Letters [May 2010]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2010:


I read with interest Doug Fakkema’s January/February 2010
letter headlined “Priorities,” in which he wrote, “Let’s not be
seduced by gurus telling us the problem is our adoption policy. Our
primary problem is too many animals, and the solution is spaying and
What’s missing is talking with people who want to surrender
animals and helping them to present unwanted animals to friends and
family for adoption, as well as to strangers and to small rescue
organization. This is a missing link in animal welfare vis a vis pet
overpopulation, I think. Such help is usually not available to
those who don’t want to surrender animals to municipal shelters.
Just preparing a flyer can make a life or death difference for some
animals. It’s too facile to say we can neuter our way out of the
problem, any more than we can adopt our way out.
–Joanna Harkin
Washington, D.C.

Editor’s note:

Helping people to rehome their own animals is very successful
for shelters that take the time to do it. However, surrendered pets
are less than a third of total U.S. shelter intake, and except for
dogs who have injured someone, these are the animals who tend to
have the best chance of adoption. The animals who are most likely to
be killed are unsocialized feral cats and dogs who are either
impounded or surrendered for dangerous behavior.
The U.S. rate of shelter killing per 1,000 humans has fallen
88% in the past 40 years. About 7% of the drop may be attributed to
improvements in rehoming animals. The other 93% reflects a rise in
the rate of sterilizing pet dogs from under 10% to more than 70%,
and a rise in the rate of sterilizing pet cats from under 5% to more
than 80%.
The U.S. now kills about 13.5 dogs and cats per 1,000
Americans. Rehoming every animal who might potentially be rehomed
could save about 40%.

Financial data

I wish to thank you for your very informative newspaper. You
do a wonderful job of informing us of many things we would never be
aware of.
However, your explanation on page four of your Sepember 2009
edition about why you no longer publish your annual financial tables
just does not ring true to me. So much money is going to people
instead of animals–a very sad situation, with shelters being
closed, etc.
The salaries shown in your tables were staggering. I fully
realize that it takes money to operate a shelter, but salaries
should not take precedence in my opinion.
–Norma Gurinskas
New Hampshire Doberman Rescue League
229 Bakers Grant Road
Lebanon, ME 04027
Phone: 1-207-457-1329

Editor’s note:

We still publish the financial data that appeared in the
ANIMAL PEOPLE newspaper each December for 14 years through 2006, but
the December tables became redundant when we started publishing the
annual Watchdog Report on Animal Charities in 1999, which includes
far more information about each of the 165 listed organizations than
ever was included in the December tables, including details of
programs and policies. After rising newsprint and postal costs in
2007-2008 obliged us to reduce our page count and frequency of
publication, we dropped the tables from the ANIMAL PEOPLE newspaper
to keep more space for news and reader response.
The 2010 edition of the Watchdog Report on Animal Charities
is scheduled for midsummer publication, and may be pre-ordered for
$25 per copy.

Non-surgical fix

Thanks for “The search goes on for a single-dose non-surgical
way to sterilize dogs & cats.” You did a great job in getting a
number of sources and separating fact from fiction.
Thanks for reaching out to the Alliance for Contraception of
Cats & Dogs on this, as we strive to be a credible source of
information for the public on the subject of non-surgical
sterilization and contraception.
–Linda Rhodes, VMD, PhD.
Vice President for Clinical Development
AlcheraBio LLC
304 Amboy Avenue
Metuchen, NJ 08840
Phone: 732-205-0192

Healing war wounds

Thanks to Animal People for developing and publishing “How to
introduce neuter/return & make it work.” There have been bits and
pieces of discussion of the issues floating around, and articles
about the mechanical end of doing neuter/return, but not much
addressing all the real world collection of issues and obstacles.
The Tsunami Animal People Alliance team recently made our
first venture into what had been the Sri Lankan conflict zone, where
it overlapped the tsunami zone in the town of Batticaloa. Soon we
received this unsolicited e-mail from a staff member of a charity in
Batticaloa that specialises in promoting inter-ethnic peace and
“TAPA is really a great, dynamic team and what I see is so
much more than the work they are doing for dogs. Here in Batticaloa,
after 30 years of war, devastation, death and destruction, TAPA
represents a whole new concept of nurturing and concern for others
that some of the communities have never experienced. Having Sinhala
staff at TAPA doing free work for Tamil communities sends a powerful
–Robert Blumberg
Friends of the Tsunami
Animal-People Alliance
34 Maximo Court
Danville, CA 94506

Success in Romania

Thanks for your editorial “How to introduce neuter/return &
make it work,” all of which is born out by our experience in
Oradea, Romania, and the surrounding province of Bihor, where we
have reduced the number of inadequately supervised dogs to about 10%
of the starting level in 2004.
We are carrying out door to door canvassing and concentrating
on dogs who have caretakers. As you say, these are the most
reproductively successful.
We have found that it is necessary to defuse municipal
complaints by temporarily or sometimes permanently removing the
sterilized dogs whose behavior triggers those complaints, because
without municipal cooperation we can achieve nothing. I learned in
our previous project in Campina that sticking rigidly to the doctrine
of neuter/return, against the wishes of the municipality, gets us
You did not mention the threat of dog-dumping from
surrounding areas. It is amazing how many new dogs, usually
fertile, are dumped in Oradea by “dog rescuers” and selfish nearby
municipalities. We constantly have to collect these dogs and try to
rehome them. We are rehoming about 50 locally per month, in
addition to a few rehomed abroad.
The most humane way of sheltering large numbers of shy
non-rehomable but harmless dogs is an open shelter, such as the one
I have near Oradea on 65 hectares of land, part forest, part open
fields. Three or four day staff look after about 400 dogs separated
into two groups–though in fact the dogs are free, so most could mix
if they wanted to. The two groups are about 500 metres apart. We
have been surprised how happy and approachable formerly shy dogs
become. I am convinced this is the solution to the age old problem
of what to do with excess, non-rehomable dogs.
At some point it would be useful for you to come to Oradea to
see the results of our work. As you probably know, the North Shore
Animal League America, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, and Dogs Trust
are no longer sponsoring us, and I am financing the Oradea and Bihor
projects myself.
–Robert Smith
SOS Dogs Oradea
Oradea, Romania

BAWA battles rabies outbreak

Thanks for your great April 2010 editorial feature “How to
introduce neuter/ return & make it work.” I wish we could get back
to spay/neuter work–hopefully soon! We are still sterilizing
animals in our clinic but not in the field, due to the necessity of
focusing on rabies vaccination. The good news is we should be
finished in Gianyar by the end of May. We recently vaccinated 870
dogs in one day! We average 400-500.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals offered the
government an island wide vaccination program that was turned down,
but they agreed to let us vaccinate in Bangli, the next region over
to the east. We will start in early June. Hopefully it will go
smoothly, as Gianyar has, but there is already a lot of rabies up
I just flew someone to Jakarta who will bring back possibly
the last six vials of rabies immunoglobulin in Indonesia. We rushed
a boy for emergency treatment last night. He suffered a deep bite
from a rabies-positive dog, and he got the last two vials on
Bali–which I paid for because no one else would. We had one dog
bite seven people and five dogs in one village, and then another
three positive dogs bit a bunch more people. I hope the vaccines
are good, because the sales rep said they won’t get more rabies
immunoglobulin until September.
–Janice Girardi, founder
Bali Animal Welfare Association
Jalan Monkey Forest 100-X
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Editor’s note:

Bali authorities recognized 37 human rabies deaths at
deadline for the May 2010 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE. Bali media had
reported the names and details of the deaths of 49 probable victims.
There were reportedly 29 victims whose names and details of death
were not published. About 60 people per day seek post-exposure
vaccination after suffering bites from suspected rapid dogs.
Perpetual shortages of rabies immunoglobulin mean that many bite
victims do not receive the recommended course of treatment.
Culling at a rate about equal to normal street dog mortality,
and at less than the street dog birth rate, the Bali government as
of March 25, 2010 had killed 68,868 dogs, from a population
officially estimated at 447,966. Vaccination drives, including
those of BAWA, had reached 239,654 dogs.
The Bali rabies outbreak began with the mid-2008 import of a
rabid dog from Flores, another Indonesian island province. The
Flores authorities have failed to quell a rabies outbreak that
started in 1997 despite 13 years of determined culling. Intensively
vaccinating dogs has been effective in the parts of Flores where it
has been done, as documented in The Rabies Epidemic on Flores
Island, Indonesia, 2001-2003, by Caecelia Windiyaningsih, Henry
Wilde, Francois Meslin, and several co-authors.

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