Letters [April 2009]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
Defensor Moura, the mayor of Viana do
Castelo, Portugal since 1993, decided in
December 2008 to have the city buy the local
bullring and turn it into a science and education
center. He told news media that Viana do Castelo
has no bullfighting tradition and that it is no
longer acceptable to torture animals for fun.
ANIMAL asked people to send messages
congratulating Moura, and asking him to declare
Viana do Castelo to be officially an
anti-bullfighting city–the first in Portugal.
Moura received more than 1,000 e-mails, from all
regions of Portugal and all over the world. He
has now declared Viana do Castelo to be
Portugal’s first anti-bullfighting city.
We next asked Braga mayor Fran-cisco
Mesquita Machado to not authorise a bullfight
that was to have taken place on June 20, 2009
at a local festival. Less than 24 hours after
the beginning of our e-campaign to stop this
bullfight, the communication officer for the
Mayor of Braga responded that, “The President of
the Municipality of Braga, upon becoming aware
of this alleged announcement of the organization
of a bullfight in this city, has instructed the
relevant municipal services to not authorise it.
This means that no bullfight will take place in
We are now trying to stop the
legis-lative bodies of the Azores from legalising
killing bulls and using picadors in bullfighting.
The legislative regional assembly of the Azores
now has the constitutional power to do this, in
an active bullfighting region where this
legislative step has long been sought.
TNR in Armenia
In collaboration with the Humane Society
of the United States, we have founded the
first-ever spay/neuter project in the former
Soviet Republic of Armenia, where dogs and
puppies are at times still shot in the streets.
In 2008 the HSUS Remote Area Veterinary
Services team, led by Jennifer Scarlett, DVM,
traveled to the capital city of Armenia to train
veterinary students and several working
veterinarians in trap/neuter/ release technique.
After the training, we hired one of the
graduates of the class, and sterilized more than
100 dogs in a pilot TNR program. We tagged and
collared the dogs, and posted signs where we
returned the fixed dogs explaining that the mayor
ordered that these dogs not be shot. We began
receiving calls from residents seeking to help
In April 2009 we are sending two Armenian
veterinarians to Romania for TNR training, who
will be employed full time at a new
farm/shelter/sanctuary, Armenia’s first ever, to
perform TNR with 50 dogs per week.
Who said that an entirely volunteer organization can’t do much?
Companion Animal Network
P.O. Box 656712
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
PAWS arranged a last meal for doomed pigs
I represented the Philippine Animal
Welfare Society at Bulacan on March 1, 2009,
when officials began culling 6,011 pigs due to an
outbreak of the Reston strain of Ebola virus.
Secretary Eric Tayag of the Philippine
Department of Health had informed us that the
decision to kill all the pigs, even those who
were not infected or had not been tested, was
final and non-negotiable. The best that PAWS
could do at that point was to encourage
government officials to use the most humane
Some newspapers erroneously reported that
the pigs would be electrically stunned. The
equipment actually used were penetrating captive
bolts–an irreversible stunning method that
results in immediate death because the bolt
penetrates both the skull and the brain. Police
were on standby with guns using .22 caliber
bullets, as provided by the Philippine Animal
Welfare Act, in case the captive bolts did not
do the job.
Only five captive bolts were available
for the culling. These were on loan to the
government by the supplier. Three of the five
captive bolts jammed during the first hour. The
police were told to shoot the remainder of a
truckload of 50 pigs. Most of the pigs were
moving when shot. Because the shots were not
accurate, the pigs had to be shot three or four
times before they died.
I had already asked if there was a way to
hold the pigs to ensure more accuracy, and to
have the pigs shot out of sight of the other pigs
who were waiting to be killed. However, I was
told that this was not possible because of the
volume of pigs and the limited budget and
resources that the government had for culling
Based on what I observed–which was
personally very traumatic for me– PAWS’
recommendations were to:
1. Refine how pigs were handled. Some
piglets were held by the ear or by one leg while
being transferred from their pens to the truck
that took them to their deaths.
2. Keep the captive bolts in good
repair, as this is a more humane method of
killing than the use of guns. Although the
jammed captive bolts were eventually repaired,
half of each batch of pigs were shot by the
police, because of the large numbers who have
to be put down each day. The official target was
to kill 1,000 a day.
3. Ensure that no pigs are thrown into
the dead pit still alive, as happened to two
pigs on the first day. They were immediately
shot when police finally found them.
4. Ensure that pigs will be fed up until
the last day. To our horror, we were informed
on our March 1 visit to the farm that the pigs
were last fed on February 24–which meant that
the condemned pigs had been living for days on
only water. We pressured government officials to
direct the farm owner to feed the pigs
immediately, and to monitor the feeding until
the culling was completed on March 6. I wish I
had recorded the sound of the hungry pigs when
they were fed. I will never forget it as long as
We also recommended that pigs weighing
110 kilograms or more be bled out, even after
the use of the captive bolt, to make sure that
death comes quicker.
We tried to be as diplomatic as possible.
This is the first time a Philippine animal
welfare group has been called to supervise
culling. We want this to continue, to ensure
that animals are not burned or buried alive in
the future, if culling is to be done.
Philippine Animal Welfare Society
87 Small Horseshoe Drive
New Manila, 1112 Quezon City
Metro Manila, Philippines
Treats for chained dogs
The 2009 Dogs Deserve Better Have a Heart
for Chained Dogs campaign mailed or
hand-delivered Valentines to 12,113 dogs! This
was 1,678 more dogs in 2009 than 2008. We send a
heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed
to the 2009 campaign.
Dogs Deserve Better
P.O. Box 23
Tipton, PA 16684
Nature’s animal control officers
San Diego County
I just wanted to share with you how much
I enjoyed your March 2009 articles about coyotes.
Our agency does not handle coyotes at all.
Instead, we refer people to the Project Wildlife
website <www.project-wildlife.org>, which
attempts to educate people about how to live with
wildlife. If there is a perceived threat to
public safety, the caller is referred to the
California State Department of Fish & Game.
Also, the County of San Diego Department of
Agriculture, Weights & Measures contracts with a
federal predator hunter, who will track and kill
an offending coyote but there must be very
compelling evidence of a threat to people–not
just their pets.
I also found your perspective on the
evolution of animal control agencies interesting.
Our agency has changed dramatically. We now
handle far more animal abuse and neglect cases
then cases of animals who are threatening people.
When asked what we do we say we protect animals
from dangerous people and people from dangerous
–Dawn D. Danielson, RVT, Director
County of San Diego
Department of Animal Services
5480 Gaines St.
San Diego, CA 92110
I liked the articles on coyotes in your
March edition. Coyotes are among my favorite
animals. Such survivors! We have lots of them
around here, both in the desert and in urban
areas where they come in on the washes and prey
on small pets. We hear lots of complaints about
cats and small dogs being chomped by coyotes.
The word, as your articles stressed, is to be
A “wash” is an area that is subject to
flash floods, and therefore cannot be developed.
“Washes” in desert cities tend to become busy
wildlife corridors, much like greenbelts in
cities of more temperate climate.
Coyote meets seals
I enjoyed your March 2009 coverage of
coyotes. I watched one trot over the hill to
Piedras Blancas, the beach near here with the
elephant seals, when the pups were being born.
The coyote sniffed around–I wondered if we would
see a confrontation between a mother seal and the
coyote–and then trotted to the water and north
along the waterline.
The issue of leaving out cat food is
difficult. I have been feeding a stray for the
past couple of months. Word is out that there is
cat food in our yard. Yesterday the crows held a
convention about it. There must have been ten of
them on the ground, taking pieces and discussing
the quality of the food.
Requests to reprint
I very much enjoyed your March 2009
articles describing the often misunderstood
behavior of coyotes. This article was very
nicely done and speaks volumes to the important
role these animals play in our ecosystem.
Hopefully, it will put many fears to rest! Would
you mind if I printed extra copies, crediting
Animal People of course, to distribute them to
local animal control personnel who
frequently respond to questions from concerned
–Laura M. Nirenberg
Wildlife Orphanage, Inc.
4988 West 150 North
La Porte, IN 46350
Our March 2009 cover feature about
coyotes, Nature’s Animal Control Officers, has
been reformatted for handout use, and is
available as a ready-to-print PDF from
The cause of disaster
Your March, 2009 cover article “Hell and
high water hit Down Under” described the major
negative effects on animals and humans in
Australia caused by severe drought and major wild
fires in one section of the country, and major
flooding in another. This should be still
another wake-up call to the need for major
changes to avoid an unprecedented international
catastrophe due to global warming.
The animal rights movement can and should
help to avoid that potential catastrophe by
increasing awareness of the major role that
animal-based agriculture plays in producing
global warming. According to the 2006 United
Nations report Livestock’s Long Shadow, animal
agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than all
means of transportation worldwide combined. This
same report indicates that the number of farmed
animals is projected to double in the next 50
years. If that happens, the increased
greenhouse gas emissions will negate improvements
from many positive changes, such as switches to
more efficient light bulbs, cars, etc.
Hence a major shift to vegetarian and
preferably vegan diets is essential to move our
imperiled planet to a sustainable path. Animal
welfare and rights groups should make getting
this essential message out a major priority
–Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
of North America
and Society of Ethical &
Art use of animals
The Animal Rights Action Network was
recently inundated with calls and e-mails seeking
help to stop a proposed art project by Seamus
Nolan that would have featured two homeless dogs
from the Louth dog pound. The dogs would have
been caged for the duration of the project,
except for being taken out for walks and given
food and water. ARAN offered to work with Nolan
to develop an art project that would expose the
killing of many thousands of homeless dogs in
pounds across Ireland. The story went national.
Both dogs have been adopted to good
homes, we believe, and Seamus Nolan and the art
galley have no plans to use animals in future
120 Vale Avenue
Carew Park, Limerick
The White House dog
I have most of President Obama’s early
speeches and I remember when he said that he
wanted to settle into the White House first,
before adopting a dog, and then told us that he
didn’t know for sure what kind of dog he would
get for the Obama girls, but for sure the dog
would be from a shelter. I thought it was great
for our leader to tell America that should we
want a pet, there are hundreds at shelters who
would just love to have a good home. Now I’m
seeing pictures of a Portuguese water dog that
Obama is planning to get, and I’m wondering if
that is a breed commonly found in shelters. I
hope our President didn’t forget about the pets
waiting for a home in the shelters.