The kids are all right––but Angell’s legacy isn’t
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1999:
Tucker, a German shorthair/Labrador mix, had
already been swept backward 400 yards despite his desperate
dog-paddling against the snowmelt-swollen Wesserunsett
Stream in Skowhegan, Maine. He was 300 yards from being
swept over an old mill dam to probable death on February 28
when 11-year-old Karla Pierce saw him.
Her parents, Kim and Ralph Pierce, watched from
the opposite bank in terror as Karla hooked her feet on shrubbery,
leaned down a slick slope, and pulled Tucker to safety.
“I first tried to grab his stomach but it didn’t work,”
she said. “So I grabbed his paws. He started yelping, but there
was no other way.”
Tucker wasn’t her dog. He belonged to Tim Miller,
a family friend, and apparently fell or jumped into the stream
while roughhousing with other dogs at a picnic.
Not all lifesaving deeds for animals are heroic.
Some are just messy.
Fifteen-year-old Josh Chapman, for instance, of
Billings, Montana, on June 15 alerted his mother and her coworkers
to faint mewing inside a trash bin near their office.
Overturning the bin, they rescued four wet, hypothermic kittens
who had been sealed inside a plastic bag.
Callena Burns, 17, of Lake Station, Indiana, had
a similar experience on August 21. She was two hours late for
work after crawling into a mud-filled culvert pipe to rescue four
Dalmatian puppies, after finding two others with their dead
mother, a stray, beneath a neighbor’s trailer. The mother had
apparently choked on a piece of insulation material, Burns
said. Burns’ ambition is to become a veterinarian.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,
realized ten-year-old Stephanie Taylor, of Oceanside,
California, when she heard of Associated Humane Societies of
New Jersey assistant director Rosanne Trezza’s ongoing effort
to buy bulletproof vests for all police dogs in the state.
Trezza’s project is in honor of Solo, killed in June 1998 by a
cornered murder suspect.
Learning that the six Oceanside police dogs had no
bulletproof vests because the city hadn’t allocated the $475-pervest
price, Taylor raised the full sum herself in just three
weeks. “I love animals,” she explained, adding that she, like
Burns, hopes to become a vet.
Mina Sharpe, 17, summers in neighboring Carlsbad,
California. That she too loves animals and wants to be a vet is
about all the explanation she offers for founding the Taipei
Abandoned Animal Rescue Foundation five years ago––still the
only no-kill animal adoption program in Taiwan.
Now starting her senior year of high school in
Taiwan, where her parents work, Sharpe has rescued, treated,
paid for neutering, and placed for adoption about 500 street
dogs, mostly via Internet advertising. This is about 5% of all
the dogs placed by Taiwanese shelters during the time TAARF
has existed. Many dogs, especially those with special needs,
go to the U.S., taken by volunteer travelers who check them as
Thus ANIMAL PEOPLE acquired Simon, hit by a
car as a puppy, presently recovering from his fourth orthopedic
surgery, and expected to finally regain fairly normal mobility.
Humane workers tend to have an ingrained mistrust
of loitering gangs of boys, who most often attract their notice
for inflicting atrocities on animals––but dog lover Wendy
Morris, 31, and Royal SPCA inspector Michelle Charlton, 37,
both of Sleekburn, Northumber-land, England, have modified
their views. On June 25, walking her own Jack Russell terrier,
Morris was helpless to intervene when she saw two youths
heave a tan mongrel puppy off a 70-foot bridge and run away.
The puppy plunged into a mudbank in midstream, suffering a
broken jaw and back injuries. But six other boys swam to the
rescue, dug the puppy out of the muck, and built a small raft to
float him to Morris, who looked after him until Charlton
arrived. None of the boys left their names.
Bradly Ellenberger, 9, of Racine, Wisconsin,
exemplified both the rowdy and generous sides of boy nature in
August. First he climbed atop a wall and railing at the Racine
Zoo, ignoring posted rules, to try to pet an otter. The otter bit
him. Since no one knew which of the two otters in the exhibit
did the biting, both would have been decapitated for rabies
testing––but Ellenberger volunteered to take a series of five
rabies shots instead.
“Bradly didn’t want to grow up thinking the otters
died because of him,” his aunt Michelle Ellenberger said. “He
told me that the pain of the shots would go away, but dying is
“I don’t like animals dying,” Bradly said.
Also given post-exposure rabies vaccination in midAugust
were Jessica Baratta, 11, an unidentified 13-year-old
friend, and science teacher Richard Regan, 43, of Stone
Middle School in Melbourne, Florida. The children on August
18 tried to help a bat who flew into a wall. Intervening, Regan
called Brevard County Animal Control. As Regan suspected,
the bat was rabid.
Bands of Mercy
Massachusetts SPCA founder George T. Angell recognized
almost at the outset of the U.S. humane movement that
saving animals, passing anti-cruelty laws, and prosecuting
offenders could only effect one-case-at-a-time change.
Building a genuinely humane society, Angell wrote
in 1894, “is simply a question of education. You may teach a
boy to shoot the little song-bird in springtime, with her nest full
of young; or you may teach him to feed the bird and spare her
nest. You may go into the schools now with book, picture,
song, and story, and make neglected boys merciful; or you
may let them drift until as men they have become sufficiently
lawless and cruel to throw your railway trains off the track,
place dynamite under your dwelling-houses or public buildings,
assassinate your President, burn half your city, or as nihilistic
leaders, involve the nation in civil war.
“Our remedy lies in the humane education of the children––which
will also be found to be the moral education of the
children,” Angell continued. “This is also the shortest road to
reach the parents.”
Using arguments only recently rediscovered and reemphasized,
Angell cited a study of 2,000 convicts which
found that only 12 had kept pets in childhood.
“I have heard the question asked,” he went on,
“‘Will not this humane education unfit our boys for soldiers?’ I
answer that a boy who has been trained to protect a dumb beast
from cruelty will fight, if need be, none the less bravely for his
home and country.”
Angell in 1882 started the American Humane
Education Society as an adjunct to the MSPCA. It still exists,
at least on paper, but AHES activity faded from prominence
after the MSPCA opened Angell Memorial Hospital in 1915,
five years after Angell’s death. Huge construction cost overruns
gave Angell’s successors a pretext to shift the MSPCA emphasis
from Angell’s own passion, humane education, to providing
advanced veterinary care for those who could pay.
The marble hospital became in effect the tomb of
AHES, which in Angell’s lifetime had actually become more
prominent nationally than the MSPCA itself, as host of the
Bands of Mercy. Any child could join who pledged, “I will try
to be kind to all harmless living creatures, both human and
dumb, and will try to protect them from cruel useage.”
Explained Angell, “The Band of Mercy methods of
organization are so simple that any boy or girl of ordinary intelligence,
14 years old, can organize a chapter. Its exercises
occupy such part of school, or Sunday school, or other time,
as each band for itself arranges. It costs nothing. All that it
requires is the simple pledge. We send, without cost, to each
band formed of over 40 members, an order of exercises and
full information as to what to do and how to do it; ten very
interesting lessons on kindness to animals, full of stories and
instruction; and a subscription to our monthly paper, Our
Dumb Animals,” which continues as Animals magazine.
At Angell’s death in 1910 there were 221,000 recognized
Bands of Mercy. A Band of Mercy convention in Kansas
City circa 1912 drew 25,000 children plus 15,000 parents and
teachers––many of whom had themselves belonged when they
were children. The political clout of the Bands of Mercy was
such that 20 states had added humane education to their mandatory
public school curriculums by 1922.
Angell’s successor, Baptist minister Francis H.
Rowley, joined the author Jack London in founding the Jack
London Clubs. As militant adjuncts to the Bands of Mercy, they
drove dogfighting and cockfighting off newspaper sports pages
and started a national crusade against abuse of circus animals.
The Jack London Clubs were copied in the Soviet
Union and elsewhere in eastern Europe as the White Fang
Societies. Some survived decades of Communist repression to
become core groups today within a resurging humane movement.
But the Jack London Clubs waned in the U.S. after
London’s suicide in 1916, and faded out, along with the Bands
of Mercy, soon after the 1929 onset of the Great Depression.
Trying to recapture the momentum lost so long ago,
the 1999 Summit for the Animals designated the year 2000
“The Year of the Humane Child.”
The Doris Day Animal Foundation, which proposed
the campaign theme, plans “to produce a mimimum of 50,000
copies of a 32-page comic book, to be placed inside a clear
plastic bag along with one of DC Comics’ regular monthly
titles and distributed to comic book stores around the country.
Ideally we would like to print 100,000 copies,” DDAF said,
soliciting advertising from other animal protection groups.
“However, this will add $42,800 to the cost,” which would be
$105,300 for the first 50,000.”
DDAF is an adjunct to the Doris Day Animal League,
whose annual budget is circa $2.2 million, with assets of over
For the record, George Angell printed 20,000 copies
of the first edition of Our Dumb Animals in 1879, two months
after founding the MSPCA, for free distribution to the youth of
Angell liked to hold essay contests, publishing the
winning entries and rewarding the authors with prizes of value
relative to their age, including pins, books, savings bonds and
The American SPCA, the oldest U.S. humane society,
is holding an essay contest this fall, with a November 8
deadline and prizes including books and membership in
ASPCA Animaland, described as “a club for children ages 7-
12.” Entries will be judged in two groups: grades 1-3 and 4-6.
The top prizes include bedroom sets and backpacks. The
essays, however, are to be just 100-150 words long––scarcely
a paragraph by the standards Angell set, which included
expecting children to seriously weigh moral conflict. (Submit
to ASPCA Essay Contest, 424 E. 92nd St., New York, NY
United Animal Nations is also holding an essay contest,
with a November deadline. Entrants, age 12 or younger,
must write 300 words on the theme “Animals don’t belong in
That leaves 294 words, or about two paragraphs, for
some original thought. (Submit to UAN, POB 188890,
Sacramento, CA 95818.)
Proceding more as Angell did, the Fund for Animals
has likewise announced an essay contest, with a February 29
deadline. Children are to respond to their choice among three
• Is there a link between cruelty to animals and violence
against human beings?
• Is sport hunting a form of cruelty to animals?
• Why do we love animals called pets and hunt animals
Students in grades 4-5 are to write 100 words; students
in grades 6-8 are to write 250 words; and students in
grades 9-12 are to write 500 words. (Submit to Project Respect,
c/o The Fund for Animals, 8121 Georgia Ave., Suite 301,
Silver Spring, MD 20910.)
There are some efforts underway to provide free
materials to classrooms, in the spirit of the Bands of Mercy.
ANIMAL PEOPLE––not part of the Summit and
“Year of the Humane Child” campaign––provides free subscriptions
to school libraries and always has, on written request
from the librarians. We also send free copies on request to any
teacher or student.
The Fund for Animals offers free newsletters to
teachers: Animal Crusaders, for those at the elementary school
level, and Animal Free Press for the middle and high school
levels. (Request c/o address above.)
The American Anti-Vivisection Society, begun in
1881 by Angell’s lifelong friend Caroline Earle White, has produced
The Rat Pack, a set of eight lessons about rats and mice,
with a follow-up quiz, available free to classrooms via the
AAVS Animalearn division. (Call 215-887-0816, fax 215-
887-2088, or e-mail >>email@example.com<<.)
Many other national organizations, nominally participating
in the “Year of the Humane Child,” may only advertise
in the DDAF comic book.
“Be Kind Kids”
But even without active encouragement from national
groups, children are undertaking a wide range of humane projects––mostly
at their own initiative.
Lindsay Walker, 13, of North Brantford,
Connecticut, was in May named the American Humane
Association’s 1999 “Be Kind To Animals Kid,” a year after
setting up a web site to advertise adoptable animals on behalf of
shelters throughout the state. Walker also promotes adoptions
through a local newspaper column. Probably nominated by
multiple sources, like many of the AHA winners, Walker was
among the candidates whose particulars ANIMAL PEOPLE
faxed to the AHA during the 1998-1999 school year.
Another was Kacy Kawaguchi, then a seven-year-old
second grader at the Heritage Christian School in Topeka,
Kansas, who gave the Helping Hands Humane Society $83
worth of supplies she bought with money she earned doing
household chores. Her goal, she told Lisa M. Sodders of the
Topeka Capital-Journal, is to become a humane educator.
Emma Murphy-Barteaux, 10, of Halifax, Nova
Scotia, came to our attention in July by organizing four friends,
ages 9-11, to raise $73 toward veterinary care for a dog named
Nikita, who was dragged behind a pickup truck in
Northumberland, Ontario. News media attention to their effort
helped the Northumberland Humane Society raise $36,000
around the case, helping not only Nikita but also many other
animals. The alleged offender, George McCullough, 36, is to
be tried on September 27.
The ANIMAL PEOPLE files indicate that while
girls seem to be more likely to put in sustained effort on behalf
of dogs and cats, boys more often come to our attention for
spontaneous initiative to help wildlife.
Kyle DeGraef, for example, age 12, found an
injured hawk in the snow last January near his home in
Spotsylvania, Pennsylvania. Three friends joined him in taking
the bird to get help. The Virginia Wildlife Center returned the
rehabilitated hawk to the wild in late April. The release was
broadcast on the Animal Planet program Wildlife Emergency.
Tyler Kelley, 15, of Portsmouth, Virginia, on June
11 called every government agency and nonprofit animal protection
group he could think of on behalf of an American eagle
he found entangled in fishing line with a dead fish, a hook
embedded in her wing. Virginia wildlife biologist Don
Schwab eventually freed the eagle, who was not seriously
injured but would probably have died, still entangled, if Kelley
The AHA had in mind honoring such a boy in naming
falconry student Chans Ruder, six, of Columbus, Georgia, as
a 1999 “Be Kind To Animals Kid” national finalist.
The judges misunderstood the nominating literature,
AHA secretary Bob Hart acknowledged when questioned by
ANIMAL PEOPLE: falconry is not avian rehabilitation,
though some falconers use rehab as a pretext to get permits to
keep protected raptors. Rather, falconry is hunting. Hart
pledged that the error would not be repeated.
Barker and Brown
Two California boys, at opposite ends of the state,
have demonstrated significant sustained effort.
Justin Barker, now 17, of Elk Grove, in 1995 began
fundraising on behalf of two aging bears who were marooned in
a cramped, barren steel cage when the Roseville town zoo
closed circa 1991. Barker over the next three years collected
$25,000 of the $243,000 total cost of moving
the bears to a state-of-the-art facility at the
Folsom Zoo, 10 miles away. Barker isn’t just
a predator enthusiast: as a high school junior,
Barker last spring organized protests against
public policies favoring meat at the state conventions
of both the Republican and
Jordy Brown, 11, of Irvine, deaf
for three years as a toddler due to a chronic ear
infection and somewhat speech-impaired in
consequence, found his cause upon becoming
aware of bullfighting a year ago. He began
writing protest letters to Mexican public officials,
circulating an anti-bullfighting petition,
and saving his allowance to buy a pair of bull
calves from a farm in Baja California, so that
they wouldn’t eventually be killed in the ring.
As buying animals from breeders to keep them
from slaughter tends to be self-defeating,
Brown won’t repeat that venture, his mother
Laurie told ANIMAL PEOPLE––but one of
the bulls will be brought to the U.S. to help
Steve Hindi and SHARK promote their ongoing
boycott of Pepsi-Cola for being the
allegedly most prominent U.S. advertiser in
“When people look into a glass of
Pepsi, we want them to see and feel the bull’s
brown eyes,” Hindi explained.
Children who recently declared
intent to become vegetarian after close encounters
with doomed livestock include Aura
Granieri, 15, and her brother Chad, 12, who
has helped her fundraise toward the support of
a now one-year-old bull calf. Aura Granieri
and Marie Cavanaugh, 17, in August 1998 as
part of their Girl Scout merit badge work
helped an upstate New York farmer deliver a
bull calf. When the calf still couldn’t stand up
straight a day later, apparently due to a malformed
neck, and was about to be shot,
Granieri and Cavanaugh massaged him until
his neck straightened out and he stood. Then
they learned he was to be sold to a vealer. To
prevent that, they bought him for $60 and took
him to the Pets Alive shelter in Middletown.
4-H pig exhibitor Jessica Anderson,
10, of Central Point, Oregon, sold her 226-
pound pig at the Jackson County Fair in July,
as she was supposed to, and wept like many
other children who endure the 4-H experience,
which is designed to densensitize future farmers
toward sending animals to slaughter. After
one early heartbreak, the theory goes, the
children will not allow themselves to become
close to livestock again.
But Anderson chose otherwise.
“I’m going to be a vegetarian,” she
told Medford Mail Tribune reporter Mark
Whether the world is changed most
by personal choice and setting an example, or
through the political process and group projects
is an eternal debate among activists.
Many young people who care about animals
are working in both directions.
Andrew Azevedo, 14, of North
Miami, was named Florida representative to
the 11th annual RespecTeen National Youth
Forum, held in Washington D.C. last May, on
the strength of a letter he wrote to Representative
Carrie Meek protesting the import of
garments made from dog or cat fur. The
National Youth Forum is sponsored by the
Lutheran Brotherhood. Eleven thousand seventh
and eighth grade students competed this
year for the opportunity it affords to personally
address members of Congress.
Shaun Brown, 18, of China,
Maine, in 1998 drafted a bill to increase the
state penalty for cruelty to animals from $50 to
$1,000 plus jail time. Brown and classmates
taught by Betty Fitzgerald at Erskine Academy
didn’t get that, but they did at least get the fine
raised to $250.
Erskine Academy is private, as are
the Crossroads and New Roads schools in
Santa Monica, California; the Prime Time
Learning Center in Middletown, New Jersey;
and Pinkerton Academy, in Derry, New
Hampshire. Not having elected school boards
and depending on tax support, they afford
teachers and students more leeway than most
public schools for engaging in controversy.
Thus Crossroads and New Roads
students were able to confront the Los Angeles
Board of Zoo Commissioners in October 1998,
urging that the four zoo elephants be retired to
The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald,
Tennessee, instead of being held in an antiquated
concrete-and-steel enclosure pending
completion of an $11 million semi-natural
Pachyderm Forest exhibit. Similar activism by
public school students, during school hours,
often leads to suspensions, expulsions,
teacher firings, and apologies to the offended
institutions. The Crossroads and New Roads
students were instead praised in newspaper
articles, and were partially vindicated in their
concern––in a painful way––when a Los
Angeles Zoo elephant named Tara lost four
inches of her trunk in March 1999 to an accident
involving a hydraulic door.
Prime Time teacher Chrissy Rueck
told a group of three-year-olds about homeless
dogs and cats. The children told their parents.
Parents upset by bad news have sought the firing
of public school teachers who mentioned
homeless animals to much older students. The
Prime Time parents and 65 children, however,
ages 3-7, pitched in to collect food and toys
for the Pet Adoption Network, of Red Bank.
Parents at a public school might have
been offended in 1992 had their children been
asked to identify and count roadkills. That sort
of thing, then, just wasn’t done. But
Pinkerton Academy science teacher Brewster
Bartlett asked his middle school students to do
it. The project proved so popular, educational,
and useful to wildlife biologists and people
trying to prevent roadkills (including A N IMAL
PEOPLE) that Bartlett reaped professional
honors and turned the Dr. Splatt roadkill
counts into a national event, now involving
more than 100 public schools across the country
as well as other private schools. It is likely
that Bartlett has done more to make future drivers
aware of how animals get hit and how to
avoid them than all the national animal protection
groups combined. (Get details at
An example of the sort of pressure
often applied to public school faculty who
address animal-related controversy is underway
in Champaign County, Ohio. School
superintendant Jim Zerkle on August 11 placed
Graham High School social studies teacher
Molly Fearing on indefinite suspension without
pay for allegedly refusing to tell him
whether or not she disclosed the name of 1999
graduate Paul Rogers, 18, to animal rights
activists. Rogers on May 6 killed a piglet by
whacking his head against the school parking
lot pavement. At request of student witnesses,
Fearing filed a cruelty complaint against vocational
agriculture instructor and pig farmer
Steven L. Jenkins, who told Rogers to kill the
piglet for dissection in a biology class. The
charge was not laid until after the incident was
publicized by PETA. Jenkins was acquitted on
July 30, after the court heard testimony that
bludgeoning runt piglets to death is standard
“School officials say state law prohibits
them from releasing information about
students to anyone but police,” wrote
Columbus Dispatch reporter Christine Bryant.
Julianne Whitcomb, a second grade
teacher for 20 years at South Road Elementary
School in South Kingstown, Rhode Island,
also had an all-too-typical public school experience
late last spring. Health officials ordered
her to remove a variety of rabbits, guinea pigs,
snakes, turtles, lizards, birds, and 50
Madagascar cockroaches from her classroom,
in response to a single anonymous complaint.
The animals were all of species commonly
kept by science education centers,
used to being handled. Whitcomb’s care standards
and curriculum were well-regarded.
Parents were notified at the start of the school
year that Whitcomb would encourage students
to study the animals in non-invasive math, science,
and reading exercises.
“We are very concerned about allergies
and asthma in children,” Rhode Island
Health Department official Marie Stoeckel
told Providence J o u r n a l – B u l l e t i n staff writer
Paul Davis. “Known allergens include animal
dander, cockroach feces, and dried animal
But there apparently were no allergy
or asthma problems associated with Whitcomb’s
classroom. No matter; for this school
year, she was allowed to keep only a fish tank.
Public school teachers who promote
animal-helping mostly find ways to do it while
keeping the animals outside. That tends to
require having older students, like the 100
members of the SPCA Club founded by
teacher Cynthia Herschkowitsch at South Oak
Cliff High School in Dallas, who rescued 200
animals and raised $12,000 last year for the
SPCA of Texas; the 120 students of Dublin
Scioto High School in Columbus, Ohio, who
followed 20 box turtles for three years under
supervision of teacher Gardner Watkins, to
protect them from construction; the five members
of an animal rights club at Arcadia High
School in Phoenix who recently joined math
teacher Wendy Long in a week of volunteering
at the Best Friends sanctuary in Kanab, Utah;
or the members of 15 chapters of Wild
Friends, aiding whooping crane recovery in
Occasionally younger students are
successfully involved in external projects. The
22 fourth graders at Cold Springs School in
Missoula, Montana, for instance, raised $200
last spring to help place an orphaned bear cub
at a sanctuary in Helena. They were taken to
see the bear, for the first and only time, as
their year-end field trip.
Margaret Manning, teaching a combined
first-and-second grade class at Lewis &
Clark School in Missoula, was among 16
Montana teachers with 275 students who participated
in “Birds Beyond Borders,” a correspondence-oriented
birdwatching project also
involving 14 teachers and 266 students in
Mexico. Most of the participants were a few
years older than Manning’s group.
“Birds Without Borders” was started
in 1994 by the Colorado Bird Observatory, to
increase appreciation of migratory species,
and was introduced to Montana last year via
the Montana Audubon Society.
A key accomplishment, Manning
told Missoulian reporter Gary Jahrig, was persuading
many Mexican children to swear off
killing birds with slingshots.
George Angell would have approved
––and would have urged them to next dissuade
Montana from encouraging youth to hunt with