Letters (June 2011)
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2011:
I wanted to point out, apropos of your review of Humane
Society of the U.S. president Wayne Pacelle’s book The Bond: Our
Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them, that Mel Morse,
the HSUS president in the years 1968-1970, wrote a book in 1968
entitled Ordeal of the Animals. It is a nice period piece, kind of
a snapshot of how the landscape looked right about that time. It was
a composite work, drawing on material drafted by core staff members
like Patrick Parkes. Thus, Pacelle is the fourth HSUS chief
executive to author a book.
Senior Policy Adviser
Special Assistant to the President
Humane Society of the U.S.
2100 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20037
I just read your April 2011 editorial, “Art, nukes, &
ethical energy,” which discussed the impact of energy technologies
on fish, and I think it is outstanding. I thought I was relatively
knowledgeable about energy issues, but I confess that I didn’t have a
clue about how many fish are killed in energy production. I always
appreciate your focus on the divisions between animal advocates and
enviros, but it seems that this issue has evaded both camps.
You mentioned that enviros and animal advocates both tend to
have reservations about wind energy, but in my experience enviros
typically lump “wind and solar energy” together as unqualified goods.
I always thought that the impact of wind energy on birds was the only
downside of wind energy, but I have been learning a lot more
recently about some of the other harmful impacts of wind energy,
including sound pollution.
I have become involved in a related issue, which is
electrosmog pollution from cell towers, wi-fi, cell phones, and
“smart” utility meters. Smart meters are the form of pollution that
I am most focused on these days, since they are being rolled out at
such a rapid pace and are making large numbers of people very sick
due to their high levels of microwave radiation. I presume that they
are impacting animals too, but that has not yet been noted.
Author, Nature Ethics:
An Ecofeminist Perspective
The microwave output of a “smart” utility meter is greater
than that of a radio or TV signal, but a tiny fraction of the output
of a laptop computer, wi-fi signal, or cell telephone. These are
in turn a tiny fraction of the output of a microwave oven.
Electronic devices which emit microwave signals meant to repel
rodents and insects, inaudible to humans, have been on the market
for more than 40 years, but–though some users swear by them–there
is scant evidence that they are effective.
Animals at war
The May 2011 ANIMAL PEOPLE review of Finding Jack, by Gareth
Crocker, caused me to wonder again, as I often have, why humanity
has done so little to recognise the contributions of animals in war.
Wars are wholly conceived and fought by humans, yet animals become
unwilling casualties, both directly and indirectly. This has always
intrigued me. I have searched for books about how animals have
suffered in wars. Millions have been used as pack animals, and of
course elephants and horses have been integral to many a battle. The
Soviets trained and used dogs to blow up German tanks during World
War II by strapping explosives to their bodies. And as recently as
1989, the Indian army in Sri Lanka used goats as minesweepers.
Hardly any books have been written about all this, however,
with the exception perhaps of the five books written so far about the
use of dogs during the Vietnam War. And I read somewhere that there
is a memorial somewhere in Australia for the horses from that country
who died in World War I. Australia sent 150,000 horses to the
European theatre of war. Just one returned alive.
I am interested in knowing if there has been any other
recognition of animal suffering in wars. After slaughter for food,
war may have killed more animals than even religious rituals.
The Memorial to Animals In War in Park Lane, London,
England, may be the most famous monument to animals who have
actually been used for military purposes. ANIMAL PEOPLE is unaware
of any monuments to animals who were collateral casualties of human
Re “Thoroughly troubled Thorough-bred Retirement Foundation,”
in the April 2011 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE, we would like to note
that the rescue and retirement of Tour of the Cat, mentioned in the
last sentence, was not in any way facilitated by TRF. Rather, a
group of committed racing fans from across the country donated funds
to MidAtlantic Horse Rescue in order to claim him. Maggie Moss, a
well known racehorse owner, coordinated his claim, and Old Friends
in Kentucky gave him a permanent home. This was truly a grassroots
collaborative effort to retire a classic old warrior.
In addition, Jan duPont did not own the great Kelso. Jan
was a compassionate horse owner, but Kelso was bred and owned by the
late Allaire duPont of Woodstock Farm, in Chesapeake City,
Maryland. MidAtlantic Horse Rescue leases part of Woodstock Farm for
its base of operations.
–Beverly Strauss, Executive Director
MidAtlantic Horse Rescue
P.O. Box 407?
Chesapeake City, MD 21915
“Islam Cares for Animals”
Animal welfare is a relatively new issue in Indonesia. There
are still many cases of violence or cruelty to animals, including
the illegal wildlife trade which causes suffering to animals due to
bad handling and transportation, or inappropriate feeding.
ProFauna believes that public awareness is very important to
overcome these problems. We have been developing a method to educate
the public about animal welfare in Islam, because more than 200
million Indonesians are Islamic.
In December 2010, ProFauna published the first edition of a
book entitled Islam Cares for Animals in the Indonesian language and
distributed free copies to Islamic boarding schools, regular
schools, nonprofit organizations, government offices, journalists,
and some Islamic communities. The book received positive reviews,
which brought many requests from other communities to send them
Thanks to World Animal Net, ProFauna will reprint Islam
Cares for Animals and spread the animal welfare message to more
Islamic people in Indonesia.
ProFauna has also visited many Islamic boarding schools led
by renowned and respectable Islamic leaders. One of the leaders,
Kyai Azizi Chasbullah, stated during our visit, “Islam is a
religion that cares for animals and forbids the followers to harm
animals. I support ProFauna’s program to promote compassion for
We hope our approach to promoting animal welfare through
Islam will be as effective as our campaign for sea turtle
conservation in Bali in the year 2000. In Bali, which is
predominantly Hindu, we asked Hindu priests to urge the Balinese
people to protect sea turtles. Bali was previously notorious as the
hub of sea turtle slaughter, but has become a sea turtle nesting
International Affairs Officer
Jl. Raya Candi II #179
Objections to “Getting wise to ‘invasive species’ rhetoric” editorial
I would like to point out that your argument in the May 2011
ANIMAL PEOPLE editorial “Getting wise to ‘invasive species’ rhetoric”
that an increase in local biodiversity is compensation for loss of
biodiversity at a global level is flawed. If the earth consisted of
10 equally sized islands, it would be better both from an ecological
and economic perspective that each island had only 500 species, out
of which 400 are unique to that particular island, rather than
having an earth where each island had 1,000 species, out of which
only 100 species are unique, with 900 species common to all.
The importance of global biodiversity is never to be
underestimated, especially for a purely whimsical concept that all
individual animal lives are equally important at any cost. I find it
highly hypocritical that animal rights activists shed copious tears
about rats getting trapped or poisoned, but have no sympathy for sea
bird chicks who get eaten alive in a cruel and gruesome fashion by
these vicious rodents.
Animal lovers have to keep in mind that invasive species
eradication is often a one-time process, when done efficiently in a
planned manner, and is not a cycle of cruelty.
People with genuine care for animals should channel their
energies towards fighting systemic inbuilt cruel systems which are
designed to carry on for generations, namely factory farming,
wherein millions of animals suffer extremely inhumane conditions,
and don’t die a decent death either. Both in terms of number of
animals killed and the methods used, invasive species eradication
pales in comparison to factory farming.
Conservationists struggle in tough conditions against great
odds to achieve a very lofty goal. They have enough troubles to deal
with and needn’t be a soft target for misplaced compassion.
The hypothetical example of 10 islands overlooks that one of
the primary engines of species evolution and
differentiation–probably the most prolific–is the interaction of
species with each other. Thus the more species occupy any particular
habitat, the greater the opportunity for biodiversity to continue to
increase, both in that habitat and globally.
Conversely, biodiversity is most likely to decrease in
habitats where biodiversity is already sparse. It is in such sparse
habitats, where the species inventory is not constantly increased
and challenged by newcomers, that extinctions most often occur.
The discussion of rat predation on sea bird chicks overlooks
that predation is the fate of most chicks and eggs in most habitats.
Whether the predator is a rat or a native avian predator such as skua
on a remote island makes no difference to the suffering individual.
We can, as letter author Avin Deen points out, eliminate our own
participation in predation and significantly reduce the universe of
suffering by ceasing to consume animals, including ceasing to breed
animals to be consumed. But we cannot reduce suffering by
intervening in nature to replace one predator with another.
It is rarely true–if ever–that “invasive species
eradication is often a one-time process.” On Macquarie Island, for
example, one of the most remote habitats on earth, the Australian
government spent 15 years eradicating feral cats, after which feral
rats and rabbits proliferated. The current target date for rabbit
eradication is 2015, with no target date in sight yet for rat
eradication. This parallels the results of more than 40 years of
attempted eradication of introduced animals from the Channel Islands,
off southern California. Though many of the largest, most obvious
species have now been extirpated from the Channel Islands, the
extermination is still far from complete. Retired Channel Islands
National Park superintendent Tim J. Setnicka, after more than 30
years of leading and directing the killing, by March 2005 came to
denounce it as “systematic biologic genocide” in a 3,500-word
statement to the Santa Barbara News Press.
Practitioners of genocide usually claim a “lofty goal” for it.
Sai Baba on dogs
As one who had his first meeting with Sathya Sai Baba almost
fifty years ago, and as one whose parents were ardent devotees of
Sathya Sai Baba, I was saddened at several things I saw at his
headquarters in Prashanti Nilayam. His captive pet elephant Sathya
Geetha was among them, as were the dogs in the ashram. Fed by some
devotees, mostly foreigners, they were badly treated by most
Several years ago, I visited Puttaparthi to find out why the
university there refused to register with the Committee for the
Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals, as
required by law. I was happy that they closed their animal house
after I told them that I would hate to have to take legal action
against a university run by Sai Baba.
I tried while I was there to deliver a letter to Sai Baba.
Failing on several occasions–Sai Baba passed very close to me, but
did not look at me–I left the letter with Clementien Pauws of the
Karuna Society. She was also unable to deliver it. Satya Sai
Baba’s discourse that day had a line which said: “G-O-D and D-O-G.
They are the same but people think they are different.” The talk was
in Telugu but a devotee sent me a translation and I was delighted.
Clementien Pauws runs a very successful Animal Birth Control
and animal rescue program in Puttaparthi. So successful is it that
she is now in danger of having to close down, since hundreds of
people from all over are coming there to get her free treatment and
not contributing anything toward it.
–S. Chinny Krishna
Blue Cross of India
1-A Eldams Rd., Chennai
Tamil Nadu 600018, India
“Incredible spiritual teacher”
Thank you for your wonderful May 2011 article “Spiritual
leader & vegetarian advocate Sathya Sai Baba dies at 84.” He truly
was an incredible spiritual teacher. I have been helping his
follower Clementien Pauws at the Karuna Society animal hospital and
shelter for a few years now, and go to Puttaparti regularly.
Royal SPCA & seal-shooting salmon farmers
I just checked my e-mail to learn that the Royal SPCA of
Britain has announced a campaign to get people to buy sandwiches with
“fairer fillings.” The idea is to get carnivores to buy meat and
eggs from animals who are raised according to “better” welfare
standards. They recommend buying sandwiches containing Scottish
salmon qualifying for the RSPCA Freedom Food label.
These are fish reared in floating factory farms where they
are given a bit more space to swim around. Astonishingly the RSPCA
allows Freedom Food-endorsed salmon farmers to shoot and kill seals.
The Scottish Government gives these fish farmers licenses to kill
seals in a futile bid to protect the salmon from seal attack.
As I have explained to the Scottish Government and the RSPCA,
letting salmon farmers shoot seals does not protect fish from seal
attack. The only way for salmon farmers to properly protect the
fish, and meet the requirements of the Animal Health & Welfare
(Scotland) Act 2006, is to install and maintain high strength,
fully tensioned anti-predator nets to keep the seals well away from
Only 20% of fish farmers given licenses
to shoot seals have anti-predator nets in place. The other 80%,
including many RSPCA endorsed Freedom Food farms, shoot
seals as a first, not a last resort.
I first asked the RSPCA to condemn seal shooting by salmon
farmers in December 2005. Three years later I discovered they were
actually endorsing salmon from seal shooting farms as part of their
Freedom Food initiative. Next month it will be three years since I
specifically asked the RSPCA to insert a total ban on shooting seals
into their Freedom Food salmon farm contracts. They could have done
this at the stroke of a pen. Even taking into account the
decision-making processes of a large organization and making a time
allowance for the farmers to install the anti-predator nets, RSPCA
endorsed Freedom Food Scottish Salmon could easily have been seal
friendly by the end of 2008. It still isn’t.
Instead of encouraging people to pay for bullets to shoot
seals by buying RSPCA endorsed salmon sandwiches, the RSPCA should
be joining the fight to protect seals.
–John F. Robins, Campaigns Consultant
P.O. Box 5178
Dumbarton, Scotland G82 5YJ
Cut animal research
In thinking about what is going on in Congress–the budget
crisis–and the need to seriously cut the U.S. budget, this seems
like the ideal time for a writing campaign to Congress. This is the
perfect time to argue for cutting the funding of grants for animal
research, which is duplicative because the results are already known
in many cases, wasteful because the results do not accurately
transfer to humans, and extravagant, because animal research is
more expensive than alternative methods. So far I have not seen any
efforts to this effect.
San Clemente, California
Carey Vail was mentioned in your April 2011 article “Animal
rescuers respond to the crisis in Japan” as “founder of the Japan
Earthquake Animal Rescue & Support page on Facebook.” The founders
of JEARS are myself, Susan Mercer of Heart Tokushima, and Isabella
Gallaon-Aoki of Animal Friends Niigata. Carey Vail did not start the
JEARS Facebook page. I did.
Japan Cat Network