LETTERS [July/Aug 1994]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1994:

Save the Whales!
Editor’s note: The producers of Free Willy! addressed
this letter to the White House. We thought it worth further notice.
This administration’s handling of the whaling issue in
particular, and animal rights and conservation issues in general,
is utterly scandalous. Russia is currently exporting hundreds of
tons of fresh whale meat to Japan illegally. Norway has been
caught exporting tons of frozen whale meat to Japan through
Korea illegally. And now, by refusing to sanction Norway for its
illegal commercial whaling, and by adopting the RMP, the U.S.
is officially climbing into bed with the whaling nations.
You may or may not be aware that at the end of our
movie Free Willy! we put up a 1-800-4-WHALES telephone line
and received over a million responses from people extremely
interested in getting information on how they could personally
help whales in the wild. We are currently producing a sequel, and
fully intend to do something along the same lines, with the poten-
tial of reaching millions more. Using the names we already have,
plus the new list, we will send out information about what is hap-
pening to our planet’s marine mammals, why it is happening, and
what can be done about it. We expect another huge response.
The fate of marine mammals may not be top priority on
the agenda of the administration right now, but the issue has an
excellent chance of building and becoming a nightmare closer to
re-election. As lifelong Democrats, we hate to say it, but marine
mammals, like many endangered species, fared much better
under the Republicans.

––Richard Donner and Lauren Shuler-Donner
c/o Warner Brothers
Burbank, California
IFAW irate
Your June cover article is a fantasia of fact and fiction,
quotations from memoranda out of context, and grossly erroneous
speculation. The important fact is that the International Fund for
Animal Welfare worked with Greenpeace and the World Wildlife
Fund for two years to get the Southern Whale Sanctuary (follow-
ing 10 years of collaboration to achieve and keep the still existing
moratorium on commercial whaling) as the best way of strength-
ening the moratorium by plugging a major loophole: Japan now
has no justification for continuing to keep its Antarctic fleet in
being by “scientific whaling.”
The allegations, which you evidently embrace, that the
three organizations were making deals to get the sanctuary in
return for concessions elsewhere are totally false and disgusting.
There were no deals or even consideration of deals, nor indeed
has anyone suggested any practical scenario involving deals which
is remotely plausible. We shall now be in a better position to
work to prevent Norway from continuing outlaw whaling, and the
International Whaling Commission’s acceptance of the Revised
Management Plan by consensus will make that easier.
––Sydney Holt, Scientific Advisor
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Citta della Pieve, Italy
Time will tell whether Holt helped save the whales or
helped engineer their extinction. Only when and if Japanese
whaling in southern waters halts and it is firm that commerical
whaling quotas will not be set despite the RMP will anyone be
able to declare definitively that the creation of the Southern Whale
Sanctuary at cost of the RMP was in fact a victory. If Holt is
right, we shall be happy to so acknowledge. (See our continued
in-depth coverage of the whaling issue in this edition.)
IFAW irate, part two
I write in response to the article in your June issue
“Brian Davies foundation invested in vivisection.”
Everyone at IFAW was genuinely concerned to discover
that investment mistakes had been made. The brokers were firmly
instructed to implement rigorous ethical standards which required
that no funds be invested in companies which test on animals or
which are involved in the meat, leather, or fur business. Despite
these instructions, errors were made, and the brokers no longer
manage the IFAW accounts. IFAW would never knowingly use
funds which could ultimately result in animals being harmed or
exploited. The article implies that unethical investments are still
in place. This is categorically not the case.
Our salaries are set in accordance with average pay
scales for similar positions in the external marketplace. Since
1986 the Hay Management Group has set senior pay scales,
including my own and that of Brian Davies.
IFAW finances are far from mysterious. Our accounts
are prepared by leading international accountants, Coopers and
Lybrand, and are available free of charge.
––Richard Moore, Executive Director
International Fund for Animal Welfare
East Sussex, England
Well before our expose went to press, we asked IFAW
to comment on our discovery that up to 39% of the subsidiary
Brian Davies Foundation portfolio may have been invested in
firms that vivisect or are under boycott by other major animal and
habitat protection groups. We got no reply. Upon receiving the
above on June 2, we promptly faxed to Coopers and Lybrand
requesting legally required public access documentation of cur
rent investments and salaries. We mentioned that Moore himself
referred us. Three weeks later, we have again had no reply.
Feral cats
The feral cat problem is, as the late E.F.
Schumacher wrote in A Guide for the Perplexed, a divergent
problem. It cannot be solved but must be transcended.
––Mary Pillar
Enterprise, Oregon
Cats and dogs
Although I do believe there is too much emphasis on
cat and dog issues, as the president of Cornell Students for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals I say without hesitation that
ANIMAL PEOPLE is the absolute best news source in the
animal rights movement.
––Michael Greger
Endicott, New York
“Year of the Cat”
Since I’m the one who
dreamed up the “Year of the Cat,”
subject of several recent letters to
ANIMAL PEOPLE, it’s time for
me to come clean. The four of us
who put this campaign together had
two goals: to waste our time and to
fill our overflowing coffers with
money. Fun and profit. That about
sums it up. We failed on both
counts. As a bureaucrat for one of
the responsible organizations, I was
hoping to go to a lot of meetings
about the Year of the Cat. (You
know how much we like to travel
and stay at expensive hotels!) Guess
how many meetings we had? None!
Not a darn single junket. So we
were all forced to work for animals
instead of bopping around the coun-
try. And guess how much money we
spent on those fancy promotional
materials? $2,109.59 apiece. And
so, since we all have such big bud-
gets, and we didn’t have meetings or
buy glitzy things, we were forced to
spend our money helping cats. And
shoot, with all the publicity, and
people and agencies acquiring cam-
paign materials virtually at cost,
you’d think someone would have
made a donation to us. Alas, not
one single gift. Ingrates.
Let this confession take
the place of all the letters of apology
I should send to over 1,000 humane
societies, veterinarians, and animal
control agencies who mistakenly
used the ruse of the “Year of the
Cat” to initiate new programs in a
year-long campaign to change the
way people respect and care for cats.
Recently I’ve had informal
discussions with people across the
country who hope to keep the goals
of the “Year of the Cat” campaign
alive. We’ll keep you posted. No
meetings are planned.
––Carter Luke, Vice President
Massachusetts SPCA
Boston, Massachusetts
Selling the Dead
Re “Turning to Shelters”
(May 1994), one important point
was missing on the downside of
allowing laboratory animal suppliers
to buy euthanized shelter animals for
dissection. Yes, the animals are
dead, but should shelters and
humane societies be contributing to
the business of dissection, a busi-
ness that is clearly out of control?
The Montreal SPCA now has an
anti-dissection policy, so when lab
animal companies come calling, the
answer is a simple “no.”
––Anne Streeter
Montreal, Quebec
Whale blackout
The full import of your
article “Save the whales!” is shock-
ing. Since the Australian govern-
ment is the “running dog” of U.S.
big business, and Australian Peter
Bridgewater is now chair of the
International Whaling Commission,
I think we must now closely monitor
the Australian end.
Your news of the arms
deal is sensational stuff. I just won-
der what’s in it for this rotten admin-
istration. We have an almost com-
plete media blackout in this country.
No one knows anything about the
deal over the RMP. Greenpeace,
IFAW and World Wildlife Fund are
all busy celebrating and continuing
to raise money to “save the whales.”
As a former senior inves-
tigative reporter I have many con-
tacts in the media. I can’t get a sin-
gle word out. All other major issues
are treated the same way, i.e. the
General Agreement on Trade and
Tariffs, the forestry issue, pesti-
cides, etc. The majority of
Australians have no idea at all of the
meaning of the Uruguay Road and
its ramifications.
Once again, congratula-
tions on one hell of an article.
––Sue Arnold, Coordinator
Australians for Animals
Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
How uplifting to read the
essay on “Life, Liberty and Pursuit
of Happiness for Wildlife in
Confinement,” by John Lukas,
director of the White Oak
Conservation Center. We can only
hope the zoo community will note
his opinions regarding the pursuit of
happiness for confined animals, the
development of optimum standards
for confinement, and the inclusion
of input from humane advocates.
Unfortunately our own 14-
year experience in dealing with the
Canadian Association of Zoological
Parks and Aqariums and the officials
of local zoos has taught us that
Lukas’ opinions are in the minority.
The article did not address
the problem of surplus animals. It
would be interesting to learn how
the White Oak deals with this.
––Ingrid Pollak, President
The Vancouver Humane Society
Vancouver, British Columbia
White Oak avoids surplus,
controlling the reproduction of ani
mals in Species Survival Plans by
keeping the sexes separate. Other
animals are neutered. Animals are
sold or otherwise transferred only
within Species Survival Plans.
Shelters ought to stink
In these times when the primary activity of
most high-profile animal protection groups seems to
be soliciting donations by taking credit for the work of
others, it’s wonderful to read about the success of the
North Shore Animal League, with its no-kill philoso-
phy and direct alleviation of animal suffering. They
are an inspiration to us all.
However, I think even NSAL contributes to
the problem by trying to completely eliminate animal
odors from an animal shelter so as to avoid dissuading
prospective adopters who fear that their homes will
stink if they include a dog or cat in their tidy lives. As
founder of the Horse Rescue Network, when I was
asked to represent the Washington horse industry at
the county fair I was annoyed by the fair manage-
ment’s insistence that I run in and scoop up the apples
every time a pony relieved herself. In real life this is
not how we manage our stables. While no caring
person can argue that feces should be allowed to accu-
mulate for days on end in an animal’s quarters, it is
the epitome of anthropomorphism for us to go to the
opposite extreme. People must learn to compromise
their standards of cleanliness in order to appreciate
their beloved pets and have time for things besides
being squeaky clean.
Also, by the adoption standards of NSAL,
my husband and I would not qualify––our two dogs
live outdoors year round, with three doghouses, our
home’s crawl space, and the garage for shelter, plus
free run of our farm. Our cats live mostly in the
house, but get daily outdoor time. Yes, we under-
stand the risks, and occasionally––rarely––one of our
cats or dogs is injured or gets sick. I say that’s life.
Animals, not unlike ourselves, can survive quite
comfortably and happily in a less than perfect world.
Denying them access to an outdoor environment that
is as safe as we can make it is cruel and unhealthy.
Quality pet ownership already demands
much sacrifice. With animal protectionists limiting
permissible uses of animals and requiring increasingly
demanding standards of care, society making it harder
to keep animals at all, and the veterinary community
heaping costly new routine maintenance procedures
upon us, I’m afraid increasing numbers of people will
decide that the rewards of animal companionship are
severely outweighed by the drawbacks.
––Pam Frizelle
Sultan, Washington
Having acquired many pets when they were
dumped at her farm, Frizelle is acutely conscious of
the reality of abandonment. It is to be noted that real
istic standards of care for rural Washington and
urban Long Island are quite different matters.
Pit bull has the run of the shelter
Shannon Lentz’ May guest column “A sad
place for a pit bull” suggests that all pit bulls are danger-
ous animals. As a shelter director with over 15 years of
fulltime experience, I have come in contact with tens of
thousands of dogs. I have evaluated many pit bulls, and
yes, some needed to be destroyed. Most, however,
were stable dogs who showed no aggression. Our shelter
has placed 80% of the pit bulls and related breeds we
have received over the past two years. Only one has
been returned. The rest remain in their adoptive homes.
The Humane Society of Atlantic County has
only one dog who is permitted the full run of the com-
plex. Her name is Jessica. She greets every customer
and their animls during the shelter’s hours of operation.
She goes to every fundraiser, and is surrounded by
strange people almost all of the time. Her temperament
has proven to be nothing but admirable with both
humans and animals. Jessica is, however, a pit bull.
Had Lentz (a prolific rescuer) applied to adopt
a pit bull from this shelter, she would not have been sent
home with one due to the different animals who were to
come and go in her household. I do commend her for the
efforts she took to save this little dog. However, she
should not condemn an entire breed because of this situa-
tion. I would be happy to talk to anyone in regards to
these special needs dogs.
––Steven J. Dash, Shelter Director
Humane Society of Atlantic County
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Pit bulls make up under 1% of the North
American dog population, but according to our log of
severe dog attacks, pit bulls since 1982 have caused
50% of the human fatalities and 61% of the maimings.
Are dog-pulling contests cruel?
A few weeks ago a friend
and I saw a man walking in a park
with two dogs who wore harnesses
connected to wooden boxes of large
cinder blocks. The man said he was
training the dogs for weight-pulling
contests, in which dogs often pull
over 1,000 pounds. How harmful is
this to the dogs? Is anything being
done to end it? I hope it does no
damage to the dogs, but I do not
believe it.
––Darren Deachan
St. Louis, Missouri
According to Malamute
expert Margaret Anne Cleek, “The
International Weight Pull
Association is the major organiza-
tion regulating weight pull. The
Alaskan Malamute Club of
America also holds events for
Malamutes only. Under IWPA
guidelines, dogs are never forced to
pull. They can be called from 16
feet ahead by handlers, nothing
else. The harnesses are designed to
distribute weight so that dogs cannot
be injured. Rules limit the tempera-
tures at which pulls can be held (no
warmer than 70° for Malamutes,
who can pull over 2,000 pounds
depending on conditions). Pools,
water, and shade are provided for
dogs in competition. Dogs are
divided by weight. When competi-
tion gets down to a few dogs, long
breaks are given between pulls for
rest. If a dog lunges in harness or
tangles the tracings, the handler can
set the dog up to pull again. But if
the dog does so three times, he or
she is disqualified. In training, it is
not uncommon for a dog drag
weights in harness, both to work
with resistance and to strengthen
muscle tone. Dogs need to learn
proper form, e.g. to drop their heads
and lean into the harness rather than
lunge. As with humans, skilled and
conditioned athletes can do incredi-
ble feats safely, while weekend
warriors might harm themselves.
“Please keep in mind,”
Cleek added, “that when people
compete with their dogs, a neces-
sary part is spending time with the
dogs. Dogs are happiest when they
have something to do. They react to
the harness with the same enthusi-
asm as pet dogs react to the leash for
a walk. Pulling a load and getting a
pat from their person makes them
feel good. They appear to really
enjoy it––and the more challenge
the better.”
We’ve heard allegations,
but have no record of any proven
abuse in sanctioned dog-pulling.
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