Letters [June 1993]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1993:

More on Spira
I’ve belatedly finished
reading the April issue of ANIMAL
PEOPLE. I especially appreciated
the editorial about Henry Spira’s
appearance in the periodical of the
Foundation for Biomedical
Research. He has the right attitude
and approach in addressing our so-
called enemies by trying to show
them our mutual interests in a non-
threatening way, and by seeing
them as people who might, when
approached appropriately, find
alternative research to be in their
own best interests.

I also appreciated that
John Kullberg, in his letter, urged
us to “see the humane movement as
a continuum of caring for all crea-
tures, human and nonhuman.”
––Marion Friedman, Philadelphia,
Intubation bill
The infamous endotracheal
intubation bill is back in the New
York state legislature. This bill
would allow unlicensed emergency
medical students to perform endotra-
cheal intubation on animals (mostly
cats) under the supervision of a vet-
erinarian, during non-emergency
surgery. The procedure involves
passing a breathing tube through the
mouth of the animal, and can result
in tracheal damage as well as death.
It would require the consent of the
animal’s owner or custodian. Since
it is preposterous to believe that
most pet owners would give consent
to this practice, it is apparent that
“custodian” refers to shelters––the
unscrupulous ones who have an end-
less number of cats for hire and
could effectively be turned into cat
laboratories, for a handsome fee.
Supporters of this bill
claim such training is necessary to
develop skills to intubate children in
an emergency, although infant
manequin heads are used successful-
ly for intubation practice in hundreds
of hospitals around the country.
The state of New Jersey
recently established an Office of
Emergency Medical Services for
Children. One of the projects at the
Elizabeth General Medical Center
includes a state-of-the-art course in
pediatric life support. According to
Children’s Emergency Service
Director Dr. Robert Van Amer-
ongen, only infant manequin heads
are used for training. The energy
spent by the biomedical community
and organizations like the American
SPCA who are supporting the bill
(virtually all other humane organiza-
tions are opposing it) should be spent
in a positive way, using New Jersey
as a model.
At this writing, the bill is
out of committee in the New York
Senate, and can be voted on at any
time. The Senate version is S5005a;
the Assembly version is A8059.
––Elizabeth Forel
New York, N.Y.
Feral cats
I have been trying for
years to address the problem of trap-
ping feral cats. It’s not enough to
just tell someone to rent a trap and
use it. Most of the feeders I
encounter are senior ladies with little
mechanical skill and no tolerance for
the sight of a cat in a trap. These
women are being neglected because
they try to find help but there is no
efficient way of finding it. With
improper training, they have experi-
enced “the one who got away,” e.g.
when trying to transfer a cat from a
trap to a carrier, or in my own case,
by failing to hook some clips to
secure the back door.
This is my second appeal
to solve these problems. Several
months ago I sent out dozens of let-
ters asking why we all can’t some-
how hire someone to trap ferals.
Money should motivate someone to
get out and do it (and I have a long
list of places where I have permis-
sion to trap, but I already have a
fulltime job). I don’t think I received
one answer.
Some day someone will
specify that his or her estate be used
for paying a cat-trapper (even if it’s
not until I myself die).
––Carol Reitmeier
Menlo Park, California
I have recently read
“Estrogen boom brings breeding for
slaughter” in the April issue of
ANIMAL PEOPLE. I was pleased
to see these PMU (pregnant mares’
urine) farms being brought to public
attention. I’m sure many of your
readers might never have heard of
I’m enclosing a story that
appeared in The Economist of March
3, revealing that drug studies in
Switzerland use human urine, from
post-menopausal women.
Why can’t Ayerst Organics
use estrogenic hormone (estriol) from
the urine of pregnant women, instead
of using mares’ urine? Maternity
wards of hospitals could be the
––Lee Davis
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
Technically, it probably
could be done, but meeting the
demand that way would be virtually
impossible. It takes 75,000 mares
just to meet present demand, and will
take 100,000 to meet the expected
demand next year. Each mare pro
duces more than ten times as much
urine as one woman. Thus you’d
need to find at least a million women
a year willing to be catheterized for
six months of their pregnancies to
equal the immediate demand––and
Ayerst expects demand to keep grow
ing for at least another five years.
Some researchers predict
that by then the horses will be
replaced with laboratory-produced
synthetic hormones, developed
through bio-engineering. Because of
progress in this direction, the Swiss
firm Ares-Serono, whose work your
clipping described, expects to be
able to quit using urine from post-
menopausal women within five
years. However, the demand for
the Ares-Serono products, based on
the hormone gonadotropin, is a tiny
fraction of the demand for the Ayerst
products, which are used in both
birth control pills and estrogen
replacement therapy.
Houston Humane
I was very disappointed
with the negative article you pub-
lished about the Houston Humane
Society in your April issue. It seems
to me that the positive achievements
of a group working very hard to con-
stantly improve and grow would be
highlighted. For more than 40 years,
the Houston Humane Society has
been dedicated to eliminating abuse,
cruelty, and the overpopulation of
animals in the greater Houston areas.
Instead, you unfairly
attacked an issue that has been a
problem we have worked on for a
long time––adopting animals.
The Houston Humane
Society’s purpose is to protect ani-
mals from harmful people. Adopting
animals to the public can be a dou-
ble-edged sword: when an animal
goes to a loving, caring home we
feel elated, yet when there is poten-
tial for an animal to suffer from
abuse and neglect, we simply can-
not let that cat or dog go to such a
––Sherry Ferguson,
Executive Director,
Houston Humane Society,
Houston, Texas
“Negative”? Our profile
of HHS ran 33 column inches, of
which 26 lauded Ferguson’s
improvement of facilities during the
past 13 years and the $15-per-
surgery neutering clinic she found
ed. The remainder discussed the
HHS euthanasia rate, which at
93% to 97% per year is among the
highest in the U.S.; is markedly
higher than that of other well-reput
ed shelters in Houston; and may be
so high in part because among the
adoption applicants who manage to
complete a screening form asking a
minimum of 101 questions, only
46% are eventually approved. Many
shelters with excellent screening
records cover the same essentials in
20 questions or less; very few find it
necessary to reject more than 10%
of applicants.
Pigeon control
Several years ago the
EPA decided that all chemicals
tested prior to a certain date had to
be retested. Though Ornitrol, the
pigeon birth control drug, hadn’t
caused any problems, testing
would be required. An EPA offi-
cial said the cost would be about
$3 million. The manufacturer said
it had only sold about $100,000
worth of Ornitrol in 10 years, and
couldn’t afford to retest. Ornitrol
was withdrawn from the mar-
ket––and it was the only humane
pigeon control product on the
market. Many of us wrote to
Congress, the EPA, and to the
White House, and the EPA
backed off. But now the EPA is
back again, saying “retest or stop
manufacturing.” The Avitrol Co.,
which makes Ornitrol, is again
withdrawing the product because
of the retesting cost.
Other forms of control
are cruel. Poisoning causes a
painful and lingering death, and
is an ecological time bomb.
Trapping leaves birds for days on
end without water or food,
exposed to either the heat and sun
or the freezing cold and wind.
Invariably, baby pigeons are left
with either no parents or one par-
ent who struggles to feed them
and keep them warm (almost
impossible to do simultaneously),
and usually loses the battle. If
birds are trapped and relocated,
which is rare because they are
normally killed by the cheapest
methods), no concern is given to
the time of year relative to the dif-
ficulty of finding shelter and
water. Live relocations still leave
fledglings to starve. Birth control
by contrast is humane and pro-
vides a 75% population reduction
in 18 months. The birds merely
lay eggs that do not hatch.
Such gradual flock
reductions are effective, whereas
sudden flock reduction merely
causes pigeons to intensify their
reproeductive efforts. But pet
control companies seldom use
Ornitrol because it only requires
that treated corn be put out for 10
days, twice a year. They want
labor-intensive methods that pro-
duce large revenues and repeat
Please write to your
Senators and Congressional repre-
sentatives, and EPA head Carol
Bronwer (401 M St., SW,
Washington D.C. 20460), and ask
them to pressure the EPA to allow
the continued use of Ornitrol.
Thanks a million.
––Buzz Alpert
Chicago, Illinois
Use zoning laws
I noticed that for all the
remarks in your May issue regard-
ing pet overpopulation and back-
yard breeding, no mention was
made pertaining to city and coun-
ty zoning ordinances. Denver,
Adams County, and other areas
have strict zoning laws, which are
enforced. The limit in Denver is
three dogs, and in Adams County
the limit is two. No breeding or
selling of pets is allowed in any
residential area.
––Kitty Langdon
The Sunrise Foundation
Aurora, Colorado
Actually, we did men
tion the Denver pet limit, but
failed to recognize how it and
other zoning ordinances could be
used against backyard breeders.
Thanks for the tip.
Horse rescue
We are writing to intro-
duce the Equestrian Training
Center. We are located in the
heart of Florida’s horse country,
and offer a retraining and adop-
tion program for any horse, be it
a slow, too small or injured race
horse, or an old brood mare.
With our adoption placement run-
ning now at 40%, we are a great
alternative for the thoroughbred
We offer daily tours of
our operation, and also give spe-
cial time to teaching people about
horse care. With our volunteer
program, we promote the job
opportunities available to young
people in the equine field, provid-
ing hands-on experience as
grooms, body-clippers, black-
smith handlers, and even stall-
All the effort in the
growth of this foundation is on a
volunteer and donation basis.
––Susan & Mike Heck
Equestrian Training Center
7295 NW 5th Lane,
Ocala, Florida 32675
Little people
Please write more “little
people” stories. We rescue ani-
mals, help people, and go with-
out to do so. The issue for us is
saving lives, not how much any
big organization spends to help.
Anyone who has any extra money
or time should be using it. It
should not be newsworthy that a
group spends a little of their mil-
lions, or a staff member is worthy
because he or she does a good job
on only fifty or sixty thousand
dollars a year. What counts is
what the “animal people” continue
to do without huge salaries, often
without any money at all! Our lit-
tle group struggles to survive,
while the big groups continue to
raise massive funds when they
already have more than they
spend. Doing a little good with a
lot is okay, but we need to read
more about the many people who
are doing a lot of good with a lit-
The struggle is fierce,
the animals are hungry and cold,
and we need to be inspired. Find
the real animal people and write
their stories. Give us hints on
how to make it work without
money, because the funds are not
there for those of us busy feeding
and tending to the animals.
––Phyllis Fischer,
Helping Our Pets Everywhere
New Albany, Ohio
We’ve published 19 arti
cles by or about “little people” in
our first seven issues, with more
more scheduled. We have profiled
only one person who earns above
the U.S. median wage.
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