LETTERS [Dec. 1995]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1995:

Best Friends
Thanks for all the copies of the latest Animal
People, and the article on Best Friends. I think it really
captures the atmosphere of the place, especially with
the long opening section about the Anasazi people.
Everyone here enjoyed reading it, and we’ve seen various
comments online already about it, from people who
have really sat up and said, “What an extraordinarysounding
place!”
And, of course, I’m now following every
minute of the HSUS saga. Now it’s even appearing in
the regular newspapers.
Good wishes from all here, and love from all
your furry friends.
––Michael Mountain
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Kanab, Utah


Ear-cropping
Dr. Leo Lieberman, DVM, in his October
letter to ANIMAL PEOPLE appeared to argue for the
traditional position of the American Veterinary Medical
Association on banning ear-cropping: that it is a legal
issue, and an American Kennel Club/breed club fashion
issue, not an ethical question for veterinarians. Thus,
it is claimed, the veterinary profession’s hands are tied
until such time as ear-cropping is made illegal or the
AKC and breed clubs drop the standards that encourage
ear-cropping.
I suggest another view. Ear-cropping is a
surgery done strictly for fashion: there is no medical
indication whatsoever for the procedure in healthy puppies.
Thus, there is ample professional jurisdiction for
the AVMA to declare it unethical. Imagine the AKC
and breed clubs’ uncomfortable position should the
AVMA do so. They would be left holding standards
declared unethical by the national veterinary medical
organization. The only way then for a dog to have
cropped ears would be for the surgery to be performed
by either a veterinarian deemed unethical by his/her
peers, or a non-veterinarian performing the illegal act
of practicing veterinary medicine, including anesthesia
and surgery, without a license. No ear-cropping standard
could survive such conditions.
I suggest that the issue for the AVMA is not
lack of control, but lack of moral fortitude.
––Bruce Max Feldmann, DVM
Berkeley, California

 

March
I have just received a promotion for the 1996
March for the Animals, billed as “the largest gathering
of animal advocates in the history of the humane movement.”
The march will bring “our message to mainstream
audiences around the world” through the
“resources of ethical corporations” and “compassionate
celebrities and legislators.”
There is not a mention of animal rights.
Please compare this promotion with the one for the
1990 march, which involved a very explicit endorsement
of animal rights.
As Bob Dylan once pointed out, “the times,
they are a-changing.”
––Gary Francione
Professor of Law
Rutgers Law School
Newark, New Jersey

PAWS
I was disappointed that the November A N IMAL
PEOPLE didn’t have an article on the milestone
lawsuit against the USDA filed by the Performing
Animal Welfare Society. This suit is long overdue,
since the USDA is notoriously lax in their inspections
(and subsequent reports) regarding the treatment of animals
in entertainment. What bothers me is that you did
such a glowing interview with USDA Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service chief Dale Schwindaman in
your November 1994 issue. Schwindaman is named in
this lawsuit, so apparently all your glowing isn’t true.
––Ronaele Findley
Boulder Creek, California

The Editor replies: Your card was the first
we heard that the long-pending PAWS case had finally
been filed, and we still haven’t heard anything more
about it. At this point, though, with the funding and
mandate of APHIS in potential jeopardy as a Congress
often hostile toward animal protection rewrites the
Farm Bill, the outcome may be academic. Meanwhile,
as a matter of protocol, a federal department head is
always named in a suit against his/her department; and
filing a charge, against anyone, does not make it true.
We did accidentally slight PAWS, however, by losing
two lines of type from our November photo caption
“They finally made it,” describing the arrival of the
former Milwaukee Zoo elephants Tammie and Annie at
the PAWS sanctuary in Galt, California. The “Derby”
referred to in the caption was PAWS president Pat
Derby, and the uncredited photographer was Janice
Clark, who also took the photo above.

Corrections
Our October article “Seven chimps safe,
maybe more” indicated that seven chipanzees died
from various forms of neglect over the past three years
while in custody of Frederick Coulston. The actual toll
was four chimps and three monkeys. Having acquired
the LEMSIP chimps from New York University,
Coulston now controls about half of the 1,500 chimps
in the U.S. biomedical research community. The article
confused the number Coulston has with the total.
Misreading the acronym NACo in Dave
Flagler’s letter published in our November issue led
us to believe Multnomah County Animal Control had
received an award from NACA, the National Animal
Control Association. In fact, the award was presented
by the National Associations of Counties.

Appeal for Oliver
Primarily Primates Inc. is campaigning to raise $100,000 to build
a chimpanzee enclosure specifically for the retirement of Oliver (featured
in the October edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE) and seven other chimpanzees
from the Buckshire Corporation. These eight chimps––Oliver,
Toto, Carmen, Raisin, Elsie, Abendago, Marty, and Beauregard––are
currently up for sale to be used in research. They are considered nonbreeders,
and thus could be sold into invasive research involving HIV, Hepatitis
C, or toxicology, which would make retiring them impossible.
Buckshire executive Sharon Hirsch has stated that if Primarily
Primates can raise the funds to build these chimpanzees an enclosure,
Buckshire will donate them to us.
To help, please call us: 210-755-4616, or fax 210-755-2435.
We have already raised $13,542, including $10,000 from the National
Anti-Vivisection Society, $1,500 from the American Anti-Vivisection
Society, $1,000 from the Massachusetts SPCA, $100 from PsyETA, and
$942 from private individuals.
This is a unique opportunity for all of us to step in and directly
aid eight chimpanzees before they are sold to research. All funds donated
to the Buckshire Eight will go directly to the construction.
––Stephen Rene Tello
Primarily Primates Inc.
POB 15306
San Antonio, TX 78212-8506

Oliver
I would like to contribute my knowledge about Oliver. I worked
for two animal companies that owned Oliver between 1977 and 1984. I
first met Oliver at a theme park called Enchanted Village in Buena Park,
California. He then belonged to Ralph Helfer, a partner in the park.
Oliver was on display in a climate-controlled building, and was billed as a
freak of nature. It was rumored that Oliver had come from a circus
sideshow, and as a youngster, his teeth were pulled. It was also rumored
that his DNA was tested, or was to be tested, and that it was assumed he
had an extra chromosome.
Enchanted Village closed, bankrupt, in fall 1977. Under the
company name Gentle Jungle Inc., Helfer relocated his animals to the
Costa Mesa Fairgrounds until spring 1978, when he set up again in Colton,
at the old Gene Holter Movieland Animal Park. I continued to work with
Gentle Jungle until 1980. In 1982, by which time I was with the Wild
Animal Training Center in Riverside, Gentle Jungle moved again, to Lion
Country Safari, in Orange County. Gentle Jungle was then closed down
by a USDA investigation and an eventual lawsuit against Helfer for Animal
Welfare Act violations. Oliver and a few other animals were transferred to
Ken Decroo, owner of the Wild Animal Training Center. There Oliver
was kept in a large cage and was regularly handled.
I left WATC in 1984. In 1985, when I was working for the San
Diego Wild Animal Park, I heard that Decroo had sold Oliver to a wealthy
man back east, and that is the last I heard of him until your October and
November articles and letters about him.
During my times working with and around Oliver, or Ollie as we
called him, I never saw him abused or even handled roughly. He was
always very gentle and intelligent, although he did have a habit of catching
and killing any stray ducks or chickens who got within his reach. He
wasn’t castrated, and I would assume he is still intact, but even when
housed with a female chimp he never bred. Ollie has trouble seeing, and
because of his bad eyesight, does become frightened, especially at night.
I have always been fascinated with Oliver, and have many wonderful
memories of him. If there is anything I can do to help Oliver, please
pass along this letter or just my name and address. By the way, I don’t
believe Oliver is a bonobo, for I have seen both types of chimps. I would
hope someone will test Oliver’s DNA, because he may be a crossbreed or
perhaps a third type of chimpanzee.
––Robert Porec
Midpines, California

 

Noah
I was reading the paper the other day
and came across the information that the first
person in the Bible to drink wine and the first
drunkard was Noah. I now understand why so
many people who deal directly with animals are
considered drunkards. Perhaps this comes with
the territory. God must understand that after
shoveling animal poop eight hours a day, it is
okay to have a few beers. The next time someone
calls me a drunkard, I am going to explain
that I am following in the tradition of the greatest
animal keeper ever known.
––Stephen Rene Tello
Primarily Primates
San Antonio, Texas

Chickens
I would like to address the use of the
term “cannibalism,” as briefly discussed pertaining
to chickens in the October A N I M A L
P E O P L E feature “Life on the farm isn’t very
laid back.” Chickens are foraging birds with a
strong urge to explore. Pecking, scratching,
and exploring the ground is how they get their
food. They also use their beaks to preen and
dustbathe. This is how chickens practice
hygiene. Wild chickens, feral chickens, and
ranging domestic chickens constantly use their
beaks, but not to “cannibalize” each other. The
onset of destructive feather-pecking and other
beak-related behavioral distortions in chickens
began when they were taken off the ground,
crowded, and confined.
Chickens will peck the feathers of
cagemates to obtain protein they would find on
the range but cannot obtain to meet individual
needs in fixed commercial rations. Caged
chickens are also driven to peck at each other as
a result of their inability to dustbathe. Studies
by Klaus Vestergard have indicated that without
any form of loose, earth-like material,
chickens “are more likely to come to accept
feathers as dust.” In addition, fear is not only a
result of cagemate pecking, but a cause of it.
According to Vestergard et al, “Peckers are the
fearful birds, and the more they peck the more
fearful they are.”
A main point here is that lumping all
cagemate pecking together as “aggression” is
mistaken. Moreover, a byproduct of genetic
selection for heavy egg production in the white
leghorn hen used by the U.S. egg industry is
high-strung excitability. Nervous excitement
and aggression are not the same thing, even
though they may look the same to the uninformed
eye.
––Karen Davis
President
United Poultry Concerns
Potomac, Maryland

Foie gras
A year ago, Animal Advocates of
Upstate New York president Ronnie Poplock
urged ASPCA president Roger Caras to halt
foie gras production in New York state. The
production of this “delicacy” involves the
insertion of pipes or tubes down the throats of
ducks and forcing large quantities of fatty corn
mixture into the ducks’ digestive tracts. This
procedure gradually swells the duck’s liver to
eight times its normal size.
In April 1995, Caras received a similar
letter signed by the leaders of 223 animal
protection organizations throughout the U.S.,
advising that, “If the ASPCA will take law
enforcement action in this matter, we will be
pleased to provide evidence, expert testimony,
statements from our organizations, and other
assistance as appropriate.”
So ASPCA staff made an announced
visit to a foie gras farm; ASPCA veterinarian
Michael Krinsley attested to the farm’s cleanliness
and to the ducks’ supposed healthy
appearance, and then interpreted a necropsy
report in a manner that other vets have found
shocking.
In a parallel episode, prior to the
1991 PETA undercover investigation and raid
with the New York State Police, Commonwealth
Enterprises claimed their ducks were
not force-fed. The ASPCA never bothered to
check this, even though it is well known that
foie gras production does involve force-feeding.
After the force-feeding equipment was
seized by police, the farm owners acknowledged
force-feeding, but claimed it is humane.
Krinsley’s actions are supportive of
the foie gras industry. ASPCA president Roger
Caras and director of law enforcement Robert
O’Neill seem bound and determined to back
Krinsley, even though his findings contradict
the ASPCA’s own earlier findings. Why?
The ASPCA has also conducted no
follow-up investigation of PETA’s allegation
based on their undercover work that the farm in
question kills female ducklings by dropping
them alive into scalding water.
––Joel Freedman
Canandaigua, New York

State senator speaks
With a new “business-friendly” attitude
in the New York executive mansion, it is
doubtful that legislation outlawing the forcefeeding
of animals for non-medical reasons will
be enacted this session. Several such proposals
have been considered in recent years, but none
have been supported by the Republican-controlled
state Senate. Reading many of
Governor George Pataki’s early statements
regarding environmental and animal rights
issues, I do not anticipate any executive support
for protection measures that are opposed
by business interests.
I am asking the American SPCA to
intervene in this matter. By utilizing its law
enforcement power, the ASPCA could prohibit
this unjustified abuse. Last year seven of the
ASPCA’s own veterinarians signed a statement
saying “foie gras production, by definition,
constitutes clear-cut animal cruelty,” in that
fatty liver “is a serious disease, given to all
ducks or geese raised for foie gras.”
While I understand the complexity of
enforcement issues, in this case the abuse is
apparent. Why has the ASPCA abdicated its
power?
––Richard A. Dellinger
Senator, 54th District
Greece-Rochester-Brighton, New York

Sealing their
doom
Further to your articles on
Canada’s Atlantic seal hunt, I and several
representatives from animal rights and welfare
groups attended the October 3 forum
on Atlantic seal management in St. John’s,
Newfoundland. The forum was hosted by
Canada’s Department of Fisheries and
Oceans, and was largely attended by those
involved in the sealing industry.
At this time, DFO put everything
on the table for discussion, including
increased quotas of 290,000 seals and up;
reintroduction of large vessels; invitations
to other countries to join the killing; and
finally, extension of the season to include
killing pregnant females.
It looks as if we are back to
square one. The decision-making is still
political, the science is still nebulous and
contradictory, and the Canadian taxpayer
will heavily subsidize the slaughter, as
except for the sale of male sex organs to the
Orient for aphrodisiacs, there is no measureable
market for seal products.
The fate of the seals is now up to
the same people––DFO––who managed the
east coast fishery into oblivion.
Unless we speak out loud, clear
and fast, the seal hunt will once again
become Canada’s shame!
––Anne Streeter
International Wildlife Coalition
Montreal, Quebec

Pet overpopulation in South Africa
I was most interested in your September editorial “Prepare for postpet
overpopulation,” and I quoted from it at the SPCA Annual Conference in
East London, South Africa. Our National Council of SPCAs is the umbrella
for 110 SPCA shelters all over South Africa, and like most shelters, we have
the incessant traumatic job of putting down thousands of healthy animals. In
1993 we had our SPCA Act passed by Parliament, which requires shelters to
sterilize all animals before homing. However, euthanasia rates remain high,
and publicity about them is affecting us adversely. There are some no-kill
shelters here. Those we have seen are disgusting, but their no-kill posture
does attract funds, and further growth could impact our own homing rates.
Our understanding is that only a few cities, counties, and states in
the U.S. have introduced stringent restrictions on companion animal breeding,
and the implication is that low-cost sterilization is the secret to the reduction
in the euthanasia of healthy animals which is being achieved all over the U.S.
San Francisco seems to be the leading light, but you argue that
New York City, San Diego, St. Louis, Washington state, and Connecticut
state could all get to zero euthanasias of healthy animals by the turn of the
century given similar sterilization programs. Does this projection envision
stringent legislation for breeding control as well?
We have been trying to get such legislation implemented in South
Africa, so far without any success. This was our preferred strategy because
the veterinary profession as a whole, despite some exceptional practitioners,
has not been supportive of low-cost sterilization.
It would seem that the step some of our shelters have taken to get
into animal control is backward, in your estimation. A local argument is that
there are many dog license defaulters, and that they are more willing to pay
the SPCA than a municipality. ––Eric Nash
Vice Chairman
National Council of SPCAs
Southdale, South Africa

The evidence is irrefutable that making low-cost or even free neu –
tering universally accessible is the only sure way to prevent surplus animal
births. This requires both providing the neutering service and either taking it
into poor areas via mobile clinic, or providing transportation so that people
without cars can use a fixed-site clinic. The evidence is strong that antibreeding
laws have nil effect on most animal owners’ behavior. High licens –
ing differentials for intact animals indeed create disincentives to neutering by
creating disincentives to license, as people fear bringing an intact but unli –
censed animal to a public neutering clinic lest they be fined (and often mis –
takenly believe private humane agencies are arms of government). The San
Francisco experience illustrates that the fastest way to make a community
realize the value of offering low-cost or free neutering is to make taxpayers
bear the full cost of animal control, while the fastest way for a humane soci –
ety to raise the funds to provide low-cost or free neutering is to cease killing
animals en masse for the community. Going to no-kill also tends to stimulate
visits to the shelter from prospective adopters, and encourages people to turn
in unwanted animals, rather than releasing them to “give them a chance”
––and, too often, to breed during a brief, miserable life at large. Finally,
as the SF/SPCA and many others demonstrate, the best way to put badly run
no-kill shelters out of business is for well-run no-kills to outcompete them.

Meat
How do you handle
speaking at engagements that
feature big chicken breasts and
steak? Though I managed to
keep my mouth shut at a recent
humane society banquet, it was
a disturbing distraction.
––June Miller
Sharon, Pennsylvania

The Editor has seri –
ously annoyed the Vermont
Humane Federation and the
Humane Society of the U.S. by
denouncing their meat-serving
practices at various public
events. On another occasion,
testifying from farm beat experi –
ence about conditions in poultry
and hog barns to a Franciscan
religious order, the Editor was
interrupted by audience mem –
bers who explained that all pre –
sent were vegetarians, and that
meat was rarely served at their
institutions. When a major
Catholic order is more progres –
sive in attitudes toward animals
than much of the humane move –
ment, the humane movement
seems to us badly in need of a
revival.

Education
I was pleased to see
your November editorial promoting
humane education. We
believe that humane education––
about our relationships with other
people, animals, and the earth
itself––allows students to consider
what it means to have the best
qualities of being human, which
is the dictionary definition of the
word “humane.” Such qualities
include compassion, respect,
honesty, kindness, love, mercy,
and integrity.
Toward that end, we
offer humane education programs
to tens of thousands of students
around the country; publish
Animalearn magazine for elementary
students, and humane education
books for both elementary
and secondary schoolers; and
hold empowerment workshops
for young activists, as well as
summer camps.
We also offer humane
education training conferences,
to help animal advocates become
educators. Our next conference is
scheduled for February 18-20,
1996, in Monterey, California.
For further information,
call us at 1-800-SAY-AAVS.
––Zoe Weil
Director
Animalearn
Jenkintown, Pennsylvania

 

WDCS opposes
“dolphin safe” deal

In your November edition you
referred to a statement by Sam LaBudde that
named the Whale and Dolphin Conservation
Society, with Greenpeace, the National
Wildlife Federation, the Environental Defense
Fund, and the World Wildlife Fund, as a
party to the Declaration of Panama, signed on
October 4 by representatives of 12 tuna-fishing
nations. The Declaration would redefine “dolphin-safe”
from zero preventable dolphin
deaths during yellowfin tuna netting to killing
under 5,000 dolphins per year.
WDCS has worked to impress upon
the members of the Inter American Tropical
Tuna Commission the importance of the
declared intention of the IATTC resolution of
April 1992, known as the La Jolla Agreement,
to “eliminate dolphin mortality in this fishery.”
Whilst the Declaration of Panama
appears to confirm the La Jolla Agreement, it
turns the emphasis away from eliminating dolphin
mortality, toward finding a politically
acceptable and indefinite level of dolphin
killing. Indeed, from the year 2001 on, the
Declaration could permit the deaths of up to
9,523 dolphins per year, based on current population
assessments as recognized by the
IATTC. It imposes a complicated formula for
determining the degree of compliance with the
new “dolphin safe” standard, which will mean
enormous pressures on observers and IATTC
staff. And the U.S. market will be opened to
non-dolphin-safe tuna, which could undercut
the dolphin-safe market, discouraging other
nations from keeping dolphin-safe policies.
WDCS calls on all parties to look
again at the spirit and text of the La Jolla
Agreement and realise that they must uphold
their original commitments. Based on the current
Declaration of Panama text, WDCS cannot
support lifting the current embargoes on
tuna imports, nor any change in current US
legislation relating to dolphin-safe labeling.
––Chris Stroud
Campaigns Director
Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society
Bath, Avon, United Kingdom

 

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