Letters [Dec 2008]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2008:
Collaborating to save “garbage dogs” in Turkey

As “the” international print and online
animal news periodical, I think Animal People
should inform its tens of thousands of
international readers about how collaboration can
bring about major changes around the globe
without people even leaving their seat.
I recently received an e-mail about a
Turkish dog with paralyzed legs who according to
a Facebook posting was allegedly crushed in a
garbage truck. Although I am Armenian, I was
born and spent the first 10 years of my life in
Turkey. I contacted a Turkish group to whom our
organization has sent medicine, supplies and
money. They had already been in touch with the
mayor of the Turkish city of Van, where the
incident occurred. The garbage men did not crush
the dog in the garbage truck. They merely used
the truck to transport the dog to the town’s
garbage dump, where they left him, thinking he
could at least find food there.

Then a Facebook video posting came to
light which showed the men picking up the dog,
putting him on the back of the garbage truck,
and pulling away without operating the crusher.
This video was not available at the time the
story first was posted. Unfortunately there have
been previous cases in which Turkish garbage
trucks have crushed dogs, reported by the
Turkish paper Hurriyet, which is very animal
The mayor of Van, Burhan Yenigun,
ordered the Van sanitation department to go find
the dog. They did, and they found another
injured dog as well. The local governor,
Ozdemir Cakacak, began an investigation into this
The dogs were taken to veterinarian Eda
Yavuz. The first dog was named Karam at first,
but later was renamed Jonah. Unfortunately, he
died on December 1, 2008 from consequences of
the spinal cord injury that had caused his
I was meanwhile contacted by another
Turkish group who is even more involved with
these dogs. This group asked to remain
anonymous, but told me that this incident
received major media coverage all over Turkey.
Dozens of Turkish people offered to adopt Jonah.
Soon Turkish animal organizations started
fighting each other over the future of Jonah.
The people of Van demanded that Jonah remain in
Van because they too care about him.
Some Turkish animal advocacy groups
reported that they recruited many new members,
never previously involved with animal causes,
because of the concern of Turkish people about
The second dog has had multiple
surgeries. The vet at the university hospital in
Van is reportedly willing to adopt the second
dog. Some of the equipment needed for the second
dog’s surgery were not available in Van, but the
Turkish and international outrage caused the
municipality of Van to transport the necessary
equipment from Ankara the very next day. This
equipment had long been sought by the hospital,
but had previously been refused. The hospital
will now have the capabilities to treat other
dogs in the future.
The following would be very helpful to
sustain a positive spiral from the suffering of
these two dogs.
1) Call Turkish embassies and
consulates all over the world, whose contact
information is available at
<www.allaboutturkey.com/turkconslate.htm>, and
send a thank-you to Van mayor Yenigun. Even a
few international calls will impress upon him
that people care how his community treats dogs,
and that this influences the worldwide reputation
of Turks.
2) Form a partnership with Turkish
rescue groups so they can call upon the
international community, if in the future
Turkish communities violate federal laws against
killing stray Turkish dogs. This has happened
many times when local governments thought no one
was watching. There are many good Turkish rescue
groups who feel isolated in a nation where not
all speech is free. We can assist our Turkish
colleagues and their animals in a way that they
cannot do for themselves.
It is said that as Turkey goes, so goes
the Islamic world. Therefore, Turkey is a key
venue to effect changes in the treatment of
animals throughout the Islamic world.
Turkey has a very strong animal
protection movement. It is already a leader in
the Muslim world as regards animal welfare, and
is among the few nations which have nationally
banned killing homeless dogs.
Turkish history has been marred by the
pogroms against Armenians in 1895 and 1915, and
by two incidents of dumping thousands of dogs on
offshore islands to starve.
The first dog-dumping occurred at some
point prior to 1869, when Mark Twain described
it in The Innocents Abroad, along with “the howl
of horror” from the human population of Istabul
that stopped the practice. The second occurred
in 1910, when thousands of dogs were dumped on
Oxia Island, who all starved and killed each
other. It is said that people on the neighboring
island of Kinali, where I grew up, could hear
the dogs tearing each other apart.
This act so disturbed the modern Turkish
republic that newspaper columnists have
attributed difficult economic times in Turkey to
the curse of Turks having done it.
I believe that lingering memories of the
Oxia abandonment are among the main reasons why
Turkey banned killing homeless dogs. The Oxia
action may also be seen as a prelude to the
Armenian genocide, or forced exile of Armenians,
as mainstream Turkish historians prefer to
characterize it (when they mention it at all).
As soon as my organization became able to
help Turkish animal groups, in the early 1990s,
we began, many years before starting to help
animal groups in Armenia.
Unfortunately, Turkish federal
authorities often permit local authorities to
blatantly violate federal laws, including the
2004 law which mandates the use of neuter/return
to control homeless dog populations.
Many Turkish municipalities are now
contracting with “pest” extermination companies
to kill dogs. Instead of following the U.S.
model of partnerships between government agencies
and privately funded humane societies, these
Turkish cities have totally shut out the animal
groups, and have squandered the head start they
received in the years just preceding passage of
the 2004 law, when British philanthropist Robert
Smith poured over a million dollars into creating
no-kill shelters and a free spay neuter program
under municipal contracts.
–Garo Alexanian
Companion Animal Network
P.O. Box 656712
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
Phone: 718-544-PETS


Concerning “Scams target adoptors &
humane societies,” in the October 2008 edition
of ANIMAL PEOPLE, the Soi Dog Foundation was
recently scammed out of over $1,400 through one
of the schemes you mentioned, “in which a
scammer pretends to be a veterinarian who is
going back to university, relocating, or
retiring, and offers to donate veterinary
equipment to a humane society that will cover the
We were introduced to the scammer by a
bona fide British charity, Wetnose Animal Aid,
who have donated to the Soi Dog Foundation in the
past, and were elaborately duped themselves.
Wetnose told me that they had been offered a
truck from a donor in Thailand who ran a clinic
there, but was returning to Britain. The
inference, I understood, was that the donor was
personally known to Wetnose.
If I would arrange the shipping, Wetnose
would give the vehicle to us. There was also an
ultrasound machine available.
When I told Wetnose that of course we
would be happy to have the vehicle, then they
wrote back to say that the van had now been given
away, but the ultrasound machine might still be
available, and the donor would contact me
directly. The donor claimed to have the
ultrasound and a portable autoclave in the
Philippines, providing all specifications for
the equipment, which could be sent to us if we
covered the shipping costs. We later found
exposés of this scheme online at
<www.jamesmaurer.com/veterinary-tools.asp> and
Clearly from the honeypot report and
other links I have followed up on, this scammer
is targeting animal charities in different ways,
and under different names.
–John Dalley
Soi Dog Foundation,
c/o 57/61 Laguna Golf Villas
Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road,
Phuket 83110, Thailand

Editor’s note:

John Dalley has investigative background,
and probably would not have been clipped if the
scam offer had not been forwarded by a legitimate
animal charity that he trusted. Wetnose Animal
Aid director Andrea Gamby-Boulger furnished a
copy of the original e-mail that fooled her,
from a “Lucy Leigh,” just one of many names of
alleged veterinarians that have been used with
this scheme. “I looked at her web site and read
up about her and asked her why was she giving up
her van,” wrote Gamby-Boulger. “No way in a
million years did I think this was a scam! I do
get scams that come in and normally you can check
them out and deal with them. This is obviously a
very clever one. We first offered the van to a
couple in the U.K. who rescue dogs in Greece.
They only turned it down because the engine was
too big and would be to expensive to fuel, but
they didn’t suspect a scam either. I still can’t
believe it!”

Fur Free Friday in Pakistan

Animal Save Movement Pakistan celebrated
International Anti-Fur Day, known in the west as
Fur Free Friday, on November 28, 2008 with a
fruitful gathering attracting participation from
many school children, social workers, teachers,
lawyers and political workers.
All participants took an oath to protect
the welfare of animals and birds and to continue
peaceful campaigns against cruelty to animals and
birds. Animal Save Movement Pakistan members
took an oath also that we will not use leather
and fur.
Animal Save Move-ment Pakistan continue
to strive for a day when no animal and bird will
live in fear or pain.
–Khalid Mahmood Qurashi
Animal Save
of Pakistan
Hussain Agahi
Multan 60000

Thanks for Sarah Palin coverage

I just want to extend my thanks and
sincere appreciation for telling people of the
cruel behavior of Alaska governor Sarah Palin
toward our wildlife. Other than your paper, and
an e-mail I received from Defenders of Wildlife,
animal groups were silent about her barbaric
treatment of animals. Despite my contacting my
local papers –the New York Daily News, New York
Post, and New York Times–and New York Senators
Charles Schumer and Hilary Clinton–not one word
appeared. Bill Maher was the only one who made
mention of her slaughter of wolves. I knew
animal issues and the environment were not a top
priority, but I had no idea of the complete
disregard with which they were held by those who
should have spoken.
–Marietta Scaltrito
Staten Island, N.Y.

Editor’s note:

ANIMAL PEOPLE quoted denunciations of
Sarah Palin’s cruelty toward wolves and other
animals from Alaska Conservation Solutions, the
Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Friends of Animals,
the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the
Humane Society of the U.S.–but searches of
News-Library.com and other online news archives
indicate that while most U.S. newspapers
mentioned Palin’s hunting, fur-wearing, and
promotion of wolf-culling, fewer than two dozen
published any description of this activity as
“cruel.” No major New York newspaper did. Blogs
by New York Times reporters, otherwise
unflattering to Palin, were followed by reader
postings alleging that Palin is cruel to animals
on October 11 and November 17, 2008– the latter
two weeks after Palin lost her bid to be U.S.
vice president.

Response to “Is non-surgical sterilization the best use of $75 million?”

If we were able to save $25 per procedure…

Thanks for your three articles on the
Found Animals Foundation’s Michelson Prize and
grants announcement. You did a terrific job on
your coverage, and as usual shared an
interesting range of perspectives on worldwide
possibilities and backstory about the topic.
Thanks for pulling so many sources of
information together into this article and giving
it the focus you did.
One of your headlines asked, Is
non-surgical sterilization the best use of $75
million? I appreciate you taking this head on,
as I think many may wonder about it. When we
studied that question, we concluded that if we
were able to save even $25 per sterilization
procedure provided by non-profits or at low cost,
we would save approximately $53 million a year in
the U.S. alone, or become able to provide a far
greater reach of services. Clearly the potential
impact of this investment worldwide could be
We want to alert animal welfare groups
around the globe that there is something they can
do right now to advance this work: they can sign
on as organizational partners. This will help us
demonstrate the market for products that safely
and effectively provide sterilization or
long-term contraception for dogs and cats. This
is critical for pharmaceutical companies and
scientists to whom a one-time prize isn’t enough,
or not available for their product that works
long term but not permanently. The Blue Cross of
India has come aboard as an organizational
partner, as have more than 50 others. We are
trying to grow our number of partners to 100 by
the end of the year. All that is required is a
letter of support, logo, and contact person to
share news through. Details are on our web site.
Thanks again for your global reach with
this story. Hopefully the word will spread to
those who can make a difference. We’ve already
had several scientists reach out wanting more
information and background. We’ll include your
stories on our website to help provide that.
–Joyce Briggs
Alliance for Contraception
in Cats and Dogs
NW Belle Court
Portland, OR 97229
Phone: 503-358-1438

A few details

Overall, the ANIMAL PEOPLE coverage of
the Found Animals Foundation’s Michelson Prize
and grants announcement in your October 2008
edition was well done, but I would like to
correct a few details.
First, the real message behind the
Michelson Prize is that we need to attract fresh
thinking and new approaches to the field of cat
and dog contraception, since for more than 30
years researchers have fully examined and tested
the ‘old’ approaches, with very limited success.
The lack of funding for reproduction control
contributes to the dearth of fresh ideas and new
Second, the article stated that
“Immunocontraception attempts to trick a female
animal’s body into rejecting the male animal’s
sperm and destroying it just as the immune system
destroys viruses and bacteria.” This is how the
anti-sperm immunocontraception works, but over
the years there have been many approaches to
immunocontraception, using anti-hormone vaccines,
anti-receptor vaccines and many others. The most
common and widely used immunocontraception is
porcine zona pellucida vaccine (PZP). This works
by injecting the protein coating of the animal’s
egg (the zona pellucida), which serves to create
an immune response to the eggs and effectively
contracepts the animal. This approach has been
shown to work in some species, but not in dogs
or cats.
You mentioned that “A second
immunocontraceptive approach, using
anti-gonadotropin-releasing hormones, has been
researched here and there for at least 18
years, but several major pharmaceutical
manufacturers have abandoned work on anti-GnRH
methods.” In fact, anti-GnRH immunocontraception
has been researched for more than 30 years.
There is a canine anti-GnRH product on the
market manufactured by Pfizer, although marketed
for different use.
There is a non-surgical contraceptive on
the market. Suprelorin is a deslorelin implant,
approved for use in male dogs in Australia and
New Zealand, marketed in Australia since
December 2004, and in New Zealand since
September 2005. It was recently launched in
Europe and is now available there. Deslorelin is
a GnRH agonist which, administered continually
at low doses, suppresses the release of
reproductive hormones from the pituitary. This
results in safe reversible contraception. There
are six-month and twelve-month implants available.
Finally, you wrote that “advances in
surgical sterilization technique have enabled the
most skilled dog and cat sterilization
specialists to castrate male animals in as little
as four minutes, and spay females in as little as
six minutes. At that rate of speed, the
difference in veterinary time expended between
surgery and injection is slight, and surgery has
advantages in altering the behavior and improving
the longevity of animals that injectible methods
so far have not conveyed.”
While sterilization surgery may take only
a few minutes, administering the anesthesia,
preparing the surgical site, and monitoring
recovery from anesthesia adds to the time needed
to complete the operation. Therefore, there is
still a huge need for a truly non-invasive
contraception. I would also like to note that
GnRH agonists such as Suprelorin also does alter
behavior and has the same positive effects on
longevity as surgical castration. In human
medicine GnRH agonists are referred to as
“medical castration.”
Thank you very much for giving me the
opportunity to comment on your excellent article
and also for highlighting this important area of
concern for animal welfare.
–Linda Rhodes, VMD, PhD
Vice President for
Clinical Development
AlcheraBio LLC
304 Amboy Ave.
Metuchen, NJ 08840
Phone: 732-205-0192
Fax: 732-205-1949

Organization matters more than the method

Thank you so much for your October 2008
article “Is non-surgical sterilization the best
use for $75 million?”
I too wonder about the efficacy of
applying that much funding to wait for the
development of a non-surgical sterilant,
while well-run surgical programs can accomplish
so much for relatively little. Even $5 million
per year for five years, targeted properly,
could have enormous impact.
For example, $120,000 will open a
clinic based on the Humane Allliance model. At
least seven clinics could be opened per million
dollars invested, with transportation
arrangements to enable each clinic to serve a
rural population of at least 250,000 people, or
an urban population of millions. Just $5 million
could probably extend low-cost sterilization
service to many of the most critically
underserved parts of the U.S.
There is definitely a need for funding
research and development for use in the
developing world, but holding that size of
reward seems less than effective. If pursuit of
the reward was the primary reason why someone was
developing a non-surgical sterilant, half the
money would probably be thrilling to that person,
or team, and the rest could go to surgical
programs that are currently very underfunded.
The main point that you made that I make
is that effective organization is much more
important than the sterilization method. I see a
lot of emphasis on the type of surgical facility
a program uses, yet without grassroots buy-in
there is no outcome for the animals, no matter
how beautiful the unit or clinic.
–Ruth Steinberger
Oklahoma Spay Network
Durant, OK 74701

Editor’s note:

Ruth Steinberger literally wrote the book
on community organizing to promote dog and cat
sterilization. It may be downloaded, at no
charge, from–

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