LETTERS [April 1995]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:

Your headline “FARM campaign backfires” does
great injustice to a highly successful campaign and repre-
sents a gross distortion of the facts. Over the past six
months, Farm Animal Reform Movement activists have
placed nearly 250 letters in 100 of the nation’s largest
newspapers. The letters denounced various aspects of ani-
mal agriculture and advocated a non-violent, wholesome
plant-based diet. Your story reports the problem that one of
the 100 editors had with our letter placement practices,
after publishing two of our letters. That is hardly a sign
that “FARM campaign backfires.”
We don’t expect any special consideration in
your reports of our actions, but a little journalistic objectiv-
ity and fairness would do nicely.
––Alex Hershaft, President
Farm Animal Reform Movement
Bethesda, Maryland

Objectivity and fairness dictate pointing out that
Hershaft and FARM distributed many of their letters using
bogus names and addresses; were editorially exposed by
the Akron Beacon-Journal; and were then further exposed
by Editor and Publisher, the leading trade journal in the
news business. In consequence, not only Hershaft but
everyone writing letters on behalf of animals and vegetari
anism will face closer scrutiny before getting letters pub
lished in hundreds of papers, for some time to come.
Will tap states
Contrary to your report in the March
“Watchdog,” Elect! For Animals was not “set up by the
Doris Day Animal League and Humane Society of the
U.S.” Elect! For Animals was established by individuals
acting on a strictly voluntary basis, working entirely on our
own time, having no affiliation to any organization.
Obviously then, we do not begin with “ample budgets for
relentless direct mail” campaigns (to siphon funds away
from state-based political advocacy groups, as Eileen
Liska of HEALPAC charged). All money thus far raised
has been by contacting friends, family, and individuals
committed to animal protection, with whom we on the
Board of Directors have come into contact, in addition to
reaching into our own pockets. If our aim is to ensure that
candidates are elected nationwide who will best protect ani-
mals, then such efforts know no state boundaries and all
potential funding sources should be tapped.
––Adam M. Roberts, Treasurer
Elect! For Animals
Washington, D.C.
The directors of Elect! For Animals include pres
ident Sara Amundson, of DDAL; vice president Bill Long,
of HSUS; Roberts; DDAL executive director Holly
Hazard; Valerie Stanley of the Animal Legal Defense
Fund; Brigid Dunne of the Fund for Animals; and Debbie
Wiener of HSUS.
The only holders of political office elected by a
national constituency are the President and Vice President.
Veggie dogs
I became a vegetarian because of animal rights and later
learned of the health benefits of being a vegetarian. I wanted those
benefits for my two dogs, Blacki and Sheba, so in 1989 I began
feeding them a vegetarian diet. In 1991 I adopted Tyler and started
him on a vegetarian diet too. All three––mongrels, of completely
different backgrounds––did extremely well as vegetarians. They
were healthy, energetic, with wonderful coats. However, in 1991
Blacki died of heart failure, believed to be but not properly diag-
nosed as dialated cardiomyopathy (DCM). In 1994 Tyler was
diagnosed with DCM, and six months later he died, along with a
part of me. Before Tyler died I called my vegetarian dog food sup-
plier to check on the potassium and salt content of the diet. He
told me Tyler probably wouldn’t have lived as long as he did if he
hadn’t been on the vegetarian diet. I was surprised to learn that he
was aware of taurine and carnitine deficiencies in the diet, which
have been known to cause DCM in dogs. He also told me that
employees of an animal rights group that advocates a vegetarian
diet for companion animals give their dogs carnitine supplements.
How could these people suspect this and not even tell the owners
of vegetarian dogs? After learning this, I suspected my other two
dogs might also have DCM, although they showed no clinical
signs. In December my fear was confirmed: I not only caused
Tyler’s death and possibly Blacki’s, but also caused Sheba and my
newest dog, Molli, to develop DCM by placing them on a vege-
tarian diet. The disease may have progressed too far to be
reversed. My veterinarian placed them on taurine supplements and
changed their diets. Molli is now fine. Sheba has improved, but
she’s not out of the woods yet. I urge everyone who has a vegetar-
ian dog to get an ultrasound. Don’t rely on clinical signs or X-rays
and EKGs alone to detect this condition.
––Laura Williams
Milan, Illinois
It seems incredible, but the animal rights issues of the
past two decades are coming back. At a recent protest, a fur deal-
er was talking of humane traps. There is no such thing, as has
been proven by millions of dollars spent in futile efforts to develop
one. Both young protesters and the furrier are probably unaware
of the years and money that have gone into this boondoggle.
The final insult was Romeo LeBlanc, whose house we
picketed when he promoted seal hunting in the 1970s and 1980s.
Now he is Governor General of Canada, and Newfoundlanders are
again being encouraged to kill seals. The CBC now promotes
CODCO, which I believe is the group formed to push pro-sealing
“entertainment” in Toronto. Ridiculing Brigitte Bardot and
Greenpeace is alienating many of their faithful listeners.
Elmer Buchanan, who got headlines proclaiming that he
was going to ban the Draize test and all animal testing of cosmet-
ics, hasn’t even submitted the bill to the Ontario Parliament, after
two years of keeping us busy giving him publicity. This is the
same as when the No Pound Seizure bill was to go through. We
had assembled to thank our Member of the Provincial Parliament
when he came out to tell us the clause had been withdrawn.
The local animal news is dog poisoning, hunting, trap-
ping schools for children, and a seminar on predator poisoning.
For about the 40th year, we appealed to the city of
Toronto to introduce a municipally operated neutering clinic, and
ended up with yet another gimmick: put ID chips in animals’ ears,
so the humane societies can continue to impound-and-kill.
Do you wonder that we get discouraged? But the wolves
are back in Yellowstone, and I’m still collecting signatures on
petitions to ban vivisection, an effort started about a century ago
by several brave American women going up and down the streets
with a banner on a horsedrawn wagon.
––Helen Rainnie
Marmora, Ontario
That’s per month
In my letter “Service dogs are not pets,” published in
your March issue, I mentioned the “more than 1,300 calls and let-
ters the Delta Society handles each year.” That was a typo; we
handle more than 1,300 calls and letters each month.
––Linda Hines
The Delta Society
Renton, Washington
In our March feature “Moral relativism and Marine
World,” we attributed to Jim Bonde of Marine World Africa
USA the claim that in more than 20 years of keeping dolphins
and orcas, the facility has never had a death. Bonde called to
clarify. “We have had some cetaceans die,” he said, “but we
have not had any deaths since we moved to Vallejo 10 years ago,
and we haven’t lost any animals that we took from the wild.”
On page 20 of our March edition, we referred to the
California humane group Mercy Crusade as having been “found-
ed circa 1957.” According to Edward Newman of the California
Humane Council, “Mercy Crusade was not founded circa 1957,
but even earlier. It was taken over by Mrs. Betty Cardoni in
1957, who organized and operated it until her recent death.”
A letter by Steve Hindi of CHARC in our January edi-
tion referred to Gerry Vella as president of the Kalamazoo
Animal Liberation Front; he’s actually president of the
Kalamazoo Animal Liberation League.


Tough territory
It’s about time I wrote to thank you for your newspaper. I know
the hard work that goes into it, and I commend you for all your endeavors
on behalf of all animals.
I came home to Missouri in 1991, having grown up in Kansas
City, to retire, after collapsing in California from overwork, and living in
poorly ventilated barns and warehouses with many, many animals. But I
am working harder than ever, considering my age and state of health. The
day I moved in, I found about 18 emaciated feral cats in the vicinity of my
old barn, yard, and house.
I never gave a thought to Missouri when I lived in California, so I
had no idea I would be so badly needed here. I call this place “Orphans of
the Storm,” and I must limit how many, as I don’t have the room I had
when I was young, beautiful, and healthy (ha ha). I run ads in the local
paper, and I never ever use the word “free,” but these Ozark folks are,
well, thrifty, or shall I just say most of them are tightwads. I didn’t need
the one yard sale I had to find that out. Wow! But I am about all the ani-
mals around here have. There are several big dogs who are wildish or who
won’t let me touch them. Many just stop for food and fresh water. Many
come through on cold nights, and my heart aches for them.
––Virginia Gillas
Hermitage, Missouri
Finding money
Hello, folks. We’ve been
g e t t i n g ANIMAL PEOPLE in the
mail. I’ve just taken on the job of
town manager, inheriting a very
primitive situation. We’re in an
extremely poor county, Appalachia
of the west, with an 80% Hispanic
population. The town has a barbaric
(non)system of dog control we must
fix. We’re asking K-Mart and
Safeway, 50 miles away, to donate
broken bags of dog food; are mak-
ing arrangements with a veterinarian
40 miles away for rabies shots;
approaching Bob Barker’s DJ&T
Foundation (thanks to your newspa-
per) for help in setting up a free
neutering clinic if possible. We
have zero budget. Our maintenance
man will double as dogcatcher. We
desperately need pens, fences, and
the other things that go into having a
proper holding facility. We must
pay one salary. Do you have bene-
factors able to act quickly to prevent
cruelty? Do you have sources for
grants? How can we get help as
soon as possible? We so appreciate
your newspaper.
––Nicole V. Langley
San Luis, Colorado
We’ve compiled a list of
foundations that fund animal pro
tection projects. To receive it, send
us a stamped, self-addressed enve
lope; or send your e-mail address
to ANMLPEOPLE@aol.com.
Thank you for telling us
about Richard Avanzino; he gives
us hope. I’ve been trying to get the
Massachusetts SPCA to copy the
SFSPCA’s programs, but to no
avail. Last year I filed legislation
asking for a small percent of the
state tax on the sale of pet food and
pet products to subsidize a statewide
low-cost spaying program. The
MSPCA did not support this bill
because according to president Gus
Thornton, their “Spay/neuter assis-
tance program is an overwhelming
success and so the diversion of taxes
to establish this program is unneed-
ed.” Without their support, the bill
died in committee.
Also, although you listed
MSPCA vice president Carter
Luke’s salary as $61,719, it is actu-
ally (as of 1993), $75,772. In a July
1994 letter to the editor, Luke wrote
that he “was the one who dreamed
up the Year of the Cat campaign,”
and said that since they didn’t have
meetings and buy glitzy things in
connection with it, “we were forced
to spend our money helping cats.”
How? Free spaying was not offered,
which would have helped the most.
And when the MSPCA celebrated
their 125th anniversary, along with
celebrating the Year of the Cat, their
logo depicted a dog.
––Dorothy Checchi-O’Brien
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Big cats
Nine out of 10 readers of main-
stream newspaper features about wildcats take
in sensational headlines and snarling cat pho-
tos, developing irrational fear of these timid
creatures, which have more common sense
than most humans. Way back when, about
my fifth grade elementary year, a classmate
died a horrible death by being disemboweled
by a wildcat. It didn’t cause much fuss among
the country people there because it was known
the kid had climbed a pine tree, stupidly
thinking he could carry down what he thought
was a youngster.
Many a night, my wife May and I
have laid in a canvas tent and e n j o y e d t h e
occasional, dramatic screams of the wild
cougar. All but one sighting was the backside
of a silent, departing cat. The only time I was
frightened was an accident for both me and
the cat. We were traveling down a narrow
mountain back road on a motorcycle. To our
left was sheer granite; to the right, a near-
vertical drop. When I came around a curve
and saw the cat, calmly traveling up the
unused road, it was a dilemma. No turn-
around; doubt about the wisdom of stopping.
On instinct, not knowledge at that time, I
stood up and throttled the engine as I coasted
slowly toward it. The cat went over the edge.
We stopped and saw that the sharp drop was
actually a very steep incline of earth, not
rock, and the agile cat had slid on her rear,
500 feet down to safety, uninjured.
Once in Arizona, we chanced on a
large wildcat––beautiful, with the classic tuft-
ed ears. He was little more than a yard away,
and had been sleeping in the sun. We stood
very still and took in every detail of this hand-
some creature, not even reaching for our cam-
era. He was as still, watching us. Arriving at
a conclusion, and to show his disdain, he
slowly arose, stretched, yawned, and retreat-
ed with unhurried dignity.
We’ve also met bears, in Montana,
Alaska, and Idaho, and they always retreat-
ed––but slowly enough to let you know they
recognize no threat. This behavior makes the
hunter who pulls the trigger for sport one
sleazy, depraved, brain-corrupted @#$%.
––Bill Robinson
Bandon, Oregon
Congratulations to the San
Francisco SPCA for its revolutionary no-kill
animal control, and to you for your fantastic
job of reporting the news. Here’s hoping all
pounds and shelters will use the SFSPCA as
an example.
––Marilyn June Barkhofer
Pueblo, Colorado
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