Letters [July/Aug 1993]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1993:

Breeding ordinances
As an animal control officer, I am impressed
by the emphasis on accuracy your publications demon-
strate. Your May article on overpopulation legislation
quite correctly avoided a mistake that San Mateo
County and Denver seem to have made, namely com-
bining a broad-based neutering requirement with differ-
ential licensing fees. To determine what license fee to
charge, the prospective licensee must be asked if the
animal in question is surgically sterilized. An honest
answer may be a confession of unlawful possession of a
fertile animal, which may explain the alleged drop in
license revenue in San Mateo County. Additionally,
courts may rule that the question cannot be asked if it
compels self-incrimination. I am told that Hayes v. U.S.
(1968) contains a ruling that convicted felons cannot be
compelled to register their guns, since such registration
would incriminate them on an unlawful possession
charge. If so, similar reasoning would seem to apply to
mandatory sterilization.

The practical enforcement problem I see is the
difficulty of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that any
given dog or cat is not surgically sterilized. Presence of
testicles does not necessarily prove fertility; the animal
may have had a vasectomy. This and other problems
will rapidly discourage broad-based sterilization provi-
sions, since no law is better than its enforcement.
––Ron Burch
Adams City, Colorado
Animal Collectors
Your tone and condemnation of animal “col-
lectors” is pure arrogance. I have no intention of renew-
ing my subscription.
––Dorothy Petrak
Jersey City, New Jersey
Chicago, Chicago
As a resident of Chicago, I was astounded to
read your article in the June 1993 issue including
Chicago among trend-setting animal population control
programs. Chicago’s only animal population control
program is mass slaughter. The Chicago Commission
on Animal Care and Control has fought tooth and nail
all attempts to bring Chicago’s animal control policies
into the 20th century. You praised Animal Care and
Control director Peter Poholik’s vision in opening a
public discount neutering clinic. There is no such clinic,
never has been. The pound does abide by a state law
requiring that animals adopted from the pound be
altered, but Mr. Poholik and the Commission have
fiercely resisted all efforts from private citizens and
humane groups to implement any spay/neuter program.
It is true there is an expensive attractive building in
which to kill 90% of the animals who come in the door.
Otherwise, for Chicago’s animals nothing has changed.
––Joan Zaneveld
Chicago, Illinois
Yes, Peter Poholik is just doing his job. Yes,
he inherited a traditional pound, with a high euthanasia
rate, low adoption rate, antiquated facilities, and a
demoralized staff of 67. The high euthanasia rate, low
adoption rate, and a demoralized staff have always
been there and are still there. If in 1982 Poholic had
such vision, why was an $8.5 million facility built to
house animals when half of that should have been used
for a municipal neutering center? What a beautiful
facility with a huge mural at the entrance ($65,000
cost). It is very impressive to visitors, but do you think
an animal thinks how beautiful it is as he is dragged
whimpering and crying to his holding pen and a few
days later to his death?
Where is this public discount neutering clin-
ic? It only applies to animals adopted at the pound.
––Elizabeth Kantanen
Chicago, Illinois
We erred in stating that the Chicago Animal
Care and Control neutering clinic is open to the public.
In fact, due to the political clout of the American
Veterinary Medical Association, based in Schaumberg,
Illinois, no community pound in the state of Illinois is
allowed to neuter animals for the public. Until the
AVMA reverses its official opposition to public discount
neutering clinics (which many individual members sup
port), no pound director or civic commissioner is going
to be able to change this. It remains to Mr. Poholik’s
credit that under his administration the Chicago pound
adoption rate has more than doubled, and the number
of euthanasias has declined from a high of 29,000 per
year in 1985, after Poholik halted sales of animals to
biomedical research labs, to circa 20,000 now––even
though impoundments are up 25%. The present
Chicago pound euthanasia rate of about 85% would be
high for a private humane society, but is in fact lower
than average for pounds in major cities.
Pound Seizure
Regarding “Pound seizure fight resumes” (June), con-
cerning the sale of dogs to research by Summit County Animal
Control in Akron, Ohio, the wording of Ohio Revised Code
955.16 deserves attention: [Any sheltered dog] “not redeemed
shall be donated to any nonprofit special agency that is engaged in
the training of dogs to serve as guide or leader dogs for blind per-
sons, hearing dogs for deaf persons, or support dogs for mobility
impaired persons and that requests that the dog be donated to it.
Any dog not redeemed may be sold to any nonprofit Ohio institu-
tion or organization that is certified by the Ohio public health coun-
cil as being engaged in teaching or research concerning the preven-
tion and treatment of diseases of human beings or animals. Any
dog that the dog warden is unable to dispose of, in the manner pro-
vided by this section, may be humanely destroyed, except that no
dog shall be destroyed until 24 hours after it has been offered to a
nonprofit teaching or research institution/organization that has
made a request for dogs to the dog warden.”
The added emphasis on “shall,” “may,” and “nonprofit”
is mine. The ambiguity between “shall” and “may” leads to a
dilemma. Most of Ohio’s shelters could be breaking this law, since
most claim they don’t sell to research, but a good attorney could
probably make mincemeat of the ambiguity. Also, are the anti-
pound seizure activists checking into who is buying dogs from
pounds? This law specifies “nonprofit” organizations, certified by
the Ohio public health council.
––Donna Robb
Medina, Ohio
Pets in trailer court
Thank you very much for your concern during the recent
episode between the pets of Pioneer Park and Global Mobile
Liabilities, Inc. We are happy to say that our pets were spared an
untimely death. Due to our mentioning all of the animal groups
that were willing to help us, our petitions and concerns were taken
seriously. Our pets are now “grandfathered” from the new rules.
So, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to your organiza-
tion from over 1,200 tenants and pet lovers. Stop in to see us if you
are ever in Wyoming. We would be glad to offer you our thanks in
––John E. Barry Sr. and Cynthia Ortiz
Green River, Wyoming
Barry contacted ANIMAL PEOPLE when a new man
agement firm took over Pioneer Park and tried to limit the resi
dents to two pets per household, effective July 1, with no exemp
tions for pets already in residence. We pointed out that federal law
protects the pets of senior citizens in federally assisted housing, a
point of possible applicability for some of the affected tenants, and
that landlords do not have the right to unilaterally change the con
ditions of leases already in effect. We also put Barry in touch with
Linda Hines of the Delta Society, who specializes in advising ten
ants in such situations and responded to this one immediately.
(The Delta Society may be reached at 321 Burnett Ave. South,
Renton, WA 98055-2569; 206-226-7357.)
Help needed
The problem of cat over-
population is similar in magnitude
to the U.S. trillion dollar deficit.
We’re all going to have to bite the
bullet and contribute. The problem
did not appear overnight, nor will it
go away overnight. Cat overpopu-
lation is a result of a combination of
elements and I believe the answer
we’re all looking for is a combina-
tion of solutions––help, education,
and legislation.
To me, help is the most
important ingredient. Years ago I
bet humane people thought it was a
pipe dream to have a humane orga-
nization in every county. Today we
do (almost). I advocate also having
a feral cat neuter/release group in
every county, perhaps coordinated
by the established humane societies.
Amnesty for cat feeders
would be needed in every communi-
ty where cat feeding is prohibited.
No one thinks that having feral cat
colonies is a good thing. We would
all like to see them phased out.
However, making it illegal to feed
ferals if they’re not neutered is
unreasonable. Feeding colonies is
important to do because that is how
we keep them in the same place so
that we can trap and neuter them. I
have been told by opponents of
neuter/release that “It’s more cruel
to feed them and not neuter them
than it is to not feed them at all.”
But the question here is not to feed
or not to feed.
We could have a registry
for feral cat colonies, divided into
“done” and “to do” categories.
When a participant’s colony gets to
the top of the list, the neuter/release
group would come to provide the
assistance needed in trapping, alter-
ing and identifying each cat.
It is not true that all
colony keepers know about low-cost
neutering and humane trapping.
Without such organization, we
wouldn’t even know about each
other. Only five years ago I was one
of those people. I was hand-catch-
ing feral cats, stuffing them into
boxes, speeding them to my veteri-
narian, and paying $100 per cat for
neutering and shots. Fortunately my
vet gave me the name of a feral cat
rescuer to help me as soon as I told
him how many there were where I
was working.
P.S.––My 70-year-old
Uncle Ralph feeds 14 cats behind
his home and has done so for the
past 15 years. Two of the female
cats won’t go into a trap, so each
year he traps their kittens and either
finds homes for them or has them
euthanized. Is Uncle Ralph a bad
guy, or does he need help?
––Sherry DeBoer,
Legislative Advocate
California Federation for Animal
Alamo, California
Poverty and ferals
Regarding your June cover
feature on feral cats, I recommend to
all the book Cats Kingdom, by
Jeremy Angel, 1985, Warner
I wonder about defending
the right of the poor to have pets in
all cases. In many places the pets of
the poor are neglected or even
abused, though not necessarily by
their owners, who are often good
folks. Often the cats and dogs in
poor areas are semi-feral. Further,
cities are hostile to poor people, so
of course are hostile to their pets as
well. The poor are often renters,
and “no pets” policies have doomed
many. Keeping a healthy, safe pet
takes money, time and education.
But surely poor people need pets,
and pets need homes.
Congratulations on a fine
––Rita Atkins
Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania
Thank you so much for
your attention to neutering, overpop-
ulation, and the feral cat issue.
You’re doing a wonderful job of cov-
ering these complex problems.
––Jamaka Petzak
El Monte, California
After only 10 months in
the capture/release business, we have
yet one more so-called animal
activist giving advice that is contrary
to the most basic of animals’
rights––that the individual animal
has the right to life regardless of the
animal’s use to humans. Kim
Bartlett’s “Rethinking neuter/
release,” in your June issue, most
likely angered many true animal
rightists with the statement, “I think
that in the majority of cases it’s prob-
ably better to round them (strays) up
as gently as possible for euthanasia,
and spend the money neutering the
pet animals of people who can’t or
won’t do it.” Bartlett continues by
stating that euthanizing strays
“would effectively cut off the source
of most of the homeless cat popula-
tion.” There once was someone by
the name of Adolph who had the
same plan for people. It was crimi-
nal then and it’s criminal now regard-
less of the species being discussed.
We don’t need more wel-
farists pushing themselves off as ani-
mal rights advocates to hinder the
goal of “empty cages not bigger
cages.” If Bartlett is going to use his
position at ANIMAL PEOPLE to
push such convictions and opinion
vacating the animal rights movement
should be Bartlett’s next move.
I share my home with 12
cats and 2 dogs. They were all
abused and/or abandoned. I have
rescued, vaccinated, neutered,
deflead, dewormed, and found
homes for dozens and dozens of ani-
mals. I will never succomb to cap-
turing an animal with the intent of
having it killed.
––Lou Peluso
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Having read Kim Bartlett’s
“Rethinking neuter/ release,” I had
to remind myself I was reading an
animal rights paper. His suggestion
to kill off the homeless cat popula-
tion so we can get a handle on over-
population was pathetic.
Kim’s statement of “con-
cern” regarding “the impact of feral
cats on wildlife cannot be ignored,
and should be a major considera-
tion,” was outright hypocrisy, as
ANIMAL PEOPLE allowed their
cats to roam the 10 acres of their
home. “Major consideration”?
Yeah, right.
Obviously, when the first
cat “vanished,” any right-thinking
person would have kept the rest
indoors, like a true animal rights
activist would anyway. But to let
nine “vanish.” One wonders if the
project didn’t infringe on the staff’s
freedom and this was the escape
clause––vanishing cats.
––Mary Pacitti
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I recently had an opportu-
nity to review a friend’s copy of
ANIMAL PEOPLE. It’s very hard
for me to believe that someone like
Kim Bartlett who has been involved
in humane work for 21 years could
write about rounding up feral cats
for euthanasia, especially after only
a 10-month experience. I believe
her article is promoting death over
trying to save lives. At best, she is
very discouraging to the many peo-
ple working so hard to fight the pet
overpopulation problem. For these
reasons, I will not subscribe.
––Terita M. Wenk
Langhorne, Pennsylvania
I write this letter on behalf
of not only myself but on behalf of
the over 75 calls I have received in
response to Kim Bartlett’s article
“Rethinking Neuter/Release. Bart-
lett states that euthanizing feral cats
and spending the money it would
take to neuter them on neutering the
pet animals of people who can’t or
won’t do it would effectively cut off
the source of most of the homless
population. And at the same time,
Bartlett also states that neutering
feral cats is not “any real solution to
the problem of homeless cats, just a
stop-gap measure to prevent more
births. Well, if neutering cats that
live outside (feral) would not reduce
the population, then how possibly
could neutering pet cats that live
inside reduce it? You are still neu-
tering the same number of cats,
whether outside or inside, and the
same number of births are prevented
from both.
You committed a horrible
crime against animals when you
published this article.
I have 14 cats living inside
with me. They were all feral. They
were all caught in humane traps and
every single one of them was unap-
proachable for many, many, many
months. But I now have 14 sleeping
partners at night. It takes time and it
takes patience. No one ever said
that the fight would be easy.
––Cheryl Baker
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Re: “Rethinking neuter/
release,” do the animals and those
who REALLY care about their
rights a favor. GET THE HELL
––I. Bradford
North Wales, Pennsylvania
The Editor responds:
Over 75 calls? We got just eight
negative responses in total, includ
ing both a call and a letter from Ms.
Baker, the four additional letters
above, all of which come from the
same zip code prefix, and two calls
from one other person, probably
one of the letter writers, who also
had a strong Pennsylvania accent.
For the record, as we
have already stated on many occa
sions, ANIMAL PEOPLE is not
and does not pretend to be “an ani
mal rights paper.” We cover the
whole field of animal protection,
and provide a forum for the expres
sion of all points of view within this
broad field. Kim Bartlett, our pub
lisher, defines herself as a humane
advocate. With that much said, it
is worth noting that Kim’s endorse
ment of euthanasia in certain cir
cumstances is far narrower than any
of you attribute to her, and also far
narrower than the position of People
for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals, the largest self-defined
animal rights group, which not only
endorses euthanasia of all homeless
animals but also opposes neuter/
release under any circumstance.
It is interesting that all
five of you overlook the extensive
context to Kim’s commentary, which
appeared as a sidebar to the cover
feature “What we’ve learned from
feral cats.” The latter, in turn, was
the fourth in a year-long series of
in-depth reports on the A N I M A L
PEOPLE model neuter/ release
project; we know at least two of you
have received all four installments.
This experimental project, one of
the most closely monitored and
recorded neuter/ release efforts ever
undertaken, captured and treated
326 cats in seven months during the
winter and spring of 1991-1992.
More than half the cost came out of
our own pockets.
Kim personally and
directly participated in every rescue.
At this writing she has not had a full
day off from providing care to feral
cats in nearly 16 months. Of the
326 cats, 237 were released to their
caretakers; 47 were adopted out
after socialization; 18 either died of
conditions from which they suffered
at capture or were euthanized for
serious medical cause; and one
died of a punctured lung in an
apparent freak accident. (We never
did find out how it happened or
what caused it––the instrument may
have been another cat’s claw, but
there was no sign of there having
been a cat fight.) The remainder
came with us to our present location
to form our resident colony, or, in
two cases, were rescued after our
arrival. The 10 months experience
to which Kim referred in her com
mentary were the 10 months since
the cats were released under our
supervision here; the duration of
the ANIMAL PEOPLE project is
now 20 months, as the main article
made evident, and our total experi
ence at rescuing, neutering, and
socializing feral cats covers more
than 16 years.
Our own experience, the
published ethological literature on
feral cats, and the cumulative experi
ence of the nearly 200 cat rescuers
who responded to our national sur
vey on feral cats (published in our
November 1992 issue) all confirm
three essential points, which we
have often outlined:
Feral cat colonies almost
always begin with an abandoned
tame mother. Thus non-neutered
pets are the ultimate source of the
feral population, even if most cats in
some colonies are born wild.
Only a third of all feral
cats who survive weaning live to age
two, just 17% survive another year
to reach age three, and only 3% live
to age 10, the median lifespan of
pet cats (who spend a median of six
years in any given home). Thus the
reproductive potential of a pet cat is
up to 10 times that of a feral, and
neutering a pet cat correspondingly
prevents up to 10 times as many kit
ten births.
88% of feral cat colonies
occupy hostile habitat, primarily
because property owners, neigh
bors, and/or public health authori
ties don’t want the cats to be there.
Another way to put this is that on a
nationwide or even citywide basis,
nine out of ten feral cats are likely to
be removed and killed by someone.
If there are 35 million feral cats in
the U.S., as we estimate, only 3.5
million could be candidates for suc
cessful neuter/release. That leaves
31.5 million cats to find something
else to do with, in a nation which
already keeps 61 million pet cats.
As Kim pointed out,
humane euthanasia is not an ideal
solution, but neither is returning
neutered ferals to a hostile environ
ment; nor is adoption possible for
more than a relative handful. It is
praiseworthy that Mr. Peluso and
Ms. Baker share their homes with
12 cats and two dogs and 14 cats,
respectively, all of them rescue
projects whom they have personally
socialized. We share our home at
present with 22 rescued cats and
two rescued dogs, and at one point
had 31 rescued cats living with us.
If not wanting to take
healthy animals to be euthanized is
to Mr. Peluso and Ms. Baker’s
credit, it is also to Kim’s. She has
worked countless hours to socialize
each and every one of our ferals,
and has cried for days over each
cat we’ve lost––especially
those whom she believes were lost
to larger predators. As the article
her commentary accompanied ex-
plained, there is only circumstan
tial evidence to indicate that this is
what happened, and the first of the
cats who vanished did return after
the others disappeared. When it
seemed likely that some of our fer
als were disappearing, not just
being elusive, Kim made every
effort to draw them inside at night.
However, with not only the 10
acres here but also thousands of
acres of sparsely inhabited moun
tains around us, teeming with
potential cat prey, there isn’t any
catching a trap-smart cat who
doesn’t want to be caught. Nor do
we believe imprisoning a feral cat
who prefers to be wild is any more
respectful of the cat’s rights than
allowing the cat to live and die as
the cat herself chooses.
Finally, if either Mr.
Peluso or Ms. Pacitti had read the
cover article and Kim’s commen
tary carefully, her gender should
have been quite apparent.
Henry Spira
Henry Spira did it again! (April 1993
editorial). Spira sold out to the soap industry
and the cosmetic industry, Procter & Gamble ,
etc., in 1985. Spira stated, “Let’s stop perse-
cuting them; they’re doing their best to
humanely improve. Let’s get after the vivisec-
tors who really torture animals in medical
labs.” Now Spira has sold out to medical lab
––Dorothy Bernstein
Coral Gables, Florida
Your April editorial about Henry
Spira and compromise is well-written and well-
taken. But we should remember that the reason
Procter & Gamble, etc., are finally beginning
to move on animal testing is because of contin-
ued pressure from animal rights groups, partic-
ularly In Defense of Animals. Before compro-
mise is possible, there has to be something to
compromise about.
––Gene Brewer
New York, New York
Henry Spira, who lives in pricey
New York City on under $15,000 a year, has
never sold out to anyone. What he does do, as
our editorial explained, is drive a good bar
gain and stick to it. Fifteen years ago he asked
Procter & Gamble to quit using the notorious
ly obsolescent and cruel LD-50 and Draize
tests. In 1981 P&G became (and remains) the
world leader in developing alternatives; by
1986, P&G replaced the Draize and LD-50
with tests using less than 1% as many animals,
influencing many other major soap and cos
metic makers to do likewise. This saved more
animals, many times over, than the entire
“cruelty free” industry. Spira then called off
his public protests, winning further gains in
quiet negotiation. Only in 1987, after P&G’s
eventual complete cessation of animal testing
seemed assured did PETA, In Defense of
Animals, and the Humane Society of the U.S.
target the firm for ongoing protest.
Breeder ethics
I don’t breed often (six pups total in
12 years), but when I do, I have buyers lined
up. Some people wait several years for pups
from breeders. People choose to buy pups like
this for specific reasons and they would not
just go to a shelter and pick any dog instead.
Market forces exist in dogs just as in cars.
People won’t go buy an Escort if they want and
can afford a Cadillac. I don’t think that mutts
have less intrinsic value than purebreds––I’m
just stating the realities of the purebred market.
I believe that breeders who only
breed to improve the breed, produce dogs of
sound temperament and sound health, place
pets on neutering contracts, and who continue
their commitment to the buyer throughout the
life of the dog are providing a worthwhile ser-
vice. I do not believe the birth of such a litter
has a causal relationship to the death of shelter
animals. Purebreds give a level of predictabili-
ty of type and temperament which can be used
to assure that people pick the right dog for
their lifestyle and conditions. I think that the
breeding of purebred dogs is an ethical and
worthwhile endeavor or I wouldn’t do it.
––Margaret Anne Cleek
Sacramento, California
Lottery winner
You reported that Katherine Foster
of Garland, Texas, plans to spend her $1 mil-
lion winnings to build an animal shelter. It
seems to me that animal people should per-
suade her to use it for neutering. But whichev-
er Ms. Foster does, she is to be commended.
––Elizabeth Lernlich
Bellvue, Kentucky
Small item to spotlight
It was with special pleasure that I
caught sight on May 31 of an ABC news clip
depicting a state trooper stopping four-lane
traffic in Waltham, Massachusetts, to help a
mother goose and her babies return to safety
after trying to cross the highway and getting
stranded in the middle island. Individuals like
this need to be singled out for praise and dis-
tinction, to encourage others to act likewise.
––Patrice Greanville
Westport, Connecticut
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