Sunday, July 16, 2000

Youth plans P&G protest

Wants products boycotted because of animal testing

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Ryan Courtade, a teen-ager and animal rights advocate, has spent the past month preparing for a Monday showdown against global powerhouse Procter & Gamble.

(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the 14-year-old founder of Love All Animals and his fellow group members will gather on Fountain Square. They have vowed to urge all passersby to boycott Procter & Gamble products, which include Crest, Tide and Ivory soap, because of P&G's continued use of animal testing.

        Earth Save, Vegetarian Resource Group and Animal Rights Community of Greater Cincinnati also will make a showing. About 50 protesters are expected to appear.

        Ryan, 14, realizes Love All Animals is to Procter & Gamble as David was to Goliath — small, with meager chances of trouncing his opponent. Yet he is unafraid. He will use Monday's experience to be come a more effective organizer in the future.

        “It's the first protest I've ever done,” said Ryan, a ninth-grader at Summit Country Day School in Hyde Park. “After we do the first one, it'll be easier to do more.

        “I'm just baffled that (CEOs) of major corporations can allow animals ... to die and be treated cruelly.”

        Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Amy Neltner said the company is committed to ending animal testing. In July 1999, P&G announced that it would stop using animals to test 80 percent of its products.

        “I will be interested to hear what they have to say,” Ms. Neltner said of Love All Animals. “I hope they have looked into our company.”

        Ryan organized Love All Animals when he was 9 years old and attended Johnson Elementary School in Fort Thomas.

        His goal then was more grand: he wanted animals in laboratories, circuses and other entertainment venues to be returned to the wild.

        The group's goals have since scaled down and focused on advocacy work, he said.

        “The purpose of the group is to get more students and younger people caring about the environment and animal rights,” he said.

        “We are trying to make a difference. It's not just to pass the time away. (It's) actually a job that I do.”

        The group now passes out animal rights information at supermarkets and has a Web site. In the last month, members have made posters, sought permits and created the costume of a rat for the Fountain Square protest.

        Ryan also volunteers at the Cincinnati Zoo's children's area. He would rather see the animals roam free. Yet he feels better knowing that he is treating them kindly.

        “If I'm at the zoo, I'm helping them out,” he said. “I know they're getting the best they can get.”

        Mary Ann Lederer of Earth Save commends Ryan's organizing skills.

        “He's kind. He's smart. He knows how to get things done,” she said. “I wish there were some adults like that. He's a hope for the future.”


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