LETTERS [May 2012]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  May 2012:


Street dogs are purged in Sofia following fatality

Following an incident in which a man was attacked by stray dogs and died 10 days later, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova has given order to hunt and kill all stray dogs who inhabit that district.  The media have influenced popular opinion to blame nonprofit organizations and dog-lovers.  Hostile attitudes towards stray dogs have escalated into organized mass killing of stray dogs by ordinary citizens.  Nonprofit organizations have received photos of hundreds of dogs who have been drowned,  decapitated,  or burned to death.  Dogs are disappearing all around Sofia.  Trucks have been loading stray dogs,  including dogs who have already been neutered.
Those dogs are not to be found in the Sofia municipal shelter.  Where have all those dogs gone?
The government is not enforcing compliance with the Animal Protection Act. Agriculture minister Miroslav Naydenov has announced an anti-stray-policy.  The Animal Protection Act,  adopted in 2008,  authorized a sterilization program which was to diminish the number of stray dogs to zero by 2011.  The mayor was to be fined for any noncompliance. Yet no fines have been paid by the mayor.  Nobody has taken responsibility for the situation.
Seventy-five animal welfare organizations from Bulgaria,  the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg,  Austria,  Hungary and Switzerland have called for Naydenov to resign due to “years of institutional languid attempts and lack of control” regarding the stray dog issue.  In an open letter to the prime minister,  the president,  and the ombudsman,  these organizations have asked for a nationwide trap, neuter,  and return program,  as recommended by the World Health Organization.

–Miroslava Veleva
Sofia,  Bulgaria

Editor’s note:

Economist Botio Tachkov,  87,  who spent much of his career on Wall Street and working for the U.S. State Department,  was mauled by as many as 25 dogs on a Sofia street in late March 2012. He died on April 8.
“Many animals are fed by locals–as was the case with the pack that mauled the professor–out of pity or so they might guard their apartment blocks or parking lots,” reported Vessela Sergueva of Agence France-Presse.  Feeding the dogs at particular locations intensifies their territoriality,  and encourages them to mob passers-by in expectation of being fed.  “Since the professor’s killing, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova has called for a ban on people feeding stray dogs,”  Sergueva wrote.  Sofia,  a city of about two million people,  had 9,500 stray dogs at the time of Tachkov’s death,  said municipal council environmental committee chair Loleta Radeva–half as many as in 1997.  Reported dog bites fell from 6,606 in 1994 to 445 in 2011.  But Care For the Stray Dogs president Aksinia Bosneva  told Sergueva that the Sofia dog population has increased by about 1,000 since last year. Bosneva “blamed corrupt practices when it comes to castrating dogs,  Sergueva wrote.  In particular,  Bosneva alleged,  “Dogs already neutered are captured twice and workers get paid for doing something already done.”

Mice & rats

Your March 2012 editorial,  “Evolving an ethical response to mice & rats,”  is absolutely brilliant.
I had my first encounter with friendly rats recently when I went to New Zealand to have dinner with Jeffrey Masson on his birthday.  His boys had two rats who were members of the family. Rats are astonishingly fascinating animals!
 –Philip Wollen,  founder
Winsome Constance
Kindness Trust
Melbourne,  Australia

Carbon dioxide not humane

According to “Animal Place & Harvest Home rescue 4,460 hens,”  in your April 2012 edition, following the rescue of more than 4,000 fortunate hens out of 50,000 hens left to starve by A&L Poultry near Turlock,  California,  the remaining thousands “were killed by state authorities using carbon dioxide gas chambers.”
While details of the gassing are not given,  we may be sure that these hens were not “euthanized,” that is,  killed “humanely.”
Claims that carbon dixoide gassing produces a humane death conflict with evidence showing that carbon dioxide induces a breathing distress in birds and mammals known as dyspnea, which “activates brain regions associated with pain and induces an emotional response of panic,” according to animal scientist Dr. Mohan Raj at a poultry slaughter seminar in December 2004.  An article entitled “Dyspnea and Pain” published in 2001 by the American Pain Society Bulletin begins:  “There are few,  if any,  more unpleasant and frightening experiences than feeling short of breath without any recourse.”
One common problem involved in gassing of birds with carbon dioxide,  which is the standard method used by the poultry and egg industries for destroying unwanted and infected flocks,  is the difficulty of distributing the gas evenly, without oxygen seeping into the chamber before all of the birds are dead.  Many birds recover consciousness or never lose consciousness to begin with.
Another problem is that the “incoming gas is very cold and has a high speed,” explained veterinarian Lotta Berg at a U.S. Department of Agriculture meeting in June 2006.  Veterinarian Holly Cheever noted at this meeting that regardless of the type of enclosure,  “If liquid carbon dioxide is used, the possibility of birds freezing to death before loss of consciousness is high.”
In December 2009,  25,000 “cage free” hens were left to starve at Black Eagle Farm in Nelson County,  Virginia.  Former Black Eagle Farm employee John Dobbs in a telephone interview with me on April 22,  2011 described personnel manually beheading or beating to death hens who survived carbon dioxide gassing.   Dobbs, who grew up on a hog farm where he shot cows and “knocked” piglets,  said that killing these hens was the worst cruelty he ever saw.
–Karen Davis,  founder
United Poultry Concerns
PO Box 150
Machipongo,  VA 23405

Hershaft of FARM on HR 3798 & home visits

We have taken a position in favor of enactment of HR 3798, because we expect it to reduce substantially the number of eggs used by food processors.  Our detailed position and reasons are posted at <farmusa.org/-HR3798.htm>. After extensive reading and discussions with movement leaders, we have decided to favor passage of the bill, because we believe that it is very likely to increase production cost and therefore,  to reduce egg usage by food processors,  and thus, the number of chickens used for food.
United Egg Producers estimate the long-term increase in production cost associated with introduction of “enriched” cages to be 10-15%.  The increase is unlikely to affect individual consumption of shell eggs, because eggs will remain a cheap source of protein and no suitable alternative is available.  On the other hand, the increase is likely to have a substantial effect on food processors and food servers (restaurants and food services) who are very sensitive to cost increases and do and will continue to have suitable alternatives.  Pursuit of such initiatives with individual states and retailers,  in lieu of a national standard, would not generate the desired price increase for food processors and servers, because these industries would continue to source their eggs from out-of-state producers.
FARM is not signing on as an official supporter of this bill–we merely favor its passage as a more effective alternative to the status quo (and to state and retailer initiatives) in reducing the number of animals used for food. FARM believes that the only effective solution to the tragedy of animal agriculture is the promotion of veganism, along with reduction in the consumption of animal products.
FARM favors reforms only when they reduce the number of animals used for food and do not mislead consumers into thinking that consumption of animals raised under improved conditions is acceptable.
Incidentally, we were quite displeased with our treatment in the April 2012 ANIMAL PEOPLE editorial,  “Don’t let irrational extremists define the cause.”
The “gag order to not say anything critical of other animal advocacy organizations” to which ANIMAL PEOPLE objected as a requirement of participating in the AR conference series is one of the basic rules of our conferences. We ask speakers to criticize tactics, rather than attacking fellow animal activists or organizations. Such personal attacks were the main reasons for PETA and HSUS withdrawing from the conference.
We are trying to provide a broad tent where all views leading to animal liberation (short of advocacy of injury to living beings) are welcome and discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  The conference does not have a position on home visits or any other tactics (except as noted).  However,  we strongly disapprove of activities that conflict with the carefully and laboriously prepared conference program,  including home visits.
You are obviously on some kind of a personal crusade against home visits and you need a prominent scapegoat,  even at the cost of defaming the only group and function that’s holding this movement together.
–Alex Hershaft,  founder
Farm Animal Reform Movement
10101 Ashburton Lane
Bethesda,  MD 20817
Phone:  301-530-1737

Editor’s note:

The correspondence record demonstrates that Alex Hershaft sought to prevent ANIMAL PEOPLE from “putting people on the defensive” for,  among other things exposed by ANIMAL PEOPLE and described by ANIMAL PEOPLE in the correspondence,  encouraging arsons and bombings; circulating falsehoods about campaign targets and other animal advocacy organizations; infiltrating and disrupting other animal advocacy organizations;  and diverting  to personal use resources that were raised in the name of helping animals.
Visits to the homes of protest subjects were prominently organized at the AR-2007 conference attended by ANIMAL PEOPLE president Kim Bartlett.   That these visits were conducted at times during which they did not  “conflict with the official program” meant that they were done during evenings when the protest subjects’ children were home.  By only opposing physical violence,  Hershaft does in truth condone psychological violence,  since home visits are designed to intimidate the families of persons engaged in activities which are deemed to be anti-animal. Protests not intended to intimidate spouses and children of researchers et al would be conducted during business hours,  at sites where anti-animal activities are conducted or funded,  or at the corporate headquarters of such operations.
Psychological intimidation is sometimes more injurious than physical violence.  ANIMAL PEOPLE believes it is despicable to frighten children or to condone it.

Another view of AR-series conferences

Though I agree with the intention and the sentiment of the April 2012 ANIMAL PEOPLE editorial,  “Don’t let irrational extremists define the cause,”  I believe it is a misrepresentation of Alex Hershaft to think he promotes the idea of violence in the movement.  I also feel that Animal People could easily attend the conference as anyone can without any gag order.  People from opposition groups attend the conferences and report what they choose to report.  I would have welcomed Animal People as I welcomed the opposition to speaking engagements that I had there.
Yes,  some of the younger activists are being influenced by immediate gratification and a sense that nonviolent tactics have not accomplished goals,  but more mainstream organizations have decided not to participate, and new activists hear only the more militant viewpoints.
–Don Elroy
Sevierville,  Tennessee

Editor’s note:

At issue was participation,  including by speaking and distributing free sample copies of ANIMAL PEOPLE,  not merely attending to report.

Soi Dog Foundation & SCAD merger

Your April 2012 article “Thai charities Soi Cat & Dog Rescue and Soi Dog Foundation merge” is accurate except in one respect which I felt I should mention in appreciation and admiration for all those who stepped in to continue SCAD´s programmes when I left Thailand. Margot Park has been a great friend in her support for Soi Dog Rescue/SCAD for many years, but did not involve herself in a leadership role at SCAD after leaving Soi Dog Foundation.  Billie Minshall,  veterinarian Annelize Booysen,  Mark Stelzner,  and, most recently Wendy Edney all stepped up as General Manager for various periods.  In September 2009, an advisory board was established which included Annelize,  John Dalley of the Soi Dog Foundation,  Hong Kong SPCA veterinarians Fiona Woodhouse and Karthi Martelli,  Sean Triner, and long-term SCAD volunteers Claire Deacon and Belinda Langman. When SCAD was registered as a foundation in May 2010,  they became the new Thai board´s advisory committee.      I never stop thinking of the tough work all these incredible people are doing in Thailand for the soi dogs and cats.
–Sherry Conisbee
Mallorca,  Spain

Translations  of articles into Spanish

I was wondering if you know of any Spanish translations available of your November 2003 editorial “Sheltering is pointless until the need is reduced”?  It is a fantastic piece and I have shared it many times.  Now I would like to share it with Spanish speaking friends.
–Stan Burnett
Friends of PATA Manzanillo
15863 W. Sierra St.
Surprise, AZ 85379

Editor’s note:

That editorial has not been translated, but similar points were made in our April 2010 editorial,  “How to introduce neuter/return & make it work,”   available in our online translation library as “Como introducir genero/neutro/vuelta y hacerlo trabajar.”

Report from Fukushima

An Animal Rescue System Fund team recently visited Fukushima,  a year after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11,  2011,   to do Marvin Mackie Method cat sterilizations at a private clinic.  Feral cats for our surgeries were collected by some female caretakers from Yokohama who have visited Fukushima every weekend.
We also visited one of the Fukushima shelters,  keeping more than 100 dogs and cats. Eighty percent of the shelter capacity was filled by the animals of displaced people.  Males and females have been housed separately for more than a year,  we were told,  without being sterilized. We were told that this is because the animals’ people will not allow them to be fixed.
On the street,  free-roaming animals are giving birth everywhere.  A Yokohama caretaker named Chie Hinata told me that most pet keepers in Fukushima throw newborn kittens into the rivers.  People in Fukushima were not concerned about street animals even before the earthquake and tsunami.  Then the earthquake hit the area and things got worse.
We must build a spay clinic out there to promote The Big Fix project,  educate the public, and change the situation.
  –Hiro Yamasaki
Animal Rescue System Fund
3-9-1-1F Kusugaoka-cho
Kobe 657-0024,  Japan
Phone: 078-856-3229

WHO India human rabies death estimate is 100 times too high

While even one death from rabies is unacceptable,  since rabies can be totally prevented and eradicated,  data recently furnished by Indian health minister Gulam Nabi Azad to the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament) shows the massive contribution made by nonprofit organizations and the Animal Welfare Board of India.
The World Health Organization has claimed that there were about 20,000 human rabies deaths per year in India between 1992 and 2002,  but the figure given by Gulam Nabi Azad is in the opinion of many of us working on the ground much closer to reality.  This figure is 223 human deaths in 2011 from rabies,  nationwide,  as compared to 1,440 human deaths from snakebite.  The figure of 21 human rabies deaths reported for here in Tamil Nadu seems to agree perfectly with every other figure I have received.
–S. Chinny Krishna
Secretary (retired)
Blue Cross of India
1-A Eldams Rd.,  Chennai
Tamil Nadu 600018,  India
Phone:  91-44-234-1399

Editor’s note:

Chinny Krishna in 1966 initiated the prototype for the Indian national Animal Birth Control program.

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