* Medical doctor who advocates the use of extreme violence in the name of animal liberation
* Press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office
Born in 1958 in Austin, Texas, Jerry Vlasak is a press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office (NAALPO), which disseminates Animal Liberation Front (ALF) “communiqués” to the public.
A board-certified surgeon who specializes in critical care and trauma, Vlasak received his bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Texas at Austin. He attended medical school in Houston and later went on to serve a six-year residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles; he thereafter established a private practice in Santa Barbara, California. He currently resides in Southern California, where he is employed in the practice of trauma surgery at a Level II Trauma Center.
During his medical training, Vlasak conducted research on animals. In his third year of training, he married animal-rights activist Pamelyn Ferdin in 1986 and adopted the belief that animal experimentation was both immoral and unnecessary. They divorced in 2008. According to his biography on the NAALPO website, he now condemns “the scientific invalidity of animal experimentation around the world.”
Vlasak has made statements condoning physical violence against those who use animals for scientific research. “I think there is a use for violence in our movement,” he said. “And I think it can be an effective strategy. Not only is it morally acceptable, I think that there are places where it could be used quite effectively from a pragmatic standpoint.”
In a 2004 cable television appearance, Vlasak said, “If someone is killing, on a regular basis, thousands of animals, and if that person can only be stopped in one way by the use of violence, then it is certainly a morally justifiable solution.”
At a conference for animal rights in Los Angeles in 2003, he candidly spoke about the potential benefits that the assassination of vivisectors (researchers who use live animals for experimentation) would bring to the animal-liberation movement: “[I]f vivisectors were routinely being killed, I think it would give other vivisectors pause in what they were doing in their work — and if these vivisectors were being targeted for assassination … I think that there would be a trickle-down effect and many, many people … would say, ‘I’m not going to get into this business because it’s a very dangerous business and there’s other things I can do with my life that don’t involve getting into a dangerous business.’ And I think that the — strictly from a fear and intimidation factor, that would be an effective tactic.”
“And I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on,” added Vlasak. “And I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human animals.”
In October 2005, Vlasak testified in a U.S. Senate Committee hearing on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which was designed to make it a federal offense for any individual to cause property damage to animal laboratories. At the hearing, Vlasak defended the position he had staked out at the aforementioned 2003 conference, saying, “I made that statement. I stand by that statement.”
Prior to his work with NAALPO, Vlasak served as a scientific advisor to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), an activist group opposed to Europe’s largest animal-testing laboratory, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). He was also a Board member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), an eco-terrorist outfit (founded by Paul Watson) that commits acts of violence against the fishing industry. And he was the Director of the Animal Defense League (ADL), which describes itself as a “militant, grassroots, animal-rights organization” that supports “the work done by the underground Animal Liberation Front.”
Asserting that ALF members should not be regarded as terrorists, Vlasak says, “These people are not common criminals. They have very strong philosophical and ideological beliefs. They are not trying to hurt innocent people in skyscrapers. They hurt organizations, but these organizations are hurting animals.”
“I see the struggle for animal rights as no different from other struggles in history,” says Vlasak, “such as against apartheid or slavery. Violence was a part of those movements and was both effective and morally justified.”