LETTERS [March 1993]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1993:

Money and power
The feature article in your
January/February 1993 issue about the role
or non-role of minorities in the movement
was top-notch. I am proud to have worked
for seven years at the Michigan Humane
Society’s downtown Detroit facility, promi-
nently mentioned in your article as one of
the only major U.S. humane societies still
committed to serving animals and people in
an often dangerous environment where
needs are greatest. Some important facts
not noted in your article are that the MHS
has minorities on its board of directors and
in supervisory positions, and that its
Detroit-based charitable animal hospital
helps thousands of animals each year––pri-
marily at reduced cost, no cost, or with
extended payment plans. In my current

capacity as an independent lobbyist with the
MHS among my clients, I’ve given a copy
of this thought-provoking issue to all of the
Afro-American members of the Michigan
House and Senate (one of whom I chose to
sponsor an MHS bill to create new, pro-
gressive felony penalties for cruelty).
Finally, words can never fully
express the relief and gratitude I felt as I
read your editorial in the January/February
issue, “Time to get smart about politics.” It
should be required reading for every animal
protection activist in the U.S.! I’ve already
distributed numerous copies, and plan to
reprint it in the 1993 newsletter of the polit-
ical action committee I started here last
year, HEAL PAC (Humanitarians for
Environmental and Animal Laws Political
Action Committee). Everything you said,
including your accurate 10 points for people
to remember when trying to get legislation
passed, I’ve been saying for the better part
of 15 years now, usually feeling like a lone
voice crying in the wilderness. For exam-
ple, a well-known Michigan activist took
me to task for HEAL PAC’s endorsement of
a state senator who was running for
Congress, because he is an avid hunter.
When I explained how consistently support-
ive he has been of all animal protection
bills, it didn’t matter. Her “all or nothing”
attitude was not only politically naive and
unfair to a very supportive legislator, but
indicative of why this movement hasn’t
made greater progress at lawmaking.
I’d also like to thank you for rec-
ognizing the unequaled effectiveness of the
American Humane Association’s lobbyist,
Adele Douglass (who serves as one of
HEAL PAC’s advisors). As far as I know,
Adele and Martha Cole Glenn are the only
animal protection lobbyists besides myself
who have actually worked as legislative
aides and understand the system from the
inside. You also gave well-deserved credit
to the Society for Animal Protective
Legislation, headed up by Christine Stevens
of the Animal Welfare Institute. Without
endless appeals for money for legislation
that isn’t going anywhere anyway, SAPL
continues to quietly and effectively get cru-
cial legislation passed.
Last but not least, thanks so much
for telling people about the lack of detailed
and correct information about bills and poli-
tics in articles on legislation published by
many of the national groups. This has both-
ered me for so long that it was one of the
reasons compelling me to start HEAL PAC
here in Michigan: we intend to fill that void
without mincing words.
––Eileen Liska, Lansing, Michigan
Thank you for your timely and
informative editorial, “Time to get smart
about politics.” I agree with almost every
word. I have been working within the leg-
islative system for the animals for the past
10 years. I have also worked on several
successful political campaigns, so I know
how the system works. You are right: we
must limit ourselves to viable issues within
the legislative process, and must work
together to present a united front to the leg-
islators.
I am a part of the Pennsylvania
Legislative Animal Network and ANIPAC,
a Pennsylvania-based political action com-
mittee for animals, who are doing that right
now. By working with other groups and
individuals throughout the state, we just
passed a bill to allow students the right to
refuse dissection, and are now working on
a pet overpopulation bill. Interested parties
may call me for additional information:
412-241-1630.
––Charlotte L. Grimme
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When the first of Hollywood’s ani-
mal display ban ordinances passed in 1990,
requests were received from all over the
country for copies. I thought it as important
to inform persons how the ordinance got
passed as it was to inform them what it
stated. I drafted a set of seven guidelines,
which I still think are useful, especially at
the local level.
––Jack Tanis, 925 North Northlake Drive,
Hollywood, FL 33019-1112
Tanis’ guidelines are available for
a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and a
few extra stamps for the photocopying.
Congratulations on the Jan/Feb
editorial “Time to get smart about politics.”
This message should be hammered home to
all humane memberships. I’ve been in ani-
mal protection work for two decades, and
this is the first time I’ve seen the message so
clearly presented.
––Paul D. Witmer, Janesville, Ohio
I’m glad you’re continuing to pub-
lish financial data on animal-related non-
profit groups. I wish your work could some-
how be extended to other progressive
movements. Accountability is an obligation
o f nonprofit organizations. As custodians
of donated money, they should go out of
their way to inform contributors and recipi-
ents of their funding appeals as to exactly
how their funding is allocated. Reliance
upon blind trust only facilitates abuse.
If the publication of your financial
research divides the movement in any way,
the responsibility lies with those who per-
petuate their own affluence by exploiting
the issues to take advantage of unsuspecting
contributors.
––Bob Smith, San Francisco, Calif.
Thank you so very much for your
extremely informative articles regarding the
budgets and salaries of various nonprofit
organizations. The Humane Animal Rescue
Team is encouraging its 300,000 readers to
become involved and more educated about
the organizations that they donate their
monies too, and we feel certain that this
article will be very instructive to the interest-
ed individuals who read it.
––Sally Deutz, Executive Director, HART
Fillmore, California
NRA on wildlife refuges
Thank you for calling to our atten-
tion that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
has given the National Rifle Association an
official voice in refuge management. This is
like asking the Irish Republican Army to
protect the Queen of England! We have
written to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt,
noting that the NRA did not support Bill
Clinton in last fall’s election.
––Bernice and David Edovitz
Winthrop, Massachusetts
Throw the editor to a pit bull!
I work at an animal shelter and we
receive ANIMAL PEOPLE regularly. I’ve
always been impressed with the quality and
integrity of your publication––until I read
“Why not trust a pit bull?” in your Jan/Feb
issue. As a proud owner of a one-year-old
female pit bull, I object to the insinuation
that Chester’s behavior was due to the fact
that he was a pit bull. Many dogs exhibit
violent behavior and some kill other animals
or people––not just the pit bull breed. I’ve
handled pit bulls in my job, including many
who have been trained as fighting dogs, and
have never been attacked, bitten, or even
growled at. It is a sad fact that many pit
bulls are trained or baited until they will kill
other animals, but until there are stronger
anti-cruelty laws and more ways to enforce
them, fighting and baiting will continue. I
am fortunate that my pit bull loves my five
cats, my ferret, and every person she’s ever
met. I’ve had her since she was four months
old and she is constantly supervised around
children and other animals, as all dogs
should be. It is a shame that Chester’s
owner blames the breed for what happened.
She acquired Chester from an urban area, as
a stray adult, not knowing what he had been
exposed to or trained for. The dog should
have been supervised at all times––and an
animal care technician should have known
that. Then to destroy Chester by shooting
him? As an animal activist, Chester’s
owner should have known that there is a
humane alternative to shooting a pet: lethal
injection in a leg vein, done by a veterinari-
an or a shelter.
––Amber Garrison-Spence,
Harrington, Delaware
As the item in question stated,
Chester was under a year old, and for sever
al months was well-behaved around six cats,
a rabbit, and two small children. When his
caretakers and their children left the house
on Christmas Eve, he was confined away
from the other animals. When the caretak
ers returned home a few hours later,
Chester had smashed the doors open, killed
the rabbit and two cats, and injured another
cat. As the author explained to us, once the
doors broken, there was nowhere safe to
keep Chester for the several days until vet
erinary offices and/or shelters would be
open. Under the circumstances, shooting
Chester was the most humane alternative
available.
Your success with pit bulls may
indicate more about you than about the
dogs. Some people, for whatever reason,
are unusually adept at handling certain
kinds of animal who are often dangerous to
anyone else. The success of such individuals
does not mean we should encourage people
to keep high-risk animals as pets––whether
we’re talking pit bulls, pythons, exotic cats,
piranhas, or crocodiles.
Throw the dictionary at hunters!
About a year ago our organization
embarked on a project to drop the words
“hunting,,” “hunter,” etcetera from all of
our publications and correspondence. We
have also been encouraging our member-
ship and other organizations to drop these
words in favor of the more accurate descrip-
tion of “wildlife killing” and “wildlife
killer.” The word “hunting” infers some
type of skill and legitimacy, but there is lit-
tle skill involved in blasting a defenseless
animal or bird with a high-powered rifle.
––William R. Sparkes, President,
Pennsylvania Animal Welfare Society
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
We share your distaste for hunt
ing. However, besides hunting, wildlife
killing includes roadkills, trapping, and
animal damage control, whose motivations
and methods often vary greatly from those
of sport hunters. Thus your suggested
change of terminology is not more but less
accurate. There is also little to gain by
denying that hunting involves skill. Some
kinds do require more skill than others, but
for many hunters, the imagined contest of
skill remains a key motivation. Hunters
know how hard they work to develop their
skills. Thus denying this aspect of hunting
costs us credibility when we point out that
hunting is not, after all, a genuine contest,
and point out to them further motivations,
sexual and subliminal, which give many a
lot more to think about than they’d prefer to
have on their minds while trying to outwit a
beast. Finally, having lived much of my life
in Quebec, whose language police are just
ly notorious, I’ve seen that few things
annoy most people more than self-righteous
attempts to change familiar vocabulary. If
you want to talk to people, speak the lan
guage they understand––clearly.
––The Editor
Ethnicity
I think there may
be differences in how cul-
tures perceive animals, but
these are often abandoned
when the person becomes
assimilated into the het-
erogenous American life-
style. For example, I was
recently discussing vege-
tarianism in India with an
Indian who had been living
in the U.S. for the past five
years. He felt that any
Indian immigrant who eats
beef is being influenced by
Western values, as the cow
is sacred in India.
While culture is a
factor, I think the individu-
al’s placement in the eco-
nomic strata is more impor-
tant. To some extent, as
people become more capa-
ble of fulfilling their basic
needs (food, water, shel-
ter), they become more
sensitive to other social
issues.
––Tammy Wong,
Concord, California
Lyme disease in dogs
Regarding Zooky
(Ani-mal health, Jan/Feb),
in humans with Lyme dis-
ease, optic neuritis (infla-
mation of the optic nerve)
and anterior uveritis are
seen. Veterinary opthal-
mologist Dr. Covitz has
done Lyme titers on over
100 dogs with anterior
uveritis (inflammation of
the anterior part of the eye
in front of the iris), and he
told me he never saw a
relationship between the
condition and the Lyme
titers. He feels dogs don’t
develop eye disease from
Lyme.
I would also
doubt Zooky’s murmur is
the result of Lyme.
Although people get
myocarditis (inflammation
of the heart muscle), we
have not had a dog develop
a murmur as a sequel to
Lyme, and we see over 100
cases yearly.
––Joan Poster, DVM
Westport, Connecticut
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