Letters [July/Aug 1997]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1997:

On March 1, 1997, tornadoes
swept through Arkansas,
killing people and animals and leaving
horrible destruction. We were
responsible for Animal Disaster
Relief for the city of Arkadelphia,
one of two densely populated areas
which were flattened by the storms.
We would like to publicly thank the
four national organizations which
immediately offered help and stayed
in contact with us for the three weeks
we ran the temporary shelter.
We were first contacted by
Bill Dollinger of Friends of Animals.
Thanks to Dollinger and FoA president
Priscilla Feral, we had the
funds to buy a large number of tarpaulins
for what was left of the roof
and sides of the open hog barn we
were allowed to use to house animals
at the local fairgrounds. The tarps
were needed to keep constant rain
and cutting, freezing winds off the
animals and volunteers. Bill also put
our problems on the Internet, and as
a direct result, many people sent
bedding and donations.

Next, Terri Crisp of
United Animal Nations called with
cogent advice on volunteer allocation
and use and temporary shelter management.
She also sent money for
equipment and running expenses.
Third, Steve Preston of the
Pet Savers Foundation subsidiary of
the North Shore Animal League
called. At this point we had been
without water or power for 100
hours, had 35 sick and frozen animals,
and had no relief in sight.
Within two hours, we had a generator,
soup and coffee for exhausted
volunteers, space heaters for animals
and people, and some hope we could
actually get through this.
In the next few days we
found that only four of the animals
we took in had ever been vaccinated.
Pet Savers provided vaccines for all
the shelter animals, for family pets
affected by the storm but not homeless,
and for the animals in other
devastated areas. Thanks to Preston
and local veterinarians James
Achorn, Nicholas Ray Finn, and
Loyd Anderson Nall, more than
1,000 animals were vaccinated.
Because of Pet Savers, more than
100 animals left our temporary shelter
healthier than we ever could have
expected. Besides storm injuries,
the worst illness we had was mild
b o r d a t e l l a in a few dogs who came
in with it. The rest were vaccinated
in time.
We would also like to
mention the local Arkansas and Hot
Springs kennel club volunteers who
came and cleaned, fostered animals,
and spent hours rehabilitating those
terrified by rain, thunder, earthmoving
equipment, and trains, which
sound like tornadoes. They spent
their time and money arranging neutering
and adoption of pets abandoned,
displaced, or just dumped by
people eager to use the storm to get
rid of animals. They provided obedience
training to make animals easier
to adopt, and cheerfully screened
potential adoptors.
Fourth, of course, we
thank ANIMAL PEOPLE for continuous
advice, support, and lists of
resources for help with both this disaster
and our daily problems.
Because of you, we never felt alone.
Watched, perhaps, but not alone.
––Joyce B. Hillard
Executive Director
Arkansans for Animals
Marian Bogard
Animals’ Disaster Relief Team
Little Rock, Arkansas

The Old Man
& The Sea
Hemingway lived in Room
511 at the Ambos Mundos Hotel,
1932-1939. I am living in the room
next to his, Room 512. He wrote For
Whom The Bell Tolls in his room. I
wrote this post card in my room.
––Ric O’Barry
The Dolphin Project

from Habana, Cuba
O’Barry sent a card depict –
ing a six-story mural of Che
Guevarra overlooking a couple of
1950-vintage cars, on his way from
investigating the possibility of reha –
bilitating Cuban captive dolphins for
release to lead a July 5 protest at
Marineland of Niagara, Ontario.
The facility, according to Friends of
the Dolphins president Cara Banks,
currently has “two juvenile orcas and
two infant orcas, all separated from
their mothers at a very early age,
kept in an indoor tank, off limits to
the public. This is the same tank
where Marineland kept Duke, a
semi-retired dolphin, now dead, and
Junior, a wild-caught orca who was
incarcerated for four and a half years
before he died.”

Please tell Wolf that his
illustrations are my favorite part of
ANIMAL PEOPLE. They are wonderful!
––Claire Ives
Best Friends
Kanab, Utah

In your June obituary column,
you contribute to the myth generated
by Russ Rector of the Dolphin
Freedom Foundation that he was
employed by the Miami Seaquarium,
specifically with regard to the care of
our dolphin population. This is a
false claim. Russ Rector has never
been employed by the Miami
Seaquarium or involved in any way
with the care of our dolphins.
––Marlene Oliver
Public Relations Manager
Miami Seaquarium
Miami, Florida

The Peruvian Congress intends to enact a bullfighting law to extend Decree 821, which defines bullfights as “public cultural spectacles,” recognized by the National Cultural Institute and therefore exempt from taxation of ticket sales. The proposed law would promote the construction of bullfighting arenas by exempting the promoters from all taxes for three to five years.
Having suffered from violent terrorism for more than 15 years, and continuing to suffer from poverty and underdevelopment, Peru scarcely needs more promotion of violence. A nation as rich in history, architecture, flora and wildlife as Peru should not aspire to promote tourism by presenting spectacles that only show our backwardness.
Please protest this abominable law to Alberto Fujimori, President of the Republic of Peru, Government Palace, Lima 1, Peru, fax 51-1-426- 70-20; and Victor Joy Way, President of the Congress of Peru, Legislative Palace, Plaza Bolivar, Lima, Peru, fax 51-1-426-82-90 or e-mail >>postmaster@congreso.com.pe<< or >>postmaster@congreso.gob.pe<<.
––Rosario Quintanilla Asoc. de los Animales Lima, Peru

The meat mob
I enjoyed your June article “The meat mob
moves in.” I am afraid that meat, like drugs and
tobacco, is here to stay. It may be possible to get a
few people to comprehend that too much fat in their
diet is bad, but the average person is a meat eater.
The more affluent a society becomes, the more meat
they eat. We have not reached the stage yet where
our bad eating habits are considered dangerous.
––Grady N. Coker, M.D.
Colorado Springs, Colorado

The paradox, as we pointed out, is that
while societies eat more meat as they gain affluence,
individuals eat less meat as they gain education.
Societies typically gain affluence before enough indi –
viduals are educated that an overall decline in meateating
results. Thus in the U.S. and Britain, postWorld
War II affluence brought a surge in meat-eat –
ing still obvious in the habits of people over age 55,
yet the unprecedented educational level attained by
their children and grandchildren has coincided with
progressively less meat-eating in each younger age
bracket. Women give up meat first, then men. If
this trend continues, U.S. per capita meat-eating
should drop by at least a third over the next 20 years.

Pitching horseshoes
The horseshoe crab “harvest’’ on the
shores of Delaware Bay in New Jersey is devastating
the crab population, and the consequences for
migrating shorebirds are disastrous. Governor
Christine Whitman has ordered a 60-day moratorium
on the harvest, but the cumulative damage is
immense. People interested in animal welfare should
get involved in this issue. The performance of mainstream
enviros on this topic has been appallingly lax.
––Peter Page
Trenton, New Jersey

Migrating red knots, sanderlings, and
ruddy turnstones, among other species, depend on
eggs laid by the horseshoe crabs of Delaware Bay
and Cape May for the food energy that will get them
from winter habitat in the Caribbean and South
America to their summer breeding sites inside the
Arctic Circle. Historically, the migrants double
their body weight, depleted by long flight, during
stopovers that coincide with the horseshoe crab egglaying
season. Birds who fail to double their weight
either never make it to the Arctic or lack the fat and
protein reserves to produce eggs if they do get there.
Human bait fishers have hit the horseshoe crabs so
hard that their egg output along some beaches is
down 90% since 1990 and the adult horseshoe crab
population is down 70%, according to New Jersey
state zoologist Kathy Clark. The migratory bird pop –
ulation visiting the region has consequently dropped
from more than 500,000 a year to just 116,000 this
year. Also in trouble are the conches and eels that
the fishers catch with horseshoe crab eggs, chiefly
for export to Asia. The conch catch grew tenfold just
from 1994 to 1995. Governor Whitman’s moratori –
um on horseshoe crab egg-collecting––immensely
unpopular politically––is to expire as A N I M A L
PEOPLE goes to press. To support the moratorium,
address Whitman c/o State House, 125 W. State St.,
Trenton, NJ 08625. We have pointed out repeatedly
the unwillingness of “mainstream enviros” to so
much ascritically comment on fishing, much less
actually do anything against the fishing industry.

Looking for veggie food
Thank you for contacting us to obtain information regarding Taco
Bell’s Vegetable Fajita Wraps. To answer your question, the Vegetable Fajita
Wrap sauce contains a very small amount of chicken flavoring. Please note
that Taco Bell’s Vegetable Fajita Wraps are not advertised or promoted as a
vegetarian menu item. However, customers seeking a vegetarian product
without meat, poultry, or seafood in any form can order the Vegetable Fajita
Wrap without cheese or fajita sauce.
––Amy Sherwood
Director of Public Relations
Taco Bell Corp, Irvine, California

Woods and barn cats
I think your June response to Dave and Lynda Balz [concerning the
euthanasia rate at their Wyandot County Humane Society, which kills ani –
mals at three times the rate per capita of any other shelter for which ANIMAL
PEOPLE has data] was insensitive and incorrect. I believe the animal
welfare movement has been taken over by marketing and public relations professionals
who focus on the positive, like the number of animals saved each
year through adoption. But how effective is this in actually reducing the horrible
suffering of large numbers of animals?
And what about the animal rights movement? Am I the only one
who believes it has gone to the chickens and the fish, which wouldn’t be so
bad if it wasn’t done at the expense of cats and dogs? Do Neil Barnard and
Henry Spira really believe that the suffering of these two species is just a very
small part of the overall picture of animal suffering? Does anyone know
where they get their figures?
It is very easy to get numbers of cows slaughtered from trade associations
and government agencies. Where does one get a list of animals leading
miserable lives? Can anyone tell me the number of feral cats in the
woods of Orleans County, Vermont? Can someone tell me how well they do
when there is a foot of snow on the ground, the temperature drops to below
minus 20 at night, and it never gets above 10 degrees in the day for two
weeks straight? Can someone tell me the number of dogs and cats shot in
rural America each year and the number of puppies and kittens drowned?
While I have no doubt that many animals suffer terribly on factory
farms, on the small dairy farms in Vermont and Quebec the cats, not the
cows, are the ones we see leading horrible lives. ––Rosemary Jacobs
Derby Line, Vermont

Editor’s note:
I began studying homeless cats in 1977 as a newspaperreporter in
Jacobs’ region. The local cat population seems to have begun with Maine
coon cats, evidently descended from the Norwegian skaucats of the Vikings.
These huge longhaired, big-footed cats with water-resistant coats must have
migrated west between the Viking exodus from New Vineland circa 1100 and
the arrival in northern Vermont of other European settlers in the mid-18th
century, who remarked on their presence. Interbreeding with other domestic
cats, they maintain a woods population with the seasonal ups and downs of
other wildlife––reflecting the ups and downs of homeless cats in general.
The 1992 and 1995 ANIMAL PEOPLE cat rescuer surveys
agreed that about 9% of homeless cats live in barns and other rural situa –
tions, and that the average number of cats in rural colonies is 12, with annu –
al mortality of about 50%. Of the estimated 1.4 million barns of all types in
the U.S., about half seem to provide homeless cat habitat.
Based on demographic norms, which show that feral cat popula –
tions closely mirror the human populations that create most of their habitat,
Orleans County would appear to have a year-round average of about 3,000
homeless cats, fluctuating between 2,000 in the dead of winter and 5,000 at
the peak of the spring/summer kitten season.
The U.S. homeless cat population as a whole appears to fluctuate
between 26 million (winter) and 40 million (summer).
Certainly many of these animals suffer to some extent. But it is
doubtful that the majority, living essentially the lives of wildlife, suffer com –
parably to the 1.8 million veal calves, 92.6 million hogs, 293 million
turkeys, and 7.7 billion chickens who were slaughtered in 1996 after spend –
ing their entire lives closely confined in quarters much less spacious, relative
to body size, than typical animal control caging.

Neutering techs

As people become more familiar with
neuter/release, and as it gains popularity with animal rescuers,
it might overtake catch-and-kill as the management
tool of preference for feral cat control. Data gathered from
last summer’s feral cat seminar in Denver, cohosted by the
American Humane Association and the Cat Fanciers’
Association, indicated a growing shift in this direction,
following similar shifts in South Africa and England. But
the growth in popularity of neuter/release means growing
demand for affordable neutering surgery. Many would
argue that this demand is already only partially met. Feral
cats number in the tens of millions, not all veterinarians
care to handle them given their frequently fractious nature
and uncertain health, and not all vets can spend all their
time neutering cats. What we really need are specialists––
neutering technicians––who are not vets, but can do highvolume
routine neutering surgery. Several could work
under supervision of one vet.
––Petra Murray
Howell, New Jersey

Peggy Larson, DVM, responds:
I have often thought that the answer to pet overpopulation
is to train non-veterinary technicians to do neutering.
I believe it could be done––but gaining approval of
the practice would take one hell of a fight. Currently, veterinarians
barely allow technicians to give injections, let
alone do physical examinations and surgery.
At the moment I am working with Dr. John Hamil
and other American Veterinary Medical Association members
to change the 1981 AVMA policy on pet overpopulation,
published on page 57 of the 1997 AVMA Directory .
It says that neutering does nothing to stop pet overpopulation
and besides, poor people don’t use low-cost neutering
services anyway [which claims were thoroughly refuted by
the 1993-1994 ANIMAL PEOPLE study of low-cost neu –
tering patronage.] That language is terribly detrimental to
those of us who run neutering clinics. It gives anti-neutering
clinic vets a reason to get rid of us, contending that
what we do is worthless.
[During the past five years, Larson and col –
league Roger Prior have neutered more than 13,000 cats
and 500 dogs in the vicinity of Burlington, Vermont. “We
are making a difference in Chittendon County,” she wrote
earlier, “but the rest of Vermont is an unknown.” In late
1996, Larson formed the Surgical Reproductive
Intervention Coalition, recently renamed the National
Spay/Neuter Coalition, including about 200 neutering
practitioners. Address membership inquiries to 396
Mountain View Road, Williston, VT 05495, call 802-879-
1465, or e-mail >>Meowvet@aol.com<<.]

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