Black & white

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004:

Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians & Staff “is dedicated to
Lloyd Tait, VMD, the ASPCA’s first ‘head of shelter medicine,’ who
was everything one could imagine in a friend and mentor. Irascible,
supportive, quixotic, and fiercely dedicated to animal welfare, he
laid the early foundation for the formal practice of veterinary
medicine in the ASPCA shelters,” editors Lila Miller and Stephen
Zawistowski acknowledge.
Tait now works for the World Society for the Protection of
Animals. We recently received a copy of his comprehensive report on
the progress of dog sterilization in place of animal control killing
in Sri Lanka.
Tait joined the ASPCA staff in 1968, following former ASPCA
Brooklyn shelter director George Watford, now retired, as the
second nationally prominent humane worker of African descent. Miller
joined the ASPCA staff in 1977. She became the third nationally
prominent humane worker of African descent.
Since Miller was hired, a few other people of African
ancestry have become prominent in shelter work, perhaps most notably
longtime National Animal Control Association board member Keith
Robinson, but a convention of Afro-American executive directors of
humane societies could probably be held around one small table, and
would still have empty chairs.

Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians & Staff makes no mention
of the ethnicity of either Tait or Miller, but it needs to be
mentioned, because when two of a tiny handful of people of any
particular background make contributions to humane work of the
magnitude they have, the rest of the humane community should be
sitting up, taking notice, and looking for more talent from the
same source.
It is highly unlikely that Tait and Miller became who they
are, doing what they do, by random accident.
It is also tedious and tiresome that we are still attending
national conferences where it is suggested, based on surveys of
Afro-American students in agricultural veterinary schools, that
African-Americans are somehow less emotionally attached to animals
than anyone else. Any survey of agricultural veterinary students
would almost certainly find less emotional attachment to animals than
among companion animal veterinary students, and would probably find
less than among the general public. This is simply not relevant.
It is time to stop looking for differences and excuses, and start
looking for Afro-Americans to hire and train.

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