Coon hunt benefit for St. Jude goes on
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1998:
M E M P H I S––The 22nd annual World’s
Largest Coon Hunt, a United Kennel Club-licensed
event, will be held on April 9-11 at Parsons,
Tennessee, sponsored by Ralston Purina, to benefit
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital of Memphis.
Contestants’ dogs are not allowed to kill
raccoons, but must keep each raccoon treed until
the animal’s presence is confirmed by a judge, and
as a whole the event promotes coonhunting, in
which raccoons are routinely dismembered by dogs
or are shot out of trees and thrown to dogs.
St. Jude has often denied culpability for
the event, but has reportedly accepted $1.5 million
from it over the years without objecting to the
hunters’ use of the St. Jude name. The host organization
was incorporated in 1984 as Decatur CountySt.
Jude World’s Largest Coon Hunt Inc., with
fund-raising for St. Jude’s as its sole stated purpose.
The raccoon hunt has also had a high profile in St.
A boycott of Ralston Purina was called in
protest of the World’s Largest Coon Hunt in 1988
by the editor and publisher of ANIMAL PEOPLE,
who were then editor and news editor of T h e
Animals’ Agenda magazine. The boycott was
endorsed in 1990 by The Fund for Animals and the
Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.
Ralston-Purina was simultaneously under
boycott by Earth Island Institute, Earth First!, and
the St. Louis Animal Rights Team for allegedly selling
non-”dolphin-safe” tuna under a subsidiary later
sold, and was under boycott by some bird protection
groups for producing Starlicide, a toluenebased
poison reportedly used by cattle feedlots to
keep starlings and blackbirds away from the grain
given to livestock.
The boycotts were not endorsed, however,
by most major humane societies, apparently
because of the popularity of the Ralston Purina Petsfor-People
program, which pays rebates to animal
shelters for making adoptions to senior citizens.
Since then, rival pet food firms have
established a competitive presence in animal shelters,
including InnoPet, whose Veterinarian
Formula brand is advertised in ANIMAL PEOPLE.
Dara McDonough of the Wildlife In Crisis
rescue center in Wilton, Connecticut, asks that letters
of protest against the World’s Largest Coon
Hunt be sent to Marlo Thomas, celebrity spokesperson
for St. Jude, who has reportedly ignored a
PETA request to abandon hunting-related fundraising
events, at 420 East 54th St., Suite 28-G, New
York, NY 10022; St Jude itself, POB 3704,
Memphis, TN 38173-0704; and Ralston Purina
Co., Checkerboard Square, St. Louis, MO 63164.