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Meet Steve Martindale: My Long and Winding Road to Animal Rights

Posted by at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)


Steve and TipsyIt is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to PETA Prime! I am going to be writing here once a week or so-about wildlife, my travel adventures, financial advice, activism, and other important topics. So, I wanted to introduce myself and say, “Hello!”

First, I am a proud PETA Primer myself: I am old enough-and young enough-to know that Jeremiah was a bullfrog and that CCR’s lyrics refer to Lodi, California. I’ve been an animal lover all my life, but my rage at the cruelty of our society took some time to boil over. And boiling mad I am-at the outrageous abuses that are allowed to happen to animals every day, all over the world.

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been spiritually close to dogs and cats, but I first started studying wild animals when I was a U.S. Marine in Vietnam. It occurred to me that we share many fundamental traits with all animals. We are kin in many senses. I went back to school to earn a doctorate in biology, studying animal behavior in the wild and teaching at universities. After that, I worked as a financial advisor for a major Wall Street firm for more than 20 years.

When I retired, I completed a circle by going to work as a nature guide in the jungles of Costa Rica. The eco-lodge where I worked harbors and protects the exuberant profusion of life in the rain forest. And that’s when it hit me: Life is too short not to join the battle to help our fellow inhabitants of this planet. The truth is that nothing will change if I don’t stand up and fight for what I most believe in-the rights of all living beings to pursue their own lives, to follow their own wishes, and to move, play, mate, and raise their young without being tortured, tormented, or slaughtered.

I was vegan and empathetic toward all animals before my epiphany in the jungle, but it was then that I realized that being empathetic was not the same as actively fighting to save them. Crying inwardly does not change the world. That is what brought me to PETA. PETA walks the walk, changing the world like no other organization can, and it has been doing so for nearly 30 years. Now I have the job of a lifetime with the PETA Foundation’s Planned Giving Department, where I help people provide for the future of this struggle. My job brings together my love of animals, training as a biologist, financial expertise-and burning rage. Where else could I do all that?

I will be sharing many ideas and experiences with you in these blogs, so stay tuned. But more importantly, I want to hear from you. I just told you my story-let’s hear yours. What brings you to the fight for animal rights?

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    Linda Davidson says...

    September 10th, 2008, 11:58 pm

    Hello Steve,
    I have been rescuing cats and kittens for about 10 years now. I have a psychic connection to both animals and humans and respect all life. I am not a nut or a collector. I am a vegetarian. I am also a licensed Clinical Lab Scientist (test only human specimens) and a credible, bill-paying, responsible member of our society (ie, with a job – not a nut on welfare….).
    Anyway, I dug in 10 years ago to do hands-on rescue of cats and kittens from our local shelter – animals that were going to be euthanized. I did rescue, foster, and re-home hundreds of cats and kittens during during this time. I realized that with all my efforts – it was just a drop in the bucket. I need to become more of an activist.
    I am ready to do that. I am re-joining Peta.
    Peace,
    Linda Davidson

    Mary Ann McGlashon says...

    September 11th, 2008, 5:18 am

    I loved the message here, because it speaks so eloquently of the awakening of an entire generation, not only to human rights abuses but to the fact that we humans are only a part of the picture of life on earth. Humans have been a plague to other species of life on this planet and they cry out to us for mercy, compassion and fellowship. Thank you for your wonderful work.

    Kristina says...

    September 11th, 2008, 2:21 pm

    When I was eighteen, I read a Ann Landers column about animal testing. In the article PeTA was mentioned. I wrote for information and became veg overnight once I learned how the chickens were treated. I was a BAD veg for several years until I discovered whole foods cooking. Since then (that was 22 years ago), I’ve written countless letters, attended countless demos, attended fundraisers, and now an active volunteer for Prop2 in CA and after that will be working to spread “Puppy Mill Free LA” to my city.

    Love this blog…it seems to have an older person feel…like baby boomers. Very refreshing…everything is youth based and we need to see more images and hear from those who are outside of the 20 something category. We are all beautiful!

    indycar01 says...

    September 12th, 2008, 2:18 pm

    investigate before you donate.. (holiday giving?) before funding ANY charity. please visit. mrmcmed.org curedisease.com (learn how charities misspend research dollars) and pcrm.org, read what the march of dimes spends (30 million a year) your money on, thank you for your time, ps.. please see my other message (vegan by design!) at, arcaracing.com click search (2 times) type in indycar01

    Steve says...

    September 15th, 2008, 1:32 pm

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments.

    Linda – great work saving cats, and thanks for rejoining PETA. I also am tuned in to all animals and don’t consider myself a nut case until I start meowing around dinner time.

    Mary Ann – an entire generation, ideed. I talk with many people who were idealists in the 60’s and 70’s, then went on to careers and families. But now, many of them are rediscovering their roots, and standing up for animal rights. The future looks bright for our generation.

    Kristina – go Prop 2! You summed up our whole philosophy here at PETA Prime very nicely: boomers, unite! We have experience and wisdom on our side, but also far more energy than the young whippersnappers give us credit for. And more social awareness than our parents had, I believe.

    Indycar01 – thanks for the reminder. PCRM is among my personal favorites, too. On a related topic: it is surprisingly difficult to find a wildlife group which is animal friendly: http://www.peta.org/feat/greenwash/grades.html. Historically, many conservation people came from hunting/fishing backgrounds, but it’s time to slip out from underneath their inertia. It is disturbing that, say, the Sierra Club actively caters to hunters. And the demands for animal testing coming from various wildlife groups is nothing short of tragic.

    -Steve

    Jean says...

    September 19th, 2008, 10:50 am

    Hi, Steve. What a wonderful, well-written article! My local Curves chapter is advertizing for used blankets and such to help the Animal Humane Society. That organization runs a thrift store and proceeds go to help feed and take care of the animals in the shelter. There is a wonderful lady in her late 80s who resides in a residential care facility here. She is on oxygen and not really mobile, but she crochets like you wouldn’t believe. I plan to get her going on some nice, soft blankets and will deliver them for her. Thank you for all of your hard work on the behalf of animals everywhere! Jean

    Mindy says...

    September 19th, 2008, 10:55 pm

    Steve…what a great story! I love hearing others’ comments and insight as well!

    I have always had compassion for animals…I have been a strict vegetarian for about 8 years. I feel I am on the journey to becoming a vegan.

    What most impacted me was when I read “crying inwardly does not change the world”…I feel I am on a journey to becoming more active and involved….

    Kate says...

    March 10th, 2009, 6:26 pm

    Hi Steve: It is refreshing to see so many people care about animals as much as I do. I cannot comprehend a person who thinks animals don’t have feelings or that they shouldn’t be treated the same as another family member. My animals have never turned on me, rejected me, etc. Some people on the other hand… have. I do my bit by donating to various animal charities including PETA. I donate to our local Humane Society – I bundle our newspapers and magazines and take them down to the bins for deposit. I also tell everyone who will listen to do this and to donate their grocery store tapes as well. I will be a volunteer education co-ordinator coming up in the spring. I will be teaching classes of teachers and students who will come to the Humane Society on various subjects to do with animals (how to pick the right one, caring for them, etc.) and of course the way we are supposed to treat them. This is my bit to help out, and if everyone were to do their bit, the world would be a much better place.

    Michael Blott says...

    November 17th, 2009, 12:01 am

    Before my activism, I was paralyzed by the thought that so many needed my help and I could not make a dent in the need. Then the epiphany came. I could make a profound difference in one animal. That became my focus. Over the years now, I look back not only on the animals I helped but the people I educated and nurtured. They have done the same. The numbers of animals helped by myself and those people must be in the thousands. Few of which would have been helped if I had stayed paralyzed and did not help just one at a time.
    I look forward to your articles.

    Pam says...

    March 24th, 2010, 10:06 pm

    I leave vegan leaflets in store dressing rooms and bathrooms. I know most of them get thrown away, but my goal is to connect with just one person. One person could save hundreds of animals, maybe thousands by becoming active themselves. When I go to a farm sanctuary and look at the cow and pig there, I like to picture that this is the animal that I helped ‘save.” even though I know that is impossible, but I know I did help save that one animal and that that one life is important.

    Chuck Petrone says...

    August 2nd, 2011, 4:14 pm

    Steve, Long time no see. Last I heard you were at the University of Arizona. I have tried in the past to track you down, but never would have looked on Wall Street. I am glad to hear you have found your passion with PETA. Send me your email address. Chuck

    Tom Caraco says...

    January 8th, 2014, 11:51 pm

    Hi Steve,

    Some of your work completed in another era has recently received some special recognition; see:

    http://www.journals.elsevier.com/animal-behaviour/news/animal-behaviour-anniversary-essays/

    Tom

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