LETTERS [July/August 2002]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August, 2002:
Building a safety net for pets
“How do we get the word out that pet ownership is a
commitment for the entire life of the animal? How do we educate
people to not give up or dump their animals?”
We at Maricopa County Animal Care & Control were asking
ourselves these questions just over a year ago, but chose not to
find fault with the people we encounter and instead find ways to help
these people and their animals.
We began by reducing the days in which we would accept owner
relinquishments to Tuesday through Friday. We are inundated with
lost pets over the weekend and typically had to euthanize
owner-relinquished animals to make room for the lost pets picked up
by animal control or found by the public, whom we are required to
Limiting acceptance of owner-surrendered pets to Tuesday
through Friday helps owners to understand that their animals have a
better chance of being rehomed if brought in when we are better able
to keep them, and gives the owners time to rethink their decision.
At the time of relinquishment we ask owners why their animals
are coming to us. Our service theme is to “create happiness by
bringing pets and people together.” Ancillary to that is creating
happiness by helping pets and people to stay together.
We partner with the Arizona Animal Welfare League to provide
behavioral counseling, understanding that most issues can be
resolved short of relinquishment.
We partner with a local behaviorist and several agility clubs
to provide dog obedience and agility training, feeling that anything
we can do to enhance the human/animal bond will minimize the
likelihood of the animal ever being relinquished.
We partner with PETCO and the West Phoenix Food Bank to
provide poor families with pet food to help them through difficult
We offer free or low cost spay/neuter and vaccination to the
pets of people on public assistance.
We encourage owners to keep sucklings until they are weaned,
when we can guarantee the offspring will be adopted after being
neutered, and we spay the mother at no cost. We also provide food
and medicine to help with this process.
On occasion we have even fostered an animal for a family
moving across the country, and have then shipped the animal, once
the family was situated.
These are just a few of the tactics that shelters can
implement to garner and build community support, one person or
family at a time.
–Ed Boks, Director
Animal Care & Control
2323 S. 35th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85009
Recently the Supreme Court of India asked the Assam forest
authorities to evict encroachers from our national parks,
sanctuaries, and forest reserves. Many have built homes of cement
slabs with corrugated sheet metal roofs. The forest authorities
started an eviction drive, which has been welcomed by most of the
people and nonprofit organizations in the community. But to our
surprise they have engaged elephants to demolish the illegal
The elephants have difficulty bringing down concrete
structures, and have been injuring themselves in the effort. The
use of elephants for the demolition has been condemned by the
Wildlife Protect-ion Society of India, whose executive director,
Belinda Wright, called the use of elephants “outrageous.” Mrs Maneka
Gandhi, India`s most renowned animal rights activist, was shocked
to hear of their use, and has appealed to the authorities to stop
the use of the elephants immediately.
I seek the help and expertise of organisations worldwide to
help in this campaign, as the authorities have still not stopped
using the elephants. We are planning to take the matter to the court.
The work is continuing daily. When the elephants balk, they
are given homebrewed liquor so that they will continue.
Animal Welfare Board of India
107/C, Railway Colony
New Guwahati 781021
This, including giving the elephants beer, is a case of
good intentions gone badly awry. A common problem in India,
Thailand, and other places where tractors are rapidly displacing
elephants from logging work is that the elephants and their mahouts
are either reduced to begging on city streets, a dangerous plight
for all concerned, or are released with little or no experience of
how to survive as wild animals. Fully habituated to humans, they
often destroy crops and homes, and kill people.
In most nations, elephants who run amok are shot. In India,
they typically spend the rest of their lives in state-run
sanctuaries, which are elephant prisons in effect, even when they
offer the best of care.
The Assamese officials hoped to keep elephants and mahouts
usefully busy, but the task assigned was apparently unsuitable.
Rewarding working elephants with beer is an old practice of
circus trainers as well as logging mahouts. As with humans, small
quantities can have a sedative effect. But also as with humans,
elephants can become alcoholic, and many of the deadliest elephant
rampages occur when addicted but abandoned ex-working elephants raid
village breweries and moonshine stills.
Concerning the exchange between Johns Hopkins Center for
Alternatives to Animal Testing director of communications Lisa
Libowitz and the Editor of ANIMAL PEOPLE in your June 2002 edition,
I would like to go on record stating that in my opinion CAAT in
general and their Altweb project in particular are major positive
resources for the animal advocacy and alternatives movements.
Although I may not support individual projects funded by CAAT, I am
actively engaged in efforts to guarantee the continued survival of
Altweb. The latter is the premier alternatives site on the web, and
a seriously underused resource.
I also should confirm that CAAT was very helpful with our
efforts to secure and then protect the coverage of rats, mice and
birds by the Animal Welfare Act [now thwarted by Congress]. CAAT did
this covertly at first, and then very publicly with the endorsement
of their board. The latter was especially useful.
It would be incorrect to state that CAAT was either silent or
not helpful to our efforts on behalf of all of those lab animals.
The opposite is true but not widely known among animal advocates.
Alternatives Research & Development Foundation
14280 Golf View Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55346
I received the June edition and couldn’t help but notice a
comment attributed to me about Marc Hauser’s vervet colony. I have
no record of having ever talked to you about this issue at all. You
never asked me for a comment in the first place, but attributed a
comment to me that I never made to you.
Animal Protection Institute
P.O. Box 22505
Sacramento, CA 95822
The Editor responds:
In fact it was Marc Hauser who e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE on
May 13, “I just got the final word from Alan Berger and they [the
Animal Protection Institute, sponsor of the Texas Snow Monkey
Sanct-uary] are rejecting the vervets. The board claims that there
is no room for them, and that the proposal never went through the
proper channels. He said that my agreement with [then-Texas Snow
Monkey Sanct-uary director] Lou Griffin did not consitute ‘the proper
channels,’ and that a formal proposal would have been needed, to be
reviewed and discussed by the board.”
After obtaining similar accounts from other sources, we
asked Alan Berger by e-mail on May 23, “Is this all true? If not,
what is not?” Berger did not answer the question, though he replied
to the e-mail, and also did not answer when asked again on June 17
and June 18.
The vervet colony now resides at Wild Animal Orphanage.