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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-31-2005, 09:39 AM Thread Starter
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Article- Spy for Animal Rights Group Reveals Herself

I know PETA is controversial with animal folks. I saw this on AOL today. Its another perspective. The woman seems educated, level headed, and not a reactionary. Here is the article:

Spy for Animal Rights Group Reveals Herself
By BONNIE PFISTER, AP


TRENTON, N.J. (May 30) - Lisa Leitten is finished living her double life. For the past three years, the soft-spoken, 30-year old moved from Missouri to Texas to Virginia, applying for jobs at businesses dealing with animals. She gave her real name, and some real details about herself: a master's degree in animal psychology and prior work at a primate sanctuary in Florida.

What she didn't reveal was that she was also working for an animal welfare organization, and that she wore a hidden camera to document instances in which animals were treated with what she calls horrific neglect and cruelty.

Leitten called her last assignment for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals her most wrenching: nine months in a Virginia lab owned by Princeton, N.J.-based biomedical firm Covance Co. There, she says, monkeys were denied medical care and abused by technicians. The company denies the claims, says it treats the animals properly and has accused Leitten of illegally working under cover.

Two weeks ago, PETA presented Leitten's assertions about Covance in video footage and a massive report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and Virginia prosecutors, calling for regulators to shutter the company's Vienna, Va., lab.

"This was my third assignment, and my final one,'' Leitten said in a recent interview with The Associated Press, the first time she has publicly revealed her identity. "You never forget the things that you've seen.''

Leitten grew up an animal lover in a middle-class family in Buffalo, N.Y. While in college in Ohio, a psychology class took her to a zoo to study chimpanzee behavior.

"My love of primates grew from that,'' she said. "They are such intelligent, feeling animals, so like us.''

She earned her graduate degree at Central Washington University's Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, famously home in the late 1960s to a chimpanzee who learned sign language.

While in college, Leitten had become a vegetarian and found herself increasingly concerned about animal welfare. PETA was a natural fit.

But she was more comfortable working behind the scenes than marching in rallies. The intrigue of undercover work outweighed her initial worries.

"At first I thought, 'There's no way.' The fear of everything, of having to wear covert equipment and move around. But then it sounded sort of exciting at the same time,'' she said.

Her first job began in May 2002, a nine-month stint at a Missouri lab that produced pet food for Proctor & Gamble's Iams label. There, she claimed she found animals that were injured, had untended wounds and receiving unnecessary surgeries. Leitten documented her findings, quietly left the job and let PETA make her allegations public.

Retailer PetSmart and Iams severed contracts with the lab, which laid off nearly half of its workers. Its owner accused PETA of playing on corporations' fear of negative publicity rather than exposing legitimate concerns.

By July of 2003, Leitten resurfaced at her next assignment, a wildlife refuge in Amarillo, Texas. PETA said it had received complaints of tigers and monkeys housed in waste-laden cages and being fed spoiled food.

Six months later, Leitten slipped out of Texas, and PETA held another news conference with another damning video. A subsequent USDA review backed up the group's assertions.

For what she says was her final assignment, Leitten was hired as a primate technician for Covance.

Leitten's camera work, and the report issued by PETA, depict frightened monkeys being yanked from their cages and handled roughly by aggressive, often cursing technicians.

She says she watched animals suffer with festering wounds, and that tubes were forced into their sinuses for research medicine to be administered, causing them to scream, bleed and vomit. Monkeys were housed alone in cages that were hosed down with the animals still inside, dripping and shivering, she said.

Laurene Isip, a Covance spokeswoman, says the company has complied with animal welfare regulations for its half-century in business, and doubted the credibility of PETA's charges.

The company called Leitten's actions illegal. Legal experts agree.

"As an employee she has a legal right to be there, but she's there to fulfill and execute on the tasks and responsibilities give to her by her employer. She's not there to fulfill her own private agenda,'' said Scott Vernick, a Philadelphia lawyer specializing in professional responsibility and legal ethics.

Bruce Weinstein, who has written four books on ethics, said even noble ends do not justify deceptive means.

"The question is, can those perhaps noble ends be achieved legally and ethically? Can one legitimately document abuses that occur without pretending to be someone one is not, or breaking the law, or videotaping things surreptitiously?''

Mary Beth Sweetland, PETA's research and investigations director, said she now has two staffers working covertly, the latest of dozens of investigations conducted by the group's over 25 years.

In some instances, as at Covance, PETA says its moles have signed nondisclosure forms and claim to try to stay within the law by never removing anything from work sites or by revealing proprietary information.

So far only one company that's been infiltrated has sued: product-testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences. The Somerset County-based company dropped its case in return for PETA promising to not infiltrate it again for at least five years.

"It's a risk we're willing to take,'' Sweetland said. "If it weren't for these investigations, no one would no what was going on.''

For her part, Leitten says her time as a spy was spent worrying about the animals, not about being caught. She said she spent nights at home with her two dogs, weeping and writing up what she had seen during the day.

"That's why people only last in this job a couple of years,'' said Leitten, who asked that her current residence not be revealed. "I get migraines, a lot of anxiety. But if something can change for the animals, and their lives will be better in some way, then all those sleepless nights and crying at home will be worth it.''
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-31-2005, 09:57 AM
 
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I have a huge problem with PETA and their tactics. At least spying on these companies isn't violent, but it still is wrong. If they think there is animal abuse going on, why can't they report the company to the local animal control department? My guess is that doing that doesn't give them the headlines.

The woman involved is articulate, but that doesn't make what she did ethically right.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-31-2005, 10:09 AM
 
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Wow, what a strong amazing person, I could never hold it together seeing what she has.

I have so little respect for the human race, how distructive we can be.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-31-2005, 10:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowball2
The woman involved is articulate, but that doesn't make what she did ethically right.
Maybe if you were in her position and were exposed to such horrible abuse you would think differently, what is animal control going to do to fight a huge company? They don't have the lawyers and money to fight something they may see one time during an investigation. They can't be there day in and day out to catch the constant abuse.

PETA does have poor tactics but I don't feel this woman deserves your condemning when you weren't in her shoes.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-31-2005, 11:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SammyO
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowball2
The woman involved is articulate, but that doesn't make what she did ethically right.
Maybe if you were in her position and were exposed to such horrible abuse you would think differently, what is animal control going to do to fight a huge company? They don't have the lawyers and money to fight something they may see one time during an investigation. They can't be there day in and day out to catch the constant abuse.

PETA does have poor tactics but I don't feel this woman deserves your condemning when you weren't in her shoes.
Animal control is the government. Companies may have lawyers and money, but the government has the law on its side.

Spying on people this way is still ethically wrong. Animal abuse is horrible but the ends do not justify the means. I'm not condemning this woman. I just do not agree with spying like this.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-31-2005, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowball2
Companies may have lawyers and money, but the government has the law on its side.
Yeah, but that's assuming that all politicians are incorruptible and honest and can't be swayed by large amounts of money.

I'm not entirely certain that spying is the way to go, but I understand. Two wrongs don't make a right, but is it better to sit back and hope that the government maybe, possibly might take care of it while animals are being tortured and are dying painfully? I don't know what the solution might be, but I understand that it's hard for the people at PETA to sit back and watch while nothing gets done. I think if they were to try and take the "legal" route, any reports they made would get hidden and conveniently forgotten. They NEED headlines because the media is the only people who can expose this stuff, and I think the only way there'll be a change is if the public demands it, because public opinion and the actions of consumers is one of the only things that companies are afraid of.

Just my humble opinion.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-31-2005, 12:51 PM
 
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just out of curiosity...is anything they get by spying even of any use other than just a media event?

I know there are all kinds of laws about how a person can and can't use information they have gotten from taping a phone call, for example. (If i remember correctly, a guy was just released from jail because he was arrested for planning to rob a store, but the information came because he told his girlfiend about it and her mother over heard it on another phone. The court ruled that it was an illegal use of wire tapping and let him go).
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-01-2005, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
'JoeyM"just out of curiosity...is anything they get by spying even of any use other than just a media event?
Sometimes when horrific stuff is going on that is a way to bring it to the publics attention. I think it is the fanfare for the exposure so we all find out & be swift public reaction.

The reality of life is alot of time there is no justice so you have to do things like this. Its non violent, done by a educated, level head, compassionate individual.

I guess it would be the same thing as people being tortured and sent to death camps in WWII. Would it have been wrong to "spy" and bring the information out to the public if that was the only way? Then have a media event about it so I could get stopped?


Also if these companies had nothing to hide why are they upset about "spying". Its not like she is giving away secret codes or work place trade secrets. Just my thoughts on this.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-01-2005, 09:44 AM
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I think that PETA is marvellous, and I think their goals are brilliant. I don't agree with how they go about some things, but I support them as best I can.

Lisa
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-01-2005, 12:26 PM
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I haven't quite made up my mind about this. If the governments makes scheduled visits, you know they'll never see anything less than ethical. The labs will make sure of that. Also, it's one thing to stop in periodically, and another to observe by working there every day.

I worked at a school for children with special needs, which was part of a rehabilitation hospital. Everything was spotless and in good repair. The facility was rated in the top three in the country.

Periodically, the health department made inspections, and despite how spotless the center was, an extra cleaning and repairing crew joined the regular empoyees to make sure everything was spic and span, and everything in perfect condition. This was done by a spotless hospital with a reputation for excellence. What would an unethical company do? Sadly, whistle blowers are looked down upon, and their reports considered to be biased-- because of various reasons that the business or institution can manufacture!

What does that leave? A legal sting. Ideally, this should be done by the authorities, but if it isn't, an aniimal welfare organization is the only option I can think of. I'd rather the Humane Society or SPCA were in charge, but I don't think we can ignore this report only because Ms. Litten
represented PETA. I think some eyes should be opened by this report, and that reputable organizations should take over where PETA left off.




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