LETTERS [December 2001]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2001:
I worked for years in Virginia and Maryland as a humane investigator, yet am still horrified by the cruelties inflicted upon helpless creatures, both human and animal. I am also outraged at the practices of many so-called “humane
societies,” both local and national. But then, when you stop and think about it, you can rarely find two people who agree upon what the word “humane” really means. The bottom line is that no one should contribute to any charity without knowing what it really does.
If a group brags about the number of adoptions it does, then find out what the quality of the adoptions is. Is quality better than quantity? If you believe, for instance, that animals should be kept inside and treated as members of the family, then be certain that the group to which you contribute practices that kind of adoption. Many do not!
High-volume adoption and strict standards often go together. High-volume adoption shelters with longstanding policies against placing “outdoor” pets include the Helen V. Woodward Center in El Rancho, California, whose executive director, Mike Arms, has supervised more than 250,000 adoptions during his career in humane work; and the North Shore Animal League, annually leading the U.S. in adoptions for more than 20 years.
A statistic I am curious about is the bottom line killed. I read about a lot of shelters going no-kill, and hear a lot about how successful they are, sometimes within just a few months, but I never see the numbers compared to when they were not no-kill. I know that going no-kill creates a feeling of relief in the community, as does building a modern facility, and that usually this means intake numbers increase, sometimes a lot. Are U.S. shelters really killing fewer animals, or are we just not telling the public?
–Paul F. Miller, Director
Chattanooga Animal Services
3300 Amnicola Highway
Chattanooga, TN 37406
The best national survey data indicates that U.S. animal shelters killed 23.5 million dogs and cats in 1970, 17.8 million in 1985, and 4.6 million in 2000, amounting to 115.8 dogs and cats per 1,000 U.S. residents in 1970, 68.5 in 1985, and 16.8 in 2000.
Transporting dogs for adoption
For several weeks I have been tracking web sites set up by rescue groups seeking help in transporting dogs from one state to another. My curiosity was piqued after having been in the animal welfare field for nearly 20 years: why transport animals halfway across the U.S. to find them homes? Is there a shortage of animals available for adoption in the shelters where these aniamals are going? Some of us are concerned that some of these rescue groups may actually be trafficking in animals for experimentation or use as food. Who monitors these rescue groups and how they operate?
The Editor replies:
To a person who loves all dogs, all dogs are equal, but most potential adopters do have preferences, so achieving the most adoptions possible requires moving the supply of dogs entering shelters to wherever they will be in demand. Twenty years ago, when U.S. shelters received and killed five times as many animals, and 10 times as many dogs, and the typical admission was a litter of puppies or kittens, one could find almost any kind of dog or cat at any large shelter. Now some shelters rarely see puppies, unless they bring them from areas with lower rates of pet sterilization and shelter adoption.
Further, there are huge regional variations in the breeds and mixes available at any given time. A humane society that just raided a puppy mill may have 100 poodles, but other shelters may not have had a poodle in months-so instead of leaving the poodles where they glut the market, the shelter shares the 100 among many other shelters and in turn receives dogs of other breeds, sizes, and colors. That enables each shelter to place more dogs– and take market share from the puppy millers, who breed to fill unmet demand.
Nonsheltered rescuers transporting animals and placing them for adoption are subject to the same U.S. Animal Welfare Act requirements as shelters, breeders, and dealers, as well as state and local humane laws. In the 14 years since Project Breed popularized nonsheltered rescue, the ANIMAL PEOPLE files indicate that nonsheltered rescuers have run into trouble for mistreatment of animals much less often than small shelters, possibly because it is easier for overwhelmed nonsheltered rescuers to disengage than to close a shelter or give it to new management.
In four cases we are aware of since 1987, people claiming to do nonsheltered rescue were caught collecting animals for lab use or in connection with dogfighting. The perpetrators in two cases specialized in pit bull terriers, and in one case specialized in unsocialized ex-racing greyhounds–dogs for whom there is little legitimate adoption demand. The perpetrators in the last case worked in a region where there were no shelters.
No more circus in Malta
We have been campaigning against the exploitation of animals in circuses for a while now. Our aim has always been to prevent them from visiting Malta. Matters came to a head when employees of the Circus Citta di Romas attacked and injured seven protesters. The attack was caught on video, and the police are charging three of the employees.
This incident brought media attention like never before.On December 26 the circus promoters announced that they would no longer bring circuses with animal acts to Malta.
–Michael Pearson, Chair
World Animal Conscience
P.O. Box 1
Thank you for the marvelous gift to your readers by way of your appeal letter about the poor animals and desperate people of Afghanistan, under the cruelty of the Taliban. Your letter was enlightening, provocative, and beautifully written. I don’t see how anyone could read it without weeping. I have followed the news closely and have learned much about the tragic situation there, but nothing touched me as deeply as your words.
I am legally blind, but today a friend read me your recent appeal concerning the animals of Afghanistan. I was amazed to learn that there are that many people there who are interested in animals. When I think of that region, I usually recall the late Crystal Rogers, who founded three humane societies in India, and the work of the Brooke Hospital for Animals on behalf of the war horses who were left behind with local people after World War I.
I borrowed a talking book edition of the Koran from Services for the Blind. I listened to it very carefully and sometimes played back parts. It is a concern to me that the Koran sanctions slavery, animal sacrifice, and the like. It is in mostly Islamic North Africa that some cultures perpetuate the crime of female genital mutilation.
I am happy that there are compassionate people in the area, and pray they survive to receive much needed help.
Many verses of the Koran that seem to endorse slavery and animal sacrifice are also found in the Torah and the Old Testament.
The Afghan warlords whose confederation is called the Northern Alliance are actually the people whom the Taliban came into being to oppose. While some of the people in the Taliban were responsible for violating the rights of both humans and nonhumans in every way, so were many of the warlords.
South El Monte, California
The Editor replies:
The ouster of the Taliban has allowed more open expression of both the best and worst of Afghan attitudes toward animals–as exemplified by two photographs recently published in The New York Times.
The first, by Andrew Testa, appeared on December 3. Explained the caption, “Men gather at a Kabul market to watch a quail fight, which along with other blood sports had been banned by the Taliban. Such fights are again the rage in the city, where fighting birds are bought for up to $300 and bets ranging from $3 to $10 are placed during the bouts.”
The second, by James Hill, appeared on December 9. It showed a man feeding an immense flock of white doves. “At the shrine of Azrat Ali in Mazar-i-Sharif,” that photo was captioned, “the mosque’s mullah says the doves are the first to leave when fighting breaks out and the last to return.”
Whether the bird-fighters or bird-feeders prevail in rebuilding Afghan society will depend in part on whether outside aid
goes mostly to the ruthless, or to the compassionate. As Internet and postal communications are restored in Afghan-istan, we hope to be able to find the compassionate–and send them ANIMAL PEOPLE, to bring them into the world humane community.
HAPS of Ethiopia
Sometimes things just happen without expecting them. When I went to work in Bale National Park, I met Hana Kifle and Zegeye Kibret, who are quiet, good people and have a generous and friendly relationship with the community. Then our collaboration, together with your newspaper and correspondence with you, led us to form the Homeless Animals Protection Society of Ethiopia, and now we are making it a reality.
People were trying to prevent the formation of HAPS because they benefit from animal products and know we oppose activities such as poaching and collecting musk from civets. However, we overcame their opposition and have just received our certificate of nonprofit registration, because the Ministry of Justice agreed with our proposed aims and objectives.
What pleased me particularly is that the Ethiopian government announced the formation of HAPS through Radio Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Herald, in both English and the local vernacular. Right after the announcement, the people of some towns began to report rabies cases among homeless dogs, and people who knew us before have promised to help in any manner as we assist the homeless and innocent animals.
I hope you will come and see us and our work.
–Efrem Legesse, Chair
P.O. Box 14069
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Nude against fur in Ukraine winter
On November 24, 2001, we held a large demonstration in the most famous disco club of Kharkov. We modeled artificial fur coats, painted furs red to represent the blood of animals, and made fun of those who wear fur. Our gymnasts gave a wonderful performance dedicated to animal rights. Our presenter, dressed as a rabbit, answered questions from the audience. Many Ukrainian TV channels showed this action, our third in two months. This photo shows our skit “Better to be naked than to wear fur.”
–Igor Parfenov, President
Stepnaya str. 23
Kharkovskaya Oblast 62341
I just read one of your articles about animal cruelty here in Korea. I am sickened by the conditions that animals endure at the markets. It saddens me just to think of the mental and physical pain the dogs and cats face.
I recently visited the Dalsong Zoo in Daegu–a miserable display of animals in bare cement cages. I left feeling helplessly angry. This zoo really needs major alterations. International attention may persuade them to make some changes.