SEATTLE - A fish flap unfolded in Seattle today as group of half-naked animal-rights activists dressed like fish took on a national veterinarian group that's meeting in Seattle.
The activists - members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - wanted the vets to cancel a salmon-tossing exhibition by the popular Pike Place Market fishmongers.
The protesters even offered to buy fake rubber fish for the famous fish throwers to use at the annual convention of the Illinois-based American Veterinary Medical Association.
But when the veterinarians declined to cancel the event, the activists staged a protest on the sidewalk outside.
Demonstrators donned fish-tails and shimmery paint to call attention to what they say is the vet group's disrespect for marine life. Some laid topless on the sidewalk and others carried signs that said things like "Gutted Alive."
"The AVMA should be siding with animals, not animal abusers," says PETA'S Ashley Byrne.
Instead, she said, "The AVMA has decided to support an industry that guts animals alive, that pulls them from the depths of the ocean so their organs explode."
The veterinarians group said they considered PETA's request, but ultimately decided against it. Spokesman David Kirkpatrick says the event was not disrespectful to fish.
The veterinarian group says the fish throwers exemplify a successful business model that draws people from across the country.
"We came here for the fish throwing. We're from Texas," said one.
Veterinarians say the fish-throwing demonstration is a team-building exercise to help others in their field, and they see nothing wrong with it.
"I think it's important to point out that the fish are dead. We would not condone any activity that would mistreat live fish," said Dr. Ron DeHaven of the AVMA.
But PETA protesters labeled the event a "corpse toss" and a hidesous stunt.
"Throwing a dead fish is the same morally as throwing a dead cat or a dead dog," Byrne said.
AVMA leaders say fish-throwing is not the same thing. They add that their group supports the responsible use of animals, and believe veterinarians are their best advocates.
"We have some very sound principals relative to the care and use of animals and we think that the fish tossing event today was consistent with those principles," DeHaven said.
Veterinarians say the three fish tossed at their convention Saturday will be eaten - so nothing goes to waste.
About 10,000 people are in town for the convention, which focuses on topics such as animals' role in global health.
Tags: PETA, protest, fish toss, salmon, exhibition, half-nude, animal rights, activists
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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