LETTERS [Sep. 1993]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1993:

So long as you catch plenty
of hell for printing informative and
factual articles, you will know you are
on the right track. If there is another
side that justifies the light of day, the
bitchers will submit an article that will
further inform your grateful public.
Interested people will read you
because you are the only source that
prints honest articles about the sacred
cows of the humane movement.
Your articles on feral cats
are the most thorough I have found.
Your continuing attention to the rami-
fications of neutering is most informa-
tive. Your January/ February and
March issues are the only things of
their kind in revealing where the
money goes. I have enclosed payment
for a two-year renewal.

––Roland Eastwood,
President, Lee County Humane
Society, Fort Myers, Florida
Border blues
The number of animals
killed in this area is staggering,
mainly because of the proximity of
Mexico. Because there is no low-
cost neutering, the killing increases
each year. Our veterinarians charge
as much as $75 to $125 per proce-
dure, very high in an economy
where an unemployment rate of 15
to 20% and minimum wage jobs are
the norm. Our local politicians are
apathetic, but I’m convinced the
only thing that will bring dramatic
change is the power of the vote. As
animal welfare advocates, we must
demonstrate some political muscle.
Early in Ann Richards’ term as gov-
ernor, I suggested to her aides that a
state humane committee should be
formed to study and make recom-
mendations on animal welfare mat-
ters. My letters and calls were in
vain. Our strength and demands, as
in the past, remain discounted.
I am still hopeful.
––Bob Sobel
South Texas Animal Sanctuary
Weslaco, Texas
P.S.––We are a no-kill,
lifetime care shelter situatated on
four acres. We care for about 175
dogs and 35 cats. We have some
animals in foster homes, where we
pick up the costs of animal care.
We try to run a quality refuge where
animals live a good life. We do not
adopt out or euthanize animals, and
we set a limit on the number of ani-
mals we care for. In order to oper-
ate a quality shelter of the type we
have, an operator must be prepared
to spend a minimum of $60,000
annually plus the cost of housing,
fencing, insurance, and taxes.
From our experience, if a person
plans to operate an animal refuge
such as ours, that person will
almost certainly have to put his own
resources to work. You must have a
secure and constant monthly income
to assure covering costs. This year
we anticipate donating $50,000 of
our own money. Other donations
will run from $7,000 to $10,000.
Our satisfaction lies in knowing that
we save a few hundred animals who
would otherwise be put down.
No place for a saint
I found myself in absolute
agreement with your July/August
editorial, “No place for a saint.”
Last year I wrote in our newsletter
about animal collectors. Several
people called to complain that we
weren’t helping these wonderful
individuals enough, and now were
saying bad things about them! How
dare we!
We dare because we are
sick of complaints of disease,
deaths, and abysmal conditions
from the clients, local veterinarians,
and volunteers of these rescuers
who operate so-called no-kill shel-
ters from their homes, barns, and
garages. We dare because this kind
of a life is no kind of life for any
animal. We dare because we
believe that a dignified and peaceful
death is better than dying from
feline panleukopenia or cannibal-
ism. We dare to speak out because
somebody has to.
Such clean rescuers aren’t
as clean on closer examination.
There are some local veterinarians
who now refuse to treat animals
from their facilities because basic
infection control practices and quar-
antine procedures are not used (cur-
rent and incoming animals sharing
food dishes and litter pans, etc.).
You touched on one of my
sore spots with your statement,
“Every rescuer needs a dash of
humility.” Unfortunately the animal
“saints and saviours” in our commu-
nity are arrogant and hostile to us
and to anyone else who disagrees
with their practices. They claim that
they don’t kill the animals––but dis-
ease does the dirty work for them,
or they bring them to the shelters so
that someone else can do their
Believing that “every ani-
mal can be saved and there is a
home for the animal somewhere” is
delusional, as is believing that one
and one’s organization are infallible.
––Jackie Hargreaves
Education Director
Kalamazoo Humane Society
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Pounding the
This is in refer-
ence to the word “pound.”
The word of course comes
from “impound”: pounds
impound animals. This
word has become antedated
and offensive to shelter
workers. I’m aware that a
few pounds still exist where
the animal warden ends the
lives of strays by shooting
them with bullets. I don’t
think you would even want
them on your shelter list.
Animal shelters
are so different these days.
They still impound strays
and collect throwaways,
but they also shelter, feed,
care for the sick and
injured, and adopt out
some of the orphans. Some
have on-site neutering clin-
ics, in-house grooming to
make pets more adoptable,
mobile adoption units,
breed rescue; the list goes
on. On behalf of the ani-
mals who end up in shelters
and the staff and volunteers
who work hard to promote
shelter adoptions, can we
try to educate the public
and the humane community
to change their ways and
refer to the pound in their
community as the local ani-
mal shelter?
––Shirley Vaughan-Boyd
Friends of the Long Beach
Long Beach, California
In general usage,
“animal shelter” is a gener
ic term; community-run
facilities are “pounds,”
while those run by charities
are “humane societies,” al-
though some humane soci
eties don’t actually have
shelters. Blurring the dis
tinction won’t improve
pounds any (some of which
include the word “pound”
in their official title), but
efforts such as those of
Friends of the Long Beach
Shelter do. In addition to
helping out at the shelter
itself, FLBS produces a
cable TV show, “The Pet
Place,” to help promote
adoptions, and neuters the
pets of senior citizens and
the disabled free of charge.
By the way,
those bad pounds are the
ones we most want to
reach––they most need the
Cat rescue
Congratulations! It took
you fewer than 400 cats to realize
the error of your ways in expending
so many resources on cats who do
not already have a home. It took me
over 2,200 cats––and 118 dogs. At
one point I had 43 cats in my small
house. I figure I put five veterinari-
ans’ kids through college. I also
exhausted my friends and probably
cut 10 years off my own life before
I saw the light. I never had any
trouble taming them because I
forced the cats to sleep under the
covers with me––by pinning the
covers and making a tent, complete
with a small litter box. Getting in
and out of bed wasn’t easy, but, as
someone pointed out, had I needed
to I could have used the litter box.
(In case anyone wonders how many
cats can sleep in a single bed with a
5’8” human, it’s 23.) Then, as
soon as the cats were fairly healthy,
I made them eat out of my hands.
Eventually I paid a visit to
the local animal shelter and was just
appalled. I got a bunch of friends
together, and organized a coup to
get two of us on the board. It was
three years of hell, but we got the
shelter up to state standards. From
then on I took the animals I picked
up to the shelter. We then worked
on getting a fairly good ordinance
passed, and are still working on
getting it enforced. I do believe a
wide licensing differential for
neutered and unneutered animals is
effective. Enforcement is just as
much a problem with a narrow dif-
ferential as with a wide one. There
has to be an equal differential in
fines, and this must be backed up
by low-cost neutering. We do have
a low-cost neutering program here,
created and run by some wonderful
I believe you are making a
mistake in assuming cats breed to
the carrying capacity of a given
range, as wild animals do. I know
of no studies on the matter, but
there is a wealth of anecdotal evi-
dence that they breed whenever their
little domesticated hearts desire.
More of them survive for a time
when they are fed, but this is more
than balanced by the all too miser-
able lives most of them lead, and
the ghastly deaths they suffer. I
never use the word “feral.” I view
these cats as terrified. But some-
where in the racial memory of every
cat is a home with a human compan-
ion. Cats (and dogs) never really
grow up. They remain forever chil-
dren, a condition called “neoteny.”
––Jean Austin, chair,
The Vine
Clinton, Iowa
The Editor replies: An animal popu
lation maintaining itself at carrying
capacity will always breed a season
al “surplus” of young to compensate
for losses to disease and predation.
Many studies of individual feral cat
populations and the ANIMAL PEO-
P L E survey of cat rescuers’ experi
ence with feral cat colonies in 1991
and 1992 have confirmed that the
seasonal variance in cat numbers is
within the range one would expect of
a wild predator, and that while the
numbers of cats at each site may
vary, the aggregate number is stable
from year to year. (One group of
colonies in the ANIMAL PEOPLE
survey peaked at 1,336 cats in 1991
and 1,381 in 1992; another peaked
at 429 in 1991 and 438 in 1992.)
Like park pigeons and squirrels,
feral cats rely on handouts from
humans for much of their sustenance.
Also as with park pigeons and squir
rels, humans provide feral cats with
so much food that the carrying
capacity of feral cats’ habitat is often
boosted far beyond the natural car
rying capacity. Researchers Carol
Haspel and Robert Calhoon discov
ered in 1981-1982 that in at least
two Brooklyn neighborhoods, “The
food provided by feeders alone was
estimated to support 1.71 to 2.10
cats per acre, a density that is 1.35
times greater than the actual cat
population.” The number of feral
cats thus could actually be below
maximum carrying capacity, if nor
mal wildlife population dynamics are
in effect. This could in turn explain
why feral cats reproduce as prolifi
cally as they do: natural population
regulatory mechanisms respond not
to individual suffering but rather to
the ability or inability of a species to
successfully rear young. The ANI-
MAL PEOPLE survey indicated
that the primary brake on feral cat
population growth at present is
humane euthanasia, another form of
human intervention, which account
ed for 49% of the 2,638 feral cats
whose deaths the respondents
recorded. (Kitten deaths before
weaning were not recorded.) Among
the feral cats who were not eutha
nized, 20% were removed as nui
sances; 20% were killed by cars;
22% succumbed to disease; 8%
were poisoned; 6% were killed in
acts of deliberate cruelty; 4% were
killed by predators; 3% died of mal
nutrition; 2% were caught for sale
to laboratories; .3% were killed in
furbearer traps; and 16% died of
unknown causes.
Please don’t get discour-
aged about neuter/release as a
method of controlling feral cat popu-
lation. As Kim Bartlett wrote in
your June issue, neuter/release is
time-consuming and costly, as is
feeding these animals over time, but
so is trapping feral cats to take into a
shelter for euthanasia.. And many
cat-feeders enjoy their hobby and
would not be at all pleased if “their”
cats were killed.
Realistically, any ill that
befalls a feral cat can also affect an
owned, tame cat if she is allowed to
wander outside unattended. If you
live in coyote country, the pet cat is
at risk as well as the ferals; if you
live near a busy road, the pet cat is
at risk as well as the ferals; etc.
One advantage the ferals have is that
they are people-shy and much less
apt to be captured by sadists.
There are many benefits
from neuter/release beyond popula-
tion control. All the rescue groups I
know of remove kittens, tame cats,
old and sick cats from the feral
colonies. The remainder, deemed
suitable for release, not only have
improved odds of survival, but also
should enjoy a better quality of life
if they go back to a favorable area.
We do need more safe havens,
which is something we are always
working on, and yes, there are
unfortunately situations in which
euthanasia may be the only choice.
People seem to have very
strong opinions about neuter/release.
Those opposed to it are always com-
paring the life of a feral to the life of
an owned pet, but unfortunately
some owned animals also have a
dreadful existence. Just being
owned does not guarantee utopia,
and conversely we all know of some
really nice colony situations where
the ferals are in tip-top shape, living
happily for many years.
––Petra Murray
N. J. Pet Overpopulation Solutions
Howell, New Jersey
A vet’s view
While I personally favor
trapping, neutering, vaccinating
and releasing homeless cats to trap-
ping and killing them, I feel that to
do either one is preferable to doing
To be involved in feral cat
management is to be at war, and in
war there will always be casualties.
We will not be able to trap all the
cats in each colony. We will trap
pregnant cats and have to have them
aborted if we are even a little bit
realistic about population control,
regardless of our views about the
human right to life. We will trap
cats and find out they are nursing
and worry about the kittens, but
spay them anyway because we
might only have one chance. We
will trap cats who have terminal dis-
eases and need us to help them die.
We will trap cats who have treatable
diseases that are terminal anyway
because we can’t get medicine into
them. We will have traps stolen.
We will get abuse from those who
misunderstand our intent and from
those who disagree with our meth-
ods. We will see frantic cats tear off
their toenails in wire cages. We will
see cats who were released a week
previously be hit by cars.
Still, having seen the con-
dition of a great many unvaccinated,
unaltered animals, and having seen
them later, it is my absolute convic-
tion that in the presence of a caretak-
er, it will always be in the best
interest of the cat to be trapped,
vaccinated, neutered, and released.
––Mark Chamberlain, DVM
Planned Pethood Plus
Denver, Colorado
Middle ground
I am not “neutering and
abandoning” cats. I am not “pro-
moting death.” There has to be a
middle ground. Each colony should
be evaluated and all done to aid
them in their individual lives. But
construction and neighborhood
changes sometimes remove the area
and we have to remove the cats––or
let people put out antifreeze to kill
them. (Yes, it actually happened.)
We need to see the needs of the cats
and provide as best we are able.
Thanks, Kim. The cats know there
is a middle ground. Keep trying to
find and define it for us.
––Phyllis Fischer
Helping Our Pets Everywhere
New Albany, Ohio
While only minds with a
pronounced sadistic twist promote
euthanasia as innately desirable,
Kim Bartlett is of a different mind.
The recent spate of attacks on her
come from persons whose wishful
thinking Kim’s writings have frus-
trated. Kim is undeserving of such
vitriol––which reveals more about
her critics than it does about her.
I once stopped to help at
the scene of an accident. A once-
gorgeous golden retriever had been
struck by a vehicle, and struck
badly. Irreparable damage had been
done, which would prove fatal,
although the dog was still alive.
Those gathered around agreed,
“Someone should do something.” A
nearby homeowner called animal
control. Yet the dog was in immense
pain, with extensive external injuries
and internal injuries so severe blood
was issuing from his mouth. It
would have been at least 90 minutes
before animal control could arrive,
pick up the dog, take him back to
the shelter, and then surely eutha-
nize him immediately. Why let this
animal suffer?
With a sinking heart, I
walked to my car and returned with a
pistol. This act outraged some of
those there. Did they believe for a
moment that I wanted to do what
was, under the circumstances,
imperative? Did any of those tender-
hearted individuals believe that once
animal control picked up the dog and
he was out of sight, that he would
miraculously recover and live anoth-
er 10 years? Or did no one there
want to face, much less act upon,
the reality of the situation?
I stroked the dog’s bleed-
ing body, established eye contact,
and then, while speaking to him
gently, cradled his head with one
hand while in less than a second, I
put three rounds into his head.
I felt positively horrible.
Yet the horror I felt was not for the
dog. My horror was from a situation
that in an instant had transformed a
healthy, happy animal into one to
whom life became a greater enemy
than death.
––Jack Tanis, Hollywood, Florida
Nurturing toms
I’ve finally had the time to
read your very interesting report,
“What we’ve learned from feral
cats.” (June 1993.) A couple of
comments. A nurturing tom isn’t so
far-fetched. It may be one of those
things that is not particularly extraor-
dinary––just extraordinary for
humans to see. Peter Apps, on
Dassen Island, noted what he called
“friendly relationships between adult
males and kittens,” as I quoted in
my book Maverick Cats.
The idea that cats don’t
have much of a social life has been
changing in recent decades. The
social structure of these creatures is
undoubtedly very complex. Also to
be factored in are all the individuali-
ties of character. It’s a jigsaw puzzle
where we don’t even know which
pieces are right side up.
––Ellen Perry Berkeley
Shaftsbury, Vermont
(Maverick Cats, the most authorita
tive book on feral cats to date, is
available for $10, including postage,
from P.O. Box 311, Shaftsbury, VT
Breeding bans
Re your June issue, the guest column “Instead of
Breeding Bans” by Margaret Cleek is clearly stating her opinions,
not facts. I’ve been acquainted with this problem for 46 years of
dealing with nonchalant, ignorant, or stingy pet owners, plus the
religious bigots who don’t believe in neutering, plus the persistent
breeders who are mercenary and in many cases cruel beyond belief.
I have found from experience that people’s opinions are worthless
and that where breeding bans are enforced, it obviously makes a
difference. Breeding bans should be enforced without further
––Kitty Langdon, The Sunrise Foundation, Denver, Colorado
Enough about who’s to blame for killing surplus dogs
and cats. Either we accept that people have the right to own ani-
mals, and accept the consequences, or we say that anmal owner-
ship is at the root of much animal abuse and fight against it.
Animal welfare is based on the first assumption, and tries to deal
with the resultant problems. Animal rights is based on a complete-
ly different concept, that animals have the inherent right to live
their lives free from human exploitation. Pet ownership is the ulti-
mate form of exploitation.
I now live with two dogs and six cats. I admire the beau-
ty of dogs and cats. I marvel at their intelligence, their loyalty,
their willingness to endure confinement and domestication. But I
don’t believe they have a safe place in the scheme of things.
As an animal rightser, I say it is time for dogs and cats to
become extinct. Humans must give up the concept of pet owner-
ship. Require permits to own animals. Require training before per-
mits are given. Require all owned animals to be neutered. Allow
only orphaned, injured, or homeless animals to be owned. Forbid
buying or selling of animals. Those who want to care for a dog or
cat will have no trouble finding one at a shelter.
If we don’t actively work to cause the extinction of dogs
and cats, we will continue to be left with prolific animals who
depend on the benevolence of humans. And we have seen over the
centuries that humans are not worthy of that trust.
––Maureen Koplow, Editor, Advance, Deptford, New Jersey
Everyday people
In the spirit of honoring dedicated
“everyday people,” I’d like to mention
Wanda D’Agostino, of East Hartford,
Connecticut, who manages a home for her
husband, children, dogs and cats, and is
also a certified wildlife rehabilitator.
Wanda’s door is always open. I walked
through it one evening around midnight, tot-
ing an opossum I’d found sitting, dazed, in
the middle of a busy street. We’d already
been turned away from the two Hartford all-
night emergency veterinary hospitals; we’d
made a hasty exit from the second one when
the doctor on duty started mumbling that she
“really should confiscate this animal.” From
a pay phone, I began calling rehabilitators
from a list of names provided by the
Connecticut Department of Environmental
Protection’s 24-hour hotline. No luck until
the very last name: Wanda not only
answered, but immediately gave me direc-
tions to her house. When we arrived, 30
minutes later, the front walk was brightly lit
and Wanda was waiting at the door. After
examining the patient, she led us to a cage
on stilts in the back yard. It was fixed up
with fresh straw, a blanket, a crock of
water, and plates of food.
The opossum quickly recovered
from his trauma but had to remain caged for
a month while a broken leg mended. He was
released on a large rural tract, a potential
refuge that Wanda and other East
Hartfordites have fought to keep undevel-
oped for many years, so far successfully.
Wanda works in tandem with the
Valley Veterinary Clinic of nearby South
Windsor, where DVM Heather Smith is
licensed to treat wildlife and donates her
skills whenever they’re needed.
I hope when people are deciding
which group to support, they don’t forget
the deserving individuals like rehabbers who
work for free and vets who treat animals
who have no human to pay the bill.
––Mary Peterson, Dingwall, Nova Scotia
You reported in July/August that
the National Rifle Association killed “a ban
on assault rifles adopted by the city of
Philadelphia, as the Pennsylvania state sen-
ate voted 45-2 on June 3 to take away the
city’s authority to regulate guns.” The house
of representatives did not vote on the ban
due to it being held in subcommittee by a
Philadelphia representative. Thus the senate
vote alone did not void the ban, which will
come up again when the full legislature
reconvenes in October.
––Lou Peluso, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Vegetarian hot dogs
I was really surprised to read in
your July/August issue that vegetarian hot
dogs had been offered in St. Louis during
Paul McCartney’s concert. Had I known,
being a vegetarian, I would have bought
one for sure, to show support for vegetari-
anism and for more choice.
––L.S. Freeborn, St. Louis, Missouri
Overpopulation sources
When sources of animal births are
looked at, the question of how to accom-
plish cuts in births is clarified. For the U.S.,
our best guesstimate of where dog births
occur is as follows: irresponsible pet own-
ers 2.74 million (16.5%); intentional breed-
ing by pet owners 1.6 million (9.7%); com-
mercial breeders and puppy mills 3.2 million
(19.5%); intentional breeding by poor peo-
ple 1.7 million (10%); unintentional breed-
ing by pets of poor people 6.8 million
(41%); feral 0.5 million (2.7%).
Of the 16.6 million births, about
two million (12.6%) are euthanized for pop-
ulation control at shelters.
Our biggest opportunity to reduce
breeding lies with the poor whose pets breed
because they cannot afford to have them
neutered. This requires not only low-cost
neutering programs, but also removing dis-
incentives such as regressive fees and fines,
and humane societies rolling up sleeves to
do what it takes, e.g. going out and catch-
ing wild kittens, rather than sitting back and
printing bumper stickers.
––Lewis R. Plumb
Promotion of Animal Welfare Society
Paradise, California
The Missouri Botanical
Garden’s advice line deleted from its tape
the suggestion that dogs and cats be per-
mitted to chase and kill mice and rabbits,
as of June 15. Your publicizing this situa-
tion really helped.
––Cecily Westerman
St. Louis, Missouri
We want you to know how very
pleased we are with our ad. We’ve
already received a few inquiries. The
“How to Flush Rush” theme in particular
seems to have struck a responsive chord!
––Tom Regan
The Culture and Animals Foundation
Raleigh, North Carolina
Procter & Gamble debate
Your recent rebuttal to reader comments about Procter & Gamble painted a very
approving picture of P&G’s animal testing policies. As new coordinator for In Defense of
Animals’ nationwide boycott of P&G, I am writing to offer another perspective.
In your rebuttal, you stated that by 1987, “P&G’s eventual complete cessation of ani-
mal testing seemed assured.” If cessation was assured six years ago, then they must surely have
stopped by now! But they have not stopped. P&G still conducts cruel tests which kill an esti-
mated 50,000 animals each year. They state they care about eliminating the use of animals, but
their actions are often inconsistent with their public relations statements.
You describe them as world leaders in the development of alternatives. P&G has
demonstrated their “leadership” in ending animal testing in the following ways:
P&G contacted other giant corporations in an effort to create a $17.5 million cam-
paign to perpetuate the agony of animal testing. The campaign was designed to tell us, our leg-
islators and even our children that animal testing was both necessary and humane.
When the California legislature considered a bill to ban the infamous Draize eye irri-
tancy test, P&G was there lobbying tirelessly to defeat it. Many people, who had received
P&G assurances that they really cared, were shocked at P&G’s behavior.
P&G twice (in 1987 and 1992) successfully blocked shareholder resolutions calling
for an end to only those tests not required by law. Now, in 1993 they are recommending a “no”
vote to shareholders once again.
P&G fired one of the employees introducing the 1992 resolution. She feels her ter-
mination was directly related to her animal rights activities.
If this is the record of a world leader, then the animals are in deep trouble. It is criti-
cal that we maintain our economic pressure now. This is not the time to back down or become
conciliatory. P&G must be made to understand that there is a growing movement of consumers
who are voting with dollars, voting for cruelty-free products.
––Sandy Barron, National Campaign Coordinator, In Defense of Animals, San Rafael, Calif.
The Editor replies: We asked Barron to verify his claim that P&G “still conducts cruel
tests which kill an estimated 50,000 animals each year.” The USDA requires companies and insti
tutions to report the number of animals they use in research and testing, and to categorize them
under the headings of “Not painful,” “Painful with relief,” and “Involving pain or distress without
administration of appropriate anesthetic, analgesics, or tranquilizer drugs.” Prior to the current
fiscal year, mice, rats, and birds were excluded from the reporting requirement.
According to data published in 1991 by the Investor Responsibility Research Center,
from fiscal year 1989, P&G and its leading rivals stacked up thusly:
Firm No Pain Relieved Unrelieved Total Rank
American Home Products 27,922 11,019 240 39,181 1
Bayer AG 12,066 546 26,199 38,811 2
SmithKline Beckman 33,845 1,613 0 35,458 3
Pfizer 22,653 7,900 1,248 31,801 5
Bristol-Myers Squibb 4,490 11,413 292 16,195 7
Schering-Plough 13,068 8,112 12 21,192 10
Johnson & Johnson 2,784 3,947 1,758 8,489 24
Procter & Gamble 4,587 1,255 56 5,898 31
Upjohn 2,935 2,600 189 5,784 32
Barron responded, “Roughly speaking, I consider a test as cruel which results in
pain, suffering, or death. The information we have indicates that this represents the majority of
animal testing at P&G. The classification “painful without relief” is irrelevant because it does
not take into consideration the purposeful killing of animals at the conclusion of what may be a
non-painful test cycle. Our estimate of 50,000 animals per year is based upon extrapolations of
P&G’s own figures of percent of total animals which are rodents factored into USDA reports of
non-rodents used. We have used this estimate for several years and have had multiple contacts
with the company during this time. They have never questioned or challenged this figure. As
well, they have refused to provide a more accurate total.”
The Editor replies again: John Smale, then P&G board chairman, stated in 1989
that “about 90% of the animals used” by the firm “are rodents, such as rats and mice.”
Apparently, Barron is multiplying by 10 the total number of animals whose use is reported to
the USDA, assuming that all the rodents used are rats and mice and therefore not reported, and
then defining “cruel” so broadly as to include virtually all experimentation. Such a broad defin
ition negates efforts to mitigate the suffering of animals in procedures which we may deplore and
work to eliminate, but which are nonetheless done.
Barron’s extrapolation is shaky anyway, since on average during the several years for
which we have data, about 63% of the animals P&G declared using were rodents (mostly ham
sters). Thus the total number of animals P&G used in 1989, based on Smale’s statement, could
have been as low as 18,000. As Barron admits, we don’t know exactly how many animals P&G
uses, and won’t know until fiscal year 1993 data is available. We do know, however, that
according to papers published in scientific journals, P&G achieved a 22% reduction in overall
animal use and a 61% reduction in animal use in consumer product testing between 1984 and
1 9 8 6 –before IDA, PETA, and the Humane Society of the U.S. targeted the firm for protest.
Progress slowed over the next few years because P&G had already adopted the alternatives to
animal testing that were validated to the satisfaction of government, and could not implement
further reductions in animal use without either sharply limiting product development, thereby
risking market leadership, or achieving scientific, technical, and regulatory breakthroughs
(including vis-a-vis the regulations of other nations to which P&G sells U.S.-made products).
Nonetheless, by March 1992 P&G had managed to bring total animal use down 46% and ani
mal use in consumer product testing down 80%.
As animal use diminishes, finding alternatives to the remaining uses tends to be more
difficult. The present progress curve indicates that we can reasonably expect P&G to end all
animal testing in about 12 more years. Dollars and cents show the strength of the P&G commit
ment. Since 1986, P&G has spent more than $19 million on investigating alternatives, includ
ing $4.5 million in the past fiscal year. None of P&G’s major rivals have done as much.
It is true that Smale became irritated by the abuse heaped on P&G during the IDA,
PETA, and HSUS-backed proxy resolution campaign of 1987, which followed by some months
the company’s pledge to abandon animal testing as soon as practicable. Circa 1989, Smale
approved a recommendation from P&G public relations executives that P&G should lead an
industry-wide coalition in a counterattack. However, other highly placed executives had
doubts, leaked the strategy to the media, and thereby killed it. When U.S. Surgical Corporation
advanced a similar strategy in 1991, forming the Americans for Medical Progress Educational
Foundation, P&G immediately disavowed any association with it.
P&G opposed the California anti-Draize bill of 1990 and has continued to oppose
shareholders’ resolutions including similar language because they set specific timetables for
achieving progress that P&G believes may be unrealistic, in view of both the recent rapid
expansion of the criteria for product liability and the unpredictable rate of scientific discovery.
P&G fired forklift driver Tina Geronimi, one of four employees who co-sponsored the
1992 shareholders’ resolution, for allegedly overreporting the hours she worked. The other
three co-sponsors were still with P&G at last report.
While we are not condoning animal use in product testing, we believe it would be
wiser to target companies with worse records.
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