AVAR merges with Humane Society of the U.S; API merges with Born Free USA

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2008:
SACRAMENTO–The city of Sacramento, California, within just
two days in mid-January 2008 lost two of the three national animal
advocacy organizations that have long been based there. Their
offices are still in Sacramento, but now as branches of
organizations based in Washington D.C.
The Animal Protection Institute, founded in 1968 by former
Humane Society of the U.S. California office director Belton Mouras,
merged with Born Free USA, the U.S. arm of the British-based Born
Free Foundation. Mouras later founded United Animal Nations, also
based in Sacramento.

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, begun in
1981 by Nedim Buy-uchimici, DVM–who now directs the API Primate
Sanctuary near San Antonio, Texas– merged with the Humane Society
of the U.S.
The AVAR/HSUS alliance prompted visible anxiety from the
American Veterinary Medical Association about the allied
organizations’ intent of “starting their own veterinary association
as an alternative to the AVMA.”
AVAR will become an HSUS subsidiary called the Humane Society
Veterinary Medical Association.
Said HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, “Veterinarians bring a
special credibility and authority on animal issues. For 27 years,
AVAR has been an important and principled veterinary voice in animal
advocacy. Now we will amplify that voice and expand our
veterinary-related programs dramatically.”
Added AVAR president Paula Kislak, “AVAR has worked with a
sizable core group of dedicated veterinary advocates, but our
ability to reach veterinarians throughout the nation was hampered by
our limited resources. As HSUS invests more in veterinary advocacy,
I anticipate that we will be able to organize many more thousands of
veterinarians in the broader cause of animal protection.”
Noted the merger announcement, “There are approximately
80,000 veterinarians in the U.S., and 11,000 of them are already
supporters of HSUS. Since 2002, HSUS has operated Rural Area
Veterinary Services, delivering free services to animals and people
in remote communities often underserved by veterinarians. In 2007,
RAVS delivered more than 30,000 treatments to animals. More than 700
veterinary students a year participate in RAVS. HSUS also has major
collaborative programs with the veterinary schools at Louisiana State
University and Mississippi State University.
“AVAR has 3,500 affiliated veterinarians,” the announcement
continued. “Both AVAR and HSUS have long expressed frustration with
the industry-biased positions taken by the AVMA,” which “is on the
opposite side of animal protection advocates or neutral on
slaughtering horses for human consumption, continued use of
random-source dogs and cats in research, cruelty to ducks and geese
in producing foie gras, and the confinement of veal calves,
breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens in tiny crates and cages.
“The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association,” the
announcement pledged, “will be a voice for the vast majority of
veterinarians not in the employ of industries that do harm to
HSUS acquired RAVS and the Ark Trust by merger in 2002,
merged with the Fund for Animals in 2005, and merged with the Doris
Day Animal League in 2006.
The merger of the API with Born Free USA creates an
organization called Born Free USA United with Animal Protection
Institute, which is to focus on opposition to keeping exotic pets,
opposition to animal use in entertainment, controlling wildlife
trafficking, and “abolishing trapping and the use of fur in
fashion,” according to a joint statement.
“In addition,” the announcement stated, “we will maintain
and enhance our long-standing commitment to the residents of our
Texas-based primate sanctuary.”
Born Free/API is headed by Will Travers, the son of actors
Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, who made the film Born Free in
1966. Travers in 1984 co-founded the Born Free Foundation, was a
founding member of the Captive Wild Animals Protection Coalition,
heads Born Free USA, and since 1996 has been president of the
Species Survival Network, a coalition that promotes enforcement of
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
The Born Free Foundation sponsors the Ethiopian Wolf
Conservation Program, headed by Born Free employee Claudio Sillero.
With World Wildlife Fund backing, the EWCP in 1999 began sterilizing
and vaccinating pets and working dogs near Bale Mountains National
Park in Ethiopia. Helping were park employees Efrem Legese and Hana
Kifle, who formed the Homeless Animals Protection Society of
Ethiopia in 2001 with ANIMAL PEOPLE backing.
In July 2003 the EWCP quit the sterilization and vaccination
project, and–after HAPS blocked an EWCP request for government
permission to shoot homeless dogs– claimed that there were no
homeless dogs in the region. The EWCP claimed to have vaccinated
from 2,000 to 2,500 dogs per year, but the EWCP annual reports
stated that only 1,475 dogs had been vaccinated in five years.
Kifle in August 2003 photographed and reported to her
superiors an Ethiopian wolf with an apparent bite wound, who acted
rabid. The EWCP and Ethiopian Wildlife Conserv-ation Organization in
mid-October 2003 belatedly acknowledged the rabies outbreak,
introduced oral vaccination of the wolves, and again recommended
shooting homeless dogs.
Exposing the shootings in ANIMAL PEOPLE, Legese and Kifle
were in early 2004 fired from their park jobs on pretexts later
rejected by the courts in both Addis Ababa and the Bale region.
Legese and Kifle were reinstated, but were transferred to remote
regions and resigned to keep HAPS alive.
ANIMAL PEOPLE since 2005 has paid Kifle and Legese wages
equal to their former park salaries.

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