Letters [May 1997]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1997:

Eva Peron
First of all I would like to
thank you for the honorific mention
you made in the January/February
edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE i n
relation to the Asociation para la
Defensa de los Derechos del Animal
and myself.
As regards your reflections
on the case of Eva Peron, I consider
that the dualism you were referring
to when you highlighted the fact that
she loved dogs but wore fur is very
common in Argentina, where people
can give their lives for their dogs but
eat the meat of innocent animals or
wear the furs of species tortured in
leghold traps. However, in the case
of Evita, she lived in a time when
consideration of the rights of animals
was almost unknown.


Besides, I consider that it
was Juan Peron, her husband, who
had a more complete vision of the
rights of animals. His love for dogs
was well known. He also had a special
liking for horses, and he was
moved when he spoke about the
characteristics of any other species.
It was Juan Peron himself who asked
the Deputy Antonio J. Benitez to
write a National Law of Protection
for Animals. Adopted in 1954,
signed by Peron, this law is still in
force.
Years afterward, I had the
opportunity to meet Dr. Benitez, and
together we wrote and submitted to
Congress a bill to reform the original
law, which we presented in 1990. It
was an advanced piece of legislation.
However, as usually happens, many
bills on the same subject were immediately
presented by others, the matter
became politicized, and we still
have not been able to achieve the so
necessary reform.
––Martha Gutierrez
ADDA
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hand-to-hand
I live in Dolores, 200 kilometers
from Buenos Aires, the capital
of Argentina. I am president of
Ayuda Transitoria Animales
Desamparados (Transitory Help for
Needy Animals), an entity working
against cruelty and suffering. I am
proud and grateful for the mention
you made of our country.
We have the opportunity to
read ANIMAL PEOPLE thanks to
Martha Gutierrez of the A s o c i a t i o n
para la Defensa de los Derechos del
A n i m a l, who makes copies of your
publication to distribute to several
other organizations in Argentina––a
gentle way she has of strengthening
the animal protection movement.
––Roberto Ignacio Sosa
President, ATAD
Dolores, Argentina

Now that we know about
ATAD, we’ll be sending them a com –
plimentary subscription directly.
Donations to help us send subscrip –
tions to often isolated humane out –
posts abroad are very much needed
and welcomed––and are one of the
most inexpensive ways to help ani –
mals in the remote places where
means of helping are hardest to find.
We’ll never forgot the report we
received from a correspondent who
traveled all day by jeep to visit a
desert horse clinic that serves the
Bedouins of Jordan, who was
astounded when she got there to find
a copy of the latest ANIMAL PEO –
P L E carefully wrapped in plastic,
chained to the wall, alongside hand –
written transcriptions of the major
articles in Arabic. Please help us
add humane institutions to our mail –
ing list just as fast as we can find
them!

Walt Disney
You know that something
is amiss when Walt Disney publicist
Jane Adams, in her April edition
paen to Disney’s good deeds, refers
to The Nature Conservancy as “one
of the nation’s most respected conservation
organizations.” I hope
Ms. Adams has the opportunity of
turning to page seven of the same
edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE t o
learn about the Conservancy’s true
nature.
––Bill Dyer
Venice, California

We personally pointed out
to Adams our exposes of Nature
Conservancy trapping in Hawaii
(January/February and March) and
forest-burning in Illinois (April).
She had no idea this was going on,
and seemed as shocked as we
believe most Americans would be if
the same information were shared
with them.

Leukemia
Four-year-old Laura Silva,
daughter of Heidi and Michael Silva
and granddaughter of Polly Strand,
was recently diagnosed with
leukemia. Heidi and Michael are
trying to give Laura 24-hour care at
home as much as possible. Both
Heidi and Polly are deeply involved
in animal issues, and you may have
seen Laura holding her little signs at
the circus or other demonstrations.
We are their community. Please
send funny, light-hearted cards to
Laura to help cheer her: 2107
Flamingo Court, Pinole, CA
94564. Small colorful hats or books
would also be appreciated. No funding
is necessary, as the Silvas are
insured.
––Eric Mills
Action for Animals
Oakland, California

The March
I read your January/February “Watchdog”
article regarding Peter Gerard and the National
Alliance for Animals with interest, and was left with
a sickening feeling regarding the greed of some of
those involved in the animal rights movement. My
feeling was not directed at Peter Gerard, however,
but at those groups who have requested money back
from their sponsorship of the 1996 World Animal
Awareness Week.
The week’s worth of events were instrumental
in increasing the motivation and determination
of the core group of animal rights activists who
were in attendence, thereby furthering the aim of the
animal rights movement as a whole. That is a value
that cannot be dollarized. If Friends of Animals
don’t think their sponsorship of $5,000 is worth promoting
the growth of the animal rights movement as
a whole rather than simply furthering the growth of
FoA membership, and can spend their money on
attorneys’ fees rather than support of the animal
rights movement, then they are not a group I would
choose to support.
As for the contention of those who feel the
National Alliance did not promote the event sufficiently
to draw the crowd that it promised, consider
that the events were promoted in the publications of
PETA, the Humane Society of the U.S., the Fund
for Animals, Animals’ Agenda, and Animals’ Voice.
HSUS quotes a membership of over a million people,
PETA of half a million, the Fund of 250,000.
These numbers alone are enough to expect a larger
attendence than was experienced.
––Beth Axelrod
Centreville, Virginia

FoA responds:
Friends of Animals questioned Gerard on
the following: Gerard acknowledged that he had
received nearly $1 million in contributions for use in
setting up and running World Animal Awareness
Week. Gerard also acknowledged that his expenses,
assuming all were bona fide, totalled less than
$400,000. Friends of Animals wants to know what
Gerard did with the excess. Critically, Gerard did
not solicit the nearly $1 million in donations as part
of a general fundraising campaign. The money,
according to Gerard, was specifically earmarked for
World Animal Awareness Week.
Friends of Animals occupies the position
of a fiduciary with respect to its members contributions,
under a strict duty to account for all sums utilized:
in this case, donated for what was represented
to be a legitimate animal protection function.
While Gerard acknowledged the receipt of
nearly $1 million in contributions for World Animal
Awareness Week, he quickly retrenched from this
position after Friends of Animals sought to inquire
about the status of the excess funds, concededly not
used for World Animal Awareness Week. Gerard
claimed then that the $1 million was not received,
but was more like a ‘commitment’ used for ‘bartering’
purposes, whatever that means. Indeed,
Gerard’s response was incomprehensible.
Gerard’s shifting explanations, coupled
with his failure to provide a meaningful accounting
of how monies in his control were utilized for World
Animal Awareness Week––a report that Gerad has
continually promised but which has not been forthcoming––left
Friends of Animals with no choice but
to refer the matter for possible further inquiry to the
U.S. Department of the Treasury, which will thus
determine whether Gerard has acted properly.
Friends of Animals has not requested a
refund of its $5,000 contribution to World Animal
Awareness Week. What Friends of Animals seeks is
a refund of any sums that Gerard received from us
but which were not utilized for the actual running
and operation of World Animal Awareness Week.
Your appraisal of World Animal
Awareness Week indicates your lack of knowledge
of the relevant facts. You say World Animal
Awareness Week was instrumental to the growth of
the animal rights movement. If I were you, I would
check this out with others, better informed on the
subject.
––Herman Kaufman
Counsel
Friends of Animals
Darien, Connecticut

No-kills and nasty words
Please allow me to take exception to Lynda Foro’s comments in
your April edition about the recent discussion meeting in Denver on the concept
of no-kill sheltering. I attended the meeting on behalf of the National
Animal Control Association, and found it stimulating and thought-provoking.
Our shelter in North Richland Hills, Texas would like to become one of
the first government euthanasia-for-cause shelters in the country, and we are
working actively to make this happen. But I do take exception to Foro’s
statement that shelters with an open-door policy are killing animals, and
only no-kills are actually doing euthanasia.
The definition of euthanasia is to provide a painless death, which
is what is done in most private and public shelters. At a time when we are
realizing that we must all work together to stop the tragedy of unwanted animals,
this highly inflammatory comment will hurt our efforts by rebuilding
walls that we have worked hard to take down. I certainly applaud Linda for
her pioneering work, but question her continued use of “no-kill” to describe
certain shelters over others. As was pointed out in Denver, very few shelters
can truly be “no-kill.” If we treat each other with ethics and honesty we will
work together within our communities to compliment each other. As a good
friend who runs a selective intake facility in a large city in Texas points out,
“We could not exist if there wasn’t a non-selective intake facility in the same
city that we work with to address all animal issues. Together we can co-exist
and provide much needed services to the community.”
––Pam Burney
Environmental Services Director
North Richland Hills, Texas

The Editor responds:
I personally think the humane community is much improved by the
hard run for donations that conventional shelters are getting from no-kills
and other non-killing organizations, which pioneered virtually all the tech –
niques that have dramatically increased neutering, adoptions, and public
financial support, reduced pet abandonment, and cut shelter killing from
17.8 million animals in 1987 to barely four million in 1996. In between, the
North Shore Animal League popularized high-volume adoption as a specialty
and showed the value of radio and TV advertising; Friends of Animals and
the North Shore-sponsored Spay/USA took low-cost neutering to all parts of
the country; PetsMart sold the concept of pet store as adoption outlet; the
San Francisco SPCA reintroduced the idea that humane societies should do
humane work instead of animal control; Alley Cat Allies taught
neuter/release; the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy taught the
use of statistics to reappraise approaches; and ANIMAL PEOPLE p u b –
lished the news. Each innovation met fierce resistance, and again in my per –
sonal view, the current resentment of the term “no-kill” by conventional
shelters comes from the same direction. Conventional shelter staff have
worked hard and long to persuade themselves that population control killing
is the most humane response possible to a crisis; contradiction hurts.
Lamentably, for the moment only charity-funded shelters tend to
be at liberty to go no-kill, largely because taxpayers still tend to think of
neutering subsidies as giving unworthy persons something for nothing,
unaware that this costs less than pet population control killing. Yet ethics
and honesty demand avoiding euphemisms. The challenge is not to do away
with the troubling words “no-kill,” and to whitewash killing; rather, the
challenge is to do away with killing, which requires ceasing to pretend––to
oneself and to the public––that it amounts to anything else.

Addresses
Reading ANIMAL PEOPLE (through tears,
usually), I am again struck that no addresses are given for
very small groups such as ours to write, especially pertaining
to occurences abroad. Surely there must be somewhere
else besides our embassies and consulates. We are so limited
here in Vancouver in any local media coverage of any
importance about animals. Our justice system still gives
slap-on-the-wrist fines for outrageous acts against animals.
Our neighboring province, Alberta, gets some good fines
and even jail sentences for animal cruelty. Our SPCA finds
most of their cases are thrown out.
Do you think economic boycotts against Japan,
Taiwan, and China are of any value?
All we can do is write our support of any other
group’s projects, and in this matter we are faithful.
––Mrs. E. Mason
Mercy Volunteers for Animals Society
Vancouver, British Columbia

Many organizations always provide addresses for
letter-writing just so their membership can feel as if they’re
doing something––which is often a pointless waste of volun –
teer effort. We publish addresses for letter-writing only
when there is a particular reason to believe that the recipi –
ent may be responsive.
Boycotts are most effective when the impact can
be measured. It is difficult to meaningfully boycott a corpo –
ration, let alone a nation. Such broad boycotts can be
mobilized only when one has already built substantial sup –
port for the cause, and the target is appropriate.

Humane investing and public policy

The U.S. Social Security system
intends to use our money to invest in the
stock market, thereby making profit-motiveonly
decisions in areas of investment that
some would consider unethical and never
support by choice. In light of the deleterious
effect on hundreds of years of animal welfare
legislation of the North American Free
Trade Agreement and General Agreement on
Trade and Tariffs, those of us who are concerned
with animal welfare need to look
more closely at the repercussions of such
investing. Investing requires personal preference
and screening to eliminate support of
uncomfortable propositions, especially for
those of us who care about the treatment and
use of animals.
May I encourage you to contact
your elected representatives and tell them
that while you don’t object to them bailing
themselves out, you do object to the means
of doing so.
There are firms with established
investment screens that will handle crueltyfree
investing for you or your organization,
thereby extending your effectiveness in serving
the “orphans of the storm.”
––Pete Bachstadt, Director
Carson/Eagle Valley Humane Society
Carson City, Nevada

Fur Free Friday
Dena Jones of the Animal
Protection Institute stated in her
April letter “Fur Free Friday” that
“the animal rights movement continues
to use protest in observing Fur
Free Friday despite diminishing and
increasingly negative results.” As
the organizers of Fur Free Friday
events in New York City, we differ.
Jones claims that although
the number of arrests last year was
the highest ever, media coverage
was sparse. Friends of Animals has
no knowledge of the media survey
conducted by Ms. Jones, and so can
neither corroborate nor deny her
findings. However, we do know
that the television coverage in New
York City more than doubled from
1995. CNN and CNN Headline
N e w s covered Fur Free Friday
events in reports that continued for
two days after the events were over.
Jones also said that “inappropriate
protest is a waste of time
and resources (and) can marginalize
and trivialize activism.” Again,
judging from public response to the
New York event, it is clear that the
public was invigorated by Fur Free
Friday and that it stimulated people
to support and participate in our
movement.
Finally, Jones wants to
see “criteria” developed for the use
of protest and civil disobedience.
Ironically, last year’s event did
more to stimulate dialogue, discussion,
and debate about movement
protest strategies than anything else I
know of in the last decade.
––Priscilla Feral
President
Friends of Animals
Darien, Connecticut

Providing for pets
I think your readers might
be interested in a story about how
you managed to move 3,000 miles
last year with all your animals. I
would have loved to have moved out
of New York City, but my pet multitudes
kept me put. Since I’m no
longer in my prime and by myself,
I’m making the best of things. My
visiting vet is most impressed with
my kitty set-up.
Meanwhile, the problem
for the future for me and countless
others like me is how to provide for
our pets after we’re gone, or in case
of an illness or accident. There
should be a legal network to provide
information on making arrangements
for these matters binding. I’ve seen
wills nullified by probate and friends
put into potters’ fields despite hefty
bank accounts, their pets ending up
with me because no one else cared
about them. And there was no compensation
for taking them.
Maybe you could do a
series on this subject and keep
pounding at it until some options
come to mind. Some people have
their pets put down as terms of their
wills, because there are no organizations
to take them. All are overburdened
already. Estates are literally
stolen by government and relatives
one may not even know, while loving
families of pets are denied rights
as beneficiaries.
––Ann L. Sadowski
New York, N.Y.

ANIMAL PEOPLE d i d
do such a series as three install –
ments of a syndicated column,
Senior Animal People, in 1993-
1994. We’ll send the three, cover –
ing wills for pets, naming humane
organizations in bequests, and pet –
keeping in nursing homes, for $2.00
to cover copying and postage, or
$1.00 plus SASE.

Politics and the art of compromise

Over the years some things have
become increasingly obvious to those of us working
for animal rights. For instance, we’re gaining
fewer political and consumer victories. Those
we do get are coming harder. And when it comes
to judicial or legislative clout, we have little
more than none.
The former, fewer and more difficult
victories, is the result of our adversaries no
longer viewing us as a temporary fluke. We’re
now seen as a serious threat to their welfare,
jobs, and profits. To counter, they’ve mobilized
their wealth and power and are fighting back.
As for the latter, no clout, that’s our
own fault. We’ve never cultivated any because
there’s never been the need. We’ve been able to
score victories largely through public sympathy
and support. When the idea of animal rights was
new, it made for interesting media. This made it
possible for us to deliver our message to the public.
Animal rights isn’t so new any more and it’s
difficult to get media attention. Less media
means less public awareness and support. If we
are to continue to succeed, we must do what successful
interest groups do: we must carry our battle
into politics.
While there has been little emphasis on
establishing ourselves politically, things are
beginning to change, as signaled by recent state
referendum victories. Several states now have
animal rights political action committees, and
some even have more than one.
Unfortunately, along with the emergence
of political activism has come the political
purist, who won’t support anything less than
what is “right.” This position, generally the
result of political ignorance, plays right into the
hands of those who exploit nonhuman animals.
Purists seem to think that to get a law
all one has to do is write a nice all-inclusive “perfect”
bill, give it to a legislator, and then sit back
and wait for it to pass. Having worked in politics
for almost 25 years, I can assure you that it
doesn’t happen that way. Not for the National
Rifle Association, not for unions, not for education,
not for anyone. There are always compromises.
Refusing to compromise results in no law
getting passed. Realistic political strategy is to
get the best law possible, then strengthen it later.
It is infinitely easier to amend an existing law
than to pass a totally new one. The important
thing to remember is that every law we can pass,
regardless of its imperfection, helps some animals.
Passing no law helps none.
If we are to get back into high gear,
winning big battles, we must go where the power
is: in politics. Politics, power, and clout go
together. Those who make the laws, those who
prosecute, those who sit on the bench, all decide
the fate of every living thing. Insiders have the
ability to influence the decisions those people
make. Those on the outside can only hope and
pray things go their way. They seldom do.
To succeed, we must work within the
existing framework. To refuse only prolongs
abuse, killing, and needless exploitation.
––Robert Nixon
Peotone, Illinois

The Editor responds:
Agreed, in gist, but some political
compromises can do far more harm than good.
The Humane Farming Association has argued for
years that last-minute amendments to the 1994
California Downed Animal Act, accepted by
Farm Sanctuary to get around the farm lobby,
meant that in effect it only codified the status quo,
instead of preventing abuse. This is hotly debat –
ed, but since legislatures typically revisit topics
only at great intervals, it is certain that years
will pass before the act is strengthened.
Currently, we understand one faction
involved in drafting a California anti-trapping
referendum, led by Humane Society of the U.S.
vice president for legislation Wayne Pacelle,
wants the proposition to address only “commer –
cial trapping,” not predator and nuisance
wildlife control, hoping to evade opposition from
both the farm lobby and hunter/conservation
groups such as The Nature Conservancy and the
National Audubon Society, whose goals include
eradicating non-native wildlife by any means pos –
sible. Such a gutted measure might pass,
enabling the sponsors to raise funds on the
premise of “victory,” but would defeat the pur –
pose of preventing cruelty. Anyone could set a
trap for any animal, and if detected, claim the
object was to catch a predatory coyote or fox, or
muskrats allegedly damaging a dike; other
furbearers would be caught by lucrative “acci –
dent.” The public would be led to believe that
trapping had been abolished.

 

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