Letters [Oct 2009]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2009:
 
Sacrifice in Nepal

The largest open air animal sacrifice in the world will start
on November 24, 2009. Can you picture 7,000 young buffalo being
rounded up and killed by a thousand drunk men carrying large knives?
A festival where 200,000 animals are killed to please a goddess?
This will happen, if nothing is done to prevent it, at the
Gadimai Festival in Bariyarpur, Bara District, Nepal. The festival
is held every five years. The mass sacrifice turns the entire area
into a bloody marsh.

Animal Welfare Network Nepal wants to end this practice. We
are trying to raise awareness about the animal cruelty aspects, and
to point out the health risks.
(Gadimai in 1994 introduced the goat plague called peste des
petits ruminants to Nepal.)
A growing number of Nepalise religious groups also oppose the
sacrifice. The young religious leader Palden Dorje plans to bless
the animals.
The majority of devotees who attend the sacrifice come from
Bihar, India. According to Nepali campaigner Avantika Regmi, many
Biharis bring animals to be sacrificed because they live near the
Bodhagaya temple, where killing animals is now prohibited.
–Lucia de Vries
Animal Welfare Network Nepal
Bagdol, Patan, Nepal
<luciadevries@gmail.com>
<www.awnnepal.blogspot.com>
 
Dog attacks

Thank you for publishing the common sense commentary “Dog
attack deaths & risk of lightning,” by Alan M. Beck, in the
September 2009 edition of Animal People.
I get so sick and tired of people putting dogs ahead of
children and others who are badly hurt and disfigured by dog attacks.
Many humane organizations adopt out dogs knowing full well that they
are very apt to bite, attack, or severely hurt someone in the
community if circumstances are not just perfect. I will never
understand that philosophy, and no one loves dogs more than I.
Thanks to Alan Beck for stating what should be the obvious.
–Nicky Ratliff
Executive director
Humane Society
of Carroll County
2517 Littlestown Pike
Westminster, MD 21158
Phone: 410-848-4810
<cratliff@ccg.carr.org>
<www.carr.org/humane>
 
Alan M. Beck replies:

Thank you for your kind note. The humane community seems not
to acknowledge that the same types of dogs who attack children also
attack other dogs.
 
Spring Farm Cares project eight years later

The October 2002 ANIMAL PEOPLE article “Street dog & feral
cat sterilization and vaccination efforts must get 70% or flunk”
mentioned that “In Clinton, an upstate New York town of just 6,000
people, the sanctuary Spring Farm Cares financially assisted 25,000
dog and cat sterilizations between September 1999 and July 2002,
working with private practice veterinarians scattered throughout a
six-county rural area.”
“What was the result?” recently asked Animal Rescue System
Fund founder Hiro Yamasaki, of Kobe, Japan.
Spring Farm Cares cofounder Bonnie Reynolds offers an update:

Our Happy Hearth Spay/Neuter Program program has sterilized
55,000 dogs and cats since 1999, mostly cats.
When we started, very foolishly, we sent vouchers anywhere
in the country. Realizing that this approach was a total waste,
could never show any results, and would not ease our local problem,
we began to serve only a local six-county area.
We then became aware of a project done in the capital
district of Albany, New York. They found, if I recall correctly,
that it took about nine years of intensive high-volume sterilization
to bring their feral/stray/pet population under control. We
therefore began focusing exclusively on Oneida County, where we are.
This includes the cities of Utica and Rome, many villages, and an
extensive rural area. We began our focused approach in June 2004,
so we have a way to go before we expect to see definite signs of
stabilization.
In 2008 we thought we were beginning to see a difference, as
“kitten season” started later than the previous year, but we ended up
taking in almost as many orphans and nursing or pregnant strays. (If
a cat comes in heavily pregnant, we do not abort the kittens.)
However, our two local humane societies saw large drops in the
numbers of stray cats they took in.
Unfortunately, the economic downturn–and resultant
staggering number of pets being dumped or turned in by people who can
no longer afford to keep them–is skewing all observation. Kitten
season started even later in 2009 than in 2008, but we have taken in
twice as many cats and kittens, with no real way to know how many
are due to the economy.
In addition to the Happy Hearth program, six volunteer
veterinarians and about 30 volunteers help us conduct monthly
neuter/return clinics for feral, stray, and barn cats in spring,
summer, and fall. This program treats an average of 500 cats a
year. We also sterilize about 30 pet rabbits a year. Altogether, we
spend about $200,000 a year on spay neuter.
Are we making a difference? We have no definitive answer.
But we wonder what our local situation would be like if we had not
managed to get tens of thousands of animals fixed!
–Bonnie Reynolds
Executive director
Spring Farm Cares
3364 State Rt. 12
Clinton, NY 13323?
Phone: 315-737-9339
Fax: 315-737-8507?
<information@springfarmcares.org>
<www.springfarmcares.org>
 
Jakarta carriage horses

Since the beginning of 2009, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network
has asked the municipal government to establish better standards for
carriage horses. With ANIMAL PEOPLE help we have also educated
drivers about horse care, trained ten former drivers to become
farriers, and provided free medical treatment to the horses. Twenty
horses from Kemanggisan area, where the horses were kept under
pitiful conditions, were relocated to new facilities we built on
land loaned to us by a private person.
Effective on October 29, 2009 the use of carriage horses in
central Jakarta has been banned. Now the owners may sell their
horses, or may continue to use their horses elsewhere. We estimate
that about 60 horses will be sold for slaughter. We hope to step in
and provide these horses with sanctuary for life, while continuing
to help the horses who remain in service.
–Femke den Haas
Jakarta Animal Aid
Jalan Kemang Timur Raya #17A
South Jakarta, 12730, Indonesia
Phone: 62-21-7802556
Fax: 62-21-7802556; <info@jakartaanimalaid.com>
<www.jakartaanimalaid.com>
 
Activist research project

I am currently working on my HBA from Brock University. I am
a sociology major and am enrolled in a course entitled Critical
Animal Studies, facilitated by longtime ANIMAL PEOPLE reader John
Sorenson, Ph.D. For this class I am conducting a research project
entitled “How to Identify and Resolve Problems When Attempting to
Start an Animal Rights Group.” I am asking participants in my study
to identify and describe any problems they encountered, and to
explain how they resolved these problems. I am asking volunteer
participants to please respond before November 11, 2009 for a formal
invitation.
–Todd Charles Cecckin
81 Croydon Drive,
St. Catharines, Ontario
Canada L2M1J9
<tc99ak@brocku.ca>
 
Tunisian work animals

I was recently in Tunisia and was disgusted by how many
Tunisians treat their working animals, especially horses and
camels. Every day I saw horses who were skinnier than I am, pulling
carts all day in the dreadful heat. I also witnessed a few deprived
camels while I was on the Sahara desert. I could not see any source
of water or food for these poor creatures, and noticed one camel’s
nose was bleeding from his ring. I do not agree with animals being
used as an income source, but if one must, at least look after them
and provide for them properly!
I carried apples and oranges with me everywhere I went, so I
could feed the poor animals on the streets, as their owners didn’t
seem to care. I spoke to a horse rider one day and when I told him
it was cruel to use horses for entertainment, he said that he is
just making a living. If he doesn’t get paid, the horse doesn’t get
fed. I was appalled to hear that.
–Sheila Bolger
County Tipperary, Ireland
<sbolger81@hotmail.com>
 
Editor’s note:

The plight of Indonesian and Tunisian work animals is similar
to the plight of working animals everywhere. Students of the
transition from use of animal power to mechanical power noticed in
the U.S. and England a century ago, and now observe abroad, that
the most successful animal users, whose animals get the best care,
tend to exchange animals for motor vehicles first–chiefly because
they can afford to buy motor vehicles first. As the transition
proceeds, the quality of animal care tends to diminish among the
remaining animal users.
Tunisia is among the African nations where the price of
fodder reportedly soared due to competition from makers of biofuels
in 2008, just as the global economy collapsed.
The British-based Society for Protecting Animals Abroad,
working in Tunisia since 1925, operates three veterinary centers and
three mobile clinics there. They treat about 12,000 animals per
year. However, says the United Nations Food & Agriculture
Organization, Tunisia has 57,000 horses, 230,000 donkeys, and
231,000 camels in need of care.
 
Surgical mutilations

Thanks for a great editorial in your September 2009 edition,
“Time to stop declawing, ear-cropping, & tail-docking.” Sadly, as
you point out, many people who love animals do not realize how these
procedures hurt the animals. They do not see the connection between
the behavior problem that develops and the cosmetic or convenience
surgery.
–Bonney Brown
Executive director
Nevada Humane Society
2825 Longley Lane, Suite B
Reno, NV 89502
Phone: 775-856-2000, x319
<bbrown@nevadahumanesociety.org>
<www.nevadahumanesociety.org>
 
Jere Alexander

In response to your allegations regarding Jere Alexander
(Animal People, September 2009, “Barking over Animals and Society
fellowship,”), the Human-Animal Studies Summer Fellowship is part of
a larger project to increase the presence of HAS in academia and
develop present and future scholars as a resource for the
reexamination of animal issues. Selection criteria for the
fellowship are limited to academic qualifications. It is beyond the
scope of the program to vet for nonacademic activities. The pool of
4-5 applications for each of the seven positions is evaluated by a
committee of seven HAS scholars.
–Kenneth Shapiro, P.h.D.
Executive Director
Animals & Society Institute
Ann Arbor, Michigan
<ken.shapiro@animalsandsociety.org>
 
Editor’s note:

The associations of Alexander with dogfighters were
extensively exposed in multiple articles in fall 2008 by the Atlanta
Journal Constitution, readership 2.2 million.
 
MBE winners

The July/August 2009 ANIMAL PEOPLE article “Kenya SPCA
director awarded MBE” listed eight animal advocates who have been
named to the Order of the British Empire since 1998, but omitted
Jenny MacGregor, chair of the Society for the Welfare of Horses &
Ponies in Monmouth, U.K., who received MBE recognition in 2005.

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