the public.  Decrease the demand, and the profit will decrease.  All of these take time, but it is the only way to protect animals.

Acting out illegally, and causing the amount of stress you caused in these animals is not going to gain you any praise from me or from most in the animal welfare circuit.  While we may or may not agree with your views about mink farming, your weapons should be words, not acts of cruelty.  Acts like these cause a loss of respect for animal welfare and animal rights supporters by the general public.  We come off being viewed as criminals, too uneducated to recognize the difference between saving one vs. protecting many.  We are viewed as unstable morons racing around screaming, "Let the pretty mink free"! 

Rather than save a small group of animals, our actions should provide a blanket that protects all of them. It is equivalent to buying a puppy from a store because you feel bad that it came from a puppy mill.  If you feel bad for puppies sold in stores, then you should try to get the store to discontinue selling puppies, not support the store by purchasing the puppy to "rescue" it.  Pick up your pens, grab a dictionary and a thesaurus, and make a real difference by writing to your legislators and educating your friends, family, and the local public. 

Why mink release is considered an act of domestic terrorism, I am unsure.  I suspect it is because it is considered an attack on the agricultural industry and lies in the same realm as an attack on our food source, IE cattle or hogs, as may happen in an act of war. 

If this is the interpretation, and is the reason why the federal agencies seem to be involved in catching "mink liberators", I think the government would be better off spending this time and money rewriting the laws that make up the animal welfare act, and better defining the animal industries and protecting the animals in their care.  Hogs are not mink are not dogs.  They all deserve their own set of rules and regulations as their husbandry and produce is not similar.

Releasing a pathogen as an act of war in order to deplete our nations food source is an act of terrorism whose ramifications would be felt nationwide.   That, I do understand.   Releasing mink from a farm, mink who are intended for the backs of the filthy rich is difficult for me to view as an act of terrorism.  Their production is meant to support egos and vanity, while cattle and hogs support the nourishment of families.  One is cosmetic and superficial, the other is a mainstay of life (unless your a vegetarian but the truth is that the majority of our nation is not).  Mink release does not threaten our survival...

Although I would hate to hear that thousands of Iowans froze to death this winter due to an unfortunate delay in mink coat production.

If you really think about it,

Don't we look just as ridiculous wearing theirs???

"Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without."
~Rue McClanahan

"Behind every beautiful fur, there is a story. It is a bloody, barbaric story." 
~Mary Tyler Moore

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***Special thanks to those of you who provided words of support and encouragement in reference to my preceding blog.  I truly appreciate it, even though there were too many emails to respond to personally.  Thank you. :-)


Maggie Hess said...

excellent! Why people think they are doing animals a favor by turning them loose in the middle of nowhere is beyond me. Can't tell you how many dogs we rescued that were dumped, sometimes from a moving vehicle, in ditches, roads, farm fields, abandoned property, etc. Idiots!

Linda Wild said...

How come these people never release puppy mill dogs?

Catherine Turley said...

if you were imprisoned and about to be anally electrocuted, maybe even skinned alive, wouldn't you want the slightest chance to be free? our society is so advanced, and yet, we continue to do nothing to help animals. for crying out loud, bestiality is still legal in certain states. this mass release was pretty much the only option these people had to give those particular animals any chance at all. maybe they could have slowly taken 10 a night over a long period of time, but that would have increased their chances of getting caught. i honestly think they are the only people who truly care, the ones willing to risk arrest and incarceration. hiding jews was illegal, helping slaves was illegal, and right now, freeing animals is illegal. i hope i can look back and say i fought on the right side of the ethical battle.

Anonymous said...

this is going to be a fun few months to come. i am really going to enjoy protesting in front of your video store/gas station/ wanna be vet hospital. any business owner who condones terrorist attacks should be very much public knowledge. i will do everything in my power to let everyone in town and in the surrounding areas your thoughts on terrorist activities. fur is beautiful and meat is delicious.

Anonymous said...

i don't give a shit if you don't post that last comment. you run a chicken shit business. i know of 6 people that have said they will never do business with you AGAIN. word spreads fast in a small town. especially when your comments are getting ready to be posted in the local papers for condoning terrorists. lets just see how much business you lose now. lol

Nick Consier said...

i can't wait till you are shut down. when is raising mink illegal. like it or not deal with

ameow2002 said...

Where in the world do you come up with that the blogs writer is condoning terrorist activity? No where does she say that and expresses dismay over the release of the mink who will only starve to death or be killed by cars and predators. No where does it say that raising mink for their fur is illegal although i personally believe that it should be. To say 'that's the way it is, deal with it' is ridiculous. Thank God that changes occur in this country every day through legislation, some good and some bad. Fortunately for me or i wouldn't be writing this or allowed to vote as i am a woman and there was a time it wouldn't have been allowed. Good thing not every one shares your views! We would still have slavery amongst other social ills! Dr Deppe is a wonderful veterinarian and an intelligent, compassionate person who i am also proud to call my friend! Keep up the good work Lisa...the voiceless count on you!

Anonymous said...

Animal Rights groups that just release farm grown animals are doing nothing but harm. Rather than release domesticated animals into the wild to suffer and harm nearby livestock they should deal with it on the legal level.

ameow2002 said...

Where in the world do you come up with that the blogs writer is condoning terrorist activity? No where does she say that and expresses dismay over the release of the mink who will only starve to death or be killed by cars and predators. No where does it say that raising mink for their fur is illegal although i personally believe that it should be. To say 'that's the way it is, deal with it' is ridiculous. Thank God that changes occur in this country every day through legislation, some good and some bad. Fortunately for me or i wouldn't be writing this or allowed to vote as i am a woman and there was a time it wouldn't have been allowed. Good thing not every one shares your views! We would still have slavery amongst other social ills! Dr Deppe is a wonderful veterinarian and an intelligent, compassionate person who i am also proud to call my friend! Keep up the good work Lisa...the voiceless count on you!

ameow2002 said...

You know, i look back and i wonder if these moronic comments posted from an 'anonymous' writer even deserve a response? Who is the 'chicken shit' anonymous?

Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary and Rescue said...

I'd like to address the comments from regarding the use of "terrorist" and the condoning of the release of these minks into the wild.

The act of this individual(s)was of a terroristic action...Since one of the definitions of terror is:
;a state of intense fear, and;
;one that "inspires" fear
I think it was used appropriately.

Perhaps the use of the word terrorist can result in a reaction by people who are sensitive to it especially since 9/11, but that doesn't mean the writer condones terrorism or, in this case, misused the word.

Another point: Radical behavior or activism, rarely results in something positive. Nor does breaking the law. Anyone who condones cruelty to animals by justifying the actions of these minks being released to fend for themselves simply doesn't have enough information or knowledge about animal welfare, period.

These minks, in both cases are ear tagged for death. Cruel, horrible, miserable deaths. It's tragic, and it's disgusting. But releasing them is equally as cruel. Since they were born and raised in captivity, they, as the writer says, will have instincts to survive with.

I am disgusted oppose the actions to the cruelty of BOTH sides of this situation, and work very hard everyday to educate the public, the VOTERS, so that laws can be put into place to protect the animals in the future.

EVERYTIME a radical or activist takes action into their own hands, it jeopardizes the welfare of animals around this globe. Legislators are turned off, and the public, those we CAN educate, those who CAN vote to change laws, become disinterested and disassociate themselves because they don't want to be viewed in this class of society.

All I can say is to please educate yourselves on the animal welfare industry so that the cruelty to animals WILL stop and laws put into place to protect them.

And spend your time petitioning, demonstrating or working with organizations that are working hard to change laws so animals will have rights in the future.

While everyone has the "right" to their opinion...I wish it would be based with some element of fact, rather than personal distaste!

Anonymous said...

Can't you read anonymous? You sound like one of them there Puppy Millers or them dang gum Fur Farmers, can't get a real job so they pick on the voiceless.
I am 100% against wearing fur and believe it should be BANNED and just because something isn't illegal has never made it OK, rather like screwing around on your spouse, nothing illegal about it, but morally wrong.
Just like the neglect and pain caused by running either of the above, morally disgusting but so far still legal.
I'm certainly doing what I can "legally" to put a stop to both.
Don't necessarily agree with turning the mink loose either, I just wish we had stricter laws to protect animals and then enforce them
Go ahead, go after a compassionate Vet whom is in it for more then a a paycheck, and we'll picket your place for being a moron.
Now run along and take Nick with you, your dog tied out in the back 40 misses you.
And just for fun I will be Anonymous #3 ;- )

Linda B. said...

The release of the minks in this manner is done by a coward, not a hero!

A animal welfare person, a "rescuerer", or anyone that deserves acknowledgement and respect for saving a life is someone who would have had a safe place for them to go.

I'm proud to be an animal advocate. I do not and never will associate myself with radical activists who take action before thinking... bringing harm to others.

The act of releasing those animals is as despicable as the person who uses them for fur.

Linda B. said...

To Catherine:

I beg to differ that people are doing "nothing" to help animals. I work with hundreds upon thousands of people daily who do NOTHING but work tirelessly for the animals.

Rescues and shelters need volunteers all the time...

Perhaps putting that "pen" of yours writing newsletters, or brief paragraphs promoting animals for adoption would be of better use, then criticizing or condemning a woman and her practice who saves thousands of lives single handedly each year? Just a thought...

Linda B. said...

To Anonymous Poster re: Condoning Terrorism.

Please reread the blog.

I think you comprehended it incorrectly!

Linda B. said...


Are you getting help for those anger issues?

Nick Consier said...

i read it and i will tell you what... gonna be a little awkward in church. lol

Betsy Fickel said...

I don't think Ms. Deppe was condoning the release of the mink in the fashion they were and gave her reasons why. It appears she understands the difference between the survivability of wild vs. domestically cared for animals.
Dealings with animals and their keeping is an highly emotionally charged issue. One needs to look at referenced, scientifically verified facts, instead of letting their emotions dictate their demands that others follow their ways and ideals.
Everyone has their own ideas how to raise animals. Just because those ideas are different from someone elses, does not make them wrong. Just different.
If these mink were truly being treated cruelly, current laws would address that issue, as it would any other animal raised in IA.
What one person considers cruel is not considered as such by another when past experience/practices and true scientific studies otherwise prove those methods to be more beneficial to the animals.
Society has become so far removed from true animal husbandry practices.
It is the city/urban dwellers' experiences with just a few pets, that many think they are now qualified to address animal husbandry on a larger scale. Dynamics change, but the overall general care requirements remain - food, water, shelter, vet care, and no cruelty/abuse as recognized by law.
What we are seeing and experiencing currently is based on extremely limited pet care and anthromorphization, not on the way things really work in real world animal husbandry.
Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions. We need to be careful to stay with the facts and to not let emotion over ride them.
Repeating, from what I read in Ms. Deppe's blog, she in no way ever advocated the illegal release of these mink.

Linda B. said...

I want to address the statement from a commentor: "If...mink were truly being treated cruelly, current laws would address that issue."

Unfortunately, this is simply not true. Iowa has one compliance officer and 6? state inspectors to cover the entire state. They do a great job, but let's look at the ratio: Inspector vs. thousands of licensed people and thousands more of individual UNLICENSED rescuers. Anyone can figure out that something is going to be missed unless we police ourselves.

Animal cruelty, abuse and neglect happens everyday...illegally, and people are not caught, convicted, fined or lose their license.

Iowa Voters for Companion Animals can prove how many commercial kennels violate the laws everyday, instilling horrendous pain and suffering on dogs and are still in operation.

It's this type of uninformed comment that lessens the severity of the cruelty that animals are suffering in our society. People don't want to "believe" it, therefore they think it isn't happening.

Please don't "assume" that neglect and cruelty is being isn't.

As far as difference of opinions...scientifically, dogs bite more that are chained, puppy mill dogs die in the thousands horrible suffering deaths, feral cats are shot, stray dogs are shot and left for dead, pets are abandoned and beaten, dogs mouths are taped shut and placed in a dog fighting ring used as bait to teach other dogs to fight to their deaths....Need I go on?

Stating opinions is one thing, but I read your comments as a fact, and honestly, the facts were incorrect!

Linda B. said...


Well I hope church can help your anger issues buddy!

Anonymous said...

Regardless of if these were mink, dogs, cattle . . . they weren't owned by the person who let them loose. Where do people get off thinking they can mess with other people's property?? This is no different than if someone went into YOUR home and "released" YOUR puppy because they knew your were going to chop it's balls off and neuter it because they are extremely opposed to anyone desexing and removing God's natural hormones from any dog. IT ISN'T ANYONE ELSE'S RIGHT TO DECIDE FOR THE OWNER OF AN ANIMAL OR ANY OTHER PROPERTY WHAT TO DO WITH IT. Who cares what you think about "fur coat wearers" . . . that isn't the point. Who cares what you think is moral and just. Go get your own Mink and raise them how you want to. Leave other people's things alone. Law abiding people need to be protected from nut jobs like the ones that harmed this person's business and probably killed mink in the process and scared them. I hope they catch whoever did this and throw them in jail. Anyone who "agrees" with this person doing this needs to go get a life. This is America and we have freedoms, freedom to make our own choices about what we eat and how we raise things. We should also be safe from Animal Rights Whackos who want to destroy any animal raising business because they think it is "wrong". Go live in a commune somewhere and eat tofu and have Mink running free everywhere and puppies and pigs and cattle, that is YOUR choice. But stop imposing on "I'm better than you and know better than you" attitude.

KJZ@ISU.COM said...

To scoff at the fact that this is called domestic terrorism is a little narrow minded.My son and his friends were just helping his grandpa when six men with weapons came out of the woods.Tell me that is not terrorizing.They were scared out of thier minds.I got the phone call and worried for my sons welfare.These people care more about animals than people so those kids life were in danger.So shame on you,Lisa Deppe, for caring so little about my kids and his friends lives.

Anonymous said...

Well if nothing else comes of this, maybe some people can now get a taste of how an animal feels living in hog confinements, puppy mills, mink farms, chicken hell holes, the list goes on and on with how animals are mistreated which creates fear for them.
Nothing worse then a Puppy Mill dog trying to relate to the real world if he/she makes it out alive.
At least the kids could voice their opinion about their fear.

And to state that the care of animals is just a difference of opinion and that is all, is being delusional, wrong is wrong and I don't need a Law to tell me that.
You pen up and confine animals in such an extreme way, just that alone is barbaric, then add the filth, mistreatment, lack of medical care, the list goes on and on and all in the name of a dollar.
I will never understand how these people sleep, how must they have been raised to portray such a lack of compassion and character, and we have some younger punks on here acting as ignorant as the day is long.
If you don't like being referred to as white trash don't behave as such.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you got on your "menstrual cycle" last night. White Trash? Some lively debate and exchange of opinions, but then you have to bring the discussion DOWN to your level. Like it or not, animals are property, and this is a legal "property issue". The only ones violating animal welfare are the nut-jobs who trespassed, released and damaged the mink owners PROPERTY!

Betsy Fickel said...

Obviously emotional rhetoric is increasing.
KGZ - Those gun totin' people were probably hunters. Exactly HOW were those kids endangered? By their own thoughts? If they were truly endangered, was it reported to the police? Never mentioned that grandpa felt endangered, so he did not feel the same? I would say it's a far stretch accusing Ms. Deppe of not caring.
Anonymous - confining animals in an extreme is a subjective form of one end of the spectrum to the other of absolutely no confinement where all animals would run freely. Maybe you would, but I certainly would not want skunks, sheep, cattle, hogs, etc. in my backyard. Because of public safety and health issues, some sort of confinement is required. Animals properly (in accordance with state law)taken care of by humans don't live in fear of deprivation of food, water, shelter, predators etc. Common sense!
A few bad caretakers, yes, have never disputed that. In ANY job, there are a few bad actors, but yet that particular industry is not portrayed as being overall evil, as dog breeders and now farmers/ranchers are currently. Equally, there are bad rescuers, shelters, humane socities, so does that make them ALL bad? NOT by a long shot.
Linda B. - PLEASE, PLEASE give us your resources to concur your statements "horrendous pain and suffering", "thousands of licensed people and thousands more of individual UNLICENSED rescuers" in IA, "I work with hundreds upon thousands of people daily who do nothing but work tirelessly for the animals."
If there are so many unlicensed rescuers, what are you and the rescue community doing to bring them into compliance? Are you reporting them to the proper authorities? If it were a dog breeder, there would be no hesitancy, would there? So, if you have knowledge of stated rescues, are you aiding and abetting those rescues that are illegal by not reporting them?
I am thinking ivca would be able to either affirm or deny those numbers and give resources, if they so choose to do.
As for kennels breaking the law (IA. law I gather you are writing about) everyday, and ivca providing the proof that it is indeed IA law they are breaking and not USDA regulations, maybe one needs to educate themselves on the actual rules and regulations that USDA demands and learn that some of those non compliance issues can be as minor as a dead fly on a window sill,a floor that needs sweeping, a cobweb in a corner, an open bag of feed that one is at the moment feeding from, an overturned water or feed dish, a fresh pile of poop. These regulations were originally for research animals whose immune systems could not be compromised one iota.
If animals are truly endangered, USDA would have them removed immediately and take steps to remedy the situation. If not, then they are told to clean up their act or get out. For each violation, a kenneler may face up to a $10,000 fine.
How do I know this? I have been involved in two such situations in helping out those facilities.
So, how many hospitals, restuarants, etc. go through this same procedure, yet I see no outcry that they be shut down immediately? And those deal with humans.
You have accused me of writing non facts while portraying yours as being accurate. That is why I am now requesting your resources be made public, so that these readers may research, do fact check, and draw their own conclusions.
We look forward to those references.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Seriously KJZ??? Scoffing? She clearly stated "difficult for me to view as an act of terrorism" and "Why mink release is considered an act of domestic terrorism, I am unsure." Did she say it WASN'T? NOPE!!! Did she even say she DIDN'T think it was? NOPE!!! Being unsure and difficult to view is not. And HOW DARE YOU!!! accuse a mother of not caring about kids... did she know it was your kids? Did she know the details of what happened to them? Because personnally, Dr. Deppe isn't that type of person.

Linda B. said...


Every person who picks up an animal, and then "fosters" it, and then "adopts it out" is violating the law unless they have a license in the state of Iowa.

There are breeders, rescuers and such that do this every single day and it is huge in Iowa.

And for the record, YES, we report them. I don't work with anyone who isn't licensed, we check everyone's organization and license before we will work with them. You'd be surprised how many "well intended, good hearted" people there are, thinking they are doing right by the animal, in reality their honest good intended efforts, often put the animal in more harm.

The organization I work for has been nationally recognized for their work...and it's all legal!

Amy Haas-Gray said...

Lots of 'anonymous' comments .....hard to take them very seriously.

Linda B. said...

Abuse and neglect is defined very loosely in Iowa's laws.

USDA Commercial Kennels do not see themselves as abusing or neglecting dogs.

Most rescues and shelter personnel who receives these dogs when the pet owner can't handle them any longer, and those pet owners who purchase them and weep over them as they are dying feel differently.

The controversy will continue until Iowa's law defines ABUSE and NEGLECT in more specific detail.

A chained dog 24 hours a day with a bowl, even empty, and a dog house even with holes in the roof is, by Iowa's law, OK. Yet most of the public and responsible pet owners would think differently.

I refuse to get into a "battle" of definitions with one who clearly stands on a "side" not to see there is a gray area.

I do not know of ONE animal shelter or rescue in Iowa that is licensed that closes their doors to the public for viewing, and yet USDA kennels will not allow people in. This has nothing to do with IVCA...they are their own group.

This has to do with me, my voice from experience of answering the pleas for help because their dog is inbred, consoling the weeping as they lay their brand new puppy to sleep from illness, and educating the public who thinks that the guy selling puppies in the pet store was an honest man.

I don't judge others. Their actions judge themselves.

Betsy Fickel said...

Linda B - Unfortunately,you danced around my question of asking for resources to back up your statements for accuracies sake.
Good that you are in compliance. If there are so many of these "well intended" people that you deal with, have you turned EVERYONE in? How many? A general statement of every person that picks up an animal, keeps it for a bit, and then sells it does not provide a resource that can be examined or verified to validate your statement of thousands of breeders and thousands of rescuers, both licensed and unlicensed.
Let's try to put this in a bit of perspective number wise.
Your claim of thousands of breeders, so let's give the lowest figure figure of multiple thousands, 2000 breeders in IA. There are 99 counties in IA and that averages out to just a bit over 20 breeders per county.
Now, may I suggest you check out numbers of USDA and state licensees. Won't come close to even 1000, that total was just slightly over 600 in 2009.
Maybe you need to explain your definition of breeders if different from Iowa law's definition of having over three intact dogs just so we have a better understanding if the term breeder is your own definiton or the legal definition.
Just how are these "good hearted" people "often put the animal in more harm" if they are contacting you to take the animal?
Just curious how many rescues, shelters, and humane societies are there in IA.? Anyone have that number?
Once again I ask, please provide the resources to back up your numbers and statements so that people can fact check and draw their own conclusions. Would you please do that so people understand how you arrived at your claims?

Miss Piggy said...

Thank you for this article. One of my fb friends discovered an escaped fur farm mink on her property. Cared for it and found it a home. I am writing a book about the experience to create awareness. Am seeking a 501c3 mink rescue group. Please fb friend me if you know a reputable one.
Sincerely, Stephanie M Sellers