LETTERS [Aug/Sep 1996]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, August/September 1996:

Help Agudo
readers know, Venezuelan biologist,
researcher, and environmentalist
Ignacio Agudo was cruelly harassed,
persecuted, and charged with treason
due to his campaign (together
with professor Aldemaro Romero)
against the killing of dolphins for
bait. He and his family spent two
years in hiding. In December 1994,
Agudo’s father killed himself rather
than risk betraying their location
under repeated intense interrogation,
and in April 1995 Agudo’s wife
Saida died because she could not get
medication for a chronic heart condition.

With the help of Alice Dodge
of Pet Search, ANIMAL PEOPLE,
and human rights activists and environmentalists
from Venezuela,
Aruba, and Brazil, Agudo, his two
small daughters, and their nanny
escaped to Brazil, where he sought
refugee status.
Agudo was officially recognized
as a refugee by the United
Nations High Commission for
Refugees. However, we have just
learned that the Brazilian government,
under pressure from Venezuela,
is about to refuse agreement
to such recognition, selling out the
rights and safety of the Agudo family
due to trade interests.
Faxes are urgently needed
to tell Brazil that Agudo’s plea for
safe haven in Brazil, already supported
by many Brazilian scientists
and institutions, is also supported
worldwide. The UNHCR received
hundreds of letters from concerned
friends in many countries. We
urgently need to let the Brazilian
government know that the world is
still watching.
Please fax to Brazilian
minister of justice, Dr. Nelson
Jobim, at 011-55-61-3226817,
requesting that Brazil immediately
recognize Ignacio Agudo as a
refugee, granting him and his family
residence under such status in accordance
with the UNHCR decision. If
you cannot send a fax, please write
to: Ministerio da Justica, Esplanada
dos Ministerios Bloco T, 4o, andar,
70054-906 Brasilia/DF, Brazil.
Please also fax to the
Brazilian Embassy in the United
States: 202-745-2827, or write to
the Ambassador of Brazil at 3006
Massachusetts Ave. NW,
Washington, DC 20006.
Thank you.
––Jose Truda Palazzo Jr.
Florianopolis, Brazil

You published our letter in
May regarding Florida statute
474.216, pertaining to the limited
service permit fees and regulations
affecting the animal control and
humane organizations in this state.
In the letter we indicated that the
Florida Veterinary Medical
Association had promised to exempt
these organizations in the original
bill. The information supplied to us
was totally inaccurate, and the
FVMA at no time made such a
promise. We wish to correct this
mistake and apologize to the FVMA
for any problems this might have
caused. The FVMA is currently
working with us, along with the
Florida Animal control Association,
Florida Animal Health Foundation,
and the All Breed Rescue
Coordinating Council through quarterly
joint meetings to solve the
many problems with the animal control
situation in Florida.
––Paul Kerschner, President
Network of Humane Organizations
of Florida
Beverly Hills, Florida

Ric O’Barry
Ric O’Barry’s denial of responsibility for his failed
dump-and-run of the two dolphins Buck and Luther is no
real surprise. Mr. O’Barry almost killed Buck and Luther,
and has killed any chance for more captive dolphin releases
in the forseeable future. If Mr. O’Barry or any of his
O’Barryniks consider him the “father of the dolphin anticaptivity
movement,” then he is a real bad dad!
––Russ Rector, President
Dolphin Freedom Foundation
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Rich living
P.J. Kemp reviewed my novel, Making a Killing,
without touching upon its raison d’etre. Given ANIMAL
PEOPLE’s commitment to uncovering fraud and mismanagement
in conservation and animal welfare, it seems
bizarre that the book’s cover-to-cover expose of this issue
was not even mentioned. In Making a Killing, planet Earth
is brought to a sorry end not only by big business and power
politics, but also by multinational charities seen launching
slick fund-raising campaigns to save endangered species,
while lobbying behind the scenes for lucrative “sustainable
culling.” Readers see them squirreling away millions of dollars
in donations, while groundbreaking projects on the
front-line are starved of funds. Blind eto the book’s central
theme, it is hardly surprising that P.J. Kemp laments a lack
of positive answers to ecological crises. But actually, the
message is clear enough: unless the reins are snatched back
from those who are making a rich living from a dying planet,
the prospect of meaningful change will remain remote.
––William M. Johnson
Cannero Riviera, Italy

Motives & methods

The goals of organizations at the
time of formation tend to change over time.
One author cites New York City in the middle
of a garbage hauler’s strike. The streets
were littered with garbage while the trucks
were parked doing nothing. Clearly the
goal of the organization was no longer to
keep the streets clean, but to provide high
wages for the street cleaners.
Animal control was organized
originally to provide law enforcement. It
now is a principal participant in seeking
ever tougher legislation as a way to end the
wretched business of killing cats and dogs
at shelters––and to collect more revenue
from licensing fees and fines despite a century
of accumulated evidence that licensing
does not prevent and in fact may even
increase rates of shelter killing.
Humane societies also tend to
operate in the mode most apt to bring in
money. Measures that will reduce shelter
killing are often not supported, either
because national organizations are not able
to do those things that need to be done
locally, the needed programs cost money,
or they go against the natural instincts.
What are the natural instincts?
Well, to look after oneself. When you find
that poor pet owners need assistance––hey,
that costs money, poor pet owners have little
wherewithal to contribute to supporting
organizations, and helping them accordingly
offers nothing but self-sacrifice.
There is a political dimension to
all of this. Conservatives emphasize “educating
the irresponsibles.” Such programs
cost little, enjoy broad public support
(because more than two-thirds of dog owners
and 85% of cat owners have already
neutered their animals), do not risk reducing
either animal control, humane or veterinary
revenue-producing business volume,
and let everyone off the hook for not
ending needless shelter killing by pointing
the finger at a nebulous “them” who won’t
point back.
Progressives are represented by
outfits like the San Francisco SPCA.
Recognizing that conventional wisdom is
usually wrong, they do everything just the
opposite of what is preached: don’t enforce
license laws, lower or eliminate fees and
fines, offer free neutering (even pay people
to have it done), and provide vet assistance
to suffering animals for which owners have
no money––all of which the pleased public
lavishly rewards with donations of the
resources necessary to do the work, which
the conservative institutions claim they
can’t do because they lack the resources.
––Robert L. Plumb
Promotion of Animal Welfare Society
Paradise, California

I want to thank you for speaking up
for veterinarians in your response to the letter
from Dorrie Graham in your June edition. Yes,
there certainly are many veterinarians who
understand the overpopulation crisis and are trying
to do as many neutering surgeries for as low
a cost as they feel they can. Unfortunately,
there are still too many who do not see the
urgency and who then set their higher costs by
charging as they would for any other surgery.
In addition, too many of my colleagues do not
encourage neutering, but instead leave the decision
entirely to the owner, who is usually
unaware of how “every litter hurts.” The reasons
behind this approach vary, from ignorance
of the part of the veterinarian, to a belief that it
is the client’s right to choose, to simply apathy.
I do not believe, however, that overpopulation
will be solved even if every veterinarian
offers low-cost or free sterilization. This
is only part of the solution. From working at a
variety of clinics, including a large low-cost
clinic, serving a variety of socio-economic strata,
I can assure you there are many people who
would refuse to sterilize their pets no matter
what the cost, even if they were paid. These
are people who believe it is “unnatural” to sterilize
animals; or who have some sort of inexplicable
attachment to their dog’s genitalia
(especially male clients); or who think they can
make money breeding their AKC-registered pet
(and often do, while propagating genetic health
and temperament problems); and the sad list of
excuses goes on.
Proliferating low-cost sterilization
projects will be of tremendous help for those
who sincerely want to sterilize their pets and
actually could not afford it. Unfortunately, that
sector of pet owners is not, in my experience,
the main problem.
––Susan J. Hall, DVM
Lake Orion, Michigan

Patty Adjamine, the author of the letter
captioned “Disgusted with New York,” in
your July edition, is going through the symptoms
of “humane movement involvement.”
Like the rest of us, she will go through the
stages of dying, death and mourning: the feeling
of hopelessness and helplessness, the anger
at the uncaring public, the blaming of greedy
veterinarians, the lies of doubletalking politicians,
and the fraud of multi-million-dollar
humane societies.
Soon, Patty will have to make a decision:
remain disgusted or get with the killing
game. Killing makes workers feel good. No
more begging for help and money, no more
long hours, no more thankless days, no more
criticism, no more tears. Killing provides a
feeling of freedom until you can find another
line of work.
Did I really write this? Wow, have I
––Lorraine Smith
Altamonte Springs, Florida

While statistics aren’t available to
document anecdotal impressions, shelter
euthanasia staff seem to have rates of job
turnover, marital failure, alcoholism, drug
abuse, depression, and suicide comparable to
those of police officers, firefighters, ambu –
lance attendants, and slaughterhouse workers,
which are documentedly very high. As
Colorado State University psychology and live –
stock science professor Temple Grandin con –
cluded in her landmark study of the emotional
adaptations of slaughterhouse personnel, “No
one should kill animals every day.”

Heroic animals & noble cats
I enjoyed your May cover feature about heroic
dogs and cats. The American Humane Association has given
the William O. Stillman Award for Bravery to animals and
people who risk their lives for each other since 1900. The
first award was given to a man who nearly gave his life to
rescue a dog trapped on the tracks of an elevated railroad in
New York City. The award has now been presented to 142
animals and 115 people, including Ringo [above], the cat
who saved the Carol Steiner family from a methane gas leak.
––Betty A. Lewis
The American Humane Association
Englewood, Colorado

One of the express purposes of TRIAGE (Taking
Responsibility: An Interspecies Agenda for a Gentle
Evolution) is to promote the exchange of information among
individuals and corporations involved with animal welfare.
To that end, ANIMAL PEOPLE has been right on target,
and very important to us. We recommend it to our people
every chance we get, and I’m sure we represent no small part
of your readership.
We had an “exotic” theory about feline sexual
activity with indications that the presence, alone, of sterile
animals in a cat colony may have a generalized slowing effect
on population growth, but were brought up sharply when we
learned that others with far more experience than we have
often lack very basic information from their colonies, such as
the number of cats there are, let alone details about their sexual
We’re getting involved now, in grassroots networking.
Although we have no clue yet what we are doing, if you
know of any organization like ours which sees the need to
coordinate animal rescue activities, please help us find each
For all our precious beasts, the two- and the fourlegged,
––Geo N. Turner
POB 81-6268
Hollywood, FL 33081

Geo Turner’s “exotic” theory apparently hasn’t
been explored much with reference to cats, but many species
do need sexual competition to become sexually active and/or
fertile. Reducing sexual competition within a group of such
species accordingly tends to reduce fecundity.

Perhaps you would allow
me to respond, albeit belatedly, to
concerns raised by registered nurse
David Knowles in his letter “Premarin
problem,” published in April.
Mr. Knowles, I am sure,
will be commended by many for his
ethical concerns over using Premarin
in his work. He also deserves full
marks for knowing that plant-based
estrogens available for menopausal
therapy are “similar in effect” to
Premarin, which is derived from
pregnant mares’ urine.
Let me try to help with
those areas where Knowles seems
1) Re availability of nonequine-based
vaginal creams, in the
U.S. the Dienestrol vaginal cream has
been effectively used for over 20
years, Estrace cream for over 10, and
Ogen cream arrived on the market in
1994. In Canada, Dienestrol, NeoEstrone,
and Oestrillin are available
in vaginal cream form.
2) Use of intravenous
Premarin is generally reserved for
acute intervention of bleeding, and
not for standard ongoing therapy of
menopausal symptoms such as hot
flushes, vaginal dryness, etc.
Bleeding can also be managed, sometimes
more effectively, by other
3) A 1995 review of prices
in both the U.S. and Canada showed
that Premarin is not necessarily the
cheapest estrogen replacement therapy.
In the U.S., lower retail prices
were commonly seen for Estratab and
Menest. A lower price than for the
0.625 milligram dose of Premarin
could also often be attained by using
Ogen––if one took the 1.25 scored
Ogen tablet and merely split it. The
price was often even lower if one split
the scored 1.25 milligram Ortho-Est
tablet or other scored estriopipate
generics. Estrace prices were often
fairly comparable to Premarin. In
Canada, lower prices were quite
prevalent for C.E.S., Congest,
Estinyl, and Neo-Estrone tabs, while
Ogen prices were quite similar to
Premarin prices. Again, by splitting
the scored 1.25 milligram Canadian
Ogen tablet, the price was significantly
less than the 0.625 milligram
Premarin price.
There are thus several practical
non-equine-based alternatives
that can generally be substituted for
Premarin, without compromising
patient care.
––R.M. Kellosalmi
B.Sc., M.D., L.M.C.C.
Peachland Medical Center
Peachland, British Columbia

Henry Spira’s ad
I’m writing to say how
upset I was about the ad in your July
issue that stated one is better off eating
his or her companion pets than
cattle, and showed an extremely disturbing
picture of a kitten going
through a meat grinder. I realize how
badly animal rights activists would
like the public to know about the cruelty
that cattle endure, but this shocking
and completely stomach-wrenching
ad is one of the most appalling
things I have ever seen in any animal
publication. The ad almost joyfully
joked about “stuffing Fido in the
crockpot” and “poodle muffins.” In
my view, this ad condoned animal
cruelty, as long as the animal wasn’t
a cow. To criticize the meat industry
while supporting companion animal
slaughter is nothing less than hypocritical.

––Dana Lynn Atnip
Rochester Hills, Michigan

I was outraged to see the ad
on page 12 of your July issue stating
“Five good reasons to eat your dog or
cat!” Do you read your ads before
putting them in your paper? Mr.
Spira and his group should be
ashamed of themselves. Many will
get the wrong idea, thinking farm
animals are more important than companion
animals. Some sickos may
even do what the ad suggests.
––Cindy M. McCoy
Newport, New York

Henry Spira responds:
Dana Atnip and Cindy
McCoy seem to be the only people
who believe we recommend eating
our companion animals. As to
whether we could have gotten the
message across without using a
shocking, gruesome, tasteless or
offensive visual device, we wonder
about that. To date, nobody seems to
have succeeded.
What we find truly tasteless
and offensive is the institutionalized
cruelty to eight billion innocent animals
in factory farms, the systematic
abuse of vulnerable, mostly minority
women meat industry workers, and
the destruction of the environment.
Of course we’re sorry if we
offended Dana, Cindy, or anyone
else. But we’re interested in achieving
change. We certainly don’t want
to join the ranks of the politically correct
do-nothings. Factory farming
must be challenged now. If a few
gruesome pictures can help get people
to act, we think they’re justified.

Grateful Acres
Henry Spira’s article about
“Hyperactivism” was excellent.
Having founded and directed an animal
rights group, a dog-and-cat rescue,
and a sanctuary for farm animals,
I find that even among committed
activists there seems to be
more concern for cute animals, e.g.
bunnies in labs, homeless kittens,
foxes on a fur farm, and regal whitetails,
than for pigs, chickens, or
cows. Far be it from me to suggest
that anyone’s efforts for any animal
are less than worthwhile. I’m grateful
to the guy who swerves to miss a
turtle in the road on his way to work
at a slaughterhouse. I know that
every little bit of activism is critical
to the overall well-being of animals.
However, I also feel that many
groups and individual activists are,
pardon the dreadful phrase, beating
a dead horse on some issues.
I suspect that part of the
reason there is less activism for farm
animals is because most people don’t
know these creatures personally, the
way they know cats and dogs, so
they do not relate as readily to their
suffering. Another unpleasant possibility
is that non-vegetarian activists
don’t want to relate, because then
they might have to give up their
familiar diet. It’s much easier for
most of us to give up fur and some
cosmetics than to go veggie.
Whatever the reasons,
there is a lot less effort put forth for
farm animals, and that needs to be
admitted and addressed by each and
every person who claims concern for
animals. After working our collective
butts off for years, we’ve finally
made a dent in the public consciousness
about lab testing, fur, hunting,
circuses, and other important issues.
Now that we have their attention,
let’s move forward into an area that
is going to be the biggest struggle of
all: meat-eating. Some of the nicest
people in the world are meat-eaters.
Many leaders of animal protection
groups indulge! It is this fact that
keeps activists from facing this issue
head-on, and from campaigning
against it with the same energy and
dedication that other issues generate.
The social acceptability of
meat-eating is a factor. Folks who
claim to loathe fur-wearers can chew
a pork chop with the other side of
their mouth, and not be considered
hypocritical by their non-activist
peers. After all, fur coats aren’t nec –
e s s a r y, and those little fox kits are
so c u t e, and that anal electrocution––how
could anyone e v e r? But
mention pigs and these same people
defend meat-eating because “That’s
what those animals are raised for!”
Activists who can admit
that they don’t know enough about
farm animals to fight for them need
to change that fact. Doing Things
For Animals’ No-Kill Directory is a
good place to find the nearest farm
animal rescue facility. If your personal
relationship with a farm animal
is what it will take you, a committed
activist, to fight harder to save farm
animals, then create such a relationship
and get motivated. The sheer
numbers of murdered farm animals
demand that we put some kind of
focus on them. Consider: about 5.1
million cats and dogs die in shelters
each year, an unthinkable figure.
But more than eight billion farm animals
are murdered, and that number
is just flat-out mind-boggling.
––Shannon Lentz
Grateful Acres Animal Sanctuary
Otsego, Michigan

Vegan Outreach
Thank you for publishing
Henry Spira’s insightful and disturbing
essay on “Hyperactivism: doing
without achieving.” It is past time
for each of us to evaluate the status
and future of the animal rights
movement in terms of methods and
There have been many
specific victories, the greatest of
which is the general increase in public
awareness of issues involving the
other animals with whom we share
the world, readily seen in cultural
icons such as “The Simpsons” TV
Pop culture not only
shows us where we are as a movement,
but also shows where we
need to go, and what approach or
focus our activism should take. For
example, in a recent Nike advertising
campaign, baseball star Ken
Griffey Jr. is running for president.
Amid praising his athletic prowess,
the ads mention Griffey’s “sensitivity
to animal rights,” illustrated by
his choice of an animal mascot as
running mate.
It is clear that the animal
rights movement has had great success
in entering the mainstream of
American consciousness: one of the
most media-savvy companies in the
country wouldn’t reference an issue
that wasn’t well-known. Yet this ad
is also revealing of the way that the
animal rights movement is viewed.
Although nearly everyone is familiar
with the cause of animal rights, the
popular view of this issue is a caricature.
Parodied to the point of
humiliation, the animal rights
movement is safe to joke about.
It is easy to blame the
media for not taking the animal
rights movement seriously. But
those of us who work on behalf of
animals must understand that people
will tend to take the easy way out
when confronted with the hidden
horrors of animal abuse.
In our zeal to reach as
many people as possible, many of
us have adopted a “media at all
costs/all media is good media” attitude,
creating a pardon-the-expression
circus atmosphere. This has
proved effective in achieving recognition.
However, the protest or
event itself is usually the news,
instead of the underlying atrocities
that lead to our actions. It is imperative
that we come to some understanding
of what will be necessary
to further the case for animals
beyond advertising. We have to
reassess our actions to allow us to
reach people at a fundamental level.
As made clear by Spira,
Alex Hershaft of the Farm Animal
Reform Movement, and others, the
area of greatest need, at the very
least in terms of sheer numbers, is
the issue of eating animals. Given
that this is also the area that involves
the most people––everyone, in what
they choose to eat––it is also the
area of greatest promise.
No lasting, fundamental
progress will be made for animals
until we cease eating them. While
animals can be imprisoned, abused,
and murdered for the mere sake of a
fleeting taste of flesh, no significant,
essential, and consistent
advance can be made toward a more
just world.
The movement for animal
liberation and justice has advanced
past the point where anger, slogans,
and sound bytes will facilitate the
necessary change. We need to stop
attacking the “others” (the faceless
vivisector, the rich woman in a fur),
or acting only in response to a single
abuse that has a catchy poster animal
(Willy/Keiko). To truly change
the world, and the place of animals,
we must create fundamental shifts in
the attitudes and actions of everyone––ourselves,
our friends and
family, and those around us.
There are many compassionate
people who are not yet
aware of animal exploitation, who
have not yet fully realized the
effects their individual choices have
on animals. In addition to actively
educating people about factory
farms and other factual aspects of
the situation, we must promote the
underlying philosophy of veganism.
It is not an issue of “giving up” or
“avoiding.” Rather, living consistently
and compassionately is an
affirmation of life, a means to fulfillment
and awareness.
––Matt Ball
Vegan Outreach
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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