At the end of my presentation in Nairobi last month, I was asked among other things what is the biggest obstacle I see to the advancement of animal welfare. My answer was that in my experience very often the problem is that some animal welfare organisations simply don’t want to win, or they actually undermine their own work to such an extent that they end up harming more animals than they have helped with the rest of their activities.
Clearly I was hearing loud echoes in my mind of Animals’ Angels’ destruction of the 8hours campaign. In only a few days, Christa and Michael Blanke (wife and husband, paid President and paid Director, and two thirds of the Animals’ Angels board – the third member being their son) stopped all work on the 8hours campaign, undermined important institutional contacts painstakingly developed over two years, and rapidly suppressed the 8hours campaign at the very moment when it was taking incredible steps forward.
In an attempt to avoid uncomfortable questions, they simply removed all details from the Contact page of the 8hours website. In the About Us page, where previously Dan Jørgensen’s and Christa Blanke’s profiles could be found, now only Dan’s appears, so that Christa can avoid being held accountable for what she has done. Naturally, most people don’t think of accessing the Contact page on the Animals’ Angels website, so the 8hours campaign is just left there to die without any explanation. Animals’ Angels is behaving as if the campaign never existed.
One of my invoices issued in June – for the work I did as the 8hours coordinator until Christa Blanke forbade me to continue – remains unpaid, and a legal case on this matter between the UK and Germany will take a long time to develop. Unfortunately, I can only invoke an intervention of the German courts on the grounds of Animals’ Angels’ attempt to save some money by avoiding paying my invoice: there will be no legal way to hold them accountable for destroying a campaign that in two years had become the main animal welfare initiative in Europe, and the best chance in many years of liberating transported animals from their prolonged agony.
No doubt Animals’ Angels will continue quite happily to ask people who are sensitive to animal welfare to send them money – and pay both Christa’s and Michael’s salaries and expenses – for years to come.
From my side, I will continue to publish these articles because I think that this kind of behaviour should be denounced, so we can all move forward on animal welfare. I believe that organisations that behave this way are one of the major stumbling blocks to progress on animal welfare, and Animals’ Angels’ destruction of the 8hours campaign is one of the most evident examples in recent years of how serious the consequences for animals can be.
You can read a long article on how the 8hours campaign was increasingly sidelined and finally ended by Christa and Michael Blanke on this website. The same article has been divided into four parts for easier reading. On this website you can separately access Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.