BOOKS: Making That Animal-Wonderful World A Reality, Not A Dream

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1999:

Making That Animal-Wonderful World A Reality, Not A Dream
Distributed c/o Belton P. Mouras (222 California Loop, Sacramento, CA 95823), 1998. 25 pages, illustrated. No price listed.

“Don’t judge a book by the cover,”
the saying goes, but another saying holds that
“A picture is worth 1,000 words,” and the 14-
year-old cover photo, in the case of M a k i n g
That Animal-Wonderful World A Reality, Not
A Dream, tells a perhaps indicative story that
isn’t in the book.
In the foreground, right, Animal
Protection Institute, United Animal Nations,
and Summit for the Animals founder Belton P.
Mouras poses for a photographer who is also
in the foreground, at left. Mouras holds an
unidentifiable animal.
Between Mouras and the photographer,
in the background, are three women.
At left, National Alliance for Animals founder
Syndee Brinkman holds another unidentifiable
animal. At right, a woman we don’t recognize
looks admiringly over Mouras’ shoulder.
At center, frowning in silent commentary,
is Kim Bartlett, then a Houston
humane volunteer, now publisher of A N IMAL

The place was the Fund for Animals’
Black Beauty Ranch, in 1986. The animal
was a sick baby goat, who died that evening.
Mouras took the goat from Bartlett,
just moments before, to use as a prop.
The book, as a whole, is Mouras’
biography and vision statement for the future
of animal protection. We suspect it is his autobiography––but
it is told third-person. It
implies that Mouras had a key role in ending
the Canadian seal hunt, which never really
stopped despite a 10-year hiatus in the most
murderous part of it. Since 1995 the sealers
have killed more seals than ever.
It also implies that Mouras and associates
brought home the dogs used by U.S.
troops during the Vietnam War. Yet according
to the Discovery Channel documentary W a r
Dogs: America’s Forgotten Heroes, which
premiered on February 15, “These canine
heroes were classified by the military as equipment,
were declared ‘surplus armaments,’
and were either unceremoniously euthanized,”
a euphemism for shot, “or left to unknown
fates in Vietnam.”
Omitted is that Mouras in January
1976 was denounced by California deputy
attorney general Carole Kornblum because,
“Almost all the money collected last year” by
API “went into advertising and staff salaries.
They did not spend one dime on animals.”
Reported The National Enquirer,
“Mouras himself drew a comfortable $36,952
salary––plus about $30,000 in commissions
from his advertising agency, which handled
all advertising for API, according to the attorney
general’s office.”
There were extenuating circumstances:
API had been prominently posting
anti-hunting billboards. Kornblum, seeking
re-election, drew much of her support from
the gun lobby. Several of the most damning
statements against Mouras came from the
Humane Society of the U.S., which Mouras
left to found API in 1968. HSUS, then and
now, does essentially the same thing: highprofile
publicity and fundraising, with little or
no direct aid to animals. And, even then,
HSUS president John Hoyt and his longtime
sidekick Paul Irwin paid themselves more.
Mouras was further maligned after
heiress Helen Brach disappeared in 1977.
Mouras was evidently the last of her friends to
see her alive. To this day he is among the
chief advisors and his causes among the chief
animal welfare beneficiaries of the Helen V.
Brach Foundation, established by her estate.
Political enemies many times tried to link
Mouras to the disappearance––but when the
case finally broke in 1994, leading to the conviction
of stable owner Richard Bailey for her
murder, it was plain that Mouras had nothing
whatever to do with it. Brach had actually run
afoul of a horse-killing-for-insurance fraud
ring whose alleged members appear to have
been responsible for at least eight other murders
of humans, and hundreds of horse deaths.
At least 36 people were eventually convicted
of related activity.
Even if one sets aside all the
unfounded rumors about Mouras, however,
overlooks his inaccuracies, and attributes his
ouster from both API and UAN strictly to differences
of opinion about priorities and programs,
not to recurring allegations of selfinterested
dealing, and even if one also
acknowledges Mouras’ good deeds, including
his current fundraising effort to help Primarily
Primates build facilities for 31 former NASA
space chimpanzees, there is room for considerable
skepticism about much of his message.
On the positive side, Mouras recognizes
and emphasizes that “Animal defending
is about the individual creature too. Saving
species, yes, but when our campaigns seem to
be all in the abstract, we’re in trouble.”
Also on the positive side, Mouras
understood very early that transforming the
values of society to favor kindness toward animals
does require massive commitment of
resources to public education. The negative
aspect of doing high-volume direct mail comes
when the mailings target the already persuaded,
instead of reaching out to the public.
The big negative is that Mouras was
and remains one of the most influential advocates
of so-called “movement unity.”
“Movement unity” is an ever-popular
concept, appealing to the illusion that all
animal defenders are seeking essentially the
same goals, and that therefore we should
stand together as a cohesive political force,
refraining from rivalry, internal debate, and
public criticism of other animal protection
organizations, strategies, and their leaders.
Mouras originated the annual
Summit for the Animals to promote “movement
unity,” and on one level succeeded: the
self-perpetuating Summit leadership has long
used the dubious privilege of an invitation to
attend as a device for maintaining the alleged
sense of honor among suspected thieves.
Summit-centered peer pressure has helped
many animal protection group leaders who
siphon far more money out of the cause than
Mouras ever purportedly did to go right on
doing it, with little risk that denunciation will
be directed to their donor base by their
fundraising rivals.
Otherwise, “movement unity” is an
illusion. As the ongoing acrimony over no-kill
sheltering and neuter/return control of feral
cats illustrates, animal protection advocates
do not all share the same perspectives, even
when they share similar priorities, and choices
of tactics and techniques are often mutually
exclusive. It is accordingly healthier and more
productive for discussion and debate to be out
in the open, allowing donors and supporters to
decide for themselves which alternatives are
bringing the most satisfactory results.
If Mouras had conceived the Summit
for the Animals as a tactical and philosophical
forum, open to media and the public, it might
have built a much stronger movement.
Instead, the doors were closed by Mouras’
successors in the Summit leadership, and the
attempted suppression of dissent underway
ever since has ironically yet inevitably accelerated
self-destructive internal strife

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.