Letters [Sep 2008]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2008:

I had my tickets ready to fly to Bali for the 2008 Asia for
Animals conference, but was forced to stay back, as I had to take
care of around twelve types of endangered tortoises in a pond
constructed some 700 years back by a king for his people inside the
premises of the Hargrib Mahdab Temple, around 40 kilometers from my
The Kamrup deputy commissioner, with funding from the prime
minister, in April 2008 constructed a five-foot-high concrete wall
around the pond, preventing the tortoises from coming to the shore
of the pond to bask in the sun and laying their eggs. They developed
fungal infections from staying inside the pond continuously, with
water leeches feeding on them. Fifteen tortoises died recently
within one months time. Three hundred fifty coconut trees around the
pond were felled in the name of beautification, so there was no
shade for the tortoises, and the pump for a fountain installed
within the pond made the water even hotter.

The wall was built with the advice of one member secretary of
the Wildlife Trust of India and the Guwahati University zoology
department head. I fought hard against it. The people there called
the police to arrest me if I spoke against the deputy commissioner.
I wrote to the prime minister and the chief minister.
Ironically, the chief minister inaugurated the pond, but at his
initiative the wall has been totally dismantled. Immediately the
tortoises came up on the shore.
–Sangeeta Goswami
People for Animals
Guwahati, Assam, India

Kenya dogs fixed

The Africa Network for Animal Welfare initiated a three-year
humane dog population and rabies control pilot campaign on September
24, 2008. Our goal is to end the inhumane use of strychnine for dog
population and rabies control. We are targeting dog populations in
impoverished slum areas in Nairobi and surrounding areas. Our key
partners include Worldwide Veterinary Services, the government
Department of Veterinary Services, the University of Nairobi, and
the Kenya Veterinary Association. ANAW is coordinating it. The
Kenya SPCA is helping to coordinate partners and deal with designated
areas. We are operating under the umbrella of Animal Welfare Action
Kenya (AWAKE), hoping to develop a program to be replicated in other
cities in Kenya and Africa at large.
–Josphat Ngonyo, Director
Africa Network for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 3731-00506
Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: 254-20-606-510
Fax: 254-20-609-691

Rabies in Sofia

On August 1, 2008 a rabid fox bit a pet dog in Vladaya, a
suburb of Sofia, Bulgaria. About 40 cases of rabies per year are
discovered in Bulgaria, almost half of them in and near Sofia, said
National Veterinary Service deputy director Damyan Iliev.
However, Sofia Municipal Animal Control Agency director
Miroslav Naydenov told Darik News on August 11, 2008, that “There
is absolutely no danger of rabies spreading among homeless dogs in
Sofia. There is no single case of a stray dog infected with rabies
in Vladaya,” because “during the last two years we have been
vaccinating all stray dogs against rabies,” to form a buffer between
rabid foxes and pet dogs.
But the influx of unwanted dogs in Sofia does not stop,
because most owned dogs remain unsterilizered. There are no
educational programs, no low-cost sterilization programs, and no
active policy for saving, sterilizing, and re-homing abandoned
–Emil D. Kuzmanov
Animal Programs Foundation
18 Yanko Sofiiski Voivoda Str
1164 Sofia, Bulgaria

Why does ANIMAL PEOPLE emphasize overseas news coverage?

Although I get lots of other animal literature and
publications, I especially appreciate your overseas coverage. I
know we have a long way to go for animals in this country, but in
most other countries the needs of animals are so much greater than in
the U.S. I find your paper very informative and I don’t want to
miss an issue.
–Veronica Ferguson
Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Although admirable, I feel ANIMAL PEOPLE’s main focus should
be the U.S. There seems to be less and less in your paper concerning
our own inadequacies.
–Carol Dupuis
Queensbury, N.Y.

The President replies:

Since ANIMAL PEOPLE began publishing in 1992, our goal has
been to cover all aspects of animal protection, involving all kinds
of animals, everywhere in the world.
We find that most U.S. issues have a parallel abroad, often
directly related to the issues here.
For example, dogfighting is a major problem in the U.S.,
but fighting dogs have been exported from the U.S. to the
Philippines, Thailand, and even China, where there was previously
no dogfighting tradition. American horses are exported to Canada and
Mexico for slaughter. Animal experiments are contracted out by U.S.
and European countries to laboratories in developing countries that
have no semblance of animal welfare legislation. Wild Asian monkeys
are illegally captured by the tens of thousands and appear to be
“laundered” through complex multi-national transactions to be sold to
U.S. laboratories as captive-bred. The live animal markets of
southern China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia incubate and spread
disease outbreaks, including the common strains of influenza that
sweep the U.S. each winter, as well as the deadly H5N1 strain and
less familiar maladies such as Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
Neuter/ return feral cat control was practiced in Kenya, South
Africa and the United Kingdom long before ANIMAL PEOPLE had a major
part in introducing it to the U.S. in the early 1990s. And most
“U.S.” pet food brands include imported ingredients, as the melamine
contamination episode of early 2007 demonstrated.
We try to present coverage of major issues in a holistic way,
so that readers everywhere–including the third of our readership who
are abroad–can understand the global implications. We feel this is
ANIMAL PEOPLE’s unique contribution to the animal protection
movement. As the world seems to get smaller every day, we feel our
global coverage is all the more important. We do not, however,
wish to decrease attention to problems here in the U.S. We will keep
your comments in mind as we plan future coverage, and we thank you
for sharing them with us.
–Kim Bartlett, President

The Editor adds:

As a postscript to Kim’s comments, my first consideration in
selecting article topics is relevance to the greater animal
protection community, beyond wherever an issue emerges. Animal care
and control issues throughout the U.S. are now getting at least 10
times as much local news coverage as in 1992, when ANIMAL PEOPLE
started, and often feature an intensity of involvement among local
activists, rescuers, and civic leaders that was almost unimaginable
then, when most newspapers did not even have a reporter assigned to
the animal beat.
Many of the concerns fueling local debate over the direction
of animal care and control are those that ANIMAL PEOPLE has explor-ed
all along, including as a co-sponsor of the first No Kill Conference
in 1995. Most of the topics raised at that No Kill Conference are
now central to mainstream sheltering conferences. Premises that
ANIMAL PEOPLE advanced when they were new and unpopular are now
widely accepted among the leaders in the animal care and control
Often these topics and premises are of more urgent interest
than ever at the local level–but hundreds of local news media are
investigating the issues and advancing the debate, often with
behind-the-scenes help from ANIMAL PEOPLE.
We remain deeply involved in U.S. animal care and control
issues, but as each local controversy over introductions of change
tends to mirror many others, we spotlight in ANIMAL PEOPLE only
those that may establish new precedents.
Our coverage of the progress of the decade-old national
Animal Birth Control program in India reflects a similar transition.
From the introduction of the national ABC program until it became
well-established and produced positive results in some of the largest
Indian cities, we provided more news about it. Local coverage of
animal care-and-control issues meanwhile expanded in India, and in
recent years our attention to indvidual cities’ ABC programs has
refocused on improvements that can be emulated elsewhere on the one
hand, including in North America, and political challenges that may
jeopardize the ABC concept on the other.
We may report developments from other parts of the world that
might not be news if occurring in the U.S., India, or western
Europe, in recognition that “old news” here may be an advance
somewhere else, and that the U.S., Indian, and European humane
communities may have useful experience to share with peers in other
–Merritt Clifton, Editor

Moral progress

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be
judged by the way its animals are treated,” Mohandas Gandhi
reputedly said.
So, what does that say, when one severely starved,
tick-infested, mange-covered blue tick coonhound was left to walk
around on the main street of Hurtsboro, Alabama and everyone just
walked past her?
Barely able to walk, she still wagged her tail at the
passers-by. Her front teeth were worn down, probably from trying to
chew out of a kennel, and her neck was scarred from a collar that
was too tight. Yet this dog still trusted people and looked to them
for help.
The concerned receptionist at the local veterinary clinic
told me the dog had been wandering around Hurtsboro for a few weeks.
The receptionist and a United Parcel Service delivery woman had given
her food when they happened to see her.
As a volunteer for the Macon County Humane Society, I
brought the coonhound into the vet clinic to get the immediate
treatment she desperately needed. We named her Blue Bell. I placed
Blue Bell on the Macon County Humane Society web site and Christina
and Sean Murdoch of the Windfire Ranch animal rescue facility adopted
her within a few weeks. She is now their happy indoor companion.
Blue Bell was the fourth coonhound I found running loose in
Russell County this year. I called some coon hunters and asked some
questions. I found out that even though turning out or dumping
animals is a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama, it is standard practice
among some coon hunters to turn loose any dogs they no longer want,
often due to being gun-shy, not treeing raccoons, not being
aggressive enough, or being too old. Some coonhounds who are not
good raccoon hunters are used to chase deer, but are turned loose if
they also fail at this.
If Gandhi’s quote were changed to “The greatness of Alabama
and its moral progress can be judged by the way the people of Alabama
treat its animals.” I would say we are in trouble.
–Sue-Ellen Brown
Clinical Psychologist
Russell County, Alabama

Laboratory oversight in Sri Lanka

I am pleased to announce a significantly positive development
with regard to using animals in research in Sri Lanka.
This development comes one year after our shelter dogs Polly,
Wussie and Perry were obtained by deceit and subjected to unethical
research by two veterinarians. The Sri Lanka Veterinary Council
judged the two vets to have conducted themselves inhumanely and
An ethical review committee was established at the Veterinary
Faculty of the Univeristy of Peradeniya soon after our complaint to
the Sri Lanka Veterinary Council.
As a direct result of this scandal, a workshop organized by
a group of eminent medical and veterinary professionals was held on
September 11, 2008 at Colombo Univ-ersity. At the workshop a draft
document was taken up for discussion to formulate a set of National
Guidelines for Protection of Animals in Research.
This set of guidelines incorporates a requirement that
ethical review committees must approve research using animals,
considering the benefit expected to come from the experiments and
whether the research justifies the distress caused to the animals who
will be used. Veterinarians must strictly supervise any animal used
in research during and after the experiments. The guidelines are to
be finalized at a subsequent workshop.
A new Sri Lankan animal welfare act, replacing the
antiquated act of 1907 and awaiting to be passed in parliament, will
provide the necessary and adequate legal backing to take action
against acts of cruelty to animals. The new act will establish an
Animal Welfare Authority, consisting of veterinary clinicians and
professors as well as animal welfarists. The Animal Welfare
Authority will have powers to invesitigate acts of cruelty and take
action against perpetrators.
–Champa Fernando
Secretary, KACPAW
191 Trinco Street
Kandy, Sri Lanka


We have all seen donkeys trudging along in the heat,
straining under a heavy load. These gentle animals often suffer from
dehydration, untreated sores, and muscle strain. Sometimes they
are beaten to force their worn-out bodies to keep moving.
In a perfect world, all working animals would be retired
immediately. But until that day comes, it is important to do what
we can to make the lives of these animals a little better.
–Khalid Mahmood Qurashi
Animal Save
of Pakistan
Hussain Agahi
Multan 60000

Editor’s note:

In early 2007, after helping to rescue an injured donkey
between Agra and Delhi, while traveling in India, ANIMAL PEOPLE
president and administrator Kim Bartlett funded an equine care mobile
unit to help the working donkeys and horses along the heavily
traveled Agra/Delhi corridor. The unit is operated by Friendicoes
SECA, which already had an equine unit in Delhi. The rescued
donkey, Marco, recently died (see Memorials, page 21), but the
equine aid project continues.
Santa Cruz arsons

The organizations and individuals listed below wish to
express our unequivocal opposition to the recent actions of
individuals targeting animal researchers and their families in Santa
Cruz, California.
We represent organizations that sponsor professional and
responsible legislation on behalf of animals. We neither support nor
condone criminal behavior as exhibited in the recent Santa Cruz
actions. Those responsible should be apprehended and prosecuted to
the fullest extent of the law.
These violent acts must not reflect on the sincere and
peaceful efforts of the many organizations and thousands of people
who seek to protect animals through lawful means, and we
disassociate outselves and our organizations from any such criminal
–Virginia Handley
Animal Switchboard
–Eric Mills
Action for Animals
–Karen Raasch
California Federation
for Animal Legislation
–Linda Olvera
–Curt Ransom
Humane Society of the U.S.
–Beverlee McGrath
Humane Society of the U.S.
–David Middlesworth
United Animal Nations
–Don Knutson
Sacramento Vegetarian Society

Five-minute cat spay video posted

I recently made a video in our spay clinic on how to spay a
cat in five minutes. A group of spay vets perfected this technique
while working together for several years on Native American
reservations. I think this procedure is faster than the one
demonstrated on the ANIMAL PEOPLE web site. The technique is quite
different in that we do not tie off the ovarian ligaments with suture
or wire. We tie them on themselves like we do with cat neuters. The
video may be seen at <http://catspayneuter.blip.tv/#1201259 >, or at
–Peggy W. Larson, DVM, MS (Pathology), JD
Consultant, Animal Law & Veterinary Medicine
1876 Mountain View Road, Williston, VT 05495
Phone: 802-879-1465; Fax: 802-879-8364

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