LETTERS [Jan/Feb 1998]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1998:

I contribute a substantial donation
monthly to the National Wildlife Federation,
and was shocked to read that they are a national
umbrella for state hunting clubs. I cannot
participate in that. ––Bob D. Craig
Granite Falls, Washington

Your December edition was very
informative in regard to the outrageous salaries
that many organizations pay their executives.
I will let the offenders know that I won’t be
supporting them any more. ––Karin Hiller
Mill Valley, California

Yes, outrageous
People deserve a decent salary, but
some of those reported in your December edition
looked outrageous! We give to a lot of
national organizations, but we are thinking of
giving only to local humane groups.
––Barbara & Randall Erdley
Germantown, Maryland

Execs or chimps?
I just received your latest Watchdog
report on “Who gets the money?”, and hasted
to let you know that Carter Luke also received
$21,305 from the American Humane
Education Society, a Massachusetts SPCA
affiliate, along with the $87,761 you reported
him receiving from the MSPCA itself. Two
other MSPCA affiliates, the Mary Mitchell
Humane Fund and the Alice Manning Trust,
both received extensions from the IRS, so
their fiscal 1996 reports aren’t available yet.
The MSPCA has meanwhile spun
off a new project, Operation Outreach, which
will help them to solicit nationally. Headquarters
are in Natick, Massachusetts, with
Judy Golden as president––formerly with the
American Humane Education Society, which
helped fund the Operation Outreach start-up.
I have to say this: business-wise,
the MSPCA is brilliant, following along the
lines of the Humane Society of the U.S. They
work closely together. In fact, HSUS vice
president for wildlife John Grandy just convinced
Luke to join the “Teaming With
Wildlife” initiative to support nongame
wildlife program funding, saying it was a
good political move and the right thing to do,
even though it was drafted by the International
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, of
which Massachusetts Department of Fish and
Wildlife director Wayne MacCallum is president.
Grandy and Luke both know that the
Massachusetts Nongame Fund pays the
salaries of the biggest proponents of the gull
poisoning program on Cape Cod, from 1980
to the present. MacCallum has written several
articles in support of the program. What is
wrong with Grandy and Luke? They know
“Teaming With Wildlife” will merely subsidize
fish and game agencies, and is thus the
worst thing we could do.
I hope Primarily Primates got the
funds needed to save the LEMSIP chimps
from Coulston. The MSPCA and HSUS alone
could sponsor them.
––Dorothy Chechi O’Brien
Plymouth, Massachusetts

By our reckoning, the average
salary of an HSUS vice president could have
retired at least five former LEMSIP chimps
from further use in research––and five chimps
in retirement would be infinitely more useful to
animal protection than a typical HSUS vice
president on the job.

Nut roast
I finally tried out your “Holiday nut
roast” recipe, published each December. It is
wonderful, and I hope you’ll keep publishing
it. I’ve sent it on to people who will appreciate
it, tucked into their Christmas cards.
––Solveig B. Jentner
Fairview Park, Ohio

No-kill animal control
I enjoyed reading your October article
on the Humane Society of the Gallatin
Valley in Bozeman, Montana, but found it
somewhat misleading as regards our euthanasia
rate of 10 per 1,000 residents (about twice
the San Francisco rate, but half the average
U.S. shelter killing ratio, and a third the
small-city norm.] The fact is, for the past three years
we haven’t euthanized a single adoptable animal
brought to our shelter. Instead we have
found good homes for all of them. We have
euthanized animals in our care only when they
have been hopelessly ill or injured, tested positive
for feline leukemia, or were determined
to be dangerously aggressive. We accomplished
this as the only animal shelter in
Gallatin County, handling both the city and
county animal control sheltering contracts,
accepting all animals brought to us. We also
neuter every animal before it leaves our shelter.
Our next goal is to establish a mobile neutering
operation to serve outlying areas.
The number of animals euthanized
by our shelter does not reflect the effectiveness
of our policies and programs. It simply represents
the number of untreatable or unsocialized
animals brought to our shelter. Comparisons
of this per capita rate with those found in other
areas of the country seem unproductive and
somewhat misleading, since the incidence rate
is essentially beyond control. Without clarification,
it seems confusing to have a euthanasia
rate associated with a no-kill shelter.
––Bruce Jodar
Bozeman, Montana

On the contrary, knowing the per
capita euthanasia rates for communities with
“no-kill” animal control is critical to planners
and decision-makers in other communities,
who need to know what to expect if they com –
mit themselves in this still quite controversial
direction. What level of shelter killing is
authentic euthanasia, undertaken to relieve
actual suffering, and to what extent can the
accomplishments of no-kill shelters in reduc –
ing killing rates be explained away by critics
as just the product of fortuitous circumstance
and/or changed definitions? How important
and effective is low-cost neutering outreach?
The numbers tell the largely positive story,
while introducing a note of realism for those
who hope to literally “save them all,” or
would attack a no-kill shelter director for con –
tinuing to do euthanasia in those cases where
there is truly no humane alternative.

Greek Animal Welfare
Thank you for sending us your
excellent journal. I greatly admire your special
concern for farm animals––some of the
most abused of all creatures.
I was interested to read the letter
from the Greek Animal Welfare Fund in your
November issue, and thought you might like
to hear from another group promoting animal
welfare in Greece. Established in 1987 and
registered as a charity two years later, we
maintain a major shelter near Athens, and
support two others, one on Kos and the other
on Crete. We promote and undertake neutering
as the longterm humane answer to animal
overpopulation, and educate as much as possible
by example.
We are concerned with cruelty to
animals in whatever form and wherever it may
be found: pet shops, zoos, circuses, markets,
slaughterhouses. In 1997 we rescued a lion
and lioness. This is not something we can
often do, as our funds are fully stretched and
we never forget our commitment to the countless
stray dogs and cats who look to us for
help. But the lion lived for three years in
wretched conditions in a zoo in an Athens suburb,
and the lioness was kept illegally by a
farmer on Kos for nearly 10 years in a squalid
shed and concrete pen. Both now enjoy a
happy life in the Kent countryside. Their rescues
have awakened the Greek conscience
with regard to wildlife.
––Vesna Jones
Greek Animal Rescue
69 Great North Way
Hendon, London NW4 1PT


On a recent visit to Florida, my
family and I visited JungleLand, in Kissim
m e e [from which the lioness Nala escaped
on December 16, as workers tried to drain
her cage, which was reportedly under a foot
of floodwater]. We were horrified at the conditions.
The big cats were kept in very small
cages, which were rusty and in need of repair
[as the USDA Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service verified, giving
JungleLand 48 hours to make repairs or close
on December 18, after Nala was recaptured].
We asked an attendant why one big
cat was in such a small cage and seemed to be
very stressed, pacing up and down a lot. The
attendant replied that larger enclosures were
being built but were not ready yet, and that
big cats liked to pace.
I am sure we were not alone in
being upset. Surely something can be done to
alleviate these majestic animals’ suffering. Is
there any need for big cats to be kept in cages
in this day and age?
––Mrs. J.P. Glass
Tyne & Wear, England

Nearly 500,000 people a year pay to
visit JungleLand, a site not accredited by the
American Zoo Association. JungleLand
crams more than 300 animals into just seven
acres and has had at least one well-publicized
animal care problem each year since 1994.
JungleLand and all the other 2,200-odd sub –
standard zoos in the U.S. would be out of
business if people didn’t visit them––but that
would leave the question of what to do with
the animals. Reputable sanctuaries are long
since full, and many offer only marginally
better conditions for big cats, whose space
needs in the wild may be 50 to 300 square
miles, and whose feeding and veterinary care
often costs more than $5,000 apiece per year.

Feeding pet dragons

Keeping snakes and large lizards has
become popular, and these captive reptiles are
often fed live mice or rats. In recent years,
many people who keep these reptiles have
turned to the use of frozen mice and rats. This
is not out of humaneness––although one person
I know who fed live mice to his snakes
said that after he heard a mouse squeak from
inside the snake, he never again used live
mice. Rather, it is for convenience of storage
and for the safety of the reptiles, as a rodent
bite could lead to infection and possibly death.
The production of frozen mice and
rats appears to be a sizable cotage industry. I
was wondering if you knew the extent of this
industry and how the mice and rats are killed.
––Ed Rosenblum
Brooklyn, New York

According to the 1997 U.S. Pet
Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook,
published by the American Veterinary Medical
Association, the sum of households bringing
turtles, snakes, lizards and other reptiles to
veterinarians rose from 30% in 1991 to 33%
in 1996––10 to 11 times the rate of reptile
ownership (3%) found in a similar study done
fn 1984 for Psychology Today. The rate of
snake ownership fell from 13% in 1991 to 8%
in 1996, but the rate of lizard ownership rose
from 6.% to 13%. We understand the growth
in lizard-keeping mainly involves iguanas,
most varieties of which are strictly vegetarian.
Dropping interest in snakes may reflect owner
discomfort with feeding them live rodents.
The AVMA data does not tell either
how many reptiles are privately owned or how
many of them eat rodents. Thus any projec –
tion of trends in related rodent commerce
would be shaky. USDA regulations do not
consider mice, rats, and birds to be “ani –
mals” as defined and covered by the Animal
Welfare Act. Thus there is no national
requirement for tracking mouse and rat breed –
ing and sale. This is due to biomedical
research sector reluctance to comply with the
AWA tracking requirements, and USDA
reluctance to fight researchers to enforce the
same standards for mouse and rat-related
recordkeeping and care as pertain to other
mammals. The growth of private reptile-keep –
ing and resultant trends in rodent traffic were
apparently unforseen in 1985, when the AWA
was last substantially amended.


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