LETTERS [June 1995]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1995:
The Agudo-Romero case is a good example of how
environmentalists and their claims, however well substantiat-
ed, are treated in many Latin American countries, including
my own––Brasil––to a great extent. However, as I understand,
the situation in Venezuela is even worse because of the wide-
spread disregard for civil rights.
The banana republic-like attitude of the Venezuelan
ruling bureaucracy, denying facts and launching a witch hunt
against these two persons, cannot be tolerated. It has expand-
ed the issue of dolphin-killing into a matter of human rights,
including the right of researchers to challenge government rul-
ings. It may not affect many of you in the U.S. and Europe,
but it certainly is a matter of daily concern for me and my col-
leagues in Latin America. Let’s not forget Romero and Agudo!
––Jose Truda Palazzo Jr.
From the CBC
I have read ANIMAL PEOPLE, and thank you
for it. Congratulations; this is the kind of publication that is
CBC National TV News
Vancouver, British Columbia
Friends of Animals
Modular cat parks
In your March edition there was a very interesting
news item about “modular cat parks” being promoted in
Australia. Would you please give me an address where I can
write for more information about these structures? I believe
there is a huge market for them in North America.
Try: Andrea Nicholls, Borage Home Industries,
Trading As Catnip Modular Pet Parks, Freepost 004, Post
Office, Pomonal, Victoria 3381, Australia.
Regarding your mana-
tee article, cold weather does
not kill only manatee calves. In
fact, manatee calves appear to
be less vulnerable to cold,
because they are with their
mothers, than are two-year-olds
who recently became indepen-
dent. The Christmas 1989 freeze
and the cold snaps of early 1990
killed manatees of all ages.
What manatee died of
starvation in Puerto Rico? I
know that one calf was released
after about two years of rehabili-
tation, and is––the last I
heard––doing very well. Their
second calf apparently died
recently when it got stuck in a
hole in the pool liner and suffo-
––Daniel K. Odell
We mixed up the man –
atees. Apologies to all––the one
who initially didn’t eat upon
release did eventually start eat –
ing, and is indeed doing well.
Concerning the April 11 massacre of dogs at Hebron
on the occupied West Bank, reported in your May edition, the
motive and who ordered it remain in dispute. The Nature
Conservation Authority, which our contacts tell us actually
carried out the shootings, claims they shot only stray dogs, to
prevent rabies. But Hebron residents say the dogs were healthy
and––in the case of sheep dogs––essential to their livelihood.
Environment minister Yossi Sarid stated that the
shootings were “unacceptable,” and promised to investigate
and punish the perpetrators. Please write to Mr. Sarid at the
Ministry of the Environment, POB 6234, 2 Kaplan Street,
Hakirya Ben Gurion, Jeruslaem 91061, Israel, to support his
stance, and to urge him to keep his pledge.
If the shootings were motivated by other than health
concerns, they violated tsaar ba’alei chayyim, the Jewish
mandate to show compassion for the suffering of animals.
Such actions are also counterproductive to the confidence-
building necessary to advance peace.
Concern for Helping Animals in Israel
There is really nothing new about the disclosure by
Aldemaro Romero and Ignacio Agudo that Venezuelan coastal
fishers kill dolphins. Common dolphins have been routinely
killed by local fishermen and butchered on the small beaches of
Islas Caracas, between Puerto la Cruz and Cumana, at least
since 1979, and most likely much earlier than that. During a
year-long study in the area which I conducted in 1978-79 as a
research associate of the San Diego-based Hubbs-Sea World
Research Institute, I repeatedly found fresh dolphin remains,
and even witnessed the harpooning of two dolphins by fisher-
men on a small coastal boat during an aerial survey I was run-
I remember eliciting disbelief from then-Minister of
the Environment Edgardo Mondolfi when I told him what I
saw. “Venezuelan fishermen love and respect dolphins,” he
said. His opinion changed after I was able to bring his assis-
tant, Carlos Gremone, to examine in situ the remains of a dol-
phin kill. I think I still have somewhere the photograph of
Gremone inspecting a dolphin part on the beach.
Professor Romero is perhaps now being targeted as a
scapegoat, but Venezuela must now realize that the “fishers
don’t kill dolphins” claim is weak.
––Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara
Director, Tethys Research Institute
Endangered Species Act
I enjoyed the review “How to Save the Endangered
Species Act” in your April edition. The idea of conservation
based on incentives is certainly practical; time will tell if it’s
This is about the third
time that I’ve started this letter:
one of my little cats keeps walk-
ing on the keyboard. I wanted
to say “thank you” for mention-
ing our neighbor Grandma
Janie’s 99th birthday in your
May edition. You can’t believe
the joy Grandma Janie and her
daughter Jane had when they
opened 29 cards from A N I-
MAL PEOPLE readers (and
they’re still coming). One even
had a $10 bill in it. Her daugh-
ter Jane read them all to her.
One person said that people who
care for animals are part of a
special group. You know, she
is right. Grandma Janie has
lived here for over 30 years and
only received one card from this
area, even though the newspa-
per ran a long article written
about her life.
Your editorial in the April issue [which urged organi –
zations to avoid making exaggerated claims] was insightfully
written, pointed, sensible, thought-provoking, inspiring, and
worth heeding by all those involved in animal welfare and
rights. I find your viewpoints to be balanced and worth-
while––a sane voice among the diatribes from many in animal
welfare and rights causes. Years ago I stopped supporting
PETA because of their extreme negative words and tactics,
plus outright lies to exaggerate their claims. One small example
that stuck with me: PETA claimed that chickens have a lifes-
pan of 20 years, in order to show that killing them at one year
drastically and cruelly cuts their lives short. While I agree that
chickens should not be mistreated as they are and terminated for
human convenience, I searched among people who raised
chickens for eggs in a free-run, fresh-air-and-sunshine setting,
and found that most chickens did not live past five to seven
years. I found one arthritic and blind 11-year-old rooster––an
exceptionally long-lived chicken. My own chicken companions
generally exit this world before age seven. So, I wondered how
many more of their statistics were false. It seemed there were
The whole issue was worthwhile, but articles like
these raise the publication to “masterpiece” level.
Animal communication specialist
Point Reyes, California
Take a clod to lunch
Congratulations on your thoughtful and important
editorial, “Earth Day is over. Take a clod to lunch.” The fact
that so many Americans are concerned about environmental
issues while such a small percentage are vegetarian or even
consider themselves “meat avoiders” gives the vegetarian and
animal rights movements an opportunity to reach out to many
people. After the publication of so many wonderful books on
the devastating ecological impacts of animal-centered diets, it
is incredible that only 1% of American youth see ecological
harm in eating meat.
It is becoming increasingly clear that vegetarianism is
not only an important personal choice today, but that it is a
societal imperative, necessary to help move the world away
from its current perilous course. Hence I believe it is essential
that we increase our efforts to help people shift toward vegetari-
an diets, and the arguments in your editorial can be a great
help. We can also connect vegetarianims to other popular con-
cerns. Please consider the following outline of possible argu-
1) Concerned about your health? Flesh-centered
diets have been linked to heart attacks, strokes, various types
of cancer, and other diseases.
2) Concerned about animals? Over seven billion
farm animals are killed for their flesh annually in the U.S.,
often after suffering horribly in confined spaces where they are
denied fresh air, exercise, and any stimulation.
3) Concerned about world hunger? Over 70% of the
grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for
slaughter, while 20 million people die annually due to hunger
and its effects. We are also the world’s largest importer of beef
and fish, and these imports are sometimes from countries
where people are starving.
4) Concerned about resource scarcities? A meat-
based diet requires up to 20 times more land and 10 times more
water and energy than a vegetarian diet. Non-vegetarian diets
also require vastly greater amounts of pesticides, chemical fer-
tilizer, and other resources.
5) Concerned about peace and violence? Flesh-cen-
tered diets, by wasting land and other valuable resources, help
to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that frequently
lead to instability and war.
6) Concerned about high taxes and cuts in social pro-
grams? Soaring health care costs are the major contributor to
budgetary problems at the local, state, and national levels.
7) Concerned about religious values? Vegetarian
diets are most consistent with religious mandates to act with
compassion toward animals, preserve human health, help hun-
gry people, protect the environment, conserve resources, and
8) Concerned about convenient, tasty meals? There
are many delicious vegetarian dishes that don’t involve exten-
sive preparation or the fat, cholesterol, hormones and antibi-
otics associated with meat.
For our health, for defenseless animals, for millions
of starving people, for our earth and its resources, and for a
more peaceful, just, and harmonious world, I hope we’ll use
these and other arguments to help continue the trend toward
vegetarianism. And I wish ANIMAL PEOPLE much contin-
ued success in your efforts to contribute to this cause.
––Richard H. Schwartz, PhD.
(Author of Judaism & Vegetarianism)
Staten Island, New York
Teach your children well
Thank you for the wonderful advertising you did for us in your article
“Resources for humane education” in your April edition. We have already had
many requests for further information.
Our actual address is #65, not #66, Brunswick Street, but the post
office knows where we are. They are great, as they never fail the kids who write
to us no matter how badly the address is garbled.
The cost for a membership for a child is actually only $3.00 per year,
while the cost for an adult membership is $6.00 per year. We were confused
when you sent us $6.00 for your own son, and wondered how old he is, but have
now put him on for two years.
––Jane Tarn, Executive Director, The Kindness Club
65 Brunswick Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick
CANADA E3B 1G5
TLC is the razor’s edge
It is not easy to walk the razor’s edge between giving our fledglings,
regardless of species, the love they need as an incentive to live, without
imprinting them and endangering their lives by making them too trusting of
other humans. We must hope that one day people will realize that the base of
the word humanity is humane, though after the bombing of children one almost
despairs. It makes one grateful for the special help of people like you, raising
awareness of the need to live in kinship with all life.
Church of the White Eagle Lodge
Don’t go fishing
If you wonder when and how peo-
ple become abusive to others, it is often
taught to them at an early age. When you
see children being shown by their elders how
to catch a living being on a hook and then
letting that being suffocate and die, it is the
start of losing respect for life. The “catch”
usually is followed by applause and laughter.
Some may think fishing is sport,
that people are only having fun, but think
again. The fact is, this is killing, and it can
make a serious imprint on an impressionable
mind by showing that it is acceptable to take
If newspapers would stop publish-
ing photos of people holding up their tro-
phies it would help. These photos suggest
that killing for fun must be okay.
REFLECTIONS OF THE LURKING OPPRESSOR
Half a decade ago, I was a doctrinaire ecofeminist,
convinced that the domination of women everywhere by men
was directly related to the domination of nature by white
Western scientific man. My certainties led to a kind of
myopia, something I have come to think of as the psycho-
logical correlate of the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syn-
drome. People who thought like me (mostly women and a
few enlightened men) were good. People who thought dif-
ferently were bad. Engaged in a search for non-hierarchical,
noviolent modes of life, people like me did not engage in
aggressive, competitive, greedy, self-interested behavior.
We were pure, in word and deed. The other side was not.
The universe had a little surprise in store for me.
My attempts to support myself as an ecofeminist writer
failed and I was forced to look for gainful employment. I
found it “in the belly of the beast.” I became a science
writer, hired to help research and write a book about toxicol-
ogy and the search for alternatives to the use of animals for
product development and safety testing.
On the one hand, this was a dream job. Although I
had never been particularly fond of animals, animal rights
does occcupy a significant place in the ecofeminist credo, so
intellectually, if not emotionally, I supported the movement.
I was also carrying around a lot of anger toward men and
whatever I perceived to be “male” endeavors. Science obvi-
ously fit the bill, so an attempt to make science more
“female,” or humane, was fine with me.
But a strange thing has happened over the past
three years as I have read and researched and talked with
both animal protectionists and scientists. I have found that
the struggle between animal rights and science is not a cos-
mic battle between good and evil. It is rather a clash of
worldviews. There are good people and good arguments on
both sides. There are bad people and bad arguments on both
sides. There is little difference, psychologically speaking,
between the demagogues on either side of the fence.
More than anything, the war between animal rights
and science seems to me like the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
In both conflicts, the extremists seem out of touch with pub-
lic sentiment. In both cases, competing organizations spend
enormous amounts of time and money attempting to “con-
vert” members of the public to their points of view.
Sometimes frustration leads to violence or threats of vio-
lence. But the public remains as unpersuaded by clinic
bombers and lab trashers as it does by propagandists or
authorities who, by virtue of their extended schooling or
powerful position, attempt to intimidate those who think dif-
ferently. Most people just want to be given the facts, and be
left to make up their own minds.
Paradoxically, I have found myself becoming both
more and less tolerant as the years have passed. I am more
tolerant of those whose opinions may differ from my own,
but who grant me the space to have a separate opinion; less
tolerant of anyone who attempts to impose beliefs on others,
whether or not I agree with his/her position. I have begun to
see that we are all mirrors: what we despise in others is
often a reflection of what we ignore in ourselves. This is as
true of those animal rights activists who deny their own for-
midable aggression and will to power, as it is of the biomed-
ical researchers who do not see that their attachment to the
scientific worldview is at least as emotional as the commit-
ment of their adversaries to animal protection.
I have not rejected my old ecofeminism. I still see
an historically-based system of oppression whose traditional
targets have been women, animals and the natural world.
But I am no longer able to pretend that this system is “other,”
and that the emotions and motivations which drove it are
alien to me. The truth, it seems to me now, is immeasur-
ably more complex. I have benefitted greatly from the very
same system which oppresses me, and every positive and
negative quality that I both admire and condemn in those
responsible for that system, I now see in myself.
Aspects of this legacy are truly horrific. We are
only beginning to recognize and correct the most egregious
abuses of the system. But if we fail to distinguish the posi-
tive aspects of this history, if we refuse to recognize the
potency and value of the things we have learned and done,
despite their costs, we will be doomed to create the same
mistakes, over and over, in another guise. When you look
into the mirror of your adversary’s soul, what do you see? I
suggest that the only thing you can see is some unrecognized
aspect of yourself. The oppressor you see without is often a
mere reflection of the lurking oppressor within.
Editor, CAAT Newsletter
Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing
Johns Hopkins University
San Jose fixing ferals
It has come to my attention that the funds being used for the
San Jose neutering voucher program are not excess animal license rev-
enue, but rather a surplus in animal control funds. The amount budget-
ed for animal control, plus licensing revenue from dog and cat registra-
tion, was in excess of need by approximately $136,000 this fiscal year.
I have run some rough calculations on the number of stray
female cats who need to be altered to reduce the stray kitten intakes at
the shelter to nothing, and come up with a figure of 2,875. Of course,
it needs to be the right 2,875! To neuter that many stray females, we
will have to neuter about 9,600 total cats, or over $200,000 worth of
free altering. For dogs, we only need to get about 85 of them, as puppy
intakes at the shelter are an insignificant number.
San Jose has now distributed about 2,500 cat neutering
vouchers, altering around 2,000 cats. Sixty percent were female; 52%
were strays. The redemption rate is now around 150 per week, up
from 100 a week only a month ago. Six months into the program, the
San Jose shelter is reporting that their March and April stray cat intakes
are 11% lower than last year. For the same time period, surrounding
cities have handled 4% more stray cats.
The dog voucher program is very slow starting off. Only 56
vouchers have been requested; none were redeemed as of May 13. I
guess there’s not much demand.
National Pet Alliance
San Jose, California
On the right track
The City of San Jose is on the right track with free neutering
for cats. The Coalition for Humane Legislation, with the help of
Councilman Jim Beall, is responsible for getting that program. We
have been working on an animal ordinance, which includes mandatory
cat licensing (adopted April 26, to take effect July 1), since 1992.
Dog and cat licensing helps pay for the program. There is no
such thing as “surplus” revenue as reported by Karen Johnson in your
April article “City Fixing to Fix Feral Cats.” The project is funded by a
very creative formula which rewards the neutering fund when less
money is spent on animal control because fewer animals are handled at
the shelter, and more money is collected in license fees. Therefore it is
important that we promote licensing along with early neutering.
Johnson and other cat breeders want to neuter and release
feral cats, and refer to any homeless cat as feral, but they don’t want to
contribute money to the project through licensing owned cats. Neither
do they donate any part of their thousands of dollars of profits from cat
shows. It is extremely irritating to me that you give Johnson and her
National Pet Alliance any space at all, as they are very anti-animal
San Jose, California
Karen Johnson is not making “thousands of dollars of prof –
its” from cat shows––but she and the NPA have spent more than
$10,000 on invaluable demographic research to pinpoint the sources
and solutions to pet overpopulation.
Butte County passed, like many other California counties, a
law requiring veterinarians to turn over rabies vaccination records to
help catch people who don’t license their dogs or have too many cats.
Analysis shows the following:
Cost: $20,000 a year for a licensing enforcement officer plus
25% benefits for 300 days at eight hours per day; truck, equipment,
and insurance costs of $75 per day; license tags or chips, paperwork,
and posting expense of $2.00 per animal; veterinary reporting, post-
ing, and checking $2.00 per animal; administrative overhead of 25%.
Net cost per day for door-to-door license fee collection, collecting 16
fees per day on average: $222.33, plus 25% administrative and office
support costs, amounting to $55.58. Total daily cost: $277.91.
Gross take: 16 license fees of $15 each = $240.
Net daily loss: $37.91.
––L. Robert Plumb
Paradise Animal Welfare Society
Defends cat licensing
Richard Avanzino and Pamela Rockwell of the
San Francisco SPCA in the April edition of A N I M A L
PEOPLE outlined their case against cat licensing.
It’s too bad they didn’t bother to check their
facts before drawing some of their conclusions. For
example, they wrote, “In Los Angeles County the num-
ber of stray cats redeemed by their owners was reported-
ly down by 32% after implementation of mandatory
licensing.” That assertion is just plain wrong, and a call
to us could have corrected it.
Cat registration became mandatory in non-city
areas of L.A. County in January 1992. As it happens,
cat returns to owners rose by 2% during the 1991-92 fis-
cal year. While that is not a dramatic rise, it’s hardly the
32% drop that Avanzino and Rockwell wrongly reported.
One reason we sought mandatory cat licensing
is because we were alarmed about a decline in the num-
ber of cats being returned to their owners, and a rising
euthanasia rate for cats at our shelters. Between 1989-90
and 1990-91, while cat registration was still voluntary,
the feline RTO rate dropped by 22%. Initially, as the
mandatory registration program began, the rate contin-
ued to drop by 14% during 1992-93. However, during
1993-94, the cat RTO rate rose by 5%.
Since we began registration, our cat euthanasia
rate has dropped 23%. While not all of that decline can
be credited to cat registration, at least some of it can be.
Another indication of the success of the pro-
gram is that cats currently account for 35% of our animal
impounds––down from the 42% feline impound percent-
age when cat registration became mandatory.
To date, we have registered more than 8,000
cats––from a start of fewer than 100 when the program
was strictly voluntary. In addition, we are working on a
couple of innovative identification systems, which we
hope will boost cat RTO rates significantly.
Avanzino and Rockwell also assert that manda-
tory cat licensing will prompt people to abandon or give
up their pets, and “may very well become an impetus to
Our experience suggests the opposite is the
case. Cat impoundments have steadily declined, which
at least suggests that people are being more careful with
their pets and are hardly surrendering them in droves to
Their assertion that registration will lead to
some Gestapo-like cat-killing campaign sounds like sci-
ence fiction. We have plenty of cats coming into our
shelters, almost 34,000 during 1993-94. We don’t need
to make more work for ourselves by tracking down every
stray cat in our 3,200-square-mile service area.
Finally, the authors assert that cat licensing
won’t work because it is not cost-effective, and they
even say that dog licensing is a money-loser. We have
had good success at dog licensing, required under
California law since 1933, and the revenue we raise pays
roughly 70-75% of our annual operating costs.
No one expects cat revenue to make up the
other 25-30% of costs. However, in this era of declining
government support for local programs from libraries to
social services, any public animal control agency that
does not look for ways to become as financially self-suf-
ficient as possible is simply waiting for the budget ax to
fall and cut off some essential part of its service to the
Cat registration is no panacea, but it is a lot
better than the current system, under which literally mil-
lions of unidentified stray cats are euthanized every year
in animal shelters throughout the United States.
County of Los Angeles Animal Care and Control
Richard Avanzino responds
We appreciate Mr. Ballenger’s clarification
regarding feline RTO rates in Los Angeles County. For
the record, the information we cited came from a report
by the San Diego County Animal Control Advisory
Subcommittee on Cat Licensing.
Mr. Ballenger states, and we have no reason to
doubt him, that in actuality cat registration became
mandatory in January 1992, and that RTO rates rose by
2% during the 1991-92 fiscal year. A year later, howev-
er, Los Angeles County responded to a survey conduct-
ed by the San Diego County Department of Animal
Control that 83% of cats received were losing their lives
in Los Angeles shelters. If that euthanasia rate has
indeed declined 23% since then, we applaud that. But it
is hard for us to see how, with a cat population in the
hundreds of thousands, only 8,000 licenses sold to date
really impacts to any degree, let alone 23%, the
euthanasia rate for over 30,000 cats who are impounded
annually in Los Angeles County.
Mr. Ballenger is right: “cat registration is no
panacea.” Where he is wrong is in claiming that, “It is a
lot better than the current system under which literally
millions of unidentified stray cats are euthanized every
year in animal shelters throughout the U.S.” Cat licens-
ing is not an alternative to the current system; it is an
e x t e n s i o n of it. Indeed, as Mr. Ballenger forthrightly
stated, California law has required dogs to be licensed
since 1993. Yet the California Department of Health
reports that hundreds of thousands of dogs are still eutha-
nized every year in California’s shelters. Licensing has
not stopped the killing of dogs in shelters, and we have
no reason to believe it will stop the killing of cats.
In San Francisco we have taken another route.
And we have had unprecedented results. Thanks to our
Adoption Pact with the city, under which the San
Francisco SPCA guarantees a loving home to all adopt-
able and thousands of treatable animals, our city has the
lowest per capita euthanasia rate of any metropolitan
area in the country. In the 12 months since we began
this arrangement, 4,596 dogs and cats were killed in San
Francisco (4,526 at the city shelter and 70 at our facili-
ty). Our goal is to reduce that number to fewer than
3,000 next year, achieving a per capita euthanasia rate
of 41 dogs and cats for every 10,000 people––the lowest
of any community, anywhere in the U.S.!
We have already eliminated euthanasia of
adoptable dogs and cats. To reach our goal, we will
have to eliminate euthanasia of sick, injured, trauma-
tized, under-socialized, and infant animals as well. Our
vision for next year is a community where all adoptable
and rehabilitatable dogs and cats will be saved. Whether
healthy or sick, old or young, requiring behavioral
assistance, weeks of around-the-clock bottle feeding, or
major surgery, each of them will be guaranteed a home.
We can find no similar community that can say the
same––or point to a mandatory licensing law that has
even come close to this accomplishment.
President, San Francisco SPCA
San Francisco, California