Human obituaries

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004:

Bonny Shah, 58, died on July 28, 2004, in Dallas, after
a long battle with leukemia. She married electrical engineer Ratilal
Shah, a Jain from Gujarat, India, in 1968. Unable to find work as
a teacher, she started a business called Maharani, importing
hand-crafted dog collars and other gift items from India, “but
instead of selling the collars, she used them to bring rescued dogs
home,” Rati Shah told ANIMAL PEOPLE. He joined Maharani in 1975,
three years after the birth of their son Noah. The firm found a
niche supplying animal-theme items to zoo gift shops. As it grew,
the Shahs hired ever-increasing numbers of Indian artisans. They
built a school in India that was among the first to teach computer
skills as part of the curriculum, a human birth control clinic that
performs 200 sterilizations per year, and a general-purpose clinic
serving 30 villages that treats 18,000 patients per year without
charge. In exchange for donating 20 computers to the school the
Shahs built, Bonny Shah won a pledge that the school will look after
several dogs she rescued throughout their lives. At the Shahs’ home
in Bartonville, Texas, they founded the Ahimsa of Texas sanctuary,
managed by Bonny’s parents, Lou and Evelyn Karstadt, who continue
in her memory. “Bonny loved donkeys. She wanted to do more for
donkeys,” Rati Shah continued, “so in India we created the Dharma
Donkey Sanctuary,” now supervised by Visakha SPCA founder Pradeep
Kumar Nath. “With the help of the Blue Cross of India,” Rati Shah
said, “we treat 2,500 donkeys there at donkey camps held every six
months.” Bonny Shah also sponsored humane education and feral cat
rescue work by Kat Chaplin, the Dallas-based “Neuteress of the
Night.” Chaplin introduced the Shahs to ANIMAL PEOPLE in January
1998. During the next six years Bonny Shah contributed profiles of
the Bishnoi people of the Rajasthan desert, whose Jain-like faith
emphasizes kindness toward animals; the Donkey Sanctuary, in
England; and the Wildlife SOS and Friendicoes sanctuaries in India.

She also contributed photos, including a portfolio from the
Galapagos Islands, and helped with investigations in India, Mexico,
and Costa Rica. One of her last calls was to ANIMAL PEOPLE. “She
said her concerns now were for the animals, especially her beloved
donkeys, and for vegetarian children,” ANIMAL PEOPLE Kim Bartlett
wrote to mutual friends before flying to Texas, with son Wolf
Clifton, for a last visit. “She said that Rati and Noah had set up
a trust to care for their animals and humane projects. She asked how
we were and wanted me to tell her about our animals,” all of whom
she knew personally. “I thought of all the ways in which Bonny
touched our lives,” Bartlett continued. “Bonny shopped for us and
bought us clothes. Bonny decorated our walls with beautiful things
from India and hangings from Ecuador. Much like the donkeys with
whom she most closely identified, Bonny loved to laugh and she
laughed loud. She loved food and comfort. She could kick her heels
high in play. But also like a donkey, she could endure all manner
of physical suffering. She would work until she literally dropped.
During all the time we knew Bonny, she fought leukemia. She had ups
and downs, but even in her downs she did more to bring happiness and
comfort to others than most healthy people ever consider doing.
Bonny didn’t want to talk about doing things, she wanted to do
things, and would always step in where she thought she was needed.”

Trevor Scott, a founder of the World Society for the
Protection of Animals, died in Surrey, England near his 75th
birthday. “Scott was at WSPA’s helm after the 1981 merger of The
World Federation for the Protection of Animals and the International
Society for the Protection of Animals,” wrote current WSPA president
Peter Davies. Scott began in humane work with the Royal SPCA in
1952. In 1957 he was sent “to survey West African animal welfare,”
recalled longtime WSPA colleague John Walsh. A year later the RSPCA
sent him to Lagos, Nigeria, as a regional organizer. He returned
to Britain in 1962 as inspection superintendent for Wales and the
West Country, responsible for 70 field inspectors. In 1964 Scott
was transferred to ISPA to serve as European & eastern hemisphere
administrator. He became chief administrator in 1967, and was then
director general of WSPA from inception until 1988.

Athena Lethcoe-Harman, 42, died in Mexico from diabetes
during the fourth week in June. A neighbor found her collie Panache
licking her face. A longtime collie breeder in Alaska,
Lethcoe-Harman moved to Arizona in 2002. Soon after she entered
Montana after crossing Canada, police on Halloween night 2002 found
171 wet, starving, sickly dogs plus 10 cats in the back of
Lethcoe-Harman’s rented truck. She was convicted of 180 counts of
cruelty, and was barred for life from the American Kennel Club. The
American Working Collie Association, local humane societies, and
individual donors and volunteers provided for the animals for nine
months at “Camp Collie,” near Shelby, Montana. The animals all
eventually found homes.

Tomas Clinkenbeard, 12, a frequent cat rescue volunteer for
his aunt, Laurie Melo, was killed on July 4 in San Jose,
California, when his mother, Catherine Silveira, 41, saw a stray
dog on I-85 and stopped in the emergency lane so that her husband,
Clinkenbeard’s stepfather, could catch the dog. Her vehicle was hit
from behind by a pickup truck driven by David Rodgers, 23.
Clinkenbeard’s younger siblings Jefferson Silveira, 7, and Catarina
Silveira, 6, were seriously injured.

Lori Lehner, 45, died of leukemia on June 2 in Tampa,
Florida, her home since 1997. A former theatrical actress, Lehner
worked for 20 years for the Montgomery County Humane Society in
Maryland and the Washington Humane Society in Washington D.C. with a
brief stint at PETA in between in 1993. In 1981 Lehner used her
basement in Rockville, Maryland, to house 17 monkeys who were
seized by police from the Institute for Behavioral Research in Silver
Spring on September 11, 1981, after an undercover investigation by
PETA cofounder Alex Pacheco. Lehner kept the monkeys for about two
weeks. The monkeys were gone when IBR director Edward Taub came with
a court order to get them back. Lehner was arrested,
strip-searched, and held overnight. The monkeys were eventually
found and seized by the National Institutes of Health. The NIH kept
custody of the “Silver Spring monkeys” throughout the remainder of
their lives. Taub was twice convicted of cruelty for neglect of the
monkeys, but the convictions were reversed on jurisdictional
technicalities. The case brought PETA to national prominence, and
helped influence Congress to pass Animal Welfare Act amendments in
1985 that require labs to provide for the psychological health of
dogs and nonhuman primates.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *