Letters [July/Aug 2007]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2007:
I don’t think I am alone in wishing that the Christian
churches would join the rest of us in fighting for the animals. Most
churches have strong environmental statements, caring for creation
and so on, but take little action in terms of condemning the cruelty
and misery inflicted on animals by humans.
I am not a Quaker, but I applaud their move to come to grips
with the issues by agreeing to examining the following questions at
the Friends World Council for Consultation Triennial, which will be
held in Dublin in August 2007–
“This Concern has been raised by the Central and Southern Africa
Quakers for discussion at the Dublin Triennial:
Do we recognise the suffering imposed upon billions of
nonhuman animals by human animals in the flesh and milk industry; in
vivisection laboratories; in using them for power and entertainment
and in the taking of their natural habitat? Given that nonhuman
animals are utterly powerless to resist this oppression, how is our
Society called to act?”
May I suggest that “animal people” with church connections
draw the attention of their church to the Quaker example?
New Lambton Heights, Australia
Now that Michael Vick has been indicted on felony dog
fighting charges, it is high time to ramp up campaigns against this
“sport” and those involved in it.
I applaud the Humane Society of the United States and others
for calling on the NFL to immediately suspend Vick. But I feel that
our collective response must be stronger. Let us hold peaceful anti-
dog fighting rallies at every NFL game all over the country. Every
game is televised and has tons of media coverage, so it will be free
publicity for our issue.
And let us not forget Vick’s endorsement deals, which funnel
millions of dollars into his bloody hands. Sponsors are very
vulnerable to public opinion and media notice. How about a few
rallies outside the corporate offices of a few of the companies which
have so far ignored this issue?
Other companies whose products Vick has reportedly endorsed
are Coca Cola, Powerade, Kraft, Rawlings, and Hasbro. Vick had
also been a pitchman for AirTran Airways since 2004, but his
contract with them expired and was not renewed.
PO Box 29
Factoryville, PA 18419
In 2004 ANIMAL PEOPLE visited our shelter in
Dragomiresti-Vale, Romania, described us favorably in your article
“The Vampires of Buch-arest,” and ever since have sent us ANIMAL
PEOPLE, which provides us with very interesting and valuable
Since then, we have signed a contract with the Animal Survey
Agency, which enables us to save some of the dogs who have been
taken from the streets and open courtyards, and are required to be
killed after 14 days.
Unfortunately, due to our disastrous financial situation,
we could build only three more kennels. This is very sad and
frustrating, as we have a lot of space at our disposal.
We have just finished disinfecting and deparasitizing our
facility, and are now vaccinating. We are only four people: me,
our vet tech, and two keepers. We need more staff, but where to
find them and how to pay them?
Fortunately we have not lost our sense of humor. This is
good news for our little souls at the shelter, no?
Asociatia Pas-cu-Pas 2003
Jud. Iflov, Romania
Helping animals in Ethiopia
I am a physician who lives in Houston, Texas. I am a U.S.
citizen but originally from Ethiopia.
In November 2006 I cofounded an organization dedicated to
the memory of my mother, whom I lost when I was five.
In April 2007 I went back to Ethiopia to find out about the
wildlife situation in my native country. While there I was
confronted by the overwhelming numbers of homeless dogs, who are the
most mistreated, abused, neglected sentient beings in Ethiopia.
Their suffering so bothered me that a day does not go by that I don’t
think of them. I saw so many hungry, sick, neglected dogs it was
I have videos of mothers in the middle of busy streets in
mid-day, so dehydrated their skin could be raised like a tent,
trying to breastfeed 10 puppies at a time. I have seen dogs being
systematically poisoned by strychnine, continuously convulsing and
foaming at the mouth until their rib cages stop moving and they stop
Because of what I have seen, I have decided to mount a
campaign to bring awareness to the problem in Ethiopia. I know the
suffering in other countries is similar, but in India, for example,
there are now many great animal protection organizations. In
Ethiopia, awareness of the plight of nonhuman animals, especially
domestic animals and farm animals, is nonexistent. There is one
organization I am supporting called the Homeless Animal Protection
Society. This is the only organization I know of in Ethiopia that
deals with dogs, among other nonhuman animals. They are under
funded, understaffed, and in their current situation they will not
be able to bring relief to the suffering of even a fraction of the
750,000 dogs found in the capital city of Addis Ababa alone.
What my organization would like to do is create a
state-of-the-art spay/neuter clinic, hospital with 6 surgery rooms,
an educational center, a center for community outreach and teaching,
a temporary shelter that can accommodate 50 to 60 dogs, and a
holding area for at least 10 to 20 dogs. We want it to be the best
in Africa, so that we can have people from other African countries
come and train, and learn about animal welfare.
To this end we have already secured the help of U.S.
veterinarians who would go to Ethiopia for a couple of weeks at a
time to teach. We have been promised by the mayor of Addis Ababa
that we will be given land on which to build the facility. We have
labor already in place in the city. We have already contracted an
architectural engineering firm to do the work. Architectural
drawings will be created shortly. What is left is to secure the
funding necessary to make it reality.
This is our vision. We can’t do it by ourselves. We need
the goodwill of people like yourselves to make the dream a realty.
–Anteneh Roba, M.D.
223 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77006
ANIMAL PEOPLE publisher Kim Bartlett was founding patron of
the Homeless Animal Protection Society, begun by Efrem Legese and
Hana Kifle in 2001. ANIMAL PEOPLE sponsors their salaries.
As result of the cooperative effort of many individuals and
organizations, as well as hard work by Congressman Christopher Shays
and his staff, our effort to reinvigorate the Congressional Friends
of Animals Caucus has been a huge success. The caucus membership
has doubled. We now have 41 members. Republican membership in the
caucus has increased to 40%, up from 19% when we started.
Now that we have achiev-ed caucus reinvigoration through
increased membership and greater bipartisanship, Congressman Shays
and his caucus co-chair will be evaluating future caucus activities,
hearings, and projects to enable the caucus to play a more
significant role in animal protection.
Many great musicians and vocalists affiliated with the music
industry merit commendation for their fervent and compassionate
animal rights and vegetarian advocacy. This includes Paul McCartney,
Chrissie Hynde, Boston’s Tom Scholz, Moby, Morrissey, Joan Jett,
and pianists Linda Gentille and Will Tuttle. The latter also wrote
an enlightening book aptly titled “The World Peace Diet.” All are
extremely talented and blessed with benevolent souls.
When visitors leave a foreign country by airport or cruise
ship, they often have change with them that cannot buy anything. If
humane societies had change collection boxes at the points of
departure, with the permission of the authorities, many of us would
happily give them the money.
–June P. Wilson
San Francisco, California
The Blue Cross of India has done this at the Chennai airport
for many years. It appears to be an effective fundraising method.
Animal caretakers everywhere should beware of Lyme disease
Nic Meeuwenoord, 55, used to manage a riding school before
he became sick. In the summer of 1996, after carrying a stack of
fresh hay, he discovered a red circle on his leg. Later that year
he started suffering from fevers, painful joints, throat pain,
weight loss and forgetfulness. No doctor could tell him what his
By now Nic is convinced he contracted Lyme disease from a
bite by a tick infected with the agent Borrelia burgdorferi.
According to Nic, Lyme is “The most underestimated disease.” He
himself has become invalid, although he still walks with crutches.
“Putting a pistol against your head is not a solution,” says
Nic, who finds dealing with the constant pain and exhaustion caused
by Lyme extremely difficult.
Animal caretakers around the world should be aware that they
are extra-susceptible to contracting Lyme disease. They should not
underestimate the effects of Lyme, which can be literally crippling.
Working with Animal Nepal in Kathmandu, I concentrated on
rescuing injured and sick street animals. While handling cats, dogs,
and cows, I regularly came across ticks. At times a tick would jump
across and attatch itself to my skin. Once or twice I found a
swollen tick a few days later, hidden under my armpit or on the side
of my leg. I never thought much of it, not even when I started to
become sick in 2003. At first I suffered from recurring infections
and neck pain. Later I developed neurological problems. I started
to faint and could no longer walk straight. I become forgetful,
suffered mood changes, and developed heart problems.
Over the next two years I was treated for all sorts of
disorders, but nothing made me feel better. In February 2006 a
Dutch general practitioner tested my blood for Lyme titres. Then
things fell into place.
Although I do not know for sure if I contracted lyme during
my work with animals, I warn all animal handlers to take extra care.
Lyme is a very serious disease which–if not quickly diagnosed and
effectively treated–can kill you. Even less serious cases such as
mine change one’s life considerably. I have not been able to work in
three years. I have been treated with multiple antibiotics for
almost a year.
Although my condition is slowly improving, I may not be able
to return to my job and passion–animal welfare–for quite a while.
I hope there is no such thing as a chronic antibiotic resistant Lyme
Animal welfare organizations in tick infected areas should
conduct regular Lyme titre tests on workers and volunteers,
especially those who are often sick. Partners and children should be
included, as research suggests the disease can be handed from mother
to child, and is sexually transmittable. People who have been out
walking in nature or have worked with tick-carrying animals should
carefully check their clothing and body for the presence of ticks.
Those who are bitten ideally should immediately take a course of
antibiotics and continue to watch their health.
Suspected Lyme patients who are not taken seriously by their
doctor or do not receive proper treatment (preferably according to
the guidelines of International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society)
ideally should go to a place where they can receive extended
antibiotics and supportive treatment.
–Lucia de Vries
Economic impact of animal control
Have you ever seen any reports or studies completed on the
impact of animal control in a community? I believe that law
enforcement and public education by animal control officers has
created more business in our community, and would like to be able to
describe our program in terms of economic impact as well as in terms
of services provided.
We encourage pet keepers to get rabies vaccination, have their cats
and dogs sterilized, get veterinary treatment and grooming, feed
their pets properly, provide shelter for pets, clean up after dogs,
This creates a demand for veterinary services, pet-sitting
and poop cleaning businesses, boarding kennels, grooming shops,
trainers, pet food, and supplies for pets such as leashes, dog
houses, water and food bowls, and fenced yards.
When we started enforcing sanitation complaints on pets,
poop clean-up businesses developed. Since 1980 the number of
veterinary clinics in our city has increased from 10 clinics to 24.
The number of vets has gone from 15 to more than 65.
I realize that some of this might have happened anyway, but
believe that animal control law enforcement has encouraged it.
Animal Control Chief
3140 N Street
Lincoln, NE 68510
Statistics & tactics
First, let me thank you for being at the Animal Care Expo in
Dallas in May. The session on statistics, in which ANIMAL PEOPLE
participated, was most meaningful to me.
I recently left a cushy job in the health insurance industry
to join the management staff at the Bay Area Humane Society. Only a
few years ago I became aware and horrified by the realities of our
relationship with animals. That was the first big blow. The second
was realizing that despite the existence of national-level,
multi-million-dollar organizations dedicated to animal welfare and/or
animal rights, many groups seem to be run more like a dysfunctional
support group than a business. I’m hoping I can change that, at
least in my community.
I am so grateful for publications and work like yours that I
could carry on for pages, but forgive me for stopping here, because
I have a feral cat spay day to prepare for.
I do want you to know that I have cut back my giving to many
national organizations, primarily because I am focusing my time and
money on two local groups–but I am sending you what I can because I
applaud your approach, and you did not send me any damned address
labels, notepads, cards, or most importantly, some story that is
a complete insult to my emotional maturity and intelligence. Thank
you for a respectful, intelligent request for support!
–Lisa Kay Peters
Development director/fundraising manager
Bay Area Humane Society
1830 Radisson St.
Green Bay, WI 54302
“What then must we do?”
I just read your “What then must we do?” funding appeal.
Brilliant. To animal people it is an overwhelming world. So many
cares, endless suffering. Where to donate? Maddening.
Recently we adopted two cats from a shelter. We selected
two, and said a prayer that the others would be adopted. I take
comfort in knowing that for all the suffering, there are little
success stories the world over. Because of my interest in animal
rights, a friend became involved and has saved five animals. I
guess that’s the ripple effect. She is a teacher, and her class
“adopted” a greyhound after visiting a retired greyhound facility.
Maybe one or two kids will grow up with the compassion of your
adorable Wolf, whose drawings I cherish. So, bless your hearts,
and thank you for the words I am often in need of.
Response to “Meat-eating & moral leadership”
Great editorial about meat-eating and moral leadership in the
movement. I hope a lot of folks read it!
And of course, what great news re: Oregon banning gestation crates!
Factory Farming Campaign
Humane Society of the U.S.
2100 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20037
FoA is vegan
Our food policy is simple: we advocate life-affirming,
vegan cuisine, so all food purchased by Friends of Animals and
offered at FoA events is plant-based: vegan.
I’m writing another vegan cookbook that will be released next summer.
Friends of Animals
777 Post Road
Darien, CT 06820
IFAW doesn’t serve fish from endangered species
Although we wholeheartedly support the vegetarian/vegan
philosophy, IFAW supports a process of thoughtful, progressive
disengagement from lifestyles that cause cruelty to animals. As an
international organization working with people from many different
backgrounds and cultures, we believe that we will best serve the
animals and achieve victories against cruelty if we encourage and
support people who have goodwill toward animals and want to make some
positive steps towards living in a more peaceful way with their
We have the utmost respect for people who choose to adopt a
vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, but because we collaborate with people
from many cultures, we feel that we can really make a difference for
the animals if we do not restrict our membership and welcome all
people who love and care for animals. Out of respect for IFAW staff
and donor dietary preferences, all IFAW-catered events and meetings
serve only vegetarian dishes and/or fish from non-endangered species.
Animals in Crisis & Distress
for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 193
Yarmouth Port, MA 02675
RSPCA responds Re: Freedom Food
I would like to clarify a few points in response to your June
2007 editorial “Moral leadership, big groups, and the meat issue.”
Contrary to what you reported, Freedom Food has not “been
afflicted by one scandal after another,” and we are baffled as to
why you mention Freedom Food in the same breath as the egg
mislabelling incident, when we spoke up in shock about it at the
Freedom Food has in fact gone from strength to strength,
with new farms coming on board and new products being launched into
Further, whilst some footage recently shown on ITV was
shocking and frustrating, resulting in the farms being suspended
from Freedom Food, it did not show any “abuse” of animals as
reported in your article.
Since Freedom Food was launched more than 330 million animals
have been on the scheme. That’s a third of a billion animals who
have benefited directly as a result of Freedom Food. We will
continue to strive to make improvements for farm animals–and firmly
believe that if you want to help farm animals, Freedom Food is the
best scheme in Britain to support.
West Sussex RH13 9RS;
The claim that no abuse was documented at the farms that were
suspended from Freedom Food appears to depend on a definition of
“abuse” as an act of commission, which excludes neglect. Humane
laws, however, often define neglect as a type of abuse.
The egg mislabeling scandal undercut the Freedom Food premise
that the RSPCA is capable of monitoring animal agribusiness closely
enough to prevent bogus claims from eroding humane standards.
Millions of falsely labeled “free range” eggs from “free range” farms
that never existed were marketed for years all over Britain, in
direct competition with Freedom Food eggs, apparently without the
Freedom Food inspectors ever suspecting anything was amiss. When the
fraud was detected, it was revealed by inside whistleblowers using
routine ultraviolet light “candling,” or egg-sorting, which showed
the grid pattern of the cages on the eggs’ shells.
The RSPCA nonperformance in response to the mislabeling
stands in distinct contrast to the response of the comparatively tiny
U.S. organization Compassion Over Killing to the use of misleading
“Animal Care Certified” labeling by members of United Egg Producers,
the largest egg industry trade association. COK took the matter
promptly to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, winning a series of
rulings that resulted in United Egg Producers agreeing to replace the
“Animal Care Certified” label with “United Egg Producers Certified”
by April 2006.
Indian journalists dispute British report of
jihadi involvement in Kazaringa rhino poaching
You have cited my Hindustan Times report of May 27, 2007 [about the
arrest of alleged Naga poaching kingpin Lalkhang Go] in the June 2007
issue of ANIMAL PEOPLE in support of the May 5, 2007 Guardian report
linking animal body parts trade with jihadi.
The Guardian report is far-fetched, and is typical of their
anti-Islamic slant. They spoke to people who would, even if you
kill them, never say they are Bangladeshi immigrants. Nor do
sandbar dwellers have the propensity to brandish arms. The story was
more like a Hollywood script.
Jihadis and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-or for that
matter most other militant groups in Northeast India-do not gel. And
if you think my report justifies battering the Islamists, well, the
NSCN, KRA, KLA, NDFB, and other Northeast Indian rebel groups are
predominantly Christians, and there have been intelligence reports
about churches funding them.
By the same logic, illegal wildlife traders should be equated with
Christianity. But this is not a case of religion. The main driving
force is money, and the end-users of animal body parts are
invariably the Chinese or southeast Asians or Europeans and
Americans, who are either Marxists, Buddhists, those adhering to
indigenous faiths or Christians. Least of all Muslims.
I am not a Muslim, but I think most people in US and Europe are
overdoing the bit against the Islamic world.
Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark of the Guardian reported
meeting armed suspected poachers believed to be from Bangladesh on a
sandbar. Levy and Scott-Clark did not equate these men with the
sandbar dwellers of the region, who as Rahul Karmakar mentions are
historically not warlike.
Both Hamas and al Qaida were reportedly involved in northern
African wildlife trafficking for at least a decade before September
11, 2001, in different regions. Yemen was the reputed hub of the
global traffic in rhino horn even before that. Levy and Scott-Clark
hypothesized, as ANIMAL PEOPLE summarized, that similar factions
may now be working in eastern India.
Fourteen endangered Asian rhinos have been poached within
Kaziranga National Park, in Assam state, eastern India, since
March 2007. Four suspects from a Christian village in early August
reportedly admitted killing five of the rhinos.
The ANIMAL PEOPLE report on poaching drawing references from
The Hindustan Times and The Guardian seems to be anomalous. One
poacher who was arrested recently confessed to have had arms training
from an “underground outfit” of Nagaland. He didn’t name any outfit.
However, the outfits in Nagaland are Christian terrorists, and have
no reported links with Islamic terrorists.
Further, the Guardian reporters who visited Kaziranga and
reported on poaching nexus should have done a little more research
before coming to their conclusion.
The Nagas, a tribe in eastern India, are traditionally
trained as sharpshooters. In recent months a tranquilizer gun was
seized from poachers at Kaziranga which, when investigated, was
found to be licensed gun to the wildlife chief of Nagaland. Civil
service officers from Nagaland were also arrested in the park,
The alleged illegal migrants encroaching the reserve forests
are used as guides. The chain of transporters and poachers vary from
place to place and it is assumed that the route from Assam runs to
Kathmandu where the trade becomes international.
I have been reporting about poaching in northeastern India
for several years now and my observations are based on hard evidence,
not assumptions. We have been broadcasting a campaign against
poaching, the details of which are available on <www.ndtv.com>. I
have no reason to believe that Islamic terrorists are active in this
region, either collecting funds through poaching or otherwise.
New Delhi Television
The importance of confinement-free housing to sheltering animals successfully
I never realized how important confinement-free housing is
for the health and well-being of animals in shelters and sanctuaries
until I visited Home for Life. Previously, I had visited animal
facilities in which all or most of the animals were isolated alone in
cages or tiny rooms. I was told by the directors that this was the
only feasible way of providing care.
Confinement-free housing at Home For Life is the core of the humane
care this sanctuary provides. Its effect on the animals’ lives is
Every animal here has the opportunity to walk, run, and
climb if able. Even those who are severely handicapped, i.e.
blind or partially paralyzed, are provided with settings and devices
that encourage movement and interaction. In addition to large living
environments, there are bigger areas to which many of the animals
are brought for exercise and play. Even dogs who have difficulty
getting along with others are provided with spacious accomodations
that offer them continual visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation.
The animals at Home For Life have opportunities for ongoing
relationships with the other animals who live with them. This is
made possible by the confinement-free housing, which recognizes the
social nature of animals, the comfort and pleasure they derive from
each other, and the possiblity of fulfillment of many of their needs
without the continual presence of people.
Many other shelters I have visited-even those that declare
themselves in their literature and fund-raising letters to be
“cage-free”-keep all or most of their animals alone in cages or other
tiny enclosures. These rooms, sometimes no larger than 3 to 5 feet
square, with four walls that create total isolation, provide no
possibility of visual, auditory, or tactile contact with the
outside world. Only at times do the dogs have a limited view, and
then only by standing on their hind legs.
What happens to animals in shelters and sanctuaries who do
not live in confinement-free housing?
Animals who are severely confined and isolated often develop
negative behaviors, such as withdrawal, twirling, or aggression
that make them unadoptable or unapproachable. Others become
extremely anxious, scratching at the walls of their enclosures.
Various justifications have been made for keeping animals
confined and isolated. They include:
“If we make the housing larger, we would not have room for
so many animals,” or “The animal has a private space,” or “We
take the animal out for a walk,” or “We focus on adoption,” even
though the animal might be there for years.
Shelters end up euthanizing animals who develop withdrawal,
aggression, etc. because confinement has been so devastating to them.
Donors who receive appeals from animal care facilities need
to do their homework. Organizations can misrespresent their living
facilities. The best way to know an animal shelter or sanctuary is
to visit. Other ways of learning include carefully reading and
looking at websites, as well as contacting the organization and
asking specific questions such as “Exactly how large is an animal’s
living space? Do animals live alone or together?” When
an organization describes itself as “cage-free” or “no-kill,”
explore the meaning of those terms with the people asking you for a
In summary, nothing justifies isolation and severe
confinement. Each day in the lives of animals is important. We owe
it to them to make the present time fulfilling and meaningful.
New York, N.Y.
Spanish activist objects to “running of the nudes”
On July 5, 2007, People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals organized their sixth annual “Running of the Nudes” protest
against the so-called “running of the bulls” at the Festival of San
Fermin in Pamplona, Spain. Year after year this protest tries to
congregate as many nude runners as possible, who end up showing
their genitals in the media in a carnival where the focus on
bullfighting is completely lost.
The PETA campaigns turn women into objects and their bodies
into advertisements. At <www.RunningOfTheNudes.com> PETA claims
people should take part in their demonstration because “It’s about
babes–not bulls. Hardly-dressed hotties and nearly-nude dudes–need
we say more?” The suffering and death of the bulls who are murdered
in Pamplona remains practically unmentioned.
The “Running of the Nudes” is now even promoted by the city
of Pamplona as one of the attractions offered during the week of the
“Running of the bulls.” This must be the only protest in the world
against an injustice that helps to attract tourists to the injustice.
If there was any doubt about the response the “Running of the
Nudes” provokes in the people of Pamplona and the Spanish public, a
quick look at the media coverage will clarify the issue. The size of
the breasts of the activists is of more interest than the sad reality
the bulls will endure just a few hours after PETA’s carnival.
As an organization dedicated to promoting respect toward
non-human animals and focused on ending their exploitation, Igualdad
Animal is opposed to the “Running of the bulls” and the bullfights in
Pamplona or wherever these terrible events take place. We also
consider creativity to be a very important part of activism in
defense of animals, but we must try to represent non-human animals
with respect. We fight against a terrible reality that must not be
hidden and must be treated seriously: mothers separated from their
babies, mutilations, uncountable hours of suffering, millions
murdered daily at slaughterhouses, bullrings, laboratories…
All of this suffering happens with the complicity of a
society immersed in consumerism and triviality.
We regret that organizations that supposedly want to defend
non-human animals support and promote PETA. Supporting their
demonstrations implies supporting and promoting their ideology.
Their position is fundamentally opposed to respect for non-human
animals and the abolition of their exploitation.
We encourage the people of Pamplona and Navarra to openly
oppose the “Running of the bulls” and other ways of exploiting
animals. Those of us who reject animal exploitation and PETA are
Igualdad Animal/Animal Equality
C/ Montera, 34 28-28013
Phone: (+34) 915 222 218
Nunez also sent a multi-paragraph outline of nine objections
to other PETA activities and policies that she believes are
“welfarist” rather than “abolitionist,” each footnoted with web
addresses giving further particulars.
A reader in Havana
Thank you for sending me ANIMAL PEOPLE every once in a while.
I do my best here in Cuba. Our conditions are not very good, and
the only thing I could do was to adopt five lovely stray dogs who
were in dire straits.
— Cristina Bergnes