Obituaries [July/Aug 2009]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2009:
Kitty Langdon, 94, died July 28, 2009 in Aurora,
Colorado. “Kitty was one of Denver’s original organized
rescuers–feisty as hell to the end,” recalled former Rocky Mountain
Alley Cat Allies director Audrey Boag, for whom Langdon was longtime
mentor. Born in Britain, where she became known for feeding strays,
Langdon came to the U.S. as a war bride in 1944 aboard the Queen
Mary, then in service as a troop ship. She and her husband Sam
lived briefly in Boston and then in Walla Walla, Washington, before
settling in the Denver area in 1956. They began rescuing dogs in
Walla Walla circa 1949 “as soon as we had a fenced yard,” Langdon
told ANIMAL PEOPLE in 1993. They formed the Sunrise Foundation in
1972, initially to promote dog adoptions and sterilization. After
Sam Langdon died in 1980, Kitty Langdon refocused on helping cats.
She was among the very early U.S. practitioners and advocates of
neuter/return feral cat control, and was an early and enthusiastic
ANIMAL PEOPLE donor. Late in life she also became an outspoken
advocate for the rights of long-term care patients, profiled in 2006
by Denver Post columnist Diane Carman.

Brian “Frog” Gharst, 30, a welder and longtime volunteer
for the Buffalo Field Campaign, drowned on June 11, 2009 after a
canoe accident off Burrows Island in Puget Sound. “Before arriving
at BFC, Brian had been baking with the Bionic Baking Brigade. He
went on to actively support and work with many other campaigns and
causes. He crafted rickshaws and bicycle trailers, built greenhouses
and gardens, and revived the free community bicycle shop,” recalled
a BFC memorial. Fellow BFC volunteers scattered some of his ashes on
Horse Butte in West Yellowstone, where he had helped to try to
prevent bison from being shot for wandering out of Yellowstone
National Park into Montana.

George Martin Baer, 73, died on June 2, 2009 in Mexico
City. Remembered by former colleagues at the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta as “The Father of Oral Rabies
Vaccination,” Baer was born in London, England, but “grew up in
New Rochelle, New York, where he became an accomplished equestrian,
and began a lifelong love of animals,” recalled the CDC statement.
A classmate of In Defense of Animals founder Elliot Katz at Cornell
University, Baer earned his veterinary degree one graduating class
after Katz, in 1959. Baer went into rabies control work with the
Epidemic Intelligence Service, a CDC forerunner. From 1966 to 1969
Baer organized anti-rabies campaigns in Mexico. Baer then headed the
CDC Rabies Laboratory from 1969 until retirement. Throughout his
career Baer advocated aggressive vaccination against rabies instead
of the efforts to kill the potential host animals which had
characterized previous rabies control efforts. His 1991 book The
Natural History of Rabies is still considered a definitive reference.

Michael Jackson, 50, died of cardiac arrest on June 25,
2009 at his home in Los Angeles. An entertainer since 1964, Jackson
became one of the top-selling recording artists ever–and was known
for bizarre behavior, including continually altering his appearance
through cosmetic surgery. In 1985 Jackson bought a chimp named
Bubbles from a Texas research lab in a deal arranged by trainer Bob
Dunn, taught Bubbles to emulate his “Moonwalk” dance steps, and
rapidly assembled a private zoo of other exotic species at his
Neverland estate. Circa 1988 Jackson became a vegan. He issued
several recordings and statements expressing support for animal
advocacy, but he did not associate himself with any particular
animal charity or issue. “I think he just loved animals,” said
Freddie Hancock, founder of the Voices of the Wild Foundation in
Arizona. Financial difficulties reportedly motivated Jackson to
dismantle his private zoo in 2005. Voices of the Wild took in
Jackson’s four giraffes, reptitles, and exotic birds. His tigers
Thriller and Sabu were sent to Shambala Preserve, operated by
actress Tippi Hedren. Bubbles was given to Dunn, who sent him to
the Center for Great Apes in Florida. PETA in January 2006 alleged
that animals remaining at Neverland were neglected, but law
enforcement agencies found no evidence of neglect or abuse.

Sheila Lampert, 61, a vet tech for the Arizona Humane
Society since 1989, was bludgeoned to death on June 20, 2009 in her
Phoenix home, along with her grandson, Loggan Lampert, 14. Her
stepson Erick Lampert, 35, was arrested for the killings.
“Detective James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department said
Loggan’s little sister told them Erick Lampert hit Loggan after the
two got into an argument. The 9-year-old girl ran to her mother’s
house,” reported Catherine Holland of AZFamily.com. “Erick Lampert
made headlines in 2004,” Holland added, “when he held police in a
standoff at his father’s home. During that incident he threatened to
kill officers with a Samurai sword.” Sheila Lampert “always had
birds and bottle-baby kitties and puppies around her desk,” recalled
former co-worker Suzanne Jacoby. “She worked tirelessly with rescue
groups. She skipped lunches to feed animals.”

Bonnie Pang, 70, of Waianae, Hawaii, died in her sleep on
June 13, 2009. A retired teacher and librarian, Pang in 1992
founded a private sanctuary called Animal Haven. The Hawaii Humane
Society in 1995 charged Pang with neglecting some of the 400 animals
in her care. Acquitted, Pang sued the Hawaii Humane Society and
pursued the case to the Hawaii Supreme Court, but was ultimately
unsuccessful. The Oahu SPCA with the help of the Humane Society of
the U.S. mobilized 50 volunteers to evacuate more than 100 dogs and
more than 100 cats to an emergency shelter set up to accommodate them
in Kalaeloa. About 200 birds were transported to Wild Bird Rehab
Haven of Hawaii. Only three animals were so ill as to require
euthanasia, HSUS representative Inga Gibson told Katie Urbaszewski
of the Hawaii Advertiser.

Joseph Fletcher, 73, co-owner of J&E Trees in Fairbanks,
Alaska, died on August 10, 2009 in Seattle, a month after rescuing
a Russian blue cat named Sam from a tall tree in a Fairbanks
subdivision, but falling during his own descent. Fletcher had
declined payment for the rescue.

Sementi Bhattascharya, founder of the animal rescue group
Stretch Beyond Relief in Asanol, West Bengal, was “was shot dead
along with a colleague on June 17, 2009. She was the victim of the
recent riots in that state,” former World Society for the Protection
of Animals director general Peter Davies relayed to ANIMAL PEOPLE
from mutual acquaintances. Asanol media reported that local TV
journalist Amitabha Mahto fatally shot his former fiance on June 17,
after reporting about the riots, and then shot himself. His female
victim was not named.

Alecia Lilly, 53, senior scientist and vice president of
the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, died on May 29, 2009 in
Pretoria, South Africa, after medical evacuation from the Virunga
mountains in Rwanda, where she fell abruptly ill. Lilly began her
career by studying the relationships among stress, brain
neurochemistry, and hormones in captive rhesus macaques. She also
studied Barbary macaques in Algeria and Morocco. From 1998 to 2001,
when Lilly joined the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, she studied western
lowland gorillas at the Mondika Research Center in the Central
African Republic.

Dalu Mncube, 26, was killed by a white tiger named Abu on
May 27, 2009 at the Zion Wildlife Gardens near Whangarei, New
Zealand. Abu was killed later. Former Zion Wildlife Gardens senior
animal caretaker Craig Busch was featured in the television series
Lion Man, filmed at the site, aired in 93 nations. The series ended
after Busch pleaded guilty in May 2007 to assaulting his former
partner after finding her in bed with another couple. Craig Busch,
also convicted of assaulting a female in 1991, was later fired by
his mother, Patricia Busch, the Zion Wildlife Gardens owner.
Pursuing litigation over his firing, Craig Busch has been critical
of Zion Wildlife Gardens safety. Lisa Baxter, a Scottish teenager
employed by Zion Wildlife Gardens, in April 2008 suffered severe
injuries to both hands when she allegedly tried to pet a tiger cub
through a hole in the fence cut to accommodate television cameras.
Mncube, who had been second in experience to Craig Busch, was in
February 2009 credited with saving the life of fellow keeper Demetri
Price, after Abu bit Price on the knee. The New Zealand Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry closed Zion Wildlife Gardens and ordered
safety changes after Mncube’s death. Neighbors contend that animals
have escaped from Zion Wildlife Gardens at least 13 times.

Donna Munson, 74, was fatally mauled by a bear on August 6,
2009 outside her cabin near Ouray, Colorado. Sheriff’s deputies
shot two bears at the scene. Donna Munson and her husband Jack began
rescuing, rehabilitating, and sometimes feeding wildlife,
including elk and skunks, after building the cabin in 1978. Jack
Munson died in 1995. Donna Munson apparently began feeding bears
after raising an orphaned bear cub in 2001. Receiving frequent
complaints from neighbors, the Colorado Division of Wildlife had
warned her at least three times since 2004 to stop feeding bears. At
least 14 bears were known to visit her for treats.

Vel Moore, 77, died on May 28, 2009 from cancer,
discovered after she fell and broke a leg in February 2009. Moore
founded the Equine Rescue Association in Marysville, Washington, in
1997, after retiring from a college teaching career in California.
Relocated several times, the Equine Rescue Association currently
keeps about 30 horses on the premises formerly used by the
discontinued Marysville School District agricultural program, on the
Tulalip Reservation.

Karen DeSouza, 56, died on August 8, 2009 in Reno,
Nevada, after an emergency hysterectomy. A longtime rescue
volunteer who worked with the Nevada Humane Society, Wylie Animal
Rescue Foundation, and other animal charities in the Reno area,
DeSouza in 2007 started the Looking For My Hero Animal Rescue
Foundation to help coordinate adoption rescue projects

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