LETTERS [July/Aug 1999]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1999:
Thank you for your coverage
of the often cruel treatment of
wild introduced animals and native
animals in Australia and New
Zealand (“Chocolate bunnies threaten
down-under biosecurity”, ANIMAL
PEOPLE, May 1999). The
RCD saga is continuing. Those
such as myself who continue to
campaign to have RCD de-registered
as a biocontrol agent of rabbits
in Australia are extremely greatful
to publications such as ANIMAL
PEOPLE for alerting the rest
of the world to the shameful and
cruel behaviour of Australian
authorities in allowing RCD to be
legalised as a biological control
agent of the wild introduced rabbit
in Australia. As for New Zealand, it
is amazing that RCD live virus was
apparently approved by authorities
for sale by the bottle.
You gave the impression
that the disease myxomatosis [intro –
duced to Australia and New Zealand
in 1950 to kill rabbits] was effective
in New Zealand. It was not, due to
lack of adequate insect hosts. But
myxomatosis is still very effective
in Australia. Many pet rabbits and
wild rabbits still die of myxomatosis.
The authorities in Australia will
not allow pet rabbit owners to have
access to the myxomatosis vaccine
[to keep immunity from spreading].
Rabbit Information Service
POB 30, Riverton
Western Australia 6148
Thank you for publishing
the art of Wolf Clifton in ANIMAL
PEOPLE. It brightens and lightens
the printed material which it illustrates,
and makes the paper more
enjoyable. Is Wolf to be a regular
contributor? I hope so. Maybe
some day his name even will be
shown as illustrator among the ANIMAL
PEOPLE staff. Please do
pass on to Wolf my compliments
and thanks. He obviously is talented,
and I appreciate his work.
Eagle Mills, New York
Wolf’s parents reply:
Wolf, who will be nine in
September, has contributed draw –
ings to every ANIMAL PEOPLE
edition since 1996. We were hesi –
tant at first to expose him to the
pressures and scrutiny accompanying
publication, but he was eager to
do his part for animals, and his
sketches seem to have become the
most popular part of the paper.
Wolf, practically from
birth, has shown a keen interest in
every kind of animal, helping to
lead us into investigations of many
topics that might not otherwise have
occurred to us. He began drawing
in September 1992, when his daddy
was too harried at deadline on the
first edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE
to draw something to amuse him,
and has spent much of his life since
then drawing animals and making
paper sculptures of animals (start –
ing with a three-foot stegosaurus) in
a corner of our office.
Wolf is also our resident
expert at identifying birds by species
and subspecies, dogs by breed, and
so forth, devouring and memorizing
field guides the way many boys
memorize sports statistics.
Wolf does what he does
because he wants to, however, and
we wouldn’t want to diminsh any of
his joy in doing it by making it into a
I am very appreciative of
your remarkably insightful piece on
our long range plan––but the
R i c h m o n d Times Dispatch i n c o rrectly
reported how the proposed
agreement would have worked, and
ANIMAL PEOPLE u n f o r t u n a t e l y
repeated the error. The city and
counties were not being asked to
take any animals from us but only to
initially receive the animals. We
would then have taken any adoptable
animals from them for adoption
by us, and they would have had the
responsibility for euthanizing
unadoptable animals at their own
facility. The Times Dispatch l a t e r
printed a correction.
Nonetheless, you understood
the underlying point, that the
Richmond SPCA should do the
work that humane societies were
founded to do in the first place:
save animals’ lives. Thanks you so
much for that.
I want you to know that
we will continue to aggressively
pursue both the creation of our new
facility and an arrangement with the
government shelters that will move
this community to the goal of no
more killing of adoptable animals.
1600 Chamberlayne Ave.
Richmond, VA 23222
It could be done!
Depending on my frame
of mind, I can’t always bring
myself to read ANIMAL PEOPLE
when it arrives. But yesterday I
decided to tackle the June issue from
front to back. There was the usual
god-awful depressing stuff: Gory
Gore and the Makahs (guess whose
vote he’s not getting?), the update
on the seal slaughter, horse racing,
ad nauseum. I was getting very
down, and then I came to the article
on the Baja Animal Sanctuary.
Here’s a woman who, in Mexico of
all places, has managed to do what
too many SPCAs and humane societies
in this country can’t seem to do
with all their huge (in comparison)
budgets. The animals look so wonderfully
healthy and happy, and I
loved the idea of plastic buckets
being converted into hiding holes
for the cats!
I don’t have a lot, but I
had to reach for my checkbook to
help them. Congratulations to
Sunny Benedict and her very small
band of volunteers. And thanks to
ANIMAL PEOPLE for writing
such an upbeat story, the kind that
makes me realize this is really what
helping the animals is all about!
Ronaele J. Findley
––Boulder Creek, California
Local & state
We wish you would cover
local and state issues better. Those
are the ones we can get better
––John & Toni Strasburger
We would like to be able
to afford the page space, staff, and
publication frequency necessary to
cover important local issues as
intensely as we pursue precedental
items and matters of national/inter –
national import––but we don’t, and
as ANIMAL PEOPLE reaches all
50 states and more than 60 other
nations, with no particular concen –
tration of readership in any one
place, news of concern to our whole
readership must claim priority.
Researching the activities
of the Invasive Species Council,
recently created by President Bill
Clinton and exposed almost exclusively
to date on page one of the
March 1999 edition of ANIMAL
PEOPLE, I find it very interesting
that the Invasive Species web page
deals almost entirely with weeds and
plants, mentioning little, if anything,
about animals. It would
appear that the Invasive Species
Council intends to present itself to
the public as a weed control agency.
I tend to doubt that we are going to
hear anything about the eradication
of animals, even though the executive
order pertaining to “noxious
weeds and invasive plants” also
applies to “pests and predators.”
I cannot for the life of me
understand why million-dollar
groups with multi-person offices are
not jumping on this and following it.
Non-native animals are clearly
scheduled for big time eradication,
with little or no input or even awareness
from either the humane commuinity
or the general public.
PIGS: A Sanctuary
Charles Town, WV 25414
I was disgusted with your
tabloidish headline “Whale blood
and Gore foul Puget Sound.”
Demonizing Al Gore is counterproductive,
inflammatory, and unfair,
especially since you don’t have a
clue how Gore’s opponents stand on
animal issues. We do know that
George W. Bush is a bird hunter and
condones canned hunts in Texas.
I really enjoy your newspaper.
It is factual and informative,
without being inflammatory.
––Mary Huhndorf, DVM
Farm Sanctuary vs. HFA
As a longtime animal
rights activist with particular concern
for farm animals, I applaud
and admire the good works of both
the Humane Farming Association
and Farm Sanctuary. I still remember
the brilliant full-page ads placed
by HFA in N e w s w e e k a n d M o t h e r
J o n e s, depicting the deprivation
suffered by calves on veal farms.
And HFA’s role in the publication
of Gail Eisnitz’s book S l a u g h t e r –
house has been a critically important
contribution to our struggle.
A few years ago, I
enjoyed one of the best and most
fulfilling experiences of my life as a
volunteer at Farm Sanctuary in New
York. I saw hundreds of people
who had resisted the vegan imperative
finally get it; others who had an
intellectual understanding of the
rights of farm animals developed
There is enough work to
do, and enough animal suffering to
address. But rather than acting as a
vehicle of information to motivate
and inspire activists, your publicat
i o n [by publishing ads in which
HFA and Farm Sanctuary support –
ers criticize each others’ positions] has promoted divisive politics and
turf-ownership. Please, let’s focus
on the animals, forget people politics,
and move the cause forward.
––Alka Chandna, Ph.D.
Los Altos, California
The Editor responds:
The essence of the HFA
vs. Farm Sanctuary dispute is that
Farm Sanctuary has been willing to
compromise key points in order to
pass basic laws which may later be
strengthened by amendment. HFA
holds that compromised laws may
be worse than none, since winning
the needed amendments may take
decades, with the public believing
the problem is already solved.
These are not reconcil –
able positions. They are opposites,
between which each activist must
choose before endorsing either par –
ticular bills or the legislative poli –
cies of organizations. Otherwise,
support given to one strategy tends
to cancel out effort for the other.
HFA has chosen to point
this out in paid ad space––which is
also available to Farm Sanctuary.
We do not tell our adver –
tisers what topics they should
address, or how. We do monitor
accountability, however, and from
that perspective, for any organiza –
tion to clearly define how it differs
from others is a plus.
We believe, as a basic
precept, that the animal protection
cause will become far more suc –
cessful when it develops the politi –
cal maturity to cease pretending to
be in effect a one-party state, rec –
ognizes the value of competiton in
producing effective programs, and
realizes that multiple approaches
and positions competing for public
favor tend to attract more people to
the cause than a single platform
that fully satisfies no one.
To Bill Clinton re ducks’ throats
An open letter to U.S.
President Bill Clinton:
The French Animal Rights
League has read of a dinner you had
at the restaurant Chez l’Ami Louis
with the President of the French
Republic, Jacques Chirac.
The dish you chose is a
French specialty, foie gras, which
is made by force-feeding ducks and
geese. For these animals, forcefeeding
is nothing short of torture.
Foie gras (literally “fat
liver”) is produced by creating a
pathological level of excess fat in
the liver, causing a form of cirrhosis
known as steatosis.
Most foie gras p r o d u c e d
today is from ducks. The animal is
force-fed through a large funnel
placed in his or her gullet. A highpressure
machine then forces the
feed directly into the stomach in just
five or six seconds. At the age of
three months, the ducks are placed
in individual cages, where they
remain for two weeks, in a position
where they can neither turn around
nor extend their wings. Force-feeding
begins during this period. The
quantity is gradually increased so
that by the end of the force-feeding,
the daily dose is nearly half the animal’s
body weight. In two weeks
the weight of the animal’s liver
grows from four ounces to more
than 18 ounces.
In 1998 France produced
12,500 tons of foie gras, which
meant 25 million ducks suffered the
torture of force-feeding.
The French Animal Rights
League trusts that you will henceforth
refuse to eat foie gras.
Prof. of Medicine and President,
French Animal Rights League
39, Rue Claude-Bernard
75005 Paris, France
Bill Clinton built his
power base from an alliance with
the Arkansas-based Tyson poultry
empire––and at Christmas 1993 dis –
played his alleged manliness by
shooting a cage-reared duck.
Thanks for your outstanding June
editorial on the lack of leadership by humane
organizations who serve dead animals at their
fundraising events. You correctly point out
that the mission to promote humane principles
has been supplanted in many cases by the mission
of raising funds.
Further to the inconsistencies you
cited by the Animal Humane Society,
Minnesota’s largest and wealthiest humane
organization, the AHS recently dropped “of
Hennepin County,” which described its jurisdiction,
from its title. This obfuscated the
identity of about 50 other humane societies.
The worst example of AHS conduct,
however, could set Minnesota cruelty laws
back more than a century. Your editorial contained
one mis-statement regarding Minnesota
cruelty laws as they stand, in that all animals
have always been covered, unlike in many
other agricultural states, with n o e x e m p t i o n s
for “standard” practice. That is as it should be
––but the maximum penalty is a misdemeanor.
Our group, Legislative Efforts for
Animal Protection, worked for three years to
develop a bill to increase the penalities for cruelty.
We enlisted and informed voters, found
experts to testify, worked with animal industry
lobbyists, and educated the legislature
about the need for a better law.
From the onset, LEAP! was committed
to withdrawing the bill if exemptions
Not only was AHS remiss in not
promoting better cruelty laws themselves, but
it took them three years to decide to write a
letter of support for our bill, and they supported
it then only on the condition that it exempt
“commonly accepted farm, wildlife and
research animal practices.” No agricultural or
research industry groups had even asked for
the exemptions! AHS lobbyists then co-opted
the bill and sponsor, and did everything they
could to discredit LEAP! and two other state
humane organizations for attempts to halt the
bill. After amendments were added in committees,
the bill now also legalizes cutting the
tail bone of horses (convenient for estrogen
production) and eliminates the requirement of
exercise for confined farm animals.
Additionally, despite LEAP!’s
request not to, the Humane Society of the U.S.
maintained support of the exemption-laden bill
on their Humanelines website.
According to the Animal Humane
Society’s centennial publication A Voice for
Those Who Cannot Speak, 1891-1991, it was
created to address widespread cruelty to horses,
livestock and companion animals. AHS’s
decision to “concentrate its efforts toward the
domestic animals it commonly encounters”
makes a mockery of its own heritage.
The testimony by the AHS cruelty
investigator that he kills piglets with a hammer
was all the more shocking because this practice
is defined as inhumane according to
Minnesota’s existing Humane Slaughter of
Livestock Law, which states, “The use of a
manually operated hammer or sledge is
declared an inhumane method of slaughter.”
––Mary Britton Clouse
Legislative Efforts for Animal Protection!
South St. Paul
Having helped make the undercover
video of the slaughterhouses in South St. Paul
that you mentioned your June editorial, working
with Tony Wong (whom you misidentified
as Steve Wong), I agree that the media and
humane officials in that town are afflicted with
the “dogs vs. cows” disease. How quickly this
story would have made headlines if it had been
about dogs or cats standing in the blood and
waste from the animals in front of them who,
tied upside down, conscious and screaming,
had their necks ripped open by a knife.
Shortly after I became a vegetarian,
I dreamed that I boiled my cat alive and was
chewing his leg off. Waking in horror, I realized
that this was no more barbaric than what I
had done as a meateater.
We are in North Palm Springs, not
Palm Desert, as your June editorial said––and
we not only served turkey to our staff, who
work at minimum wage, but also gave a slice
to every dog and cat at our Orphan Pet Oasis.
About the only meat I’ve given up
(for years) is veal. I won’t be a hypocrite. As
I still buy shoes with leather in them, still
carry leather purses, and still enjoy a salmon
steak, I am far from a vegetarian.
But we still manage to help save
more than 2,000 dogs and cats every year.
Humane Society of the Desert
North Palm Springs, California
In regard to your June editorial,
“Humane societies, guts, and moral leadership,”
I have often found that these societies
supposedly dedicated to the care and welfare
of animals are nothing more than social organizations,
dedicated to the conceit of their
As executive director for many years
of the Montgomery Humane Society, in
Montgomery, Alabama, I fought a long, hard
battle to try to make the board aware of the
real goals of the humane cause. On one horrifying
occasion, I witnessed the entire board,
seeking funds for a new shelter, solicit a local
furrier by promising that they would name the
board room after him. His request to them was
that they take a poll on which ladies on the
board owned fur coats. Shamefully, all but
one (14 in actual count) responded that they
did own at least one fur garment. After being
informed of this count, the furrier declined
anyway. Had he not, that particular shelter
would have a room named for him today.
It is high time humane societies were
run by people who really care and know about
animals and what is needed for their benefit.
Point Clear, Alabama
Is your organization opposed to
U.S. corporate sponsorship of bullfighting?
That seems like a ridiculous question,
right? Maybe its not as ridiculous
as we would like to believe.
My 14-year-old daughter
Meghan has sent 350 e-mails to supposed
animal advocacy group, seeking animal
advocacy organizations that will add their
names to our call for U.S. corporations to
stop sponsoring bullfights. To date, we
have received six positive replies, a few
negatives, and a lot of nonresponse.
What’s going on, people?
Does anyone in animal protection not
agree that U.S. corporations should not
sponsor bullfighting? If organizations
won’t stand up against this, what in the
world will they stand up against?
In my opinion, this kind of
don’t-get-involved attitude has a lot to do
with why we still have a fur issue, whaling
is back, canned hunts flourish, and
millions of dogs and cats continue to languish
and die in concentration camps.
Aren’t we all in this together?
If so, it’s high time we show it! I am
asking for one tiny bit of help in our
fight to stop bullfighting. Ask your
group to sign on to this benign, tame,
and almost lame statement: “U.S. corporations
should not sponsor bullfighting.”
My e-mail address is