LETTERS [Jan/Feb 2003]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2003:
Underfunded herp rescue
We noted that in the list of animal organizations’ income and
expenses in your December 2002 edition, there was not one reptile or
turtle group among them. No reptile sanctuaries make enough money to
even have to file IRS Form 990. This is a sad commentary on the
survival of the oldest living creatures in the world. Turtles, at
200 million years old, have outlived the dinosaurs. Yet wild turtles
may be lucky to see 2012. In the past 50 years, the cruel pet trade,
collectors, hunters and others have tremendously reduced the numbers
of some of God’s gentlest creatures.
We feel as if wealthy donors, including grant-giving
entities like the foundation arms of the National Wildlife Federation
and the Nature Conservancy and pet chain charities, have
deliberately snubbed reptile rescue organizations like American
Tortoise Rescue, perhaps in part because we represent coldblooded
animals without fur.
We have pumped thousands of dollars of our own money into the
rescue since 1990 and are determined to keep it going. But we would
also welcome donations from the big groups you listed, especially the
ones that have had the nerve to ask us to take abandoned turtles and
tortoises, yet have neglected to assist us with any financial
-Susan Tellem &
American Tortoise Rescue
23852 Pacific Coast
Malibu, CA 90265
Thank you for publishing “Who gets the money?” each year in
your December edition. As a union worker, a locomotive engineer for
over 14 years, I have endured stressful, dangerous, grueling hours
and unhealthy conditions. I often get angry that our CEO was paid
nearly $40 million to leave his post at the Burlington Northern and
Santa Fe Railway. I put in another 25-40 hours a week volunteering
as the Director of Defending Farm Animals, Inc. here in Minnesota.
When I read “Who gets the money?”, I wonder whose leadership is more
corrupt-that of industry, or that of the nonprofit animal defense
-Julie Derby, Director
Defending Farm Animals, Inc.
P.O. Box 17224
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Farm Sanctuary case in Florida
I appreciate being informed of regulatory problems that
animal organizations may occasionally encounter. But I felt that
your report on Farm Sanctuary’s difficulty with the Florida Elections
Commission would have been better suited to an adversary publication,
perhaps one from agribusiness.
Campaign regulations vary from one state to another.
Although we are all responsible for knowing the rules under which we
operate, most animal activists want donations to be spent on
programs for animals rather than the constant legal fees
animal-exploiting industries can more readily afford.
Your emphasis on wheth-er this or that organization tends to
pursue “symbolic” victories is distracting. Laws are not merely
symbolic: a law on the books in one state sets a precedent to which
other states can be urged to measure up. And Farm Sanctuary’s
countless other activities are far from symbolic-hundreds of animals
given real, undeniable care at its shelters, animals rescued by
Farm Sanctuary and given new homes elsewhere, and activists too
numerous to count who have been informed and inspired by Farm
Please leave the divisive gossip to the well-funded industry
groups who would like to see all of us fail.
Silver Spring, Maryland
I thought it inappropriate that you let innuendo and
speculation dominate the latter part of your story on Farm Sanctuary
and the Florida Elections Commission (“Farm Sanctuary charged with
210 violations of Florida election campaign funding law,” December
2002, page 10). Presenting this kind of gossip as news opens the
door for misinterpretation, which helps neither the activist
community nor the animals.
Utica, New York
The Editor replies:
The Florida charges against Farm Sanctuary, and the
possibility of similar federal charges, are no small matter,
especially for donors who may have mistakenly claimed tax deductions
for funds sent in support of the Florida anti-sow crating ballot
We asked Farm Sanctuary cofounder Gene Bauston to comment on
the charges; we checked out what he said. We also gave Bauston
several opportunities to strengthen his allegations or amend his
statements before going to press.
Then we explained the basic strategic difference which has
had Farm Sanctuary and HFA often at odds for at least eight years:
Farm Sanctuary, in common with the Humane Society of the U.S.,
tends to pursue quick symbolic “victories,” like the passage of
Florida Amendment 10, on the theory that a first priority is to
establish the principle that certain practices should be regulated,
whether or not the initial regulations effect real change. HFA by
contrast argues that since animal protection legislation is seldom
revisited by lawmakers to make improvements, animal defenders should
not support any bill which does not achieve a significant advance.
People interested in helping farm animals need to understand
this difference in approach, since the political choices involved
are often mutually exclusive.
Ban chaining dogs, locking up cats
I would like to see you cover more about the neglect and
abuse of chained and confined dogs and cats who are actually left to
starve to death or die from thirst and exposure. Iowa takes the cake
when it comes to officials not enforcing animal cruelty laws.
I can tell you where many pitiful creatures live in this
town. I have reported them to the mayor of Centerville and the board
of supervisors to no avail. I am now writing to all of the major
animal advocacy groups, asking for their help in bringing this
problem to the world. Those who support my project are those who
will get my support from now on.
I am requesting you to name in print the towns and officials
who do not enforce anti-cruelty laws, and publish their contact
Ban chaining dogs and locking up cats!
The Editor replies:
Unfortunately, we would probably have to publish a directory
resembling a telephone book to adequately identify every town and
every official who is either knowingly or unknowingly complicit in
non-enforcement of humane laws.
Some non-enforcement results from misunderstandings about
what constitutes humane treatment of animals.
Within the U.S., Japan, and most of northern Europe, the
message that dogs and cats should not be left to run at large is
commonly misunderstood to mean that dogs should always be chained or
leashed when outdoors and cats should be confined at all times.
By contrast, confining animals at all-or sterilizing them
-is widely viewed as cruel in Latin America and southern Europe.
Thus animals are often allowed to run free as intended kindness.
Much cruelty could be ended if the humane community
demonstrated more clearly how animals ought to be treated.
Pet-keeping norms are just evolving in many places,
including most of Africa and Asia, and public confusion is
inevitable when some shelters allow themselves to operate as
concentration camps for animals, instead of showing how best to
house, feed, exercise, and train them.
Ireland is to eradicate 30% of its indigenous badger
population because of the unproven role of badgers in the spread of
bovine tuberculosis. Seventy five killers have been hired by the
Irish Government to carry out this mindless slaughter.
The method of capture will be a wire snare, which will hold
the helpless badgers in excruciating pain until the animals are
dispatched by gunshot, if they have not already slowly strangled.
Nursing females will be snared and shot, leaving their cubs
to starve underground.
Please help us to protect the beautiful and much maligned
Irish badger. For further information on our campaign, please
contact Badger Watch.
-Bernie Barrett, coordinator
5 Tyrone Avenue
Accountants vs. Lion-Tamers
I just finished reading your letter about Monty Python’s
warning. I have been a subscribe and would-be lion-tamer for a while
now. The issues of bile farm bears, dancing bears, and the painful
slaughter and eating of cats and dogs in Korea really hurt my heart.
I send subscriptions to others, and use your annual Watchdog
Report to guide me in my donations to charities, seeking those
least influenced by fundraisers, accountants, and lawyers. I can
only hope that the era of individual and corporate greed will be
somewhat modified for the better by the exposure of Enron, WorldCom,
Studio City, California