Obituaries

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2006:

Leo L. Lieberman, 91, DVM, died on February 15, 2006,
in Swampscott, Massachusetts. A 1935 graduate of the Ohio State
University School of Veterinary Medicine, Lieberman joined the U.S.
Army after graduation, became the youngest lieutentant in the
Veterinary Corps., and served in Europe during World War II.
Leaving the Army as a lieutenant colonel, after 13 years of service,
Lieberman practiced veterinary medicine for more than 30 years in
Waterford, Connecticut. “In the 1940s and 1950s,” recalls Marcia
Hess in The History of Spay/Neuter Surgery, “anesthetics were not
terribly safe, especially for young animals. Surgical instruments
now used to find a tiny uterus did not exist. Vets were mainly men.
They had big hands, and had to find that uterus with their fingers.
Since a uterus is bigger and much easier to find after an estrus, or
after having a litter, the advice of waiting until after the first
estrus or after a litter began and persists.” Lieberman began to
question the conventional wisdom after noting that early-age
sterilizing prevents mammary tumors in dogs, and that the few vets
who did early-age sterilizing had gotten good results for as long as
20 years–including a Dr. Flynn of Chicago, who developed the basic
technique in 1925, but could not convince other vets to try it. “I
did a literature search and found nothing on why the ages were set at
what they were,” Lieberman recalled. He began doing early-age
sterilization in 1970. As then-president of the Connecticut
Veterinary Medical Association, Lieberman set an influential
example. The American SPCA in 1972 became the first major humane
society to endorse early-age sterilization. Lieberman’s 1987 Journal
of the American Veterinary Medical Association article “A case for
neutering pups and kittens at two months of age” turned veterinary
opinion in favor of early-age sterilization by explaining that
guardians of dogs and cats who were spayed or castrated young
reported less aggressive behavior, less obesity, and fewer medical
problems. Lieberman followed up in JAVMA in 1988 and 1991. Research
funded by the Winn Feline Foundation, conducted by Thomas J. Lane,
DVM, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of
Florida, Gainesville, in 1991 and 1992 supported Lieberman, as did
a major study of early-age sterilization done by the Massachusetts
SPCA at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston. In March 1993 Lieberman
faced off in ANIMAL PEOPLE against early-age sterilization critic
Leslie N. John-ston, DVM, of Tulsa, Oklahoma; defended early-age
sterilization before a gallery of critics at the World Veterinary
Congress in Berlin, Germany; and in July 1993 won endorsement of
early-age sterilization from the AVMA. Lieberman in 1993 received
the Alex Lewyt Veterinary Medical Center Award of Achievement for
exceptional innovation, and in 2001 received a Lifetime Achievement
Award from Spay/USA.

Bob Jones, 61, died of cancer on February 11, 2006, in
Seattle. “People have animal totems and guides. Bob’s were the
raccoon and opossum. Hewas a raccoon at heart,” recalled the
Sarvey’s Wildlife Center web site. “He got his moniker “Crazy Bob”
from rescuing a redtail hawk off a steep roof in a lightning storm.
Bob trained his border collie Billie to help him. She could find an
injured raccoon in a heartbeat. Bob founded and funded our wildlife
ambulance by himself, never taking a penny from the wildlife center.
There were times years ago when Sarvey would be ready to close due to
lack of funds. Crazy Bob would give our director thousands of
dollars on condition that no one could know about it.” Will Hobbs’
award-winning children’s novel Jackie’s Wild Seattle was based on
Sarvey’s Wildlife Center, Hobbs has said, with the character Uncle
Neal based on Jones. The book was inspired, according to Hobbs, by
a newspaper clipping his brother-in-law sent him, “about a volunteer
for a wildlife center who rescued a wild coyote from an elevator in a
downtown Seattle office building. The man just sat down in the
elevator with the coyote, talked to her, calmed her down, and
brought her out in a carrier. I resolved to visit the wildlife
center the next time I was in the area, to meet these amazing
people.”

Dennis Weaver, 82, died of cancer on February 27, 2006.
Weaver grew up raising dairy cattle, goats, sheep, horses, and
poultry on a farm near Joplin, Missouri, and later raised lamas in
Colorado, but became a vegetarian in 1958. He studied acting at the
University of Oklahoma, but did not actually start his acting career
until after serving in World War II as a Navy fighter pilot, and
then placing sixth in the 1948 U.S. Olympic Team decathalon trials.
Best known for playing the deputy sheriff Chester in the television
series Gunsmoke, 1955-1975, Weaver also played the role of Tom
Wedloe in the 1967-1969 TV series Gentle Ben, featuring a bear as
co-star. In later years he was a perennial presenter at the annual
Genesis Awards ceremony, honoring pro-animal screen productions.

Anne Fracassa, 47, died of a stroke in Detroit on March 13.
A career journalist, except for six years with the FBI, 1976-1982,
Fracassa edited several weekly newspapers and from 1988 on wrote a
syndicated automotive column. She chaired the Warren Animal Welfare
Commission from 1999 to her death. “She helped to remove deer from
the General Motors Technical Center and worked to build the city’s
first dog park,” now to be named in her honor,” recalled George
Hunter of the Detroit News. “She also worked to get a no-kill animal
shelter built in the city, to open in 2007,” Hunter added.

Peggy Hauptman, 72, died of complications from cancer on
March 20 in Englewood, Florida. “She founded the Engle-wood Animal
Rescue Sanctuary, a care-for-life non-profit animal protection
service, several years ago,” recalled Rachel Alexander of the
Charlotte Sun-Herald. “Her dream was to build a seven-building
sanctuary on 10 acres in Englewood. But the project hit a snag due
to permitting issues and opposition from neighbors. Just last week
Hauptman announced with jubilation that she had secured a site for
the sanctuary in DeSoto County. Jim North, director of the program,
said that project will go forward in Hauptman’s name and honor.”

James L. Cresson, 60, noted in recent years for reporting
about dog attacks, dog abuse cases, and unusual stories involving
dogs, was killed in a March 13 car crash near Centreville,
Maryland. A combat reporter for the U.S. Army during 18 months in
Vietnam, 1968-1969, Cresson later wrote for the Delaware State
News, Middletown Transcript, Delaware Coast Press and the Cape
Gazette, and for a time edited the Long Neck News, published by his
wife Corinne.

Wang Pei, whose English name was Betty, “in her early
thirties, a volunteer, activist, writer, and consultant in animal
welfare, threw herself off 24th floor of an apartment highrise” in
Beijing in mid-November 2005, friend Peter Li told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
Li recalled that Wang Pei “worked briefly for International Fund for
Animal Welfare China office; consulted for Compass-ion in World
Farming; and wrote articles calling for an end to bear bile
farming.” After attending an animal advocacy training program in
Italy, Wang Pei helped CIWF and the Royal SPCA present a workshop on
slaughtering in Beijing. Her suicide came at the end of the
conference. “Reportedly, she died of loss of hope for improvement
in the lot of the animals whom she loved so dearly,” Li said.

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