LETTERS [Jan/Feb 1997]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1997:

Sue ‘em!
In July of this year I was
asked to render an opinion on the
legality of live animal sales. I gave
that opinion: California state law
prohibits a business which sells food
from keeping live animals on its
premises, and merchants in San
Francisco continuously violate that
law. I informed the District Attorney
of the law and the violations. He has
the option of prosecuting these cases,
and has chosen not to do so.
A segment of the Asian
community participates in the sale of
live animals. They have been particularly
astute at organizing opposition
to efforts to stop live animal sales by
making claims of cultural violations
and racism. Unfortunately, politicians
are often less interested in the
absurdity of claims than they are in
the voting power of those who make
them. Because of this, it is not realistic
to expect that San Francisco will
pass anything other than the mildest
and most generalized, unenforceable
“welfare” legislation, if even that.


The only immediate solution
is for us to bring a lawsuit on
behalf of local citizens against the
businesses which are creating a public
nuisance by violating the law. We
would ask the court to enforce the
state law by ordering the businesses
to cease and desist from keeping live
animals on their premises. This legal
action would not interfere in any way
with attempts to pass more legislation,
including welfare legislation.
A legal action would entail
a tremendous amount of legal work.
My office is willing to do this work
for a substantially reduced fee. To do
this, I will need a legal fund of at
least $5,000, which can be accomplished
if each of us who is opposed
to live animal sales will make a contribution.
If the lawsuit is successful,
we would be entitled to ask the court
to order the businesses we sue to pay
the attorneys’ fees, and the contributors
could then be reimbursed.
I believe that litigation is
the only way to eradicate live animal
sales, and that the chances of success
are good. Of course, a lawsuit would
also have educational value for the
public and the local lawmakers.
Please call me with any
questions or comments. If you are
willing to help, please make your
checks payable to Miller & Miller
Clients’ Trust Account. If we are
able to establish the minimum fund,
then an action will be filed and you
will be kept fully informed of developments
as they arise. If we are
unable to establish the fund, your
money will be refunded to you.
Thank you.
––Baron L. Miller
Miller & Miller
1390 Market St., Suite 1204
San Francisco, CA 94102-5306
(415) 522-0500

Hero
Deputy Bill Chaney, of
Norman, Okalahoma, responded to a
call about a dog who had apparently
been hit by a car, then fell into a
creek, and had struggled for hours to
stay afloat. Stripping off his uniform,
Chaney dived into the rushing waters,
and recovered the dog, who was
taken to a veterinarian by a volunteer
from Second Chance Rescue in
Norman. The dog has been named
Chaney, in honor of Deputy Chaney.
If any of you would like to
thank Bill Chaney for risking his life
to save this poor stray, his address is
c/o Cleveland County Sheriff’s
Department, 201 South Jones,
Norman, OK 73069.
––Sherrill Durbin
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Carriage horses
We are in the historic
Gold Rush/Mother Lode area of the
California foothills. Many of our
towns have carriage horse concessions.
Most seem well-run, and we
receive very few complaints.
Recently we have received inquiries
from people who are concerned that
some horses may pull too much
weight, or are improperly shod for
use on snow and ice, and are sometimes
worked in adverse weather.
I have reviewed our large
collection of humane publications,
finding only one article dealing with
carriage concessions and no books
that thoroughly cover the subject.
I am seeking listings for
horse protection agencies that deal
with carriage horses and horsedrawn
conveyances. I am seeking local,
state, or national agencies and
resources. I would also appreciate
any and all information on ordinances
regulating carriage concessions.
I hope to assemble a resource
list/guide, both for our use and to
give to new carriage operators.
––Waynette Townsend
Tuolumne County Animal Control
2 South Green Street
Sonora, CA 95370

Modeling
Though I am unfamiliar with
Bob Plumb’s statistical modeling, to
which you referred in your December
editorial “Biological xenophobia,” the
model of reproduction efficiencies
regarding what happens when wild
domestic animals such as cats and dogs
are either killed or neutered has been
tracked before in both modeling and
after-incident research at Ascension
Island, Key West, etc.
Though I would much rather
see animals captured and neutered, the
math generally does not work out as
well as Plumb indicates. Similar models
(not Plumb’s) have generally
included, along with breeding and life
cycles, the factors arising from people
in general abandoning litters and pets,
and the transient characteristics of the
nearby human population and the resultant
impact upon whether neutered pets
stay in a particular area. This is trussed
up with the actual potential for finding
adoptive homes.
The problems:
a) The number of hosts
available were insufficient to absorb
the captured population, a problem so
severe throughout the U.S. that in
many cities the animal control agencies
have to borrow incinerator time from
other sources to keep up with fluxes in
the number of cats and dogs who are
killed due to insufficiency of homes
available.
b) The overriding factor that
many pet owners do not neuter their
animals. This is a substantial reason
why animals re-enter the extra-habitat
breeding cycles that are so hard to control.

The only viable solution is to
make it mandatory for all pet owners to
have their pets neutered.
––Sam McClintock
Raleigh, North Carolina

According to pet population
demographic data compiled separately
by Karen Johnson of the National Pet
Alliance and Carter Luke of the
Massachusetts SPCA, the overwhelm –
ing majority of owned pets are already
neutered, including 85% to 94% of
owned cats and 65%-plus of owned
dogs. The majority of the unaltered
cats are under reproductive age. The
owned cat population reproduces at
only 75% of replacement level; most
cat reproduction occurs among the
unowned population, which amounts to
40% of the total U.S. cat population,
and is currently breeding at about
125% of replacement. Migration from
the homeless cat population to the
owned population is sufficiently high
that the owned population is growing at
about 1% per year, while the unowned
population has apparently stabilized or
even begun to drop. The factor that
appears to have halted the unowned cat
population growth, as discussed exten –
sively in our March 1996 edition, was
adding neuter/release to the standard
technques of catch-and-adopt, which
does tend to rapidly exhaust the supply
of available homes, and catch-andkill,
unviable in many situations due to
public opposition even if it did lastingly
reduce cat numbers. In fact, the evi –
dence on that point is that attrition
among homeless cats is already so high
that catch-and-kill mainly just replaces
one form of attrition with another. The
advent of neuter/release brought
immense new resources to the homeless
cat problem, and where attempted,
seems to be achieving the goal of man –
aging cat colonies to extinction without
rounding up and killing cats.

Cats in stripes
I apologize that I didn’t get
this good news to you in time for your
holiday issue. Several years ago I
asked you for information about prisoners
and pets, on behalf of inmates
at the California Institution for
Women in Frontera, who wanted to
have their 100-or-so stray cats
neutered and returned to the prison
yard. You sent me numerous clippings
about prisons with successful
neuter/release and pet therapy programs,
often run as rehabilitation
projects, and somehow got T h e
National Enquirer to do a story. Our
local Press Enterprise also did a
story. After two years, the prison
officials finally relented and allowed
designated inmates to be trained in
humane cat trapping. The Pomona
Valley Humane Society handled the
neutering, vaccination, and return of
all cats who tested negative for contagious
or debilitating disease. The
officials reluctantly admitted they’d
received more mail on the cats’ cause
than on anything else ever.
It’s a victory won by a lot
of people doing what they could. The
grapevine of the animal public is a
strong bond. At times I’m proud to
be a part of it; other times I’m disappointed
that I can’t do more.
––Beverly Frost
Sky Valley, California

MEAT-INDUSTRIAL
COMPLEX

One could say that 1996 was a year of quiet
but steady progress. Farm animal well-being is
beginning to edge its way into the mainstream with
increasing concern from the public. A survey conducted
by Associated Press a year ago found that twothirds
of Americans agreed that “an animal’s right to
live free of suffering should be just as important as a
person’s right to live free of suffering.” And because
of the public’s concern, government and industry are
beginning to pay some attention. It would seem that
the possibilities for change have never been greater.
But there is a more ominous reality ahead.
The meat industrial complex is rapidly expanding into
profitable overseas markets. The number of animals
victimized in factory farms is rising by the billions.
How are we to reconcile the public’s
emerging concern for animals with this escalating
misery? And what should we do? The starting point
must be broad public awareness that meat is misery
for the animals, for the environment and for public
health. The animal protection community should be
capable of a concerted worldwide effort to get the
truth out.
We’re unlikely to change into a meatless
society overnight. But we can provide a steady
stream of information to promote the nonviolent diet,
and in the process enlist the puiblic to abolish the
worst practices of the meat-industrial complex. It’s
not only a call for nonviolence. It’s a prescription for
healthier people and a healthier planet.
––Henry Spira
The Coalition for Nonviolent Food
New York, New York

Grants available
The William & Charlotte Parks Foundation,
established to improve the status of animals worldwide,
offers grants in three categories: project grants
for specific programs or projects with potential
impact on animal welfare; general operating funds
for organizations striving to reduce animal suffering;
and capital grants for construction or remodeling of
animal shelters. Awards in each category are generally
not more than $5,000.
Grants may be made for humane programs
including grassroots activities or academic studies in
areas such as (but not limited to) the following:
humane laboratory practices for animals used in
research and education; research on euthanasia methods;
humane treatment and handling of food animals;
issues concerning the use of animals in fur ranching
and the trapping of fur animals; methods of population
control of companion and wild animals; international
projects to provide improvement of conditions
for animals. A non-U.S. applicant must be registered
as a charitable organization in the home country.
Applications are accepted only from organizations
with 501(c)(3) tax status. Grants will not
normally be awarded for programs to underwrite
local spay/neuter projects, or to save endangered
species, or for wildlife rehabilitation. Grants will not
normally be made to organizations with an annual
income of more than $1 million.
The application deadline is May 1, 1997.
––Barbara Orlans
The William & Charlotte Parks Foundation for
Animal Welfare
7106 Laverock Lane
Bethesda, MD 20817

River otters and seals

Many thanks to the individuals
and organizations who wrote to
oppose the rule proposed by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service to facilitate
the export of river otter pelts. Our letters
have been considered by the FWS
Scientific Authority, and to the best of
our knowledge, the proposed rule has
been withdrawn pending further input
from scientists as well as collection of
data. We hope this will lead to greater
protection for Missouri’s river otters.
The bad news: the Scientific
Authority has approved export for this
winter. The good news: the Scientific
Authority has apparently withdrawn
approval for the “subsequent seasons”
mentioned in the proposed rule of April
2, 1996. The rule stipulates, “Prior to
approval for exports for subsequent seasons,
a further administrative review
and findings will be required.”
P.S.––Please tell Wolf I think
his drawing of an otter for your
December coverage of our campaign is
the greatest. I hope some day we’ll
have good news for him.
––Jeanne McVey
Sea Wolf Alliance
Petaluma, California

Re “Canada tells fishers,
‘Kill more seals,’” I’m 18 years old
and want to become a wildlife photographer
and journalist when I’m out of
high school. I don’t believe that it is
right to kill any living thing and I think
something should be done about it. The
harp seal happens to be my favorite animal;
I don’t want to see it become
endangered. Is there anything that I can
do to help stop these poachers from
endangering more seals? Thank you.
––Danielle Weaver
weaverd@fs.harborbeach.k12.mi.us

We suggested that Weaver
contact her nearest Canadian embassy
or consulate to voice her views, and
introduced her to Paul Watson of the
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, to
whom we were talking when her mes –
sage came in. Weaver wrote in
response to the lead article in our
January 1996 edition. We sent that edi –
tion to 20,000 high school libraries,
offering free subscriptions on request;
obviously those samples are still avidly
read, along with the 1,000 free sub –
scriptions we now send to libraries,
only partially underwritten by reader
gifts. Please help!

 

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