What cooks at NEAVS?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1998:
BOSTON––The PETA faction
fighting for control of the 103-year-old New
England Anti-Vivisection Society and assets
of $5.9 million continues to try to run it
despite a January 22 ruling by Superior Court
Justice Margaret Hinkle that it “breached fiduciary
duties” in a 1996 bid to oust a faction
associated with The Fund for Animals.
The Hinkle ruling installed psychologist
Theo Capaldo as NEAVS president, two
years after proxy ballots that were to have
elected her disappeared on the eve of the 1996
annual membership meeting.
But Capaldo found she had little
ability to act. The PETA faction still holds the
board majority, and in February voted to
remove Richard Janisch, who had refused to
obey board orders he believed were illegal, as
Then, Capaldo told A N I M A L
P E O P L E, “At the end of my first week in
office, at a March 7 board meeting, a motion
was passed, not unanimously, to direct me to
refer all media inquiries to the NEAVS
office,” run by executive director Roberta
Wright. Formerly president of Voice for
Animals, in Tucson, Wright was picked for
the NEAVS job by PETA cofounder and
NEAVS board member Ingrid Newkirk.
“Personally,” Capaldo said, “I’d
like to say that I totally support the rights of
people to know the whole story, especially
when it comes to public charities. As such, I
appreciate your attempts to cover this issue. I
wish I could be more helpful at this time.”
There was a lot to inquire about,
including PETA faction legal fees of $578,000
on top of $200,000 already paid, for which
NEAVS has reportedly been billed. There was
the “1996 annual meeting,” convened on
March 7, from which the PETA faction
walked out, according to other participants,
and then tried to hold the “1997 annual meeting”
in a separate room while 20 other
NEAVS members continued the 1996 meeting.
And then there was The Pie.
“What happened is all on video
tape,” former NEAVS executive director
Irene Cruikshank told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“A former staff member showed up at the
meetings with a pie in hand. When [PETA
cofounder] Alex Pacheco asked about the pie,
she informed him that it was a gift for Theo
Capaldo. Pacheco had the pie removed from
the room. He said something like, ‘I don’t
think any animal people should be pied.’ He
also said he didn’t think anyone should be
pieing anyone,” although PETA activist
Melynda Duval on February 12 pied Procter &
Gamble chief executive John E. Pepper. P&G
leads the known universe in spending to develop
and market product safety tests that don’t
use animals, honoring a 1984 agreement with
Henry Spira of Animal Rights International.
“The woman carried the pie into the
kitchen herself,” Cruickshank continued. “As
the pie was moved, Pacheco kept a watchful
eye on it, and checked behind his back as it
was carried past him, and then behind him.”
The Fund and PETA joined in a
1988 hostile takeover of NEAVS, previously
headed by former Massachusetts probate judge
Robert Ford. A year later Ford was stripped of
his administrative duties by the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court, and was fined
$75,000 for his management of NEAVS.
The Fund and PETA factions split
after Fund founder Cleveland Amory in 1995
announced he would retire after eight years as
NEAVS president, and appointed a committee
which named Capaldo as his successor.
Justice Hinkle found that the PETA
faction “viewed Capaldo as likely to be unsupportive
of continued funding from NEAVS for
organizations with which they were allied.”
Besides Newkirk and Alex Pacheco, the
PETA faction includes Physicians Committee
for Responsible Medicine founder and president
Neal Barnard, Bosack & Kruger
Foundation executive director Scott Van
Valkenburg, and individual activists Merry
Caplan and Tina Brackenbush.
Founded to oppose cruel experiments
on both animals and humans, NEAVS
focused on abuses of prisoners and the mentally
handicapped for most of the 20th century. It
claimed assets of $8.6 million at the time of
the Fund/PETA takeover.