News from abroad

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1996:

The Royal SPCA is “reviewing our
opposition to experiments on primates,”
according to a spokesperson, after receiving a
warning from Richard Fries, Chief Charity
Commissioner for Great Britain, that it
would be acting in a manner “inconsistent with
its charitable status” if it argues that, as
Andrew Pierce of the London Times p a r aphrased
Fries’ argument, “the infliction of
pain on animals could not be justified if it was
for the good of man.” Fries’ warning, Pierce
said, apparently also enables fox hunters to
challenge RSPCA opposition to fox hunting,
since the hunters claim killing foxes is for the
good of farmers. The warning comes as the
28,000-member RSPCA is fighting an attempted
hostile takeover by the British Field
Sports Society, which in March asked its
80,000 members to join the RSPCA in time to
vote at the June annual meeting.


Jim Barrington, director of the
League Against Cruel Sports, 1988-1995,
announced April 8 via the London Sunday
Telegraph that his newly formed Wildlife
Network has the support of former LACS
chairs Mark Davies and Howard Hodges,
has received funding from “private sources,”
and is now funding “scientific research” into
humanely “controlling” foxes. Barrington
resigned from LACS last year, taking with
him five of 12 executive committee members,
the board vice president, and several senior
staff, after the remaining board and membership
rejected his argument that hunting should
be reformed rather than abolished.
The Australian research group
Petcare projects the first recorded decline in
the Australian pet cat population, from 2.9
million down to 2.8 million, based on an
annual survey of 12,000 households. Australia
still has the highest per capita cat population in
the world.
A British White Paper on the
European Union, published March 12,
reportedly included a call for amending the
Treaty of Rome, the EU charter, to impose
penalties against nations which fail to enforce
animal welfare standards in any areas covered
by EU legislation. This would exempt bullfighting
and fox hunting, but would strengthen
rules governing livestock transport and the
EU ban on use of leghold traps.
A British House of Lords select
committee of peers on March 18 endorsed a
bill sponsored by Lord Houghton of
Sowerby which would allow magistrates to
spare dogs who might otherwise be euthanized
under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act. The act
now mandates that any pit bull terrier or other
dog of fighting breed found in Britain after
November 30, 1991 must be euthanized if not
registered, tattooed for identification purposes,
neutered, and muzzled when in public. In
addition, any dog who attacks a person is to
be euthanized. About 8,600 pit bulls were registered
before the act took effect, but attempts
to enforce the act’s provisions have had mixed
results. In one case, a pit bull named
Dempsey was impounded for three years, at
cost of about $125,000, before a death order
was judicially overturned. In February, a dog
named Tyson was ruled to be not a pit
bull––after he died in custody.
The British House of Commons on
March 23 approved the Dogs Fouling of Land
bill, which allows town councils to designate
“mess free zones,” which may include private
property by consent of the owner. A similar
bill was killed last year in the House of Lords
because some lords feared it might be used to
stop foxhunting. The current bill excludes
enforcement in rural areas, National Parks,
and commons.
Noting a recent recovery by the
owner of a lost dog in a shelter 30 miles from
where a stranger picked the dog up, the
National Canine Defence League has issued
an appeal throughout Britain for finders of
strays to turn them in to the closest shelter,
not necessarily the nearest no-kill. “Anyone
concerned that if they hand a dog over to
either the police or local authority, it will be
destroyed, should check to make sure that this
is not the case beforehand,” the NCDL
advised. Not explained is what to do if the
dog would be killed. As well as operating a
nationwide no-kill rescue network, the NCDL
sponsors a Neutering Roadshow, which has
altered 3,500 dogs over the past five years for
about $35 each. About 50,000 homeless dogs
were euthanized in Britain last year, says the
NCDL, about one per 1160 humans, compared
with 1.5 million euthanized in the U.S.,
for one per 174 humans.
Bruntingthorpe, England, in
February formed a DNA data base on village
dogs, intending to use genetic markers from
bits of hair to identify animals who soil the
streets. Perhaps inspired, executives of the
major kennel clubs of Britain, the U.S., and
Europe met at Birmingham, England, on
March 15 to coordinate setting up a DNAbased
dog registry, which would reduce the
incidence of forging papers by making it possible
to establish definitely and quickly just
which dogs descend from whom.
The Animal Protection Society o f
Vienna, Austria, severely overcrowded with
250 dogs in space for 86, was stunned on
March 22 to find that an unknown intruder had
drugged at least 10 large dogs including
German shepherds and Rottweilers, in a cage
that held 24 dogs, muzzled them all, shot
eight dead with a captive bolt gun, and
slashed the throat of another. A 10th victim
died from a drug overdose. Blaming either
“fanatics” opposed to the crowding or a disgruntled
former staffer, APS president Lucie
Loube posted a $2,000 reward. “It had to be
an inside job,” she said. “Otherwise the dogs
would have been barking wildly,” alerting the
night watchman.
Turkish animal rights activist
Emel Yildez told Reuters on April 17 that his
group plans to sell t-shirts reading “Our animals
were killed for you,” at the United
N a t i o n s “Habitat II” conference coming up
June 3-14 in Istanbul. “There is a massacre of
animals in the streets,” Yildez explained,
claiming local authorities “strew the streets
with poisoned meat to get rid of cats and dogs,
and seagulls eat the meat too, and die.”
Leading Turkish newspapers have recently
published photos of dead dogs and seagulls.
Istanbul veterinary official Mehdi Eker s a i d
the poisonings were not ordered by his department,
but added that, “If individual districts
choose to do such a thing, it is up to them.”

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