Letters [April 1993]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1993:

Edison was a genius
I just received your letter
announcing your newspaper. As I
started reeading what you had to say,
I felt as if you knew my husband and
me personally. We are longtime
vegetarian/animal advocates who
write letters, take in strays, spay
and neuter, help the sick and
injured, and do what we can in gen-
eral to fight cruelty.

There have been many
times that we have felt alone in our
efforts––like the time my husband
tried in vain to slow down traffic on
a busy street to help a frantic dog
who was dragging her broken chain
behind her; and just a few days ago
when we were told by one of our
local animal shelters, “There’s noth-
ing we can do,” when we found a
mother cat nursing six brand-new
kittens out in the cold; and the time
someone wanted to know why I
would bother rushing a cedar
waxwing we found lying in our
driveway to a wildlife rehab center.
I know I really hit a nerve
a couple of years ago when I wrote
an anti-hunting letter to the editor of
our local newspaper. For over two
weeks the newspaper published
angry, almost vicious replies, and
several of my co-workers shunned
me. My letter read as follows:
For me, hunting season is
nothing to look forward to. I live
outside the city, and when I hear
gunshots in the distance, I can feel
the pain and suffering of all the ani
mals being senselessly slaughtered.
The air is heavy with the awareness
of needless death. It reminds me of
these words written by Thomas A.
Edison so many years ago:
“Non-violence leads to the
highest ethics, which is the goal of
all evolution. Until we stop harming
all other living beings, we are still
Thank you for your efforts.
––Diane Evans, Pataskala, Ohio
The editor is either
stupid or crooked
I have just read the article
in the March issue of ANIMAL
PEOPLE lauding the North Shore
Animal League. The general con-
sensus of opinion in this area seems
to be that you are probably lobbying
for a grant from NSAL, or have
already received one––monies gath-
ered from the suffering of many
innocent animals, as documented by
the enclosed material.
––Jacquelyn Cook, Seaford, N.Y.
The enclosures were clip
pings of attacks on NSAL published
elsewhere, largely based upon a
1988 expose of NSAL financial
practices, which was in fact
authored by the editor of ANIMAL
PEOPLE. At no point did any of the
material document any “suffering of
innocent animals”; even most critics
of NSAL’s aggressive adoption and
solicitation methods concede that
NSALanimal care is first-rate. For
the record, ANIMAL PEOPLEhas
neither received nor requested finan
cial aid from NSAL, but would
accept NSAL advertising, or a grant
if one were offered. As our article
explained, NSAL helps pay for neu
tering 220,000 animals a
year––more than any other two
organizations combined. Thus we
believe it is long past time to look
beyond the ongoing acrimony over
NSAL’s unconventional approach,
to examine actual accomplishments,
detailed in our March cover story.
The editor is a genius
Thank you for the article
about the North Shore Animal
League in your March issue!
(Thank you seems insignificant for
such a great job.)
––Mary Bloom, New York, N.Y.
Or is he?
I love your newspaper.
All the articles are informative,
intelligent, and on the cutting edge.
Why then does an ad for Wards
appear on page 17 of the March
issue? Most people I know have
seen a copy of Wards’ catalog,
which boasts of being able to supply
all your laboratory needs: cats and
kittens, puppies and dogs, as well
as fetal pigs and crustaceans.
––Mary Phillips, Liverpool, N.Y.
Our advertiser, the
Washington D.C.-based animal wel
fare organization Working for
Animals used in Research, Drugs
and Surgery, was formerly known
as Our Animal Wards. It has
absolutely nothing whatever to do
with Wards Natural Science Inc., of
Rochester, New York.
Let’s have the sense
to come out of the rain
Please advocate the for-
mation of a united umbrella. This
does not mean that all kinds of ani-
mal welfare and animal rights orga-
nizations should become one; it
simply means we should coordinate
our actions form time to time so as
to speak with one voice. Although
we often greatly differ, I am sure
we all see eye to eye on such issues
as trapping, Draize and LD50 test-
ing, and downed livestock. I have
written to several of the big animal
welfare organizations, but of course
they don’t want to hear about it.
They have fat incomes and certain
recognition, and are not about to
give any of it up. The net result is
that we receive dozens and dozens
of requests for donations, requests
to write members of Congress, tardy
and sometimes conflicting informa-
tion, etcetera. What a waste!
Repeatedly I point at the National
Rifle Association, an umbrella for a
zillion hunting and gun clubs.
When the NRA speaks, Washington
listens and sometimes trembles.
When we have a big rally––big deal;
there were 2,000 people!––it often
isn’t even mentioned in the papers.
And yet combined we have many
more people than the NRA.
––John N. Vermeulen,
Charlotte County Voice for Animals,
Port Charlotte, Florida.
Forming an “NRA of the
animal rights movement” is a prior
ity for some national leaders.
However, as we editorialized in our
first issue, “Powerful political insti
tutions are essentially conservative,
since they must draw upon existing
opinion, and thus can only work to
negative purpose, opposing change
…The model of dominance and con
trol exemplified by NRA-type politics
is precisely opposed to the model of
empathy and cooperation.” This isn’t
to say there isn’t room for more
cooperation among animal protec
tion groups. Eight years ago, the
national groups began meeting in an
annual Summit for the Animals,
which initially offered promise for
facilitating joint endeavors.
However, the Summit failed to
adopt appropriate conflict resolution
techniques, such as impartial refer
eed discussion, binding arbitration
of grievances, and an enforced code
of ethics; many participants either
withdrew or were ostracized after
criticizing the failures of the Summit
to live up to even the unenforced
code of ethics it did adopt; and over
the past few years, the Summit has
evolved into a paid winter vacation
for organization executives in such
sites as San Antonio, Tampa, and
Albuquerque, with dwindling atten
dence and only token efforts at orga
nizing joint campaigns.
I was profoundly moved
by the extraordinary story, “A Fish
Named Alice,” by Margaret
Hehman-Smith. I wish it could be
promulgated around the world,
because it is a startling illustration of
how immensely we have underesti-
mated these water animals. How sad
it is to realize how billions upon bil-
lions have suffered so cruelly from
our monumental insensitivity and
willful ignorance and/or indiffer-
––Annette Pickett, Acton, Mass.
“A Fish Named Alice” will
soon be reprinted by Tropical Fish
Hobbyist magazine.
Politics, etc.
A letter in your March issue from
Eileen Liska stated that as far as she knew,
Adele Douglass of the American Humane
Association and Martha Cole Glenn of the
Humane Society of the U.S. “are the only
animal protection lobbyists besides (Liska)
who have actually worked as legislative
aides and understand the system from the
The ASPCA Washington D.C.
National Legislative Office is headed by
Deborah Feldman Weiner. Prior to her
work with the ASPCA, Ms. Weiner was on
the Hill as legislative director for
Congressman Bill McCollum (R-Florida)
and legislative assistant to Congressman E.
Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Florida), and was a
Lyndon Baines Johnson intern for the late
Congressman Goodlow E. Bryon.
While I am not personally familiar
with Ms. Liska’s work, the ASPCA and I
have extremely high regard for Adele
Douglass and Martha Cole Glenn. I simply
thought I should bring the background of
our own highly effective Deborah Weiner to
the attention of your readers.
––Roger A. Caras, President
American SPCA, New York, N.Y.
There is no better publication on
humane issues today than Animal People. It
is inevitable that with a small staff, most of
whom are not paid, an occasional fact here
and there will be wrong (e.g., Jeffrey Hon is
no Asian). But even with errors, your arti-
cles are on target. We did hire an occasional
Asian at the ASPCA, and several Afro-
Americans and Hispanics. But for the most
part, Asian interest in professional positions
was nil, and your questioning why is the
relevant point, and one I hope you will fol-
low up on. All in all, an extraordinary
achievement, particularly given the new-
ness of your effort.
The Society for Animal Protective
Legislation and the Animal Welfare Institute
remain influential and focused primarily
because of the strong energies of Christine
Stevens, who, in my opinion has done far
more to achieve measurable victories for
animals over the last 40 years than anyone
else. No one has had, for decades now,
better or more immediate access to members
of Congress and the heads of many federal
and many state agencies, and with the
Democrats back in power, once again her
access is directly into the White House.
From our most influential poltical leaders,
no one commands more respect.
Just before leaving the ASPCA, I
wrote and published an editorial pointing
out that, “Many of the problems that contin-
ue to adversely affect animals are extensions
of problems that also affect relationships
among human beings. Those who say they
are committed to the humane movement but
still demonstrate in their decisions and
behavior an uncaring attitude toward others
have a very incomplete understanding of the
inherent meaning of humaneness.”
The fact is, if we don’t see the
humane movement as a continuum of caring
and compassion for all creatures, human
and nonhuman, we trivialize whatever lead-
ership opportunities we have. Respect and
compassion for all creatures is the starting
point of everything else worth valuing and
worth doing. I was very pleased to see this
vision clearly stated in your March issue.
––John F. Kullberg, President
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
York Town Heights, N.Y.
(Kullberg was president of the ASPCA
Native American symbols
I have found it disturbing that the
New Age movement has appropriated
American Indian religious symbols using
feathers, fur, and leather. I am enclosing
pages from a catalog I recently received,
and while many of the images are beautiful,
those that use animal parts are at odds with
the professed insight, compassion, and spirit-
uality of the New Age movement.
––Diane Ersepke
Higganum, Connecticut
Many and perhaps most Native
Americans also find the commercialization
of their animal talismans profane and offen
sive, not least because the sale of animal
talismans demeans the spirit of the animal(s)
involved. Among the many prominent Native
Americans who have addressed this topic
are John Mohawk, longtime editor of vari
ous Native American newspapers including
Akwesasne Notes and Daybreak; Ray and
John Fadden of the Six Nations Indian
Museum, the Mohawk tribal archive; Jake
Swamp, chief of the Wolf Clan Circle within
the Mohawk nation; Wampanoag chief
Medicine Story; and Chris Peters of the
Seventh Generation Fund.
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