LETTERS [Sept 09]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2009:
Financial tables

I recently received the 2009 edition of
the ANIMAL PEOPLE Watchdog Report on Animal
Charities, and wonder if you have a spreadsheet
summarizing the financial data included in the
report. I seem to recall that earlier reports
had tables such as that, and hoped they would be
available for 2009. This would make it much
easier for me to compare the various
–Christopher Hersha
Information Technology Manager
SPCA Tampa Bay
9099 130th Ave. N.
Largo, FL 33773
Phone: 727-586-3591, x161
Editor’s note:

Those tables appeared in the ANIMAL
PEOPLE newspaper each December for 14 years, but
became redundant when we started publishing the
Watchdog Report in 1999. After rising newsprint
and postal costs obliged us to reduce our page
count and frequency of publication, we dropped
the tables to keep more for news and reader

Cats helped us type

Thank you for the citation of the Alley
Cat Allies survey about pet cat sterilization in
your July/August article “Decade of adoption
focus fails to reduce shelter killing.” We went
through the process of getting our article peer
reviewed so that the wider animal protection
community could use our research, and it is
nice to see that it is happening. Also, it’s
always nice to see my name in print. I did
notice two typographical errors which need to be
corrected. The primary author’s name is Karyen
Chu, not “Karyn Ch,” and the percentage of
female cats spayed before any litters is 81.7%,
not 81.2%.
–Micha Rieser
Policy Research Analyst
Law & Policy
Alley Cat Allies
7920 Norfolk Ave., Suite 600
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 240-482-1992
Fax: 240-482-1990
Hoping to save Pablo Escobar’s hippos

As you may know, there is a horrible
situation with some hippos in Colombia, who were
brought from New Orleans in 1981 by cocaine
trafficker Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a
shoot-out with law enforcement in 1993. Escobar
kept the hippos in a private zoo, which is now
defunct. No one has the resources to take care
of them. Originally there were four hippos.
Today there are at least 28 of them. Some have
escaped and our government is trying to kill any
who leave the Escobar hacienda.
There are people in the world who do not
want to let that happen. I am one of them, but
unfortunately, I have neither the resources or
the contacts to save them. I have contacted many
wildlife organizations. I have gotten a lot of
positive answers from concerned people who want
to help, and they have given me many other
contacts. I am still struggling to find a proper
I know how difficult the situation is,
but I would appreciate if you have any ideas on
how to solve this problem.
–Ana María Velásquez
Bogota, Colombia
Editor’s note:

New York Times correspondents Simon
Romero and Jenny Carolina González reported on
September 11, 2009 that a judge in Medellín had
“issued a ruling suspending the hunt.” Frankfurt
Zoological Society consultant Peter Morkel
“compared the potential for the hippos to disrupt
Colombian ecosystems to the agitation caused by
alien species elsewhere, like goats on the
Galápagos Islands, cats on Marion Island between
Antarctica and South Africa, or pythons in
Florida,” Romero and González wrote. Countered
Aníbal Vallejo, president of the Medellín SPCA,
“In Colombia there is no documented case of an
attack against people or that they damaged any
crops. No sufficient motive to sacrifice one of
these animals has emerged in the 28 years since
Pablo Escobar brought them.”
South African rhino poaching boom

In the short space of 19 months, rhino
poaching in South Africa has accelerated to a
rate almost six times higher than in the previous
eight years. South Africa has abruptly become
the conduit for most of the rhino horns leaving
the African continent.
Now a new ARA Report, Under Siege:
Rhinoceroses in South Africa, reveals that
there is an urgent need to improve data
collection at both the provincial and national
level; re-examine the permit system under which
government sellers of rhino abrogate their
responsibility with regard to what happens to the
animal after sale; end all rhino hunting in
South Africa, because it has been proven to be
as great a problem as poaching; re-examine the
entire South African procedure for reporting data
to the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species, because often limited and
inaccurate information is submitted; open to
public debate the government policy of
encouraging “sustainable use” and trophy hunting;
publish through websites up-to-date applications
for hunting permits and hunting statistics; and
impose an immediate moratorium on all capture,
sale, translocation and hunting of rhinoceros.
The report is available on the ARA website.
–Steve Smit &
Michele Pickover
Animal Rights Africa
Box 3018
Honeydew 2040
South Africa
Phone: 27-11-472-2380
Comment opens on Chinese animal welfare law

On September 18, 2009 at a legal
conference in Beijing the first draft of the new
Chinese animal protection law was published
online for public comment. In addition to
releasing the draft animal protection law, the
expert team who drafted the law, led by
Professor Chang Jiwen of the Chinese Academy of
Social Sciences, also suggested changes in
Chinese criminal law, making animal abuse a
punishable offence.
The draft law outlines guidelines for
disease prevention and meeting the medical needs
of animals. It covers wildlife, farm animals,
companion animals, laboratory animals, and work
animals, and stipulates welfare requirements for
animals in transport and slaughter.
While the International Fund for Animal
Welfare supports this first Chinese animal
welfare legislation, we feel that the draft
could benefit from further input from concerned
citizens and animal welfare groups, particularly
in the wildlife and companion animal sections.
We thus encourage public comment and suggestions
to the law during the public comment period.
The draft of the law, in Chinese, can
be found at
–Grace Ge Gabriel
Asia Regional Director
Intl. Fund for Animal Welfare
Dog attack deaths & risk of lightning

In an article in my local newspaper
today, a spokesperson for a major humane
organization, in an attempt to minimize the risk
to the public from dog attacks, is quoted as
saying that more people are killed by lightning
than dogs.
The National Weather Service said there
were 27 lightning deaths as of this date in 2009,
28 in 2008, and 45 in 2007. This reflects the
success of efforts to reduce the numbers of
deaths from lightning strikes, which have
historically killed an average of 73 Americans
per year.
The highest number of people ever killed
by dogs in one year in the U.S. was 33, in 2007.
The average in this decade is more than 20,
about double the average of the preceding two
Thus the death tolls from lightning and dog attacks are converging.
The humane society spokesperson failed to
point out that even though lightning deaths are
rare and becoming fewer, we still do whatever we
can to minimize the risk, e.g., clearing public
swimming pools during electrical storms,
suspending golf games, installing lightning
rods, and doing public education.
Attention to any public health risk is
influenced by severity, the impacted population,
and the economic interests of those affected.
Minimizing rabies has a huge veterinary
and pharmaceutical establishment supporting it,
so we respond to the disease despite its
extremely rare occurrence in the U.S.
Minimizing dog attacks has no such
economic support, so we minimize their
importance by minimizing perception of the
occurrence, even though fatal and disfiguring
dog attacks are hundreds of times more common in
the U.S. than human cases of rabies.
As they say at the Centers for Disease
Control & Prevention, it is naïve to think
disease is simply the presence of a pathogen.
–Alan M. Beck, Sc.D.
Professor & Director
Center for the Human-Animal Bond
School of Veterinary Medicine
Purdue University
625 Harrison St.
West Lafayette, IN 47907
Recycling hotel linens

I volunteer for the Phoenix chapter of
the Sierra Club. Office space is rented in a
motel on the edge of downtown. Hotels routinely
throw out slightly stained linens because they
are unfit for human use. I asked management for
the unusable linens because I am also involved in
animal rescue. Slightly stained but clean linens
can be used many times by rescue groups and
shelters. I got my first big batch today with
promises of more to come. Hotels, motels and
resorts could be a good source of bedding for
animal rescue groups, shelters, or zoos. This
helps the environment by reducing waste, and
provides comfort to needy animals as well.
–Debra J. White
Tempe, Arizona

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