Letters [Jan/Feb 2000]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:
I work with Elizabeth Oliver at Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK), which will be 10 years old in 2000. Liz told me that she met you at the recent International Companion Animal Welfare Conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. I’ve meant to write to you for a long time. I teach high school English in Kobe and have been involved with ARK for four years now. I started reading ANIMAL PEOPLE t w o summers ago when your article about Mina Sharpe’s animal rescue work in Taiwan caught my eye. I’m ashamed to admit that I had seen ANIMAL PEOPLE stacked in Liz’s house many times, but had always before passed it up in favor of the more flashy PETA, RSPCA, and WSPA publications. What a mistake! It’s not often that people find their calling in life, but when they do, they shine, and ANIMAL PEOPLE shines. I cannot express how much gratitude I feel toward you for nurturing my animal welfare/rights/issue education, and for being a voice of reason.
Animal Refuge Kansai
595 Noma Ohara
This past fall a group of Swedish members of Parliament of the Left Party introduced a bill concerning animal rights. It explained the difference between the concepts of animal protection and animal rights, and argued for the rights of animals to be reflected in legislation. Shortcomings of the present Swedish animal welfare laws were mentioned. The motion called for an evaluation to see whether animal welfare laws respect the rights of animals; proposed legal improvements; and sought to give animal welfare and animal rights organizations standing to address animal welfare issues. The Parliamentary committee to which the motion was referred replied that it was not willing to discuss it in detail, “as the question of animal rights is more philosophical in character than juridicial,” (having to do with legal jurisdictions). Nonetheless, we believe that this was a very important initiative. We hope that it will encourage similar actions.
Head of International Affairs
Animal Rights Sweden
Box 2005 SE-125 02
Alvsja SE Sweden
No Roads Means No Hunting
A policy of “roadlessness” in National Forests would favor hunted and trapped wild animals because (1) building and maintaining roads causes forest fragmentation, destroying habitats for forest-interior and late-successional species, (2) logging is usually not feasible without heavy equipment ingress, (3) forests immediately begin to regrow and heal themselves when artificial disturbances end, and (4) most hunters are too lazy to walk far. Hunters generally want rather open, park-like stands with little cover, where animals can be seen and shot at long range, before sensing danger.
In his book The Hunt, John Mitchell cites a University of Michigan study that found the average hunter wades only a quarter mile into the trees from the nearest road. So even if a biggish, roadless forest remains open to hunting––like all units of the National Wilderness System–– a hunted animal can retreat inward. Few hunters would be willing (or have enough hours of daylight) to walk all the way into the central area, shoot an animal, and drag out the corpse. This would be even more true of “big game” hunting.
Georgia Earth Alliance
Fayetteville, GA 30214
Cat Fur: How to Tell
I greatly enjoyed your deft capsuling of the unbelievably long period of growth that nature used to arrive at today’s version of the primates in your December editorial. One can only wonder how life might evolve in the future.
My wife Mary was recently hospitalized, and while there received a gift basket with a very lifelike stuffed cat. She gibed at the sender, a good friend and former breeder and exhibitor of Siamese, that as a former manager of animal shelters, the last thing she’d expected to get was a dead cat. A few days later, when Mary got home, we saw the same cat figurine in an NBC Dateline Special about U.S. stores selling goods made in China from cat and dog furs. On close examination we determined that the gift cat was indeed covered with a real cat pelt. Mary called the florist, whose staff had coincidentally watched the same program. He was horrified and offered her a substitute stuffed artificial-fur animal. He stated he would send all the materials back to the supplier––at least a start.
I bought two toy cats three months ago that I now realize may have real cat fur. What can I do to have them tested? I feel ill that animals lost thier lives in such a cruel way because of my purchase. I can’t just throw them away; it is bothering me too much. I have to know, and I would like to confront the store owner if it is real. Please help me. I cried and cried when I found this out, and I still feel really down. I have to do something!
The quick way to see if fur is real or fake is to take a few hairs and apply heat. If they melt or burn with a nylon smell, they are syn – thetic; if they exude the character – istic burnt hair smell, they are real. Any use of real fur involves cruelty. However, domestic cat fur can be distinguished from other furs by brushing it. Domestic cat fur sheds; most wild furs will not shed much. Also, observe how live cats behave around items made from the suspect fur. Many cats will urinate on any fur, regardless of source, because it holds the scent ––but if they either groom it or try to avoid it, it probably is cat fur
Do you have any documentation that refutes the claimed viability of controlling feral pigs by trapping and shooting? On behalf of the Humane Education Network, I would appreciate information from biologists to counter the prevailing attitude that pig-related problems can all be solved with a lethal response. I have enclosed materials about the pig eradication program that the California Department of Fish and Game plans to undertake in portions of Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz counties on behalf of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, and the South Skyline Association.
c/o Humane Education Network
Menlo Park, CA 94026
The Editor responds:
The same day we received Sandstrom’s letter, we learned of another feral pig-killing program starting in Crook County, Oregon.
Quite apart from the humane and ecological issues involved, feral pig eradication pro – grams based on shooting, trapping, and poisoning are a flat-out waste of public funds. In effect, they pay good old boys to hunt, and have never driven pigs out of any main – land habitat.
In France, for instance, feral pig numbers have reportedly multiplied tenfold since pig-hunting seasons were designated in 1970.
In the U.S., the National Park Service has tried to extirpate feral pigs from Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 1940. It still isn’t close to succeeding.
Florida hunters and trap – pers have killed 10,000 feral pigs since 1988 at Myakka State Park, near Sarasota, without noticably making a dent in the population.
Attempted feral pig eradi – cation has been underway in Hawaii for more than 20 years, at cost of millions of dollars. Yet Hawaii now has more feral pigs than it did— especially where they have been most persecuted.
The Channel Islands, off southern California, are among the few places where feral pigs ever have been extirpated––and even there, the job took 30 years of gun – nery, trapping, poisoning, fire-set – ting, burrow-gassing, and intro – ductions of pig diseases.
Feral pigs tend to thrive despite extermination efforts because their most successful preda – tors are usually dominant boars who cannibalize piglets. Yet dominant boars, because they challenge invaders even if it means emerging from safe burrows in broad day – light, are also the easiest to kill.
Thus pig-hunting actually accelerates pig population growth. A contraceptive vaccine developed by University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine associate professor Richard FayrerHosken could be used to limit feral pig births. A variant has been fieldtested in Mexican and eastern European street dog control pro – grams, and is now undergoing lim – ited trials by the Arizona Humane Society, Humane Society of Missouri, and North Shore Animal League.
Enough of Rabies Madness!
Mrs. Yildiz Dinc, of Yeni Foca, Kozbeyl Koyu, Turkey, looks after about 200 stray animals at her own private shelter, with the help of friends and volunteers, because there is no government shelter. However, as documented by the newspaper H u r r i y e t, the municipality of Foca recently poisoned approximately 100 of the dogs and one donkey with strychnine. None of the animals had any diseases. Nobody can understand why the animals were poisoned.
Nearly at the same time, the mayor of Turunc, Mr. Ali Riza Can, made an appeal through the loudspeaker of the mosque for the people of Turunc to take their dogs home, because Turunc too would start to poison strays. Two days later they killed about 100 dogs.
Please urge Turkey to pass an animal protection law as soon as possible, and oppose strychnine poisoning as a means of dog population control, via the President of the Republic of Turkey, >>email@example.com<<, or c/o Embassy of the Republic of Turkey, 1714 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036.
I was planning to visit Israel during the millennium year, but was completely turned off when I read in ANIMAL PEOPLE a n d elsewhere that the Israeli government had ordered the cruel poisoning of feral cats in the city of Arad after finding one rabid fox, and would not let the Cat Welfare Society of Israel rescue the cats. I have also heard that the Israeli government has deaf ears about vaccinating wildlife against rabies in conjunction with programs to neuter and vaccinate feral cats.
New York, New York
The Turkish dog pogroms began after Serpil Ozbek, a 10- year-old girl, was bitten by a rabid dog at her primary school in the Kayisdagi district of Istanbul. She died on December 27, 1999. The Israeli cat pogroms began in December 1997, after three people died from rabies in 13 months, fol – lowing 30 years without a single human rabies case.
Similar massacres of street animals after rabies outbreaks occur often throughout the underde – veloped world and former Soviet empire––wherever vaccination is beyond the means of most animal owners and is not made available to unowned animals at all.
Both the traditional Islamic abhorance of dogs and the Han Chinese/Korean custom of dogeating (apparently originally believed to be a form of self-vacci – nation) evidently began from fear of rabies, which continues to kill as many as 40,000 people per year, mostly in Eurasia and Africa.
Nothing could do more to improve the status and treatment of dogs, in particular, than eliminat – ing rabies by vaccinating all pets and street dogs, nor would any for – eign outreach project be cheaper per animal helped. This dog was rescued after endur – ing a month under the rubble left by the earthquake that hit Turkey on August 17. (Suna Develioglu, Istanbul Animal Lovers Society.)
National Groups Don’t Know Poop
Concerning your December cover article on young humane societies abroad which strive to avoid old traps, please consider also the young humane societies who are not abroad and do not fall into a stereotypical U.S. shelter package. I’m sure I’m not not the only podunk shelter director in the U.S. who is happy to differ from the standard model, pursuing a course of actually handling, effecting, altering, patching up and humanely caring for homeless animals, while changing the lives of humans by educating daily and serving up empathy on a platter wherever it is needed. The information filtering down from the biggies for the past decade or so is almost entirely useless. The folks writing a lot of this stuff seem to have never set foot in a facility, let alone cleaned it day in and out.
––Sandra S. Wenzel
Humane Society of Lincoln County
Gavilan Canyon Road
Ruidoso, NM 88355
Your November 1999 edition summarized a South China Morning Post r e p o r t that the Calcutta Municipal Corporation had pressed dogs “who were to be killed at the city pound into emergency service as rat-catchers at the city offices.” In fact, the CMC handed over their dog pound to People For Animals in March 1996. They do not kill dogs any more. Dogs caught by their dog squad are taken to us, or occasionally to another organization which also operates an Animal Birth Control program. We euthanize only if the dog is suffering from a painful, incurable condition.
People for Animals
6/1 Wood Street
Calcutta, India 70016
The U.S. Commerce Department is about to issue a new mark to be placed on cans of so-called “dolphin-safe” tuna. Don’t be fooled! Because of efforts by the World Trade Organization, the Clinton administration, and Congress to undermine and weaken the “dolphin-safe” label, tuna bearing this new mark could well have been caught by the deadly purse seine encirclement method, whereby dolphins are chased, harassed, netted, injured, and killed.
Defenders of Wildlife
1101 14th Street
Washington, DC 20005
We stumbled upon the ANIMAL PEOPLE web site quite by accident. For years we have felt helpless to do anything about the atrocious wild horse roundups that happen here in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, every spring and fall. This state is overgrazed by cattle and sheep, yet ranchers claim the mustangs are eating all the grass. Once one could drive through the beautiful state of Wyoming and see healthy herds of wild horses roaming the prairie. Now it is virtually impossible to see them anywhere.
––Jenny and Tom Gresham
Green River, Wyoming
I just received your annual “Who gets the money?” report and wanted to let you know how much we love it. Your reports are always very beneficial in providing important data for those of us in animal welfare. I’m even giving copies to all of our board members. Keep up the great work!
––Edwin J. Sayres
San Francisco SPCA
2500 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
I love your paper, news, and honesty. I was furious, however, to read about HSUS president Paul Irwin’s salary. It’s obscene! So many animals could be helped with that money.
The other day I felt such despair. No matter how much we work, the ground slips from under our feet as traditional humane societies and veterinary groups sell animal rights away for institutional advancement. But then your solicitation letter came about the meaning and purpose of Watchdogs–– more honest and meaningful work than being a lap poodle. Thanks for being there.
After reading your 1999 Watchdog Report on Animal Protection Charities, I decided to discontinue my support of a few organizations that I have been contributing to, which of course frees more money for donating to those organizations that more closely reflect my values. I really appreciate all of your careful research!
SHARK Thanks Activists for Pepsi Win
Pepsi-Cola has declared to the Christian Science Monitor, Garo Alexanian of the Companion Animal Network, and other media that it is removing its advertising from bullrings. Some Pepsi ads are already down, and ads from Chrysler, Kodak, and AGFA, all of whom had also received boycott warnings from us, are also gone.
I would like to thank those who helped SHARK win this first success in our campaign to get corporate money out of bullfighting. My heartfelt gratitude and respect goes out in particular to Maneka Gandhi, of India, who founded People For Animals and is now Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, whose promise to Pepsi CEO Roger Enrico that she would put SHARK’s bullfighting footage on Indian television proved ultimately persuasive.
I believe Pepsi was willing to blow off the U.S. animal movement, until Maneka brought reinforcement, because the corporate world views us as weak, indecisive and fragmented. The Indians, on the other hand, are clearly viewed by Pepsi as strong in their beliefs, decisive and of one mind.
With Pepsi out of the bullrings, SHARK will take on other bullfighting sponsors. Again, we invite the rest of the cause to join us. We have already acquired the photographic and video evidence. The torturers and their patrons have no defense. All that is left now is to fight the battle and win.
Fighting the battle includes educating tourists. The U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe may not have bullfighting, but their money pours into foreign bullrings. Tourism keeps bullfighting alive in Spain, France, and parts of Mexico. When tourists stop attending bullfights, bullfights in these places will end.
It will be our great pleasure to work with the Indians, the Spanish, Mexicans, and anyone else willing to help in that effort. This time I hope American organizations as well as concerned individuals will be among our more active allies.
Geneva, IL 60134