Fish Feel is the first organization devoted to promoting the recognition of fish as sentient beings deserving of respect and compassion. Despite fish constituting the largest category of animals used for food (including as farmed animal feed), and despite huge numbers of fish harmed for research, “sport,” and aquaria, their well-being receives very little attention, even from the animal protection community.
Fish Feel primarily serves to help educate the public as to why these animals are deserving of our admiration and appreciation, the immense problems caused by the exploitation of them, and how we can help them.
Fish Feel is an all-volunteer organization that relies on individual contributions and grants. Fish Feel is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and a member of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
Seed funding has been provided by The Pollination Project and A Well-Fed World. Additional funding has been provided by the Town Creek Foundation. Our website redesign was sponsored by Animal Guardians.
Howard Edelstein is Treasurer of Fish Feel and Administrator of the Fish Feel website. A professional website and database developer, Howard is a long-time animal rights activist who has designed websites for many animal protection organizations. In addition to a B.S. in Agriculture, and one in Computer Science, he recently earned a B.S. in Emergency Management and is actively involved in animal sheltering during disasters and cruelty cases; e.g., This little piggy made it all the way home. Howard is the author of An Underwater Friend, the story of a boy who goes fishing and realizes that all animals are sentient beings, and that a friendship can develop between any two individuals. He has also written Ready or Not, Here it Comes, a book about planning for the animals in your care in the event of a disaster; and Scooter Strays, an interactive children’s book about the dangers a stray dog faces.
Mary Finelli is President and Chairperson of Fish Feel, and she chairs the Save the Rays Coalition. Mary is a long-time animal rights activist with a B.S. in Animal Science. She has worked with various animal protection organizations, primarily focusing on farmed animals. Mary was the Producer of Farmed Animal Watch, a weekly online news digest sponsored by numerous animal protection organizations. She has contributed a chapter to Vegan Voices, and co-wrote a chapter of In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave (which has also been published in both editions of The Animals Reader).
Amie LaPorte is Secretary of Fish Feel. Amie has been an animal rights activist for decades, and focuses most of her activism on farm(ed) animals, while fostering and volunteering with companion animals as she is able. Amie completed an internship at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary and is a regular volunteer there. She is the head organizer of Frederick Veg, and is the founder and head of the new Animal Ministry at the Frederick Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick. Amie holds a BA in psychology and an MA in developmental psychology, and she teaches piano in Washington DC. Amie and her husband share their home with 20+ animals, including a dog, cats, rats, turtles and fish, and she works diligently to turn her backyard into a wildlife haven. Amie is also in the beginning stages of becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Amie’s life is surrounded by animals and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cam MacQueen is a Director of Fish Feel. Since the 1980’s, Cam has worked for the rights of animals, environmental protection, and other social justice issues in both a professional and volunteer capacity. Her activism has included several lobster liberation missions that have been featured on CNN and in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Cam created and manages the long-running column “Cultivating Compassion” in Pathways magazine. In 2015, Cam opened Asheville’s first vegan bar, THE BLOCK off biltmore, dedicated to making a difference for the planet and all beings. In 2022, Cam initiated The V Spot, “Asheville’s first one-stop shop for vegans (and non vegans) on the go looking to experience a taste of the Asheville Vegan Vibe.” She also serves on the board of the Asheville Vegan Society. Cam holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from UMD School of Social Work, and has completed all course work toward a Master’s in Religious Studies from Howard University School of Divinity.
Barry Austin, a veteran anti-cruelty campaigner, is our U.K. contact.
Laura Moretti is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Animals Voice Magazine, in print and online since 1986. From an undercover agent for the New Jersey SPCA, to a lobbyist for animal protective legislation in every state she has ever lived in, to hands-on rescue of wild horses, to magazine and web site publishing, to serving on the board or advisory boards of various organizations, Laura has been an activist for animals for 40-plus years. She has a special fondness for frogs — and fishes.
Jonathan Balcombe, PhD, is an ethologist and the author of several books on animals, including Pleasurable Kingdom, Second Nature, and The Exultant Ark. Jonathan is Executive Director for the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, and is currently working on a book on the inner lives of fishes, titled What a Fish Knows.
Marcia Berdansky, a long-time animal advocate, has worked in the financial field for over 30 years and has operated her own bookkeeping business since 1999.
Karen Davis, PhD, is the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. Founded in 1990, United Poultry Concerns addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in food production, science, education, entertainment, and human companionship situations. Karen has a PhD in English from the University of Maryland-College Park where she taught for twelve years in the English Department.
Prof. de hab. Andrzej Elzanowski is currently Professor of Vertebrate Zoology at the Polish Academy of Sciences. He has previously held positions with, among others, the Humane Society of the United States, the Max Planck Institute, and Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Elzanowski is Chairman of the Animal Welfare Section of the Polish Society of Ethics.
Lester Friedlander, DVM
Lester Friedlander, DVM, earned his veterinarian degree in 1979. Dr. Friedlander was Supervisory Veterinary Medical Office for the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service for a decade, ultimately blowing the whistle on the lack of enforcement of animal protection regulations inside slaughterplants. He is recognized for his work on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, and has received numerous USDA awards including Veterinary Trainer of the Year. Dr. Friedlander has served as a director or in an advisory capacity for numerous animal protection organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, and he is the president of Citizens Against Equine Slaughter.
Bessie VonMessenger is a mom to two vegan kiddos, one little vegan on the way, and is dedicated to being an advocate for the neglected animals, such as ocean creatures and spiders. She is working towards a degree in marine biology for the purpose of helping to end the suffering of ocean creatures and to encourage kindness and respect for them. Bessie is currently working on vegan children’s stories and engages in public activism by vegan chalking and leafleting to start conversations with others about how we can choose kindness for animals. She enjoys spending time with her family, taking macro photography of her spider friends, and connecting with the beings of the sea by meditation on the beach. Bessie hopes to make a difference for her animal friends by sharing awareness and education for positive change.