LETTERS [Oct. 1996]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1996:

Henry Spira
I wish to express my belated
support for Henry Spira’s ads. I
love both the one with the world and
a fork, and the one with the kitten in
a meatgrinder. They are both very
informative. They address the entire
issue of meat-eating: environmental
effects, cruelty to animals, and
health. They are also very catchy;
you have to read them. I disagree
with Cindy McCoy’s claim in her
August/September letter that “many
will get the wrong idea” about the
kitten ad. The ad screams of sarcasm,
and it is extremely obvious
that it is asking readers to think of
farm animals with the same love and
compassion as companion animals.
––Heidi Silva
Pinole, California

More Spira
Thanks for your terrific
reporting! I just want to say something
to Henry Spira re his cat/meatgrinder
ad. I realize his intentions
are good, but the reason I stopped
subscribing to The Animals’ Agenda
is their turn to the gross in reporting
and advertising. I think most sensitive
people don’t have to be hit over
the head, or in the gut.
––Myrna Cohen
San Jose, California

Beating horses
Shannon Lentz’s letter in
your August/September edition raises
a question that begs an answer:
why does the public, along with
many animal protection groups and
individual activists, show so little
concern for the suffering of farm
animals? Cuteness can’t have anything
to do with it, as the young of
farm animals are as cute as puppies
and kittens. Not knowing farm animals
personally isn’t the problem,
either, since there is great concern
for marine mammals, whom few of
us actually see or know. I think the
answer lies in the phrase, “That’s
what those animals are raised for.”
It takes generations to teach people
that a tradition, whether meat-eating
or bullfighting, is wrong.
Let me add horses to the
list of animals whose suffering is
ignored by the general public (and
most of the big wealthy organizations).
From the time horses were
domesticated, these loyal and obedient
animals have met with horrific
abuse, and still today, after years of
faithful service, the most common
destination of horses is the slaughterhouse.
Lentz used an expression
that typifies man’s abuse of this
noble animal: “beating a dead
horse.” Even in death, the horse is
not spared!
––Landra Shane
St. Petersburg, Florida

Lentz, founder of the
Grateful Acres sanctuary for farm
animals, used the expression “beat –
ing a dead horse” to describe
thoughtlessly inhumane conduct––
much as Henry Bergh did, in the
crusade against horse-beating that
led to the 1869 formation of the
American SPCA.

The January 1999 World
Vegetarian Congress will be held in
Thailand, a hub of the international
traffic in wild animals. Animal
rights activists might do well to
invest in the trip and develop ways
to make it really productive for animals.
––Maynard S. Clark
Vegetarian Resource Center
Boston, Massachusetts

The Editor’s reply to Patty Adjamine’s July letter
expressing “disgust” that 700-plus animals are killed in New
York City shelters each week reduced to cold numbers a
tragedy of individual faces. Statistics do not belie the pain
and devastation of those who have to confront and deal with
that issue on a daily basis. As former coordinator of special
adoptions at the Manhattan Center for Animal Care and
Control, I too experienced much despair and frustration over
seeing so many beautiful, friendly animals going down
every day. The Editor’s assurances that New York statistics
are better than elsewhere did not comfort me when I had to
mark for euthanasia an affectionate tail-wagging dog or
sweet gentle kitty whose time in the adoption ward ran out
after only one day. Had Adjamine complained about child
abuse, racism, or sweatshops in New York City, would the
editor have replied that these problems are worse elsewhere,
or that they have improved over the years? Such might be
true, but it does not reduce the gravity of these issues as they
are in the here and now.
Whether the number of New York City pets killed
for population control is 40,000 or 10, the very fact that we
have to kill any animals for such a purpose shows we have a
serious problem, which should be dealt with accordingly,
rather than being trivialized through a mumbo-jumbo of
meaningless statistics. The Editor’s reply was insensitive
and insulting to all of us who each day are forced to decide
which animals live and which die.
––Joan Silaco
New York, N.Y.

Accurate statistical context makes problem-solving
possible; blame-throwing, especially if unsupported by the
data, does not.

ANIMAL PEOPLE reported in
May that the National Alliance for Animals
refused World Animal Awareness Week
sponsorship from Frederick’s of Hollywood
due to pressure from Feminists for Animal
Rights and Gary Francione of the Rutgers
Animal Rights Law Clinic. In fact,
Feminists for Animal Rights made no official
statement whatsoever on this issue.
––Lisa Robinson Bailey
Assistant Director
Feminists for Animal Rights
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

I agree with Petra Murray. After
almost 30 years of dealing with stray and feral
cats, I’m really burnt out. It is time communities
started taking responsibility for this problem,
as they do for dogs. Individuals should
not be forced to do cat control: we have neither
the facilities nor the finances. Where I live,
people are asked to pay registration fees for
both cats and dogs, yet animal control will take
only dogs. People register their pets with the
idea that if the animals get lost, police or animal
control will trace them back home. But
when no one takes cats, it doesn’t happen.
My small town collects almost $4,000
a year in tag fees, which could be used for sheltering
and low-cost neutering. Unfortunately,
public officials are too uneducated in animal
problems to know there is a problem, and pet
owners are too apathetic to speak out.
Every shelter should have a low-cost
neutering program to help people who feed
homeless cats to keep those cats from reproducing.
Instead of spending millions of dollars
building bigger and better shelters, let’s channel
the money into preventing the need for bigger
shelters by preventing animal births.
––Cynthia J. Barber
Stop The Overpopulation of Pets
Sleepy Hollow, Illinois

I read with interest the Humane
Farming Association advertisement in your
August/September edition concerning the
Turlock Livestock Auction calf-beating case. If
HFA’s assessment of the case is accurate, I
think Farm Sanctuary has a lot of explaining to
do to its membership. According to HFA, the
California Downed Animal Law, SB-692, is
helping animal abusers continue the practice of
buying and selling downed animals, and is a
weak substitute for the anti-cruelty law which
already existed in the California penal code. If
this is true, and if Farm Sanctuary actions or
lack thereof in the Turlock case and on behalf
of SB-692 have created a worse situation for
downed animals than existed before, Farm
Sanctuary needs to honestly confess to its mistakes,
apologize to its members, and work diligently
to correct this unfortunate situation,
preferably in cooperation with HFA. On the
other hand, if HFA’s assessment is inaccurate,
and the use and abuse of downed animals in
California is actually diminishing, Farm
Sanctuary needs to publicly rebut HFA.
Anything less will result in Farm Sanctuary losing
credibility and proving itself ineffectual.
I have contributed to both HFA and
Farm Sanctuary for many years and felt that
both were doing good work. Until Farm
Sanctuary responds in a positive manner to the
HFA report and shows they are competent in
their efforts to eliminate farm animal abuse, my
confidence in them is shaken.
––David J. Worthington
Dimondale, Michigan

ANIMAL PEOPLE reported on the
factual points of the HFA/Farm Sanctuary dis –
pute both when SB-692 was before the
California legislature in 1994 and when
Turlock defendants earlier this year accepted a
plea bargain to SB-692 instead of facing paral –
lel cruelty charges. HFA argues that the plea
bargain enabled the defendants to escape
harsher penalties for cruelty; Farm Sanctuary
holds that it did not, and that without SB-692,
the defendants would not have been convicted.
The ongoing debate is properly the subject of
paid advertising, not of further news coverage.
HFA has availed itself of the opportunity to
advertise; Farm Sanctuary so far has not.

USDA report
Please announce the availability of the A n n u a l
Report of the Secretary of Agriculture to the President of
the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives
re Animal Welfare Enforcement for fiscal year 1995. If
you wish to receive it, please send your name and address
on a stick-on label to Dr. Jerry DePoyster, USDA,
APHIS, REAC, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale,
MD 20737-1228. The report is also available at our Web
site: >>http://www.aphis.usda.gov/reac<<.
––Dale F. Schwindaman, Deputy Administrator
Regulatory Enforcement & Animal Care
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Riverdale, Maryland

Corruption and the ASPCA
Your reply to Patty Adjamine of New Yorkers for
Companion Animals in your July edition made reference to
corruption at the American SPCA during the 100 years that it
provided animal control service to New York City.
I can only speak to my thirteen-and-a-half-year
tenure as ASPCA president. During that time we supplemented
New York City dog license fees and contract monies with,
on average, more than $1 million a year in privately raised
monies to provide operating funds for the hands-on services
we performed for the city. We also invested more than $7
million in new shelters, new rescue ambulances, and better
equipment. When I left, the ASPCA had two fully operational
shelters, two fully operational veterinary hospitals and
neutering clinics, three drop-off shelters, a sixth shelter for
animals in transit at Kennedy Airport, two modern mobile
adoption vans, 15 fully operational rescue ambulances, and a
balanced budget, even though our spending increased from
$5.9 million in 1978 to close to $20 million when I left, in
1991. We pioneered a program with the North Shore Animal
League that raised overall adoptions to a one-year high of
more than 16,000 animals, and neutered as many as 6,000
animals annually––the most of any program in the country. A
citywide veterinary office program with more than 100 participating
veterinarians supplemented these neutering accomplishments.
Overall, the number of animals euthanized in
New York City decreased by almost half from 1978 to 1991.
We meanwhile pioneered the use of sodium pentobarbital as
the only acceptable euthanizing agent.
The challenge of running these multifaceted and
large-scale hands-on programs with shelter and law enforcement
staff represented by two Teamster unions was exacerbated
by predictable turnover among dedicated and able management
personnel, often as the inevitable result of burnout
from the sheer volume of the human and animal demands
upon them. Constant surveillance was required to weed out
inappropriate personnel, with all the complications that
process inevitably has in a union environment.
I left the ASPCA with an endowment more than
twice what I inherited from its then previous 112 years of
operation. I had just begun construction of a new headquarters,
veterinary hospital, and animal shelter complex in
Manhattan. My resignation was not at an ideal time; many
have ascribed it to board difficulties with my animal rights
philosophy and its widespread promulgation through the
Animal Rights Handbook. Not only were there horrendous
lapses in monitoring overtime pay to select union officials
after I left, but also lapses in crucial construction-sensitive
design and materials decisions, particularly for the shelter.
I cannot say that we didn’t have difficulties, and
often needed to quickly correct mistakes and respond to crises
on a number of fronts, but I can definitely say that my tenure
was one of which I am appropriately proud. During my
tenure, no corruption existed in the president’s office, and
there was no institutionalized corruption elsewhere. Time has
since demonstrated corruption among some Teamsters Union
officials who interfaced with the ASPCA, but that was
beyond ASPCA control. Miscreants among staff and even
some volunteers, inevitable in any large human enterprise,
were appropriately held accountable when discovered.
––John Kullberg
Executive Director
HSUS Wildlife Land Trust
Washington, D.C.


Dog wardens

Thank you for one of the
greatest compliments I have ever been
given, comparing our work at
Adirondack Save-A-Stray to that of
the North Shore Animal League and
the San Francisco SPCA. It is true
that we have a low budget, even no
budget at times, and every day we
struggle to keep our doors open, but
we have adopted several innovative
ideas to help place our animals into
responsible, caring homes.
I share Polly Rouillard’s
frustration (letter, August/September)
regarding the attitudes of our local dog
wardens, because I deal with many of
the same problems on a daily basis.
The main problem is that the dog warden
position is often a low-pay or second
job. There are bad dog wardens
and good dog wardens, and plenty of
both, but even (and perhaps especially)
most of the good dog wardens will
acknowledge that they are not properly
trained in anti-cruelty law enforcement,
or in care of animals. Many
haven’t had opportunities to get training;
good dog wardens want more
training, while others just don’t care.
Some of the bad dog wardens don’t
even recognize that animals feel pain,
fear, joy, and other emotions. The
dogs they pick up are housed in
unsanitary conditions until they are
claimed or killed.
The problems with dog wardens
also reflect the job title. If a
town has a dog warden but not an animal
control officer, he/she might tell
you that his or her duties don’t involve
cats. So what happens to homeless
cats? Who protects them, and sees to
it that they don’t become a nuisance or
have litter after litter?
It takes a special type of person
to understand an animal’s needs.
Some people just don’t get it. For
instance, take Ralph Holmes, ex-dog
warden for Granville, New York. His
style of cleaning up Granville’s cat
population was to trap the cats and
drown them in the river. He was not
only killing strays but people’s
beloved pets as well. He finally got
caught while boasting about his methods.
When challenged, he stated this
form of killing cats was not painful to
them because he almost drowned himself
once, and it didn’t hurt a bit.
How can an animal lover with a conscience
get through to someone who
has no animal consciousness?
That’s another glitch in the
system. If Ralph Holmes had gone
through an interview, schooling, and
a background check, he would not
have been a dog warden. Many discrepancies
in his history were found
after the fact. And what was Holmes”
sentence for drowning over 50 cats?
A slap on the wrist and 200 hours of
community service, which to date he
has not completed.
This brings us to the judicial
system. Are the laws against animal
abuse enforced? No! Is there more
animal awareness than there used to
be? Yes, but it will be a long haul
down a long road before the situation
is turned around.
You can’t teach compassion.
That has to come from within.
However, requiring dog wardens to
complete a course in animal care,
raising the pay scale, emphasizing the
importance of animal protection, and
insisting on speedy response to animal
abuse calls would all help to insure
that dog warden positions are filled by
compassionate people.
––Meredith Fiel
Adirondack Save-A-Stray
Corinth, New York

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