Letters to the Editor

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2008:

Sofia city sterilization program excludes pets

Two days prior to the Orthodox Easter, the Municipal Council
of Sofia adopted a stray dog population control program for
2008-2011. Municipal animal control director Miroslav Naydenov
stressed in the media that the new national animal protection act
gives the municipalities until January 2011 to shelter all stray dogs.
Unfortunately the Sofia program does not include adequate
solutions for the problem. The situation was already complicated by
the national prohibition of killing animals for population control,
while failing to provide adequately for sterilizing pets. The only
pet population control measures included in the municipal program are
the introduction of dog registration with increased fees for keeping
unsterilized dogs.

According to Naydenov there are about 100,000 owned dogs in
Sofia. Therefore an income of about two million leva per year is
expected [from registration fees]. So the logical question arises:
for what is Sofia going to use the income from the new tax? In 2007
the main activity declared by the animal control agency was
sterilizing almost 4,000 dogs. Most were returned to the streets and
only few hundreds were adopted. The agency budget was 920,000 leva.
Taking into account the recent proposals made by Miroslav
Naydenov, we could expect that the existing practice will be
expanded to unowned cats, but not to low-cost sterilization of pets.
–Emil Kuzmanov, founder
Animal Programs Bulgaria Foundation
18 Yanko Sofiiski Voivoda Str
1164 Sofia, Bulgaria
Phone: +35928655623
WSPA funded the Wildlife SOS bear sanctuary

I thought your article “Tracking bear rescue & rehabilitation
in India” in the April 2008 edition of Animal people was fair. Parts
of the story remain a muddle and probably will never be fully
resolved to your and my satisfaction. I still remain suspicious that
there is some dirty work at the crossroads involved.
You reported that, “WSPA eventually provided about half of
the initial cost of building the first Wildlife SOS bear sanctuary,
near Agra, but was no longer part of the project by the time it
opened in December 2002. Most of the rest of the Agra sanctuary
construction and start-up funding came from the Australian charity
Free the Bears, One Voice of France, and International Animal
Rescue of Britain, all still project partners.”
WSPA actually funded the whole of the Agra construction to
enable it to open and to start taking in bears, at a cost of around
$250,000. The other groups you list funded additional work and
extension work later on after WSPA had handed over the sanctuary to
WSOS at the end of 2002. WSPA had a written agreement with WSOS and
the Indian authorities for the handover to WSOS in 2002.
Also Libearty was never “suspended.” After the Agra
construction was completed we went straight on to finishing our WSPA
Pakistan sanctuary and work on our bear farm campaign. However,
latterly we have ceased to use the title “Libearty” and do all our
bear work under the generic WSPA title.
–Peter Davies
Director general
World Society for the
Protection of Animals
89 Albert Embankment
London, SE1 7TP
United Kingdom
Phone: +44-20-7587-5000
Fax: +44-20-7793-0208
Toll for Eight Belles

What a horror show the 134th Kentucky Derby was. There,
just a short walk from the drunken shouts of joy, back-slapping,
and congratulatory hugs within the winner’s circle, lay the valiant
filly Eight Bells, downed by two front ankle breaks. She required
immediate euthanasia.
Races and steeplechases involving these beautiful animals,
who are nervous in nature and physically fragile despite their great
size, are barbaric. Because these events are embraced by the upper
classes and the wealthy, no one speaks against them. I hope you
will speak out on this subject as you do on all meaningful animal
–Mary Mansour
Retired Humane Officer
Fairhope, Alabama
“Maybe Eight Belles was lucky”

Another beautiful, talented young horse full of potential
has been destroyed due to severe injuries suffered in the quest of
her owners, and trainers for the glory, accolades, and financial
reward of being in the winners’ circle, to say nothing of the
owners’ expectations of very lucrative breeding opportunities. Maybe
Eight Belles was lucky, as she didn’t suffer as long as Barbaro.
Sport of Kings? I think not, unless you consider that
princely sums given by the insurance companies to the owners of the
“also rans” whose horses are found mysteriously dead in their staffs
or victims of an “accidental” barn fire.
Then there was the Derby winner of a few years back who ended
his career in the slaughterhouse. I would appreciate your thoughts
on this issue, and anything you can do to help bring attention to
the abuse of horses and the pile of manure that is the reality of
–Judy Youngman
Larkspur, Calif.
Results from Kobe

The Animal Rescue System Fund opened our clinic here in Kobe,
Japan at the end of 2006. Since then, we have sterilized 1710 cats,
of whom 1,412 (82%) were ferals. Of those, 825 were returned to
their habitat.
The Kobe City Pound on May 15, 2008 announced that the
number of kittens killed at the shelter declined 21% in the first
quarter of 2007, compared to 2006, and fell 13% for the whole
fiscal year 2007, in which 2,239 kittens were killed, down 334 from
2,569 in 2006.
–Hiro Yamasaki
Animal Rescue System Fund
3-9-1-1F Kusugaoka-cho, Nada-ku
Kobe 657-0024, Japan
Phone: 078-856-3229
Farm Animals Anti-Cruelty Act

On June 5, 2008, U.S. Representatives Christopher Shays
(R-CT) and Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced the Farm Animals Anti-Cruelty
Act. This bill makes it a federal offense to without justification,
kill, mutilate, disfigure, torture, or intentionally inflict pain
or suffering upon an animal raised for food or to fail to provide
food, water and shelter. We believe this bill could help in the
states that exempt farm animals from coverage under their
anti-cruelty statutes. Even in states that do not exempt farm
animals, a federal prosecutor may be more likely to prosecute a case
than a local prosecutor in a rural area.
Although acts in compliance with the Humane Slaughter Act
cannot be prosecuted under this bill, we believe that violations of
the Humane Slaughter Act such as excessive prodding, ineffective
stunning, and skinning, dismemberment, and scalding while
conscious, would be violations if they are without justification and
The Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus (co-chaired by
Shays) will hold a hearing on this bill, probably in July.
–Jerry Simonelli
Centreville, Virginia
Phone: 703-818-2500
“The seal hunt must be recognized as a political issue”

Your May 2008 analysis of why the Canadian seal hunt endures
despite of decades of activism was exactly right. The seal hunt must
be recognized as a political issue; a winning strategy must be based
on electoral politics. Otherwise, an end to the clubbing will
remain fantasy. It will end only when Canadian opponents organize
politically and strategically, to win seats in the Canadian
parliament. This surely is achievable.
Thank you so much for quoting from and recommending that
anti-seal hunt activists read my book, Get Political for Animals and
Win the Laws They Need, subtitled Why and how to launch a voting
bloc in your town, city, county or state–and the simple steps it
takes to do it. Animal advocates are the only issue group that
tries to influence laws and government policy chiefly through
charitable groups and concerned citizens. All other issue groups
act through political groups that endorse candidates. A small
political group can drive law and policy on its issue–even when its
values and goals conflict with those of the larger community.
To win strong laws and their enforcement, a strategy based
on merits or publicity fails. Merits are low on the list of factors
that determine the fate of strong laws. This explains why after more
than 50 years of powerful national media exposes, puppy mills are as
bad as ever and sales of puppy mill dogs have not shrunk. It
explains countless other avoidable failures to win laws that animals
desperately need at every level of government. The animals pay for
our mistakes.
–Julie Lewin, President
Natl. Institute for Animal Advocacy
P.O. Box 475
Guilford, CT 06437
Steer tailing & horse tripping banned in Nebraska

Thanks for your May 2008 update on the Nebraska and Arizona
legislation to ban horse tripping, “New legislation addresses
violent entertainment.”
Not mentioned was that the recently-signed Nebraska bill also
bans the charreada’s brutal steer tailing event, called las colas.
Nebraska is the first state to ban both horse tripping and steer
tailing, though two California counties banned both in the early
1990’s). We hope other states will follow Nebraska’s lead, using
their languge, and we will send copies of the language upon request.
In steer tailing, a mounted cowboy or charro grabs a running
steer by the tail, wraps the tail around his boot and stirrup, then
drags or slams the animal to the ground. Tails and horns may be
broken, and horses sometimes break their legs when the steer runs
the wrong way. Steer tailing is not sanctioned by any American-style
rodeo association, nor is it standard ranching practice anywhere in
the U.S.
I am hoping to sponsor California legislation next
year to ban this cruelty, and am currently seeking statements from
veterinarians and others in support of this effort. Any help would
be appreciated.
–Eric Mills, coordinator
Action for Animals
P.O. Box 20184
Oakland, CA 94620
Phone: 510/652-5603
Pit bull terriers, their people, & risk-taking behavior

Thank you for your outstanding breed-specific documentation
of fatal dog attacks and maimings.
There are far too many pit bulls where I live, in Humboldt
County, California, and I have found they are the dogs most likely
to be loose. For some reason, pit bull owners seem to think it is
their God-given right to let their dogs run free. And not only here!
On a recent cross-country road trip, we stopped at two motels that
allowed pets. Lots of people kept tiny dogs on leashes–and at two
different motels a pit bull was loose, standing outside our door so
that I couldn’t go to my car.
It is unlikely that anything will change here because of the
marijuana industry. Growers keep pit bulls to guard their crops,
and nobody is going to stop them.
In any case, I’m sick to death of pit bull owners yapping
about how “it’s the people, not the dog,” and now you have given me
the satisfaction of knowing I’m right. (Fat lot of good that does if
we get eaten.)
A dear friend of ours is keeping her adult son’s pit bull for
a few months. The dog plays with her 12-year-old daughter. When we
visited, we wouldn’t let our either our 12-year-old daughter or our
12-year-old grandson go outside unless the dog was locked up. Our
friend was very nice about it. No problem– until we were in the
kitchen and my 83-year-old mother, who had been patting the dog
throughout the day, put out her hand to pat him, and he bit it. No
blood, but his ears went back, he snarled viciously, lunged, and
grabbed her hand.
My friend reacted instantly and stopped him–but my mother is
skinny and frail. What would have happened if she had been alone in
the room?
My friend was mortified and apologized a thousand times and
afterward kept the dog locked up–but she kept saying, “He’s never
done anything like that before,” and her 12-year-old continues to
play with him.
I want her to understand that this was a warning.
–Lesley Fountain
Editor’s note:

The ANIMAL PEOPLE breed-specific log of fatal dog attacks and
maimings, begun in 1982, predates by about three years the earliest
public controversy about keeping pit bulls as pets. It records
attacks of approximately the 1-in-10,000 level of severity, and only
by dogs kept as pets. Pit bulls have accounted for close to half of
the total number of qualifying attacks for 26 consecutive years.
Any dog can have a bad moment, as in the kitchen incident
described above. Pit bulls rate in the normal range for bite
frequency, and may be much less likely to have bad moments than
several other popular breeds. Unfortunately, extreme consequences
are abnormally frequent if either pit bulls or their people make a
mistake–and often pit bulls are kept by people who tend toward
The pit bull problem can be compared to riding motorcycles.
Most motorcyclists ride safely, but if a motorcycle is involved in
an accident, the likelihood that the rider will be killed or
severely injured is extremely high. Therefore, risk-takers rather
than risk-aversive people are most likely to ride motorcycles.
Society long ago accepted that the greater risk of riding
motorcycles requires regulating them more stringently than cars.
However, while the victims of motorcycle accidents are most
often the riders, the victims of dog attacks are most often
children, followed by the elderly; and while motorcycles are not
overproduced by the million, only to be scrapped at an average age
of about 18 months, pit bulls–5% of the U.S. dog
population–account for 25% of animal shelter admissions, and 40% or
more of the dogs killed in shelters, either after flunking
temperament tests or simply because there are not enough homes for
big dogs.
Ecological issues to stress in promoting meatless diet

Kudos on your comprehensive May 2008 front page article
“Meat-eating drives global grain crunch.” I think it is essential
that the vegetarian movement make a major goal of educating the
public about that message and the many other ways that animal-based
diets and agriculture endanger the planet.
Among the issues to stress:
* While the world is increasingly threatened by global
warming, animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2
equivalents) than all means of transportation worldwide combined (18%
vs. 13.5%);
* Animal-based diets require up to 14 times as much water
and 10 times as much energy as vegan diets;
* Production of meat contributes significantly to species
loss, destruction of tropical rain forests, loss of coral reefs,
and the erosion and depletion of soil;
* Making the situation more serious, consumption of animal
products is projected to double in 50 years. If this happens, it
will be difficult, if not impossible, to reduce greenhouse
emissions enough to avoid very severe effects from global climate
In summary, it is essential that we increase awareness that
a major shift toward plant-based diets is essential to avoid
unprecedented catastrophe and to move our precious but imperiled,
planet to a sustainable path.
–Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
College of Staten Island;
Jewish Vegetarians
of North America
and Society of Ethical &
Religious Vegetarians
Phone: 718-761-5876
Fax: 718-982-3631
Hot car warning

The temperature inside our Helen Woodward Animal Center van
hit 139 degrees this afternoon during our 6th annual Summer Heat
Danger demonstration in our “barking lot” on May 20, 2008.
When I stepped into the van at 2:15 p.m. the air temperature
was 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Within the first minute after closing the
doors and windows it rose to 89 degrees. By 2:22 the temperature was
100. At 2:26, just 11 minutes after I got in and closed the doors
and windows, the temperature reached 110 degrees.
This was when I became in danger of heat stroke and got out.
I closed the door behind me and we continued to monitor as the
temperature inside the van rose even more. Just four minutes later,
at 2:30, the thermometer sitting on the dashboard hit 119. At 2:49
the reading was 132 degrees. At 2:55, 40 minutes after the
demonstration began, the temperature inside the van was 139 degrees.
A chocolate candy bar I had left on the dashboard was melted,
and the flowers beside the candy had wilted.
Thank you for telling this story. Someone will pay attention
and decide not to leave their dog or children in the car while they
run into a store “for just a minute” to get a carton of milk and a
loaf of bread. That small decision will save lives.
–John Van Zante
Public Relations Manager
Helen Woodward Animal Center
P.O. Box 64
Rancho Santa Fe CA 92067
858-756-4117 x335
Brick-hauling donkeys in Nepal

We at Kathmandu Animal Treatment recently rescued two injured
donkeys who were dumped on the far side of the city, and lay along
one of Kathmandu’s busiest roads for five days. Kind people tried to
help them by giving them grass and covering them with plastic to
protect them from heavy rain.
Unfortunately, one donkey succumbed. We worked far into the
night to recover the other donkey, who had not only a broken leg and
many huge open sores, but also multiple untreated old injuries to
her other legs.
Israeli veterinarian Asi Dar, who had just arrived to
volunteer for KAT, and Kiran Panday, our local vet, agreed that
the donkey had also suffered from starvation. Dr Ishwor Pradhan, a
leading bone specialist, very generously came on his weekend to give
his opinion. She will recover and walk again, he said, but will
always be a cripple.
Sources from charities working with laborers in the brick
factories on the south side of Kathmandu have informed us that
approximately 1,000 donkeys have arrived in the past year, and their
numbers are growing rapidly. They work under horrendous conditions,
and as the brick factories destroy the nearby vegetation, they are
starved until they drop.
–Jan Salter
Kathmandu Animal
Treatment Centre
Chapali Gaon
GPO Box 8975
EPC 4120
Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone: 977-1-4373169
Editor’s note:

Abuse of donkeys by the brick industry is unfortunately
ubiquitous. ANIMAL PEOPLE in 2007 visited a hospital for brick
industry donkeys operated in Ahmedabad, India by The Donkey
Sanctuary of Great Britain, and–after ANIMAL PEOPLE president and
administrator Kim Bartlett arranged the rescue of a badly injured
donkey who had been abandoned near Agra, funded the acquisition of a
mobile equine clinic operated in the vicinity of brick factories
between Agra and Delhi by the Delhi-based Friendicoes Society for the
Eradication of Cruelty.
Elephants vs. Indian Railways

Thanks for your revealing as well as informative May 2008
article “New AVMA elephant standards may help the working elephants
of India.”
Are you aware that an elephant with a lantern hooked on her
trunk is the official symbol for Indian Railways and yet, the most
elephant deaths occur in India due to speeding trains, as the
hapless beasts get run over? A comprehensive report on this would be
highly welcome.
–Raja Chatterjee
The Junglees
Kolkata, India

Editor’s note:

At least 20 elephants have been killed by speeding trains
since 1996 in Rajaji National Park, in Uttaranchal. Ten elephants
have been killed since 2005 in the Dooars region of North Bengal. At
least eight elephants have been killed since 2006 near the Deepor
Beel bird sanctuary on the outskirts of Guwahati, Assam. ANIMAL
PEOPLE has also received reports within the past three years of
trains killing elephants in Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka
The West Bengal chapter of World Wildlife Fund/India recently
reported that more than a third of the major elephant migration paths
in North Bengal cross railways, and noted that a third of
elephant/train collisions occur at dawn, 42% in the evening, and
17% at night. Only 8% occur in broad daylight.
The West Bengal forest department has identified 16 points at
which elephants are especially likely to be hit.
Indian Railways has been reluctant, however, to slow down
or re-route heavily used trains to avoid elephant corridors.
The Indian ministry for forests and the environment in
February 2008 named a committee to study the matter.
The problem is similar to the problem of trains hitting bears
and moose in the northern Rocky Mountains, western Canada, and
Alaska. Provid-ing safe crossing places helps little, as the
animals tend to use the cleared and elevated railways themselves as
quick, easy ways through difficult habitat.
Fencing railways well enough to deter animals the size of
bears, moose, and elephants would be an engineering feat comparable
in cost and effort to building the $1.2 billion barrier to illegal
immigration now under construction along 700 miles of the U.S./Mexico
border. The George W. Bush administration in April 2008 waived more
than 30 U.S. environmental laws, many of them having to do with
wildlife migration, to enable the border fence to proceed. At that,
environmental mitigation, mostly on behalf of wildlife, is expected
to cost $50 million–and all of this is in a region where there are
no wild animals capable of knocking down almost any fence less sturdy
than a tank trap.

The May 2008 ANIMAL PEOPLE article “Hunters hit foreclosed
pets” quoted a passage by Shandra Martinez of the Grand Rapids Press
which misidentified Richard Cabela as chief executive officer of the
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. Cabela is actually the board president.
The chief executive officer is Bud Pigeon.

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