LETTERS (September 2011)

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  September 2011:



Traps in Taiwan

Just to clarify the so-called ban on leg-hold traps in Taiwan,  described by Mira Fong in your July/August 2011 edition:  while many groups are claiming victory in making Taiwan a “trap-free” nation,  the truth is that leghold traps can still be used with special permission, and this will likely be given to the aboriginal population,  who are granted certain freedoms within this and other laws so as not to take away their cultural and historical rights.  The ban is still a victory,  as many stray animals and protected wild animals have been killed or maimed in traps placed in or around farmland as a deterrent to dogs and other animals.  This is largely outlawed now,  as is the sale of leghold traps in stores.

The Wulai Animal Guardian Society,  which is still in its infancy,  will be building relationships with aboriginal hunters with a goal of later appealing to their well-documented respect for nature and the environment,  as well as their honor,  to encourage them to employ less cruel and indiscriminate methods for hunting, instead of taking advantage of their legal right to continue using leghold traps with permission.
In short,  Taiwan has not fully banned leghold traps,  but has limited their use.
–Seán McCormack
Taiwan Animal S.O.S. (TASOS)

Generic Tiger rule

Because of a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service rule known as the Generic Tiger Exemption,  which says tiger dealers in the U.S. do not have to report their activities to USFWS,  we have no way to know how many tigers bred in the U.S. are killed in order to sell their parts into the growing illegal trade.
After thousands of people sent e-mails urging this,  USFWS has posted for public comment a new rule rescinding the Generic Tiger Exemption.  This can have a huge impact both on reducing the number of tigers who may be slaughtered for their parts and on saving the tiger in the wild.
But the bad guys will be sending comments opposing the removal of the exemption.  We need to send thousands of comments in support.  Please visit this page at our web site for more info and to submit your comment to USFWS: <http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/-issues/alert/?alertid=53173501>.
–Howard & Carole Baskin
Big Cat Rescue
12802 Easy Street
Tampa,  FL 33625

Hare coursing banned in Northern Ireland

On August 17,  2011  a permanent ban on hare coursing took effect in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood told media that “Hare coursing events should not take place in a modern,  progressive, civilized society.”
However,  here in the Republic of Ireland,  it’s business as usual for the hare coursers,  with the licence to net hares issued recently by minister for arts Jimmy Deenihan. The two remaining hare coursing clubs in Northern Ireland,  Ballymena and Dungannon,  now travel south to be hosted by Tubbercurry and Cavan, putting even more pressure on our timid hares.
Hare coursers claim that the muzzling of greyhounds,  introduced in 1992,  eliminates the kill from coursing.  However,  while preventing hares from being ripped apart,  muzzles do not prevent hares from being struck and mauled by greyhounds,  resulting in injuries and death. This is borne out in the National Parks monitoring reports obtained annually by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports.
In any event,  hares are terrorised from the time they are snatched from the wild in nets to the day they are used as live lures before greyhounds at coursing meets.
This is unacceptable in what passes for a supposedly civilized country.  Surely our government should act in tandem with the Northern Ireland Assembly in protecting hares on the island as a whole.
–Aideen Yourell
Irish Council  Against Blood Sports
PO Box 88,  Mullingar
County Westmeath,  Ireland
Phone: 086-2636265

Animal shelter killing terminology

As always,  I appreciate ANIMAL PEOPLE publishing the 2011 shelter data.  I find the data very useful in classes that I teach.  It is especially helpful for shelter workers to have facts to consider,  rather than just the emotional opinions that so often get thrown around.  I do have one bone to pick with you, however.  I especially dislike your use of the word “killing”–for example,  your headline “Shelter Killing falls to 3.4 million.”
Depending on which dictionary you use, the word “killing” usually connotes murder, slaying,  executions and the like.  In the 40 years that I have been involved in animal shelter euthanasia (“euthanasia” means “good death”) I have never once “killed” a dog or cat or other animal.  Using the word “kill” (or killing) is a disservice to those of us who insist that animals who are euthanized for reasons of temperament, health,  or even space be put to death gently, compassionately,  respectfully,  and with expertise.  On behalf of euthanasia technicians, veterinary technicians and shelter veterinarians everywhere,  make no mistake:  we do not “kill” them.     Over the past four decades,  I have developed a relationship with euthanasia:  I don’t like it and don’t want to do it,  but when I do it,  I am very,  very good at it.  By “good,”  I mean compassionate,  gentle,  and technically proficient.  I encourage my students to likewise develop their own relationship with euthanasia.  My relationship with euthanasia does not include murder,  slaying or execution.
Thanks to your data for pointing out our success.  I am confident that one day in the not too distant future animal shelters will no longer euthanize animals for space.
–Doug Fakkema
Charleston,  South Carolina

The Editor responds:

Doug Fakkema was instrumental in abolishing the use of decompression chambers to kill homeless dogs and cats,  and continues to help push gassing,  “heart jabs,”  and shooting dog and cats toward abolition.     Unfortunately,  though killing animals by unacceptable methods is less and less common, examples still often come our way.
ANIMAL PEOPLE does not consider population control killing or culling to be “euthanasia” in the exact sense of the word.  The term “euthanasia” is most properly used to describe putting to death hopelessly suffering creatures in order to relieve their misery.     Reflecting the contentiousness of the issue,  there is internal disagreement within ANIMAL PEOPLE over whether the word “euthanasia” might accurately be applied to painlessly ending the lives of healthy animals who are in clear and present danger of experiencing a more miserable death.     The humane community long ago began misusing the term “euthanasia” as a synonym for all use of lethal injections–and sometimes all killing done within animal shelters or by animal control agencies,  by any method–in order to feel better about the necessity of killing healthy animals from lack of other options.

Considering the legacy of humane exec Mel Morse

I enjoyed reading your retrospective review of Ordeal of the Animals (1968),  by Mel Morse,  and your comparison of the book to Man Kind? (1974) by Cleveland Amory is relevant.     There is a lot more to learn about Morse, and it is unfortunate that we know as little as we do.  It has been my impression that he did some of the dirty work for the American Humane Association in the early years of conflict and combat after Fred Myers left the AHA to found the Humane Society of the U.S. (I have at least some written evidence in this regard),  but what is interesting is that Fred Myers brought him into the HSUS family in the early 1960s,  and that in the period I like to call “the interregnum,” between Myers’ death and the appointment of John Hoyt,  who headed HSUS for 25 years,  Morse was a key figure.
An interesting counterfactual experiment would be to think about whether Morse taking the position of HSUS president permanently, or for at least a few years,  instead of Hoyt,  would have made any difference.  This amounts to considering what the effects of having a longtime insider in the field,  whose roots went back to a more sterile era,  would have been;  and of course, thinking about the real legacy of John Hoyt,  who was an external hire.
–Bernard Unti
Senior Policy Adviser
Special Assistant to the President
Humane Society of the U.S.
2100 L Street NW
Washington,  DC 20037
Phone:  301-548-7707

Canadian war memorials for animals

Concerning the June 2011 letter to ANIMAL PEOPLE from Gopi Shankar of Bangalore about recognition for animals who have been forced into war,  you will be interested to know that the Ottawa Sun on July 13, 2011 carried an article by Doug Hempstead stating that Lloyd Swick,  89,  a 33-year veteran of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry,  has persuaded the Canadian National Capital Commission to support a “new interpretive memorial to Canada’s war dead.” Swick is raising the $100,000 needed to create a memorial to war animals.  To be completed by fall 2012,  the memorial will be connected to the Boer War monument in Ottawa’s Confederation Park. Canada sent some 50,000 horses to haul cannon, soldiers and ammunition during the Boer War. Swick says,   “We need the monument because our casualty list of close to 60,000 people in the First World War and some 48,000 in the Second World War would have been much higher had it not been for the support of our animals.  We owe a great debt to them.”     Also,  I have a photocopy of an article which appeared on August 15, 2009 in the Ottawa Citizen,  headlined “Gander,  the Royal Riflemen’s Best Friend,”  by Bruce Ward, with a photograph of several Royal Riflemen and a huge black and beautiful Newfoundland dog.  According to the article,  Gander in December 1941 “seized a live grenade in his jaws and ran toward the Japanese lines.  Gander died in the explosion, but saved the lives of several wounded Canadian soldiers.”  Gander’s name was added to the Hong Kong Veterans Memorial Wall,  a few blocks from Parliament Hill,  along with the names of 1,975 Canadian men and two women.
–Esther Klein
Animal Defence League of Canada
P.O. Box 3880,  Station C
Ottawa,  Ontario  K1Y 4M5
Phone:  613-233-6117

Campaigning to free Morgan,  the orca at Dolfinarium Harderwijk

An emaciated young female orca was in June 2010 found alone off the coast of the Netherlands.  Named Morgan,  she was brought to the Dolfinarium Harderwijk for emergency care. There she put on some weight.  Since then,  the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society and other organizations have worked hard to give her the chance to return to her natural environment.
A recent visit to Dolfinar-ium Harderwijk by orca experts Ingrid Visser and Terry Hardie revealed Morgan to be in good health but potentially suffering mentally as a result of her confinement in a small pool lacking environmental enrichment.     Dolfinarium Harderwijk in July 2011 applied to transfer orca Morgan to Loro Parque, a tourist attraction on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.  This meant she would end up performing in captivity.  Amsterdam District Court Judge H. Kijilstra on August 3,  2011 ruled that Morgan would remain at the Dolfinarium Harderwijk for now,  but should be moved from her small cement tank to a larger enclosure with other animals.
WDCS and an informal coalition of orca experts are campaigning for Morgan to be made available for the Free Morgan Group’s multi-stage release plan.  This would involve moving Morgan into a sea pen in an artificial bay near Rotterdam,  where she would remain confined, but with the sights and sounds of the sea around her, while being readied to return her to her native waters.     Although the Dofinarium Harderwijk has done a good job of helping Morgan to recover her health since her rescue they do not believe Morgan is a candidate for a possible return to the wild.  Many activists believe the Dolfinarium Harderwijk did not intend to release Morgan from the beginning,  because of their commercial interests.  I cannot say if this is true,  but signs point in this direction.
More information is at <http://freemorgan.nl>.
–Raymond Brekelmans
Eindhoven,  The Netherlands

South Korean regs

Thanks for your July/ August 2011 article “New South Korean animal welfare regs.”  It is a great start that the South Korean government is strengthening the national animal protection law. I hope the changes will help to save animals, and become a stepping stone to create stronger public recognition of animal welfare.
–Gina Moon,  founder, Moonbears.org
P.O. Box 167
Sai Kung,
New Territories,  Hong Kong

Animals in Koran

During the holy month of Ramadan,  all Arab countries screened 30 episodes of a TV series called “Stories of Animals in the Holy Koran,”  starring Arab celebrities including Yehia El Fakharany,  Sherif Mounir,  Sawsan Badr, Lequaa Swidan,  Lequaa Khamissy,  and Dalia El Beheiy.  The theme:  each animal is a miracle, animals are known for sincerity,  animals have feelings like us.
–Dina Zulfikar
Cairo,  Egypt

Treat shelter animals at Thanksgiving

For many years at Thanksgiving,  I bought treats for the dogs and cats at the San Francisco Department of Animal Care & Control and at the San Francisco SPCA.  I feel Thanksgiving is for all Americans.  Christmas is different,  as there are many religions that celebrate that holiday. I would give something plain,  like milk bones, to the dogs,  and would give canned food divided four ways to the cats.  Sometimes I would get help,  but usually I did it by myself.  It was easy to give the treats to the dogs,  but to give treats to the cats I had to open each cage.  I always hoped that some of the younger volunteers would get the idea,  but none did.     I did this for 15 years at the SF/SPCA,  and six years at the SF/DACC.
–June Wilson
San Francisco,  California

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