Editorial: Please remember us, too

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1993:

Soon you’ll be sending your holiday gifts to the animals. It’s a big job, sift-
ing through the heart-rending appeals that fill your mailbox, measuring needs and pri-
orities against your ability to help. And it’s a critical job, because only your generosi-
ty makes animal protection possible. From the smallest local humane society to the
best-endowed national advocacy group, your choices of whom to help, and why,
direct the entire humane movement.
The responsibility to choose wisely is yours. And once again, ANIMAL
PEOPLE will be there to assist. Once again we’ve spent countless hours reviewing
the tax filings of the 50 biggest animal-related charities in the U.S., which we have
obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. In this issue we present our fourth annu-
al listing of their budgets, assets, income, and highest salaries.

Once again we’ve enabled you to see just exactly where your money goes.
Please consider us, too, when you make out your checks. Please remem-
ber that no one else supports our service in bringing accountability to animal protec-
tion. We publish the national groups’ financial data, even though it brings us the
enmity of those with something to hide, because you need it, you request it, and you
support it with your subscriptions and donations.
That’s why ANIMAL PEOPLE exists in the first place. All the big organiza-
tions publish house organs, telling you every few months what they want you to
know––but you’ve told us you want to know more, and want be brought up to date
more often. You want perspective that can only come from prompt, thorough, accu
rate, nonpartisan professional coverage of all the many ways to help animals and all
the many ramifications of each strategy. You want a forum for frank, problem-solving
discussions, among diverse points of view. And you want a paper that dares to talk
about the subjects that are taboo everywhere else because they might upset donors or
political allies.
You subscribe to ANIMAL PEOPLE because you know we’re nobody’s
house organ. We have no endowment, no big donors, no affiliations––and we don’t
hire any professional fundraisers, either.
What we do have is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, 52-week-a-year
commitment to providing quality humane information. On a typical day, Merritt is up
two or three hours before sunrise to get some writing done before the telephone starts
ringing and the fax starts buzzing. Throughout the normal business day, he moves
back and forth between investigations and fulfilling countless information requests
from humane groups and mass media all over the country. Yesterday we tried to keep
a log. A national news magazine needed source material on horse cruelty. A cat res-
cuer needed advice on feline leukemia. A major advocacy group needed information
on deer population growth. A humane society needed background on the psychology
of animal abusers. Someone needed health facts on vegetarianism. And someone
wanted advice on phrasing her will. Eventually we lost track: there was too much else
to do.
After five p.m. begins what we call the West Coast shift, when the calls come
mainly from other time zones. They slow down a bit as the evening wears on. Finally,
as most people are preparing for bed, the calls stop coming. He works on into the
night, turning in well after midnight.
Kim works her own around-the-clock schedule. There are, after all, just the
two of us here. We’re each doing work that at most monthly publications would be
handled by three or four people. And we’re doing a lot more than just getting the job
done. In the past year:
Information we supplied to the USDA enabled the Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service to permanently halt the import of dogs and cats from Canada for use
in U.S. laboratories.
We exposed how mares are made to breed up to 70,000 unwanted foals a
year, and to stand in stalls for six months at a time, unable even to lie down, in the
production of the estrogen replacement drug Premarin–– for which humane alternatives
are available.
Our national survey of cat rescuers more than doubled the humane communi
ty’s knowledge of how and where homeless cats live, what people are doing for the
cats, and what rescue tactics work.
Our national roadkill survey, though years from completion, has already
produced tips that numerous radio stations are using to increase driver awareness of ani-
mals and their habits around traffic.
To faciliate liaison, we’ve compiled the most complete mailing list ever of
animal shelters and animal control facilities.
We’ve helped coordinate shelter-by-shelter, state-by-state counts of the
number of animals received, adopted out, and euthanized each year due to pet over-
population. This information provides us with our most accurate picture ever of the
nature of the problem, what we’ve already achieved in 20 years of massive effort, and
what can be done about it to bring the problem to an overdue close.
We intend to keep right on keeping on––but we badly need your generous
help. Your subscriptions and the sale of advertising cover only part of the cost of print-
ing and distributing ANIMAL PEOPLE each month. We need your donations, too,
to keep our information-gathering-and-sharing effort going; to keep doing outreach to
the thousands of people who care about animals but don’t yet know how to help protect
them from cruelty and abuse; to keep us on the job fulltime and then some.
Please consider that the total budget for ANIMAL PEOPLE is less for a year
than the salaries of at least 56 national animal protection advocacy group executives.
Out of that, we’ve paid ourselves a combined total of just $13,400 this year––barely a
third of the U.S. median family income, 25% less than minimum wage for a 40-hour
week (and a 40-hour week would be like a vacation). Some other animal protection
organizations boast of paying low salaries; but they generally provide housing, trans-
portation, expense accounts, and sometimes even pet care. We play straight with
you. From our small salaries, we pay all our own living expenses and those of our
three-year-old son, including rent, utilities, transportation, and the full cost of caring
for our 24 cats and two dogs, each of them a one-time rescue project.
When we tell you we’re surviving on the thinnest of margins, we’re not just
making a pitch. We’re talking about often skipping our paychecks, little as they are
and using our personal credit to get issues printed and mailed on time.
Please remember us, as generously as you can. Knowledge is power, and no
one does more to empower you to be effective in all your work on behalf of animals.
Thank you.
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