“Welcome to the monkey-house” & other Y2K stories

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

As the first month of the new millennium ended, ANIMAL PEOPLE had heard of only three “Y2K crisis” items involving animal protection.

One was the usual New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July surge in numbers of dogs running at large, terrified by fireworks. But even the news on that front was unusually good, as the South African National SPCA on January 25 won agreements from the U.S.-owned retail chains Toys R Us and R e g g i e ’ s that they would no longer sell fireworks at any of their 41 South African stores.

South African campaigners were on a streak, as 51,000 South Africans reportedly signed a Beauty Without Cruelty petition asking that the legal status of animals be changed from “chattel” to “sentient beings.”

PETA was transiently embarrassed because the date on its >>www.vegnow.com<< web site reportedly rolled over to “January 1, 192000,” after someone evidently applied a Windows fix to a Mac computer.

Finally, in northern California, the same Contra Costa County Fire District crew that two years ago achieved a dramatic horse rescue from deep mud rescued a cow from quicksand. The cow rescue was apparently the only call the fire district had all day.

Lawyers

The new millennium did get off to a rough start for the Animal Legal Defense Fund––but for reasons having little to do with the calendar.

Trying to do the right thing under fire, ALDF in its Winter 2000 newsletter issued a rare voluntary erratum notice and apology for distributing misleading appeals.

As Gail Babcock of Citizens for Humane Animal Legislation pointed out in the October 1999 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE, three ALDF mailings in two years claimed a “special prosecutor program” in Portland increased cruelty convictions when it never even handled a case.

The erratum and apology might have cleared the air. But more trouble was ahead. On January 5 animal activists learned via postings from several different people to animal-related electronic newsgroups that longtime ALDF board member Laurens Silver, who handled ALDF’s first-ever case in 1981, had won a U . S . District Court order which broadened the exemptions given to trappers hired or permitted by public agencies under the 1 9 9 8 California Anti-Trapping Initiative.

Silver argued the case for the staunchly pro-hunting-and-trapping National Audubon Society a n d California Waterfowl Association. The National Trappers Association a n d California Trappers Association r e p o r tedly joined the case later as coplaintiffs. On their collective behalf Silver continued to seek even broader exemptions via portions of the case still undecided.

Silver resigned from ALDF on January 10.

Headaches continued, however, and not just because the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on February 1 overturned a lower court ruling favorable to ALDF in the landmark Jurnove case (page 8).

On February 7 anti-bestiality activists Judy and Greg Myers and Mike R o l l a n d disclosed to animal-issue newsgroups that the defense attorney for accused horse-killer, horse rapist, and horse sodomist Daniel Bruce House, of Los Angeles, is one Michael Rotsten ––who was on the ALDF referral list as an animal rights specialist, and whose “Animal Rights Law Office” web site was link-accessible from the ALDF site.

Court transcripts indicate, incidentally, that House confessed to having had intercourse with horses. He just denied having hurt them.

ALDF apparently tried to break the link to Michael Rotsden’s site as the issue heated up, but somehow linked instead to Ann Rotsden Photography, Michael Rotsden’s wife’s business.

Thus web surfers trying to get to Rotsden’s legal site to see if he had anything to say about why he took the House case read, “Let Me Help Make Your Wedding A Beautiful Memory. I Would Love to Visually Imprint Your Special Occasions.”

More lawyers

At least as misleading as the ALDF appeals, with no erratums or apologies forthcoming, were early Y2K mailings from Defenders of Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy which seemed to imply that they run animal shelters or sanctuaries. The Defenders envelope claimed, “Adoption papers enclosed.” The TNC envelope suggested, “You don’t have to be human to know the pain of a broken home.” Note that TNC feral-purging policies leave animals orphaned and homeless on almost a daily basis. (See page 1.)

But then, the very names of the Humane Society of the U.S. a n d American SPCA imply to many donors––as we constantly hear––that they are national umbrellas for local sheltering organizations. HSUS has never had a shelter, though it has had a land trust since 1994 and just added a “Humane Equity Fund” managed by Salomon Brothers. The ASPCA has just one shelter, in Manhattan. Neither shares receipts to a significant degree with local hands-on organizations.

Speaking of the ASPCA, an anonymous soul signing himself/herself “the ASPCA Legal Department” said this in response to a January 10 appeal from a Bolivian activist group urgently seeking letters of advice to the Bolivian government about controlling rabies by vaccinating instead of shooting street dogs:

“The ASPCA is the oldest animal welfare organization in the U.S. and we focus on the issues of animals nationally. To address international concerns, we recommend that you contact the World Society for the Protection of Animals.”

ANIMAL PEOPLE received the same appeal at the same time, and emailed back the requested letter plus supporting data within a matter of minutes.

Welcome

The Animal Protection Institute opened the millennium by accepting a significant new hands-on role, as managing agency for the 186-acre South Texas Primate Observatory. Sixty-five fenced acres house the 300 descendants of the original inhabitants, a troop of Japanese macaques who have been under ongoing noninvasive behavioral study since 1954. They were brought to Texas from Japan in 1972. Also on site are another troop of 30 macaques and a family of 12 vervets. Soon to arrive will be 20 baboons, retired from vascular research at the B o s t o n University Medical Center.

The Performing Animal Welfare Society announced on January 8 that it will soon move from the original 30- acre PAWS sanctuary in Galt, California, opened in 1984, to a 2,300-acre site in Calaveras County where the resident elephants can enjoy a semi-natural life. The 30-acre site will remain in use as a special care facility.

PETA on January 20 opened a branch office in Mumbai, India. The PETA campaign focus––in a nation which has approximately half of all the vegetarians in the world––will reportedly be to promote veganism.

Promoting truth in advertising, members told ANIMAL PEOPLE, the Toronto group Freedom for Animals o n January 27 re-dubbed the World Wildlife Fund “World Without Forests,” for endorsing an Ontario land use plan under which only 5% of the total land area would receive protection from logging. Hunting, trapping, mining, and snowmobiling would be allowed even on the 5%.

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