Letters [March 2004]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2004:

Pit bull terriers

I agree that a ban on the breeding of pit bull terriers and
Rottweilers is unfortunately the right thing to do. I am currently
the owner of two American Staffordshire terriers and I have been
volunteering to rescue pit bulls and Rotties for a few years now. I
love the breeds and find them to be very loving companions. I have
had a pit or amstaff in my family for about 15 years.
However, I recognize that these days I am not the typical
pitbull owner. This is where your editorial “Bring Breeders of
high-risk dogs to heel” will fail to garner the needed support. In
giving statistics about the numbers of attacks involving these
breeds, your article implies that these are by nature bad dogs.
However, most owners of these breeds are fighting them, treating
them inhumanely, training and working with them to increase their
aggressive nature, or are just flat out irresponsible. You talk
about how the current attitude of the insurance industry is unfair to
other breeds, but you fail to recognize that this attitude is also
unfair to responsible owners of these maligned breeds.
For those who love these breeds, the real question is does
our opposition of a breed ban help or harm the dogs?

The effective way to pass a ban on breeding pitbulls and
Rottweilers is to bring all interested parties to the table:
responsible breeders, rescuers, animal control, injured parties
and all others to discuss how to implement a workable solution.
Maybe you ban the breeding, with an exclusion for licensed breeders,
requiring qualifications to obtain a license.
But let us not delude ourselves into thinking that a breed
ban in itself is the answer. Many drugs are illegal, but dealers
We need to start talking about real answers. We also need to
look at revising legislation to make it easier to win convictions for
dog fighting. For example, we could enact a presumption that
evidence of bloodied dogs and a bloodstained ring proves dogfighting,
and shift the burden of proof to the defendants to rebut the
–Susanne Kogut
Alexandria, Virginia

The Editor responds:

Overlooked in the objections above to the data presented in
our January/February 2004 editorial is that the ANIMAL PEOPLE
breed-specific log of life-threatening and fatal dog attacks, kept
since September 1981, includes –as the preface stipulates–only
attacks by dogs who have been kept as pets. Attacks by police dogs,
guard dogs, and dogs trained specifically to fight are excluded.
Second, fighting dogs, dogs whose treatment violates humane
laws, dogs who are trained to be aggressive, and dogs whose attacks
result from negligence are usually not covered by home insurance or
renters policies. Therefore, those dogs’ behavior does not
contribute to actuarial risk. Whatever harm they do–and it is
substantial-is extraneous to the actuarial risk factor pertaining to
pit bull terriers and Rottweilers, which is incurred exclusively by
the behavior of previously well-behaved, well-treated dogs kept by
responsible people.
Laws against dogfighting, cruelty, and allowing dogs to run
at large, while necessary do not answer the reality that pit bull
terriers and Rottweilers kept by people who are not dogfighters, not
cruel, and not negligent nonetheless incur 75% of all the actuarial
risk incurred by all dogs combined.

Dangerous dogs
Finally someone besides myself sees some breeds for what they really
–Rae Domingues
Lafayette, Louisiana

Breeding bans

Your January/February 2004 editorial “Bring Breeders of
high-risk dogs to heel” makes a brilliant argument, that I’m afraid
we are going to have to support in the future, unless the
proliferation of pit bull terriers and Rottweilers among the wrong
people slows down. There is a huge reality gap between the
perspectives of those of us in the trenches at animal control
agencies and humane society shelters, and the well-meaning people
at the national humane organizations. Pits and Rotts are, in
general, just plain more dangerous than other breeds.
–Hilton Cole
East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control Center
2680 Progress Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70807
Phone: 225-774-7700
Fax: 225-774-7876

Risky breeds

You and PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk got it so right about pit
bull terriers and Rottweilers. Pit bulls are as mistreated as
factory-farmed animals. Many are sweet– but unpredictable. What
percentage of the time? I’m not about to take chances.
–Muriel Geach
Long Beach, California

From Medallin bullfight protesters

We wish to tell everyone what happened when we marched on
February 7 against the bullfights in Medallin, Colombia. The
anti-riot squad blocked us. The police injured several women and
tried to take our video camera.
We went to the government to protest for our right to march
peacefully. They approved our manifestations and expressed their
will to help us in everything.
On February 14 our march developed peacefully. The police
were ordered to stay away from us, and they did, but when we were
evaluating the march, we saw two men videotaping everything. When
we asked them who they were, they tried to run away, but we caught
them and took them to the police. The police immediately released
them. We are concerned about our well-being, as it is known that
when someone does not agree with the powerful people of any country,
that person can disappear or even get killed.
–Corporacion RAYA
Red de Ayuda los Animales

[ANIMAL PEOPLE rarely publishes letters not signed by
specific individuals and sent without complete contact details. An
exception is made here because of previous incidents of violence
against known animal advocates in both Columbia and Venezuela.]

Procter & Gamble in Europe

I was surprised to read in a book review by Merritt Clifton
that he believes caring consumers should not boycott Procter &
Gamble, because P&G is trying to develop non-animal product testing
Aren’t they continuing to do product tests on animals that
other companies making similar products have long ago given up?
If not, why don’t they state “Not tested on animals” on their
product labels?
Aren’t they also trying to get around a European ban on
testing cosmetics on animals?
–Krysia Kaminski
Stratford, Connecticut

Clifton responds:

Most P&G animal testing is done in connection with
pharmaceutical development. Some is done to meet safety requirements
pertaining to non-pharmaceutical products which have a high risk of
accidental ingestion or inhalation.
If P&G did no new product development, they could avoid
doing any animal testing– and that is exactly how a handful of small
niche manufacturers do it. That doesn’t mean that their products
have not been animal-tested, only that they didn’t have to do the
testing themselves because someone else had already done it.
Why does P&G not state that their produces are “Not tested on animals”?
Because, contrary to hype, there really is no such thing as
a product totally “Not tested on animals.” Look up any product, no
matter how basic, in the EPA/NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of
Chemical Substances, as the review pointed out, and you can find
when the testing was done, what tests were used, and how many
animals were used.
The allegation that P&G is “trying to get around a European
ban on testing cosmetics on animals” is based on an incomplete
reading of a June 18, 2002 memo headed “EU Ban on Animal-tested
Cosmetics” from Barbara Statt of P&G.
Often cited by activists boycotting P&G is Statt’s remark
that P&G does not want “to be seen as the company lobbying to test on
animals, against public opinion.” Ignored are her next several
paragraphs, which clarify that P&G does not want to be seen thusly
because this is not what P&G is seeking.
As Statt explained, “It is expected that through the
pressure of national governments, the ban [on animal testing for
cosmetics safety] will be amended so that animal testing is only
prohibited if alternative methods (which do not use animals) are
available. Alternatively, it is feasible that the ban will be
delayed for an extended period (10+ years), allowing additional time
for development of suitable animal alternatives.” P&G, Statt said,
is “seeking the acceptable middle ground between ensuring consumer
safety while meeting the political needs of the animal welfare lobby.”
No company can operate without ensuring consumer safety as
set forth by the laws, regulations, insurance requirements, and
jurisprudence pertaining to the marketplace– and P&G is the world
leader in developing and using non-animal testing technology.

“Retiree” busy in Phuket

I am mailing you from Phuket, Thailand, where I recently retired.
I now spend most of my time working with Margot Homburg Park,
a US citizen, who founded the Soi Dog Foundation some years ago to
help alleviate the suffering of both stray dogs and cats in Bangkok.
Her work continues there, but she has now moved to Phuket, and we
are endeavouring to carry out the same work here. We recently took
over the Atigaro project, whose founder was unable to continue. She
specialised in bringing over volunteer vets from North America,
Europe, and Australasia. We are also working with local vets who
are sympathetic to our aims, and charge us only the cost of drugs
and food, and with the local livestock department.
The livestock department is currently erecting a new dog
pound, to house upward of 500 dogs. This is a recipe for disaster.
We hope to change these plans, but are looking at contingency plans
in case it does happen, as it will almost certainly fail.
We are on target to perform 3,000+ sterilizations per year.
In addition we carry out daily visits to temples where we feed the
animals, treat mange and other conditions, and monitor our dogs and
We also go into the villages and treat the animals of people
who cannot afford veterinary fees.
With the assistance of a prominent local vet we are applying
for official status in Thailand.
Nobody in our organisation takes any money for
administration, fuel costs, etc.
–John Dalley
Soi Dog Foundation,
C/O 57/61 Laguna Golf Villas
Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road,
Phuket 83110, Thailand

Galapagos project evolves

The Animal Balance project to sterilize dogs and cats in the
Galapagos is now rapidly moving forward. I have raised about 80% of
the estimated cost, along with obtaining enough donated supplies and
equipment to get started. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship
Farley Mowat is to transport the supplies from San Francisco to the
Galapagos. The Ecuadoran Park Service will hold everything in a
locked warehouse until my team arrives in April.
We will have at least three veterinarians working each day
for four to five weeks. In all, I have about 25 people lined up to
go and help, most of whom are paying their own way. Since last year
the dog population nearly tripled, from 500 dogs in 2003 to 1,400 in
2004, underscoring the need.
The project has mushroomed in the last few months. I can
barely keep up with the incoming e-mail. I now need to figure out a
way to get paid to do this, even if just part-time, so that I can
keep up with the need and plan ahead. The Park Service has already
asked if we can help other islands next year.
Thanks to ANIMAL PEOPLE for getting the word out to the right
people. It made all the difference in the world and I can’t thank
you enough.
–Emma Clifford
Animal Balance
135 Marlin Court
San Francisco, CA 94124
Phone: 415-671-0886

High salaries

Thank you for your disclosure of high salaries in “Who gets
the money?”, December 2003. Our director, Natalie Owings, could
be added to your list of those who serve without pay.
–John Stevenson, Vice President
Heart & Soul Animal Sanctuary
369 Montezuma Ave. #130
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: 505-757-6817

Photo captions corrected

The photograph of three ducks on page 1 of our
January/February edition was taken by Robert L. Harrison, not Kim
Karen Medicus, who took the photo of the dogs on page 1 of
our January/February edition, is no longer with the SPCA of
Austin/Travis County.

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