LETTERS [June 1998]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1998:

Head trips
I have never read such a cogent,
detailed, factual, and ethical explanation
of the current state of biotechnology and
genetic engineering and what it means for
human and animal welfare as “Biotech
head trips,” your December 1997 cover
article. Thank you.

––Jon Christenson
Great Basin News
Carson City, Nevada

Yellowstone bison
Some weeks ago about 50 bison
wandered out of Yellowstone National
Park. They were followed a few days
later by over 250 more: males, females,
pregnant females, youngsters. This was
surprising so late in the year.
The group defending the bison
is Buffalo Nations, consisting of volunteers
from all over. Montana Governor,
Mark “Attila” Raciot, through his killing
arm, the Montana’s Department of Livestock
(DOL), warned Buffalo Nations
not to interfere. They gave as a reason
the danger to Buffalo Nations volunteers.
Buffalo Nations was down to a
skeleton crew of about five. They sent
out an emergency appeal for reinforcements.
DOL meanwhile amassed helicopters,
jeeps, 4WDs, ORVs, ATVs,
motocross and trail bikes, snowmobiles,
skiers and horses.

Buffalo Nations people had only their bodies to put between the bison and DOL’s bullets. But they also had video cameras to document any DOL killing of bison or activists. And they slowly herded the bison back to safety.

Last winter Montana killed 1,100 bison. This year, with only 1,100 bison left, DOL managed to kill just 11.

Now that this matter is on your mind, please send Raciot an e-mail. Tell him to stop blackening the name “Racicot” and that of the State of Montana any more than he already has, at >>momholt-mason@mt.gov<<.

Please send copies to Buffalo Nations, e-mail >>buffalo@wildrockies.org<<, and Montana’s travel organization, e-mail >>Travelcounselor@ TRAVEL.MT.GOV<<. Thank you,

––Abe Ringel Buffalo Nations West Yellowstone, Montana

The Circle of Life
Please accept my sincere gratitude
for sending me ANIMAL PEOPLE.
My name is Cora Bailey. I live
in Gauteng, South Africa. For the past
eight years I have worked to provide education
and animal care to impoverished
squatter camps in and around Soweto.
On each visit I manage to take
back at least five pets (cats/dogs or both)
for spaying. This has made a tremendous
impact on the number of unwanted and
abandoned pets. Conditions in the squatter
camps are dreadful for both humans
and animals. Some camps have only one
water point for over 2,000 residents,
whose accommodations are tin shacks.
High unemployment and lack of transport
make it almost impossible for pet owners
to get veterinary help for sick or injured
animals. I scrounge donations of vaccines,
dewormer, dip, wound dressings
and antibiotics to treat as many animals as
possible. I sometimes have queues of
over 100 people and their pets waiting for
me. I treat who I can, and bring back
cases who require hospitalisation.
Some of the veterinarians in my
neighbourhood are very supportive, and
do as many spays as possible for me. I
also get excellent rates for other surgery,
which is often done at cost.
Funding is always a major
headache. The International Fund for
Animal Welfare has assisted me for the
past two years, and last year the mayor of
a neighbouring city donated a second
vehicle for my use. This enables me to
bring back more animals to be spayed.
Over the years I have fostered
many traumatised baby chacma baboons
for Rita Miljo, of the Centre for Animal
Rehabilitation and Education (CARE) in
Phalaborwa. These babies require intensive
mothering before joining a teenaged
troop, to get ready for their eventual
rehabilitation and release. Although we
have laws prohibiting keeping these primates
as pets, the laws are often ignored,
and the cruel practice of shooting parent
baboons to capture a baby continues. We
often find the babies in the most appalling
conditions, either chained up or confined
to tiny cages when they stop being “cute.”
informative and stimulating, and wish we
had a publication like it in South Africa!!
––Cora Bailey
Pet Animal Welfare
18 Janet Street
Florida ZA 1710
South Africa

Shafting CHARC
I had a ticket to attend this year’s Genesis
Awards but chose to return to Phoenix early from
the Summit for the Animals, and gave the ticket to
another person, who unknown to me at the time of
donating it, is an employee of the Humane Society
of the United States. I also ran an ad for Doing
Things for Animals’ 1998 No-Kill Conference in
the Genesis Awards souvenir journal.
For these reasons, and as an observer of
the heroics of many unsung activists who dedicate
their lives and sacrifice for animals in need, I read
with great interest the article “Steve Hindi learns
about honor among thieves, HSUS, and
Hollywood,” in the May 1998 edition of ANIMAL
P E O P L E. Ark Trust founder Gretchen Wyler’s
last-minute decision to disregard the contributions
of Hindi and CHARC, in presenting the Genesis
Award that their work helped earn, and her subsequent
explanation for this action, have to be among
the biggest gaffes on record in this cause.
––Lynda Foro
Doing Things For Animals
Sun City, Arizona

We are happy to see that A N I M A L
PEOPLE has profiled some Indian organizations.
Compassion Unlimited Plus Action manages
the Bangalore city dog pound and Animal
Birth Control program, offers a 24-hour medical
clinic for all animals, and works with the Forest
Department to rescue and rehabilitate snakes confiscated
from snake charmers, and other reptiles.
We would like to build a modern hospital
and shelter on an acre of land that we have, with
state-of-the-art facilities. We would be grateful to
you if you could advise us on agencies or trusts that
might lend us a helping hand.
––Sanober Z. Bharucha
Honorary Joint Secretary
Compassion Unlimited Plus Action
257, 1st Cross
HA1, IInd Stage
Bangalore, 560038 India


Your 1998 Watchdog Report on Animal Protection Charities is excellent: very readable and
understandable. Keep up the good work!

––Murray & Jean Weiner
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

The 1998 Watchdog Report on Animal Protection Charities, issued as a supplemental pub –
lication to assist animal protection donors, restates the financial data pertaining to 40 leading animalrelated
charities as originally published in our December 1997 eighth annual “Who gets the money?”
feature, and adds succinct factual summaries of the program activities of each organization, any contro –
versies associated with program activities, any controversies associated with organization policies, and
any controversies pertaining to how the organization is run. For example, our own entry reads:

$ 152,884 $ 121,862 $ 31,022 20% 20% $ 27,329 $ 20,776 $ 5,767
Major programs: Publishes ANIMAL PEOPLE newspaper, maintains largest online information archives in
animal protection field.
Program issues: Provides complimentary subscription to every animal shelter/sanctuary and humane
society in the world (more than 5,900 total). Also provides complimentary subscriptions to media, legislators,
schools and libraries on request.
Policy issues: Emphasis on accountability and public debate of policy issues alienates established organizations,
who withold ads and grant support.
Administrative issues: Takes on mission much greater than fiscal base warrants––but has stayed alive
and on schedule.
Copies of the Watchdog Report on Charities are available at $20 apiece from ANIMAL PEOPLE


The Fund in P.R.
My February trip to Puerto Rico was
somewhat different than that described in your
article Dog ecology in Puerto Rico ( M a y
1998). During my stay in the beachside city of
Vega Baja, I could barely walk around the
corner to get a beer without stepping on a sato.
The dogs were either street dogs or abandoned
family companions, evidenced by their
mange, their broken legs, their skinny bodies,
their ingrown collars, and their fear of people.
In my opinion, the problem in
Puerto Rico is twofold. First, most citizens
have neither the money nor the desire to neuter
their dogs. As you stated, most are allowed
to roam, breeding and creating more––either
to live on the streets or to be dumped at animal
shelters. Second, many people simply abandon
animals if they get too big or get mange.
At the shelter in Vega Baja––which is more of
a fenced yard than a shelter, and which, as
your article stated, is very difficult to find––
people literally throw their dogs over the fence
and new dogs show up every day.
Rather than donate to large national
organizations that are publicizing the plight of
the satos, I would suggest that people donate
to Puerto Rican groups that are educating citizens
about the need to neuter and about the
proper care for their dogs. One group in particular,
Mascotas Jibaras (Calle 27, #493,
Pacelas Falu, Rio Pedras, PR 00924) is using
innovative educational programs in schools
and in communities, and with the help of The
Fund for Animals, is launching a low-cost
spay and neuter clinic in the San Juan area.
––Mike Markarian
Director of Campaigns & Media
The Fund for Animals
Silver Spring, Maryland

FoA in P.R.
I was in Puerto Rico before and during
the time of your visit, and I counted seven
stray dogs, a few with skin infections but all
with pretty good weight, plus two cats. This
is a vast change from many years ago, and
I’ve visited the island off and on for more than
three decades.
––Priscilla Feral
Friends of Animals
Darien, Connecticut

Heard (not seen)
I was in Puerto Rico at the same
time Merritt Clifton was looking into the problem
of the strays on the island.
I have heard (not seen) that the article
Clifton wrote strongly indicates that Puerto
Rico does not have a stray animal problem.
I recently drove from the Patillas
area and returned to Vega Baja, Mayaguez,
Salinas, Fajardo, Humacao, San Juan,
Monabo, and Caguas. I carried dog food with
me every day and fed 20 s a t o s a day. Some
were too weak to crawl to the food. I bought
animal carriers and was able to take some of
these dogs to shelters.
Please tell me that Merritt was on
another island––he couldn’t have been in
Puerto Rico!!!!
––Bonnie Carollin
San Juan Airport
Carolina, Puerto Rico

Feral cats abound
There are many reasons why Merritt
Clifton did not see many stray animals in
Puerto Rico, but not because they are not
around. Most stray dogs, and more so cats,
are already so terrified of humans that they
will not even allow you to see them. Others
may appear to belong to someone because people
feel sorry enough to feed them. Some of
these animals are escapees from cruel environments:
dogs used as live doorbells, often tied
to trees in back yards or cornered on blazing
hot roofs for life, given food and water when
their owners think of it.
The most glaring error in Clifton’s
account is that he said there aren’t many feral
cats. Feral cats abound here, hated by many
but kept to hunt rats and other vermin.
Because of the need of so many dogs
and cats here, many good-intentioned people
develop into animal collectors or addicts, who
become cruel to the animals because they run
out of time and resources. The quality of life
is often very poor for all, and in no way can
these dogs and cats be considered pets.
––Sally Tully-Figueroa
Puerto Real, Puerto Rico

How many, how bad
I enjoyed your piece on the stray dog
problem in Puerto Rico. The perception of
how many and how bad is always most subjective:
people seem always to see what they’re
interested in, whether or not their reality
matches a consensus.
Your website is loaded with useful
archived material, making it easy to research a
particular matter. I didn’t see any art by Wolf
Clifton. I hope some will appear.
––Norman Stewart
Austin, Texas

Pare Este
Mr. Clifton being unescorted by
people living here may have given him a distorted
view of the number of realengos that are
present here. (The word s a t o, which means
mixed-breed should not be confused with
realengo which means stray.)
I belong to Pare Este Inc., which is a
nonprofit organization run exclusively by volunteers.
We are a “child” of Emilio Massas,
who directs the shelter in Caguas. We sponsor
a low-cost sterilization program, teach animal
care and treatment in the elementary schools,
answer a hotline over 15 hours a day, and contract
for a weekly animal pick-up. We only
wish that we could have our own shelter.
We are in daily contact with the
Today 10 animals were given up by
their owners for the most incomprehensible
reasons. We then went to the streets to look
for the sick, injured and basically unwanted
r e a l e n g o s, who may be s a t o s but many we
come across are purebreds. We found five animals
in the parking lot where the ferries leave
for Vieques. Three were captured. At the
local airport there were six, two so covered
with mange that their heads were encased in
dried blood. Only one was caught, as sometimes
the sickest run the fastest. At the dump
five puppies were on the street, waiting to be
hit by cars, but quickly crawled under a
barbed wire fence into property we were
unable to enter. At Los Machos Beach we
found at least five realengos.
Now how is it in 75 hours Mr.
Clifton only saw so few r e a l e n g o s when in
less than two hours we had 21 in our area? I
think Mr. Clifton needs to return and have an
escorted visit.
As a concerned citizen and a member
of an animal welfare group in Puerto Rico,
I offer my services as a guide.
––Heidi L. Lepak
Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Merritt Clifton responds:
In Puerto Rico I observed 100 freeroaming
dogs, 77 restrained dogs, 30 roadkilled
dogs, and 23 cats, plus the animals I
found in shelters.
As I explained in Dog ecology in
Puerto Rico, “I could have counted many
more dogs by concentrating my efforts just on
the locales most likely to have them, or by
spending more time with rescuers who attend
free-roaming colonies, but the purpose of an
ecological assessment is not to produce inflated
counts. Rather, the object is to find the
true dimensions of a situation, including an
overview as to how representative the habitat
of a particular kind of animal might be relative
to the totality of the surroundings.”
As I also explained, “Rescuers,
who tend to deal with the most distressed animals,
also typically overestimate the universality
of personal experience.”
It didn’t take me long to find sites
with lots of free-roaming dogs, and sites with
some feral cats. Among them were many of
those mentioned by these letter-writers.
Though animals were sometimes not immediately
visible, wherever animals exist, they
leave scat and other markings, and on discovering
such signs, at any site, I looked further
until I saw at least some of the animals who
made them. I then followed animals to find
out who had homes and who did not.
As I discovered, at least 80% of the
free-roaming dogs had homes––even if they
did join the homeless cadre in scavenging and
begging, as almost any dog will if allowed the
But just finding dogs and cats at
known concentration points and distinguishing
which were homeless wasn’t the object.
My goal, rather, was to find out
how representative such sites are, and what
the conditions are for animals in Puerto Rico
as a whole, to place rescuer reports in context.
Overall, I found a situation seemingly
amenable to relatively quick resolution,
with appropriately directed effort. This finding
is already making significantly more
resources available to effective Puerto Rican
programs, as we’ll be reporting soon––
because the donors now have confidence that
their contributions can make a difference.


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